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September 23, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-23

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fe tdAn ioug

F

Monday
23, 1996

5A

September;

Grand cast fails to
save graceless 'Heart'

'

____________________________

Berry's 'Wife' wishes for too much

By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Exiting the theater at the end of the hall with
"The Rich Man's Wife" emblazoned above the
' por, I am disaffected by having just survived
eer torture at the
hands of Halle Berry. RE
But through my bore-
dom, one pressing The I
question arises.
Is "The Rich Man's
Wife" the worst movie
ever made?
In the following paragraphs, an examination
will be conducted to determine if this lifeless
lone of every so-called suspense-thriller in the
Wast decade is worthy of its place as the epito-
me of worthless cinema.
First, let us examine the sorry excuse for a
plot. "Wife"is the redundant, predictable story
of Josie Potenza (Halle Berry), who is, NO!, a.

rich man's wife,
Said rich man is Tony (Christopher
McDonald), a television executive and adulter-
er extraordinaire who neglects his wife so
often, she is forced into the arms of her British

A'V
Ri(

hunk of love, Jake Golden
IIEW (Clive Owen).
Just when things are
ch Man% starting to get heated,
Wite Josie breaks it off with
No stars Jake and forces Tony to
At Showcase take her on vacation, in
hopes of reconciliation
with her wayward, wealthy husband.
However, Tony soon aborts the getaway in
favor of a business meeting, leaving Josie to
fraternize with scary stranger Cole (Peter
Greene). Seemingly moments after meeting
Cole, the pair are inexplicably best friends and
she tells him every detail of her sordid, sor-
rowful life.

When Cole turns psychotic and obsessive in
record time and offers to kill Tony, Josie high-
tails it back to Los Angeles where marital bliss
is suddenly prevalent.
That happiness is shattered when Cole fol-
lows Josie home, kidnaps Tony, takes him to a
park and shoots him at least 80 times, before he
finally expires on some playground equipment
- easily the most hilarious death scene ever
captured on film.
To make a mercilessly long story short, Cole
blackmails Josie, claiming the murder was her
idea. Josie turns to Jake, who is, not surpris-
ingly, in cohorts with Cole to get his hands on
Tony's money. With no other suspects, the
bumbling police officers blame Josie for the
murder, who in turn must kick ass and reclaim
her good name.
If the film sounds like a bad episode of
"Melrose Place," you're giving it too much
See WIFE, Page 8A

By Kelly Xintaris
Daily Arts Writer
Remember the stomach-turning scene in "Cape Fear"
where Robert De Niro's character, in psycho mode, chews off
a woman's cheek?
Illeana Douglas played the victim in that breakthrough film,
and she reprises the wronged-woman role in "Grace of My
Heart." Eric Stoltz cheats on her, Bruce Davison cheats on his
wife with her, and Matt Dillon makes an ungraceful exit before
she realizes that she has cheated herself out of real happiness.
Douglas plays Edna Buxton, an aspiring singer and song-
writer from a very wealthy Pennsylvania family. When the
precarious chanteuse wins a contract with a New York record
label, she heads for the Big Apple with dreams of singing her
own songs her own way.
The reality of what sells in the late '50s, however, quickly
dashes away Buxton's hopes for diva status. Female singers
like Peggy Lee were no longer "swell," and male rock groups
would soon become "the most." When manager Joel Millner,
overplayed by John Turturro, walks into Buxton's life, she
sells out - not to make money, but to keep making music.
Buxton changes her name to Denise Waverly and settles
into work at the Brill Building, a place that in reality used to
churn out hit pop songs that are now relegated to oldies sta-
tions. The film traces the path of Buxton's career across a
decade of turbulent relationships, concluding rather melodra-
matically with
R EVIEW"thematerializa-
tion of her initial
Grace of My dream.
Heart Director
Allison Anders
At Showcase has gotten much-
deserved atten-
tion for her work, which has centered on women's experi-
ences. In "Grace of My Heart," Anders' collaboration with
Martin Scorsese as executive producer results in a film that
wavers between a woman's story and a period piece. She
seems to be aiming for too many things at once, and the film,
like Buxton, loses its voice in the process.
Douglas lip-syncs her heart out, and Turturro and Stoltz
look like they stepped out of an old beatnik-inspired Cappio
commercial. Despite this appeal to authenticity, the film
lacks a certain genuineness that even its impressive cast can-
not bring to the screen. Although Douglas' quirky vulnera-
bility enhances the Buxton character, the dialogue with her
men often seems forced.
Stoltz stands out as Buxton's appealingly slick co-writer
and first husband Howard Caszatt. As Jay Phillips, a psyche-
delic surf rocker, Dillon does his best Jim Morrison impres-
sion. Like his "Drugstore Cowboy" role, Dillon plays dazed
and confused well, as he bravely sports a wig that would
make Shaggy of "Scooby-Doo" fame jealous.
Despite the distractions the supporting cast provides, how-
ever, some major gaps in the plot detract from the film's con-
tinuity. Luma (Brittany English Stevens), a teen-age mother
Buxton once wrote about, suddenly lives with her, and
Buxton's old friends, Doris Shelley (Jennifer Leigh Warren)
and Cheryl Steed (Patsy Kensit) pop up in Los Angeles - all
with no explanation.
The result is a wide range of slang, from "the most" to "far
out," and fashion, from capri pants to hip-huggers, that par-
allel a widely stated message: follow your dreams, be your-
self and so on. With new songs and old substance, "Grace of
My Heart" might have a good beat, but you might not want
to pay $6.75 for it.

