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March 11, 1998 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-03-11

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The 1992 Neil Jordan classic, "The Crying Game," will run tonight
at the Michigan League Underground. "The Crying Game" is a
political thriller that explores the trials of a retired IRA terrorist
Nho must watch over his a captured soldier's girlfriend. The film
stars Stephen Rea. Admission is free and the show begins at 8

UIr £tctikgwn 3g To&drh in Daly Arts:
® Feeling a little "Cuckoo"? The Rude Mechanicals' presen-
tation of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" opens tomor-
row, and Daily Arts will have a sneak preview of the show.
Wednesday
March 11, 1998

5

Girls' dream of Broadway

:y Christopher Tkaczyk
ssociate Weekend, etc. Editor

I

They are coming. In fact, they're already here.
"Dreamgirls,' the pop musical written by Tom Eyen and
enry Krieger, is on the road to Broadway. The show is on a
"ional tour, which stopped in Detroit for a three-week run.
'Dreamgirls" follows the story of a three-member girl group
tring the '60s and '70s. Comparable to the Supremes (of
which Diana Ross was a part), the
Dreams become engaged in record con-
tract deals and performing affairs. Effie,
Deena and Lorrell are the Dreams who
Dreamgirls try a chance at fame by competing in an
Detroit Apollo Theater talent competition.
Opera House That night, they are discovered by
Curtis, who leads them to the limelight
March 3, 1998 and lands them a job as back up singers
for the famous James Thunder Early. The
story rolls from there as love interests
intermix and talent is snubbed; the rest of
the show is about how the Dreams fall
apart.
The producers of the show are intend-

The show was directed by Michael Bennett, who was the cre-
ative dance genius behind "A Chorus Line." Bennett, who suf-
fered complications from AIDS in 1987, is the inspiration for
this production's choreography.
The best thing about this "Dreamgirls," as was with the orig-
inal, is the vocal ability of its stars. It seems as if all the Dreams
were raised in African American Baptist churches, as there is
so much soul pouring from their pipes.
Most impressive is B.J. Crosby as Effie. As the dumped
Dreamgirl, she showered the audience with her wailing voice.
At one moment, she may have been capable of speaking in
tongues because she surely seemed touched by a higher power.
The best moment of the evening saw Crosby in the first act
finale "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Her spiritual
performance will move you to a higher ground.
The rest of the cast suits the musical well, but no one partic-
ular performer stands out as a comparison to Crosby. La Tanya
Hall and Tonya Dixon, as Crosby's co-Dreams, fit the part well,
but their chances at wowing the audience are reduced to brief
moments of polite applause. Kevin-Anthony as soul singer
James Thunder Early (slightly reminiscent of a young James
Brown) is entertaining and respectable. He is able to reach vocal
highs that are often only witnessed of pre-pubescent boys.
Brian Evaret Chandler as Curtis Taylor Jr., the car dealer
who becomes the Dreams' manager, proves to be a threatening
villain. His singing is strong and bears the fierceness of his

Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

The cast of "Dreamgirls" are making a stop In Detroit - possibly en route to Broadway.

character. He illustrates his ability to make women swoon over
him, regardless of his evil ways.
La Tanya Hall as Deena Jones, the Dream who later replaces
Effie as lead singer, reminds us of Diana Ross. Her soft singing
style is the first indication and her looks proved the compari-
son. It's great to see characterizations of music legends, but it
doesn't take talent to do an impersonation. Ten percent of the
men in New York's East Village could probably pass for Diana
Ross on any given Saturday night. It's the style, not substance

that is being showcased within this revival.
Whether or not this version of "Dreamgirls" makes it to
Broadway this season, it is still an entertaining show. The thrills
of the Motown sound are jammed into Krieger's score and the
amazing performance by B.J. Crosby is not to be missed. It isn't
often that Broadway shows stop in Detroit before its New York
run.
"Drearngirls " runs through March 22. Tickets are available
by calling (313) 872-1000.

