Wy Mollasis reads from his book "On a Wing and a Prayer." The
book follows the journey of Detroit's favorite hockey team, the
Red Wings, on the its quest to win the 1997 Stanley Cup. The
reading will begin at 7 p.m., and will be held at Borders Books &
Music. Admission is free.
U31e £d~m hUgt
Monday in Daily Arts:
Come back from eating all that turkey and stuffing just in
time to be filled with Daily Arts film reviews of this week-
end's releases. We'll be sure to have "Home Fries" prepared
nice and tasty for you.
November 25, 1998
Film delves into tragic beauty
By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
In the beginning of Roberto Benigni's "Life is
Beautiful," a narrator announces: "This is a sim-
ple story, but not an easy one to tell." This brief
statement encapsulates "Life is Beautiful" better
than any other.
uch has been written about this film - a lot
PPeople calling this movie a comedy about the
Holocaust. It is not. "Life is Beautiful" is funny,
but never makes light of the horror of 13 million
dead human beings.
Rather, the film
is divided into two intercon-
nected parts: the first is a
comedy; the second is a
gravely serious account of
a father and son struggling
to survive the Holocaust.
"Life is Beautiful" is set
in fascist Italy against the
backdrop of the Second
World War. At the center of
the film is Guido
(Benigni), an Italian Jew,
who meets the woman of
his dreams when she liter-
ally falls into his arms.
From the second he meets
Guido makes it a point of finding Dora and letting
her fall in love with him.
To do this, Guido disguises himself as a gov-
ernment official who is supposed to speak at the
school at which Dora teaches. It's only after
Guido arrives there that he realizes that he has to
give a speech on Aryan superiority. In one of the
film's funniest scenes, Guido turns the Nazi
Superman lecture into a mockery, showing the
school children different parts of his body as an
example of what a Nazi Superman should look
After this, Guido sweeps Dora off her feet,
spending a romantic evening with her, rescuing
her from a boring state dinner with her fiance. In
an intensely romantic and comical sequence,
Guido unlocks Dora's heart, before stealing her
away from her fiance and their engagement party.
Up until this point, the violence against Jews is
kept mostly in the background. The most overt
sign of anti-Semitism is when a group of kids
paint Guido's uncle's horse green and write
"Jewish Horse" on it. But Guido turns even this
hatred around, riding the horse into the party to
take Dora away.
At this point, "Life is Beautiful" works as an
amazing romantic comedy, worthy of heaps of
praise in and of itself. Benigni displays his adept
sense of physical comedy in the tradition of
Chaplin, Keaton and the Marx Brothers. But
instead of continuing down this path, Benigni
shifts the film and takes it into the years when
Germany occupied Italy towards the end of World
In the several years in between Guido and Dora
getting together, they've married and had a son;
Guido has opened his bookstore, and the situation
is getting dire for Jews.
Not that "Life is Beautiful" loses its sense of
humor. When Guido's son, Giosue (Georgio
Cantarini), asks his father why stores have signs
up reading, "No Jews or Dogs Allowed," Guido
suggests that they put a sign in the bookstore's
window that reads "No Spiders or Visigoths
But things get out of hand when the Nazis
round up Guido, Guido's uncle and Giosue on
Giosue's birthday. Guido has to make the decision
that he cannot let his son know what's going on.
How can a father explain the ultimate evil to a
Instead of letting Giosue face reality, Guido
turns the concentration camp into a game. He
convinces Giosue that they can leave as soon as
they earn 1,000 points, at which point they will
win a real tank. At the same time, Guido has to
survive the back-breaking labor and keep his son
alive after all of the children and the elderly are
executed in the showers.
Balance this with the fact that Dora has decid-
ed to join her family in the camp despite the fact
that she's not Jewish, and does not know if her son
is alive or not after all of the children and the old
people are rounded up.
The result is a tragi-comedy of the first order.
"Life is Beautiful" is less about the Holocaust,
and more about the lengths to which a father will
go to protect his son, both physically and psycho-
logically. The film leaves the audience with a
question: If an adult like Guido can't understand
Courtesy o Miramax
Braschi make a beautiful appearance in Benigni's
Beautiful" would undoubtedly win the Oscar for
Best Picture if it was in English. Alas, the
American prejudice against subtitles will hold
this film back, which is a shame, because it's the
second best film of the year.
