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February 09, 1998 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-02-09

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Te .bratIng the Arts:
The Shapiro Undergraduate Ubrary will hold its second night of
afe Shapiro." Readings by undergraduate student writers will
take place in the atrium of the library. The event is part of the
University's celebration of the YoHA, Year of Humanities and
Arts. Cafe Shapiro has free admission, and complimentary coffee
will be served. The event begins at 8:30 p.m.

Ufbe icii~mnRuitg.

tomorrow in Daily Arts:
® Check out Breaking Records, the Daily's inside look at
new record releases. Featured tomorrow are James Iha and
the soundtrack to "The Wedding Singer."
February 9, 1998

'Blues B
By Geordy Gantsoudes
Daily Arts Writer
The first time, they were on a mission
God. They would allow nothing to get in
way. Not a handful of cops or an RV
with the good ol' boys.
This time, Dan Aykroyd (Elwood Blu
left alone to fulfill a new mission. Belie
or not, he succeeds.
,one are the mugging, the antics an
tremendous physical comedy of the late
The movie skirt!
issue of how to deal
the death by not ta
about it. Elwood is
Blues ply informed of J
Brothers death by the prison
2000 den, in a convers
not heard by the
At Barwood & ence.
Showcase Impossible to rer
Belushi's void is
by three other I
Brethren (though
are related to Elw
Mighty Mac 4
Goodman), Buster
year-old Evan Bonifant) and Cab
Morton)_ The three do a good job, with
cial kudos to Goodman, in substituting
One would think that "Blues Bro
love lesson
By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
Of all genres of ballroom dancing, the
tango is perhaps the most visually evoca-
tive and alluring. That is, of course, if the
(eers can produce that effect.
In her latest film, "The Tango
Lesson," Sally Potter assumes the roles
of director, writer and lead actress. She
plays Sally, an aging woman who ful-
fills her childhood dream of becoming
a tango dancer; she does this under the
tutelage of supreme tango dancer Pablo
(Pablo Veron). Sally is unconvincing in
demonstrating any natural talent, and
stead, she looks like a weathered twig
iinst the agile, free-flowing body of
Pablo Veron.
"The Tango Lesson" presents many
themes that aren't persuasive enough.
Sally, a filmmak-
er living in
London who
refuses to submit
The Tango to the Hollywood
Lesson glamorization of
** movies, decides
to take up the
At the Michigan tango, after she
Theater experiences a
performance by
the Argentinean
The film is
then broken up
into the sequential lessons given to
Sally by her teacher. A relationship

*elops out of these frequent meet-
ings, and we are led to believe that the
love between them is kindled mostly
through their dancing.
Maybe if Potter weren't so stiff and
stoic; and if Pablo had showed any jus-
tifiable reason for his attraction to her
character, we would be drawn into the
vigor and passion of the tango. Instead,
we are painfully aware that Pablo is a
much better dancer than Sally, who
ver achieves the grace and confi-
ace of a talented tango dancer.
So what is it that draws Pablo to
Sally? Maybe his pride in her admira-
tion of him, or her pathetic-looking


maintain respect in second outing

2000" would do its best to stray from the for-
mula set out by the first "Blues Brothers."
But director John Landis and Dan
Aykroyd discovered something
that worked in 1980, and pretty
much ran with it again for
Just like the first one, the
film opens in a prison. But
this time, Elwood is being
released. The opening song is
an a capella "John the
Revelator" sung by blues great
Taj Mahal.
It was The Blues Brothers'
cover of Mahal's "She Caught the
Katy" that opened up the first film.
Upon his release, Elwood
decides to - surprise - put the
band back together.
These scenes are rather formulaic,
with pretty much the same type of
hijinks that occurred in the first film.
It is still entertaining, though, and the
musical numbers (featuring a superb
"634-5789" by Wilson Pickett, Eddie
Floyd and Jonny Lang) make it all
worth while.
This is pretty much the standard
that is set by the entire movie. With a
PG-13 rating, the writers knew they
would be limited in the amount of Jump ba
"blue" humor that would be allowed Goodma

