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January 08, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-08

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 8, 1997 - 8A

Twinkle, twinkle

'Evening Star'


'Terms' sequel fails to outshine original

By Jennifer Petlinski
Daily Arts Editor
Before you enter the home of Aurora Greenway
and family, wipe your feet on the mat and check your
emotional baggage at the door.
There's certainly more than enough inside.
In director Robert Harling's "The Evening Star,"
we are left with the pathetic rem-
nants of its 1983 predecessor, R
"Terms of Endearment."
Although the respectable and / TheI
heart-melting "Terms" left audi-
ences suffocated by their own
tear-filled tissues, its sequel At8
unsuccessfully bends over back-
ward, forward and sideways to do too much more of
the same.
In "Terms," we wistfully recall the hospital scene
with mother and daughter, Aurora (Shirley MacLaine)
and Emma (Debra Winger), when Aurora must face
her daughter's death. "There's nothing harder," she
utters, between convulsive sobs, breaking our hearts
as we peered into their private moment.
Aurora, now left with the jobs of raising her
daughter's children - Tommy (George
Newbern), Melanie (Juliette Lewis) and
Teddy (Mackenzie Astin) - and adjust-
ing her own prim and proper ways, must
discover her own healing process.
Hence, the idea for "Star." The
kids are all grown up and Aurora's
having problems communicating
with them: Melanie wants to run
away with her trashy boyfriend
(Scott Wolf); Tommy is spending
time in jail, and he still has major
hostility from mommy's death;f
Teddy has a kid and no wife. To
top everything off, Patsy (Miranda
Richardson), Emma's best friend,
still seems intent on ruining Aurora's
It is no wonder that in "Star," Aurora
starts sleeping with her therapist (Bill Paxton).
Apparently, she needs help. Big time.
After watching the first moments of "Star" audi-
ences can tell that it is lacking. What was once a feel-


ing story in "Terms" becomes useless, schmaltzy fluff
in this continuation.
Aurora walks in on her beloved granddaughter
having wild sex with her long-haired boyfriend, and
the camera hones in on the reaction of an appalled
grandmother. Aurora keeps visiting Tommy in jail,
hoping to get through to him; his character is so
obnoxious and flat that we want
E V I E W to slap him in the face. Countless
scenes like these try to make us
Evening Star understand the obstacles Aurora
has faced while raising these
reckless runts. We, however,
Briarwood and Showcase cannot be sympathetic. Instead,
we keep asking ourselves:
"What happened to those adorable children from
Still, it's not even the abrasive children that make
this sequel so hard to watch. Sadly enough, it's that
the film has no purpose. As a result, Harling wants to
make its purpose trying to outdo its predecessor. It's

almost as if the director challenges his audience to cry
harder at "Star.'
Not even halfway through the dreadfully lengthy
film, the characters start dropping like flies, dyingl
everything from cancer to strokes. We feel Harling
pulling our strings, milking our tears, yet they just
don't come. His tactics, to say the least, do not suc-
ceed; we become so hardened by the frequency of
deaths that we are left simply unable to feel anything
but the dragging time.
As in "Terms," Shirley MacLaine's Aurora is both
beautiful and charming. MacLaine does a commend-
able job reminding us of the quirks that made us love
her in "Terms." Here, though, the charm doesn't cut
it, because we don't see any growth, anything ne
It's as if the Aurora from "Terms" is a piece of car
board that was cut out and pasted into this bad plot.
Instead of learning anything new, Aurora discovers
how much like Emma her grandchildren actually are.
Then, it becomes "Terms" all over again - with a
higher family death rate, less lovable character..and
much more schmaltz. Needless to say, we have much
less sympathy the second time around.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of all is
the brevity of Jack Nicholson's role in
"Star." He breezes into Aurora's life af
two painful hours of blah, and we'#
been waiting for him. With a rendi-
tion of the beach scene, we are
temporarily reminded of what
made "Terms" so good.
Our hearts soar higher and
higher as the two ex-loves race
along the beach in Garrett's
(Nicholson) car, wind rippling
through their hair and clothes.
Even the "Terms" theme son
(with which we've been hit ov
the head the entire film) doesn't
seem so bad. Unfortunately,
Nicholson leaves about as quickly as
he enters, and we are stuck with the
others for 15 more brutal minutes.
In the end, even the charm of MacLaine
and Nicholson cannot save this sleeper. The
twinkle is undoubtedly missing from "The
Evening Star."

Cheers, Shirley!


