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January 10, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-10

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Uf£tmiuImiun ai

Three Men and a Tenor
MSU Men's Glee Club spin-off comes to the Power Center tonight for a
zany evening of music and celebration. Tickets are $12 for students
and $15 for others and are available in advance at the Michigan Union
Ticket Office. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the
ticket office at 763-KTS.

January 10, 1997


SEvita: Saint or slut?
Madonna triumphs with tragic film

By Bryan Lark
Daily Film Editor
Don't cry for Madonna, America.
At least not yet anyway - Madonna's gigantic and risky
reer move known as "Evita" is a beautifully sung, skillful-
"acted, gorgeously shot and adroitly directed film. "Evita"
strikes a phenomenally grand pose, but it is still far from the
best picture of the year.
Electing style over substance, "Evita"
sidesteps its inherent subject matter of R
political unrest and the dangers of exces-
sive power with lavish production num-
bers and catchy turn-of-phrase. It creates
an easy-to-swallow, toe-tapping, heart-
breaking, hip-shaking, tear-jerking, unde-
bly fun extended music video telling the story of Maria
a Duarte de Peron, the beloved saint / whore of Argentina.
OK, so it's not all fun. The film begins with the announce-
ment of Eva Peron's death from cancer at the age of 33,
exploding into a 15 minute whirlwind of sorrow.
Up to this point, the audience is fine, getting into the
groove, so to speak, of this tragic tale - that is, until a happy
little guitar ditty begins and identity shifting, opinion-chang-
ing narrator Che (Antonio Banderas), avoiding the funeral at
a bar, turns directly to the camera and sings, "Oh what a cir-
cus, oh what a show ...."
After the initial shock of the unreality of this musical, Che
*dears himself to the audience as he sets up the story behind
Argentina's love / hate relationship with its favorite actress-
Was she a saint? Was she a self-serving, power-hungry
vixen who slept her Way into the hearts and pants of nearly
everyone in Argentina?
In this completely sung extravaganza, answers to press-
ing, substantial questions are hard to come by - as soon
as you notice an ambiguity or discrepancy, the film pro-
vides you with another catchy tune to defer you from


thinking, which is detrimental for a drama but expected in
a musical.
Never losing its hedonistic momentum, the film depicts,
sublimely, if episodically and abstractly, a young, confident
Eva beginning a new life in the big city ("Buenos Aires"); her
declaration of uncertainty ("Another Suitcase in Another
Hall"); her unlike-a-virgin years ("Goodnight and Thank
You"); her relationship with Juan Peron
(Jonathan Pryce) in "I'd Be Surprisingly
E V I E W Good For You"; Peron's rise to the presi-
Evita dency ("A New Argentina"); and Eva's
reassurance of her disapproving con-
***9 stituents ("Don't Cry For Me,
t State and Showcase Argentina").
Slowing down only briefly in the sec-
ond half, the breakneck pace is maintained by accounts of
Eva's European tour, her battles with the upper class, her fla-
grant philanthropy, her campaign for the vice presidency and
her proposed exaltation to sainthood, which marks the begin-
ning of the end of the saga of Evita.
By the time the music, and thus Eva, dies, the audience has
come to know and love the three principle characters through
stellar songs. The audience has been treated to an amazing,
dynamic spectacle that truly deserves the rivers of tears and
the thunderous applause it receives.
Emotions and ovations aside, there is still something wrong
with "Evita," other than cancer, that is.
Don't blame Madonna - her performance is like a prayer
- exhilarating at best, satisfying at worst and always engag-
ing. She did everything that was necessary to successfully
emulate Eva Peron, including making the viewer forget all
those years of Boy Toys, "Sex," that gold tooth and Dennis
Don't blame Antonio Banderas, he's Oscar-worthy as the
sarcastic, insightful, omnipotent conscience of the nation. His
flair for the musical, especially in the up-yours-mister anthem
"Goodnight and Thank You," injects a huge dose of adrena-

Jonathan Pryce waves to the crowd as Madonna smiles.
line into any already caffeinated movie.
Don't blame the capable, almost pointless, forehead-
implanted Jonathan Pryce. After all, the film is not called
Don't blame the stellar production team - Alan Parker's
vigorous, yet gentle direction, Gerry Hambling's astounding
MTV-on-speed editing, or Penny Rose's splendid, sophisticat-
ed costume design are all much-needed assets.
Blame Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's original
music and lyrics, with guitar riffs, lame rhymes, and bland
Latin flavor that now seem dated and generic. With little cin-
ematic appeal and even less character development, the
sometimes insipid soundtrack still makes an enjoyable

singing biography. After all, Hollywood musicals are not
exactly the hallmark of significance.
Great performances, outstanding production, and sweeping
yet imperfect soundtrack aside, what. exactly, is the film's
opinion of its biographical subject, Eva Peron ?
Instead of revealing any clear opinions, "Evita" revels in its
own ambiguity, keeping Eva as enigmatic as possible, allow-
ing viewers to form their ideologies of Evita, and thus
Madonna, independently.
Whatever your opinion of the two pop icons, forgo your
wild days and your mad existence, please keep your promise,
and don't keep your distance from Madonna's triumph,


Whitney and Denzel get friendly in "The Preacher's Wife."

