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October 28, 1997 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-28

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Check out Wes Craven's 1996 film, "Scream" tonight. Starring Neve
Campbell, Drew Barrymore and Courteney Cox, the film follows a
town stricken by a psychopathic murderer. The screening will take
place in the U-Club and promises to get you into the Halloween spirit.
Admission is $1. Free popcorn and soda.

Tuesday
October 28, 1997

5

Daniels''Moonlight' a shining effort

By Tracy Jacobs
For the Daily
Deer hunting and theater seem to be as likely a pair as deer
hunting and alien abduction. When faced with the possibility
of seeing a production, which takes place entirely in a deer
hunting lodge in the Upper Peninsula, most people would
probably rather stay home and watch paint dry. In the case of
the Purple Rose Theater's production of "Escanaba in da
Moonlight" that would be a horrible mistake.
This play is an irresistible ride through one night in the
Soady family deer camp, as told in flashback by the head of
the family, Albert Soady (Jim Porterfield). He comes onto the
stage at the opening of the first act and delivers a monologue
that is absorbing, unbelievably funny and completely disarm-
ing - for those who had doubts about how good a show on
a stage strewn with stuffed animal carcasses could be.
Addressing the audience as "flatland, fudge sucking,
trolls" for living in a part of the state he says "shouldn't even
be allowed to call Michigan," he begins to weave a tale about
the different brand of life that is lead by those in the Upper
Peninsula, or "Yoopers." Informing the audience that it is
likely they won't believe his tale, he proceeds to go from sim-
ple explanations about the northern traditions of family and
cuisine, to the prevalence of alien abductions and spooky
spirituality up north. This background is helpful, for the story
takes a bizarre twists later.
Once the story gets going, it is a non-stop adventure into
bizarre realms that are reminiscent of Sam Shepherd plays.
But more discretely, it is a glimpse into the human bonds of
family, masculinity and hope for success. The well-scripted
dialogue is carried out so stylishly that the audience starts
thinking "Holy Wah!" right along with the characters every
time something goes askew.
The balance that is established at the beginning through
simple human interaction is as entertaining as all the chaos
that comes to disturb it. The naturalistic script, the enthusi-
asm of the actors and the cozy set start to make deer camp
feel like a metaphoric home for everyone, not to mention one
heck of a good time. In the end, Remora
who says it best when he describes deer
camp as being, "like Christmas with Es
guns."
Although there are several occur-
rences of supernatural voices, beams of P
glowing red light - the first act ends
with a visit from some sort of forest Oct. 24

Celine (Cameron Diaz) and Robert (Ewan McGregor) take time out from robbing a bank to get physical.

Trendy twist doesn't

revive lifeless

'Ordinary

By Michael Zllberman
Daily Arts Writer
A romantic comedy from the makers
of "Trainspotting!" The fact that it
ounds approximately like "a Holocaust
'pic from Leni
Riefenstal," is pre-
cisely the sellingR
point. You go in F
expecting the team
behind last year's
-hailed hallucinato-
ry fable to work
their sick magic on American soil;
sorry.
"A Life Less Ordinary" suffers
Wrom the common syndrome of
Hollywood debuts by filmmakers
from across the pond (Antonioni,
Wenders): It is a film infatuated
with its location more than its
plot, an attempt to create a defini-
tive slice of ironic Americana.
'.Which, in this case, means ripping
on (and off) the entire Frank Capra
can on.
The movie starts out sufficiently
.Weird, with a scene set in Heaven
(imagined as a paper-swamped police
precinct), which introduces us to the
mechanics of sparking love between
human beings: Their dossiers seem to
be thrown together at random. We
also meet two angels stuck with a par-
ticularly incongruous pairing of
Celine, a spoiled billionaire brat
(Cameron Diaz), and Robert, a neu-
rotic Scottish janitor with literary
aspirations (Ewan McGregor).
The angels go the only possible
route, screwing up the poor guy's life
to the point where he is forced to kid-
nap the girl - after which the girl
unknowingly turns the tables on
everybody involved, by finding the
kidnapping a great way to shake down
Daddy.
That's the setup, and there's a lot of
oddball exhilaration in it - four good
ctors turned completely loose on a
vast and grotesque landscape. Delroy
Lindo provides his angel with a sour,
Raymond Chandler's private-dick
demeanor, while Holly Hunter treats

