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November 12, 1998 - Image 10

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-12

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5Qf Poetics and the Poet
Jorie Graham reads at Rackham Amphitheater. A professor of
poetry at the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, Graham has
made quite a name for herself in the poetic world. As part of the
English department's Visiting Writers Series, Graham will read
from a collection of her work. Rackham Amphitheater. 5 p.m. Free
admission.

ftie £tmon tk
I.T

Tomorrow in Daily Arts:
The new action comedy "Six String Samurai" is reviewed,
as well as a featured interview with the film's director.

Thursday
November12, 1998 5 A

iKurt and Courtney'

overdoses on hatred and deatl

By Ed Sholnsky
Daily Arts Writer
"Kurt and Courtney" filmmaker
-Nick Broomfield ("Heidi Fleiss:
Hollywood Madam," "Fetishes") pro-
poses a theory throughout his documen-
tary about the death ofgrunge icon Kurt
-Cobain. But even to the most casual
viewer, it's obvious that Broomfield's
agenda is far from presenting the facts
of Cobain's suicide (or murder as the
'film speculates) in a balanced manner.
Ultimately, "Kurt and Courtney" is a

Kurt and
Courtney
At Michigan
Theater
s 14

hate film aimed
directly at
Courtney Love.
Broom field
makes quite a bit
out of the fact that
Love has attempt-
ed to block the
film at every
avenue, to the
point where she
refused to let him
license Nirvana's
music. Not that
you can blame
Love, since the
film nearly slan-

childhood through interviews with his
aunt and high school principal who took
him in for a year. From there, though,
Broomfield steers the documentary in a
direction to tell a story that "some peo-
ple have not want ... told."
As he traces Cobain's roots,
Broomfield delves into Love's past in a
tabloid fashion, interviewing people
who are obviously out to hurt her.
Broomfield interviews Love's father (a
former manager of the Grateful Dead
who lost custody of Love when she was
five for allegedly giving her drugs,
something both he and Broomfield fail
to mention), an ex-boyfriend that
resents the fact that his career never
took off like Cobain's and various other
of Love's enemies.
Broomfield interviews Love's father,
Tom Grant - a PI she hired to find
Cobain days before he was found dead
- and two gossip journalists who con-
vince him that Cobain couldn't have
killed himself. The finger is of course
pointed at Love, despite the fact that
there's very little evidence to back up
their claims.
Love's father, who comes across as a
psychotic media whore, loves his time
in front of the camera, as he recounts
Love's hellish childhood where he
admits to psychological and physical
cruelty. And, despite the fact that he lost
her at age 5, Love's father claims spe-
cial knowledge about her mind, while

hawking two books he's written about
Cobain and Nirvana.
Also, despite the fact that the film
presents evidence contrary to PI Grant's
theory of Cobain's death, "Kurt and
Courtney" does little to look into his
past to see if he has a bone to pick with
Love. Instead, Broomfield leaves the
evidence out there without confronting
Grant about it.
But this is typical of Broomfield's
approach to "Kurt and Courtney." He
delights in confronting people who
don't believe that Cobain killed himself
- including Cobain's aunt and his best
friend, Dylan, who the film subtly
implies might have had something to do
with Cobain's death - while professing
his own professional objectivity.
The most amusing (and despicable)
part of "Kurt and Courtney" is
Broomfield's attempt to connect Love
to a perverted death metal lunatic, El
Douche, who claims Love offered him
$50,000 to kill Cobain. El Douche, of
course, passed because he thought the
offer was a joke, but knows the man
who did it. His friend Allan did it, but El
Douche says he'll let the FBI deal with
that. And since El Douche passed a
polygraph-maybe the reason they're
inadmissible in court-Broomfield
hangs on his every word.
Perhaps it's Broomfield's willingness
to accept all these stories about and
Cobain's death and Love that makes this

film so horrible. Even after Broomfield
admits he doesn't believe that there was
a conspiracy to kill Cobain, he still goes
on gathering personal attacks on Love,
searching for some way to implicate her
in Cobain's death.
Broomfield does this by interviewing
a nanny for Cobain and Love's daugh-
ter, Frances, who worked for the couple
for a month before Cobain's death.
While the nanny doesn't believe Love
had Cobain killed, she states that Love
drove him to suicide. Since this woman
is obviously a mind reader, Broomfield
takes her word as gospel.
The film then switches gears, aban-
dons references to Cobain's death and
turns to attack on Love's personality. It
gets to the point where Broomfield pre-
tends to be a journalist at an ACLU
awards ceremony to interview Love and
accost her on camera.
Aside from his tabloid approach to
the story, Broomfield's documentary is
painfully boring. Broomfield constantly
relies on shooting scenery through the
windshield of his car. There is nothing
impressive about Broomfield's
approach to "Kurt and Courtney" - it's
neither blissfully biased like Michael
Moore's documentaries, nor truly
objective like Erol Morris.
The only thing "Kurt and
Courtney" does prove is there was
one murder: Love's character was def-
initely assassinated in the film.

