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January 22, 1997 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-22

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 22, 997 - 9

*True story shines on screen

By Kelly Xintaris
Daily TV / New Media Editor
"Shine" is an Australian import
based on the life of classical pianist
David Helfgott, a man blessed with
prodigious musical talent, but cursed by
the pressures of an over-zealous father
Armin Mueller-
Stahl).
Newcomer and) RI
prime Oscar-can-
didate Geoffrey /
Rush plays
Helfgott, who first
appears scamper-
ing through the
rain toward a small cafe, seemingly
euphoric. Looking haggard and acting
yperactive, Rush demands attention
from the opening scene, ending his stac-
cato outbursts with, "Oh yes, the tragedy
of it all, the tragedy." Rush's perfor-
mance rightfully deserves praise, as he
comfortably fills the shoes of a man who
suffers -and succeeds because of his
obsessive relationship with music.
In 4; refreshingly different move,
director Scott Hicks ("Strictly
Ballroom") then cuts to flashbacks of
a

E'

Helfgott's childhood and troubled ado-
lescence. Most of the film centers on
Helfgott's growing years, which send
him spiralling toward a nervous break-
down. Under the reign of an overpro-
tective, controlling father who was trau-
matized by the Holocaust, young David
(Alex Rafalowicz)
grows into a fragile,
V I E W socially over-
whelmed teen-ager
Shine (Noah Taylor).
Rafalowicz is
adorable and con-
At Ann Arbor1& 2 vincing in the role
of little Helfgott, a
boy who never knew the release of a
free-wheeling childhood because he
was too busy fulfilling his father's
expectations. By the time Rafalowicz
passes the baton to Taylor, some sort of
catastrophe seems imminent. For audi-
ences who like a little unpredictability
with their dramatic tension, "Shine"
may not seem as brilliant as the hype
surrounding the film would have you
believe. Yes, this is one of 1996's
brighter cinematic offerings, but no, it
is not the Hope Diamond of bio-dra-

mas.
Although the dysfunctional family
premise is not exactly new, the stellar
job of the supporting cast makes these
characters memorable. Mueller-Stahl's
eyes go from warm, comforting pools
of blue to icy crystals of rage with
amazing frequency and believability.
Taylor, a young actor to watch for, turns
in a dynamite performance that cuts to
the very core of Helfgott's delicate
being. Helfgott goes from playing
recital pieces in grade school to attack-
ing the "Rach 3" at the Royal College
of Music in London, an endeavor so
debilitating that its completion lands
him in a mental hospital.
With some fine acting to back up a
story that spans the '50s through the '80s,
Hicks' ambitious attempt to elicit as
much sad emotion as possible sometimes
falls flat. After spending some time
establishing Helfgott's platonic relation-
ship with Katherine Prichard (Googie
Withers), a wealthy widow, Hicks fails to
make it truly relevant. David visits
Katherine for months out of loneliness
and presumably the need for a better
maternal figure, and he later learns of her

Geoffrey Rush stars as David Hefgott, a troubled and brilliant pianist, in "Shine."

death while in London. Because of this
weak subplot, though, Taylor's devasta-
tion is not especially moving.
Later, when Hicks returns to Helfgott
(Rush) during his middle-aged years, the
second major female role comes in the
form of Gillian (Lynn Redgrave). The
last quarter of the film shows Helfgott in
love (literally at first sight), then married,
and finally reunited with his beloved

piano. One minute, Rush is mingling
with a mental patient, and soon, he is
walking down the aisle. Without know-
ing that "Shine" is based on the actual
events in the life of this little-known
man, such quick transitions would seem
very contrived, as if Hicks had to paste
on a happy ending.
Hicks' "Shine" ultimately gleams,
however, with several winning scenes. In

one of the film's more touching
moments, Helfgott (Rush) deals with the
shock of seeing his father after years of
paternal abandonment. Later, as Helfgott
bounces on a trampoline wearing noth-
ing but a trenchcoat and a Walknman, his
euphoria is contagious. Watching an
older and wiser Helfgott finally find
happiness, you revel in your discovery of
this little gem of a film.

Swans
gilide into
4. of
*D etoi
By Ted Watts
For the Daily
Want a great marketing gimmick?
Look no further than to long term ambi-
ent rockers the Swans. With the release
of its newest album, "Soundtracks for
the Blind," the band (meaning the two
primaries, Michael Gira and the mono-
sobriqueted Jarboe) announced that it
wasn't going to record any more studio
albums and that its next tour would be
the last. It's the old carnival trick: "Last
chance to see!" Like all the ads have
said, tonight is the Swans' final area
appearance - with a special live line-
up, including ex-Cop Shoot Cop drum-
merq Phil Puleo to boot.
Frontman Gira spoke about the wind-
ing down of his band in an interview with
The Michigan Daily earlier this week.
"I wanted to do one last thing;' Gira
*aid. "I did this
album. I decided it
would be the last P
one, and I wanted to
do afinal tour to put
a lid on it. It's 15
years of largely
frustrating and Cal
pointless work so I
decided to finish with a bang or a whim-
r, depending on how you look at it.
"Ihave a lot of ideas, music I want to
do'" Gira explained, "but I think the
name Swans is more of a hindrance at
this point than a help because it has so
much history attached to it. It seems to
set a series of preconceptions in peo-

Gripping 'Ghosts' awakens past

By Julia Shih
Daily Arts Writer
It's good to know that there are other
people besides John Grisham inside
Hollywood's world of courtroom dra-
mas. Rob Reiner's latest directorial
effort, "Ghosts of Mississippi," details
the assassination of
civil rights leader R1
Medgar Evers and
the 30 years it took
to bring about jus-
tice.