ing to make "Dreamgirls" the first
revival since the original Broadway production. The original
"Dreamgirls" swept the boards with six Tony awards in 1981.
oen's flashy
Lebowski' is
ig fun10, Dude
By Ryan Posly
Daily Arts Writer
The Coen brothers - director Joel and producer Ethan -
have been making offbeat little gems of films for almost 15
years, but it wasn't until their last film, "Fargo" (1996), that
they broke into the mainstream spotlight. That film, the
"true" story of murder, mayhem and funny accents in the
snowy northern Midwest, won the Coens a long-awaited
Oscar for their screenplay, as well as the Best Actress award
Joel's longtime muse, Frances McDormand.
Their highly-anticipated follow-up to "Fargo" is the
demented caper "The Big Lebowski" a delectable piece of
eye and ear candy that hearkens back to their more wildly
satirical days, a la "Raising Arizona."
Like "Fargo" (indeed, like most of their films)"The Big
Lebowski" is a geographical portrait, this time of the Los
Angeles that Raymond Chandler might have written about if
he were alive in 1991 - a twisted film noir for the '90s.
Jeff Bridges is The Dude (a.k.a. Jeff
Lebowski), a lazy, unemployed,
{ reefer-mad dude who is still stuck in
the '70s and would rather be bowling.
The Big He comes home one night and is
Lebowski accosted by a pair of bumbling thugs
OW (what would a Coen brothers movie
be without some of these) who have
At Briarwood him confused for another Jeff
and Showcase Lebowski, a millionaire tycoon.
The ridiculously tangled plot begins
to unravel when The Dude, egged on
by his overly aggressive friend, Walter
(John Goodman), pays a visit to this
v rich Lebowski seeking compensation
for damages incurred by the thugs
(namely, a urine-soaked rug).
The Dude, ill-equipped to pay his rent, let alone solve com-
plex mysteries, descends into a world filled with German
nihilists, pornography, double-crossing, marmots and LSD
flashbacks. He is the ultimate everyman, caught up in unbe-
lievable situations and forced to regain control of his life. Jeff
Bridges supplies the perfect blend of aloofness and frustra-
tion, passivity and anger - the aging stoner guiding us
e ough the bizarre maze of the Coens' L.A.
Th complement to The Dude's pacifism is the open aggres-
sion of Walter, one of The Dude's bowling partners and his side-
kick in the mystery. John Goodman is brilliant as this well-inten-
tioned, but loudmouthed Vietnam veteran who takes charge of
The Dude's predicament, only to screw it up even more.
The Coens have a knack for drawing incredible perfor-

Snipes can't carry 'Marshals'

Courtesy o framercy Pictures
The Dude Lebowski (Jeff BrIdges) and Maude Lebowski (Julianne
Moore) -no relation - engage in some full contact bowling.
mances out of their actors, which probably has more to do
with their unparalleled writing than anything, and this film is
certainly no exception. Julianne Moore vamps it up in a clas-
sic indistinguishable European accent as Maude Lebowski,
the suspiciously helpful daughter of the "big" Lebowski who
only uses The Dude for his (questionably favorable) sperm.
Steve Buscemi gives his usual off-kilter performance as
Donny, the third bowling partner of The Dude and Walter
who never quite knows what's going on. Sam Elliott, with his
incredibly husky voice, provides the unusual narration with
an extra wink and a grin for the audience as an out-of-place
cowboy storyteller who shows up every now and then. And
John Turturro provides the biggest laughs as our heroes'
bowling nemesis in only two outrageous scenes which have
nothing to do with anything.
Of course, this cast of odd characters and dead-on perfor-
mances would mean nothing if the Coen boys weren't such
clever filmmakers. And sure enough, "The Big Lebowski" is
filled with scenes which are either incredibly funny, incredi-
bly flashy or some combination of the two- like The Dude's
surreal dream sequences, one of which can only be described
as Busby Berkeley-goes-bowling-and-invites-Vikings.
Unfortunately, the structure is, almost out of necessity,
episodic, so much so that the film loses steam several times and
then fights to pick up the pace again. Several scenes and char-
acters have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot, which was
the intention; they play out hilariously and would be missed if
they were not included, but they also slow the film down.
Even the ending was so anti-climactic it was hard to
believe it was over, yet the Coens have hardly let their fans
down. "The Big Lebowski" offers rich, unconventional char-
acters spouting a striking combination of vulgarities and
intellectual babble in the most strangely romantic portrait of
Los Angeles since "L.A. Story" - and a guy called The
Dude guides you through it all.

