By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
Hollywood continues to unload its
spring sludge on the film-going public.
Its latest offering is the sub-par subma-
rine dud "Down Periscope." Far from a
disaster, "Down Periscope" nonethe-
less fails to generate any interest in its
characters or any original humor. And
(lghteningly) i is enough to make one
yram for the blockbusters of summer.
Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") stars as
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Dodge,
a,submarine officer who has been passed
over for a command position several
times. He is regarded with skepticism
by the powers-that-be because of what
the filmmakers apparently consider to
be his "zany antics." These include a
penchant for playing golf on the surface
<he submarine and a tattoo on his
genitalia that reads: "Welcome
Because of this, the admiralty gives
Dodge command of the Stingray, a rick-
ety old diesel submarine that has been
out of commission for many years. He
is also given a ragtag crew of misfits
and morons. Admirals Graham (Bruce
Dem) and Winslow (Rip Torn) chal-
lenge the newly appointed captain and
w of the Stingray to a series of war
i h" yum0d*u
Going to the movies this weekend?
Don't miss Award Juror Craig Baldwin's presentation of his film
"Sonic Outlaws" at 3 p.m. at the Michigan Theater. This weekend
will be your last chance to check out the Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Screenings will be at 7 and 9:30 p.m on Friday, and 1, 7 and 9:30
p.m on Saturday. Sunday's screenings of awarded films, at 5, 7 and 9
p.m., will wrap up the festival. Admission varies. Until next year ...
March 15, 19
'Down' with the ship
Directed by David S. Ward
with Kelsey Grammer
and Rob Schneider
At Briarwood and Showcase
games, which will serve as a test of
Dodge's dubious leadership abilities.
The war games occupy the bulk of
the film. The first game involves a mock
attack on Charleston harbor, which the
crew of the Stingray performs with the
ease. But the ultimate goal is to destroy
a dummy ship at the Norfolk naval
base, and this forces Dodge to enter into
pretend combat with his old commander
Captain Knox (William Macy).
Of course, it comes as no surprise that
the crew manages to pull together and
complete the exercises successfully, de-
spite the underhanded tactics of Dern's
character. I mean, didwehave any doubts?
Its adherence to the usual codes of com-
mercial filmmaking causes any enthusi-
asm to collapse within the first minutes.
Also, the fact that the characters are
participating in war "games" does not
make the narrative very compelling.
After a film like "Crimson Tide" (a
flawed but gripping work) in which the
fate of the world hung in the balance,
the hijinks of "Down Periscope" are
small potatoes. Nobody's really in any
danger, so why should we care?
Another problem is that none of the
characters are interesting; they stand as
the very definition of one-dimensional.
Grammer in the opening scenes is sup-
posed to be irreverent, but as an actor, he
buckles under this strain. Once Dodge
takes command of the Stingray, Grammer
appears not to know where to go with his
character. It's one of the most confused
performances I've seen in a long time.
Torn and Dem add a bit of flair and
excitement to the film, even though
theircharacters are setup as a simplistic
goodguy/bad guy dichotomy. Dern(one
of the finest character actors of the late
'60s and early '70s) looks particularly
weary as he assumes yet another role in
a film well below his talent.
Rob Schneider (formerly of "Satur-
day Night Live") also lends support as
the Stingray's Executive Officer, Lieu-
tenant Martin Pascal. Even Schneider,
a fairly annoying comedian, deserves
something better than "Down Peri-
"Hey, you're Jim Carrey's girlfriend, Lauren Holly. I'm so proud. Ulith would be envious."
By Emily Lambert
Daily Arts Writer
After pianist Garrick Ohl sson played
a recent recital in New York's Lincoln
Center, he fielded questions from the
*What will you do," a man asked,
"once you've finished playing this se-
ries of Chopin's music?"
"I don't know," the pianist report-
edly said. "Maybe I'll just come back
and start again."
"And everybody applauded,"
-Ohlsson laughed and marveled in an
interview with The Michigan Daily.
"That's a wonderful feeling."
This weekend, Ohlsson will give the
1 Ann Arbor concert in his series of
Chopin's complete works for solo pi-
ano. The cycle, which has spanned two
seasons, was held in three American
venues: Ann Arbor, State University of
New York at Purchase and Lincoln Cen-
ter. Toronto was later added to the slate.
"It's been an extraordinary high,"
Ohlsson said of the six-concert series.
"This has been an experience of incred-
ible intensity and immersion in Chopin's
sic that has been just exhilarating
This may be true for performer and
Where: Hill Auditorium
When: Tomorrow. 8 p.m.
