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February 22, 1999 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-02-22

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"Wild Strawberries" Is playing at Michigan Theater. Ingmar
Bergman's 1963 film analyzes a lonely professor's flashbacks to
his past. Swedish with English subtitles. 4:10 p.m.


I Read Breaking Records for a review of Sleater-Kinney's
latest release, "The Hot Rock."
February 22, 1999

Pilm critic Siskel dies at age 53

Los Angeles Times
CHICAGO - Gene Siskel, who along with
partner Roger Ebert brought film criticism to the
masses with their weekly television program and
ingeniously concise thumbs-up, thumbs-down rat-
ing system, died Saturday at the age of 53.
Wondly referred to by fans as "the skinny one" to
distinguish him from his portly cohort Ebert,
Siskel underwent surgery in May to remove a
growth from his brain, but quickly returned to the
syndicated "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies" TV
show and to his four other jobs, as film critic for
the Chicago Tribune, TV Guide, "CBS This
Morning" and WBBM-TV in Chicago.
Then, earlier this month, he announced he was
taking time off to rest and further recuperate from
4 surgery. But, in characteristically sly humor,
predicted a swift return: "I'm in a hurry to get
well because I don't want Roger to get more
screen time than I. Also, this experience will give
me a chance to work out my left thumb - the
stunt double."
He died at Evanston Hospital, north of Chicago,
surrounded by his family.
"Gene was a lifelong friend, and our profession-
al competition only strengthened that bond," Ebert
said in a statement. "He showed great bravery in
the months after his surgery, continuing to work as
g as he could.
As a critic, he was passionate and exacting. As
a husband and a father, his love knew no bounds
A native of Chicago, Siskel earned his bache-
lor's degree at Yale University in 1967 and
returned home and began writing for the Tribune

Derided by some students of film as easy, pop
criticism, Siskel once defended the program as
"the distillation between the two of us of 39 years
of writing about movies."
Genteel, but with a cutting sarcasm, the balding,
wiry Siskel was as outspoken and opinionated
about movie-makers as he was about movies.
He criticized the Oscars as overrated awards,
suggesting Academy Award nominations were for
sale to the filmmaker with the biggest advertising
He suggested film critics were more qualified to
pick Oscar nominees than members of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
After all, he said, the critics have seen all the
In 1995, he took on anti-Hollywood politicos,
lambasting then-presidential candidate Bob Dole
for a major speech Dole had delivered in Los
Angeles accusing Hollywood and music labels of
marketing "nightmares of depravity" and "main-
streaming deviancy"
"No one on Planet Earth has knocked American
movies more than me - 52 weeks a year, 26
years," he said. "I wish movies were better -
more than you. You go to one movie a month, I go
to six a week."
But, he said, Dole was practicing disingenuous
politics when he blamed movies for serious cultur-
al problems. "When it diverts the national agenda
from the real problems, when the same person is
saying 'Cancel the violent movies but let's make
sure we have plenty of assault weapons' - that's
sinful, isn't it?"
Siskel is survived by his wife and three children.

Mose Allison plays the blues the way they were meant to be played.
Alli*son brngs". back
old style of blues

Gene Siskel was well-known for his film reviews.
in 1969. He first hooked up with Ebert, film crit-
ic for the rival Chicago Sun-Times, in 1975 on the
public television program "Sneak Previews."
In 1982, their program went into syndication,
and the two began joyfully bickering and bluster-
ing their way to fame, at the same time largely
molding popular movie criticism, moving the
once-esoteric genre from the arts pages of news-
papers into millions of living rooms .

Cirque' melds story with physical magic

WAdlin Rosli
Daily Arts Writer
Cirque Ingenieux is a rare specialty for those who
enjoy theater performances. The show is one that
seamlessly melds a storyline with amazing physical
circus-like performers. These include two muscle
bound men who balance on each other in positions
that defy gravity, contortionists and a tailor character
who seems to be taunted and befriended by usually

