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January 22, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-22

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, January 22, 1997

Daring fihumaking falls flat with 'Lady',

By Kristin Long
Daily Arts Writer
The world of movies brings some of
the most conservative topics to life, but
it also dares to attack the most obscure
and unusual ideas. In the case of "The
Portrait of a Lady," the bizarre meets
the creepy, and the final result is noth-
ing but a mess.
Nicole I RE
Kidman stars asP
Isabel Archer, an
enwrapt in the
elite world of
19th Century
Europe. She is by no means a normal
woman, for her lapses into realms of
eccentric fantasies reveal a lady with
severe mental trauma.
Isabel is torn between her indepen-
dence and marriage - she has more
men after her than she can count - but
her problem is she has her ideals con- .
fused with her circumstances.
Abandoning her Australian accent
for the role, Kidman's background is
difficult to understand. She does not
adapt to the American persona of her
fellow-American friend Henrietta
(Mary-Louise Parker), but neither does
she associate with the English lifestyle
where the story begins.
Isabel is confused by the aspects of


love, which she cannot begin to grasp.
After she denies marriage to her first
interest, she finds an unexpected com-
panion in her cousin Ralph Touchett
(Martin Donovan).
The dynamics between the two are
interesting, yet not enthralling. Their
interaction reveals a bit more than fam-
ily understanding,
V I E W but his infatuation
Dtrait of a with her goes mostly
Ldy Isabel's excursions
** into her subconscious
At showcase explain more than
any explicit remarks
she makes. It is also in these scenes that
director Jane Campion ("The Piano")
takes wild leaps into the most creative
cinematography. She explores Isabel's
thoughts through intense images that
often seem more like an experiment than
the final product.
When she once again has some
grasp on reality, her uncle dies and
leaves her an immense fortune; the
money, however, was not due to his
fondness for her, but because of her
cousin's passion. Being the lofty indi-
vidual she is, Isabel hardly notices and
takes instead to the liking of Madame
Serena Merle (Barbara Hershey), who
enchants the young American with her
piano skills.

Madame Merle is a world in herself;
she has a complex past that unravels
throughout the film. Her role is one of
the film's most successful complexities,
and Hershey does a decent job of being
the manipulative force in Isabel's mind.
A highlight of the film stems from a
former acquaintance of Madame Merle
named Gilbert Osmond (John
Malkovich). Osmond has some peculiar
power that brings every woman he
meets into his measly, dirty hands.
Malkovich is superb, as he the man you
love to hate, and expect no less than this
extreme. He has great chemistry with
his co-stars, and adds the deceit that
lacked in the film.
When the stubborn and independent
Isabel meets the obsessive and control-
ling Osmond, sparks fly; the transition
Isabel undergoes is minimal yet
extreme at the same time. It is obvious
she is not the same, but the entire time,
her mind is with others she abandoned
for Osmond.
She begins to neglect her own
affairs, and needlessly worries about
those of her step-daughter Pansy
(Valentina Cervi); she hopes that her
husband's innocent servant will be able
to escape his spell, and love without
remorse. She lives vicariously through
the eyes of the child, and as a result,
the important aspects of her own life

are neglected.
Kidman does nothing exceptional
with her role as the bewildered Isabel;
the potential for an amazing relation-.
ship with Malkovich is great, but the"
ending is a flat disappointment. It's as
though she is many characters compiled
into one, and she is confused with her
own identity.
What "The Portrait of a Lady" reallo
lacks is development of the minimal
roles that make the film a complete pro-
ject. The plot does not folloyv through
with the issues it presents,:and, aside
from Malkovich, most of the characters
act apart from others.
Many incidents also appear to be
adventurous risks by Campton to fill
audiences with amazement at her fine
work; all we do, however, is wrinkle our
noses and wonder the point -6 he sin*
ply weird imagery. Camionitempts
to model her work in her former success
"The Piano," but the lack of plot sub-
stance is not assisted by the unique
camera perspectives.
"The Portrait of a Lady" is not a typi-
cal film by any means. It touches on top-
ics of love, deceit and envy without fully
expanding on any one of these themes. It
doesn't present a picture of one woman's
life but rather a picture of daringsfilmin
and crazy concepts that never come
together for a satisfying work of rt.

Sophomore Shanon Muir stands In front of two of her photographs. JULLY PARK/Daily
Exhibit portrays life

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
The flurry of speeches, panel discus-
"sions and concerts commemorating the
late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give
members of the University community
a wonderful chance to hear a number of
varied opinions
-oncerning 0 RI
everything from
race relations to t
* 'nviironmental /7
racism. However, Michigan Unic
Chances to have
stories of racial
vstruggle told through sight rather than
sound are somewhat few and far
However, LSA sophomore Shanon
Muir has allowed her camera to narrate
stories ofAfrcan American struggle, suf-
fering and hope. Titled "My Brother/ My
Sister" Muir's modest exhibit will be
open for daily viewing in the Michigan
Union Art Lounge through Feb. 7.
. According to Muir, in a recent inter-
yiew with The Michigan Daily, "'My
3rother / My Sister' was created to lend
in appreciation to the dynamics sur-
ounding the black community. I want-
l to combine reality with destiny, the
what is' with the 'what it should be."'
The first half of this two-part visual
tourney is a heartbreaking photograph-
c ride with Detroit native Antonio.
Text to this exhibit sits a short written
equest. "Just for a second ... don't
-udge. Take a look into a black man's
world. Step into his shoes. Hear his
houghts. Feel his heartbeat..."
Antonio's childhood experiences
vhile living in Detroit's Brewster
rojects will cause those familiar with
hetto life to nod their head in sor-


