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April 11, 1997 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-04-11

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Tft 3ttanIklt

Learn some sexy moves at a free dance workshop. The U-Club in the
Michigan Union is sponsoring an evening of the salsa, merengue and
other fun Latin dances. No partner is necessary and space is limited,
so call for reservations now. For more information, call 763-3281.

Friday
April 11, 1997

5

:Pointe Blank' promises a sure shot

By Bryan Lark
Daily Film Editor
Early on in "Grosse Pointe Blank,"
there is an exchange between hitman
Martin Q. Blank (John Cusack) and his
high school sweetheart Debi (Minnie
Driver), now a suburban Detroit disc
jockey. She asks
#at line of work
Tie's in, he says, RI
"Professional Grosse
killer." She replies;
"Do you get dental
with that?"
That's what
"Grosse Pointe Blank" is essentially
about, getting your dental plan, whether
it be literal or metaphorical. Underneath
all the explosions, the romance and the
*adpan wit lies the ideal that we all
want to reap the benefits from life -
and does "Grosse Pointe Blank" ever
reap its own benefits.
A dark, fast, funny, hyper-violent
joyride of a black comedy that quickly
and appealingly escalates into absurdi-
ty "Blank" shoots straight at the hearts
of action, romance and class reunion
movies and scores on the many
strengths of newly crowned hyphenate
&hn Cusack, who stars in, co-produces
d co-writes this .357 magnum opus.
Martin Q. Blank is dissatisfied with
life: His profession is unrewarding; his
deranged, loyal assistant is getting a lit-
tle too deranged; and his fellow profes-
sionals are attempting to unionize.
Martin can't find what's missing in his

life that's blocking the flow of satisfac-
tion - never mind that he annihilates
people on a daily basis.
At the urging of his assistant
Marcella (Joan Cusack) and his fright-
ened shrink Dr. Oatman (Alan Arkin),
Martin reluctantly decides to search
for his identity at
his 10-year high
E VIE W school reunion
Pointe Blank in Grosse Pointe,
Mich., where,
***I incidentally, his
At Showcase next hit is sched-
uled.
Instead of solace and
introspection, Martin
is met in Grosse
Pointe with an
angry ex-girl-
friend (Driver)
whom he stood
up on prom
night 10 years
earlier; a mini-
mart where
his house
used to stand;
a mother
(Barbara
Harris) in a
mental
hospital; a
rival hit
m a n ,
Grocer
( D a n
Aykroyd) out

to take either his job or his life; a pair of
bumbling FBI agents (Hank Azaria and
K. Todd Freeman) and a handful of
eccentric ex-class-
mates.
While trying
to confront his
past, Blank's
present opts not
: " to take the week-
end off, as blood

that the emptiness in his life can be
filled with the benefit of love, peace of
mind and perhaps even dental benefits.
Cusack seems destined to play
Martin Blank, bringing together his past
roles as losers and con-men in one
smooth, sarcastic, oddly matter-of-fact
package. Cusack as Blank is the ulti-
mate anti-hero - so despicable, yet so
engaging and human, it's no wonder
why Minnie Driver still loves him after
all this time.
Speaking of Driver, she's brilliantly
offbeat as Debi, the woman scorned,
which happens to be the film's most
thankless role. She turns a token girl-
friend into a worthy antagonist with
inspired lunacy and impeccable comic
timing.
In supporting the pair of loud, violent
lovers, Arkin is memorably edgy,
Aykroyd is memorably paranoid and
Jeremy Piven is memorably nervous,
but Joan Cusack is most memorable as
Marcella. Her psychotic girl Friday is
perhaps the most vivid and decidedly
insane secretary ever, rapidly switching
from harshly demanding an order of
bullets to harshly dictating the correct
preparation of a recipe.
Whatever the recipe "Grosse Pointe
Blank" used in its production, the final
outcome is delicious, though not with-
out faults.
Written originally by Tom
Jankiewicz, then collaborated upon fur-
ther by Cusack, Steve Pink and D.V
DeVincentis, the script seems sketchy

John Cusack stars with Minnie Driver in "Grosse Pointe Blank."

and shotgun at times, ignoring some
obvious class-struggle humor and
underdeveloping some intriguing sub-
plots, but remains extremely pointed
and biting throughout - best show-
cased in the hilariously devilish juxtapo-
sition of body disposal and white-man
dancing to Nena's "99 Luftballons."

Delightfully over-the-top, gleefully
malicious and surprisingly heartfelt,
"Grosse Pointe Blank" is choice genre-
smashing entertainment that will prove
extremely beneficial to all curious
moviegoers. Dental plan not included.
See Page 8 for an interview with
"Blank" co-star Jeremy Piven.

flee club
prepares
forspring
By Anitha Chalam
Daily Arts Writer
What do magician Harry Blackstone
and the University Men's Glee Club
director, Dr. Jerry Blackstone, have in
common? In addition to rhyming and
similar names, anyone who has heard
the Men's Glee Club perform might
argue that both Blackstones are magi-
sns. In the time that Dr. Blackstone
s been in charge of the Men's Glee
Club, he has used his magic baton to
lead the group to great success through-
out the United States, as well as the rest
of world.
Most recently, Blackstone and the
Men's Glee Club traveled to California
to perform at the national convention of
the American Choral Directors
Association
(ACDA), held in PR
n Diego over
spring break. This Men
convention was
one of the oldest
and most presti-
gious gatherings of
choral directors in the world, and the
University Men's Glee Club was the
only collegiate men's choir to perform
there this year, which was quite an
j nor for them, as well as for the
iversity. Blackstone held the audi-
ences spellbound and the group
received many enthusiastic compli-
ments.
This Saturday, the Men's Glee Club
performs at its 137th Annual Spring
'Concert in Hill Auditorium. This con-
cert gives University students a chance
to experience this world-renowned,
magical phenomenon first hand. In the
span of two hours, Blackstone will cap-
*ate audience members as he leads
this extremely talented group in a reper-
toire consisting of pieces in a variety of
styles, as well as a number of lan-
guages. From sacred music to freedom
songs to the University fight song, the
Men's Glee Club will entertain and
astonish their audience in English,

