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January 15, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-15

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 15, 1999

Poor casting destroys 'In Dreams'

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Dreams are often terrible, terrible
things. There are nights when it is
safer to stay awake for hours on end
rather than give yourself over to the
will of the psyche, to the frightening
nightmares hidden within. Sometimes
dreams are so real that they expres-
sionistically document past events -
or seem to predict the future.
In Neil Jordan's new film, "In
Dreams," Claire (Annette Bening),
like many of us, is plagued by such
nightmares. She always has been, but
they have never been so real or so des-
perately chilling
as they become
when she begins
to dream of a ser-
In Dreams ial killer who
preys on young
. girls. And she
At showcase has no control
over them - nei-
ther drugs nor
t ther-apy nor stay-
J ing awake can
prevent Claire
from being on
the receiving end
of dream trans-
missions from the shadowy serial
killer (Robert Downey Jr.).
Claire offers her dreams' content to
the local police who are tracking the
killer. It's difficult to believe that a

Annette Bening fights for her life in "in D
police force would be so cold on the
trail of a child serial killer, and even
more so to explain the absence of the
FBI in the investigation. Then again,
"In Dreams" functions more like a
dream with its associated series of
cognitive leaps than a realistically
grounded film (think dark, poorly
guarded mental institutions and airline
pilots who, upon totaling a BMW, buy
an Audi); indeed, Claire's reality
becomes more and more the night-
mare while her ominous, portentous
dreams become the reality. Like any
nightmare, there's only one solution
that will ease her pain and end it all
for good - but how do you wake up.

from reality? How do you escape your
own mind?
Claire finds relief in an unconven-
tional resolution, but the final
moments of the film bring in to ques-
tion the differences between catharsis,
retribution and insanity.
But the film's finale that is not the
most bothersome aspect of the film.
Annette Bening as the lead character
is asked to carry the entire film, with
five times as much screen time as her
counterparts. She isn't entirely up to
the task, often reciting dialogue as if
she is, well, reciting dialogue. As
Claire becomes more afflicted by her
dreams and ultimately ends up institu-
tionalized, Bening improves - not
because her style changes, but
because a forced, rote-sounding dia-
logue style seems more acceptable for
a no holds barred, psychologically
disturbed individual. Still, her
improved performance towards the
end can't save this film, and I can't
help but wonder how much more
effective "In Dreams" might have
been with different casting choices.
As Claire's husband, Aidan Quinn

is also problematic. He is a non-enti-
ty throughout, showing little emotion
beyond requisite anger when Claire
bites through his lip mid-makeout
when she experiences a daymare. As
man and wife, Quinn and Bening
don't make much sense, and as an act-
ing pair they cut a path of wreckage
through an otherwise compelling
Jordan, usually so expert at casting
and coaxing amazing performances
from adults and children alike ("The
Crying Game," "The Butcher Boy"),
has made a major misstep here. There
is only Jordan-regular Stephen Rea,
playing a New York-accented psychol-
ogist who unconvincingly realizes the
truth about the killer long after the
information would have been lifesav-
ing, to recommend the film with far
too few minutes of screen time.
It's a shame that the casting
destroys an otherwise intriguing psy-
chothriller that deals with the impact
of dreams on reality and vice versa.
The film itself is quite beautiful, rem-
iniscent of French partners Jeunet and
Caro ("Delicatessen," "City of Lost
Children") both in look and content;
in fact, "In Dreams" was shot by
Darius Khondji, who shot both of
those French films.
The dream sequences are eerily
accurate, presented with a watery
voice track in black and white save
for the thousands of red apples that
fill each one. "In Dreams" uses the
"Snow White" fable as the basis for
its exploration of good and evil, but
somehow manages to ignore any overt
references to that other apple tale that
took place long ago in a garden far,
far away. Maybe Bening offered
Jordan a juicy red apple in exchange
for the part. It's unfortunate that he
didn't realize that casting her would
leave "In Dreams" naked until it was
too late.