4j
a '
IAV 1

ders her. Even when the film doesn't
accuse her of sending a hitman after
Cobain, "Kurt and Courtney" blames
her for driving him to suicide.
"Kurt and Courtney" starts off fairly
innocuously, however, tracing Cobain's

courtesy of G(
"Kurt and Courtney" examines the death of grunge rocker Kurt Cobain.

Opera sings love's tmgedy

By Kelly Lutes
For the Daily
They don't call Paris the city of lovers for nothing.
Giuseppe Verdi's classic opera "La Traviata' or "The Woman
Gone Astray," is one of those love stories that helps give Paris
its name. Loosely based upon the life of Marie Dupleiss, a
.French courtesan who captivated some of Paris' most promi-
nent male citizens in the 19th Century, La Traviata tells the
story of a poor young Frenchman named Alfredo Germont.
Alfredo falls madly in love with an intelligent and beautiful
prostitute, Violetta Valdry.
After some pursuit, Violetta realizes that Alfredo is unlike
any man she has ever known; he is the first man who loves
her for who she is and not what she does or how much she

La
Traviata
Power Center
Tonight at 8 p.m.

costs. Just when the pair seems des-
tined for happiness, tragedy ensues.
Violetta harbors a secret that even love
cannot heal while Alfredo's father
attempts to rip the two lovers apart to
save his son's reputation. Violetta and
,Alfredo struggle against the tide of
misfortune, but the tale is destined to
end in sorrow.
The story takes place in the demi-
mondaine portion of Paris, an area
director Heiner Pillar describes as
being known for,"naughty and ques-
tionable activities." The students play-
ing these roles will have to project the
atmosphere of the demimondaine onto
Pillar believes this should be no prob-

their characters, but]

lem for the singers. "Students are the right age to play these
characters and have the right frame of mind to be adven-
turesome,' Pillar said.
The storyline was first immortalized in Alexandre Dumas'
book "La Dame aux Camelias, in 1848. In this overwhelm-
ingly popular account, Dumas fictionalized and fantasized
about his own relationship with Marie Dupleiss. The novel
was quickly transformed into a play and eventually written
into an opera by Giuseppe Verdi in 1853. It was not an imme-
diate classic, though. The first production failed miserably,
due in large part to the miscasting of Violetta. Verdi was
unwilling to let the opera die and rewrote it soon after. "La
Traviata" has been a favorite in the international repertory
ever since.
Verdi's own relationship with the soprano Giuseppina
Strepponi also may have influenced his portrayal of Violetta.
Said to be the great love of his life, Strepponi bore several
illegitimate children during her singing career and lived with
Verdi before they were married. Like Violetta, she was con-
sidered a traviata, or fallen woman.
"La Traviata" has several famous arias worthy of attention
and each is perfectly orchestrated in respect to the drama

Courtesy ofDavid Smitn notograpny
Jennifer Larson and Michael Burgess star in "La Traviata."
unfolding onstage. The 43-piece University Symphony
Orchestra will perform the score, while the all-student cast
sings the original Italian lyrics to Verdi's musical master-
piece. Not to worry if your Italian is a bit rusty, each poetic
and heart-wrenching word will be translated into English and
displayed as supertitles above the stage.
This University Production is a consolidated effort by four
renowned designers and directors: Pillar directs, Martin Katz
conducts, and Antonin and Olga Dimitrov are responsible for
the extensive collection of costumes and sets.
Pillar summarized his experience on La Traviata by say-
ing, "the first difference (between a student show and a pro-
fessional show) is that you start out with an empty canvas.
Students are totally open and free to new ideas. It was
refreshing to work with people willing to experiment."
With as much talent behind the scenes as on stage, the
opera should easily live up to the precedent of past produc-
tions. If not, Verdi's music and the his unforgettable lovers
should still keep audience members glued to the edge of their
seats.
A review of "La Traviata " will run in tomorrow's Daily.
The performance plays tonight through Saturday at 8
p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets for the
opera are $7 for students with ID at the League Ticket
Office. Each student is limited to two tickets. Call 764-
0450 for more information.

