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October 21, 1998 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-10-21

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 21, 1998 - 11
Magic' falls under weak spell
By Laura Flyer who are sweet, smart, and successful. es paths with Sally and patches up her sisters
Daily.Arts Writer Unfortunately, these innocents descend from a predicament.
One of the most remarkable aspects of a movie long line of ancestry possessing the power of There are other ridiculous moments in
flop is that, one would think, even if the story and witchcraft. Brought up by their Aunt Jet (Dianne "Practical Magic" that break up serious situa-
e are the losers, maybe the film could Wiest) and Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing), tions. A classic, unintentionally hilarious moment

m ster some salvation through witty dialogue,
perhaps a humorous joke here and there. Even
more baffling is how really idiotic dialogue, or
evenaction unimportant to the plot, have a way of
ostentatiously sticking out
in what would have been an
otherwise average-quality
film.
ractical "Practical Magic," star-
Magic ring Sandra Bullock and
Nicole Kidman and based
At Briarwood on the novel by Alice
As Bhiawood Hoffman, is ridden with
and Showcase these imperfections, not to
mention its muddled story
and mediocre acting. The
movie does not lend itself
to one central imperfection;
rather, it breeds a number
of small, negative idiosyn-
crasies that spread like a disease as the film pro-
gresses.
ally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) Owens
e a pair of fun-loving, compassionate sisters

they learn that a curse runs through their family:
the men they fall in love with are doomed to an
untimely death.
As the sisters grow up, and grow apart (the
scenes of the promiscuous Gillian seducing men
are reminiscent of Julianne Moore's character in
"Boogie Nights"), they naturally fall into the pre-
dictable sequence of events: they meet men, they
marry them and their husbands soon die. Sweet
Sally's husband's circumstance of death was a
quick and simple one. But provocative Gillian
falls into a bit of a quandary with her exotic, mys-
terious-turned-violent, psychotic lover. This
would be the fact that his spirit has risen from the
dead to haunt her.
Fate allows the situation to solve itself because
of Sally's childhood wish that she would never
fall in love unless she meets a man with one
green eye and one blue eye (which would, of
course, be unlikely). We can only hope that the
screenwriter (or perhaps Alice Hoffman) wasted
less than than five minutes of their time coming
up with that. This bi-color-eyed man (maybe he
has some sorcery of his own?), eventually cross-

comes when Sally has to revive Gillian's
boyfriend through witchcraft. Sally makes an
exception here, because normally she doesn't like
to use her powers. Part of magical process is to
brand a star on his chest with whipped cream.
Amidst this serious, intended-to-be-terrifying
scene, Bullock does not resist a taste from her
"recipe." Swiping through the whipped cream
already satanically emblazoned on the man, she
licks her finger with a sheepish grin.
The star has further symbolic significance,
because, as Sally's true love preaches, magical
powers are what you believe in deep inside of
yourself. Perhaps it's better not to spoil this
moment when the movie hits its ultimate low
point.
While Bullock and Kidman are fairly mediocre
in their acting, the supporting stars either do not
show their best form, or unfortunately show their
worst form. Channing and especially Wiest have
much more to give to an audience than their
dinky, dull roles as old witches. Possibly most dis-
appointing were the extremely over-exaggerated
townspeople that represented the antagonizing

cotesy of wamr sos.
Sandra Bullock's and Nicole Kidman's roles in "Practical Magic" suffer from an unfortunately weak
plot. Bullock and Kidman are sisters and witches who are cursed with a spell.

gossipers who incessantly mock the Owens fami-
ly.
Most films such as this one, on the other hand,
have their redeeming qualities; some aspects that
are truly artistic, and others that merely serve to
superficially package the dilapidated parts of the
film.
"Practical Magic" focuses on romance, but
actually has some truly terrifying moments. Cuts
of extreme close-up shots from one character's

face to another are very effective in producing a
jolted, disturbed feeling, but would have been
more effective if used sparingly.
Less admirably, the film relies on a soundtrack
in an attempt to evoke an emotional response
from the audience. Unfortunately, at times, we
succumb to the catchy rhythm of the music. On
the other hand, the tunes are a wimpy excuse for
the film's inability to create a sentimental reaction
on its own.
all quality

