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October 20, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-20

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A2

This 1993 adaptation of Virginia Woolf's classic novel plays at the
Michigan Theater tonight. The film traces the metamorphosis of
Orlando, from his days as a male estate owner during the reign of
Elizabeth I, to his experiences as a woman centuries later. Don't
miss this gender-crazed wonder of the literary world on the big
screen. The showing begins at 6:30. Free.

Monday
October 20, 1997

Banal action, poor dialogue
make 'Playing' no fun

By Ryan Posly
Daily Arts Writer
Fox Mulder as a drug-addicted doctor. Oscar-winner
Timothy Hutton as a cooler-than-thou West Coast gang-
ster. Angelina Jolie with the biggest lips in the land. Lots
of foreign bad guys, and lots of bloody surgery. What
could go wrong with such a combination? Absolutely
everything.

"Playing God" is a remarkably banal action film with very
little real action. It tries as hard as it can to be cool and hip -
through the use of voice-over narration, Tarantino-esque
music, morally ambiguous characters, trendily retro wipe
transitions and a number of other devices - but about the
only thing it can muster from its audience is a deep sigh.
David Duchovny should have chosen a better way to spend
his summer vacation.
Duchovny, best known as the recurring narrator of
Showtime's "Red Shoe Diaries" (and a little show called
"The X-Files"), plays Dr. Eugene Sands, who recently had
his license revoked because he had been performing
surgery while high on amphetamines.
One night he stops into the local nightclub to restock his
synthetic heroin supply, and he is witness to a brutal gang
shooting. The man is dying on the floor of the club, and his
friends refuse to call 911 for fear of getting arrested. So
what's an unlicensed surgeon with a conscience to do?
Well, there wouldn't be a movie unless Doc Sands decided
to jump in and help the poor sap.
This film is, as the introductory narration spells out, osten-
sibly about choices: decisions we must make, the chain of
events that follows and how our decisions are shaped by our
"character." Eugene, it would seem, is a man of some moral
fiber, so he jumps into the fray to save a life, regardless of its
value (or lack thereof) to society
But, true to the film's thematic backbone, that decision
turns into a nightmare for Eugene, as he gets sucked into the
criminal world by Timothy Hutton and is forced to reclaim his
life, his sobriety and his career in the

Angelina Jolle and David Duchovny get physical in "Playing God."

process.
Whew! It actually sounds like it
might be good. Unfortunately, the film
starts out dull and goes nowhere slow-
ly.

RE
VP

One scene seems to try to win our hearts by having the
characters simply say the f-word as many times as they can
in a minute.
The direction is only slightly better. Andy Wilson, a
veteran of British television, squeezes quite a bit out of
minor scenes and characters, and he
v I E 'w creates an occasional visually interest-
ing scene, like the flashback of
li God Eugene's botched surgery.
aying oBut just as often, he attempts to
* dazzle us with a completely unneces-
rwood and showcase sary and out-of-place trick, like a
perplexing scene shot through some
sort of cut glass that turns the actors' faces into frag-
ments.
Timothy Hutton does what he can with his absurd role,
which requires him at one point to physically attack
Angelina Jolie's enormous lips while shouting some origi-

nal dialogue to the effect of: "such beautiful lips which
utter such horrible words." He should talk.
David Duchovny is, as should be expected, one of the
few bright spots in the film, albeit a dim one. He trapr'
plants his famously droll demeanor straight from "The '
Files," but he isn't given nearly as much with which to
work.
As a result, even though he has some big laughs
and he gets to wield a shotgun at one point, Eugene
Sands is simply not as engaging as Fox Mulder. And
anybody expecting to see Duchovny get it on between
the sheets has been grossly misled by the film's trail-
ers.
The fun factor is low in this film, and one can only
hope that Duchovny, an actor of far more talent than th
movie is capable of sustaining, chooses more wisely the
next time around. Until then, I'm sticking to "The X-
Files."

