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October 01, 1996 - Image 10

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-01

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ftAWOOMIDOU

Concert on campus
The University Symphony Orchestra will be performing tonight at Hill
Auditorium. The free show is a good opportunity for members of the
community to feed their intellects and, at the same time, show some
appreciation for the hard work of numerous University students. The
concert wilt be directed by Kenneth Kiesler, and it begins at 8 p.m.

Tuesday
October 1, 1996

10

a

Innovative new indie flick walks tall

y Kelly Xintaris
Daily Arts Writer
In the independent film "Walking
and Talking," rookie writer / director
Nicole Holofcener bravely tackles that
most perplexing of human relationships
- female friendship.
Amelia (Catherine Keener) and
Laura (Anne
Heche) have
been best friends R E
since their pre-
pubescent days
of leafing
through "The
Joys of Sex."
Flash forward to
1996 New York, where Amelia works
in the classifieds section, and Laura
does counseling en route to becoming
a certified therapist.
As they approach the big three-oh,
both women stand on opposite ends of
the dating spectrum. Amelia, the chron-
ically single one, has a tendency to
make men the center of her universe.
Her ex-boyfriend, now platonic friend.

Andrew (Liev Schreiber) even tells her,
"You made me too important." At the
peak of her desperation, poor Amelia
finally gives in to a date with Bill
(Kevin Corrigan), "the ugly guy who
works at the video store."
Meanwhile, Laura is on the verge of

marriage to Frank

VIEW
Walking and
Talking
At State

(Todd Field), a jew-
elry designer with
a mole on his
chest. This physi-
cal detail is actu-
ally an important
plot point,
because its poten-
tially cancerous
existence causes a

dow, Andrew uses her money to pay for
phone sex with a California woman,
and Bill never calls her back after a one-
night stand. Laura feels attracted to
other men, including Peter (Randall
Batinkoff), a really bad actor. What are
the girls to do?
Obviously, these story elements are
not prime material for any earth-shat-
tering revelations. Holofcener manages
to maintain interest, however, with a
remarkably original, often amusing
script. While there are no cardboard
cut-out types of characters to be found,
some of the shorter scenes seem extra-
neous, such as Laura's conversations
with a pseudo-schizophrenic patient
(Vinny Pastore).
When Amelia, feeling neglected,
finally confronts Laura, the scene fails
to capture the sense of drama that
Holofcener clearly intends. In an
ambiguous ending, the friends finally
make peace with their respective neu-
roses, not to mention their respective
men. Though the film may not conclude
up to par, delving into the lives of truly

interesting characters - people who
may seem all too familiar - is enter-
taining enough.
Indeed, the most impressive gift
that "Walking and Talking" offers is
its superb acting. As the soul-search-
ing, obsessive Amelia, Keener
("Living in Oblivion") turns in an
absolutely stellar performance. Heche
("The Juror"), who bears an uncanny
resemblance to Carole Kane, also
delivers as the self-involved bride-to-
be. Corrigan is perfect as Bill, the
video store clerk whose nerdy friends
drool over Amelia at a horror-buff
convention. The way he discovers
how Amelia refers to him is perhaps
the film's most hilarious scene.
Schreiber, yet another standout, reels
in the laughs with his portrayal as
Amelia's oblivious ex.
After all is said and done in this film,
you walk out remembering these char-
acters the most. If you don't recognize
people you know (or yourself), in
Holofcener's creations, you probably
never will.

rift in their relationship. Laura, a super-
control-freak, can't stand the sight of
the thing, setting the stage for such dia-
logue as "Give me my mole back!"
(Don't ask.)
The plot centers on Amelia's fears of
losing her childhood friend to Mrs. sta-
tus, and Laura's doubts about Frank not
being Mr. Right after all. To top that off,
Amelia's dying cat falls out of her win-

McDowell makes the t
jump to prime time

Catherine Keener and Anne Heche in Nicole Holofcener's "Walking and Talking."
'U' prof's first thriller fails
to give the slightest chilli

Los Angeles Timeq
HOLLYWOOD - Malcolm
McDowell is back in school.
The British actor made an indelible
impression in Lindsay Anderson's con-
troversial 1968 film "If ... ," as Mick,
the smirking, rebellious upperclassman
at a rigid boarding school.
Twenty-eight years later, McDowell
is now a member of the academic estab-
lishment. As Rhea Perlman's nemesis in
the new CBS comedy "Pearl,"
McDowell's Stephen Pynchon is a bril-
liant, pompous humanities professor
who makes life a living hell for his stu-
dents, especially Perlman's Pearl
Caraldo.
7 "Pynchon," McDowell muses, "is a
bit of a monster. I think he's really
mean. He has such an ego!"
On a recent lunch break, McDowell
is relaxing in his dressing room on the
Hollywood lot where "Pearl" films.
Though his hair is now white,
McDowell still possesses that famous
smirk. He's far less intimidating than
his screen image.