Martin Jacox and Clarence Fountain perform "The Gospel of Colonus."m
'Gospel' adapts
Sophocles classic


The University of Michigan
School of Music
Saturday, January 16
Thyagaraja Festival
Puja (worship service) and singing
Britton Recital Hall, E.V. Moore Bldg., 8 a.
Thyagaraja Festival
Recital by a 16 year old Indian saxophone prodigy
Britton Recital Hall, E. V. Moore Bldg., 2 p.tt.
Sunday, January 17
Michigan Chamber Players
performers include Stephen Shipps and Andrew Jennings, violin
Yizhak Schotten, viola;
Erling Blondal Bengtsson, Anthony Elliott, Alexander Cheung,
Michael Freilich, Tara Hanish, cello
Logan Skelton and Katherine Collier, piano
a music by Moszkowski, Vivaldi and Dohnanyi
Britton Recital Hall, E. V. Moore Bldg., 4 p.m.
Monday, January 18
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Concert
Voice, theatre and dance students celebrate this day in concert.
[For more information phone (734) 764-0586]
Rackham Auditorium, 3 p.m.
Events are free, no tickets required and are wheelchair
accessible unless otherwise specified. The E.V. Moore Bldg. is
located at 11t0 Baits Drive, North Campus. For more information
phone (734) 764-0594 Monday - Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

By Jeff Druchniak
Daily Arts Writer
During the long holiday weekend,
plenty of people on campus will be
taking the opportunity to leave town,
whether to hit the ski slopes or visit
home. Those remaining, though, will
have the chance
to experience
one of the most
The Gospel important the-
atrical events to
at Colonus visit Ann Arbor
Power Center this season.
Tonight at 8 The Power
Center will be
the venue for
the touring pro-
duction of "The
Gospel at
Colonus," the
Broadway musical. The play, present-
ed by the University Musical Society,
is an adaptation of the Sophocles
tragedy, "Oedipus at Colonus."
But in this case, the ancient story is
reimagined in the format of an African
American Pentecostal church service
and features a rock, gospel and blues
score by Bob Telson. The show also
features a cast list with renowned
gospel stars such as Clarence Fountain
and the Blind Boys of Alabama, as
well as J.D. and Jevetta Steele.
All of these performers are original
members of the Broadway cast, a
remarkable achievement considering
that the play has not been on
Broadway in 10 years.
"It's really unusual and remarkable
to keep a show together for 15 years
like this," observed Sharon Levy, the
producer of "The Gospel at
Colonus"'s road company.
"Because it's such an incredible

show ... as far as (the performers')
wanting to do it, it's never been a prob-
lem "
The production, however, has been
obliged to work its schedule around
the music careers of its stars. As a
result, the company has toured inter-
mittently since mounting "Colonus"
in Seattle in 1994.
The current production is some 10
years in the making, ever since Lee
Breuer, who adapted and continues to
direct the play, was approached by
Levy, who knew Breuer from the
regional theater she ran in Atlanta, to
construct a slightly scaled-down ver-
sion of the Broadway production for
national and international touring.
Ever since then, the Tony-,
Grammy-, Emmy- and Pulitzer-nomi-
nated "Colonus" has continued its
record of remarkable acclaim, playing
venues around the country and the
world, including the Chekhov Festival
in Russia.
This weekend, the show will feature
the Detroit-based Duke Ellington
Centennial Choir. The producers have
adopted the practice of hiring a gospel
choir from the area for each stop the
company makes.
"There's hardly a major city in this
country that doesn't have a world-
class gospel choir, or where one can't
be put together," Levy explained. "It
establishes a great connection with the
"The Gospel at Colonus" will run for
three evening performances at the
Power Center at 8 p.m. tonight,
Saturday night and Monday night
There will also be a Sunday matinee
at 3 p.m. and a one-hourfamily per-
formance Saturday at 2 p.m.
For ticket information, contact the
UMS Box Office at (734) 764-2538.

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