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January 10, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-10

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* Open mic night features local readings and a 2000 celebration.
Stop in at the Guild House on Monroe Street for a session on
reading poetry in a public setting. 8 p.m.
Monday
8 A January 10, 2000

ftfiftdi*=0Wa
L RTS

Breaking Records returns to Daily Arts with reviews of the
latest albums from Sasha and DMX.

- .-

Seasick
'Legend'
is a mess
By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
The unhappy mess of a movie calling
itself "The Legend of 1900" is neither
legend nor about a year. Discuss.
More like a fable than a legend of any
kind, the movie doggedly pursues great-
ness and enlightenment but has trouble
finding either without pitching over into
wide ocean. Hampered by a framing
device in which trumpeter Max (Pruitt
Taylor Vince) tells the sad story of his
pianist friend 1900 (Tim Roth) to anyone

'Boys' a triumph for Swank.

Courtesy of Fineline Features
Tim Roth plays 1900, a master pianist who never set foot on land in "The Legend of 1900."

The Legend
of 1900
**1
At the Michigan
Theater

who will listen, it
seems at times to
subsist on a
friendship
between two men
which is barely
expounded upon.
It balances precar-
iously on symbols
and missed
chances, on con-
flicts and the mys-
terious way that
1900 acquires per-
fectly tailored
suits while living

virtually penniless on a ship.
On a great ocean liner at the turn of
the last century, a laborer discovers an
abandoned child and adopts him as his
own, naming him after the year they're
living in: Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon
1900. 1900 grows up as an invisible citi-
zen "of the world of the ship, holding no
country as his native land and no house
as his home. He has no birth certificate,
no past. As an adult, he plays piano for
the ship's wealthy first-class passengers.
His fingers are magic on the ivories.
Never mind that he has never left the
ship long enough to hear jazz and other
musical stylings - he feels it in his
bones, and he shares it with his audience.

"The Legend of 1900" has been on the
shelf for well over a year, losing an hour
of running time as well as most of its title
(formerly "The Legend of the Pianist on
the Ocean") to the point where it might
more accurately be called "The Legend
of 19" The cuts show: while there's no
telling whether or not this was a good -
and, failing that, comprehensible - film
before the studio took it away from
director Giuseppe Tornatore ("Cinema
Paradiso"), what remains amounts to a
nonsensical disaster. Lacking any sem-
blance of character development, leap-
ing from one big scene to the next with-
out pausing for breath or explanation,
there's little here beyond a little keyboard
tinkering and the sumptuous cinematog-
raphy of Lajos Koltai.
There are, of course, a few scenes of
invigorating invention. A seasick Max
meets 1900 during a stormy night. 1900
gives him his sea legs by unanchoring
his grand piano in the ship's ballroom,
sliding graceful as a balletic elephant
across the dance floor as the ship pitches
to and fro. Indeed, this early scene is per-
haps the film's best; at this point there is
still the possibility that the movie will
not fail us, and itself.
But it does fail - by the time Jelly Roll
Morton inexplicably shows up on board
to have a piano duel with the fabled

1900, all has been lost despite 1900's
resounding victory. Devolving into the
sappiest of developments and what can
only be construed as some lofty sort of
parable, "The Legend of 1900" loses'
what little cred it had by the umpteenth
time we learn that 1900 just cannot bring
himself to set foot on dry land.
There is little of the magic that per-
meated Tornatore's earlier film in this-
latest effort. Worse, there's little of any-
thing else, either. It's just a not very
believable story about a not very
believable guy, which places us in the
precarious position of wanting to
believe and accept Max's story about
his friend 1900 but being unable to rec-
oncile it with the things we are shown
so piecemeal in this film. In the end we
can only imagine that the film is like
the storied recording, the only physical
evidence that 1900 ever lived, that Max
stumbles upon in an old shop: once
whole, now broken into nearly-
irreparable slices. The Humpty-
Dumpty job pulled on the movie makes
it whole but not completely watchable,
just as the old record is whole but not
completely listenable. That's about as
much as you can expect from a creative
work that has undergone large amounts
of stress and not had the benefit of a
good plastic surgeon.