I can guarantee you will cry at this movie - it
would be inhuman not to cry. But you will also
laugh through your tears.
Dora (Nicoletta Braschi), who he calls "Princess,"
ido is love struck.
As it turns out, both Dora and Guido live in
Tuscany, where Dora teaches and Guido waits
tables in a fancy restaurant while saving up to buy
a book store. After another chance encounter,
Roberto Benigni, Giorgio Cantarini and NicolettaI
film "Life Is Beautiful."
why the Nazis are killing all of the Jews, than how
Not only is "Life is Beautiful" incredibly writ-
ten and directed by Benigni (he co-wrote the
screenplay with Vincenzo Cerami), but the cast is
perfect. Benigni, Braschi and Cantarini never
miss the mark, displaying the right effect when
the film is comic and when it is tragic. "Life is
ByF'n Jnn ln
For anyfamilies, watching
Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite"
has become a Christmas tradition,
earning it a place as this century's
most frequently performed ballet.
Now, for the third year in a row, the
University Musical Society is bring-
ing a new version of this classic bal-
let to Michigan for the holiday sea-
son. "The Harlem Nutcracker" will
* performed in a larger venue this
year - the Detroit Opera House -
rather than in Ann Arbor, making the
performance open to more people.
Popular in its own right, "The
Harlem Nutcracker" maintains a
unique identity from the traditional
ballet. "It's a 180 degree difference,"
the show's star Gus Solomons, Jr.
said. Donald Byrd's show includes
'Fluid' techno flows into Detroit
By Jason Birchmeier
Daily Arts Writer
Nearby, the mysterious metropolis that introduced the world
to techno music awaits its renaissance. Late tomorrow night,
five of the men pivotal in the conception of techno music a
decade ago will come together in Detroit for a very special
performance. Titled "Fluid," this event promises to be a
glimpse of what may evolve into a weekly event in the future.
Two of the artists performing, Derrick May and Kevin
Saunderson, revolutionized the world of dance music in the
mid to late '80s at a now-legendary club known as The Music
Institute where the music now referred to as techno first began
to materialize. The other three artists performing
Thanksgiving night at "Fluid" - Carl Craig, Kenny Larkin
and Stacey Pullen - were understudies of May and
Saunderson and eventually led the second wave of Detroit
techno, spanning from the early '90s to the present.
This monumental event in the history of electronic music
Courtesy of The University Musical Society
The Harlem Nutcracker begins Its Holiday jaunt at the Detroit Opera House on
Friday, and can be seen until Dec. 6.
To be announced
Thursday night will take place at a
brand new, undisclosed location in
Detroit, said Carl Craig, whose goal is
to eventually have the concept of
"Fluid" evolve into a club similar to
what the Music Institute was 10 years
"In 1988, 1 had a place that was a
temple' Craig explains. "What we're
trying to do here is make this the testing
ground, maybe even the breeding
ground for the new pioneers."
Over the past few years, Detroit's
gigantic underground raves held in
shady abandoned buildings hidden deep
within the decay of the inner-city on a
past decade but most will agree Paperclip People is unique.
Some of Craig's descriptions of his music include "crazy
music." "deep and dark," "party music" and "straight ahead
underground stringy kind of thing." He also said that listeners
"have to have a certain mentality to be able to comprehend."
This project began several years ago when Craig started
releasing singles on 12-inch vinyl such as "Oscillator" and
"Throw" under the name Paperclip People until all the mater-
ial was eventually compiled into an album called "The Secret
Tapes of Dr. Eich" in 1996.
"'The Secret Tapes of Dr. Eich' is not a compilation but a
kind of essay of the past," Craig said. "I find it's better for me
to put together projects in long form. That's why I head my
own record label. It gives me more control to release what I
Besides Paperclip People, Craig also releases music on his
record label, Planet E, under the names Interzone Orchestra,
69, Psyche, BFC and Carl Craig as well as others. He
explained his reasons for the multiple aliases rely upon "the
whole concept of productivity. If I would have put all the
material I was doing before under the name Carl Craig, I
would have flooded the market."
