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March 11, 1996 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-11

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10A - The Michigan Daily - Mjniday, March 11, 1996

McKeilen's updated'Richard III' succeeds
Famous Shakespearean tale is set in 20th century fascist Europe

David Broza

Stone Doors

By Jennifer Petlinski
Daily Film Editor
Only a short time after "Othello,"
another Shakespeare play finds its way
onto the big screen.
Director Richard Loncraine's version
of "Richard III," set in fascist, 1930s
Europe, successfully captures an evil,
power-hungry duke's quest for the En-
glish crown.
Most of us are familiar with the tale.
Richard ofGloucester (Ian McKellen)
has it all planned from the beginning:
He is going to be king and is more than
willing to kill anyone who happens to
stand in his way. It's just too bad that
basically everyone in the play stands in
his way - this (for those of us who
can't already tell) adds up to a lot of
dead people.
And how badly does Richard want to
be king? Pretty badly. In the first hour
of the film, Richard reveals to us that,
to accomplish his goal, he must kill his
brother Clarence, find a way to remove
his other brother Edward from his cur-
rent position as king, keep Queen Eliza-
beth (Annette Bening) and her family
(including Lord Rivers - played by
Robert Downey Jr.) from getting in his
way, get his own mother to shut the hell
up about her own evil son and finally,
marry anyone who might help him ad-
vance his own position.
Sounds like an ambitious game plan,
Well, it's only the half of it. Once
Richard's killed everyone in sight, he
must establish his own credibility with
the people of England- so that he can
finally become king. Several schemes
and half an hour later, Richard is ex-
actly where he wants to be.
But - ahhhh - a king's troubles
never end, do they? As the plot thick-
ens, Richard's loyal subjects betray him
and Richmond of France wants his
crown. What does this mean for the
audience? What else but enough battle
****... Excellent
* ... Fair
... Poor
Zero ... A Bomb

"I'm a fascist jerk. George Burns just died and I've raided his closet and stolen all of his stogies."

Richard 111
Directed by Richard
Loncraine; with
Ian McKellen and
Annette Bening
At the Michigan Theater
scenes, murder and blood to add up to
the perfect visual experience of a
Shakespearean tragedy.
As one might guess, "evil" is cer-
tainly the key word here. Because with-
out an evil Richard, the film is bound
for failure. Luckily, Ian McKellen does
more than pull through with his out-
standing performance as Richard.
At the beginning of the film-in one
of Richard's many scattered soliloquies
- the king-to-be reveals his intentions
to his audience, in the bathroom, of all
places. At this point, Richard has just
interrupted the band and given his "Now
is the winter of our discontent" speech

into the microphone (this is the 1930s,
remember?) at a big royal bash.
Moments later, Richard is in the bath-
room. And only when he hovers over
the porcelain urinal do his true inten-
tions come out. As Richard flushes, he
says, "I am determined to prove a vil-
lain and hate the idle pleasures of these
days." Close-ups of his yellowing teeth,
his sneering mouth and darkened eyes
tell us right from this first scene: Step
out of the way - McKellen's Richard
means business.
Bening also delivers a strong perfor-
mance as Queen Elizabeth. Throughout
the entire film, we can clearly see her
seething hatred of Richard. The
Shakespearean dialogue rolls off
Bening's tongue, and we believe her.
Her emotions are strong ones- as they
should be - for Richard continually
strips her of everyone and everything
that is rightfully hers.
And as for her brother Lord Rivers,
so graciously played by Downey? Un-
fortunately, his performance is not as
convincing-not by a long shot. When
he talks, we are inclined to laugh - I

mean, come on -the guy was in "Weird
Science" and now he's doing
Shakespeare? Still, his performance
isn't a total flop in my book; we do get
to see him with his shirt off having sex
with some random girl.
Like its strong lead actors, the mod-
ern setting of the story adds to the film's
success. At first, it's a little hard to
digest. Needless to say, it's slightly
unusual to see people dancing to flap-
per music while reciting soliloquies.
We as an audience, however, manage to
adjust and learn to appreciate the change.
It's not by any means a stretch for us to
imagine Richard in fascist Europe. Af-
ter all, he looks and acts the part. Why
shouldn't we believe it?
By the end of the film, McKellen
makes sure that we are as appalled by
Richard as we can possibly be - sym-
pathy plays no part in our reactions.
And we are ready to see how Loncraine
deals with the ending of the tragedy.
Interestingly enough, the end is argu-
ably the most riveting and unusual seg-
ment of the film, making "Richard Ill"
all the more worth seeing.