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
As the main character in "Boys Don't Cry," Hilary Swank
has the near-impossible job of convincing the audience that
she could not only pass herself off as a man, but a romanti-
cally successful one. This is certainly a task no more daunt-
ing than what Brandon Teena, on whose life this film is
based, faced each day in his life after he made the conscious
decision to flip pronouns and flop his name from Teena
Brandon. The results of each of their efforts are as opposite
as you can get: the real Brandon was tragically murdered by
his intolerant "friends," while the real Swank gives the per-
formance of a lifetime that immediately propels her into the
high ranks of modern thesps.
Brandon's story of woo and woe as envisioned by first-
time writer/director Kimberly Peirce is surprisingly life-
affirming even in his death. He's just so cheery, so obvious-
ly in love with everything that he does, so certain that what
he is doing is right and perfect for him that, ultimately, it is,
and bigots of the world be damned. Set in Nebraska, the
movie begins with Brandon being essentially chased out of
his Lincoln home, where we get a glimpse into what his life
has been like since he changed from girl to boy. It hasn't
been easy, but he's trying to make a go of it. He moves on,
making a few friends in a bar who take him home to their
small town. Brandon is charismatic, and Swank endows him
with an easy smile and sparkling eyes that, in conjunction
with his hair, recall a more fine-boned version of Matt
Damon.
Swant sells Brandon without flaw.
Thanks to her, "Boys Don't Cry" is
far more than any mere tale of mis-
Boys Don't understood sexual identity. It's a
SCry haunting tale of a person whc just
wants to live life his life with a dif-
ferent pronoun than the one he was
At the State assigned at birth. It's a touching tale
Theater of young love beyond sexual and
mental borders.'And it's a crushing
tale of intolerance, ominous in its
characters' bull-headed cruelty, turn-
ing on a dime in their attitudes and
loyalties.
Let's be honest. This is a tough
movie to sit through. There are enough indignations per-
petrated to shake your faith in the human race. What these
ignorant, narrow people do to a person who wants only to
live on his own terms without being hassled for being
dealt two breasts instead of two balls is more than heart-
breaking. It's illusion-shattering. This happened. These
men exist. They're on death row now, but that doesn't
change the fact that this is fact. How much hate exists in
this world, unbottled and loosed upon the innocent. It's
one thing when you're watching fiction. It's another
entirely when you're watching what amounts at its very

i
I
a

basest description to a reenactment.
"Boys Don't Cry" could easily have been an exercisei
anticipation: waiting for Brandon to make a wrong move;
waiting for his fraud to be discovered, waiting for him to.
die. The film's greatest achievement is that it isn't merely
a watch-and-see. It's a watch-and-learn and a watch-andy
love experience. It sweeps us away into the problems an4:
accomplishments of Brandon's life. This is not a morose'
tale in the least - tragic, yes, but also in some ways tr
umphant. Brandon doesn't spend his time scroungin?,
around for cash for a sex change - he's making it just fine
with a tight chest binding and a cowboy wardrobe. He's,.
out there looking for fun, looking for love, and he seems
to be doing it in all the right places because he finds such
cess.
In the person of Lana (Chloe Sevigny) success lies coo'
and reserved, the product of a life in this poor Nebraska
town where everybody knows everybody both in the
Biblical sense and day-to-day encounters. She and her
friends, John (Peter Sarsgaard) and Tom (Brendan Sext*
I1l), become Brandon's support system in Falls City. They
drink beer, loaf around and play a version of bucking
bronco with pickup trucks. It's a small town and it's a
small life. Romance blossoms between Lana and Brandon
- does Lana know the truth about Brandon? Does she
care? The answer makes John and Tom's brutality even
more horrible, if possible. Brandon had finally found.the
love he'd been searching for, and the very moment it..
becomes tangible, attainable, it's ripped away from him..$
Brandon wasn't the brightest of people. The movie.
doesn't romanticize him more than it should, revealin
that he is not a saint - but he's close. He knows his hist.*
ry, his patterns; he continually promises that "this time"
things will be different. He won't screw up, be found out
as a fraud of sorts. Either he can't or he won't escape from4
the life he's grown accustomed to, running and starting
over and running again. But to blame Brandon's choices
for his death is to negate everything about him, good and'
bad. It's not his fault. It's not our fault either, but some-
times it feels like it is.
"Boys Don't Cry" is upsetting. It's troubling. It's- a
reminder of the prejudices we all harbor, however small
and the great evil that they can cause when allowed
grow. But the reason the movie is so priceless, so deserv-'
ing of all the praise it receives is because it is simultane-'
ously Greek tragedy and unbridled celebration. The trou-'
bling aspects of the film are what stick with us after it is
over, but so does the joy it takes in Brandon's life.
There is comfort to be taken in the knowledge that
Brandon found happiness, however fleeting. He met. a
tragic end, but when he was living he wasn't just breath-7
ing. He was alive. There is comfort to be taken in the
knowledge that movies like this are still getting made.
They're important. They do more than just breathe, to* '
And they're unforgettable.

