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November 25, 1996 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-25

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 25, 1996

New '101'
breeds
more love
By Ryan Posly
For the Daily
It would be impossible to write about
Disney's new live-action "101
Dalmatians" without placing it in the
context in which it was seen.
On Friday night, the Michigan
Theater hosted the Midwestern Benefit
Premiere of the film amid Hollywood-
style hoopla. While throngs of people
milled about outside the theater await-
ing the arrival of Jeff Daniels via an
old-fashioned fire engine, Detroit news
vans readied their cameras and
Dalmatian dogs ran amok through the
crowd. Once local hero Daniels showed
up, the masses swelled inside the the-
ater, helping themselves to free popcorn
and soda.
. Through the work and donations of
numerous local businesses and, of
course, Disney, the Michigan Theater
was, for a brief weekend, transformed
into a Hollywood movie palace. The
Premiere benefited Daniels' Purple
Rose Theater Co., located in his

UMS performance shines.

By Emily Lambert
Daily Arts Writer
Rackham Auditorium seats 1,200 people, and Saturday
night's crowd was standing-room only. Chamber music does-
n't usually attract such crowds, but this performance by the
Guarneri and Orion String Quartets was surely special - and
may prove to be one of the most interesting concerts of this
University Musical Society season.
The program began with the Orion
Quartet, joined by Guarneri's violist R
Michael Tree, playing Mozart's "Violat
Quintet in G-minor." The opening mea-
sures were tentative and slightly out of Rack
tune, but the group began to groove by
mid-movement. And in the Adagio ma
non troppo, the pinched and almost
uncontrollably soft sound of violinist Daniel Phillips
began to open and sing. In a gorgeous, rocking lullaby,
Phillips' tone settled gently down on a blanket of accom-
paniment.
Phillips sailed through the final Allegro, spilling his sound
like water over the tops of runs. Motives were tossed from
player to player with tuning that was almost, but not quite;
consistent.
It could be said that the Orion String Quartet was the
evening's opening act. And to have the Quartet-in-Residence
of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as an open-
er speaks volumes about the night's main attraction, the
Guarneri String Quartet.
The Guarneri Quartet has the longest-running collabora-
tion of any string quartet anywhere. The founding members,
Arnold Steinhardt, John Dailey, Michael Tree and David
Soyer, have played together since 1964. In a business that suf-
fers quick turnover and venerates maturity, the Guarneri
String Quartet reigns supreme.
The players' connection was immediately apparent in the
"Sextet for Strings in A-major" by Antonin Dvorak. After
more than 30 years together, the musicians have rich and
nearly indistinguishable timbres.
At times the violist overshot a note or the cellist bent a
pitch, but exquisite musicianship made all pardonable. The
group seemed guided by intuition rather than a leader.
Ensemble mechanics are no longer the issue for the Guarneri
Quartet - music is.
To make a sextet, Guarneri's members were joined by

E
trig
th

Orion's violist Steven Tenenbom and cellist Timothy Eddy.
Yet the quartet, which is the subject of several books and a
full-length film, has a bond so strong that Tnenbom and
Eddy were obvious intruders. Their more abrasive style was
out of place.-
The second movement, Dumka, featured some of the
night's finest playing. Most amazing was the Czech folk
idiom, authentic and unstrained. Unre*
technique ended the exhilarating Presto.
E V I E W It seemed a shame to further dilute the
Guarneri bond by adding two more play-
ng Quartets ers to the ensemble. But the beauty of
am Auditorium the "Octet in E-flat major" by Felix
Nov. 23, 1996 Mendelssohn made the ambitious
endeavor worthwhile.
The two quartets were positioned
facing each other, with Steinhardt at the helm. The octet's
opening, inspired by a theme by Haydn, was infused with
energy. *
Although the first movement was lovely, the group's sty
was hard to grasp at the beginning of the second movement,
Andante. But Steinhardt soon initiated a scale where the play-
ers' sounds blended and overlapped in a heavenly ascent.
In the Scherzo, amazing technique was of secondary inter-
est. The light, easy feel was reminiscent of another famous
Mendelssohn scherzo and the movement's ending left one
breathless.
Any lingering doubts about a collaboration between two
such different groups were abandoned in the Presto.
Unmistakable motives based on Handel's "Messiah" we
tossed about like a beach ball. Musicians from both quar-
tets were united in sound and style by Mendelssohns
music.
This octet, written by the composer at the ripe age of 16,
shows the impressions several Classical composers made on
the young Mendelssohn. Perhaps an ironic parallel can be
drawn between Mendelssohn's admiration for his predeces-
sors and the Orion's feelings towards the Guarneri String
Quartet.
No strangers to Ann Arbor, the Guarneri String Qua tt
made its 26th appearance under UMS auspices on Satur&
Conversely, the evening marked the Orion String Quarte
UMS debut.
The quartets' fantastic collaboration earned an immediate
standing ovation.