Are you stressed out? Do you have
trouble sleeping at night? David Broza
has the answer to your problems with -
"Stone Doors." Throughout the disc,
Broza's Spanish guitar creates a mel-
low, relaxed atmosphere that's likely to
calm you down or make you really
sleepy. Whether or not you become that
way out of boredom is debatable.
Most of the songs on "Stone Doors"
contain lyrics taken straight from pub-
lished.poems. This could be taken as
either a sign of laziness on Broza's part
or an attempt to revamp the old concept
of setting poetry to music. At times,
both seem true. On tracks like "A Night
in Wyoming" and "Under the Sun,"
Broza's voice, accompanied by the sen-
sual guitars, compliments the poems
well, while on tracks like "O Captain,
My Captain" and "I Manry the Bed," he
comes offrather pretentious as a result
of bad poem choices.
Mediocre at best, "Stone Doors"
shows that some poems weren't meant
to be set to music. The irony of having
most of the album contain poetry set to
music is that the better songs are those
without lyrics taken from published
poetry. They have the ability to show-
case Broza's melodic guitar playing
without the distraction or pretension of
a poem. Maybe even having an entirely
instrumental album would've improved-
his "Stone Doors."
- Victoria Salipande
Tales From the Punchbowl
Enhanced CD
"They" are beginning to re-release
albums in enhanced versions, which
means they have computer information
on them. "They" are trying to screw the
consumer over. Interactive software
takes a fairly large amount of time to
create and it generally needs to be done
after the songs on an album have been
Therefore, except for an occasional
music video that can be tacked on, soft-
ware can't be put onto an album until
after it has been released for a while. So,
most of a band's fans will have already
bought a CD by the time it goes interac-
tive, and they will need to buy it a
second time for the computer elements.
Such is the case with "Tales From the
Punchbowl Enhanced CD." The CD
portion is the same as it has always
been; an acceptable album that is not
quite as good as Primus' material three
albums ago. But now the CD also has
computer-specific material. Playable on

both Macs and PCs, the interaftivie
material takes you into a tugboat where
you can drive around very slowly t
various areas. Most of these representa
song on the album, and they amouIt:to
videos for the songs. "Wynona's.Big
Brown Beaver" has the actual video for
that song in its area, as well as a hilari
ous '60s drive-in snack bar ad with a hot
dog jumping into a bun.
But, all in all, it's an extremely diffi
piece of plastic to go through. The few
worthwhile bits in the environment are
difficultto find and insufficiently labeled,
the movement within the environmentis
slow and it just isn't all that creative.
On the plus side, the graphics are at
times slickly rendered, there's a bonus
Residents song and you can play agdine
of pong you will never win. If yodadnly
had to buy the CD once, it would be a
nice little bonus. But if you have tol -uy
it twice, it's just a pain.
- Ted Watts

Lou Reed
Set the Twilight Reeling
Warner Bros.

...r'. _.

With his latest album, "Set the Twit
light Reeling," Lou Reed takes a-weik
on the mild side. The album's 11 songs
are more adult album alternative.than
"Metal Machine Music," making for a
competent but somewhat dull release.
Sonically, "Set the Twilight Reeling'"
is right in stride with Reed's musical
agenda: The minimalist bass-drums gui-
tar of "Egg Cream" sounds as goodestit
did 30 years ago when Reed perfeated
that sound with the Velvet Undergraind.
The tasteful brass on "NYC Man" lend
jazzy feel, the noisy opening of"Riptj,
recalls some of Reed's more adventurots
work and the up tempo pop of "Hooky
Wooky" sounds timeless.
Timeless becomes staid on songs'like
"Finish Line," "Trade In" and "Adven-
turer," however. There's nothing really
wrong with them -yet there's nospark
to them, musicallyorlyrically.Reedtreads
water with much of "Set theTwight
Reeling"; "Sex With Your Parenti
well-meaning but tiresome rant -at t
right wing, and "Hang On To Your4m-
tions" comes offlikepsycho-babbleseki
music. And lyrics like "I'm a New York
City man, baby" are trouble coming frbt
anyone, much less someone who cteat d
and inspired some of the most intereting
music of the rock era..
"Set the Twilight Reeling"'s compe-
tence and timeless sound make it both a
solid album and, occasionally, a so,
bore. While the second part of the.
bum (recorded live on July 4 lasty;r)
picks up a bit, for the most part it's, a
work that's constrained and disappoint-
ing. The most remarkable thing abg t
is its midnight blue jewel case; other
than that, it's all been heard before.
,=Heather Phares

a I

Because today is
mystery meat day.


Primus' new Interactive CD Is not as good as the real thing.

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