Center for the
Performing Arts
Feb. 23-28

inanimate objects.
Jason McPherson, the
actor/performer who plays the
tailor, took some time to talk to
The MIchigan Daily about his
character and the plot that ties
the show together. "In the
beginning of the show my char-
acter is the tailor in the real cir-
cus, an eighteenth-century cir-
cus. He's the clown character in
the show. He's a dysfunctional
character who makes costumes
for everybody and he makes
friends with the main character,
a girl who is fascinated with the

tinely helps each other improve a lot. "The cast was
picked from performers from Russia, Mongolia,
Poland and Canada to name a few. Neil Goldberg, the
mastermind behind this whole show, was looking for
more oddity things, people who have been doing cir-
cus acts which have been done for hundreds of years
but with a twist to them.
"I was basically working on these routines where I
would animate objects and they would come to life on
me. One of these is a coat which I animate and it
becomes a character in the show which constantly boss-
es me around, a very dominant and tyrant character.
Another one is a bug character and he's a dysfunction-
al little thing. You kind of have to see it, he has to hold
his face together basically, if he doesn't do it just right
his face falls off and he has to try to put it back on"
He then continued, "I did the tour basically to learn
and when you have these incredible hand balancers
from Poland, watching them every night and also get-
ting to work with them during warm ups (teaches
you.) Everybody supports and coaches everybody
else. My handstands have improved immensely from
hanging out with these guys, my flexibility has
improved with help from the contortionists. These are
people with incredible movement and dance ability,
(something) which is a big part of clowning. From last
year's tour and this year's tour I can really feel myself
progress just working with this cast of 22 talents."
In the tradition of great comic characters,
McPherson shared that portraying a clown-like char-
acter is not an easy task. "It's a challenge for me. My
job is to stand out in front of the audience and make
them laugh for the next few minutes. It is the balance
of creating a routine as well as playing your charac-
ter. In this show there is no fourth wall. (This is)

circus. Later on in the show things change, the little
girl falls into a fantasy world and all the characters
that she meets in the circus come back much more
fantastic. And that's when they start doing their rou-
tine in the real style of the sho, which is more fantas-
tic and dreamlike. The images are much stronger and
it really takes off in the imagination."
The show consists of an international cast of per-
ers proficient in unconventional roles - a cast
ich McPherson said gets along very well and rou-

Jawbreaker' borrows from o.

By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Teen comedies of late have been so
focused on channeling John Hughes
* other composers of pitch-perfect

At Showcase

'80s angst go
the debut come-
dy from writer-
director Darren
Stein, takes the
road less trav-
eled by invoking
the unsung,
twisted bril-

as realism - how could it be, taking
place at a high school named for
Ronald Reagan?
Beyond its setting, the premise
itself is absurd, as the director likely
"The Flawless Four," as the film's
ultra-trendy and impeccably-
groomed Heathers are called, gener-
ally rule Reagan High, neglecting
class and judging the lower ranks,
while choosing not to eat in the cafe-
teria, as they might be judged on
something as superficial as the food
they eat.
The girls' extracurricular activities
include pulling elaborate pranks for
birthdays, but their fun goes awry
when the target of their faux-kidnap-
ping scheme gets asphyxiated by an
enormous version of the titular
A cover-up ensues but also goes
haywire when wallflower Fern Mayo
(Judy Greer) happens upon Courtney
(Rose McGowan), Julie (Rebecca
Gayheart) and Marcie (Julie Benz)
nonchalantly prepping the corpse for
imminent discovery.
But instead of silencing Fern for


good, they keep her quiet 1
her what has been the c
plot device of many a te
- a total makeover.
At that point, "Jawbrea
undergoes a makeover, sh
a sharp-tongued, if deriva
get-away-with-murder st
schizophrenic messc
romance, ribald sex humo
ous meditation on the horr
school politics.
But if high school popu
ever a bitch, her name
McGowan, an effervesc
anti-Barbie as the
Courtney Shayne.
Rebecca Gayheart, wh4
be the Noxzema girl, als
strong impression as th
Julie, the sugar to Courtr
Sadly, these lovely I
largely all the film has t
the other performances ar
Stein's predictable script,
too obviously borroN
"Carrie," "Clueless"a
"Rebel Without A Cause."
Worthy influences

Courtesy of Cirque Ingenieux
Jason McPherson puts on an impromptu magic show
for Ekaterina Fedosseeva.
unlike other theater shows where there's a fourth wall,
where people are doing their play of their story and
the audience is just looking at it and not being totally
involved. This show is different. Speaking not only
about my act but all the other acts, there is no fourth
wall. There's a definite energy between us and the
audience. That's the circus aspect of the show where
a symbiotic relationship exists between us and the
Id teen flms
by offering "Jawbreaker" still cannot rise above
alling-card its inevitable debt to "Heathers,"
en comedy despite the welcome infusion of
some '50s style and sensibility, in
ker" itself the capri pants, cardigans, drive-in
ifting from movies and diners that populate the
ative, let's- film.
atire to a This style, however, is the rare bit
of gushy of inspiration in "Jawbreaker," which
r and seri- also strikes comic gold with the cast-
ors of high ing of Pam Grier as impossibly tough
and impossibly named Detective
larity were Vera Cruz.
e is Rose Mainly, though, "Jawbreaker"
ently evil looks to "Heathers" for inspiration.
to-die-for Still, Stein could have chosen a
much worse movie to idolize, mak-
o'll always ing "Jawbreaker" at least passable.
o makes a But before Stein makes another
e regretful film, he should be reminded that
ney's scary even "Heathers" genius Lehmann
can make mistakes - he made
ladies are "Hudson Hawk," after all.

