'sHebrew To Me
Jewish singing group premieres. Kol HaKavod, the University's
new Jewish a capella group, will perform tonight during the oneg
Shabbat after services and dinner. All audiences are welcome.
The group is billing itself as "the hottest thing in Jewish music
since Billy Joel." Hillel, 1429 Hill St. 7:45 p.m.
ft~ £tdtm nka~
Monday in Daily Arts:
Check out a review of "Sequentia," Hildegard von
Bingen's "Play of Virtues" presented as a fully-staged musi-
November 13, 1998
NoT A KUROSAWA FILM
'Samurai' pokes fun
Director tells his tale
By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
In the dictionary of film cool, certain
names come up - George Miller
("Road Warrior"), George Romero ("
Night of the Living Dead"), Sam Raimi
("Evil Dead" movies), Renny Harlin
''The Long Kiss Goodnight"), Robert
Rodriquez ("El Mariachi") and Quentin
the USSR dropped
add a new name
to that list, Lance
M u n g i a.
Samurai" is easily
the coolest movie
in years, and this
place in an
the bomb in 1957
become king, Buddy must battle
bowlers, windmill gods, the Red Army
and Death, all while babysitting a 7-
Buddy rescues The Kid (Justin
McGuire) after a group of cavemen kill
The Kid's mother. By doing so, Buddy
inadvertently adopts the feral child, who
proves to be both a detriment and an
expert car mechanic.
The Kid brings a humanity to Buddy
he has never known. Most people tend to
regard Buddy as a washed up drunk,
despite his enormous talents with a
sword and a guitar. When a group of
bowlers attack Buddy, one tells him,
"Maybe you not worth killing. But we'll
kill you anyway."
This is the type of hip dialogue that
peppers this action comedy, as Buddy
and The Kid follow the yellow brick
road to Lost Vegas. Along the way,
Buddy tries to dump The Kid at every
turn. At one point, he finds a family that
seems to come straight out of a '50s sit-
com, but turn out to be a family of psy-
And this is only one of the challenges
the pair meets along the way. The Darth
Vadar-esque Death has sent a hit squad
after Buddy, as he fears that Buddy is the
only one who can really challenge his
assent to the throne. No matter where
Buddy turns, Death is right behind him.
Though the plot might seem thin on
paper, it comes across incredibly on the
big screen. "Six String Samurai" is not
Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon) fights a bandit in
without its flaws, however. Some of the
humor is too forced, and gets old after
the third time they've used the same
joke. There are only so many times that
co-writers Mungia and Falcon can milk
the joke about The Kid's skill with cars.
In addition, many of the emotional ele-
ments seem out of place in the movie.
Even though part of Buddy and The
Kid's odyssey is supposed to be about
Buddy discovering his humanity, "Six
String Samurai" works better as a
straight action comedy.
But when present, the action is fan-
tastic. Shot alternately between
blurred lenses and documentary style,
the action scenes are some of the most
memorable in ages. It almost gives
you the sense that you're watching an
Oliver Stone film and not a fun movie.
Nevertheless, the film is beautifully
shot and does not look like a student
film (as it originally began).
Courtesy of Palm Pictures
Mostly a mix of "Road Warrior"'
"The Wizard of Oz," "El Mariachi" and
the "Star Wars" trilogy, "Six String
Samurai" ends up as something totally
unique. Though it borrows much of its
plot structure from "Road Warrior,"
"Six String Samurai" is snappy and
funny in a way that "Road Warrior"
never tried to be. And Buddy is much
cooler than Mel Gibson's Mad Max ever
could be. "Six String Samurai" also
doesn't have the lofty aspirations of
"The Wizard of Oz" or the "Star Wars"
trilogy, despite its obviously deep admi-
ration for both.
In an era where independent films
have more talk than action, it's great to
see one film break the rules. "Six
String Samurai" goes where films like
Peter Jackson's "Dead Alive" and
Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" have
dared to go - into the realm of both
independent and cool.
By Ed Sholnsky
Daily Arts Writer
Remember these two names:
Lance Mungia and Jeffrey
Falcon. Of course you may have
never heard of them, but you will
Mungia and Falcon have com-
pleted their first film together -
"Six-String Samurai" (opening
tonight at the Michigan Theater)
- and have tons on the horizon.
The pair is riding the buzz on
"Six-String" and is right on the
doorstep of superstardom.
But Mungia is not too sur-
prised that the film has gained
acceptance from both audience
and critics alike.
"When we (Mungia, Falcon
and cinematographer Kristian
Bernier) saw it on screen the first
time, we knew we had something
really good," Mungia told the
Daily in a recent interview. That
fit right in with what Mungia was
"The whole intention of the
film was to do something that
created a really fun atmosphere,"
he said. "To really enjoy film and
to make something that was real-
ly a trip and really different."
But Falcon added grueling to
his description of the film's pro-
duction. In addition to co-writing
and staring in the film, Falcon
was the costume/production
designer and action director.
"It was quite a human effort to
do it," Falcon said of his multiple;
jobs on the set. "But I knew we-
didn't have 10 people to do the
jobs I was doing. I either had to
do them, or the movie wasn't
going to get made."
