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March 13, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-03-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

- tcItguuDt

That's entertainment!
Today at the Ann Arbor Film Festival ... Join Award Juror Robb Moss, as
he presents two of his works - "Riverdogs" and "The Tourist" - at a 3 p.m.
seminar. Moss, one of the Festival's three judges, is a personal documentary
filmmaker and an instructor of film at Harvard University. Then check out
tonight's crop of independent movies at the Michigan Theater, Screenings are
at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Evening admission is $10.

March 13, 1996


oens' Fargo' nears perfection

By.Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
For years, Joel and Ethan Coen hav
made a living writing, producing an
directing bizarre films that depict th
eccentricities of American people an(
society. However, the main criticism o
their works - including "Raising Ar
zona," "Barton Fink" and "Th
Hudsucker Proxy" - has been thei
Oarent emphasis on style over sub
But by perfectly combining thei
trademark peculiarities with an expertl)
crafted story, the Coen Brothers have
constructed a wonderful new movie
that supersedes any of their earlier ef


Directed by Joel Coen
with Frances McDormand
and Steve Buscemi
At Showcase

"Fargo" begins with a meeting be-
r tween Jerry (William Macy), a Min-
!y neapolis car salesman desperate for
e money, and two hired thugs (Steve
e Buscemi and Peter Stormare). Jerry
- wants the men to kidnap his wife,
Jean, and demand a ransom to be paid
by Jean's wealthy father. The money
would be split between Jerry and the
Even though their original plan in-
volves no blood, circumstances even-
tually lead to the murder of a state
trooper and two bystanders in rural
Minnesota, while the abductors are flee-
ing the scene of the crime. Local Police
Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances
McDormand) investigates the case and
soon begins to hunt down the guilty
parties, despite being six months preg-
nant. It isn't long before Marge starts
putting all the pieces together, and Jerry
is left to watch his relatively simple
scheme blow up in his face.
The Coen brothers provide a humor-
ous, although slightly exaggerated, char-
acterization ofthe natives oftheirhome
state of Minnesota. But the real strength
of "Fargo" lies in how these characters
react to the unusual happenings that
unfold before their very eyes.

Jerry, the mastermind of the whole
plot, is never entirely comfortable with
the situation he has created. Interest-
ingly enough, he is by no means a bad
guy. Rather, he is an average guy, who
loves his wife and son. Jerry simply
develops a foolish idea, which he even-
tually regrets; afterward, he finds him-
self in a scheme that is too deep to fix.
One of the real joys of the film is watch-
ing Jerry unravel as his plan disinte-
grates. Although he is calm and col-
lected while selling cars, he sweats and
stutters while being questioned by the
The two crooks, Carl (Buscemi) and
Gaear (Stormare) are in many ways
similar to Jerry. When the pressure is
on them, Carl becomes slightly ruffled,
while Gaear acts rashly. Consequently,
the clues they leave behind are enough
to sabotage their original plans for es-
cape. They are also weighed down by
their incompatibility. The loquacious
Carl constantly bickers about his
partner's reluctance to converse. More-
over, Gaear is at peace with the bucolic
surroundings, something that Carl, as
an outsider, cannot comprehend.
The real star of this film is the preg-
nant police chief, Marge, or Margie, as
everyone calls her. Although she has
more Martha Stewart in her than the
typical law officer, she is not incompe-
tent. In fact, she figures out the connec-
tion between the small-town murders
and the kidnappingin Minneapolis. And
even though this is her first homicide
case, she knows what to do at every
instant and expertly pieces the puzzle
The comedy of this situation arises

Frances McDormand stars as a pregnant Minnesota cop in the Coen brothers' new film, "Fargo."

not only from a sweet, pregnant police
chief hunting down a couple of danger-
ous criminals, but also from the matter-
of-fact manner with which she deals
with this scenario. After getting a late-
night phone call about the murders,
Margie politely obliges when her hus-
band insists she eat breakfast. When
she gets to Minneapolis, she is as con-
cerned with finding a good place to eat
as she is with interviewing Jerry.
Although the writing is outstanding,
it is important not to overlook the excel-
lent performances of the lead actors
who bring the characters to life. Will-
iam Macy captures the fear, despera-

"if only Quentin could see me now ....