Basement Arts'
*gets 'Shorties'

'Turismo' wins with over

By Jeff Druchniak
Daily Arts Writer
Each year, the Basement Arts pro-
gram allows a full slate of student
directors to have artistic control in
mounting their productions.
After a couple of one-perfor-
mance events, including a new
installment to the popular "24-Hour
Theatre," the
Basement
Arts season
gets under-
Shorties way in
Arena Stage earnest this
weekend with
Tomorrow through "Shorties,"
Saturday which opens
on Thursday.
"Shorties" is
the name
given to an
evening of
four short
one-act plays,
presented by the four junior mem-
bers of the Theatre Department's
Directing program. Each director
will mount one play, and all four
productions will use students from
an eight-member ensemble.
Marya Keefe, who is coordinat-
ing the entire production as well as
directing one of the plays, finds her-
self directing three actors from out-
side the Music School: LSA juniors
Garth Heutel and Tami Reynolds,
and Lansing native Jeff Pollock, a
non-student performer.
"It's exciting to be working with
actors who want to do something
new," Keefe explained. "New, fresh
faces, that you haven't already seen
*in all the old plays ... That's a great
thing about the Basement."
Keefe is directing the final play of
the evening, "A Fist Full of Love."
The play is a new comedy by
University playwriting student
Andrew Bielski, who will also direct
his own adaptation of T. S. Eliot's
poem "The Waste Land," opening

Nov. 7 for Basement Arts.
"A Fist Full of Love" deals with a
young man hoping to propose to his
girlfriend in a restaurant, despite the
recurrent complications of an over-
attentive waiter and a shocking rev-
elation that struggles to remain hid-
den.
The other three plays are directed
by Sera Bonfiglio, William Matthew
Patrick and Jessica Spenny. Patrick
and Bonfiglio have chosen to direct
two plays by virtuosos of the one-act
play: Harold Pinter's "New World
Order," starring Pollock and Kevin
Raleigh, and David Ives' "Words,
Words, Words," with Julia Siple,
James Frounfelter and Markitwia
Jackson, respectively.
"Words, Words, Words" is the
play by the famously bent Ives in
which three trained chimpanzees are
locked in a room with three type-
writers by scientists anxious to test
the hypothesis that, given infinite
time, one of the apes will write
"Hamlet."
The humor comes from the
wacky juxtaposition of Siple,
Frounfelter and Jackson incorporat-
ing traditional simian behavior into
their portrayal of three all-too-liter-
ary and tragically hip primates
named Kafka, Swift and Milton.
Spenny directs the aforemen-
tioned Pollock and Reynolds in
Beverly Simmons' quite recent,
quite abstract play "Triangle." In the
play, two characters representing
"left-wing" and "right-wing" arche-
types berate a silent character from
an unlikely source, eventually
demonstrating the lack of real
choice between the two alternatives.
The evening show is expected to
run slightly more than an hour in
duration. Show times are Thursday
at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m. and Il
p.m. and Saturday at 7 p.m. Friday's
I I p.m. performance will feature
musical interludes from the acoustic
folk-rock band Sugar Pill.

Gran Turismo
Sony Computer
Entertainment
Sony Playstation
Remember those long ago days in
the early to mid-'80s when we were
in elementary school and the innova-
tive Atari gaming system was the
"in" thing at the time?
One of that system's classic
games, perhaps the first racing game
ever, was "Pole Position." The game
allowed what seemed to be complete
control of a
single car h
(you could ,
brake, speed
up and even
turn), and it
varied the 0
generally cir-
cular course
that could be
run.
Fast-forward -
to the present where
video game systems have
come, gone and been resurrected
with improved memory and graph-
ics. The two systems in the lead,
vying for pole position if you will, is
the Sony Playstation, which has
flooded the video game market in
attempt to monopolize it, and the
N64, which has shot for quality
rather than quantity.
But Sony's newest addition to the
racing world, "Gran Turismo," the