'Russian Village' makes A2 stop

By Stephanie Glickman
For The Daily
Sixty-five dancers, singers and musicians will fill the
Michigan Theater's stage tonight in "Russian Village: Rituals
and Celebrations of the Russian People." After opening at the
Brooklyn Academy of Music last weekend with enthusiastic
reviews, "Russian Village" graces Ann Arbor for only one
performance.
The show combines seven authentic p
Russian folk ensembles presenting tradi-
tional music, dances, and rituals sharing Ru
a Slavic heritage that has remained intact
and relatively undiscovered throughout
Russia's tumultuous history. The groups Tickets are availabl
are a combination of villagers presenting
familial songs and dances and companies established for the
purpose of preserving and revitalizing their own folk tradi-
tions.
"'Russian Village' is different from what people see in the-
atrical groups," explained David Eden, the show's producer.
In many theatrical performances, the folk culture of different
regions has been homogenized into a single Russian culture.
But in "Russian Village," each group distinguishes itself with
songs and dances distinct to its village.
Having done similar projects before, Eden visited villages
throughout different regions in Russia to find the best groups
for this production. The groups will each present authentic
pieces that have survived for centuries in their families,
passed down orally for generations upon generations. Eden
emphasized the strong sense of history and ritual in the pre-
sentations. "Traditions were not destroyed, not even in the
Stalinist era. Traditions continued.'
Among these traditions are a diverse range of popular cul-
tures, ranging from The Northern Pearls, a group from the
Archangelsk region in the north to the Dorozovsky Folk
Ensemble from the Bryansk region, located near Chernobyl.
Also from Bryansk, the Mokosha Ensemble is a group of

Is
e

young musicians and musicologists dedicated to preserving the
music and dances of this region. From Rostov-on-Don,
Volnitsa (Freemen), a group descended from the Don
Cossacks, will share songs dating back to the 18th and 19th
centuries. The 10-member ensemble performs the songs in the
same way that they have been historically performed on
Cossack farmsteads.
Special guest Liubov Smolenskaya,
E V i E W from the Keivraga village of the Pinega
Region, will perform a wedding lament
sian Village that few villagers know. Eden said this
Tonight at 8 p.m. piece of music influenced Stravinsky.
Michigan Theater Even though the Russian ensembles
at the UMS box office did not know each other well or had not
met at all before this tour, the groups
have merged together well, thriving on the positive energy,
warm response and "unbelievable acceptance' according to
Eden, that the tour has received thus far.
Many of the "Russian Village" participants, who range in
age from 19 to 79, have never been to America before. The
Podserednie Ensemble, established in 1950, from the banks
of the Tikhaya Sosna River, took part in the cultural program
of the 1980 Olympic games.
The tour, which includes Washington, D.C., Kansas and
Arizona, is a chance for the folk performers to see what goes
on in the place that many refer to as the "new country." Eden
said that members of his production are curious to see the
White House and to discover what is Slavic about America.
More than just being entertaining and, at many times,
humorous, "Russian Village" is a sharing of folk culture and
carefully preserved traditions that very few Americans and
Russians have ever seen. While many of the performers have
been singing these songs for decades in their villages, Eden
is the first to bring them to America, making their culture
more accessible and showing audiences the importance of
preservation. "'Russian Village' is a once in a lifetime oppor-
tunity," he explained.

Dr. Jerry Blackstone conducts the University Men's Glee Club at Hill Auditorium.

n'

French, German, Hebrew, Latin and
Russian.
As an added bonus, the Friars will be
performing a few pieces of their own.
The Friars are an eight-member a capel-
Ia subset of the
E V I E w Men's Glee Club.
In addition to being
8 Glee Club extremely charis-
Saturday at 8 p.m. matic, and known
Hill Auditorium for throwing
$3 for students squeaky toys and T-
shirts out to their
audiences, the Friars are very talented
singers. As their most recent concert
banners declared, the Friars are "kid-
tested, mother-approved," and will be
sure to entertain anyone and everyone
in attendance.
As the second oldest collegiate choir
in America, the Men's Glee Club first
began in 1859, and holds the title as the
oldest student organization here at the
University. Since that time, the Glee
Club has performed throughout the
world, in places as diverse as Eastern
Europe, Asia, and South America. In
addition to traveling, the Men's Glee
Club has competed at a number of
music festivals, winning, among other
honors, four first place awards at the
International Musical Eisteddfod in
Llangollen, Wales - a record unsur-
passed in the history of this "Rose
Bowl" of choral competition.
Tickets are available through the
Michigan Union Ticket Office, with

prices ranging from $10 for reserved
seating on the main floor to $3 student
seating on the second balcony. The
concert is therefore relatively inexpen-
sive for such quality entertainment.
Blackstone probably won't be pulling a
rabbit out of his hat, but hearing a hun-
dred well-dressed college guys singing
perfectly in a half-dozen or so different
languages is perhaps an even greater
feat. The evening promises to be a
magical experience, so put off those
end-of-term papers and go see the
Men's Glee Club in action this
Saturday evening.

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