Continued from Page 5A
Crash Test Dummies
A Worm's Life
Arista Records
The surprising success of "Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm," Crash Test
Dummies' 1994 Top 10 hit, may turn
out to be more of a curse than a bless-
ing for this odd Canadian pop band; the
lack of an obvious hit on the new album
has already relegated them to one-hit-
wonder status in the
minds of many lis-
Which is in a way
too bad, because the
Crash Test
Dummies are still"
making some
extremely inventive
music. "A Worm's r:<
Life," their third
album, does not
contain an obvious
hit, but Roberts'
storytelling is just as
humorous and
insightful as it was Dummmb Dummm
on the previous two
records. His obsessions with nature and
science abound in even greater num-
bers; the title track includes lines that
you can't help but love, like "Though
you think me cold and slimy / I've got
a nice home" and "I was plucked in
from the wet slime / and dropped in
tequila." "Swatting Flies," is no less
than a tribute to an old elementary
school science teacher. "I'm Outlived
By That Thing?" muses on our fleeting
life spans compared to those of inani-
mate objects. And "There Are Many
Dangers" warns us all not to shove


forks in toasters, not to lick stop signs
when it's cold outside and not to keep
our tonsils in a jar on our bedroom
This sort of humor can get tiresome,
but as on 1994's "God Shuffled His
Feet" there were enough serious
moments to keep Crash Test Dummies
from being shrugged off as a novelty
band. What's missing from "A Worm's
Life" is the musical and melodic edge
of the Dummies' earlier work. They
may have summed it up best in the cho-
rus of "An Old Scab" which states,
"Each time I try to make a fresh stab / I
end up just picking at an old scab." The
spontaneous, sing-
along feel is gone,
and in its place is a,
calculated sound
that just doesn't fit
with this group's
d o w n - to - e a r t h
mentality. "A
Worm's Life" is
essentially "God
Shuffled His Feet"
lite. At the risk of
sounding like a
closed-minded my-
fa v o r it e - b an d -
Dummmb. change consumer,
this album is just
not as good as the last one.
- Mark Feldman
The Tear Garden
To Be An Angel Blind, The
Cripple Soul Divide
Nettwork Records
The Tear Garden released the album
"To Be An Angel Blind, The Cripple

Soul Divide," a record so melancholy
and languid that they make Eddie
Vedder and Trent Reznor look like Ren
and Stimpy singing "Happy Happy, Joy
Formed 13 years ago,. the band is
based on a collaboration between
Skinny Puppy member Cevin Key and
Legendary Pink Dots' member
Edward Ka-Spel. The gap between the
last album and this new one has been
marked by tragedies: the breakup of
Skinny Puppy, the death of Skinny
Puppy member Dwayne Goetthel, and
the departure of The Legendary Pink
Dots from their long-time record
The album starts off with "Ascension
Day," a slow acoustic ballad with Ka-
Spel crooning, "I concealed my face /
Don't you even try to catch my eye /
It's frozen in its place / Here, it's invi-
tation only, I'm lonely / But I'm forced
to stay."
The dark mood on the album contin-
ues with the seven-minute epic,
"Crying from Outside." This time, Ka-
Spel sings about the feelings of help-
lessness and the futility of life (i.e. sui-
cide) ("I'd like to blow a kiss goodbye
/ Liked to wave you all goodbye/ Can
you help me?") amidst the background
of a synthesized orchestra.
Other notable tracks include "Psycho
9," an industrial piece reminiscent of
The The's "The Violence of Truth,"
and "Judgement Hour" and "New
Eden" with Ka-Spel's vocals sounding
uncannily like that of Syd Barrett.
"To Be An Angel Blind, The Cripple
Soul Divide" creates a beautiful blend
between the Key's psychedelic sounds
and Ka-Spel's effective vocals which
achieve a dark electronic melancholy.
Though this album may not seem for
the light at heart, it provides a perfect
soundtrack for the beleaguered.
- Philip Son

Placebo is a brash hybrid of androg-
yny, punk, pop. metal, an American
singer, a Swedish drummer and a
British bassist. Not surprisingly, this
mix creates some unique music, as the
band's self-titled debut album amp
displays. Songs like "Come Home" an
"Teenage Angst" are dynamic,
poignant and self-deprecating; "Since I
was born I started to decay / Now noth-
ing ever ever goes my way," the amaz-
ingly pretty Brian Molko croons
tongue-in-cheek. The band plays with
emotions the way they play with sound:
The simplest line, musically or lyrical-
ly, takes on several meanings in the
context of a song.
The group's rush of a sound often
obscures witty couplets like "Hang on
to your l.Q. / To your ID" from the
song "I.Q." Sometimes, however, the
sound is the point, as with the bouncy
bassline of "Bionic" and the lush gui-
tars on "I.Q." "Nancy Boy" is a gender-
swapping glam-rock stomp of a song,
owing as much to Stardust-era Bowie
and Suede as it does to Molko's own
androgyny. The menacing, Son
Youth-esque "Bruise Pristine" sho
the band can rock both hard ind styl-
ishly, but ballads like "I Know" and
"Lady of the Flowers" balances the
band's tense, loud rock with a gentler
but no less powerful approach. The
album closes with two dreamy instru-
mentals, (one buried 10 minutes after
the end of the "last" song) confirming
the band's versatility and combatting
the slight sameness of their rock sounk
"Placebo" is a promising debut by
band that comes by being different nat-
- Heather Phares



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-V L.



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