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December 04, 1998 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-12-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I be back ... again'
M-flicks presents Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Predator."
Minnesota Governor-elect Jesse 'The Mind' Ventura co-stars in
this gritty alien-meets-Green-beret flick. The film will be presented
in spectacular 35mm format. Arrive early, as the first 30 viewers
will receive "Psycho" shower curtains. The carnage kicks off
Friday at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in Nat. Sci. All this for just $3.

~fte Ld jim Tzi

Catch a review of "Volpone," the University Theater
Department's production of Ben Johnson's 17th-Century com-
December 4, 1998


Van Sant goes 'Psycho'

By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
We all go a little mad sometimes.
This is especially applicable to Gus
Van Sant, who unveils his new version
of the Alfred Hitchcock classic
"Psycho"this weekend.
Like Hitchcock, Van Sant has
refused to screen this movie for critics,
as he mounts a publicity campaign
similar to Hitchcock's. There's only
one problems with this strategy.
Everyone already knows what hap-
Van Sant claims this is a shot-for-
shot remake, which strips the movie of
any of the shock value of the original.
Then again, there is always the possi-

j .

Starring Vince'
Vaughn and Anne
Starts Today1

bility that Van
Sant has blas-
phemed and
tinkered with
the movie.
Already, Van
Sant has admit-
ted that he has
made some
changes to the
film. One of
these changes,
co-star Juliane
Moore has
revealed, is that
her character,
Lila Crane, is a

Courtesy of Miramax Films
Gus Van Sant, shown here with Robin Williams and Matt Damon in "Good Will
Hunting," directs the rerelease of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller "Psycho."

"Psycho" because there's no point in
remaking bad movies.
Well, what's the point in remaking
superb movies? They were done right
the first time, why mess them up the
second time around.
Although Van Sant is doing it the
exact same way as Hitchcock, there is
a lot of room for error.
For instance, Van Sant has a reputa-
tion as an experimental filmmaker
(despite the fact that his last film,
"Good Will Hunting," was incredibly
conventional), leading one to wonder
if he's going to reimagine certain seg-
ments of the film.
And that catches Van Sant in a para-
dox - if he doesn't do anything dif-
ferent with the film, why not just go
out and see Hitchcock's version?
At the same time, though, there's no
way these two versions can be the
same. The main difference will be the

actors and the acting. Anne Heche
takes the role of Marion Crane, the
apparent star of the film who takes a
fatal shower about half-way through
the movie, which was one of the most
off-setting things of the original.
Playing the role of Norman Bates,
Vince Vaughn plays his second psy-
chopath of the year (the first was the
redneck serial killer in "Clay
Pigeons"). Also in this ensemble cast
is the aforementioned Moore, William
H. Macy (reuniting with Moore for
the first time since "Boogie Nights")
and Viggo Mortensen.
With all this talent, though, will
they still be able to capture what Janet
Leigh, Anthony Perkins and company
did with the original?
The one glaring problem with this
cast would be Vaughn. Though he's
proved he can play a loud., unusual,
See PSYCHO, Page 9

Courtesy of TBS, Inc.
The tale of legendary magician Henry Houdini hits the small screen in "Houdini" on TNT, and stars Jonathon Schaech.
Exagger~ated tae createsan,
illusion of magican'S life

lesbian in the new version.
Purists and zealous Hitchcock fans
will not be happy with Van Sant's
reworking of certain aspects of the
story, but then again aren't too happy
that Van Sant made this movie in the
first place. Van Sant has essentially
put himself in a lose-lose situation by
making this movie.
And deservedly so.
Van Sant claims that he's remaking

Christmas. Be aware of
GEEKS bearing GIFTS.
Comics. RPGs. and Anime Video for
the discerning brainiac on your list!
1202 S. University next to Brown Tug
Open 7 Days, rri/Sat til Midnight!
998-0547 underw@ic.net

