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September 23, 1997 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-23

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U9RijeSiIjig atg

Don't miss "Casablanca" on Michigan Theater's big screen. Watch
sparks fly between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in this clas-
sic tale of romance and war. The screening will begin at 4:10 p.m. at
the Michigan Theater. Admission is $5.

Tuesday
September 23, 1997

ncres' film ad
covers too mu

By John Ghose
Daily TV/New Media Editor
If you are a well-molded product of today's remote-
c trol McCulture, then you will stop reading my arti-
(f this sentence doesn't immediately catch your
eye. And if I'm lucky enough to write a winner with
that first sentence, I'll have to
consistently generate sentences
loaded with sense-numbing, cliff- R
hanging, page-turning, juiced-up,
hyper-amped words - simply to 9
keep you reading.1
Welcome to life in 1997, where
our country's best-selling maga-
is "TV Guide," and our
la 'estcirculating newspaper is the "National
Enquirer." Where Oprah Winfrey is our highest-paid
entertainer and everything is a Surge commercial.
Where remote control features rise while attention
spans fall. Welcome to our pop-culture.
Sadly, there's no room here for "A Thousand Acres."
Based on Jane Smiley's (author of the terrific "Moo")
1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "A Thousand
Acres" is a tremendously moving, powerfully univer-
sal story that falls victim to ruthless editing and a cul-
tute of USA Today readers.
gle King Lear-esque tale follows the saga of the
Cook Family, headed by the tyrannical patriarch Larry
Cook (Jason Robards). We meet the Cooks just before
LaiTy decides to distribute his huge farm (you guess
the size) among his three grown daughters: Ginny
(Jessica Lange), Rose (Michelle Pfeiffer), and
Caroline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The apportioned land
viciously divides the family, which causes many long-
guarded secrets and unspoken rivalries to be revealed.
,'Among the many secrets unearthed by Larry's impul-
sX 1y misguided decision are incest, miscarriage, breast
r, spousal abuse, sibling rivalry, death, adultery and
naiy other deadly sins. Standing alone, each one of
these issues could produce a solid movie, but when
heaped together in 104 minutes, the issues cheat each
other, and end up making the characters look like talk-
show guests. Of course, this problem does not lie with the
storyteller, but with the chosen medium - film.
Jane Smiley is an excellent author, and a master sto-
ryteller. Director Jocelyn Moorhouse is a talented
filmmaker with a good cinematic eye. And the actors
themselves, all four of whom have superb acting cre-
*ials and the Academy Awards to back them up, do

E

laptation
Ich ternitory
a fine job. Jessica Lange does an especially fine job.
She portrays the emotionally dynamic Ginny with a
simpleton's authenticity, while pulling off lines like "I
was a ninny" with touching grace. No, don't blame
these people for "A Thousand Acres"' disappointing
result - blame yourselves.
Well, maybe not yourselves,
exactly, rather audiences in general.
EV I E W When Moorhouse had finished
A Thousand shooting and everyone was pleased,
Acres the studio execs thought they'd sim-
ply give the film a test run before
releasing it. When the test screening
At showcase audiences responded with belly-
aches about the movie being too
slow and too long, the executive producers decided to cut
more than 45 minutes of the film so that it could be
released at the easy-to-swallow time of 104 minutes.
Unfortunately, this is common practice in the studio
system. For instance, Polygram execs recently tried to
cut large portions of Robert Altman's take on Grisham's
"The Gingerbread Man" before releasing it this fall.
Infuriated, Altman threatened to remove his name from
the project, thereby scaring his producers into allowing
his original cut to be released. Sadly, Moorhouse does
not have this kind of directorial clout.
Even without knowing this movie's history, it's
obvious to most viewers that what we see on the big
screen is nowhere near the original director's cut.
Tragedy jumps to tragedy with little background or
character development. The plot seems to roll along
like a "to-do list" being efficiently checked off, with
each event occurring quickly and simply, with little
development or repercussion. We find ourselves ask-
ing "what's at stake?" How can we sympathize with
these characters if we don't know a thing about them?
This film reduces the complexity of Smiley's original
characters - characters you cheer for and against,
simultaneously - into cliche depictions of good feud-
ing with evil. The feelings in the book are sloppy, while
the emotion comes pre-packaged in the film, with neat
little spots for every feeling. Toss out the vacuum pack
and pass my bib - I can spare another 45 minutes.
That is, if it's a worthwhile 45 minutes. There's a
good chance that, while the extra time could have
filled in many of the characters' seams, it wouldn't
have saved this movie. Because it is based on a good
novel, it may have been doomed from the start.
The list of good books turned into bad movies is

