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48 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend, etc. Magazine - Thursday, February 3, 2000
E From the Vault - Woody Allen
Allen foreshadows later work with wry take on biopic
The Michigan Daily -Weekend, etc. M
By Aaron Rich
Daily Arts Writer
Long before Robert Zemeckis
inserted Forrest Gump into presiden-
tial stock footage of John F.
Kennedy, Woody Allen had already
achieved a similar effect in his 1983
;-- ~ film "Zelig." Allen worked his own
face, as Leonard Zelig, into the
Sarchivefilms of Adolf Hitler's
"Zelig" is now relevant for other
reasons as well. Allen's latest film,
"Sweet and Lowdown," which will
be released tomorrow, is nearly iden-
tical to the older work, both in struc-
ture and genre.
"Zelig" is a "pseudo-documen-
tary" about Leonard Zelig, a man liv-
ing in the 1920s who, as a child, is so
brutally ostracized, by both children
Courtesy of Warner Brothers and adults, that he developed a
On his return from Nazi Germany, Leonard Zellg (Woody Allen) Is Joined in a ticker-tape unique ability. He becomes capable
parade throughout New York by Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow), his lover and doctor. . of changing his appearance to blend
into a crowd - he becomes a
When he's on stage with a black
jazz band, Zelig's skin color changes
and he becomes a black jazz musi-
cian; when eating in a Greek restau-
rant, he grows fat and
Mediterranean-looking; when social-
izing with bourgeois artists and
literati, he becomes snotty and
The film works as a biography -
similar to any bio-documentary, such
as "Thelonious Monk: Straight, No
Chaser" or even Ken Burns'
"Baseball" series - but a biography
of a man who (amazingly) never
Allen is downright serious in
assembling his historical sources
who have done "research" on
Leonard Zelig. Intelligentsia of all
sorts, from art and social critic Susan
Sontag to author Saul Bellow and
psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim,
testify to the social phenomenon
Zelig becomes during the depres-
More impressive than the talking
heads are the technical moments of
greatness, when Allen inserts Zelig
into vintage photographs and film
footage. He appears in a wide range
of clips, from the 1920s New York
Yankees (standing next to Babe Ruth
and Lou Gehrig) to shaking hands
with Calvin Coolidge and Herbert
Hoover. He's also seen fighting in
the Vatican with Pope Pius XI, relax-
ing with Hollywood luminaries Tom
Mix and James Cagney and, of
course, standing in a pack of SS offi-
cers behind Hitler - just to name a
handful. (There's something espe-
cially hilarious and sick about
Allen's head even appearing in the
same shot as Hitler's; it's an effect
that has to be seen to be fully appre-
Mia Farrow plays Dr. Eudora
Fletcher, the one psychiatrist who
has vision and heart enough to put
time into "curing" Zelig. Farrow is
solid - as can be expected in her
Allen roles - both as the young,
maverick doctor in the newsreels and
in later years when a convincingly
older Fletcher is "interviewed" for
One big element -of the genius
behind this film lies in the fact that
Allen playing Zelig is a perfect
metaphor for Allen playing himself.
That is, after so many performances
ic Retro Recordings
By Brian Egan
Just as the alternative revolution was
exploding across the music scene in late
'91, one of its most prominent forerun-
ners, the Boston-based Pixies, were
crumbling amidst inter-group tensions.
But before their demise the group
released "Trompe Le Monde" a blister-
ing triumph of a swan song, and an
album which marked the complete real-
ization of their music's possibilities in a
Trompe Le Monde
way that has been
equalled by few of
the bands who fol-
lowed in their for-
Ty p i c a ll y
prized for the
extreme soft -
Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Just so we're clear: Reese Witherspoon will not be in the "American Psycho" three-way.
put as part * of U.S.