rowful agreement. It allows those
blessed to be born outside the bowels
of this world of endless hopes and
impossible dreams to imagine the hor-
rific lives fellow Americans are forced
to live. Pictures of gutted buildings,
abandoned lots and the spot where
Antonio first
V I E W learned to fire a pis-
tol while still a boy
V Brother I will remain etched
My Sister in your mind.
n Art Lounge "All of those
irough Feb. 7, 1997 abandoned houses
and alleys were once
filled with people, a lot of whom, in his
25 years, Antonio has seen exit the
world," Muir noted.
The exhibit's second half features a
number of photos exemplifying the
dizzying array of multi-faceted expres-
sions of black love, from anger to seri-
ousness to sensuality.
LSA-first-year-student Duane Knight
was impressed.
"Very insightful,"he said. "It's amaz-
ing that (Muir) was able to take every-
day events many blacks can relate to
and turn them into something to reflect
And reflection is exactly what Muir
wants visitors to experience.
"The interesting thing about a cam-
era is that it can capture so much in but
a fraction of a second," she said. "But
simultaneously, each photograph urges
the onlooker to think beyond that sec-
ond the shutter flashed.'
The strong emotions many felt while
touring Muir's works were perhaps best
articulated by an anonymous statement
to her in her guestbook.
"You have really captured the desola-
tion of the inner city'."

Continued from Page 8
Various Artists
Hang the DJ (1986-1988)
You can't argue with the fact that
'80s music has been experiencing a
great resurgence. With '80s night fea-
tured at clubs across the country and
drawing huge crowds, the decade that
was known for excess is alive and well
in the '90s. The unfortunate fact is that
most of the younger 20-somethings
who frequent these clubs missed out
on hearing early '80s tunes right when
they came out. Most of us were too
young for college radio, and "alterna-
tive" radio was just a glimmer in the
eyes of programmers. But, by the late
'80s, all of that changed. With Rhino's
"Hang The DJ" volumes from 1986 to
1988, we can experience tunes that we
may have actually heard when they
first came out. This is the music of our
youth, our childhood. And it's good.
Rhino's three-volume set contains the
music that, no matter how it might be
denied, strongly influenced today's
alternative bands. This music wasn't

heard on the Top 40, it wasn't "new
wave," it was instead the first real mod-
ern rock. It broke away from the main-
stream and paved the way for future
bands who
would take
musical r
tion to anoth- *
er level.
Rhino cap-
tures the
music of
these three
years skill-
fully, includ-
ing bands
ranging from
Ministry to
R o b y n
many of ' |||R.
whom don't
appear on
Rhino's other th: '
'80s collec-
tion, "Just Bananarama appears on "t
Can't Get
The first CD, 1986, naturally begins
with The Smiths "Panic" from which,
the title of the collection was taken.
The Smiths were one of Britain's pre-
mier bands of the decade and managed

to take a step away from "new wave"
music with Morrissey's sarcasm. While
"new wave" was synthesized, fluffy
music, the late '80s modern rock was
filled with
lyrics, a step
away from
the earlier
lack of sub-
stance. Other
songs fea-
w tured on this
first CD are
New Order's
L o v e
and Siouxsie
and the
"Cities In
| Dust?' Those
{ || 1 who doubt
the connec-
tions to
ang the DJ." music need
only look at
No. 1, the Frente remake, and recall
that No. 2, Sid Vicious, later of the Sex
Pistols, was formerly Siouxsie's drum-
With 1987, came Love and Rockets
("No New Tale to Tell"), who met with

a very successful tour last year, the
Sugarcubes ("Birthday"), whose singer
Bjork has gone on to a very successful
solo career, and the Red Hqt Chili
Peppers ("Fight Like A Brave"), all of
whom appear on the second "Ilang The
DJ" volume.
The final volume, 1988, contains per
haps the most interesting mix,, "erew "
have Everything But The Girls"Apron
Strings" (way before last year's hit
"Missing") and Ministry. Then Ministry
heard here isn't the early synth-pop
incarnation that created "Everyday Is
Like Halloween" (and that eurrent fans
deny ever existed), but the later muta-
tion who spawned "Stigmata," possibly
the most assaulting song heard on com-
mercial radio in 1988.
Die-hard synth-pop fans ueed not,
overlook this collection. The CDs con-
tain enough New Order, early INXS,
Bananarama and Depeche Mode to
keep you dancing for days. In fact, it is
"Hang The DJ"'s ability to accurately
cover the changing face of rock and pops
music that makes them so enjoyable.
So, all of you current "modern rock"
listeners, take note. This is the music of
your youth. Don't deny it, just accept i
influence and recognize that music has
n't changed that much, for better or fort
-Lise Ifarwin



---------- I



Celebrate the 24th
Anniversary of
Roe v. Wade

guest speaker
State Senator
Alma Wheeler Smith
followed by the video
"The Fragile Promise of Choice"


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