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March 14, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-14

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Film Festival Fun
The pth annuel Ann A rbor1Fil
Festival kicks off tonight at the
ichian Theater. screenings begin at
7 p.m. The Festival runs until the !9th.

ahe tkkvi -an kfig
RTS90%l.

,

TUESDAY
MARCH 14, 2000

amichigandaily~com f/arts

Campion,
By Laura Flyer
Daily Arts Writer
Somehow it is manageable in "The
Piano." Not sure how, but it is. Maybe it
is because Harvey Keitel was a bit
younger that we are able to cringe for a
moment and then quickly forget about
his brief exposure of nakedness. At least
then his character isn't so unappealing as
it is in Jane Campion's most recent film,
"Holy Smoke," where he not only strips
but also graces our presence with his
adornment of women's clothing and lip-

Winslet blow 'Smoke'

Holy
Smokel
Grade: D
At the State
Couresy f Reter
-"

stick.
Keitel is known
for playing the
role of the sexy
vet unattractive
older man who
manages to lure
extremely attrac-
tive women by
merely carrying
himself in a confi-
dent manner. This
is how he snags
Ruth (Kate
Winslet) who ulti-
mately seems too

right on schedule with Waters expecta-
tions, ending by the third day. When the
climax of her identity crisis does occur,it
is incredibly unconvincing and seems as
though a couple of videos displaying
various cults driven to violence is alL it
took for her to cave in.
From then on, the film exploits
Winslet's beauty and Keitel's sleazy
looking qualities, trying to extract a sp
itual relationship between them despite
their obvious differences in appearance,
personality, and age. When Keitel's per-
sonality breaks apart, the film becomes a
sham, turning one story of religious con-
viction and moral courage awkwardly
into another of overwhelming decadence
and disgrace. If Campion is trying to
mold with the times by throwing in a lit-
tle shot of post-modernism, it did'
work.
Other ends are left undone:
Implications of the importance of
Ruth's teenage problems never get
resolved, though glimpses of her own
sexual confusion could have explained
a lot more. But the movie does not
attempt to justify what is prepared for
us on a silver platter at the beginning,
instead harping on the growing inimi-
cal natures of both Waters and Ruth.-
Campion does have some interest
ideas, however, as in one scene whet
the nonsensicality of religion itself is
being mocked, which is supposed to be
representative of the chief retaliator to
cult obsession in "Holy Smoke." As
Ruth's mother nervously recites
prayers from the Christian Bible, she
helplessly turns to her friend and
moans, "Oh no, this isn't the prayer
about the devil, is it?" These
Australians are trying to save R
from the nonsense of cult activism',but
they can't even extract meaning fron
their own religious devotion. -

courtesy of Miramax
Kate Winslet stars as Ruth, the psycho bitch in Jane Campion's "Holy Smoke!"

Courtesy of Reuters
Kevin Spacey shows off his Mr. Smileys after winning for Best Actor and Ensemble Cast.
Sm pacey
s es with

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Annette
Bening and Kevin Spacey won top
acting honors Sunday from the
Screen Actors Guild for their roles as
a dysfunctional couple in the subur-
ban satire "American Beauty," posi-
tioning them as frontrunners at the
Oscars later this month.
"American Beauty" also won the
guild's ensemble acting award, The
movie leads all contenders with eight
Oscar nominations. The Oscars cere-
mony is March 26.
Spacey, who already has a sup-
porting actor Oscar for "The Usual
Suspects." thanked his "American
Beauty" co-stars, saying they were
"the reason I was able to come to
work every day"
He also praised director Sam
Mendes and said "if this is my best
work, you are the reason.'
Bening thanked her co-stars and
family, including husband Warren
Beatty and their three children. She
is eight months pregnant with their
fourth child.
"One thing to all the actresses out
there," the 41-year-old Bening said.
"Don't wait to have a baby. Do it
now,"
Angelina Jolie won the supporting
female actor award for her take on a
hospitalized sociopath in "Girl,
Interrupted." Michael Caine took the
supporting male actor honor for his
role as an ether-toking abortionist in
"The Cider House Rules."
Jolie also won a Golden Globe for'
"Girl, Interrupted," and the guild
award was another boost for her
Oscar prospects.
"I'm very aware of how an Oscar
can help your career," Jolie said
backstage. "It sounds corny, but the
nomination, it's my first time, maybe
my only time, and I'm going to enjoy
backstage. "It sounds corny, but the
nomination, it's my first time, maybe
my only time, and I'm going to enjoy
that."
Michael J. Fox, who announced
this year he is leaving ABC's "Spin
City" because of his fight with
Parkinson's disease, received the
award for male actor in a comedy
series for the second straightmyear.
"You were kind enough to give me
one' of these last year," Fox said,
referring to the guild statue. "Just so
you know, they really scare small
children."
Fox said backstage he plans to
continue acting but wanted out of the

