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January 27, 2000 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-27

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etc From the Vault - Milos Forman

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FLASHCARDS FOR THE SOCIALLY DYSFI

Forman's early work "Nest" is worth going cuckoo over

Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
After watching Winona Ryder
pout her way through the recent
"Girl, Interrupted," it's difficult not
to be reminded of a film of a drasti-
cally similar setting made a quarter
of a century ago.
Director Milos Forman succeeded
where James Mangold and many
QNO
OKI ~~FlI@

Mangold, who left all of Susana
Keysen's fabulous introspection in
the dust with "Girl, Interrupted."
Forman constructed characters
whose unique visions lend them-
selves to a fascinating development
on the screen. Each character isn't
just a simple, wide-eyed hero who
rises to every challenge without ever
going astray- rather, they are com-
plex and challenging, to themselves
and the viewers.
Forman's carefully-selected actors
and talented cinematic abilities
along~ with these multi-dimensional
characters make his movies superb.
From the immature yet vivacious
genius of W. Amadeus Mozart in
"Amadeus," to the tumultuous life of
Larry Flynt in "The People vs. Larry
Flynt," to most recently, the fascinat-
ing story of Andy Kaufman in "Man
on the Moon," Forman has continued
to build his reputation to the highest
peak.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's
Nest" is one of Forman's earlier
films, yet it is no less formidable.
than the recent, better remembered
biopics. Jack Nicholson gives a
tremendously realistic portrayal of
Randle Patrick McMurphy, who
arrives at a mental institution due to
his truant behavior on a prison work
farm. Immediately, the film sets up
the tension between the irrepressible
McMurphy and Nurse Ratched
(Louise Fletcher), who is so
wrapped up in sticking to routine
and order and maintaining personal
control over the ward that she over-
looks the well-being of the pa-

Very rarely in this column do I ever
pass judgment or spout social com-
mentary, but today I have a little piece
of advice in the form of a simple
phrase:
Don't be that guy.
I think that
you all know to
whom I'm
referring. That
guy comes in
many different
shapes, sizes
and genders -
(oh, trust me:
That guy can
most definitely
be female), but
the common Chris Kula
trait which that
guy always pos- Unsung
sesses is the
uncanny ability nn Arbor
to make you
roll your eyes and sigh in utter exas-
peration.
That guy seems to show up more
often than I'd care to witness, always
at the most inopportune of times.
Granted, that guy often provides you
with good anecdotes at his expense,
but his shenanigans get quite tiresome
after a short while.
So, my humble advice for the day is
to read on. enjoy and always remem-
ber:
Don't be that guy who wears the
t-shirt of the band he's going to see in
concert that night.
Don't be that guy who repeated-
lv pushes the "UP" button while wait-
ing for the elevator, as if doing so will
make the doors open any sooner.
Don't be that guy who special
orders his hamburger without any
ketchup.
Don't be that guy who says
"Thanks" without really meaning it,
like "Hey, could you guys not play
your music so loud? Thanks."

Don't be that guy who reminds
the professor about collecting the
homework just moments before class
gets out.
Don't be that guy who always
needs to know "What was that?"
when he hears a loud noise some-
where.
Don't be that guy who belittles
his girlfriend and somehow makes her
feel the guilt.
Don't be that guy who waits until
the absolute last second before merg-
ing left when a lane closes.
Don't be that guy who refers to
five Bob Marley-listening freshmen
smoking down in a dorm room as
"partying."
Don't be that guy who all too fre-
quently mentions that he "played a lit-
tle football back in high school."
* Don't be that guy with scabes.
Don't be that guy who flambov-
antly proclaims for the whole world
'I'm so drunk right now!"
Don't be that guy who says that,
despite the gurgling cappuccino
machines and chatty people surround-
ing him, he "concentrates a lot better"
at the local coffeeshop.
Don't be that guy who walks so
very slowly up the stairs, as if each
agonizing step was bringing him a lit-
tle bit closer to death.
Don't be that guy who insists that
you should start a band with him
someday.
Don't be that guy who's certain
that "she's the only girl I'll ever love."
Don't be that guy who never
throws in for the pizza yet always
seems to end up chomping on a slice
or two.

