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January 21, 2000 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-21

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, January 21, 2000 - 9

4Cradle'
rocks, rolls
and falls
tuather flat
By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
In the 1930s, censorship and Red-
hunting were not limited to
Hollywood. Hand-in-hand, they per-
meated every sector of the arts, per-
petrated by the men in the U.S. gov-
ernment who felt they knew best and
feared anything that so much as mur-
. red of dissension.
At the same time, the government
was funding the arts through the
WPA, putting money into actors,
singers, vaudevillians and other per-
formers' pockets through the Federal
Theater program. The Depression hit
jeveryone hard, and the Federal

Quartet to grace Rackham stage

By Jim Schiff
For the Daily
The world-famous American String Quartet is returning
for its eighth concert in Ann Arbor, sponsored by the

American
String Quartet
Rackham Auditorium
sunday at 4 p.m.

University Musical Society. As part of
their three-year Beethoven the
Contemporary project, this perfor-
mance will feature one Beethoven
quartet and the contemporary quartet
in e minor by George Chadwick.
Beethoven the Contemporary is a
groundbreaking series that hopes to
expose many of the underappreciated
works of Beethoven. Violist Daniel
Avshalomov believes that Beethoven
laid the foundation for future com-
posers, from Dvorak and Brahms to
Chadwick. Chadwick's quartet resur-
rects the European styles of the early
19th Century, while utilizing a dis-

with the members of American String Quartet as part of a
three-year residency surrounding the series. They attend
master classes and private coachings to gain increased pro-
ficiency on their instruments. During the academic yearthe
quartet regularly performs and teaches at the Manhattan
School of Music.
The quartet has recently completed a "musical odyssey"
tour to all 50 states in celebration of its 25th anniversary.
They have had the pleasure of performing in the major con-
cert halls of 10 European countries, in addition to appear-
ances in Asia. Through the complete quartet presentation of
Beethoven, Shubert, Schoenberg, Mozart and Prokofiev,
they have been revered by audiences and critics alike.
Violinists Peter Winograd and Laurie Carney, cellist
David Gerber and violist Avshalomov have emphasized the
public awareness of chamber music. They have conducted
several educational programs, lead seminars, and published
articles during the past 25 years.
The Beethoven the Contemporary project is designed to
show how the extraordinary composer dared to take risks
and defy the musical category of the time. His exceptional
work has both profoundly impacted other composers and
the American String Quartet, who will provide an enjoy-
able musical experience for the Ann Arbor community.

tinctly American flavor. The quartet hopes to travel to the
past with Beethoven's work to see how his influences still
remain.
A group of music students have been able to interact

Sundance festival swells in size

Cradle Will
Rock
At Showcase and
Michigan Theater

Theater killed
two birds with
one stone:
employment for
the unemployed
and entertain-
ment for the
despondent pub-
lic. But unions
began to form,
rumors of
C o m m u n i s m
began to fly and
the inevitable
House investiga-
tion was con-
vened.

Photo courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
Ruben "Razor" Blades portrays Mexican artist Diego Rivera in "Cradle Will Rock."

This is the milieu in which Tim
Robbins' latest directorial effort is
firmly placed. Cross-cutting between
four stories that are linked by a fifth
major one, featuring a cast 13 stars
deep, it is an incredibly ambitious
effort. Perhaps a little too ambitious
-while Robbins' story, taken from
*ual events circa 1936 and 1937, is
one that cuts to the bone, he reaches
a bit too far in making his points.
Several storylines are almost extra-
ncpus, and Robbins lacks the skills
ever-present in other filmmakers to
make his stories palatable instead of
preachy.
The most difficult storylines to
follow and accept tend to concern
the upper classes in one way or
rother. For instance, Nelson
ckefeller (John Cusack) commis-
sions Diego Rivera (Ruben Blades)
to paint a mural in his new
Rockefeller Center. When Rivera
creates a vista filled with angry
laborers and bourgeois bacchanalia,
Rockefeller demands that he change
it. It is a good point made by
Robbins, to be sure, but it's just too
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much on top of the Congressional
hearings and the union strikes and
even the musical that powers the
whole show. There is no logical rea-
son for Rivera to be present other
than to preach to the choir what other
characters have already said. It's
overkill. The most important aspect
of making a point is to know when to
stop, and Robbins seems to have for-
gotten that in between this and his
last film, "Dead Man Walking."
That musical shares its name with
the film and is what originally
inspired it. Written by Marc
Blitzstein (Hank Azaria), it tells the
story of a working girl trying to sur-
vive in the Depression-era streets.
Featuring down'n'dirty characters
and arias, it was viewed as incendi-
ary and pro-union, and by associa-
tion pro-Communist. Orson Welles,
played with excruciating hamminess
by Angus MacFadyen (who looks far
too old to play the baby-faced 22-
year-old Welles), signs on to direct
the musical.
Long story short, the government
shuts down the Federal Theater pro-
gram and forbids Welles and pro-
ducer John Houseman (an unrecog-
nizably gone-to-seed Cary Elwes) to
open the show a day before its debut.
But of course the show must go on,
and go on it does. The film's finale
comes off rather well given the
problems plaguing it earlier -
"Cradle Will Rock" is actually a
pretty decent musical, despite the
fact that Emily Watson, wet-eyed
and shiny as poor Olive Stanton,
doesn't exactly have a Broadway-
quality voice. Given that the film is
being released under Disney's