UM School of Music
University Dance Co
"dances to music from Latin America,
Brazil, Africa and the American South
Choreography by guest artists Donald McKayle and
Augusto Soledade, and faculty artists Sandra Torijano,
Evelyn Velez-Aguayo, and Robin Wilson
February 3 -5 at 8 PM " February 6 at 2 PM
Power Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets $18 and $14 " Students $7 with ID
League Ticket Office " Charge it! 734-764-0450
in so many different films, some-
thing in this film rings true to Allen's
own familiar persona - a man who
continually adopts different roles in
different situations, yet remains
somehow the same. (The links
between his characters in
"Manhattan" or "Husbands and
Wives" who fall in love with young
women and his own marriage to
young Soon-Yi Previn need not be
underlined.) We must constantly ask
ourselves in "Zelig" if this pseudo-
documentary is, in some way, autobi-
Zelig, the man, feels so real (he
interacts with real people) that we
must constantly remind ourselves
that he is just a fictional character. In
fact the only reason why this film is
clearly a farce is that Allen and
Farrow are in nearly every shot. Ah
yes, a farce indeed, but a great one at
the Web at
verse/loud-chorus contrasts and abrasive
guitar dissonance they imposed on the
traditional pop song with seminal late-
'80s albums "Surfer Rosa" and
"Doolittle," it was on "Trompe Le
Monde" that these distinguishing traits
were harnessed to the finest songwriting
of leader Frank Black's decorated career.
More melodic and focused than the
band's previous albums. Black still sings
as if he's just barely pissed off enough to
care. But here he relies more on his skill
with aching vocal phrases than his lung-
bursting capacity to scream. Also gone
from preceding efforts are the snippets
of songs that felt more like sonic experi-
ments. "Trompe Le Monde," in short, is
the Pixies album for those who prefer
"God Only Knows" to "Surfin' USA."
The consistency of "Trompe Le
Monde" is certainly impressive, and per-
haps a bit surprising given that the afore-
mentioned albums, although classics,
had their share of throwaways, and the
album that directly preceded it, 1990's
"Bossanova," was arguably mostly
throwaways. The only misstep on this
album, the forgettable "Space (I Believe
In)," can be forgiven as it comes on the
heels of the album's stunning four-song
midsection, a ten minute stretch practi-
cally unrivaled in the alt-rock canon, and
a breather is almost welcome before the
album's majestic conclusion.
Like the best of all the Pixies' music,
"Trompe Le Monde" is an outsider's
satire. Black's protagonists (both human
and alien) are always miserable trying to
play along, and find safe comfort watch-
ing and ridiculing from the fringes. On
"Trompe Le Monde," the band captured
it all in a (literally) universal racket.
There was what many would deem a
"disturbance in The Force" when news
broke in the Friday "Senior Edition"
Daily that Hollywood had seceded from
the U.S. Fortunately, they are still part of
our cherished union. They've only tem-
porarily relocated to Park City, Utah.
That's right kiddies, it's time for the
Sundance Film Festival, where
Hollywood goes to steal (or buy) ideas
from independent filmmakers. From
"The Blair Witch Project" to "Clerks,"
Sundance always aspires to offer up
something new. Here's what to look for
soon in a theater near you, compliments
of the institution of independent film.
4 Saving Grace" is a comedy about a
widow who cultivates marijuana to make
ends meet. "Girlfight" is the story of a
young Latina who wants to become a
boxer. Both of these- pies were scooped
up by major studios for S4 million each.
* Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez
star in "Rated X," a look at the famed
porn empire of the Mitchell Brothers.
Expect this film to be rated NC-17, as
word on the street says it's all sex, sex
and more sex.
+ Ethan Hawke takes on "Hamlet," a
seriously mbodern version of
Shakespeare's classic. The film takes
place in New York City in the year 2000.
In true New York style, Denmark is not a
troubled country, but instead the name of
a huge corporate conglomerate Hamlet is
in line to inherit.