By Joshua Pederson
Daily Film Editor
Before delving into the critical
analysis of"U.S. Marshals," one thing
must be made abundantly clear. I have
one small bias in the viewing of any
major action thriller. On my list of fla-
grantly preconceived notions, this par-
ticular bias ranks up there with
"Leonardo DiCaprio is the skinniest
little boy alive." It follows as such:
Wesley Snipes is the undisputed
crown prince of the action-adventure
genre. Just accept it.
"Passenger 57," "Boiling Point,"
"Murder at 1600" and a wealth of other
Snipes classics have placed him at the
apex of your run-of-the-mill, knee-to-
the-groin, fist-to-the-face, gun-to-the-
throat, pretty-lady-at-your-side bundles
of violence. So, if you have come to
terms with this fact of nature, read on.
If not, there are a number of 12-step
groups to which I could refer you. For
this reason, in this review, Wesley
Snipes will come under no, I repeat,
zero critical scrutiny. Thank you.
"U.S. Marshals" comes from the pro-
ducers of "The Fugitive," and at face
value, the plots of the two movies are
essentially the same. Random hero,
wrongfully accused of a crime he did
not commit, flees from law enforce-
ment for amount of time just sufficient
for his innocence to be proven. The ran-
dom hero in this installment is Mark
Sheridan, played by Wesley Snipes.
But while "The Fugitive" relied on
the strength of a popular '60s television
series, "U.S. Marshals" has no such
support. It bases its existence on the
return of Sam Gerard, the U.S. Marshal
(hence the name) who chased Harrison
Ford in the film's predecessor.
Tommy Lee Jones, who portrays
Gerard, is a great actor. He garnered an
Academy Award for his work in "The

U.S.
Marshals
**
At Briarwood
and Showcase

Gerard is not the
main character,
so the writer is
able to pigeon-
hole him a bit.
And in the devel-
opment of a sup-
porting role, this
technique is
passable, even
commendable.
But similar
methods, when
applied to a
main character,
lead to a stereo-

Fugitive." But, even great actors must
be given decent parts in order to shine.
The creators of "U.S. Marshals" did
not take into account the fact that
Jones won the Oscar for Best
Supporting Actor. The character of
Sam Gerard was not written as a lead.
The transition from supporting role to
main role should never have been
made.
When writing a supporting role, the
writer is able to take advantage of the
fact that the character will have limit-
ed screen time. For this reason, he or
she can create a character that relies on
convention. In "The Fugitive," Sam

Surprise, surprise.
Unlike those of its predecessor, the
creators of"U.S. Marshals" had to con-
trive a new storyline. They didn't have
the luxury of the one-armed man. And
if there isn't a one-armed man on which
to place the blame, our fugitive is guilty,
which takes much of the suspe.se out
of the film.
So, who might one choose as the
real criminal who will finally be impli-
cated, proving Wesley Snipes's inno-
cence? The physically handicapped is
an area which has been done (a one-
legged man might be overkill), so why
not turn to the last true bastion of
Communism? Yes, the creators of
"U.S. Marshals," hoping against hope'
for the continuation of the Cold War,
set up the Chinese consulate as the
evildoers. But there are a number of
plot twists along the way, so I'll leave
it at that.
The supporting' cast of the film is
interesting, if not strong. Gerard's
investigative team, just like its leader, is
typical at best. There is the wise-crack-
ing, out-of-shape guy, the young gun
and the government outsider.
Overall, though, despite the stereo-
typical characterizations and sketchy
plot, "U.S. Marshals" is fairly enter-
taining. The action sequences are
exciting, for the most part. And
included is a spectacular plane crash,
whose conclusion denies any connec-
tion to conventional laws of momen-
tum.
And finally, one cannot forget that
Wesley Snipes plays the fugitive. And
we already know that he's the knock-
down, drag-em-out leader of the pack.
A director could put Snipes in a
Victorian period piece starring Hugh
Grant, Shaquille O'Neal and Leonardo
DiCaprio, and I'd still be the first one in
line.

type, complete with all the negative
connotations implied by such a word.
In the case of the character of
Gerard, this is too bad. The created
stereotype is that of an emotionless,
brilliant, instinctual, no-nonsense,
street-smart law enforcement officer.
But after the mold is poured, Jones is
given little room for character devel-
opment.
One rather humorous result of
Gerard's stereotypically bland character
is his developing penchant for stating
the painfully obvious. "We've got our-
selves a fugitive!" exclaims our hero.

I

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