Touchstone banner, keep an eye out
for an opening in Disney's new and
improved Times Square in the next
few months.
Rarely somber, oftentimes giddy,
"Cradle Will Rock" is a case of too
much too soon. Although it runs
only two hours and 15 minutes, it
feels much longer. It does have
many bright spots, though, most
notably among the excellent cast.
While many of them are visibly act-
ing instead of losing themselves in
their roles, Cherry Jones (as Federal
Theater director Hallie Flanagan),
Bill Murray (as ventriloquist Tommy
Crickshaw), John Turturro (as jour-
neyman performer Aldo Silvano)
and the ubiquitously wonderful
Philip Baker Hall (as US Steel mag-
nate Gray Mathers) are swept away
by their endeavors both in and exter-
nal to the film. Also keep an eye out
for Paul Giamatti in a hilarious
small role as Carlo.
Aside from the aforementioned
performances, though, "Cradle Will
Rock" feels a lot like a big party that
suffers from a bland cake, every-
body milling around but not really
wanting to eat a piece. Its intentions
are good, but its execution leaves
something to be desired. Robbins
has proven himself capable of han-
dling hot issues with "Dead Man
Walking," but here he is merely
lukewarm. At times his ideas and
vision ring true, but some of his sto-
rylines are a bit too glib or conve-
nient to swallow. That said, "Cradle
Will Rock" remains an admirable
effort. Lacking the follow-through
to make effort a reality, though, is
what drags it and its cast down.

Los Angeles Times
The clamor to compete in this
year's Sundance Festival, which
starts this week in Park City, Utah,
has been more intense than ever,
with just shy of a record 1,200 films
being submitted for Sundance's cov-
eted 32 (16 dramatic, 16 documen-
tary) competitive slots.
Crowd totals for the 10-day event
usually are in the 13,000 range, but
this year, with all manner of digital
and dot-com ventures added to the
mix, the totals are expected to swell.
In an attempt to cater to everyone
who shows up, or maybe because it
wants to attract a diverse crowd,
Sundance has been expanding itself
into nonfilm areas. The Sundance
Music Studio, sponsored by BMG
Music and the Sundance Channel,
will once again offer live musical
performances, and a pair of high-
powered theatrical events, Charlayne
Woodard's "In Real Life" and Eve
Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues,"
will be put on.
Even in the film area, Sundance,
like Cannes, has long been several
festivals. Slamdance, the first
Sundance alternative, around long
enough to seem positively venera-
ble, celebrates its longevity by open-
ing a second venue, the Filmmakers'
Lounge, to deal with the deserving
overflow from the record 2,050 sub-
missions it received.
Somewhere under all this hubbub
are the Sundance films, the reason it
all began. As has become usual for
the past few years, the most antici-
pated films are in the Premieres sec-

tion, where bigger name pictures
end up.
Because his "Big Night" was a
highlight of Sundance a few years
back, Stanley Tucci's "Joe Gould's
Secret" is one of the festival's most-
anticipated films. Set in 1940s New
York, it's the based-on-fact story of
the unexpected relationship between
New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell
(Tucci) and a formidably eccentric,
Harvard-educated street person
named Joe Gould (Ian Holm).
Sundance's Centerpiece Premiere
is Gina Prince-Bythewood's "Love
and Basketball," which touches on
two preoccupations of its producer,
Spike Lee. Also worth noting are
Mary Harron's "American Psycho"
(rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture
Association of America for, typical-
ly, sex rather than violence);
Michael Almereyda's Ethan Hawke-
starring "Hamlet"; and "Rated X,"
in which brothers Emilio Estevez
and Charlie Sheen's take on the
Mitchell brothers, San Francisco's
pornography pioneers.
Sure to be lighter is "Happy
Accidents," Brad Anderson's follow-
up to his underappreciated "Next
Stop, Wonderland." Also worth a
look is "Waking the Dead," a haunt-
ed "Endless Love"-type romance (in
fact based on a Scott Spenser novel)
in which Billy Crudup and Jennifer
Connelly are quietly convincing as a
couple whose love may or may not
be divided by death.

