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September 05, 1997 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-05

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Alfred Hitchcock's "The Secret Agent" plays at Nat Sci tomorrow
night. In this 1936 film, a novelist returns to England, where he finds
that his death has been staged by the government, which wants him
to become a special agent. The screening will begin at 7 p.m.
Admission is $5.

Friday
September 5, 1997

9

Clueless Silverstone can't carry 'Baggage'

By Jennifer Petiinski
Daily Arts Editor
A wise person once said to always
pack light in case of an unexpected emer-
gency. That same wise person should
have contacted writer Max D. Adams
and director Marco Brambilla:
They should have thrown their
' ss Baggage" out the
T dow before it became
anything more than an
insultingly bad idea. '
'Unfortunately,
that didn't hap-
pen. They
packed in the
stirs - Alicia
Silverstone (who pro-
d' ed the
_ m ) ,
Christopher
Wa l k en,
Benicio Del
Toro and{
Harry Connick
Ji. But even respected actors
like-Walken can't carry the
weight of "Baggage"'s-
weak, winding plot and
ridiculous dialogue.
Rage puts
on intense
o^ncert
By Colin Bartos
Daily Arts Writer

Within the first two minutes of the
film, moviegoers should know that they
may have made a bad choice. Enter
Emily (Silverstone), decked out in a
camouflage gray-and-white shirt, sport-
ing the scary-stalkeresque, rac-
coon-eyed Meg Ryan look
from this summer's
"Addicted to Love."
Even before the
opening credits
have disappeared
from the screen,
she is stuffing
herself in
daddy's car, step
one in her plan
to stage her own
Xkidnap-
ping to
get her
indiffer-
e n t
father's
attention.
Unfortunate for
her, plans never go the
way people want
and the same is
true in Emily's

case. Somehow she gets caught in the
middle of Vincent's (Del Toro) and
Greg's (Connick Jr.) corrupt car opera-
tion, when Vincent
steals her car while
she's still in the R
trunk. The spoiled,
rich Emily ' Exci
becomes Vincent's
excess baggage for
the rest of the film.

m
E[

In the unneces-
sarily long two hours of "Baggage," we
are forced to follow too many characters.
We watch sparks fly between Emily and
Vincent; we see Emily's Uncle Ray
(Walken, looking lovely with his Bob-
Barker inspired dyed hair) try and track
the scheming girl down; and we must sit
through a series of Vincent's and Greg's
car dilemmas, as they attempt to deal
with people about whom the audience
could care less.
To put it bluntly, "Baggage" is
painful. First of all, the pouty, trying-to-
be-cute looks that Silverstone once
sported in "Clueless" just aren't work-
ing for her anymore - at least not here.
Listening to Silverstone's character
whine "Put me down!" and "Let me

go!" forttwo hours is certainly not my
idea of fun. It was once fresh in
"Clueless" but, this time, Silverstone
just doesn't have a
cute and clever plot
V I E W to help her along.
But why exactly
ss Baggage are we sitting
through the film
again? Of course,
At Showcase it's the later
schemes we're wait-
ing for, the chance to see Emily's and
Vincent's feisty sparks take a romantic
turn. Thankfully, "Baggage" is so pre-
dictable that we know it will eventually
happen, and we make ourselves sit
through the meandering garbage, wait-
ing for the film to get down to business.
Of course, it happens and disappoint-
ment sets in even deeper than before.
Del Toro's Vincent is flatter than thin-
crust pizza, and together with
Silverstone's cranky-child act, the two
are enough to make any audience mem-
ber wince at the sight of them. In a
"romantic" scene, the couple strolls
outside, supposedly savoring their new-
found relationship - or whatever it is.
Silverstone's Emily looks at Del Toro's

"Seriously ... do you like my tummy?"
Vincent seductively and utters, "Do you
like my tummy?", generating an erup-
tion of laughter from the theater. How's
that for a first question?
"Baggage" (though I'll admit this
may be a stretch) could have been a cute
film, an elevating romantic story with
action here and there on the side.
Unfortunately, the plot darts around too

much and for too long, and none of the
characters are ever developed enough
for audiences to care about anything
except leaving. Additionally, the
romance is overlooked for the idiotic
lines that keep popping out of Vincent's
and Emily's mouths.
In the end, a poorly packaged
"Baggage" just isn't worth the trip.