By Stephanie Love
Daily Arts Writer
In 1892, the University Musical
Society welcomed the year-old Chicago
Orchestra to Ann Arbor. One-hundred
ninety-eight appearances later, the
Chicago Symphony returns to Ann
Arbor for a weekend residency.
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Weekend features
and conductor
C h r i s t o p h
Eschenbach on
piano, opening the
119th Annual
Choral Union
series Thursday

Chicago Symphony
Orchestra to play A

celebrated pianist

; *
,,k
n, ;;4,
S 1 ..

PR
Chica
Thursd
Hill Auditorium and
Cal

(Top) Jessica Lange stars in the film adaptation of
Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres." (Above) Pfelffer
and Lange are sisters with too much history and emo-
tional baggage.
lengthy: "Bonfire of the Vanities" "Bright Lights, Big
City," "Revenge," "Crash." All movies that bombed
because they deal with complex, emotional conflict, and
rely on character, not necessarily events, for plot. Now
consider books that have translated into successful films:
"Legends of the Fall," "The Shawshank Redemption,"
"The English Patient." These stories rely on character
and conflict too, but they rely on climax and resolution
more. But more important, these stories are simply short-
er. "Legends" is a novella, "Shawshank" is a short story,
and "The English Patient" is based on only one portion
of the acclaimed novel. Unlike these films, "A Thousand
Acres" bites off more than it can chew, and chokes and
sputters because of it.

evening. A panel
discussion on the orchestral audition
process in the '90s with members of the
orchestra takes place Friday afternoon
from 4:30-6 p.m. in the Recital Hall at
the School of Music. Friday evening's
concert features acclaimed violinist
Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg in celebra-
tion of the Symphony's 200th perfor-
mance in Ann Arbor.
The gala celebration continues
Saturday with a day of master classes,
all free and open to the public at the
School of Music. And in culmination,
Eschenbach and members of the
Symphony present an evening of cham-
ber music in Rackham Auditorium
Saturday night.
Overwhelming? Perhaps. But for the
Symphony and soloists, it's all in a
day's work.
In a recent telephone interview, vio-
linist Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg talked
about her excitement for the residency.
"It's fantastic to be playing with the
Symphony. I've worked with them a lot
in the past," said Solerno-Sonnenberg.
"It's easy to feel comfortable when you
are working with the best."
And rightly so. The Chicago
Symphony boasts a discography of
more than 900, while Orchestra record-
ings have earned 53 Grammy Awards.
This weekend's concerts feature
works by Berlioz, Mozart,
Tchaikovsky, Schumann and

.a

Beethoven among others.
Conductor and pianist Christoph
Eschenbach, music director for the
Houston Symphony, continues the tradi-
tion of pianist-conductors that reaches
back to Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt.
"Eschenbach is a friend of mine, and
I'm looking forward to playing with'
him Friday," Solerno-Sonnenberg said.
"The master class should be really
inteiesting and
EVIE W S ejyblen"
go Symphony Sonnenberg said.
Omhestra "I'm excited about
day-Saturday at 8 p.m. coming to
d Rackham (Sat. only) Michigan - it's
1 764-2538 for tickets Mihgn -t'
my favorite college
and football team. Plus I'm going to the
game on Saturday!"
Solerno-Sonnenberg is known for her
unconventional playing style and stage
presence. Talking to her reaffirms that
image as her street-smart accent doesn't
give the impression of renowned classical
violinist.
"My family is very musical, and we
used to have these family dinners which
ended with music;" she said. "I was the
youngest in my family, and they were
afraid I'd develop a complex if I didn't
have an instrument to play. So when I
was five, I was given a cheap violin and
took some lessons from my mother's
best friend who was teaching little kids
to play the violin. And we knew the vio-
lin was where I was going to excel."
Solerno-Sonnenberg, whose living
room features a mounted 275-pound
blue shark that she caught off the
coast of Long Island, was faced with
a career-threatening accident in 1994.
The violinist, chatting with friends
while slicing an onion, accidentally
slipped and chopped off the pinky
finger of her left hand.
"The left hand is the hand which
goes up and down the fingerboard. For
the first time in my life, I was faced
with the reality that I might never play
again and that I'd have to think about
what to do with my life. I've always had
the fiddle, she said.