1(iddie flick
is Bound
to be a
good show
By Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writer
Sometimes all ittakesisalittleimagi-
nation to make a film enjoyable. For
most of us, it's not every day that you
come home and think that your dog or
your cat wants to have a conversation
th you. But hey, in the movies, any-
mng can happen.
In "Homeward Bound 2," we are
reacquainted with the three lovable and
amazingly human-like animals, Chance,
Shadow'and Sassy. The two dogs and
cat once again find themselves without
their human counterparts, as they ven-
ture into San Francisco to find their
humble home.
Michael J. Fox supplies the voice
for the charismatic Chance, the
.gptblemaker of the bunch - it is
'Mmost as if we're listening to a daring
Alex Keaton of "Family Ties" again.
Without him, the plot would be empty;
Fox certainly does a great job speak-
ing the role.
Sally Field adds snob appeal in her'
tone for Sassy, the non-canine of the
group. Ralph Waite is the mature voice
of Shadow, who tries to teach the
oungsters a lesson or two. It is these
ices behind the animals that give
the film personality andmake it worth-
The trio finds itself in a panic: The
dogs fear that their family has left
them, or that they are being taken to
the infamous "bad place" (presum-
ably the kennel or some hideous lab).
Audiences might be inclined to be-
lieve that the tale of lost animals who
can communicate without ever mak-

tion and regret that Jerry feels. And, as
the perfect mismatch, the jittery
Buscemi and the quietly intimidating
Stormare are quite adept at showing
their dislike for each other.
But since the movie really belongs
to Margie, it is only fitting that the
person who plays her steals the show.
McDormand expertly captures the true
nature of the police chief/loving wife/
pregnant mother. She is each of these
three roles; none of her facets take
precedence over the others. And she
incorporates certain aspects of her do-
mestic life into her work. She treats
everyone with respect; even when in-
5 Style
S Style
Sub Pop
Instrumental music from that oh-so-
well-known Northwestern label. Sort
of like a restaurant band for some way-
too-hip eatery, probably located near a
college and run by some guy with
pathetically stylish hairdo and a lot of
low overhead.
The music is pretty bassy. "Hard
Afro Rubalon" utilizes some inter-
esting synth in addition to this funda-
mental building block of the band's
music. Essentially a specific riff
played over and over with some small
variation, the song would make a
good background for some moder-
ately fine dining. It isn't something
you'd really want to have to be con-
centrating on.
In fact, the rest of the songs on the
album tend to follow the same for-
mula as the one mentioned above.
Highly repetitive, highly uninterest-
ing. Wouldn't want to concentrate on
Well, the packaging is nice. A die-
cut digipack, the front reveals a spiffily
drawn spaceman, with some atomic
insignia on: the front piece of card-
board. The song titles indulge in a
similarly extraterrestrial origin, "Outta
Space Canoe Race" and "Waiting on
the Eclipse" being the prime examples.
But there is very little spacey about the
music. It is very mundane and earth-
bound. There is no sense of the special
on this album.
If you need some vaguely funky
dinner music, well, there you go.
- Ted Watts
Fu Manchu
in search of..
Mammoth Records
I am the great and powerful vil-

vestigating, she remains friendly and
casual. It is to McDormand's credit that
her character can be so complex, yet so
sincere and convincing.
"Fargo" manages to combine the spirit
of a region and its inhabitants with a
creative, well-developed and amazingly
true story. This represents amajorbreak-
through for the Coen brothers who, be-
fore this movie, were never able to merge
these components.
And if Joel and Ethan Coen can con-
tinue to make films like "Fargo," we
might just remember them as a couple of
guys who make good, weird movies,
instead of just weird movies.

The stars of "Homeward Bound 2" re-enact the opening credit sequence of "Reservoir Dogs."