By Gabe Fajuri
Daily Arts Writer
Ask John Q. Public to name a famous magician and the
most common answer you'll receive is Houdini. Even
some 72 years after his death, Harry Houdini remains the
most famous magician in the United States.
Everyone instantly recognizes the name Houdini and
what he stood for: Magic. Perhaps that is what inspired
Pen Densham ("Moll Flanders") to write and direct his
latest film, "Houdini," for TNT. Unfortunately, the end
result of Densham's work is wholly disappointing, if not
a downright insult Houdini himself
Jonathon Schaech ("That Thing You Do!") plays Harry
Houdini, who, born as Erich Weiss - a penniless
Hungarian immigrant - became magic's biggest star.
The casting decision was a bad one; Schaech was a poor
actor on the big screen, and does no
better here.
The story begins with the Weiss
family's move to America in 1878,
Houdini and showcases the extreme poverty
that they lived in.
Several important events in
TNT Houdini's life are glossed-over: The
Suda t death of his father and his introduc-
sunday at 8 p.m. tion to magic through a book.
Incidentally, the book from which
Houdini learned his first magic
tricks was written by the father of
modern magic, a Frenchman named
Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, and
was written in the second half of the
19th Century.
In the film, however, the book from which the fiction-
al Houdini learns his first magic tricks was written long
after the real-life Houdini's passing in the 1940s.
The rest of Houdini's life story is told through a flash-
back. Bess Houdini, played by Stacy Edwards ("Chicago
Hope"), holds a seance in a feeble attempt to contact her
husband 10 years after his death.
Rhea Perlman ("Cheers") plays a hokey fortuneteller,
who claims to have the ability to channel the spirit of
Houdini. She presides over the seance while it is broad-
cast on a fictional radio show hosted by Blackburn (Paul
It should be noted that while Mrs. Houdini did hold
seances in a vain attempt to contact her husband for 10
successive years after his death, none of those seances
were ever actually broadcast on the radio.

Furthermore, none of the seances included hokey spir-
it mediums similar to Perlman's character - characters
who Houdini crusaded against throughout his later years.
The film brushes through Houdini's early years far too
quickly; he's shown as a young man working in a necktic
factory by day and practicing conjuring with his brothe@
Theo, at night. The magic, however, is technically poor
most of the time, and far from mystifying. Even after the
on-screen Houdini puts in countless hours of "practice,"
he is not much better a prestidigitator than he was as a
But this does lend some air of truth to the film, for
Houdini, though for a time billed the "King of Cards"
and master of difficult manipulative magic, was never a
very adept magician. His forte was escape magic. It was
undoubtedly his ability to free himself of virtually any
restraint, be it shackle, handcuff or straightjacket, tha
made Houdini famous.
The escapes that are recreated in the film include th&
infamous "Water Torture Cell," the "Milk Can" escape
and the oft-imitated escape from a straightjacket.
The film's jacket escape shows Houdini struggling
with the restraint while suspended, upside-down, from a
10-story building. In the process of the escape, Houdini's
struggles are so violent that he actually breaks through a
window of the building he is hanging from.
Miraculously, Houdini not only escapes from the jack
et, but walks away from the endeavor with few, if any, cut
on his face. While this bit of sensationalism may seem
trivial in the overall scheme of things, and just part of
"good TV," it is characteristic of the despicable, factually-
inaccurate melodrama that permeates the entire picture.
Houdini's relationships with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
as well as his wife are also both exaggerated to the point
of distorting actual historical truths.
What's more, the general glossing over of Houdini's
life is riddled with horrible acting. A supposed lifelong
hatred between Houdini and his brother Theo (profes-
sionally known as Hardeen) was not only fabricated, but
also poorly playeo out. While Hardeen always playe*
second fiddle to Houdini in the world of theatre and
vaudeville, he was still a great magician in his own right,
and never an enemy of his brother's as the movie com-
The biggest enemy of Houdini, in fact, is the film itself.
Poorly written, acted and directed, it does both magic and
the memory of Harry Houdini a great disservice.
On Sunday, practice a little magic yourself: With a
flick of the remote, make this movie disappear.


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