Luna brings 'Pup,' rousing show to Chicago

By Anders Smith-Undall
Daily Arts Writer
"I'm gonna crawl right into your
dreams," promises Luna figurehead
Dn Wareham on the title track of the
vi's recently
released album, RI
"Pup Tent.' On .
Saturday night , .,
these words, deliv-
ered through a dis- Cabaret A
tortion device that s
lent his already
detached voice a disembodied, metallic
quality, echoed into the darkest corners
of the crowded, smoky Cabaret Metro in
ago. At that moment, with those in
* dance firmly in the band's grasp, it
seemed as though truer words were
never spoken.
On the new album, Wareham and his
Luna cohorts further explore and define

E
M
atui

their unique territory they have mapped on
their previous recordings, an urban noir
dreamscape populated by figures both
tragic and comic as Wareham's worldview
ranges from brooding to ironic.
But while they
VI E W may not stray far
from their thematic
Luna tried-and-true, they
take more chances
etro, Chicago on the musical side
rday, Sept. 20, 1997 of things.
"('Pup Tent') is a
little darker and harsher in some ways,"
said guitarist Sean Eden. " We wanted to
get a little bit away from our 'moody pop
thing' We wanted to get a little bit more
eclectic, and we're happy about that with
this record."
Highlights of the album include the
soaring "Bobby Peru," "Beautiful
View" and "Beggar's Bliss."

"Some of the arrangements on this
record are so complex, " Eden said, "that
when we do them live it sounds like the
record, but only 'like' the record. I'm
very happy about playing live right now.
We did a lot of guitar experimentation on
this record, kind of loopy, backwards
stuff, effected stuff, basically exploring
the boundaries -or lack of boundaries
- of the sounds you can make with a
guitar. There's sounds on the record that
sound like a synthesizer or an effected
analog keyboard that aren't, they're actu-
ally guitar."
To recreate these sounds in a live set-
ting, Wareham piesides over a dazzling
array of distortion pedals. He and Eden
swap lead guitar duties, utilizing the
pedals, feedback, whammy bar and e-
bow to coax a mesmerizing array of
tones from their instruments.
Saturday night's show, though it started
slowly due to a seemingly ill-at-ease
Wareham, eventually built to a transcend-
ing end. High points included the extend-
ed psychedelic workout of"23 Minutes In
Brussels" from Luna's 1995 album,

"Penthouse," which was propelled by a
surprisingly aggressive drumbeat cour-
tesy of newcomer Lee Wall.
"Lee is new blood," said Eden.
"He's got a certain gusto that is new
for us. He plays with a little bit more
muscle. (Former drummer) Stanley
Medeski's a great drummer but very
reserved, a conservative drummer
who believes in the classic approach
to drumming, and Lee's a little more
all-over-the-place."
On the record and particularly in con-
cert Saturday, Wall was in all the right
places. Eden and Wareham's guitar work
was excellent and bassist Justin
Harwood played solidly and added
dimension with his vocal harmonies.
In all, the band put on a rousing show
before an expectant and, ultimately,
adoring crowd
And one more thing - forget those
Velvet Underground comparisons, said
Eden. "We're tired of that. If you've never
heard Luna before and you pick up 'Pup
Tent,' you won't say, 'Man, that sounds
just like the Velvet Underground."'

Lune rocked the Windy City this past weekend.

. 1

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MORRISSEY
September 24
Hill Auditodum
Ann Ador
Michigan Union Ticket Office
& all TicketMaster outlets.
Charge at 313/763-TKTS or
online at www.ticketmaster.com
Concert info at http://
www.umich.edu/-mevents
Presented by
UM Major Events
Division of Student Affairs
Happy Birthday,
William Faulkner!
Sept. 25, 1897 - July 6, 1962
The Special Collections Library is throwing a
100th birthday party for William Faulkner,
the man considered by many to be
America's greatest writer of prose fiction,
and you're invited to attend.
An exhibit entitled "William Faulkner: The First
Hundred Years" opens on September 25, Faulkner's
birthdate, and runs through November 22, 1997. The
exhibit's materials are drawn from the Irwin T. and
Shirley Holtzman William Faulkner Collection, one of
the most extensive collections on Faulkner in the
country. Included will be:
" First editions;
" Photos, drawings, and writings
documenting Faulkner's life;
" Screenplays and posters;
* Many later editions and translations;
* & much more.
rrh¢.x7;11 hpn a nntinnantchnmincr of vidae about

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