And the reason Mungia and
Falcon didn't have the money to
hire a full crew was that "Six-
String" started out as a student
film. "I kind of always wanted to
make a feature film, even going
into film school," Mungia said.,
"When it came time to get ('Six-
String') going, I called up a lot of
friends and people that had
helped me ... and they would.
Armed with just his film
school experience and a short
film, Mungia got Panavision to"
donate a camera and Fuji to
donate film. Nevertheless, after
three months of shooting on the
weekends of winter semester'
1996, the production ran out of
money. So, Mungia put together a
trailer of "Six-String" and
brought it to the Sundance Film
Festival, where he was showing
Although the film didn't set off"
any fireworks at Sundance, "I
started really, really heavily call-
ing people and setting up meet
See SAMURAI, Page 9
and took over America. The only place
that remained free is Lost Vegas, which
came under the rule of the King of Rock
'n' Roll, Elvis. After 40 years, Elvis has
died without an heir and a bunch of
sword-toting, guitar-strumming warriors
are descending on Vegas to take the
Enter Buddy (Jeffrey Falcon), the best
sword fighter and guitar player this side
of the Iron Curtain. In his pursuit to
FREE STUFF FOR THE
LOVER IN YOU 000
-- In honor of Gramercy Pictures' upcoming
releases "Very Bad Things" and "Elizabeth,"
'Daily Arts is giving away cool swag for every-
one. "Things" stars Christian Slater, Cameron
Diaz and Jon Favreau as desperate people
doing, well, some very bad things, such as,
judging by the box of multi-colored condoms upfps
for grabs, not practicing safe sex. The Virgin '.
Queen, on the other hand, will have none of tea '
that sexy stuff, so "Elizabeth," a historical
thriller starring Cate Blanchett, is}
offering pouches of wildflowerrt
seeds and decks of tarot-like cards '
for the lover of earthier things.
There are also hats for "Things"
and bookmarks from "Elizabeth," as
well as posters from both films.
Items as great as these won't
last long, so sally forth to Daily
Arts at 420 Maynard, in the
Student Publications building after
noon today. Offer is limited to onet
condom and one other item per per-
son. If you don't protect yourself"
like the cool kids of "Very Bad
Things," then follow "Elizabeth"'s
dead, as abstinence makes the
heart grow fonder.
Photos courtesy of Gramercy Pictures
'La Traviata' betrays and thrilis
By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Editor
Passion. Betrayal. Death. "La Traviata" contains all
of the elements that make for good opera - possibly
the reason why Guisseppe Verdi's masterpiece is one
of the most performed around the world. Only when
the performance is as good as the score does "La
Traviata" become superb. University Productions'
new presentation of the romantic tragedy strived to
achieve operatic perfection, but
fell just short of great.
Featuring a strong cast of
Music students ranging every-
where from doctoral voice per-
Traviata formance concentrators to first-
Power Center year dance majors, "La Traviata"
was quite the crowd pleaser.
Nov. 12, 1998 Portraying the tragic heroine
Violetta was Deborah Gover,
whose strong progression made
her performance captivating by
the final curtain. One of the
harder roles in the soprano
repertoire, Violetta demands
strength of voice and agility.
Although Gover hit a few bumps during Violetta's sig-
nature "Sempre libera," her voice gained momentum
during Act Two and brought down the final curtain
with "Teneste la promessa ... Addio, del passato" in a
tremendous finale of redemption. Orchestrating the
sheer sad drama of the role, Gover glorified the evoca-
tive life of the tragic courtesan.
Another fine performance was delivered by Brian
Pfaltzgraff as Alfredo, Violetta's noble lover whom
she betrays in an attempt to salvage his reputation ...
and bankbook. While Pfaltzgraff's appearance didn't
demand the austere respect that characterizes Alfredo
as a dashing young lover, his performance stood out
quite well. His ennunciation of the lyrical Italian
libretto elucidated his boyish charm.
In some of the opera's scenes des fetes, a brilliant
display of choreography paralleled the vibrant score of
which Verdi is so highly regarded. Choreographer
Ruth Leney-Midkiff created an intriguing mixture of
movement and interpretation with her prologue ballet.
Director Heinar Piller's decision to set the overture to
a pre-preformance ballet has to be commended.
Seeming to representing Death, a masked dancer eeri-
ly conjured himself about the sleeping Violetta while
a large red camellia slowly descended from above.
Within the opera, a camellia is given to Alfredo by
Violetta, who demands its return upon wilting, hoping
to assure a reacquaintance.
The talented chorus members brought a light and
cheery air to Pfaltzgraff's "Champagne Aria."
Much of the night's applause has to be accredited to
the University Symphony Orchestra, led by Music
Prof. Martin Katz. "La Traviata"'s score is string-
heavy, with many sweeping orchestrations and emo-
tional downfalls. Katz seemed to love his musicians as
he deftly brought Verdi's soul into the performance.
Courtesy of University Produdtions
Jennifer Larson and Gary Moss will perform tonight.
Last night's three lead singers are scheduled to
repeat their performances Saturday evening, with
alternate performers scheduled for tonight- nd
Tickets for "La Traviata" are $7 for students with ID.
The opera will repeat tonight and tomorrow, com-
mencing at 8 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2p.m.
Read the Daily Online at
www. mic higandaily. com
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