Penn, Wright mesmerize in moving,
disturbing 'She's So Lovely'

Rage Against the Machine in an
arena? The band that speaks out against
conformity and the system playing to
tens of thousands of people? Yep, it
happened, and surprisingly, Rage's
message still reigns despite its newly
found rock-star popularity and legions
o young, radio-friendly fans.
he entirely forgettable Atari
Teenage Riot opened the show, provid-
ing second opener, the Wu-Tang Clan,
time to get ready to swarm. The Wu-
Tang killer bees hit the stage in a fury,
whooping up the almost all-white sub-
urban crowd into a frenzy with its
crossover appeal. The Clan touched all
bases, drawing from 1993's "Enter the
Wu'Tang 36 Chambers" and this year's
ble album "Wu-Tang Forever," as
I as some of the
group's solo
efforts. The most
vocal member of R
the group, Method
Man,jumped in the The Palace
gigantic sea of peo-
ple on the floor
during his hit
"Bring The Pain" and lost his hat,
which he seemed pretty pissed about as
Wu-Tang left the stage rather
ruptly soon after. The band got the
crowd stirred up well, although the sim-
plistic beats and muffled raps left a lot
to be desired. The Wu would probably
be better off in a smaller venue with
better sound.
,Rage entered about a half hour after
the Wu-Tang Clan left and immediately
had the crowd in the palm of its hand.
warms of people rushed the floor from
seats, much like what happened at
the' Cobo Arena show earlier this year.
"People Of The Sun" started the set off
right, and a limping vocalist Zach De
La Rocha moved around quite a bit

By Ryan Posly
Daily Ais Writer
It's a rare filmmaker that can create the most damaged of
characters, place them in a grimy world to act beautifully bru-
tal and speak in slightly skewed sentences, and somehow
manage to make them into sympathetic anti-heroes. John
Cassavetes was one such director, and it now looks as though
his son Nick, with a little help from the deceased legend, may
be following in his father's mucky foot- _
steps. R
"She's So Lovely," directed by Nick
from an unproduced screenplay by John RSh
(who died in 1989), is a strikingly uncon- V
ventional love story that, despite its
trademark Cassavetes story and dialogue,
relies almost exclusively on its stars to

ie'
'

Ultra-conservatives Rage Against the Machine rocked the Palace on Aug 23.

despite his ankle i
Rage moved right
Enemy" from 1992
which made the p
absolutely nuts. Gu
was extremely an
song, which made tl
furious.
As the set boile
EVIEW
?age Against
the Machine
of Auburn Hills
Saturday, Aug. 23
"Bombtrack," its a
version of Bruce ST
of Tom Joad" an
Head." "Vietnow"

injury. From there, bing heads. After about a 10-minute
into "Know Your break, Rage played to the radio lovers
?'s self-titled debut, and 13-year-olds in the crowd by play-
it on the floor go ing the long-awaited "Killing In The
itarist Tom Morello Name." It was kind of sickening seeing
imated during the these young kids thinking they were
he crowd even more being SO rebellious by singing along,
but then, what are you gonna do?
d down, Rage, for Rage followed up with a cover of
the most part, KRS-One's rap classic "Sound Of Da
alternated songs Police, which kind of caught the sold-
from "Rage out crowd off guard. The set ended with
Against the a drawn-out version of "Freedom" I
Machine" and last guess De La Rocha wasn't satisfied
year's "Evil with the crowd's response, because
Empire." The set Rage then immediately launched into
continued with the end chorus "If the vibe was suicide
" V i e t n o w , " / Then you would push the button/ But
imazing souped-up if ya bowin down / Then let me do the
pringsteen's "Ghost cuttin"' from "Fistful of Steel" to give
d "Bullet In The the pit one last toss before the band took
was so laughably off.

