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February 03, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-03

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8 -The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 3, 1999


star Schwartzman speaks about fil

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
Jason Schwartzman is living the life these
days: appearing on Letterman, tooling around
in limos and cushy buses, eating a grilled
chicken sandwich, minus bun, with carrots on
the side. It might be exhausting waking up at
6 a.m. in an unfamiliar city after driving all
night sleeping in a "coffin bunk," doing inter-
view after interview all day long, but he
knows it comes with the territory. When the
sun sets, he still sings out loud as he walks
down the street.
Schwartzman was in town yesterday to pro-
mote his new film "Rushmore" and spent a
few moments with The Michigan Daily.
Right about now you're probably asking
yourself, who is Jason Schwartzman?
Alternate on the wrestling team? Founder of
the backgammon club?
The next big thing that
M the Hollywood hype
machine has to offer us
mindless little con-
Rushmore sumers, perhaps? Nah.
Starring He's a regular guy, a kid,
Jason really, who just happens
Schwartzman to be about to become not
Starts Friday a big thing, but a big star
thanks to his role as the
inscrutably charming
prep schooler Max
Fischer in "Rushmore," a
smart new film about
men, women and war
from Wes Anderson
("Bottle Rocket"). He looks like he could be
sitting next to you in your biology class. He's
in a band called Phantom Planet (they have
one record out that he urges you all to buy),
and if he wasn't busy being an overnight
movie sensation he'd be out touring with the
band. He likes gum. And he's barely out of
high school.
Schwartzman never really intended to
become an actor, although he comes from a
hallowed line of cinema bigwigs: his mom is

Max, for all of his brilliance, is still very
much a child given to emotional outbursts.
Schwartzman seems just the opposite: sure of
himself and completely grounded, he exhibits
none of the immaturity that his character-pl*
sesses. "I warned Max to be self-confident but
not cocky," he says.
Working with more established actors like
Bill Murray, Olivia Williams and even athe
much young Mason Gamble was "a treat'" for
Schwartzman. "Bill Murray was a teacher,
someone to watch and learn from, a hero. Wes
Anderson was like a brother, a collaborator.
Olivia Williams was like a sister." He has a lot
of affection for his onscreen relationship with
Gamble in particular. "It's like Linus and
Charlie Brown. (Dirk is) kind of like a'
science, like Jimiy Cricket."
"Rushmore" seems like the kind of fnovie
that Schwartzman would put in his pantheon
of favorite films if he hadn't actually starred
in the thing. "I like movies about characters
who are slightly off from everyone, who are a
little crazy." He especially enjoys movies such
as "Barbarella," "The Graduate" and "The
King of Comedy." As for "Rushmore."
Schwartzman calls it an "eloquent teena
movie that's funny as fuck." He's right. '
Schwartzman is still deciding what to do
next. When you get right down to it, he's as
much of a renaissance man as his big scre'n
alter ego. He's writing a novella "about-this
teen idol who runs away with a driver and they
go up the California coast. It'd be like if David
Cassidy ran away from all the fame and' he
meets tons of girls." He's interested in direct-
ing some day, having directed plays and short
films when he was younger. Jokingly, he says,
"I'm too egotistic to not (want to)." He p1e
to cut another record with Phantom Planet ar a
is picking his next film project
He's also attached, along with Bill MUrray,
to Anderson's upcoming movie, shooting this
autumn. Schwartzman describes it as "a movie
about a dysfunctional family of geniuses who
live in New York. I'm one of the geniuses."

Courtesy ofBuena vista

Jonathan Schwartzman looks bemused In "Rushmore."

Talia Shire, he calls Francis Ford Coppola
uncle and Nicolas Cage is his cousin.
Schwartzman, like his surname, stands alone
as the man about to happen in his famous fam-
ily. He dosn' mention his relatives much, but
he docsn't have to - his own talent is appar-
ent enough without bringing in his family.
The story of his casting is the stuff of
fables: Anderson was at wit's end trying to
find a suitable actor to play Max and was seri-
ously considering scrapping the entire project
until the casting director was introduced to

Schwartzman at a dinner party - okay, if you
want to get nitpicky, it was a family dinner
party. The next day, he auditioned and won the
role after almost 2,000 other actors failed to
capture Max's enigmatic presence. It was luck
of the draw. But still, Schwartzman says, "I
wasn't really raised Hollywood, but I was
raised in a creative environment. It never
crossed my mind once to do a profession that
wasn't creative."
Contrary to the confidence and experience
he projects onscreen as Max, "Rushmore" is

Schwartzman's first movie. And it certainly
won't be his last. "I've definitely fallen in love
with acting. It's hard, but I love to do it." He
relishes discussing his character as if Max was
a friend fallen by the wayside. It's no wonder
why; Schwartzman brings a lot to the role
with brilliantly funny line readings, shifting
the next moment to touching indignation.
"(Max is) very arrogant, you kind of hate him.
So I tried to bring a lovable aspect to him, like
you love him and you-hate him. You want to
kiss him after you slap him."