mi

Jarboe and Michael ira of Swans.

ple's minds before they listen to it, or
before they decide not to listen to the
music. So I've just decided that 15
years is enough self-torture for anyone
to endure, and I want to go out and do
other things.'
"Soundtracks for the Blind" is, in
some ways, an album that summarizes
the band's history. "We had about seven
songs or pieces;' Gira said. "Some of
them are just long instrumental pieces
that we recorded with the band that we
toured with last year.
"I knew I wanted to do a more sound-

RE VIE W
Swans
Tonight at 8
St. Andrews Hall
il 961MELT.18 and over.

scape kind of tex-
tural record than I
had in the past,' he
continued. "So I
had this large
library of sounds
I've compiled since
1981. Some of
them were found

into the computer, and I started collaging
and turning things backwards and mutat-
ing and mutilating them."
The packaging for the record is also
complex.,
"It's a doutle digipak, and it opens up
like a book,# Gira said. "It looks really
good, and it feels really good because it
weighs a lot. It weighs like a book. I
figure, it's my life's work, so far, any-
way. I want it to be exactly how I want
it for once. I want no loose ends. I want
the presentation to match the music per-
fectly."
Still, Gira holds some negative emo-
tions for his work. "I probably regret
that I ever started (the band)," he said.
"I would have been an artist or a writer
probably. But my life was ruined by
punk rock. That's what happened, that's
the way fate is. I'm proud of the work
we've done, I just think it's a hopeless
... I don't even want to dignify it with
'profession.' It's a hopeless line of work
to get into as far as any kind of future or
anything like that."
Now, you've been warned, and
there's enough reasoning that it's proba-
bly not one of those Ramone deals.
Never again will the Swans grace a
Detroit stage. Last chance to see.

It is the night of
June 12, 1963, and-
Evers, the first field secretary for the
National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People in
Mississippi, returns home to his wife
and children. As he wearily gets out of
his car, he is shot in the back by a white
supremacist named Byron De La
Beckwith (James Woods). As a white
man accused of killing a black man in
the racist South, he gets off easily,
despite two attempts to convict him.
Enter determined assistant district
attorney Bobby DeLaughter (Alec
Baldwin) 30 years later. Urged on by
Evers' wife, Myrlie (Whoopi Goldberg),
DeLaughter is able to reopen the case
despite heavy opposition.
As DeLaughter, Alec Baldwin defi-
nitely has his work cut out for him. The

. ..

prosecutor was a man who single-hand-
edly attempted to change a way of
thinking in Mississippi that had gone on
for centuries. But by trying to convict a
man of a crime committed 30 years ago
in a still-biased state, with evidence
missing and a lack of live witnesses,
DeLaughter stood
r V I E W to lose everything.
Yet his passion and
Ghosts of determination
MiSSISSippi allowed him to
*** keep going.
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2 Baldwin plays the
role with a great
deal of passion but slips into occasional
lapses of mediocrity at times.
A far stronger performance is given
by Whoopi Goldberg. Playing a woman
who patiently endured 30 years of wait-
ing and suffering, Whoopi is utterly
outstanding. Relying on subtlety, she
can provoke waves of emotion through
the mere raising of her eyebrows. This
performance is reminiscent of past
superb performances by Goldberg such
as in "The Long Walk Home" with one
difference - a little bronze man should
be knocking on her door for this one.
James Woods is also excellent as an
arrogant racist. As De La Beckwith, he is
the stuff of which nightmares are made.
He's haunting, sporting an irrational
hatred that feels like a slap to the face

every time he speaks, yet this irrationali-
ty is almost humorous at times. Make
sure to look out for Wood's antics in the
background of the courtroom scenes.
In the style of other movies, such as
"Mississippi Burning," "Ghosts of
Mississippi" rides on the power of
strong images of hate, though surpris-
ingly, not one burning cross appeared
throughout the entire film. The opening
shot sequence has a feel of an Oliver
Stone movie, with old news clips of
racial tension in the South setting up the
somber mood.
Kudos go out to Rob Reiner and.
writer Lewis Colick who are able to
smoothly move the movie through three
decades. Though the film occasionally
lags (the running time is actually 130
minutes), a lot of this drag-time is
devoted to character development atten-
tion to detail.
"Ghosts of Mississippi" documents
real events that changed people's lives.
It tells the story from beginning to end
in a compelling fashion. From the night
when a shot rang out that shattered
dreams to the final verdict, "Ghosts of
Mississippi" is a gripping drama which
takes audiences on an intense roller
coaster ride. With especially outstand
ing performances by Whoopi Goldberg
and James Woods, this film is not one
that you are likely to forget.

U I

sounds, or tape loops made on cassettes,
different synthesizer sounds and little
narrations and things I've collected.
After having recorded those basic songs,
I went to a little mastering studio in
Atlanta that has a pretty sophisticated
computer program called Sonic
Solutions. I started dumping all that stuff

JOHN
CLEESE

JAMIE LEE
CURTIS

KEVIN
KUNE

MICHAEL
PAUN

. ;
,4
r.
; _ .
" 3,',
,

11

Come UNDERGROUND for hot bands!!

C

**
Grand Dpeniog Celebration
Jan. 23r4 and 24th
8-11PM
free stuff
free music
art exhibition
door prizes
free food
a great time

C

a
C
a

Thursday 23rd
Spotlight Series free music ever
Amaizin' Blue
Gentlemen
8 to11PM
Thursday 30th

Friday 24th

LI

Drive Train
Lapdogs
8 toll PM
Friday 31st

f
,

F
; . FJ
m sin,

NoU

2

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