Adorning the white walls are por-
traits by his wife, Kelly, of Anderson
and Stanley Kubrick, who directed
McDowell in the landmark 1971 film,
"A Clockwork Orange."
"Lindsay Anderson's really Stephen
Pynchon - very, very much inspired
by him," McDowell offers. Not only did
the late Anderson direct McDowell in
"If ... ," "0 Lucky Man!" and
"Britannia Hospital;' they were also
close friends.
"He was always very, very good with
actors, very supportive of actors and
made sure that they felt confident;'
McDowell says. "But when you got past
that and became his friend, if you said
something stupid, he would let you
know about it: 'Don't be so ridiculous.
Good Lord. How old are you and you
don't know that? Did you have an edu-
cation or anything?"
Pynchon's only saving grace,
McDowell says, is the fact that he's a
great teacher. "How many teachers do
we remember?" McDowell asks. "Just
the ones who really inspired us."

Malcolm McDowell (pictured in "Tank Girl") makes the jump to TV.

McDowell laments he never attended
college. "I was so sick of education and
being at a closeted (private) school;' he
says. "I just couldn't wait to get out. I
got a place to go to university in Sussex,
but I said, 'That's it. I want to earn my
own money.' I couldn't take it any-
more."
McDowell is busy learning how

to play the sitcom game. "I just live
the life of a monk, basically," he says
with a smile. "I come here and I have
to learn lines all the time. Theater is a-
piece of cake. With this, you have to
slogger these lines to get them in
because I have huge chunks of
speeches. It has to look sort of effort-
less."

Paul Damien
Death At C Minor
Commonwealth Publications
Ever wonder what evil lurks in the
mind of the average University profes-
sor? Paul Damien, on faculty at the
Business School, sets the demons free
in his first thriller, "Death At C Minor."
The novel features an endless parade of
murder, booze, torture, corpse mutila-
tion and classical music. Despite these
obvious draws, "Death At C Minor" is
bloated and boring.
The thriller's most glaring flaws are
its unnecessary plot twists and its
tedious moral asides. Damien tried to
write a high-toned thriller by incorpo-
rating fine wine, interna-
tional conspiracies,
leftist politics and
huge chunks of
poetry intor
the story
line. He-
even struc-
tures "Death
At C Minor"
around Dante's
"Inferno." However, these additions
contribute little to the plot and make his
characters seem pretentious instead of
refined. It doesn't help that Damien
makes his central characters into
pathetic poster children for political
correctness. The characters' extended
pious dialogues about governmental
corruption, homosexuality, AIDS and a
host of other evils detract from the plot
and are just plain annoying. "Death At
C Minor" has all the subtlety of a
sledgehammer.
Surprisingly, Damien's ending is
much better than the rest of the book.
His choice of psycho is adept - I
couldn't guess the conclusion before-

won't have enough patience to wade
through the rest of the novel to reachi'it.
If only the author had ex6rcised breity
and restraint, perhaps he could have
fashioned a more stimulating thriller:
- Mary Tromble"

Bill Bryson
Notes from a Small Island:,
Affectionate Portrait of
Britain
Morrow Books

An

The Daily
Arts section
is still looking
for writers to
cover Books,
Fine Arts, Music
or Theater.
Please call Dean,
Li-e or Tyler at
763-0379.

Readers who haven't been lucky
enough to go to Britain - or who ha
been, and miss it already - have foun
a most welcome book
in Bill Bryson's
"Notes from a
Small Island."
Though it's not
a compre-
2 hensive 'or
in - de p th
look at
Britain, 0
makes enter-
taining reading as an American's
humorous tribute to his adopted coun-
try.
Bryson begins the book by explain-
ing how, before moving back to the
United States, he decided to take a
seven-week journey through the British
Isles - "a kind of valedictory tour
around the green and kindly island that
had for two decades been my home"
Bryson's route leads him from Dover i
the northernmost point in Scotland,
stopping at numerous pubs, inns and
landmarks in between.
Bryson displays intense interest in
everything he comes across, which
greatly enlivens the book, but now and
then he takes things a little too serious-
ly. In a chapter on Oxford, he expostu-
lates about its unsightly modern archi-
tecture; in the next, he laments t
destruction of hedgerows in the
Cotswolds. Readers will no doubt lose
track of how often he discusses 'the
homogeneity of British cities - they
all seem to have "the same shops,
libraries, and leisure centers, the same
pubs and television programs, the same
phone boxes ... .' Bryson makes a
strong and valid point about the erosion
of traditional British culture, but after a
while it becomes repetitive and exce
sive.
But despite the occasional didactic
lapse, Bryson proves to be a sharp and
witty observer of British life.
Throughout the book, he offers vivid
descriptions and telling details that
enable readers to picture his entire jour-
ney.
Equally as interesting are the anec-
dotes that could only happen in Britain.
Where else, for example, could ,o
find "walking guides" in a bookstore.
And where else would there be two
sorts of walking - "the everyday kind
that gets you to the pub and, all being
well, back home again, and the more
earnest type that involves stout boots,
Ordnance Survey maps in plastic

________________________________________________________ I.

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