most innovative racing game ever, is
not just another generic Playstation
title. Players can select cars from
several automobile companies and
play in one of two modes. The arcade
mode allows for two-player racing,
time trials and racing against the
computer. Replay theater is a neat
addition to this game that allows for
the race to be shown after comple-
tion.
But simulation mode can keep a
player enthralled for hours. Starting
with 10,000 credits, the first order of
business is to purchase a car. One
chooses between Toyota, Mitsubishi,
Nissan, Honda,
Chevrolet, Mazda,
Aston Martin, Dodge
and Subaru. A
used car is
IA usually the
way to start
off things.
Financial
UO s t a t u s
with the win-
ning of races.
Once that starts
occurring, then
you can start buy-
ing new cars.
Next, a racing license must be
obtained by passing seven prelimi-
nary tests. There are three different
licenses to obtain. The grade B
license is first and easiest, followed
by the grade A and the International
grade A, which is the most difficult
to earn.

Once a license has been obtained,
race and enjoy. Money is won based
on the place you receive in each of
the races, and a cash bonus is also
received for being the overall series
winner.
What is wonderful about this game
is the attention to detail. Specs are
available for each car. Those people
looking to become mechanics only
need to play this game. Programmers
of this game obviously did their
homework, and it shows in overall
quality.

Ironically, some players have criti-
cized "Turismo" for the lack of dam-
age the virtual cars receive when
they bounce off walls or crash into
cliffs at 200 miles per hour, but
"Gran Tursimo" focuses more on the'
skill of navigating rather than a
somewhat frivolous representation of
wrecking your car. Besides, the rest
of the game more than makes up for-
this unrealistic flaw by the incredible
attention to detail given to building
and customizing your own car.
- Gabe Smith

Join the 1 999
Resol ut ion Boa rd!
The Office of Student Conflict Resolution
(OSCR) is now accepting applications for
Student Resolution Panelists
Serve Your Community * Be a Team Player 4 Gain
Valuable Experience I Learn about the Code of
Student Conduct ยข Acquire Conflict Resolution Skills
Pick up your application from 05CR at 6040
Fleming or download it from our website:
http://www.umiCh.edu/,oscr
OSCR
Room 6040 in the Fleming Building
(734) 936-6308

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SAH YO lUR WAY
ONTO LATE NIGHT
TELEVISION I
Hey, you in the band...
,iterthe 15th Ann110,
and you can win a trip to
New York.
How to win:
Make a five-minute VHS video (no longer!). Send the
tape to Conan O'Brien Band Search, 30 Rockefeller Plaza,
Room 4880E, New York, NY 10112. All videos must be ~
received by November 30, 1998. Tapes will be judged
on creativity, performance and eligibility (and can't be
returned). Entrants must be 18 or older to enter; 3/4 of
members must be enrolled in college (or college-
equivalent) by September 30, 1998. Runner-ups will
receive a Late Night with Conan O'Brien sweatshirt or
"Live From 6A" CD.
Not in the band? You can be a winner, too!
One winner (and guest or guardian) will win a trip to New
York to see the winning band live on Late Night with
Conan O'Brien. Runners-ups will receive a gift certificate
to The Gap, "Live From 6A" CD or an AT&T World Net
CD-ROM.
For official rules and legal mumbo-jumbo, senda SASE to:
Conan Rules, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Room 4880E, New York, NY
10112. Requests must be received by November 16, 1998. No
entry fee or purchase required. Employees of National Broadcasting
Company, Inc., AT&T, The Gap and their affiliates, subsidiaries,
advertising and promotion agencies and the immediate families
of each of the above are ineligible.
Don't forget to watch
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
every weeknight 12:35AM/11:35PM
on NBC. You will be tested on it!
800
Sponsored by:
-for a calls

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