Don't be that guy wvho vehement-
ly argues that John was the driving
force in the group's success (pssst: It
was Paul).
That guy comes in
many different
shapes., sizes and
,genders (oh, trust
me: That guy can
most definitely be
female).

other directors attempting to recre-
ate well-written novels did not - he
transformed the power of a dramatic
yet disturbing story by novelist Ken
Kesev into visual form with remark-
able skill.
The resulting film, "One Flew
Over the Cuckoo's Nest," is as mov-
ing as it is disturbing, as weighty as
it is light, and as funny as it is tear-
ful. But most importantly, it brought
out every significant theme that was
in the novel. Compare that to

Don't be that guy who only
smokes at bars and parties because
"you know, it totally fits the atmos-
phere."
Don't be that guy James
"Buddha" Edwards.
Don't be that guy who gets so
incredibly tormented when somebody
uses e-mail to reply to the entire
group.
Don't be that guy who goes
home with the girl who's clearly had
too much to drink.
Don't be that guy who asserts
that he listens to "every kind of music
except country."
Don't be that guy who tells his
mom to hold on because he has anoth-
er call.
Don't be that guy who has "just

one more thing to bring
we're done here."
Don't be that guy
"Freebird!"
Don't be that guy
Jimmy Buffett as his e-n
ture file.
Don't be that guy N
appear scholarly by using
"There's a certain sense
this
Sul
for
Lit(
and re
Bring
May:
weekena
byFB

Courtesy of Columbia Pictures
Now one of film's most respected directors, Milos Forman chats up Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love during "People v. Larry Flynt."

tients.
These institutionalized people
may be comfortable with their
scheduled life, but they are also
withheld from their freedom.

I

McMurphv perceives their cowardli-
ness in not standing up for what they
would otherwise want. Therefore, he
provokes their insecurities. He also
brings their lives more meaning.
Mostly, he treats them not as psy-
chopaths, but as normal human
beings.
Forman does likewise to create
scenes that are purely heartwarming.
One day, McMurphy kidnaps the
patients from under the nurse's nose
and takes them on a fishing trip (by
stealing a boat). The pure joy ema-
nating from the patients is reflected
from their various personalities.
Each character is unique in their
own right. Chief Bromden (\Vill
Sampson) is assumed to be deaf and
dumb, but is deemed one "sly sono-
fabitch" by McMurphy for covering
it up.
Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) is a
sweet and quiet young man with a
stutter, Charlie Cheswick (Sydney
Lassick) has a lot of insecurities and
thinks passionately yet rationally,
and Martini (Danny DeVito) has
even more instabilities than
Cheswick, but is a fundamentally
caring man. These are just to name a
few, however. Forman somehow is
able to subtly take viewers into the

lives of 18 patients while focusing
on just a few.
Nicholson leaves no room for
arbitrary choices in his portrayal of
the McMurphy personality - he is
right on the ball. In fact, nothing less
prestigious can be said about the rest
of the cast, who all make equal con-
tributions to the sense of realism.
and stick close to the specifically-
constructed characters in Kesey's
novel.
Astonishingly, "One Flew Over
the Cuckoo's Nest" got its proper
due in spades from the Academy
Awards voters. Forman, Nicholson
and Fletcher, as well as Bo Goldman
and Lawrence Hauben's script and
the film itself, all earned. Oscars in a
sweep of the major categories. This
unprecedented accomplishment has
only been duplicated since by
Jonathan Demmne's "The Silence of
the Lambs.
Above all, Forman should
undoubtedly be recognized for "One
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in
being among the very few artists
who understand the intricacies of
transforming the emotional impact
and subtleties of a beloved novel
into a near masterpiece of filmmak-
ing.

.. ---

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