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November 19, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-19

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 19, 1996

Al Pacino shines
behind the camera

in tchari
By Neal C. Carruth
For the Daily
"Looking for Richard" is the culmi-
nation of a five-year odyssey for actor /
director Al Pacino. This amusing,
involving and sometimes moving docu-
mentary charts Pacino's attempts to
make Shakespeare accessible and rele-
vant to American audiences, without
sacrificing content.
To this end, Pacino weaves together
the behind-the-scenes preparation of
the actors, interviews with both
Shakespeare authorities and "ordinary"
citizens and footage from an all-star
production of
"Richard III,"
filmed in part at REV
New York City'sL
Pacino's moti-
vations for select-
ing "Richard III"
as the paradigmatic work of
Shakespeare are not entirely clear. We
are told, though, that it is Shakespeare's
most popular play, performed more
often than "Hamlet." Also, the spiteful,
duplicitous Richard presents a golden
opportunity for Pacino, an actor not
renowned for his subtlety, to fume and
Among the most charged, fascinating
scenes in "Looking for Richard" are
those where the principal actors
rehearse informally. Each person strug-
'gles with the intricacies of language
and character, trying to square the per-
formances with the meaning of the text.
Pacino himself is particularly candid
about the often-puzzling challenge that
Shakespeare poses for an American



In the informal rehearsals, ideas,
interpretations and personalities clash,
with Pacino clearly eating it all up. The
intensity of these scenes is balanced by
footage of Pacino, on the streets of
Manhattan, promoting a Shakespeare-
in-Central-Park production of "Richard
The reactions of the populace to
Pacino's inquiries range from indiffer-
ence to hostility. An elderly, nearly
toothless bum muses about
Shakespeare's ability to bring to readers
the primordial meanings of words, so
they can experi-
ence honest emo-
1I E W tion. An old
Looking for immigrant, with
Richard little command of
English, tells
Pacino that of
At State Theater
course he knows
S h a k es pear e:
"Tooby, or not tooby. Zat is da ques-
Pacino consults scholars and fellow
actors in his quest to present
Shakespeare to the masses. Excerpts
from interviews with Sir John
Gielgud, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin
Kline, Vanessa Redgrave and James
Earl Jones illuminate the myriad expe-
riences that underlie a love for the
Particular highlights are Kline's
admission of making out in the back
row of a production of "King Lear," and
Redgrave's cerebral ruminations about
the use of iambic pentameter.
The polished scenes from "Richard
Ill" are inconsistent, ranging from
acceptable to mildly embarrassing.

Continued from Page 5
the story goes on to explain how
Houseman hires Welles for the show,
and how the idea for the radio broadcast
of "War of the Worlds" jumped into
Welles' mind.
While the performances of its lead
actors are not exactly impressive, they
serve the purpose of the show quite
well. Ryan Sherriff as John Houseman
shines in a few comical moments.
Rebecca Fried, who plays Ann
Froelisch, Houseman's secretary and
love interest of Welles, gives a good
performance. Her character fits well
into the scenario, giving the show much
needed comic relief.
Benjamin Barnett's impersonation of
Orson Welles is rather dry and stuffy. At
times, Barnett doesn't seem like he
could win the hearts of fans on
Broadway or on the radio. He also
doesn't seem to fit the alcoholic-wom-
anizer stereotype that the play tries to
present in Welles; it takes more than
good looks to impress a woman, and his
character is dull and arrogant.
The play specifically concentrates
on an instance in which Welles tries to
reinvent Shakespeare's famous
"Macbeth," and he sets it in the wild
African jungle. He is preparing the
play for a radio broadcast, and instead

Al Pacino stars in "Looking for Richard." After more than 25 years in show busi-
ness as an acclaimed actor on stage and screen, the veteran performer has set-
tled down to direct an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Richard ill."

of using the traditional witches that
Shakespeare had intended, he makes
them voodoo-chanting witch doctors,
played hysterically by Sara Smith,
Amy Aisen and Becky Katzman. This
scene identifies very well with the
original Welles, who always wanted to
reinterpret old stories and make them
his own.
The show is told with a few flaslih.
backs, which make the show hard 'to
follow if you aren't paying attention to
the slide projections that detail the time*
and setting of each scene. One useful
adage, with the images projected on the'
back wall of the stage, are the recreated
front pages of the Arts and Leisure sec-
tion of the "New York Times," whichv
inform the audience of changes in the
The climactic scene of the play,
which features a recreation of tl1g
famous broadcast, is not to be missed'
Hysterically written and performed, it i1
all the reason to see "Mercury." TIW
show gives its audience a perfet
account of the reality of that moment ir
American history, when a man could,
cause so much anxiety with a practical
0 "lercur " continues this week-
end at the East Quad Auditorium with'
shows on Friday and Sarday pat Sp.m.
and Sunday at 2 p.m. Student tickets are
$3 and they can be purchased at the

