10- The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 11, 1997
Summer audiences pray for fall films .
Matthew McConaughey and Jodie Foster starred in this summer's "Contact "
.K M. K
Daily Arts Writer
What a summer it was! So many
incredible things happened. Let's see,
there was the Olympics ... no. that was
last year. And then there was ... on sec-
ond thought, just about nothing of inter-
est happened this summer.
The usually reliable film industry
managed to put out various forms of
tripe dressed up as entertainment. With
the rare exception, movies were no
more interesting than the Pathfinder
photos of rocks on Mars, which inci-
dentally, look like the same rocks we
have on Earth.
Let's talk about the "blockbusters,"
the movies that are designed to break
every box-office record ever set.
Most of them were no worse than can
be expected. After all, they are made
to appeal to the average American,
and let's face it, the average
American doesn't always have the
"Men in Black," this summer's big
winner, was fun and interesting; how-
ever, the movie seemed rather short.
The movie execs apparently wanted to
get in as many screenings as possible
Then, there was "The Lost World."
My only explanation for this atrocity
is that someone held Steven
Spielberg's family hostage and forced
him to make that movie, or simply
that he made $313 million from the
film. Sitting through "World" was
worse than discovering the secret in
the "The Crying Game."
Then there is the popular trend to
raise the death count and lessen the hard-to-believe ending.
screen time. In films like these, The usual heavy-hitters,
the act of killing is emphasized, Disney and the perennial
and mourning of the dead is "Batman" sequel, did not
completely overlooked fare well at the box office. I
This summer" swinner in guess that Warner Brothers
that category is "Face'Off" far really thought it could sell
and away. Though not as mor- tickets no matter what
bid as Woo's Hong Kong it put on screen. Good
death-fests, this film came for audiences for
close (I lost count after 100 proving Warner
onscreen deaths). Brothers wrong .
Do not get me wrong I. sort of. "Batman
loved this movie. It vas and Robin" still
everything an grossed $106 mil-
a c t i o n lion, but the movie
m o v i e ....actually cost more
should be. than that.
Then there For some reason,
was the surprisingly callous people avoided
"Air Force One." Maybe it is . "Hercules" like
just me, but I think that Deion Sanders avoids
when a member of the M.C. Hammer.
Cabinet is killed, it is a / "Hercules" was Disney's
noteworthy event. best offering since
Apparently that was "Aladdin."
not the case in direc- Producers and directors
for Wolfgang need to understand that filmgo-
Petersen's film. In ers actually do like intelligent
"Air Force One," the scripts, funny or serious. The
scene changes even only good laugh this summer
before main characters' provided by a movie (with the
bodies hit the floor. exception of the aforemen-
And I do not think any tioned "Hercules") was
of us go to the movies in the "Austin Powers." Thy
summer and expect a plausi- hilarious, yet not-too-
ble script. (Was it absolutely / slapstick "Powers" was
necessary to land that a huge success, making
plane on the Vegas strip in more than three times
"Con Air?"). Even "My what it cost to produce.
Best Friends Wedding," has a "Breakdown," a phenomenal low-
'State' offers quirky, wild trivia for
wild and psychologically dysfunctional
journey through this grand 'ol country
In "State By State With The State,"
each of the 50 states is explored in a
daring fashion. Unfortunately, many
states have never been graced with the
presence of any of the 10 members of
the troupe. But this doesn't stop The
State from making audacious and wild
comments about places and people
that may offend those
who are too sensitive
for their own
In "State By
State" you get
to learn interest- =
ing facts about =
places that you won't
find anywhere else. Did you
know that there are exactly 326 good-
looking Asian boys in Rhode Island?
That Tennessee was "the first land-
locked state to admit that it had no
coastline?" That in a Montana cowboy
survey, the answer for the number of
times a cowboy estimated that he had
"moseyed" in the last week was 7.2? Or
that "contrary to popular belief, the
U.S's most populated city is Alabama?"
Furthermore, "State By State" is full
of descriptions of attractions and places
worth visiting in each state. (Note:
many attractions exist only in the
warped minds of The State). For exam-
ple, when in New Hampshire, make
sure you drop by the New Hampshire
Venereal Disease Festival, where you
can get your picture taken with the fes-
tival's mascot, General Genital Wart. Or
check out the Well-Hung Dog Parade
every March 21st in Scranton, Pa.
"State By State" is chock full of
"chuckle" material that will easily pro-
vide hours upon hours of amusement.
