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April 21, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-21

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Check out Michael Rymer's "Angel Baby" on the big screen. The
Australian film traces the relationship between a recovering mental
patient and his soul mate, as they are expecting their first child.
Don't miss the opportunity to see this engaging tale at the Michigan
Theater tonight. The screening begins at 9 p.m. Admission is $5 for
students.

Monday
April 21,1997

19

'Kings'

reigns in A2

Oscar-winning documentary highlights classic Ali-Foreman bout

By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
"When We Were Kings" the 1996
Academy Award winner for Best
Documentary Feature, has finally
arrived in Ann Arbor.
This soulful, incisive and entertain-
ing film chronicles the infamous
"Rumble in theĀ®
Jungle," the 1974 R
heavyweight cham-
pionship bout
b e t w e e n
Muhammad Ali
and then-champion
George Foreman,
held in President Mobutu Sese Seko's
brutal, impoverished Zaire.
The fight was the brainchild of pro-
moter Don King, who figures promi-
nently in the film. King wanted to see a
colossal matchup between Foreman, the
angry young turk of boxing, and Ali,
the onetime boxing giant whose star
was thought to have faded by 1974.
King's financial backer, putting up a
total of $10 million, was President
Mobutu, who thought that the fight

would draw major investment into the
Zairean economy.
Once both fighters arrived in Zaire,
Foreman suffered a cut above his eye
that required a six-week delay of the
fight. While Foreman recovered, Ali
engaged in his unique blend of poli-
ties and self-promotion, becoming a

EVIEW
hen We Were
Kings
At Michigan Theater

folk hero to the
Zaireans and
developing an
attachment to the
people and their
folkways. The
Zairean people
rallied behind Ali,

"The Good Woman of Setzuan" artfully addressed a theme of social change.
'Setzuan'stirsa Up
the-mes ofgoodness

as the date of the fight approached,
chanting "Ali, Bomaye!" ("Ali, kill
him!").
Muhammad Ali's present state, his
body racked by Parkinson's disease,
stricken with tremors, a mask-like
expression on his face, makes the
footage of the once vital fighter all the
more poignant. The film provides
ample evidence of Ali's prodigious

fight, Ali asks a crowd of reporters:
"You think the world was surprised
when Nixon resigned? Just wait'll I
kick Foreman's behind."
"When We Were Kings" doesn't just
explore the charismatic side of
Muhammad Ali, but also reminds us of
his heightened social consciousness.
Doubtless, Ali alienated many fans by
opposing the Vietnam draft and pub-
licly declaring his opposition to the war.
Also, the fighter was unabashedly
"Afrocentric" in an age when main-
stream black figures were dissuaded
from such proclamations.
Also fascinating is the demeanor of
the young George Foreman. Most peo-
ple know him as an affable and gregar-
ious adman, but the 26-year-old
Foreman was dark, arrogant and
unstoppable. Upon arriving in Zaire,
Foreman immediately rubbed the peo-
ple the wrong way, his pet German
Shepherd triggering memories of the
dogs used by the Belgians, colonizers of
Zaire (back when it was called the
Belgian Congo).
Director Leon Gast and producers
David Sonnenberg and Taylor Hackford
have pulled together an extraordinary
amount of footage, not only of the two
fighters, but also the music festival that
preceded the fight. Performers like
James Brown, B.B. King and the
Spinners are woven into the fabric of
the film, along with traditional African
music, creating an exciting feast for the
ears and eyes.
Brown, in particular, delivers sever-
al incredible performances, making
the concert footage of "When We
Were Kings" comparable to some of
the best rock documentaries
("Woodstock" and "Gimme Shelter").
The music lends to the film an inex-
orable rhythm that propels it forward,
creating an atmosphere of almost
intolerable anticipation.

By Katie Williams
For the Daily
Often one will be walking on the
streets of Ann Arbor during the evening
and will be approached by a homeless
person, dressed in worn clothes, asking
for some change. There is the ever-pop-
ular admonition about not giving hand-
outs to beggars; one is warned that the
homeless will use
the money for
drugs. But how can The
one go about The
changing such a
cynical and hard
world? This dilem-
ma is at the root of
Bertolt Brecht's parable, "The Good
Woman of Setzuan."
Set in the partially-modernized vil-
lage of Setzuan, China, the play is a tale
about how difficult it is for a person to
stay good in an evil world. The story
begins with the arrival of three gods
who are on a mission to solidify their
moral system by finding one good per-
son on Earth. They are taken in by Shen
Te, the local prostitute; she becomes
their example of a benevolent citizen.
The gods reward her with money,
which she uses to open a small shop.
The poor of the town take advantage of
Shen Te's kindness, and to survive
financially, she must disguise herself as
a harsh capitalist "cousin," Shui Ta.
Director Kate Mendeloff and her
actors handle the weighty message of
the play beautifully. The heavy subject
matter is lightened up by song, humor
and charismatic performances. The lead
role of Shen Te is divided between three
female actresses; the split works well to
show the gradual compromise of Shen
-Te's moral standards, as she relies more
.and more upon her alter ego, Shui Ta.
All three of these actresses portray the
iart well, each with a different strength.
-"eather Dilly's wounded expressions,
16E
Y.
F'
t