Here is a small sample of the 101 Dalmatians.

owner of Pongo, a Dalmatian. One
fine day Roger and Pongo are out in
the park where the latter becomes
smitten with Perdy, a lovely Dalmatian

owned by Anita

hometown of
Chelsea, Mich.
Amidst this type of
excitement, the
film itself is some-
what anticlimactic.
it is also a little dis-
tracting when there
is a Dalmatian dog

REVIEW
101 Dalmatians
Opens Wed. at Ann Arbor 1 & 2 and Showcase

(Joely Richardson).
The two couples
immediately fall
in love and,
faster than you
can say "Disney
fantasy," they get
married. The
wedding scene is
a splendid repre-

sitting in the seat next to you, alter-
,nately watching the movie and staring
at you.
Nonetheless, "101 Dalmatians"
-was the main event (even though Jeff
Daniels received more applause than
the film), and it can be said that, at
the least, it lives up to its expecta-
tions.
John Hughes wrote and produced
this adaptation of the classic animated
film which features a gaggle of
Dalmatian puppies and a cruel, devilish
fur lover, aptly named Cruella DeVil.
This new version differs only slightly
from the original, even retaining some
of the old dialogue verbatim. It keeps
the look of old London and the English
countryside, while setting it firmly in
the present. Unfortunately, somewhere
along the line, it loses a bit of the origi-
nal's magic.
Jeff Daniels is cast as Roger -now
a video game programmer instead of a
coniposer - the charmingly oafish

sentation of the sort of parallel story-
telling that occurs throughout the
film, juxtaposing the actions of the
human characters with those of the
dogs.
After the marriage, Anita becomes
pregnant, Perdy gives birth to 15 pup-
pies and everything is happy. But, of
course, we know that Cruella is on her
way.
Glenn Close is absolutely perfect as
the monstrous witch who kidnaps a
total of 99 Dalmatian puppies, includ-
ing Pongo's and Perdy's, for use as her
clothes. She is in rare form here, way
over the top with lines like, "I don't
care how you do it: Poison them,
drown them, bash them over their
heads ... !" Close has the look, the
voice and the attitude down: she is
Cruella DeVil.
- But the real stars here are the dogs.
Because they don't speak in this ver-
sion, there was a worry that the dogs
would lose their charm. But in fact, all

the animals in the live-action film are
even more endearing than the original.
This is because of the brilliant trainers
who - with just a little bit of help from
Jim Henson's Creature Shop and
Industrial Light & Magic - drew such
amazing performances out of dogs,
puppies, sheep, horses, raccoons,
rodents, you name it. The antics and
emotion-drawing abilities of these well-
trained canines are reason enough to
see this film.
The production is aided by the
designers, who created magnificent
sets and costumes, particularly for
Cruella. Director Stephen H erek ("Mr.
Holland's Opus," "Bill & Ted's
Excellent Adventure") is equally adept
at handling the menagerie of animals
and maintaining a nice balance
between them and the human actors
on-screen.
The film, like the original, creates a
sort of parallel world of the animals,
where they all communicate and coop-
erate freely. This was part of the magic
of the original, and it even incorporates
a subtle message about inter-species (or
interracial) relations.
Although the new "101 Dalmatians"
suffers from an even more far-fetched
finale than the original - relying upon
Disney's ideal of unexplained after-
maths - it still manages to carry over
much of the fun of the animated classic.
Unfortunately, most people won't get to
see it in the context of an exciting
Midwest Premiere. where even does
had their own seats.

RECORDS
Continued from Page 5
The Cardigans
First Band on the Moon
Mercury
Though it remains to be seen whether
the Cardigans will be the first musical-
ly inclined group of lunar explorers,
they are without question among the
first and best bands from Sweden in
recent memory. On their American
major-label debut, the Cardigans hone
their pop confections to perfection, and
throw in a little weirdness for good
measure.
From start to finish. "First Band on

the Moon" takes a light, airy, innova-
tive approach to music. The band sets
'50s and '60s pop melodies to disco
and trip-hop beats for a glossy, glam-
orous sound that compares favorably
with Pizzicato 5 and Blondie's disco
days.
Each song is like a short film starring
Nina Persson's alluring voice as the jilt-
ed, jaded lover ("Your New Cuckoo,"
"Been It"), the sex kitten ("Happy Meal
II") and the hopelessly devoted fool for
love ("Step on Me," "Lovefool," "Great
Divide"). In each one, she's perfectly
cast, mixing just the right amount of sex
appeal with innocence. Persson is also
backed up by a terrific supporting cast,
her fellow Cardigans.
Their musical hybrid of pop, game
show themes, disco and Disney ballads

is the perfect foil to Persson's coy
vocals. Though the band's sound is
focused by their pop sensibilities, that
includes classic-sounding songs like
"Step on Me" and "Great Divide" as
well as eclectic tunes like the trip-h
influenced "Heartbreaker" and "Iron
Man," a jazzy cover of the Black
Sabbath rocker that features this year's
must-have musical accessory, the Moog
synthesizer.
The Cardigans balance skillfully on
the edge between clever and cutesy;
they're straight enough for your mom
to like them and hip enough to be on
the trendsetters' turntables. They're the
first band you should think of when
comes to fun, fresh, sophisticatW
music.
Heather Phares

ApI
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