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November 13, 1998 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-13

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

8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 13, 1998

'Black' plot spreads itself thin

By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
It's a three-hour romance whose
lead character just happens to be
Death in the human form of Brad
Pitt. Swoon.
It's a gorgeous spectacle from
Martin Brest, Oscar-nominated
director of "Scent of a Woman."
Gasp in awe.
It's a sentimental musing about
who and what death is and also what
it means to truly live. Cue the violins.
What it is not, however, is an espe-

Meet Joe
Black
**I
At Briarwod
and Showcase
00
a

cially great
movie or an epic
tale for the ages,
which it tries so
desperately to
be.
"Meet Joe
Black," also
starring Anthony
Hopkins and
Claire Forlani, is
simply an enjoy-
able entertain-
ment, an old
Hollywood-style
seat-filler with
of comedic and

ence rapt for a long period of time.
Make that a really long period of
time.
In a much shorter form, "Meet Joe
Black" could've been a classic.
It has all the trappings of vintage
cinema romance: a clever script, a
top-notch, touching performance by
a leading man who has palpable
chemistry with his leading lady, an
A-list supporting cast and vistas
worth at least $90 million.
But "Black" dwells too long on the
longing glances between its leads,
leaving little to the imagination and
packs in one too many subplots -
the one with all the corporate balder-
dash and the one with Brad Pitt
speaking in a Jamaican accent to a
dying woman should be among the
first to hit the cutting room floor.
As for the main plot, it's a rather
engaging fantasy, meaning suspend
your disbelief at the door.
Billionaire * William Parrish
(Hopkins), on the eve of his 65th
birthday, begins experiencing chest
pains at the same time hallucinations
- quite brilliantly filmed and edited
hallucinations - of a voice whisper-
ing the answer to an unasked ques-
tion, "Yes. Yes."

enough flourishes

visual inspiration to hold the audi-

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Meanwhile, his daughter Dr. Susan
Parrish (Forlani) is about to settle for
her daddy's weaselly right-hand man
Drew (Jake Weber), when lightning
strikes as she happens upon a sweet-
talking stranger in coffee shop (Pitt)
and starts wondering if he's Mr.
Right.
Both of the Parrish's questions are
answered when Death knocks on
their door, having taken over the body
of Brad Pitt.
Naturally, this creates problems
for both as William knows exactly
who he is and Susan thinks she does,
but Joe Black, as he decides to be
called, has no recollection of their
coffee shop rendezvous.
When Death demands to be shown
around by William and becomes suit-
or to Susan, family and friends raise
suspicion, William becomes enraged
and the ultra-hot lovin' begins.
All this takes place in the most beau-
tiful and largest Manhattan apartment
ever to be stamped "rent-controlled"
and an equally impressive seaside
estate, both shot on the best-looking
days New York has ever seen.
This is all a more-than-pleasant
backdrop courtesy of Robert
Guerra's art direction and the so-bril-
liant-it's-nearly-edible cinematogra-
phy by Dante Spinotti, the man who
gave the world "The Age of
Innocence"'s 19th-Century New York
and the 1953 of "L.A. Confidential."
And the stars aren't that difficult
to look at either. Everyone will want
Brad Pitt in some way after seeing
him in all his Robert Redford splen-
dor, looking charmingly bemused
and often licking a spoonful of
peanut butter.
Claire Forlani isn't far behind her
sexually chunky co-star. Featured in
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thankless roles in "Mallrats" and
"The Rock," Forlani finds a great role
and her coming out party in "Meet
Joe Black" and the camera just eats,
the secretly British beauty up. Sorry
guys, no peanut butter involved.
Hopkins is solid as usual, as is
Marcia Gay Harden as attention-
starved Parrish daughter, Allison.
But the best supporting honors go
to Jeffrey Tambor as Quince,
William's son-in-law and an amus-
ingly unwilling co-conspirator in