'Central Station'

m akes a vehicle not to be missed'

By Joshua Pederson
Daily Arts Writer
"Central Station" is a believable, basic movie. Its actors
are ordinary-looking people. Its settings are common-
place. Its plot is compelling, but plausible. It is a fit; that

Starts Sunday at the
Michigan Theater

explores the moving passion that can
be found in the complexity of the
human condition, and derives its
emotional value therefrom, as
opposed to coaxing it out of a maze
intricate production and Hollywood
Realism is not at a premium in pre-
sent-day Hollywood. Suspension of
disbelief is a necessary tool in the
common viewer's box. In a
Hollywood film landscape dominat-
ed by giant apes, telepathic killers
and computerized techno-droids pos-
sessed by alien life forms, it's kind of
hard to take anything very seriously

be moving and effective without breaking the laws of
nature or straying into budget levels challenging those of
small nation-states. And more often than not, these films
do not come out of Hollywood. They come from foreign
countries, whose markets are not ruled by the influences
of the popular Hollywood vagaries.
The most impressive aspect of"Central Station" is the
fact that the director allows the film to tell its own story.
His primary goal is the creation of a film, not the
exploitation of the audience's emotion. The film is his
medium, and he uses it well.
In "Central Station," an aging letter writer who works
in a train station takes under her wing a boy whose moth-
er is run down by a bus. He is searching for his father, and
the lonely dowager decides to aid him in his search. The
catalystic action is the death of the boy's mother. And
while death is surely not commonplace, its presence in the
film does not require the audience to suspend their skep-
tical sense in order to continue watching.
The script is a simple one. Dialogue is sparse by design
in "Central Station."The relationship between the boy and
the woman is a tense one throughout much of the film, so
the director does not force mindless babble down the

audience's throat. Silences are truly pregnant. They are
not filled by "meaningful glances," times to be exploited
for a forced emotional effect. Neither are they placed to
urge the audience's discomfort, who are involved because
they become a part of the story. The director has no ulte-
rior motive in their presence. They are necessary compo-
nents of the'plot, and they aid in its progression.
The beautiful relationship between Dora and Josue
makes the film a treasure. Fernanda Montenegro's perfor-
mance as Dora is compassionate and caring. The plot is
quite reminiscent of Sidney Lumet's recent "Gloria," in
which a down-on-her-luck woman befriends a young boy
and tries to help him find his way home. "Central Station"
follows the same matronly themes that encompass Gloria
and her little man, but "Central Station" examines the
relationship further, bringing a definitive change to
Dora's life, abandoning her boozing selfishness for a
more complete importance.
The cinematography, too, is delightfully simple.
Camera shots are basic throughout. The director does not
subscribe to the popular MTV montage school of camera
work. using phrenetically nauseating sequences to evoke
confusion or fear. He utilizes wide-angle panoramas and

still shots frequently. He lets his characters and their set-
tings express the sentiments that come across to the audi-
The objects of the cinematography are the elements
that tell the story, as opposed to the cinematography
itself.. And the results are truly moving. "Central
Station" correctly portrays the desolate force of lone'
ness among the masses, the oppressive heat of Rio inti
summer, and the simple bond of love that links the film4s
two protagonists.
"Central Station'"s progression is slow and delibe&dte
throughout. And it may require a bit of patience on the
part of the American viewer whose standard fare con-
sists of "Titanic" and "Godzilla." But one must realize
that "Central Station" is really a silent revolt from the
mindset which has come to dominate Hollywood at the
turn of the millenium. And for this reason, "CentraJ
Station" will not be viewed by many here in the Stat*
And it will probably inspire only sparse and lukewarm
reactions from audiences and critics alike. But for those
viewers who do make the trip, a tastefully unassuming
treasure lies among the wrecks of Hollywood's behe!

in mainstream American film these days.
But, not all that surprisingly, realistic, simple films can

Special Egg Donor Needed
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Madness dribbles onto PlayStation for March

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NCAA March Madness '99
EA Sports
Could Chris Webber guard Lew Alcindor?
Would David Thompson be able to throw one
down over Tim Duncan? These are a few of the
many questions that players can try to answer
with "NCAA March Madness '99," a new college
basketball game for PlayStation. This is possible
because, along with the 107 Division I men's bas-
ketball teams, the game features 20 classic teams
including 1967 UCLA, 1982 North Carolina,
1984 Georgetown and 1993 Michigan.
After choosing their favorite team, players
have several options including exhibition, tour-
nament and dynasty. By far the most intriguing
choice is the tournament which provides the
chance to cram three weeks of March Madness
into an afternoon (but who would want to do

The five on five contests play very smoothly
and it shouldn't be difficult for first timers to
learn the basic aspects of the game. The system
automatically calls plays on both offense and
defense for those still getting the hang of things,
but also offers manual playcalling for the more
advanced gamers. In addition, "March Madness"
features four levels of difficulty: freshman,
sophomore, junior and senior (sorry no fifth-year
senior). Along with the five on five men's con-
tests, players have the option of a 3-point shoot
out or a Sweet 16 with women's teams.
The team lineups for the games are filled with
current players who are identified only by their
numbers and not their names. The rosters are
very up to date, both freshmen and transfers of
influence are included, and seem to include
everyone except first year walk-ons.
Teams play in their own arenas, but the recre-
ations come up very short. In Crisler Arena, the

tunnel is out of position, the placement of the
seats is wrong and the floor design is out of date.
Another weak point is the absence of the actu-
al schedules that the teams are playing in 1999.
When a player decides to play a full season, the
slate is a random mix of conference and non-con-
ference games rather than the traditional setup of
non-conference first, conference second.
The feature of 20 classic teams is an interest-
ing option, but some of the squads that ,er,
included are a little questionable (1997 Wa
Forest?). And really, besides Chris Mullin who
would want to play as 1985 St. John's?
Although the inaccurate arenas and lack of real
schedules are annoying for big time players,
"March Madness" is an enjoyable game that
gives fans the chance to hoop it up as their
favorite college players and teams. And with the
way things are going, it's about the only place
where the Wolverines will make the tournament.
-Matthew Barrett


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