Bound 2: Lost in
San Francisco
Directed by David Ellis
with the voices of Michael
J. Fox and Sally Field
At Showcase
ing a noise is predictable, offering
little amusement. Surprisingly, how-
ever, there are some good one-liners,
and the plot is not all that standard
So maybe this film is not the ideal
date flick, and maybe it isn't one for
which you want to dish out $6 at the
theater. But for a lazy afternoon ... it is
The story begins with the family's
vacation to Canada. From the start,

lain, Fu Manchu! Fear me! I am a
scourge to all that is good! If you cross
my path, I will cross your eyes! Fear
What's this? Some terrible bunch of
slackers has appropriated my name for
their band? Perhaps they have never
heard of the wrath of the infamous Fu
Manchu! Or perhaps it is a tribute, of
some sort, to my awesome and powerful
awesome power! I will put this CD in
my Discman, and take a listen. Perhaps
it is not that bad.
Aargh! What is this noise? Perhaps
these boys are not aware that glam rock
is no longer popular! They have embar-
rassed the great and terrifying Fu Manchu
with their horribly over-distortedchunky
rhythm guitar riffs and their ear-jilting
What's more, they have managed to
work a preposterously mid-'80s guitar
solo into each of their 12 songs, even the
slow ones! But perhaps I have missed
the irony. I will listen again.
Aargh! There is no irony! They're
trying to be serious! And what's worse,
this time I caught some of the lyrics! On
"Cyclone Launch" they sing: "Forever
gone is the skyride/Circle the world it's
along time/Eliminate all highways/Igot
me a poison mind."
I wonder if these boys have ever been
launched into a cyclone. One day, when
the deadly and quick-to-anger Fu
Manchu finds these boys, he will show
them what it's like to be in the center of
a cyclone--aquick-to-anger cyclone of
deadly fists!
I am Fu Manchu! Do not buy this
CD, unless you wish to incite my sharp
witted and decidedly untrendy wrath!
Fear me! And fear-this band!
- Jeffrey Dinsmore
***** ...Classic
**** ... Excellent
*** ... Good
*... Poor
Zero ... A Bomb

the intelligent animals are not too
keen on the idea of cages and air-
planes; when they maneuver their way
out of these confines, the plot unrav-
els and they aim to find their way
home. They figure they did it once
and they can do it again.
Fortunately, it isn't a carbon copy of
all other kiddie flicks. The jokes aren't
all stale and drawn out and, at times, the
humor can actually tickle your funny
bone. Just when you think you can
predict what will happen, a few scenes
offer surprises.
Along its journey, the group finds a
little adventure, a little friendship and
even a little love.
As in many children's films, some
scenes require a great stretch of the
imagination. Perhaps one of the most
exaggerated scenes colors Chance's
relationship with recluse dog, Delilah,
whom he meets on their journey. He
finds that she is tougher than the aver-
age female, as he has a mini-battle with
her in an alley.

As if talking canines were not
enough! Needless to say, when this
little competition turns into a big ro-
mantic relationship, things get a bit
out of control.
These house pets encounter their
share of good and bad dudes. They
figure that being lost and roughing it
in the stredts of San Francisco hardly
has the comforts of home. It is the
age-old tale of the "sheltered versus
the rugged" with a few unexpected
"Homeward Bound 2" offers some-
thing for all age groups. The kids will
like it because the mere concept of the
talking creatures will be fascinating.
Young adults and action-hungry teen-
agers will find the film a bit of a slow
sleeper, but animal lovers will dig it.
Adults probably won't find it particu-
larly wonderful, but it helps pass the
time - so why not? Although it's a
bit tedious and a tad sappy, the film is
"bound" to be good for a couple of

Charity 'Home Alive' concert tonight at Rick's
Epic records is hosting a musical benefit at Rick's tonight in support of the
company's recently released double album, "Home Alive: The Art of Self-
Defense." The show will include performances by local bands. The "Home
Alive" album contains music and spoken-word pieces from Seattle's finest,
including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Posies and the Presidents of the
U.S.A. Proceeds from the show will be donated to local charities and to
Seattle's Home Alive organization, which was founded in the aftermath of
the rape and murder of Mia Zapata, lead singer of the Gitz. Performers
1 scheduled to appear at tonight's show include Nick Dynamite and the
Detonators, Nick Strange and DJ. The Godfather. Rick's doors open at 7
p.m. and tickets are a mere $3. Don't miss this concert for a good cause!


One week of films and discussions on how the global economy
is affecting women and society around the world. Don't miss!
Free and open to all - Tonite featuring:
"La Operacion" - This film examines the hidden politics

- J

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