Alec Baldwin does a fine job as
Clarence, Richard's brother, imploring
his assassins to look within their souls

and spare his
life. At the other
end of the con-
tinuum, Aidan
Quinn is a dull
Richmond, rival
to Richard for
the throne. His
address to his
troops has no
vigor or excite-
Also featured
are Winona
Ryder, some-
what weak as
Lady Anne;

This docui
charts Pat
attempts I
iences wit

Queen Margaret.
Pacino has put together a worthwhile
film. Admittedly, it sags in the middle
and does suffer
from being
nenrarv worked on over
the course of
/Il O$' several years.
make But when Pacino
dons the charac-
ter of Richard
are Ill, he is perfect-
Sto ly at one with the
hunched back,
aud" crippled gait and
rasping articula-
hout tion of the title
G character.
Siontent. "Looking for
Richard" is a

Kevin Spacey, superb as Richard's fel-
low schemer Buckingham; and Estelle
Parsons, delightful as the loony seer

fine testament to
Pacino's love of Shakespeare and his
intuitive feel for the spirit of "Richard

Benjamin Barnett and J.D. Ryznar star in "Mercury."

I iI

Work Across Differences
r~a 4:: .:
Dialogues among different groups:
- People of Color & White People
- Men & Women
- Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals & Heterosexuals
- Christians & Jews
and others...
:. .
Placement forms for waitlisting available at
3000 Michigan Union
For more information call:
The Program on Intergroup Relations,
Conflict and Community

Request for Research Participants
For study investigating if a daily dose of aspirin
aids in the prevention of colon cancer.
Males or Females 18 years of age or
Volunteers will be asked to:
-take two adult aspirin per day for two weeks
-undergo 1 flexible sigmoidoscopy at the end of
two weeks
Thereisan ,* * . 0 M . upon
completion of the study.
For further infomation or questions, contact Kim
Burney at (313) 763-1141.

Placebo to open Weezer show

By Heather Phares
For the Daily
"I lost my voice so I can't do too much talking. I'm just
getting it back today," protested Brian Molko, lead singer /
songwriter / guitarist for one of Britain's most original
exports, Placebo, in a recent interview with The Michigan
Daily. He then proceeded to talk for a half-hour about his
band, his love of techno and his disgust with music journal-
ists. There's more here than meets the
But that's the case with Placebo.PA
Though they live in the UK, none of the
band members are British. Molko him-
self is a walking contradiction, appear- Toni
ing to be an attractive young woman,
replete with silver nail polish and pink
lipstick. And if it's possible for music to
be androgynous, then Placebo's certainly is, with lush
melodies and arrangements coexisting with a harsh rock atti-
"Last night we left the Weezer audience a bit confused, I
think," Molko admitted. "A few people in the crowd seemed
to get it and were moshing, but our music is a far cry from
'Buddy Holly.' But that's OK, we've been in the same kind of
situation before."
Indeed, one of Placebo's main goals is bending and blur-
ring boundaries. Molko rejects any attempts to pin his music
down: "It's so meaningless, this categorizing and filing away
of music. The British press had such a hard time figuring out
what category to put us in that they invented a new one for us:
'Gotheore.' I find it very difficult to say that I have any kind
of kinship to any particular kind of music."
Placebo's music isn't the only alien thing about the band


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all over Europe in pursuit of higher and higher returns.
Molko explained the effect of the gypsy-like upbringing of
the band on its sound: "We all grew up in lots of places
around the world, with no real country of origin. So we did-
n't have the same cultural and musical experiences that most
other kids have when they grow up. We just play the muse
that comes naturally to us."
And it's the music, despite all the coverage Molko's image
gets, that's paramount in Placebo.
Considering the anthemic rush of
E V I E W "Come Home," the hypnotic groove of
Placebo "Bionic," the sleazy, glam-inflected
"Nancy Boy" and the beautiful, psyche-
at St. Andrew's Hall. delic ballads like "Lady of the Flowers,"
Call (313) 963MELT Placebo's self-titled debut album shows
that there's more to the band than just a
love of silver nail polish.
"I get frustrated when people don't talk much about thO
music," Molko sighed. "(People) should ask me things about
the music, aspects of it, and not expect me to explain it to
Molko may want listeners to draw their own conclusions
about his music, but it isn't hard to figure out that Placebo is
a dynamic and unique band. They're already planning their
next album, a techno project (to be released on their Escalator
Music label) and a remixed single version of "Nancy Boy,"
along with the usual routine of touring the world.
Even the addition of a new drummer hasn't broken
Placebo's stride: "We've been writing a lot on the road, anl
our new drummer has really opened things up for us ctc-
atively," Molko said. "There were some tensions existing in
the band before that were hindering us. Now, with our new
drummer, we've written five songs in the past month. It's
been very exciting." As is nearly everything with this band.

Molko's childhood saw him follow his investment banker dad.

n-.Y v.... . ?

-- i


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