While the lucky 16 films allowed
in the dramatic competition are usu-
ally by unknowns, some familiar
names have made it into the fray this
year.
Most eagerly awaited is the
Heather Graham-starring
"Committed," written and directed
by Lisa Krueger, whose "Manny and
Lo" was the delight of an earliei
Sundance.
One of the festival's most satisfy-
ing films is in one of its more
obscure categories, a catchall divi-
sion called Special Screenings.
That's the home of "Via Dolorosa," a
filmed version of the compelling
monologue on the state of Israel that
playwright David Hare wrote and
performed to great success as a one-
man show in London and New York.
Melding sharp insight with a magi-
cian's flair for language (and a gift
for making ideas dramatic), Hare
vividly describes and analyzes this
contradictory country where, a
friend says, "in a single day I expe-
rience events and emotions that
would keep a Swede going for a
year."
The documentary competition at
Sundance is where the quality is
consistently the highest. Of the
dozen features just named as final-
ists for the best documentary Oscar,
six debuted at last year's Sundance
(and a seventh, Todd Robinson's
Amargosa," will be screening at this
year's Slamdance).

I

I

Ja,..soJIHo.lu. WagnerIC I ,4.Z U a.
One Mile West of Weber's !nn
ONLY $4.75 Matinees before 6 pm,
Kids, Seniors, & Everyone all day Tuesday
$5.50 with Student ID after 6 pm
$5.25 Late Shows Fri & Sat .

ONo passes or Tuesday discounts

Unlimited Free Drink Refills & .250 Corn
Stadium Seating Gives YOU
An Unobstructed View

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SCHOOL OF MUSIC
COLLAGE CONCERT
Friday, January 21, 8:15pm
Hill Auditorium
Free Admission, however, tickets required (limit four per family).
Tickets available at Hill from 4:00pm on 1/21.
A delightful concert featuring many different groups from the
School of Music. With only seconds between numbers, experi-
ence the power of band, the tranquility of choral music, the
beauty of orchestral music, and the energized beat of the Salsa
Band. This performance is both visualty energized with different
stage settings as well as a wonderftd Qpportunity to experience
some of the best the School of Music has tc offer.
FACULTY RECITAL: Arthur Greene, piano
Saturday, January 22, 8:00pm
Britton Recital Hall
The 26 Etudes of Alexander Scriabin.
STEARNS LECTURE: Virginia Martin Howard

.. -
ALL SCREENS DIGITAL STEREO
ALLTHEATERS STADIUM SEATING
O HURRICANE (R)
1:00, 3:55, 6:45, 9:30
O ANGELA'S ASHES (R)
12:30, 3:25, 6:30, 9:25
ODOWN TO YOU (PG-13)
12:50,3:45,5:40,7:35,9:20
FRI/SAT LS 11:20
o PLAY IT TO THE BONE (R)
11:55, 2:25,4:55, 7:25, 9:55
O CRADLE WILL ROCK (R)
1:20,4:00, 6:40, 9:10
FRI/SAT LS 11:45
0GIRL INTERRUPTED (R)
11:10, 1:30,4:20,7:00, 9:35
O SUPERNOVA (PG-13)
11:30,1:30, 3:30,5:30, 7:30,9:25
FRI/SAT LS 11:20
O NEXT FRIDAY (R)
12:00, 2:10, 4:35, 7:00,9:05
FRI/SAT LS 11:10
MAGNOLIA (R) 11:55, 3:35, 7:25
FRI/SAT LS 10:55
CIDER HOUSE RULES (PG-13)
11:00, 1:30,4:10,6:55,9:30
FRI/SAT LS 11:55
GALAXY QUEST (PG)
12:50,2:55, 5:05, 7:20, 9:25
FRI/SAT LS 11:30
TALENTED MR. RIPLEY (R)
11:05,1:45,4:25,7:10,9:50
AMY IM EUNDAY(Im9:00

Lecture of the Steams Collection of Musical

Instruments, Lynne Aspnes, lecturer
Sunday, January 23, 2;:~pm
Britton Recital Hal1
"Harps and Musical Styles: The 9thiCetury Way"
RECITAL SERES: Thle Coplet .iach Organ
James Kibbie, ofgan
Sunday, January 23, 4:00pm'
Blanche Anderson Moore Hall
Second of eighteen recitals in bervance of the 250th anniver-
sary of the composer's death. Concerto in C Major, Chorales
for Christmas from the Orgelbuchl n, Canzona in D Minor,
Individually Transmitt p orales, Chorales from the
Neumeister Collectiorede and-Fugue in G Major.
www.umich.edu/-jkib:::
DANCE DEPARTMEN':Lecture Demonstration
on the Power Center performance
Tuesday, January 25, 7:30pm
w _ - -.. _..... .

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