in the film.
The adult language and
theme has been replaced with
myriad unbelievable music
numbers that anyone can appre-
The final scene compiles the most
incredible group of musicians ever put
on one stage. It would be awful to ruin
the surprise of who ends up there, so I
will leave it at that.
After the credits, a bonus
musical number features
blues legend, James Brown,
who reprises his role of
Reverend Cleophus James
(sans Chaka Kahn).
The cast is a "fun" cast.
John Goodman is more
than qualified to be
Aykroyd's stage partner.
He encompasses the
bulk and athleticism of
Belushi, along with the great blues voice.
Bonifant is fine but not necessarily needed.
He seems to be little more than screen filler.
But he is funny in the dance number and
his on stage harmonica solos (performed by
Blues Traveler's John Popper) are entertain-
ing to watch. Along with Goodman, he has
mastered the serious Blues Brother look.
Morton takes a turn into comedy, away
from his usual dramatic roles. His voice is

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
The extended Blues clan teams up in 12000."
great and he displays incredible emotion on
stage as a step-brother of sorts to Elwood.
Together, the four brothers do a great job in
the musical numbers, though Bonifant is used
primarily as window dressing (he has fewer
than 15 lines in the movie, yet he is on screen
the whole way through).
Although one gets the feeling that they have
seen it all before (specifically the tremendous
wreck of the police cars), the movie is great. The
band is back, there are some familiar faces, and
some new ones.
The film is a must-see for a fan of the first one,
and a great cure from the mid-semester blues.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
ack! Dan Aykroyd, Evan Bonifant and John
an hate the way they look in a suit.

Acting makes 'Sight' worth seeing

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Lords of the dance: Pablo Veron and Sally Potter get close in "The Tango Lesson."

By Valerie Lapinski
For the Daily
How many people's lives can hinge on one piece of art? In
Donald Margulies' two-act play, "Sight Unseen," the entangle-
ments of three people's lives are explained through their per-
ception of art. Directed by student playwright Kristopher
Chung and starring Alex Alioto, Krista Braun, Ernie Nolan and
Allyson Bakaitis. this Basement Arts performance was insight-
ful and thought-provoking.
Jonathan Waxman (Alioto), an American artist, is in
England for an exhibit opening. He visits his ex-lover, archae-
ologist Patricia (Braun), whom he hasn't seen for 15 years.
Now married to a stodgy Englishman, Nick (Nolan), Patricia is
a self-proclaimed "expatriate" of the United States. When
Jonathan walks in the door of Patricia and Nick's home, a study
of memories, buried fears and hidden motivations begins.
The brilliance of the play was in the unraveling characters.
The issues posed by the play were not black and white -
whether Jonathan was a true artist or a sell-out was not the
question. Instead, the play questioned the reduction of a per-
son to his past actions or purposes.
The perspective of the audience was distorted through flash-
backs between present-day scenes. Whenever it appeared that
a character's intentions were clear, a following scene contest-
ed that clarity. The performers had a challenge in portraying the
many facets of their characters and followed through, bringing
depth and perception to their roles. Equally impressive was
Chung's direction, which did not seem limited by the small
stage area and often ambiguous dialogue.
Particularly revealing were the scenes between Jonathan and
Nick. Nolan was wonderful with Nick's transition from being
painfully shy to bitter and insatiably curious as a result of a lit-
tle too much vodka. Both Nolan and Alioto effectively brought
into the conflict their characters' similarities and differences.
The spare set of Patricia and Nick's home acted as an unas-
suming backdrop, where people ate, drank, and succumbed to