Tickets are $16-$36. Rush tickets
re available. Call 764-2538 forj
more information. ,
audience member alike. Ohlsson's per-
formances in each city have drawn en-
thusiastic responses that surprised even
the pianist remembers wondering iflis-
teners would Chopin-overload. He
thought that the audience would run for
. exits as the last note sounded. Yet
AAhiaIIA VAmir UI'ov
scope." The script allows him to get
frantic and yell, but beyond that his
talent lies untapped:
And what would a formula-follow-
ing movie be without a curvy love inter-
est? Never fear: "Down Periscope" has
Sex and rock 'n' roll is what we're
talking with this here unit. And some
high powered acts are included herein.
The Melvins, Cows, Mudhoney and
Big Chief are all represented.
Originally a series of four 7" discs,
this CD collects all that material and
adds some sound bites from the movie
and three other songs. The compilation
flails straight into its subject with some
activists protesting porn, linkedto Halo
of Kitten's "I Hate Porn." A simplistic
but whistlable tune performed by mem-
bers of Free Kitten and the defunct Halo
of Flies, the song is the primary dis-
that in the form of Lauren Holly. Her
character, Lieutenant Emily Lake, is
sent aboard the Stingray by Dern's
character, with the intention of dis-
rupting morale. This is also an excuse
for the filmmakers to use Holly as a sex
object, accentuating her curves in an ill-
fitting uniform, while also making
preachy points about the "equality of
men's and women's abilities."
Don't surface until "Down Periscope"
has disappeared from theaters.
senter on the album. It finds its diamet-
ric opposite in the Melvins' "I Like
Porn," a smooth little number as sim-
plistic as its opposite.
Other songs dwell on more mixed
ground. "Camaro," by Hammerhead
with Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland,
is as much a personality study as any-
thing else, set to some good and angry
music. Guv'ner's entry just advocates
sex over "puerno" with some interest-
ing indie guitar sounds. Mudhoney's
"Goat Cheese" is just about the finest
bestiality ditty to come out ofthe United
States in the last 25 years. Strapping
Fieldhands contribute the wickedly ac-
cordion-textured "Porn Weasel," Boss
Hog's "Black Throat" rocks as you'd
expect a song to that has help from
some friends like Jim Thirlwell and the
Cows' "Pictorial" is some new, more
sedate material from the Minneapolis
foursome. Big Chief is funky, Black
Light Rainbow is hard like some type of
metallic substance and Gear Jammer
wins "Best Title" for their electrically
atmospheric "Mr. Peanut Eats the Corn
Out of My Shit."
In the end this is a pretty damn good
sounding compilation of great indepen-
dent, noisy bands. We could use some
more albums withpomasabindingtheme.
And more songs with titles like these.
- Ted Watts
See RECORDS, Page 9
*** ... Excellent
** ... Fair
* ... Poor
Zero ... A Bomb
A 'Natural Born' speaker comes to
Ann Arbor's Hill Auditorium!
That's right, kids ... world-famous director Oliver Stone,
winner of many Academy Awards for films like "Platoon"
and "Born on the Fourth of July," will be coming to Ann
Arbor to speak on the subject of "Making Movies Matter,"
The lecture will be on Wednesday at Hill Auditorium.
Sponsored by Hillel, the event will feature this acclaimed
filmmaker who has directed, written and produced
numerous films, including the recent "Natural Born Killers"
(pictured, right) and "Nixon." It is a rare and wonderful
opportunity to see up close the man and mind behind
these movie masterpieces. Tickets are now available at
the Michigan Union Ticket Office and through
Ticketmaster. In addition, the Daily Arts section will be
offering at least 10 free passes to this event starting on
Monday. So read Monday's Daily to find out what you have
to do to win some FREE tickets.
Garrick Ohlsson completes his series of Chopin works tomorrow night at Hill.
after playing five 2 1/2-hour concerts,
he's played as many as four encores in
one evening at Rackham Auditorium.
"I certainly have learned that there's
a great hunger out there for perfor-
mances of Chopin's music," Ohlsson
said. "Even though he's a beloved
composer and well-known, the re-
sponses have been really phenom-
This cycle was particularly difficult,
Ohlsson explained, because Chopin's
music is among the most physically
taxing ever composed. "There's a tre-
mendous transparency in Chopin's
music. It's dazzling in its perfection,"
Each program contained around 15
mostly short pieces forpiano. To quickly
capture and sustain the music's feelings
and emotions in a short span of time is
the main challenge of Chopin's music,
"In one four-minute mazurka, he'll
put literally a whole universe of emo-
tion," the pianist said of Chopin. "He's
really the poet of the heart."
Ohlsson is an acknowledged expert
on the 19th century Romantic com-
poser. Widely known as the winner of
the 1970 International Warsaw Chopin
Competition, Ohlsson resisted being
typecast as a specialist in the
competition's wake. He earned his repu-
tation playing a variety of music by a
variety of composers. Performing this
Chopin cycle, more than 20 years after
his achievement in Warsaw, was a cel-
ebration of sorts for him.
See OHLSSON, Page 9