4 Perhaps the most controversial pic
this year is "American Psycho," starring
Christian Bale, Jared Leto, Reese
Witherspoon and Chloe Sevigny. The
movie is a faithful adaptation of Bret
Easton Ellis' equally controversial novel
of the same name. Also stamped with the
NC-17 seal of dirty, dirty sex, the film
prominently features a menage a trois.
Too bad it doesn't involve Reese
Witherspoon, or this could rate right up
there with the other threesome classic,
r Documentaries also made a strong
showing at Sundance this year.The most
hyped seems to be "The Filth and the
Fury," a historical look at the Sex Pistols.
Fans of this seminal punk band can
expect to see a side of Johnny Rotten and
the gang never seen before.
o A documentary that should rate a
high creepy-weird factor is "Dark Days,'
a look at the homeless underground tun-
nel dwellers of New York. First-time
filmmaker Marc Singer had so little
experience or money, his homeless sub-
jects became his crew as he lived with
them for two years while filming.
IN OTmER NEWS
Even though Hollywood has taken a
10-day sabbatical in Utah, the stars are
still up to their usual zany antics.
Catherine Zeta-Jones announced she was
pregnant, the father being husband-to-be
Michael Douglas. She also professed to
be "fascinated" with Douglas' Jewish
faith, and to have discussed conversion
with a rabbi. This age-difference thing
gets weirder and weirder as one realizes
Douglas already has a son, Cameron,
who is 20. That would make him only ten
years younger than Zeta-Jones (or is it
The hip movie-to-be right now is the
remake of the Frank Sinatra film,
"Ocean's 11." "Out of Sight" director
Steven Soderbergh is at the helm, and as
of now, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Julia
Roberts and Mike Myers are set to star.
Other notes: In the first week of
February, Bill "Two Cigars Up" Clinton
will talk about his favorite movies with
Roger Ebert on his show.
With David Letterman recovering
from quintuple-bypass surgery (I thought
the heart had only four chambers),
replacement hosts on tap may include
Jerry Seinfeld, Regis "I am so annoying
on that show!" Philbin or maybe Larry
Sanders - Garry Shandling, that is.
On a final note, comic book geeks
around the world rejoiced as "X-Men"
wrapped shooting, heading for a summer
release this year. Everyone's holding
their collective breaths to see what
Famke "Jean Grey" Janssen, Halle
"Storm" Berry, Rebecca Romjin-
"Mystique"-Stamos and Anna "Rogue"
Paquin will look like in spandex and
- Compied by Dail: Arts writer
David i/icto,: Mr: Showbiz
(-K nirshowbiz.conz), Daily Radar
(w-wdailoradarcom) and the
Sundance Website (wwmsundancechan-
nel.com) contributed to the report.
Top 10 Pop Albu
(The nations best-selling albums fo
1. Carlos Santana, "Super
2. Celine Dion, "All the W
3. Dr. Dre, "2001"
4. Christina Aguilera, "Chr
5. DMX, "And Then There W
6. Eiffel 65, "Europop"
7. Various Artists, "Now 3'
8. Jagged Edge, "J.E. Hear
9. Backstreet Boys, "Mille
10. Jay-Z, "Vol. 3 ... Life a
Top 10 Books
(The weeks best-selling hardcover
1. "The Lion's Game," Nels
2. "Sick Puppy," Carl Hiaa:
3. "False Memory," Dean K
4. "Secret Honor," W.E.B.
5. "The Cat Who Robbed a
6. "Timeline," Michael Cri
7. "Atlantis Found," Clive
8. "Monster," JonathanKe
9. "A Walk to Remember,"
10. "The Attorney," Steve
Top 10 Movies
(Who released them and how mu
1. "Eye of the Beholder," Mi
2. "Next Friday," New Line
3. "The Hurricane," Universa
4. "Stuart Little," Columbia,
5. "The Green Mile" Warner B
6. "Down to You,"Miramax,
7. "Galaxy Quest," DreamWcr
8. "Girl, Interrupted," Colum
9. "The Talented Mr. Ripley,'
10. "Toy Story 2," Disney
THE WEEKLY (
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