R.E.M. cashes in with 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi'

By Brian A. Gnatt
Daily Arts Editor
R.E.M. is cashing in.
The band's latest release, "New
Adventures in Hi-Fi" (**, Warner
Bros.), would be more aptly titled "Old
Rehashes from the R.E.M. Songbook "
With its collection of 14 tracks recorded
at soundchecks, dressing rooms and a
ew studios, the record sounds like a b-
Wides compilation with some new mate-
rial, but mostly re-used riffs and even
alternate versions of R.E.M. classics.
"New Adventures" has three different
types of songs: One sounds like left-
overs from their 1994 "Monster" ses-
sions, another sounds like "Monster"
with a little oomph and innovation, but
the third type are rip-offs of R.E.M.
tracks from the band's "Out of Time"
and "Automatic for the People" albums.
14 The rip-off factor and failure to
dxplore new territory make "New
Adventures" a disappointing record.
For the past 15 years, the band has been
releasing constantly progressing
albums. Each record built on the last
and expanded the band's horizons. This
time, though, the sky must be falling in
as the band regresses to create one of
R.E.M.'s worst albums, if not the worst.
The fact that the band tried to pass off
>ld tracks with new names is insulting to
the listener. "Electrolite" is "Automatic"'s
"Nightswimming" - the two have
almost identical piano riffs and Michael
$tipe's same style of vocals. The instru-
mental "Zither" is "Automatic"'s "Star
Me Kitten" without the words. Others
like "E-Bow the Letter," the radio-friend-
ly duet with Patti Smith, is the twin broth-
er of "Out of Time"'s "Country
Feedback," and "New Test Leper" sounds
uite a bit like "Out of Time"'s "Half A
orld Away" (and Pearl Jam's "Elderly
Woman" from "Vs").
Aside from the remakes, the majority
of tracks continue right where "Monster"
left off. "The Wake-Up Bomb" is a good
track, as is "Departure," with its
Bachman-Turner Overdrive-sounding
guitar riff. "Bittersweet Me" is another
solid rocker that borrows its intro from
the R.E.M. classic "Fall On Me."
Despite its "Monster" sound, "New
Adventures" does experiment a bit, in the
same vein as U2's "Zooropa." "Leave"
hUs a siren blaring throughout the track
that gives it a good groove and interesting
sound. The album opener, "How the West
Was Won and Where It Got Us," is a slow,
antanina-znu it Sinea mellw

I

Iileana Douglas (top), Matt Dillon and
John Turturro star In Allison Anders'
latest film, "Grace of My Heart."

Peter Buck (far
left), Mike Mills,
Michael Stipe
and Bill Berry,
otherwise known
as R.E.M., are
back with anoth-
er album, the
mediocre "New
Adventures in
Hi-Fl."

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