Laughs come at every turn of the page,
whether from the zany illustrations
or the hilarious journal
entries. There are
even three not-
sages, as well
as little side
notes such as
"What Water Tastes
Like in Each of the Fifty-
Three States."(Did you ever realize that
water tastes like wet velvet in
The abundant and outrageously
funny travel tips only serve as a confir-
mation that these guys are either clini-
cally insane or in a league of their own
when it comes to comedy. My guess is
that they're probably both.
The last chapter is the best of all, as it
contains several games to pass away the
hours of a road trip. Games like "Spit in
the Car," or its variation, "Shit in the
Car," require nothing but a superfluous
supply of bodily fluids/wastes, and are
bound to keep the kids happily occu-
budget thriller starring Kurt Russell
doubled its $26 million production
cost. And even though this goes
against my one-does-not-need-to,
"Contact" has one of the best scripts
and the best acting of any movie tj'
summer. The only bad thing I can .
about it is "What the hell is Matthes
McCounaghey doing in this movieT
I guess someone needs to draw
women into the theater.
According to Entertainment Weekly;
movie companies spent well over $
billion dollars making movies this sumL
mer, easily an industry record. Too
much money was spent on special
effects and not enough was given t
The makers of "Speed 2" learne a
valuable lesson: it is not wise to
spend $30 million building a set fot
the climax, and only a couple millio
on a script. Of course, whoever sail
the rules of real life apply to
As summer quickly fades into th
short season of fall, moviegoers ca)
breathe a sigh of relief. Good movi$
are indeed around the corner.
"Kull The Conqueror" and "Fire
Down Below" will soon be replaced
with "The Game," and Oscar-hopeful
"L.A. Confidential" and "A Thousan4
Lord only knows why movie compa
nies cannot spread the wealth of good
movies throughout the year. Then again
if we couldn't complain, what els4
would we do all summer?
pied for most of your trip. The boo
even furnishes a catchy little song
called "Thumby, The Dirty
Shoemaker," which will easily replace
the hackneyed tune of "Ninety-Nin
Bottles of Beer on the Wall." Its cat
refrain of"Thumby, the dirty shoem
er" (repeated 160-plus times) will
maintain high spirits from Tulsa to
"State By State With The State" prop
vides hours of fun with no assembly
required. You get all the laughs and the
entertainment of travel without leaving
the comfort of your own couch. And
best of all, "State By State" provides
every hardcore couch potato with justi-
fication for why it's definitely bette
just stay home.
So, onward, brave traveler! But go no
further than the fridge to grab a colI
beer to go with this hilarious book.
- Julia Shig
Combining psychological intellect
with good old-fashioned whodunit mys-
teries, Alex Delaware novels hav
pleased readers for many years. Th
series' creator, Jonathan Kellerman, now
presents the latest installment of this p
ular mystery sequence, "The Clinic"
In a rich neighborhood in Los
Angeles, a well-known woman is found
methodically stabbed to death. Th
woman is Hope Devane, a psychology
professor and the author of a controveis-
sial bestseller about the evils of ment
behavior toward women. After three
months, the police have no clues and n
witnesses to the murder. Desperate,
they assign Detective Milo Sturgi
the case, and he turns to his psycho O_
gist friend Dr. Alex Delaware for help
The two men try to unlock the mys-
tery surrounding the cruel, execution-
style killing. At first glance, Devane
appeared to be a brilliant psychologist
specializing in feminist issues, who
kept to herself. But the deeper they
delve, they soon discover shadowy
aspects of her life that could have easi-
ly fueled the murder.
They soon realize that they are d,
ing with something much bigger ard
much more diabolical than they hid
first imagined, when they discover that
Devane's murder may not be the only
homicide in the investigation.
Kellerman once again proves himself to
be a master at creating well-textured char-
acters within a well-executed plot, after
showcasing his talent in other Delaware
thrillers such as "When the Bos
Breaks" and "The Web." "The Clin
weaves an incredible number of seemin-
ly unimportant subplots and characters
into his story, making it just shy of overly
Kellerman runs into problems whenev-
er he becomes predictable or cliched in his
story development. When Dr. Delaware
investigates Devane's childhood and her
relatives, the reader is quick to figure oit
how everything falls into place, removing
much of the attempted suspense.
"The Clinic" is an engaging b
and is at the top of its class in the mys-
tery genre. Even though the plot is vety
involved and has many pieces that need
putting together, readers will not be able
to resist being sucked in to the mystery.
With "The Clinic" Jonath4n
Kellerman has shown once again thit
he is definitely the master of psychi-
logical suspense thrillers.
- Julia S
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