William's downfall.
But the film stumbles in the insuffer-
ably one-dimensional presence of Jake
Weber, who, as the villainous Drew,
may as well be twisting his mustache
and yelling, "Curses, foiled again."
Other stumbling blocks include -
well, there's actually only one large
stumbling block - the much dis-
cussed issue of the film's duration.
"Meet Joe Black" takes for granted
that we're loving every minute of its
experience, throwing us detail after

detail, not realizing that some details,
including everything involving Drew
and/or birthday party preparations,
make the audience count every
minute.
When it reveals its gooey romantic
center, "Meet Joe Black" is at its cin-
ematically tastiest.
Much like the peanut butter*Joe
Black loves almost as much as Susan,
"Meet Joe Black" is an utterly dc
cious treat - it just spreads itsclf a
little too thin.

Courtesy of Universal Pt s
Claire Forlani and Brad Pitt dance with death and romance In "Meet Joe Black."

'Mavis' teaches mastering typing

i

Mavis Beacon
Teaches Typing 9
Mindscape, Inc,
Win 95, 98, Mac
Whether you're unable to open e-
mail account without mistyping your
password at least once or you're well
on the way to matching Jack Kerouac
in words per minute, "Mavis Beacon
Teaches Typing 9" is 40 bucks well-
spent on improving typing skills.
"Mavis" has been the leading typ-
ing instruction program, and one of

the top ten best-selling software
titles, for 10 years. A far cry from the
first version that came out on floppy
disks and had just four colors to dis-
play, the ninth version has a virtual
classroom with the simple to under-
stand icons.
But all programs from major com-
panies have that. What makes
"Mavis" so great is how well both
the typing lessons and the program
itself has been constructed. The vir-
tual frivolity can be bypassed with
any keystroke or a tap of the mouse,
and you can get to any part of the

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*by The Michigan Daily Readership Poll

I I

e .
" .

, : r
y)
' ..\

Dar
You

U U U

Now if you dont know
the answers on the test,

you ca

i call someone who does.
~ >e
no credit checks,
and no long-term commitments. Plus,

... to do the
Crossword
in Pen!.
The Daily's crossword is now available
online so you can print more than one copy.
Just in case you mess up.

program with ease. With regard to
the actual lessons, "Mavis
Adaptive Response Technology
adjusts to the individual problem
areas on the keyboard with unbeliev-
able speed and insight. "Mavis". also
watches for the typist's frustration
factor, so it will either throw in a typ-
ing game for a break, suggest a lower
words per minute goal or even advise
"calling it a day."
"Mavis" also keeps the history of
the lessons that have been given a
typist can redo them at anytime r
practice, though that's just expected.
But "Mavis" is so good because it
meets expectations. The typing
games are corny but instructional,
the practice material is on a very
wide variety of topics, and custom
lessons are available. The virtual
graphics are frivolous but can be
bypassed with any keystroke or a
mouse tap. Best of all, the CD-R*1
isn't necessary to run "Mavis"
(unless you really want to see the
infomercial quality movie files on
office ergonomics), so the only load-
ing happening is from your chard
drive.
The only complaints one could
have with the program are the music
and sound. "Mavis" offers elevator
muzak to type away at. The options
"Blues," "Reggae" or even "Rock"
are really just forms of very "Fi
Listening" (which is also a catee-
ry). Admittedly, the music can be
soothing - for five minutes, and
then it can be made silent.
Thankfully, the virtual Mavis's over-
ly supportive voice can also be
turned on and off.
But aside from these minor com-
plaints, the rest of "Mavis" is an
exemplar of great software desien.
"Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing s
far from being the most innovative
piece of software, despite Its
Adaptive Response Technology, bgut
it's a great at fulfilling its purpose: to
teach you typing.
So put yourself on the path to bl4z-
ing, machine gun-like typing by biy-
ing "Mavis." -
-Michael Gall4&y
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