'NBA 2KC
scores for
Sega at
buzzer
With "NBA 2K," Sega has once again
created a stellar looking sports game for
their Dreamcast console. But it's not as
amazing a piece of work as its sibling
"NFL 2K."
Individual players look different from
each other in the game (and even kinda
look like them-
selves) greatly
. adding to the
experience. Funky
NBA 2K camera angles also
liven up the look
Sega of the game. But,
Dreamcast as is common for
Reviewed by funky camera
Daily Arts Writer angles, they also
Ted Watts interfere with
playing the game.
This is especially troublesome when you
want to continue controlling a given
character who is only represented by an
arrow pointing vaguely offscreen.
The game is also a bit difficult to con-

trol. Beautiully JU, the gamie voIves a
lot of controls, obviously differing when
the player controls defense or offense.
There are a lot of variables to control
during play, and a lot of things to remem-
ber. Shooting involves jumping and
releasing at just the right time. Passing
seems a sort of random affair, becoming
increasingly random the greater the dif-
ference between the passer and the
receiver. Free throws are controlled by
the analog triggers, but good luck figur-
ing out how they figure in. The game is
frustrating, to put it simply, and there's
no good way around that playing the
computer. Your friends will be just as
confused as you, of course, so if you play
with them you won't feel crushed by the
At of the console.
At the same time, the game is good.
There's a steep learning curve, but once

it's defeated there's a wealth of play-
ers and games and finely rendern
arenas to explore and enjoy. You can
create a player that looks like you
(well, maybe, if you look male, black
or white and have features relatively
common for NBA players). TheO
booming echo of the arena announc-
er, the cheers and catcalls of crowd
noise and the sounds of the court
itself combine for an aurally textural
experience. It is after all a Dreamc
game.
So if you want a fresh game to
play with up to three of your friends
that looks better than any other bas-
ketball game on your TV, there's no
question at all of whether you should
get this game. But it's not astonish-
ing, and it's not for the overly casual
player. Welcome to the year 2000.
WANT TO *
INTERVIEW
ROCK STARS?
COME TO
THE
DAmLy MASS *
MEETINGS ON
JANUARY 12TH,
18T &20m
AT 7I-m-

Philosophers

Computer Scientists

Anthropologists

The National Center for Geographic Information & Analysis
State University of New York at buffalo
Invites applications for doctoral fellowships in
Integrative Graduate Education and Kesearch Training
Doctoral Concentration in Geographic Information Science
Fellowship packages valued at approx. $22,500 per
year will be available for US citizens and permanent
residents. Fellowships include stipends 1of$15,000,
tuition scholarships, conference travel support, and
other cost-of-education allowances. . Non-US citizens

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