"It was also a situation where each song under a different
moniker has a different personality," he said. "69 could sound
similar to Paperclip People, but it'stotally different. To me it
sounds completely different. It has a different concept behind
Craig's record label, Planet E, remains as vital to the evo-
lution of techno music as his own music. Artists such as the
controversial Moodyman and DJ Recloose - who used to
spin as DJ Bubblicious at Ann Arbor's own Bird of Paradise
and Hiedleburg two years ago - are exported across the
Craig sees a rise from the underground as "better for our
movement." His music is made to reach and inspire people,
his record label to develop innovative artists and his event,
"Fluid," to once again bring Detroit back its status as a world
center of music.
"I believe there is a large market of people in America that
can be influenced by our music. We have to give them an
opportunity to be influenced. They need to be exposed and
educated," he said.
Tomorrow night's event will be the first step toward
Craig's vision of a musical renaissance in Detroit. His visions
are to "take the past like Derrick (May) and match that with
the future" in an effort to once again create "that inner city
love that comes from being part of the culture.:
To hear the location and time of "Fluid," call
(313) 438-0112 any time tomorrow
Friday at 8 p.m.
Suite" and jazz
keeps Clara as
the main charac-
ter, but trans-
forms her into
rather than a lit-
follows Clara as
tle girl The story
New jazz music also required
adding other types of dance to the
traditional ballet. Choreographer
Donald Byrd "has taken the ballet
dancing from the original and
infused it with street dancing ... and
jazz;" Solomons said. "Overall, it
would be called jazz, but it's not jazz
in the conventional style."
To take on the challenge of com-
bining ballet and jazz, Byrd doubled
the size of his normal dance compa-
ny to 21. "The dancers have been
trained in jazz and ballet, so they
pretty much know everything,"
Solomons said, "and they really have
to do everything."
A professional dancer for the past
40 years, Solomons plays the hus-
band, while actress Eleanor McCoy,
who has danced with Alvin Ailey's
company, portrays Clara. The com-
pany also includes two dancers from
the Dance Theatre of Harlem. The
show "is a whirlwind of energy,"
Solomons said. "The dance is very
In a business dominated by young
performers, this show stars two
dancers who've passed the traditional
age for leads. Solomons attributes
this to a movement going on in the
New York dance community. "The
youth culture of dance is starting to
run its course, and now people are
wondering what happened to the
artistry," Solomons said. Artistry
"gives the show depth so you get both
spectacle and emotional content."
That's just one of the reasons he
continues to perform in "The Harlem
Nutcracker," which draws a variety
of people to the theatre. "It's a great
show for kids, but it's got the adult
story," Solomons said. "It's funny,
it's sad, it's very entertaining. It's a
show that has everything," he
"The Harlem Nutcracker" even
draws people in who have never been
to the theatre before. "It's a catalyst
that's bringing together the jazz audi-
ence, the music audience, the ballet
audience and the black audience,"
Tickets prices cost $12-50. Call
UMS at 764-2538 for more informa-
tion, including bus service andrush
tickets for 50 percent off the regular
price. Each show through Dec. 5
begins at 8 p.m., except for Nov. 30-
Dec.]. There are 2 p.m. shows on
Nov. 28-29 and Dec.5-6.
weekly basis have created a culture where the importance of
partying surpasses that of innovative music.
"You go to Chicago and they're living house music," Craig
said, contrasting the current attitude in Detroit. "We used to be
trend-setters, or we used to be pioneers. We're not finding
those pioneers anymore. I don't know of any artists out there
right now doing things totally different on a totally new level."
Craig's first-ever Detroit performance tomorrow night
promises to be ambitious and far from mundane. Although his
performance "is something the rest of the world has seen,"
Craig rarely performs in his hometown due to the internation-
al popularity of his music. "Detroit is a place that's very indi-
vidual and very special to me. I'd rather do it on a level that's
very special" he said.
Craig has released music under various personas over the
she celebrates her first Christmas
after her husband's death while
dreaming of their courtship in 1920s
Duke Ellington's music from the
Harlem Renaissance captures the
mood of this era. Ellington adapted
Ichaikovsky's music in 1960 for his
chestra. The jazz score features
"Sugar Rum Cherry" instead of the
traditional "Dance of the Sugar Plum
Fairy," for example. David Berger
composed and arranged additions to
the Duke Ellington score for this
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