at SAG
grind of a weekly TV series. Besides
working with a Parkinson's founda-
tion, Fox said he plans to have fun
just "taking my kids to school, that
kind of stuff. Just having five min-
utes to actually figure what the hell
that crayon drawing is
Lisa Kudrow was honored as
female actor in a comedy series for
NBC's "Friends." The cast of NBC's
"Frasier" won the ensemble acting
award for a comedy series.
Edie Falco and James Gandolfini
won female and nle acting honors
in a dramatic series for the
acclaimed mob drama "The
Sopranos." The IBO series also won
for ensemble acting.
"I don't think any of us thought
anyone would watch the show in the
beginning," Gandolfini said. We
figured people would just think it
was a bunch of lunatics from New
Jersey."
Sidney Poitier was honored with
the guild's life achievement award.
The tribute included clips from such
Poitier films as "A Place in the
Sun," "To Sir With Love" and "In
the Heat of the Night.''
Like the Directors Guild of
America awards held Saturday night,
the 6th annual Screen Actors cere-
mony offered a glimpse of how the
Oscars might shake out.
In the previous five awards shows,
the actors guild has chosen nine of
the 10 performers who went on to
win Oscars in lead-acting categories.
The guild has a 50-50 record on pre-
dicting Oscar winners for supporting
roles.
The Directors Guild has a longer
and more impressive track record. In
its 52-year history, only four guild
winners have failed to receive the
Oscar.
its 52-year history, only four guild
winners have failed to receive the
Oscar.
"American Beauty" director
Mendes won this year's Directors
Cuild honor, beating Frank Darabont
for "The Green Mile," Spike Jonze
for "Being John Malkovich,"
Michael Mann for "The Insider" and
M. Night Shyamalan for "The Sixth
Sense."
Darabont is the only Directors
Guild nominee who is not in the run-
ning for an Oscar. Lasse Hallstrom,
director of "The Cider House
Rules," has the fifth Oscar nomina-
tion

attractive to legitimize the odd conjoin-
ment of an older man/younger woman
relationship.
Initially, though, Campion's storyline
progresses positively. On a trip to India
with friend Carol (Pam Grier), Ruth wit-
nesses a spiritual ceremony, expecting to
mock the whole affair. Instead, she
becomes obsessed with an Indian guru
named Baba. Her family, back in Sans
Souci, Sydney, goes to great length in
trying to get her back.
Phase One of her rescue involves her
asthmatic, easily-traumatized mother,
who ventures out into the seedier areas
of India to rescue her daughter. Ruth

returns home only due to the misguided
information she receives regarding her
father's death and also because of her
mother's respiratory problems while
abroad.
Enter Phase Two: Mr PJ Waters
(Keitel), a near-"T.J. Mackey," who pos-
sesses that kind of trashy masculine vul-
garity in clothing and outwardly suave-
like motions. He's been sent to de-brain-
wash Ruth, assuming the prodigious title
of "cult-exiter." We're supposed to get a
sense of his superiority in calm confi-
dence and agility, a quality which mani-
fests itself in the beginning and crumbles
by the end. His macho-ness walks right
up to a commotion amongst hungry
patrons at a Sydney airport, who are des-
perate to jiggle free a set of horizontally-
stacked luggage carts. Waters' rescue is
almost dance-like as he gracefully unat-

