24A - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 3, 1996
By Jon Petlinski
Daly Fim Editor
"The Trigger Effect."
The title sounds damn tough, doesn't
it? After walking into the theater and
seeing all those previews, audience
members will probably be expecting the
action, gore and high drama that the
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
What do we get instead? Nothing
more than a heavy dose of stupidity
and - of course - a bottle of amoxi-
Annie (Elisabeth Shue) and Matt
(Kyle MacLachlan) are happily mar- Kyle, Elisabeth and Dermot anticipate the
ried: They've got an adorable baby
girl, a place in suburbia, USA, friend-
ly neighbors and a great friendship absurd film.
with Joe (Dermot Mulroney), their It all begins when Matt drives to the
construction worker friend whom pharmacy to pick up his amoxicilin for
they've known since high school. dear baby's ear infection. The pharma-
So far, everything's normal, right? cist cannot deliver the goods, though,
Then, however, their kid gets an ear because the doctor cannot call in the
infection - a minor problem - but prescription ... you know ... with the
everything's still power outage and
Ahh, but no. REVIEW The normal
That same night course of action,
DUM-DAH- The Trigger Effect you ask? WAIT
DUM-DUM . * FOR THE MED-
A SEVERE ICINE. AN EAR
BLACKOUT AtShowcase INFECTION IS
SHUTS DOWN USUALLY NOT
THE CITY FOR THE ENTIRE DEADLY. But let's follow our little for-
WEEKEND. mula: Power Failure equals Mass Chaos
So big deal, right? Well, someone and Disobedience. Matt steals it and
should certainly tell that to writer / runs.
director David Koepp. Most people Soon, the disorder is magnified.
think that Power Failure equals Get- People steal things from others hous-
out-the-candles-and-let's-play-a-fami- es; all the townspeople decide that
ly-game-of-Monopoly-for-awhile. nothing is safe and that they must buy
Koepp, however, has a different way of guns to protect themselves. Then,
seeing things. In his book, Power they kill others with the guns they
Failure equals evil, violent disorder have bought.
and the spark of a trigger effect - his Many, including Matt, Annie and Joe
formula and theme for this entirely take action and flee the town before it is
author leaps Stateside
arrival of some angry moviegoers.
too late. Come on. Let's give these peo-
ple a break. We all know how power
failures can be.
And if you think that the plot is bad
... The actors and their character devel-
opments are far worse.
MacLachlan's Matt (looking very
much like Chandler from "Friends")
just cannot seem to make his character
work for him. At first, he plays his anal
retentive qualities to the perfect degree.
Maybe we can see how his uptight,
impatient behavior led to his-actions at
the beginning. But, by the end of the
film, ,we are astounded as to how a
measly trigger effect could possibly
carry this supposed man of reason so
Elisabeth Shue has us even more
in shock with her inadequate por-
trayal of Annie - especially with the
accolades and success of her last
film "Leaving Las Vegas" fresh in
our minds. Shue's Annie comes
across as coy, immature and full of
sexual innuendo. In no way can we
even begin to believe she's a mother.
In many scenes, Annie is more con-
cerned with getting drunk, firing
guns and flirting with her high
Dermot Mulroney, unlike Shue and
MacLachlan, doesn't leave much of an
impression at all. Looking much like
Joey from "Friends," his Joe just
seems to be there, swept away with the
masses by the unstoppable trigger
Let's put it all together - we've got
both Chandler and Joey from Must-
See-TV So maybe this movie is just a
really bad episode of "Friends."
Maybe this is Koepp's idea of a bad
Maybe tomorrow I'll see a pack of
gum and steal it. Then just maybe there
will be a power failure and Ann Arbor
will erupt into mad chaos. We'll all get
guns (because what else can one do in
case of a failure?) and flee the town
shooting each other.
Maybe we're all stark raving mad
and shouldn't have our doctors pre-
scribe amoxicilin when we have ear
Or maybe (let's keep this point sim-
ple), we just shouldn't pay six bucks to
see crap flicks like this one.
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - At
28, Amelie Nothomb is the rising star
of French writing. Her seriously weird
novels sell like hot croissants, attracting
a teen-age cult following and lavish
praise from the Parisian literary estab-
Now the Belgian diplomat's daughter
wants to "storm the citadel" of the
English language. Her fourth novel, a
dark blend of humor and menace called
"Les Catalinaires" is set for publication
in the United States next year by Henry
Holt under the working title "The
Like her three previous books, "Les
Catalinaires" was a major success in
France, selling more than 50,000 hard-
back copies since publication in
"That's enormous for a book like
that," says Sandrine Labrevois of
Nothomb's Parisian publisher Albin
Nothomb burst onto the scene in
1992 with "Hygiene de 'Assassin"
("Assassin's Hygiene"), the sinister
tale of Pretextat Tach, an obese, octo-
genarian writer with a murderous
It sold 100,000 in hardback, many
more in paperback and has been trans-
lated into a dozen languages. Stage ver-
sions have been performed around
Europe. There's even an opera based on
"I'm always asking myself, 'Why?' I
thought I had written an elitist book,"
said Nothomb in an interview in her
parents' Brussels apartment.
"It seems this book can be read 100
different ways - as an intellectual
novel, as a comedy, a thriller, a horror
Nothomb turned to writing at the
age of 17. Uprooted from a childhood
spent mostly in Asia, she had just
arrived in Europe, a lonely, anorexic
teen-ager desperate to postpone adult-
"I prolonged my childhood with
anorexia. The adult body still disgusts
me," declares Nothomb who delights in
communicating that disgust. Her books
describe their grotesque characters in
"I'm attracted by extreme beauty and
extreme ugliness," she says. "But it's
easier to describe extreme ugliness."
She admits to being obsessed w
fat people and their food.
In one passage of "Hygiene de
]'Assassin," the portly Pretextat Tach
reduces a guest to a vomiting wreck by
describing his eating habits.
"For several hours," the character
recounts with glee, "I boil pig's skin
and feet, the rear ends of some chick-
ens, bone marrow and a carrot. I add a
ladle of lard. This broth I like to drink
cold, after the fat has hardened
forms a crust that makes your lips g.
Nothomb says writing helped her
overcome anorexia. But her diet
remains as odd as Pretextat Tach's. "I
like rotten fruit, for example, when it
starts to grow little green hairs."
Before launching into her daily four
hours of writing, this slender, dark-eyed
woman breakfasts on cup after cup of
strong black tea.
"It makes me throw up. But it gis
me the energy I need to write," she says.
"The tea, together with the disgusting
things I write about, means I have to
stop often to vomit."
Her writing has that effect on some
critics. More than one has resorted to
expletives to dismiss her work. One
female critic has said she will slap
Nothomb's face if they meet in the
"They call me unbearable, prett
tious, disgusting," says Nothomb. "It's
strange. I thought my work, like most
books, would provoke only indiffer-
Others laud her as the most promis-
ing French-language novelist around.
The literary magazine Lire voted
"Les Catalinaires" 1995's book of the
"She's insolent, very fresh, provc
tive" according to Lire's editor PiUWj
Assouline. "She has a humor and an
irony that are very rare in today's
Assouline has compared Nothomb to
both Nobel Prize winner Samuel
Beckett and the commercial horror
writer Stephen King.
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