.E
(

Libby Walen's vulnerable stance and
Carrie Keranen's emphatic tone all work
to give Shen Te the color that transcends
her from the average good girl, to a hero-
ine that is both sweet and savvy.
Good performances were also given by
likable Alex Lutz as Shen Te's street-smart
friend, Mrs. Mi Tzu; and humorous Sen
Mike Wang as the amorous barber, Mr.
_ _ _ Shu Fu.
V I E W Energy was
ood Wmadded by a chorus
mood Woman of homeless people
of Setzuan who sang Brecht's
East Quad songs to the original
April 19, 1997 music of Benjamin
Cohen.
The real punch of the play came with
the original prologue, written by
Gordon Smith. The audience was still
getting settled when out into the house
walked the three actresses playing Shen
Te - dressed as normal college stu-
dents. They are stopped by a character
who asks them for some change. This
prompts a discussion between the three
girls about whether or not to give money
to people on the street. The beggar,
played by Benjamin Graham, returns to
the stage as narrator, pulling the girls, by
turn, into the role of Shen Te.
The modern speech and dress of the
characters, the urban setting of the play
and the small sign that informed the
audience that its ticket money would be
donated to the homeless all worked as
reminders of Brecht's message.
It is a bold undertaking to gather a
small auditorium of people for two
hours and preach to them about some-
thing important, something that might
make a difference. The company of
"The Good Woman of Setzuan" accom-
plished this beautifully and with heart.
Perhaps their spirit will cause some
thought about the difference one could
make in the life of that next homeless
person that passes one by on the street.

icharm and verbal whit.
While promoting the

upcoming

All in "When We Were Kings."
On top of the music and the fight, the
film employs interviews with Geotge
Plimpton and Norman Mailer, both fin
writers who covered the boxing worl
for many years, and were in attendance
in Zaire in 1974. Their commentary,
along with that of Spike Lee, makes the
significance of the fight clear and ren-
ders "When We Were Kings" a film that
can be enjoyed by people who have
never before watched a single boxing
match.
Of course, the anticipated bout
between Ali and Foreman does n
disappoint. Even those who know
the outcome will be on the edge of
their seats, riveted by what is
arguably the most exciting and
dynamic opposition of personalities
in the annals of boxing. "When We
Were Kings" is a moving testament
to a great mantand a unique era in
the history of sport.

Picture perfect: All gets behind the camera in "Kings."

MAD's 'Half-Wit' dishes out words to live by*

MAD: The Half-Wit and
Wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman
Various MAD Editors
Warner Books
Few people claim to have no knowledge of Alfred
E. Neuman, the forever-smiling, freckle-faced, red-
headed, big-eared, one-tooth-missing moniker of
MAD magazine. Wielding farce and sarcasm as Zeus
does thunderbolts, writers have produced a number of
hilarious yet ironically thought-provoking one-liners
in MAD's decades of existence.
MAD's editors have brought together a number of
the magazine's most well-known lines. Like writings
on a public bathroom wall, "The Half-Wit and
Wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman" will bowl readers over
with slapstick humor and - maybe for just a second

or two - really make them think about something.
This small book is divided into eight sections. In the
"Words to Live by" section, Mr. Neuman proclaims:
"Live every day as if it were your last,
because one of these days you'll
be right"; "If at first your
don't succeed, you're Q Q
about normal";
"Experience is some-
thing you never have
until just after you need
it."
Perhaps Neuman's most biting
criticisms take place in the book's "Politics and
Government" chapter. The hilarious book whips out
sayings like: "These days, the only time politicians are
telling the truth is when they call each other a liar,"
and "Isn't it amazing how political candidates can give
you all their good points and qualifications in a 30-

second TV commercial?"
Other interesting sayings include: "How is it that
people looking for a helping hand tend to overlook the
one at the end of their arm?"; "We're living in
an age when lemonade is made
with artificial ingredient
and furniture polish i
made with real lemons";
"The early bird gets the
worm, but look what
happens to the early
worm!"
Ending with the famous quote,
"What - Me Worry?," "The Half-Wit and Wisdom
of Alfred E. Neuman" stays true to its MAD maga-
zine form. This book is undeniably funny, in a
fluffy-ish, socially conscious sort of way. Not a ter-
rible buy at all.
- Eugene Bowen

*11

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"A &,
4.' 97A WARDS
4~ 4.

will be announced Tuesday, April 22 3:30 p.m. In the
Rackham Auditorium
Lecture by Pulitzer Prize-Winning PoeLPh lip1.evine
Author of:
Ashes

I

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