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February 01, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-01

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 1, 1999
Mute mimic possesses huge secret in 'Little Voice'

By Erin Podoisky
Daily Arts Writer
For the title character of "Little
Voice," a tiny movie with a bellow
that emanates from the gut, there is
nothing in life that cannot be com-
mented on to perfection with an old
lyric or two. LV, as the doe-eyed,
bashful Laura Hoff (Jane Horrocks),
has the incredible ability to flawless-
ly mimic such
vocal greats as
Judy Garland,
Billie Holiday
Little and even La
Voice Streisand.
is"Little Voice"
At the Ann is the big
Arbor&n2 screen adapta-
tion of a play
written specifi-
cally for
Horrocks (oth-
erwise known
as the thick-
accented, air-
headed Bubble on "Absolutely
Fabulous"), who is so believable in
her vocal mimicry that the filmmak-
ers felt it necessary to add an endti-
tie informing the audience that she
sings all her own songs in the film.

This is obviously a role that
Horrocks feels comfortable in;
there's no way that anybody else
could ever play the part without the
aid of lip-synch, and she never fal-
ters in her performance.
"Little Voice" is very much a cast-
driven film (as evidenced by the
accolades currently being poured
upon it by the Golden Globes and
the SAG awards); the performances
are often in-your-face loud and over-
wrought, although the exaggeration
is more a function of the characters
themselves than the actors. But most
of all, the performances are fun.
The slightly silly plot is nowhere
near as entertaining as the characters
themselves. LV's mom, Mari
(Brenda Blethyn), is a blaring drunk
who loathes her soft-spoken daugh-
ter and dead record shop proprietor
husband equally and is given to
clinginess and tasteless statements
such as "Make way for a woman in
lust." This is a cover for her own
self-loathing, which she does quite
well as she chases after anything
with a deep voice and deep pockets.
Her best friend keeps Mari's self-
esteem up - finding someone more
repulsive than herself was probably

rather difficult. That doesn't stop
Mari from denigrating her at every
turn, though, a trait that ultimately
destroys her personal life.
The deep man in question is Ray
Say (Michael Caine), a music man-
ager who tries to hire groups like
"Take Fat!" ("Bodies like Buddhas")
and plays along with garish, verbal-
ly abusive Mari to get to her big-
voiced daughter. He puts LV onstage
at a local dive and she becomes a
relatively big star. Ray isn't hard-
hearted or completely a user,
though, and he genuinely cares
about LV enough to stand up even to
Mari. He even sells his prized car to
finance the show.
Love and lust are in the air in
"Little Voice." There is a sweet-
natured courtship in the form of
timid phone technician/homing
pigeon enthusiast Billy (Ewan
MacGregor, who somehow makes it
through the film without dropping
trou - certainly a surprise, given
his history) that counteratts the nau-
seating efforts of Mari to bed any-
thing that moves. The bird-lover and
the bird-like fall in love, of course,
and everyone lives happily ever
The big band sound of "Little
Voice" is a lot of fun, and Horrock's
vocals are enough to stop traffic. As
usual, MacGregor's performance is a
gem that brightens up even the
drabbest settings (the pigeon coop

" 'Courtesy of
Jane Harrocks plays LV, a woman who mimicks Shirley Bassey, Marilyn Monroe and Billie Holiday. Here, she imitates the
incomparable, absolutely stunning Judy Garland with a show-stopping "Get Happy" number.

springs to mind). His tentativeness
in matters of the heart and the awk-
ward way that he courts LV is touch-
ing. Watching him in this pre-"Star
Wars" performance should be
required viewing lest we forget that
he's more than just the world's most
famous face that "The Phantom

Join the Daily Arts family.
Call 763-0379.
Lessons That
Will Last
FA Lifetime.

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Menace" will make him in a few
Blethyn is also very good in her
unenviable role. Her dishwater
mouth and lusty demeanor are
hilarous and well-played.
"Little Voice" isn't exactly memo-
rable, but it's certainly amusing.
growS in
Hartford Courant
The music pundits like to say that the
late 20th Century has been a time of
musical renaissance and flowering for
It would be more accurate to say that
Poland's rich musical culture has simply
begun to be discovered and appreciated
by the hidebound Western classical
From a growing interest in the early-
century compositions of the remarkable
Karol Szymanowski, to such mid-centu-
ry figures as Andre Punufnik, to a recog-
nition of the country's lively late-century
avant-garde, Poland has begun to be
understood as both a fomenter and
reflector of modern music's most signifi-
cant currents.
And at the heart of the country's rising
musical stature is the durable and hard-
to-categorize Krzysztof Penderecki.
He burst on the scene with a series of
provocative, bad-boy, out-there pieces in
the '50s. He has steadily produced a
body of wrenching and deeply personal
Catholic choral works. And in recent
years he has arrived at a highly disci-
plined but still thorny musical language
that attempts to connect intellectual rigor
to understandability and communicative-
He has managed, against all odds, to
be both a perpetual outsider and an
acknowledged leader.
Although the musical hierarchy is an


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Fans of great songstresses of the
golden age will love it as much as
LV loves her father's record collec-
tion, and the characters are by turns
lovable and nightmarishly fun to
watch. It's an aural diversion worthy
of filmic treatment, and Horrock's
versatility is not to be missed.

unsteady one these days, nobody would
object today to calling Penderecki (pro-
nounced pen-der-ET-ski) one of the plan-
et's three or four pre-eminent living com-
Unlike many composers, he is a fluent
and relatively unguarded talker about
contemporary music in general and his
own music in particular.
On the 12-tone, or serial, system of
composing that once was seen as the
inexorable direction serious music would
follow in this century:
"Serialism still exists here in the"
United States, but only in the universities.
It's artificial. This method disappeared iW
Europe more than 30 years ago. I thin
we've come to realize that you can't lis-
ten to 12-tone music for very long. It's'
something against our nature. For this
reason, I think the history of music in this-
century has to be rewritten. In the '50s
and '60s the biggest names were
Schoenberg and Webern. But it's not true.
We now have to recognize more the oth-
ers - Shostakovich, Bartok, Messiaen,
On his countryman Henryck Gorecki,
whose hypnotic, slow-moving, triadic
Third Symphony ("Symphony of
Sorrowful Songs") was an improbable.
worldwide hit a few years ago:
"This is not my aesthetic. Since the
late '70s, when he completely changed
his style, his music has had nothing in
common with mine."





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