BJohn Uhl
For the Daily
Around the turn of the century, a new
sound was being developed in the
region of the Mississippi River delta.
Spread by itinerant African Americans
who wandered through small towns
making a living by playing this music in
local juke joints, this sound is now
called the blues. As African Americans
moved in great numbers northward and
to larger cities, this music moved with
them. In its new urban environment, the
music developed a more solid structure
and stronger sense of melody. It also
found its way into the evolution of
America's other unique musical cre-
ation, jazz.
This past weekend, with the help of
bassist Dan Kolton and drummer Tom
Brown, the pianist/singer/composer
Mose Allison related his 72 years of life
experiences to Bird of Paradise audi-
ences through his interpretations of this
music. Born in Mississippi, Allison
encompasses the ideas of the original
blues masters, who hailed from his
neighborhood, into his own work. This
was evident Friday, as he played numer-
ous songs written by Southern blues
legends Robert Lockwood, Buddy
Johnson and Willie Dixon. Allison,
who began his professional career play-
ing with jazz greats like Stan Getz,
Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer,
showed the more sophisticated side of
his music through complicated piano
solos and constant interaction with the
other two members of his trio.
Allison reeled off about 20 songs.
during the hour-long show. Quick, to-
the-point renditions were subtly fused
together in a seamless assemblage of
tunes. Occasionally during song shifts
he gave a brief explanation of the origin
of the last or next piece, but would
never stop playing as he spoke. This
business-like attitude asked the audi-
ence to consider the music as a whole,
rather than the individual segments that
made up the set.
For many jazz musicians, the blues is
a preset chord progression, a structure
.Midterms getting you
Quit all your Classes
and just write for
Daily Arts.
For more
information, call
763-0379 and ask
for less or Chris.

upon which to base improvisation and a
starting point for individual expression
(although, depending on the musician,
the blues can mean much more). This
holds true for Allison, whose solos
depended upon building an intensity
and complexity over a simple back-
ground. In one particularly fine
instance, he began by circling lithe
eighth-note patterns into a sort of fren-
zy. Layering a series of repeated tremo-
los and rich chords upon this mix, he
built the solo into a foreboding thun-
derstorm. Yet, just as the rising left-
hand block chords implied some kind
of resolution or climax, he backed away
from the summit and started building
again. This brand of weaving tension
characterized the whole show, as
Allison moved from a speedy technical
piece, through a bluesier stomp, to a
lolling swinger and back.
Most people know the cathartic
nature of the blues. It allows a musician
to exercise his frustrations, confusions,
and joys through the manner of song.
Allison does not have a technically
articulate voice, but one that swings
soothingly with a distinctive and
approachable quality. As he sang con-
fessions of lost love, newfound love,
confusion, sorrow, pride, survival and
worldly knowledge, the audience could
listen and laugh with a discerning sym-
pathy. A large part of this is the honesty
of the blues, and specifically the sincer-
ity of Allison's renditions.
"Not your hoochie coochie man, not
your seventh son," he sang in reference
to two Willie Dixon tunes, one of which
he had played earlier in the evening,
"just another middle class white boy,
out tryin' to have some fun." Allison
was not born into the type of impover-
ished life that many associate with the
classic blues stories. Nor does his
music follow directly in the tradition of
Willie Dixon, Robert Johnson or Bessie
Smith who lived these stories. But his
ability to cleverly poke fun at his non-
traditional blues background illustrates
the quick wit and intelligence that make
Allison's blues his own.
Consider a lucrative career in
commercial real estate sales.
We're a local company, looking
to hire a self-starting, business-
oriented graduate with a good
sense of humor. I have 32 years
in real estate, yet keep an open,
mind and respect for the abili-
ties and opinions of younger
agents. Sound interesting? Call
Gary or visit our web site.
Gary Lillie & Associates
! Realtors

fiance of
Lehmann, cre-
ator of
And like its predecessor,
"Jawbreaker" gives audiences a taste
of the glamorous and often murder-
ous lives of a high school clique, but,
crossing the line into mediocre
davation, is ultimately too bland for
apposedly black comedy and more.
than a little hard to swallow.
Not that "Jawbreaker" is intended

o offer, as
e as flat as
which all-
ws from
and even
all, but


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