'siege'was
By Chris Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
An indication of problems astir
should have been the numerous
renaming games that Twentieth
Century Fox played - "Against All
Odds," "Martial Law" and "Holy
War" - before settling on "The
Siege." For that matter, Edward
Zwick's "The Siege" is one of the
dumbest films of the year, and it
seizes Denzel Washington and Bruce
Willis for its long, tireless tirade.
Zwick, director of the "Courage
Under Fire" and the long, over-
wrought "Legends of the Fall," makes
another lengthy attempt this Fall with
"The Siege." Although it clocks in at
around two hours, it seems endless.
As seen in "Legends," Zwick has a
tendency to
keep his audi-
ence sitting in
their chairs for a
The Siege while. But dare
I suggest, that
one do so if and
* only if one has a
At Briarwood point to make.
and Showcase With "The
Siege," Zwick
finds himself
trapped between
making a fast-
paced action,
FBI thriller and
a resounding
political statement about fear, preju-
dice and freedom in America. By tak-
ing on such a large premise, however,
he fails miserably at both.
"The Siege" focuses on the New
York FBI squad, headed by Anthony
Hubbard (Washington), and its
attempts to prevent and uncover sev-
eral terrorist attacks in New York City.
And can you guess what ethnic back-
ground the terrorists might be? Arab,
perhaps?
While Washington does a fine job
in his role, he may have faltered in his
choice. Granted 'ol Denzel is an
Academy Award winner, but his act-
ing may start to come into question if
he continues these boring, familiar
stints as the same straight-laced gov-
ernment somebody in every action
thriller he's in. His recycled character
Hubbard (like in "The Pelican Brief"
and "Fallen") is a by-the-book leader

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who is courageous and idealistic.
Hubbard finds initial problems
when he butts heads with agent Elise
Kraft, played by Annette Bening.
Bening attractively develops her enig-
matic character of Kraft, who acts as
the go-between the Arab community
and the U.S. government. What's even
more enigmatic is the film's final
explanation of Kraft, or her alias
Sharon Bridger, and what she really
does. It never makes complete sense
with dozens of lines filled with dull
government talk.
Since Kraft, or Bridger, or whoev-
er, is somehow part of the U.S. gov-
ernment, she begins working with
Hubbard to stop the terrorist groups
after bombings of a bus, a Broadway
theater and, of course, a federal build-
ing. After continuous attacks, the gov-
ernment declares martial law on New
York City and sends in the U.S. mili-
tary to get the job done. A suggestion
for the - count 'em - four screen-
writers it took to write 'this drivel:
Take one of those two-week screen-
writing courses that will teach on the
first day that you don't start a major
conflict with just 45 minutes left to
your film.
As Arabs throughout Brooklyn are
rounded up, assaulted and persecuted,
I wonder if it was just a boyhood fan-
tasy of Zwick's to see military troops
marching down the Brooklyn bridge
or people in barbed-wire cages on the
third baseline in The House that Ruth
Built. Spielberg always wanted to see
a dinosaur running down Sunset
Boulevard, making a stupid movie
even stupider. Maybe it's the same

kind of boyish dream for Mr. Zwick.
It is obvious rthat Zwick wants to
create a resounding emotional reac-
tion. When the camera pans up from
the steps and looks out over the
Yankee Stadium infield to see prison
pens filled with the entire Arabic;
community, Zwick does have inter-
esting ideas here. The problem is he
tries too hard, making "The Siege"
just formulaic and pretentious.
Worst of all, he opens the film with"
stock footage of President Clinton',
speech about the terrorist bombing,
in Africa this past summer. This nei
ther adds to the film nor gives it an
credibility, and works more as a,
insult to the President for includin
him in such cinematic trash.
Along with Mr. President, there:
everyone's favorite unshaven here
Bruce Willis. He must be completef
crazy if he continues to star in sun
critically pisspoor productions, noto
mention losing Demi. After a string~f
reprehensible films such as "List
Man Standing," "The Fifth Elemeit,"
"The Jackal," "Mercury Rising" nd
"Armageddon," he decides to enlit in
such a torpid mess as "The Sige."
C'mon, Willis epitomizes the '90s
American rebel. To see him as fscist
General William Devereaux i, just
sadly unbelievable.
"The Siege" is a waste of tine for
such talent as Washington, 3ening
and Willis. At least the specialeffects
team succeeds in creating woiderful-
ly realistic explosions while Zwick
utterly fails at snaking a worthwhile
film. At any rate, follow the protesters
and boycott "The Siege."

,tes time, talent, moe

CourtesyfT wentleth Century Fox
Denzei Washington and Bruce Willis are up in arms over "The Siege."

I..

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RACE IN ADMISSIONS
EVERYONE HA' OINION- THE FACTS?
DO NOT Mis4 Mhopportunity to hear about the mc aoritative and
ground-I, \king, work done in decades on the value of ra a dmissions.
S liam rf. Bowe ill talk ap tAis work The-Sh pe ofhe River: Lang- TerM

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The Princeton Review
is taking
enrollments.

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