Snoop stinks
up on new
Snoop Doggy Dogg
Tha Doggfather
Death Row
This is scary. Maybe even eerie. A
Snoop Doggy Dogg album that ISN'T
all that. An album that is so full of weak
rhythmic holes and out-of-place ele-
ments one is forced to wonder if maybe
2PAC's death has affected Snoop
adversely. Granted, Snoop would be
hard-pressed to keep rapping songs at
the level he had on "Chronic,"
"Doggystyle" and "Murder Was the
Case." Granted, "Tha Doggfather" is
still a better album than 80 percent of
the rap albums that have been released
since the Fat Boys were popular.
Granted, Snoop no longer has the help
of premier rap-music producer Dr. Dre,
who left Death Row in the later part of
last year... .
Ah, maybe we're onto something
here. While Snoop's rapping is sub-par
at times, what is most prominent about
the bad on "Tha Doggfather" is the
raunchy way in which Snoop's rapping
clashes with the background beats more
often than not. "Snoop Bounce," "Me &
My Doggz," "You Thought," "Groupie,"
"Sixx Minutes," "Snoop's Upside Ya
Head," "Blueberry" and "Doggyland"
contain just a few of the dilapidated
beats which haunt most of the 21 cuts
splattered across "Tha Doggfather."
In a way, the sheer number of terrible
tracks Snoop's lines are laid on are as

'Preacher's Wife' tugs at emotions
w ith heartwanning holiday tae

Kristin Long
Deily Arts Water
The latest run on holiday films has
hit an intriguing low; the Hollywood
geniuses have lapsed into a field of
slap-stick Santas and out-of-control
"The Preacher's Wife" has that wel-
come, dual holiday / non-holiday flavor
that has been
ssing from
cent venues; it RE
brings a new TeP
twist to the sea-
sonal plot, while
common themes.
With musical
interludes from Whitney Houston and a
strong cast including Denzel
Washington, the remake of the 1947
classic "The Bishop's Wife" offers a
':ent variety to the standard holiday
Houston's repertoire could raise a
few eyebrows in her singing-mixed-act-
ing career. However, her role here fits
with style because the plot focuses else-
where and not on her singing alone.
Houston plays Julia Biggs, the wife of
the pastor of St. Matthew's Church and
the parish choir leader. Her musical tal-
t fits aptly with her role and does not
m overdone nor overplayed.
A majority of the film's success
stems from Denzel Washington's role


as the angel Dudley. In answer to the
Reverend Henry's (Courtney B. Vance)
prayer for help, Dudley transcends to
help the preacher regain control of his
church community. Their interaction is
funny and sincere, while the tense feel-
ings between them create much anxi-
When Henry becomes obsessed with
parish problems, the
relationship between
VIEW he and his wife
cher's Wife begins to falter.
Dudley attempts to
*** soothe the wounds,
At Showcase but in effect only
makes things worse
because the chem-
istry between Julia and the angel is
dynamic. The subtle glances they
exchange reveal that with each dilem-
ma the pastor encounters, the more
infatuated Julia becomes with the heav-
enly body.
When the world seems to cave onto
the problematic Henry, his only hope is
to turn to the nuisance Dudley.
Washington takes a less stark approach
to his role, and the result is a gentle man
with a great deal of potential humor.
His annoying appearances when Henry
is at his worst makes him even more lik-
able to audiences.
Amid all this romance and chaos, a
younger actor makes an impressive
debut as the son of the pastoral couple.

Justin Pierre Edmund as Jeremiah
Biggs shows much hope while he deals
with the loss of a friend to an orphanage
and his father's absence in church
affairs. The innocence of the children
combined with the mystical figure is
magic and makes for light-hearted fun.
This amusement, however, causes
some problems for the plot - it makes
for a long film with a short time span.
The significant, and thereby interesting
events, happen few and far between,
leaving much drag in the middle of the
story. The surface of the story is stimu-
lating and compassionate, but beyond
that there is little of interest.
"The Preacher's Wife" is impressive
with its character interaction. Houston
and Washington are brilliant together,
as is the angel with his project Henry.
Houston's singing is also commend-
able on the soundtrack, for unlike her
previous films, it is not central and the
major key in the movie's success. Her
songs do not overshadow the point, nor
do they inhibit her acting ability.
"The Preacher's Wife" is an engaging
film about life-changing events. The
plot's depth does not extend very far,
thus leaving the film to fit in the holi-
day greatest hits category. The character
changes hit at the heart and leave noth-
ing but a pleasant feeling at the film's
outcome. Houston is redeeming her act-
ing career, and we may leave the theater
apt to hear another song. Maybe.

Pimp Doggy Dogg looks smooth.
funny as they are disappointing. In an
underground dis of Dre and anyone who
would assert that Dre's beats were as
important in bringing Snoop up as his
lyrics were, Snoop says in "Freestyle
Conversation": "Delicate? Beats? So
that's what makes me now? Nigga, I
don't give a fuck about no beat."
And it shows. You'd think on this
song that Snoop didn't care too much
about rapping either. He's not rapping
on "Freestyle Conversation"; he's talk-
ing fast, like his soul was taken over by
the spirit of E-40 or something.
While the lyrical content is more
interesting than the beats background-
ing it, it doesn't take much to realize
that the sounds accompanying the
rhymes have a purpose that shouldn't

be overlooked. Dr. Dre recognized that,
and it was exactly because of his bomb
instrumentation that we forgave his
sometimes weak vocal flow. Even MC
Hammer, Luther Campbell and Vanilla
Ice got away with bad rapping for
awhile because of their songs' dancable
flava. Snoop's rapping on "Tha
Doggfather" is far from bad, but it's not
being buoyed by the kind of nod-yo-
head noise that Dre could mix in min-
utes. Dat Nigga Daz (who you'll quick-
ly be able to hear made a lot of the
mixes on this album) has some skill, but
he's just no Dre.
And Snoop, "Tha Doggfather" and
the hip-hop community are suffering all
the more because of it.
- Eugene Bowen




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