U
1

hers as an amusingly trashy sexpot;
these characterizations are so com-
pletely arbitrary that you can't mis-
take them for anything other than
people having fun. McGregor whines
and slow-burns
SV IE W and occasionally
freezes in a pose
A Life Less allowing a
Ordinary glimpse of a
*1 future Obi-Wan
At Showcase Kenobi (he was
cast for the covet-
ed part while making this film).
And Diaz pretty much picks up
where her character from "My Best
Friend's Wedding" left off, down to a
strangely similar karaoke sequence.
Yes, people dance and sing

karaoke in this, for it is a hip, hip
movie. Ever since Tarantino proved
that setting film scenes to familiar
songs works even better than having
an actual score (the song's charge
rubs off automatically), the trend has
gotten frighteningly out of hand). In
"Trainspotting," Boyle used Lou
Reed's "Perfect Day" as a sardonic
counterpoint to a heroine overdose;
here, he randomly throws in songs
where the pace could use a pick-up.
A key sequence is accompanied by
R.E.M.'s tight-wound, siren-strewn
"Leave," and was the resulting
adrenaline rush purchased with the
music rights'? The director would
rather not have you give it too much
thought.

E
ur
,1

Phil Powers (standing) and Jim Porterfield are two "Yooper"
deer hunters in Jeff Daniels' "Escanaba in da Moonlight."
and falling asleep.
Rounding out the cast is Reuben's wife, Wolf Moon Dance
(Sandra Birch), whose short amount of stage time does not
take away from the strong female presence her character
gives to the play.
Written by Jeff Daniels ("Dumb and Dumber") and per-
formed in the theater he helped establish, this show is more
fun than any slapstick movie that has come out in the past
three or four years. Throughout, action has to be stopped so
that the audience can catch its breath before passing out
laughing. The actors go through a
'V E W marathon of physical endurance to bring
anaba in da across dialogue that is as endearing as the
Mooniht thick northern accents used to deliver it.
Moonliht The physical aspect of the comedy is par-
ple Rose Theater ticularly effective in the intimate theater,
Chelsea where the audience watches the action
997 - call 475-7902 from so close you can hear the lighting
crackling.
The action is perfectly staged on a set that leaves no detail
untouched, down to the spare beer cans strewn around and
nailed to the floor. No one is left out of the action that comes
at you from so many places on the stage it is hard to know
where to look. The characters fill up the space and make the
chemistry and charisma look easy.
If you are going to be around Chelsea between now and
December, this show is something that should not be missed.
If you have no purpose for being in Chelsea, this show is still
worth the drive.

dwelling animal god -- underneath it all, this is a story about
four men at deer camp.
Albert's sons, Reuben (Phil Powers) and Remnar (Joseph
Albright), are, as Albert puts it, "not the sharpest tools in the
shed:" Hunting companion Jimmer Negamanee is an alien
abduction survivor whose bright smile and spastic speech
patterns make him as hilarious as he is incomprehensible.
There is a visit from a shaken-up DNR officer from Detroit,
Ranger Tom Treado (Randal Goodwin), who is not quite him-
self because he has just been visited by God, and whose
entrance consists of him walking in, stripping to his skivvies

Hindu 8ude nts ouncil
bitaaii* Puja
@Stcho~el( LAlae Lounge
October 29.v(997

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Deiroy Lindo and Holly Hunter make mischief on Earth in "A Life Less Ordinary."

(Paja and Prashad)

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