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February 26, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-26

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rImrn e stivai screenings
Check out the film entries for March's 35th A2 Film Festival. The pub-
lic is invited to see an open screening of good, bad and ugly films
that may become part of this year's festival. Join others at Gypsy
Cafe (214 N. Fourth Ave.) for some coffee and relaxing movie-filled
fun. Screenings run from 7 p.m. to midnight. Call 994-3940 for more
information.

Wednesday
February 26, 1997

5

A must-see or not a must-see?
Branagh's 'Hamlet' reigns over other versions

By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet," one of
the most anxiously awaited films of
1996, has finally arrived in Ann Arbor,
in a limited engagement at the
Michigan Theater. "Hamlet" is
Branagh's third
big-screen adapta-
tion of RI
Shakespeare, and it
represents his most
ambitious effort
yet.
Running almost
four hours in length
(a more streamlined version will be
released later this year), "Hamlet" has
been given epic treatment by Branagh.
For starters, he transplants the play from
its indeterminate Elizabethan timeframe
to the 19th century. This allows him to
indulge in garish, flowing costumes and
opulent, mirrored chambers.
There is little need to retrace the
play's storyline. Even if you haven't
read "Hamlet," you know it's a tragi-
comic tale of revenge, madness and
identity. There have been about 35 film
and television versions of "Hamlet"
prior to Branagh's, but it is obvious that
he intends his to be the definitive one.
Branagh (who else?) stars as Prince
Hamlet, sporting bleach-blonde hair and
a neatly trimmed mustache and beard.

E
E

He first appears clad entirely in black,
standing stiffly with head bowed.
Branagh truly cuts an impressive image,
and the role provides him with a golden
opportunity to demonstrate his range.
Other actors include Derek Jacobi as
Claudius, Julie Christie (sexy as ever)
as Gertrude, Kate
Winslet as Ophelia
V I E W and Charlton
Heston as the
Hamlet Player King.
*** Branagh coaxes
At Michigan Theater able performances
out of his transat-
lantic cast, many of
whom have never in their careers per-
formed Shakespeare.
"Hamlet"'s fatal flaw is that the cine-
matic devices Branagh has installed to
keep the audience's attention - the
sets, the costumes, the swelling music,
the epic (70mm) camera work - dis-
tract and overwhelm the drama con-
tained in Shakespeare's words. At many
points, the language became secondary
to Branagh's visual ideas.
In his desire to be totally comprehen-
sive, Branagh has gone between the lines
and beyond the text. In an encounter
with her father, Ophelia has a flashback
to a steamy rendezvous with Hamlet. Is
this just Branagh exploiting his director-
ial privileges? Alas, we get to see the
infamous jester Yorick, alive and well in

The many faces tormenting Hamlet (clockwise from top left): Julie Christie as
Gertrude, Derek Jacobi as Claudius, Gerard Depardieu as Reynaldo and Billy
Crystal as First Grave Digger.

Hamlet's memory. This adds nothing to
Shakespeare's already powerful medita-
tion on the transience of life.
Somewhat in question is Branagh's
rationale for changing the time of the
original play. Perhaps for Branagh the
decision was a self-conscious response
to Franco Zeffirelli's "Hamlet" (1990),
which was set in late medieval
Denmark, as the play accords.
Branagh's "Hamlet" has a fantastic,
stylized quality. In the ceremonial
scenes, the crowd is composed of a

multiethnic rainbow of faces. The fog-
shrouded forest has a deliberately artifi-
cial and unnatural glow. Unlike many of
its gloomy predecessors, the film color-
fully bustles on the screen.
"Hamlet" is an enormously entertain-
ing use of four hours, without a boring
moment, a bad performance, an ungain-
ly image or an ill-conceived scene. For
these reasons Branagh can be forgiven
his zeal to create the ultimate "Hamlet."
He has crafted an interpretation that
won't soon be forgotten.

Kenneth Branagh stars as the prince of Denmark in "Hamlet."

4Getting -
Out' lands
1
in Arena
By Christopher Tkaczyk
'ily Arts Writer
The life of the convict is often
explored through different mediums of
art. While there are many movies,
poems, books and plays about male
convicts, there aren't many available
that concern female ones. This weekend
will bring a new light to audiences'
eyes: Basement Arts presents another
look at the life of someone who is try-
-Jng to survive in a world that despises
, e condemned.
"Getting Out" tells the story of a
:woman who has served her prison term
and lands on the street, only to be
-refused the chance
Ato succeed. While P W
the woman's inten-
tions to become a
better person are Toni
quite obvious, the
world is oblivious
t6 her new life.
*ople can only perceive the mean
-criminal she once was. She is held
accountable and without the chance to
improve her state.
While enrolled in a performing arts
"high school in Louisville, Ky., BFA
Performance senior Stacey Mayer dis-
covered "Getting Out," a play that
trgged at her heart and pulled at her
mind.
Now, Mayer plans to tug hearts and
W11 minds in Ann Arbor as she pre-
sents her production of Marsha
Norman's "Getting Out" in the Arena
Theater.
What Mayer found most appealing
about the play was its simple theme of
how one woman tries to become a bet-
ter person, but is denied the chance by
society.
The beauty of this work is in the
story itself. There are probably not