taches the carts and spins them right into
the hands of astonished people. And
herein begins Campion's way of satiriz-
ing the overwhelming incompetence of
the trailer-trash folks from Down Under.
Such suggestive demoralizations are
underscored by what really goes awry in
"Holy Smoke." What's most unsettling is
the disjointed way in which characters
evolve from their highly-focused convic-
tions to near-hysteria and insanity in too
short of a time frame. As Ruth begins her
three-day rehabilitation program with
Waters in a completely secluded resi-
dence (titles introducing new scenes are
humorously conceived, such as this set-
ting's, "The Half Way Hut"), it's obvious
that due to her presence as a highly intel-
ligent and strong-willed character, it will
take a long time for Waters to break her.
Unfortunately, her "break-point" is

Peter s Papers' a Platonic prophecy

By Nick Broughten
Daily Arts Writer
How much do you know about knowledge?
Such is the question that propels the ever-so-
British and ever-so-intelligent Peter Ackroyd
opus on the world (or the universe ? or man?)
"The Plato Papers." In his 'prophetic' examina-
tion of how the future might be and how that
future might view the past, Ackroyd rewards the
ambitious and intelligent reader on every page.
Set in the 'Age of Witspell,' about 3700 AD,
the story centers on London's most famous ora-
tor, Plato, as he talks about the past and com-
pares it to his own present.
Short and sweet. the book
is loaded with conversa-
tions with other intellects
The Plato that might recall how the
Ppe real Plato might have lived
eterkr his own intellectual life.
Peter Ackroyd There are also some of his
Doubleday & orations on the past along
. ith his imaginary journey
to our time. Finally, there is
a trial in which Plato is
accused of corrupting the
minds of London's youth
that has an odd but not so
surprising resolution.
According to Ackroyd's prophecy. human
evolution caused a great metamorphosis in the
human body and also caused the sun and the
stars to disappear from the heavens once we

Peter Ack royd
A i f;The tit01 Thomas More
P-AT P E
doubted them. And perhaps most provocative to
somebody reading this in the year 2000,
Ackrovd entertains the notion that almost all of
the knowledge and information (novels, poetry,
film, research studies, etc.) that we have
amassed is wiped out at one point. In addition,
the few remaining fragments recovered are left
open to some very odd interpretations by Plato,
probably much to the dismay of their authors.
Throughout the book, our lifestyle in 2000
and previous years is viewed as absurd and stu-
pid by the people of the future until Plato has a

sympathetic vision of our lives that gets him
into some trouble.
Though it lacks any kind of normal narrative
that reveals a plot, "The Plato Papers" still tells
a moderately interesting story. It is moved
along through dialogues more than anything,
many of which don't even involve Plato: The
real triumph of this book is the way Ackroyd
bombards the reader with well thought out
notions regarding many different subjects (lan-
guage, psychology, history, philosophy, educa-
Von, spirituality, time, physics and religion, 4o
name a few).
There are some very important criticisms of the
late 20th century at work here that provide for
another crucial aspect of the book. Plato says of our
people in his past that they willfully tangled them-
sclVes tip in 'nets' and 'we111d it Lade us feel
trapped. This comment on technology is very much
prophetic as we continue to be more and more
dependent on computers and the like for everything.
We will most likely destroy our whole concept of
legacy through this process. Are you ready to not be
remembered?
This recreation of the future falters somewhat in
its construction of a different time period. After all,
how can somebody recreate every single aspect of a
society according to an evolution that has not even
taken place yet? When you have something like that
working against you as Ackroyd does, what he
comes up with is actually quite impressive. As a
parable to ancient times, it becomes a bit confusing
as well, but the way it makes the reader think more
than makes up for all of its other shortcomings.

i

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