What little action there is never rais- Ate
es the excitement level above a faint
whisper, and the dialogue is just plain poor. It seems like
ever since "Pulp Fiction," there have been far too many
writers trying to replicate Tarantino's rhythmic, stridently
poetic parlance. Some have succeeded, and others, like
Mark Haskell Smith here, have failed.

Bria

D fhovny plays drug addict Dr.

Eugene Sands in "God."

Bellows exhibit showcases scenes of city life

By Anna Kovalszki
Daily Arts Writer
The long-awaited backpacking trip
through Europe, the road trip spent with
friEnds during senior year in high-
school, or perhaps a political internship
in Washington D.C. - all events that
inspire their partakers to discover them-
selves or at least the world at large.
These journeys are needed to break the

everyday mundane routine that many of
us fall into, and in a sense are rites of
passage into the "enlightened" adult
sphere. This discovery of an atypical
world inspires not only the unidentifi-
ables of society, but has also done so,

for

example,

prominent artists of
the past.
George Bellows,

RE
Gear

a native of
Columbus, Ohio U-M
from traditional
Methodist roots,
journeyed in 1904 at the age of 22 to
New York City, in order to receive train-
ing in art by, among others, Ash Can
school artist Robert Henri. The interest
that this bustling, lively metropolis cre-
ated in Bellows is exemplified in his
lithographs and drawings of "typical"
New York scenery, works that can now
be viewed at the University Museum of
Art.

I

Many layers of society get attention
in Bellows' prints - from young
underclass boys of the tenements who
enjoy a dip under the Brooklyn Bridge
in the murky waters of the river, with
the New York skyline of the early 1900s
looming in the
V I E W background; to the
young mothers
ge Bellows with their parasols
Exhibit and children play-
4useum of Art ing in the park; to
Through Dec. 7 the romantic cou-
ples under lamplit
riverfront benches.
These scenes of everyday occurrence
lend New York City an air of sympa-
thetic atmosphere not frequently associ-
ated with modern times. At the same
time, Bellows does not glorify, but
depicts rather in an observant way, for
his ideal of an artist was one who is a
"spectator of life"
Bellows observes and even satirizes
many aspects of his life. Boxing scenes
at times when the sport was prohibited,
and even commissioned ones when the
sport was again made legal, are the
most well-known of his subjects.
Without use of color, he depicts the
dynamism of the boxers' bodies and
physiques with clarity. His children,
Jean and Anne, as well as his wife
Emma, are frequent subjects of his

prints, and many times he includes self-
portraits on the sides of his works,
showing his interaction with the world
of his depiction.
While he enjoyed the urban bustling
elements of his New York life, he never-
theless visited his hometown at times,
and drew the small-town atmosphere of
calm and sedentary life with affection.
He also found the fact that everyone
knew each other at times intrusive, for
in a depiction of his family attending
church, he flinches away from greeting
the Reverend, a sign of his possible dis-
like for the Methodist church as well.
Contemporary events and social
undercurrents also fascinated
Bellows. He printed numerous hospi-
tal scenes of the first World War vet-
erans. He also satirized the Evangelist
Billy Sunday's febrile speeches, as
well as the upper middle class's hope-
less efforts for physical fitness that he
saw on a daily basis during his stay at
the YMCA, and even the condescend-
ing tone with which artists judged
works of art. His clever anatomical
distortions and facial expressions lent
the basis for many scholars to view
him as a notable caricaturist compara-
ble to the talents of the French artist
Honore Daumier.
The paintings, prints and drawings in
this exhibit come from the Sloan collec-

r

Bellows' "Emma, Elsie and Gene" Is featured in the Museum of Modern Art.

L

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RECORDS r'a
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tion. The Sloans were attracted to
Bellows' prints for some of the same
reasons that make these prints so acces-
sible and interesting today -- for their
depiction, of familiar subjects and
occurrences, for their at times humor-
ous satirical images, and for their obser-

vations of an ever-changing world.
This concept of change that holds
attraction for the college student and art
collector of today, captivated the artis
of the past. George Bellows is undoubt-
edly one of the most notable artists of
the early 20th century.

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