Strangefolk to play the Blind Pig
Popular bar band makes first-time stop in Midwest
By Aaron Rennie singer Reid Genauer and bassist Erik boarded to superstardom from the

I

Daily Arts Writer
Quite a popular bar band through-
out New England and New York,
Strangefolk is now invading the
Midwest for the first time, stopping
off at the Blind Pig on Wednesday
evening for what promises to be a
night of exciting and melodic rock 'n'
roll.
Strangefolk is a quartet that hails
from the beautiful confines of
Burlington, Vt., the starting point for a
certain band that just had a flavor of
Ben and Jerry's ice cream named after
them.
Strangefolk, in fact, recorded its
self-released debut album, "Lore," at

Glockler; soaring guitar with sweet, club).
clear tone by Jon Trafton; and flowing Gen
beats by
d r u m m e r
Luke Smith. Be genuinE
The songs
blend pretty honest with o
folk, blue- .

nauer explained
e and
our
Sfans "

the band's musi-
cal mission:
"Be genuine
and honest
with our
music and our
fans. "
Strangefolk
has thus far

"Getting Out," a Basement Arts production, traces the life of a convict.

G
ight

many University students who are
familiar with the life of a convicted
felon. This production provides a realis-
tic look at someone else's life. It is a
chance to delve into other experiences
and become someone you aren't or may
never be. Since the play is free to all
audiences, two
E V I EIW hours of anyone's
time is a small
netting Out price to pay for
t-tomorrow at 7 p.m. such an experience.
Friday at 5 p.m. The playwright's
Arena Theater, free other credits
include the Pulitzer
Prize winning "Night Mother," as well
as the book and lyrics of the musical
adaptation of Frances Hodgson
Burnett's popular children's novel, "The
Secret Garden"
"Getting Out" is set in Louisville,
Ky., so Mayer is quite familiar with the
atmosphere of the play. One obstacle
she found in directing the show was the
accents and dialects that her cast of 12
acting majors had to establish for their
roles. Mayer worked extensively on
accents with her cast, hoping to create a
true-to-life drama.
"I want to present a show that is
based upon realism. I want the audience
to believe that the actors they see
onstage are truly these characters. I've
based much of the show on how realis-
tic it is" said Mayer, in an interview
with The Michigan Daily.
The production carries a cast of 12

characters portrayed by 10 actors who
are all BFA Performance majors.
It's not easy to present large produc-
tions in the Basement, considering its
tight space and small budget.
But that is the challenge that Mayer
saw and wanted to tackle. While the
cast is rather large for a basement show,
Mayer said that she has "always wanted
to direct this show ever since I first read
it in high school.
"I feel that the Arena (Theater) is the
perfect place for this production to hap-
pen, because it is very personal and in-
your-face because of its size," Mayer
added.
Mayer also explained that the play
isn't entirely a forceful drama.
"It's a drama with comic relief," she
added, not to dispel those who enjoy a
little laughter in their theater. She and
the cast have worked hard to present a
realistic drama, with a small bit of
entertainment on the side.
Whatever the case, "Getting Out"
looks to be a promising event, and audi-
ences will be able to experience the life
of a woman unable to fulfill her dreams
as a result of violent opposition from
society.

grass, and music ant
"classic" rock
into one
cohesive Lead sin
album.
R e i d
Genauer recently talked with The
Michigan Daily about the band's cur-
rent state and future plans.

A r c h e r
Studios, where
the aforemen-
tioned band
recorded its
excellent sec-
ond album,
"Lawn Boy."

Dnir4 ( nnni I^r

I011m

PREVIEW
Strangefolk
Tonight at 10:30
The Blind Pig
$4

"We've had some
success in all the New
England states, as well
as New York," said
Genauer, who, along
with his mates, has
sold out the famed
New York City club

ng

-Hu euer e s c h ewe d
er of Strangefolk major label-
dom. and all
of those pres-
sures (releasing a suitable "hit" sin-
gle, kissing the ass of MTV to get a
video played, etc.).
The band is being chased by MTV,
so don't be surprised if you hearthe
name Stangefolk on the radio a little
bit down the line.
Regardless, the fine rock band
should put on a compelling live show,
so go check it out tonight.
Certain songs by Strangefolk, like
"Lines and Circles" and "As," are
excellent enough on "Lore" but should
be even more stunning in concert.

The music presented on "Lore"
provides quite pleasant listening:
solid vocal harmonies between lead

The Wetlands, an important starting
point for many bar bands (Blues
Traveler and the Spin Doctors spring-

'II

tsrchcl

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