Basement Arts
Feb. 5-7, 1998

Braun's performance was solid as
Nick's resigned wife, and in the flash-
backs of her past she unearthed
Patricia's youthful ambition. One scene
showed Patricia and Jonathan in his old
bedroom, listening to Cyndi Lauper
while his father sat shivah for his moth-
er downstairs. The scene was deftly
played by both Braun and Alioto, who
created sharp contrast with the older
versions of their characters.
The moving conclusion showed the
three arguing over the ownership of
the painting of Patricia, and then a
flashback to the day it was painted. As
each character's perception of its

the daily task of surviving. Nothing momentous was allowed in
such an environment, and the play used well-crafted dialogue
rather than emotional explosions for drama.
Between the tense domestic scenes came snatches of an
interview of Jonathan with Grete, a German art critic played by
Allyson Bakaitis. Bakaitis delivered her questions with a
believable German accent and innocent smoothness, masking
any underlying motives Grete had in interviewing the Jewish

wistful smile that makes her look as
though she's ingested one too many
psychedelic drugs.
Pablo doesn't like mixing the profes-
sional with the personal, and he offers a
suggestion: transfer all of their mutual
emotions into their dancing.
An interesting idea, except there are
two resulting glitches: first, Sally can't
seem to put her lust for him into the
tango, and as a result, Pablo is frustrat-
ed by her. Second, they struggle to face
the unavoidable fact that they are
attracted to each other, and cannot sub-
due their desire for one another.
The movie weakens when Pablo con-
fesses that he feels like he has no roots
as an Argentinean living in Paris with
the long-forgotten traditions of his
inherited religion, Judaism. This theme
is loosely connected, perhaps complete-
ly unrelated, to the plot of "The Tango
Set aside these contradictory pit-
falls, and there is still plenty to appre-
ciate about this filnm. The cinematog-
raphy by Robby Muller is astounding,
particularly in the opening scene.
Sally has an extreme obsession with
sterility, orderliness and cleanliness.
The first shot in the film is of a stack
of clean white paper and a perfectly
sharpened pencil atop a spotless,
stark-white table. The black-and-white
scene then immediately switches to a
complete opposite effect, showing the
vibrant colors of the dresses of three

supermodels, who are murdered by
their legless publicity man. This dis-
turbing image of Sally's idea for an
upcoming film is profoundly effec-
tive, in contrast to the previous frame.
Her obsessive character traits. howev-
er, are not incorporated into the rest of
the movie.
Another interesting technique is used
by the camera during the group tango
sessions where the gliding movement of
Sally from one dancer to another pro-
duces a sensual effect.
Because nearly half of "The Tango
Lesson" is devoted to the visual aspect
of tango dancing between Sally and
Pablo, we are drawn into the seductive
motions of their long, slender legs and
how the partners are gracefully inter-
twined. In fact, some of the tango
scenes are suggestively erotic, particu-
larly when two other male dancers join
in on Sally and Pablo. producing an
eerie, provocative unity among them.
Potter demonstrates the capability
of producing reimarkably original
films. If she provided some meaning
into her symbolic visual effects and
greater depth into character develop-
ment. she could really teach
Hollywood a lesson far better than any
tango with Pablo.

meaning was revealed, fatal distance grew between the
In the second half, Nick said of Jonathan's art, "I just
don't get it." Jonathan replied that his job is complete once
the painting is done; the viewer is responsible for his own
interpretation. Perhaps this was Margulies' philosophy in
"Sight Unseen" - the audience may "get" whatever truths
it finds in the play, though it is no longer the responsibility
of the playwright. The result was an intriguing performance,
well worth the efforts of all involved and all who experi-
enced it.

9 P! T I !C A
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Cafe Shapiro
A study break of student readings & free coffee
Where talking in the Library is encouraged...
Come hear your peers read from their works. You'll hear stories, poems,
mm i n name it. Each night will feature different writers.

"What a GreatExperience."
f Learning the language. Meeting
people. Coming face to face with
history, art and architecture, culture,
food and fun.
' Small classes. Personal attention. Fully
z3rart-d- rp~iv ,r.univrsity credit.

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