create its power and impact.
The film opens with pregnant Maureen (Robin Wright
Penn) living in a slummy apartment and in constant search of
her husband, Eddie (Sean Penn), who is prone to disappear
for days. Although they are madly in love, Eddie is also prone
to bouts of insanity. When Maureen is beaten up by their
friendly neighbor, Eddie slips over the edge and is institu-
tionalized.'
Fast forward 10 years: Maureen has divorced Eddie and
remarried Joey (John Travolta), with whom she has raised
two daughters (plus her daughter from Eddie). When
Eddie is finally released from the institution and returns to
reclaim his bride, Maureen is forced to choose between
her family and home with Joey, and her one-and-only love
Eddie.
What the previews don't prepare you for, however, is
that there really is no choice for Maureen to make. The
earlier section with Maureen and Eddie takes up fully two-
thirds of the film, and there is never any real conflict or
doubt in Maureen's mind as to what to do when Eddie
returns. She tells Joey that she never really loved him, and
she is fully prepared to leave (at least for now) her com-
fortable middle-class existence and her children for anoth-
er chance with Eddie. Moral dilemmas like this are almost
always simplified to the point of not being a dilemma at all
in Cassavetes' films.
The story itself, then, is pretty routine. What makes the

film so compelling is the characters of Maureen and
Eddie, and the performances that form them. Robin.
Wright Penn causes one of the biggest audience double-
takes in years as we witness her transformation from
working-class ditz with a thick (almost, but never quite,
cartoonish) New York accent to a subdued suburban
housewife. The physical resemblance between these two
disparate characters is negligible, with only the faded
accent a reminder of her past life.
E E W Sean Penn is the heart and soul of
the film (he won the Best Actor award
So Lovely at the Cannes Film Festival for his per-
formance). His sensitive tough-guy-
*** on-the-verge-of-snapping is riveting,
At showcase and he injects it with just enough
goofball humor to make the character
palatable. In fact, his slip into insanity is so subtle, it is
difficult to discern exactly when or why it occurs.' The
onscreen passion between him and real-life wife Wright
Penn makes for a stirring reunion scene that could either
be viewed as bizarrely disturbing or redemptively mov-
ing.
The only real failure of the film is in the character of
Joey and the scenes surrounding him. Though it starts off
realistic and emotionally brutal, the film suddenly slips
into an odd, hammy circus as Joey attempts to take control
of the story.
Travolta does as much as he can with his signature swag-
ger, but the unusual dialogue given to him is sub-par com-
pared to Penn's profoundly twisted ramblings. And besides,
this isn't the kind of movie that fits in with Travolta's ultra-
cool brand of flashiness.
Mainstream audiences will probably not want to sympa-
thize with such characters as a trashy waif and her insane hus-
band (they certainly won't be able to relate to them), but that's
exactly why mainstream audiences have never heard the
name Cassavetes before.
Nick handles his father's script with aplomb, albeit with a
touch of overindulgence characteristic of John's earlier films,
and it would be a shame for an audience to pass on a new
chance to be introduced into that damaged world. After all,
dialogue is seldom this peculiar, and screen couples are rarely
this mesmerizing.

ironic, with all the little mindless
automatons that just heard Rage this
year on the radio singing "Turn on the
Radio, nah fuck it, turn it off / Fear is
your only god." During "Tire Me," De
La Rocha held the mic tight and
stopped moving, a huge contrast to the
fury and drive of the song itself. After
that, he became more animated for
"Down Rodeo," the Crow sound-
track's "Darkness of Greed," "Without
A Face" and "Fistful of Steel.'
The crowd loved every moment of it,
chanting along, raising fists and bob-

The set was similar in energy to the
aforementioned Cobo show, although
the setlist was more interesting with-
the covers and less emphasis on "Evil
Empire," which is already a year old.
Rage has no problem rocking a
crowd, and now that arenas around
the country have seen this, they
should get back into the studio so we
don't have to wait another four years
for a new album. Then, maybe they
could play big rock stars at Tiger
Stadium to 100,000 people. How
rebellious!

" - ,x

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