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March 17, 2000 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-17

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"Let's play 'Chess'
* Premiering this Saturday at the Nat.
Sci. Auditorium is 'Chess,' the latest
thriller from LSA junior Mark
Marabate. 7 p.m.
michigandaily.com /arts

U lb e L i jitD u l
RTS

FRIDAY
MARCH 17, 2000

'Erin Brockovich'

mounds of fun

By David Victor
Daily Arts Writer
What do you get when you cross
the tense legal drama of "A Civil
Action" with flying insults, tight
skirts and oodles of cleavage? No,
not Pamela Lee's
"V.I.P.' You get
"E r i n
Brockovich," a
Erin witty, well-writ-
Brockovich ten film from
Grade: B S t e v e n
Grad: B Soderbergh
At Showcase ("Out of Sight").
and State While this film
scores few
points for origi-
nality or charac-
terization, the
humor and plot
make for a high-
ly enjoyable, satisfying trip to pop-
corn land.
The film closely follows the mold
of "A Civil Action." Contaminated
water has poisoned a small-town
community with cancers and other
horrible diseases, and a small-time

lawyer takes on a Big Corporation to
set things right. I always enjoy see-
ing the corporate conglomerates of
the world kicked around by the little
guys, and I loved it when Julia
Roberts as the feisty Erin
Brockovitch tore into them.
Only, Brockovitch isn't a lawyer.
Based on a true story, Erin is a
divorced mother with three children
who stumbles across a job as a law
clerk. In doing so, she uncovers a
massive coverup at Pacific Gas and
Electric. She convinces her boss to
take on the system, and acts as a liai-
son between him and the shy towns-
folk afflicted by the contaminated
water.
As the titular character after which
the movie is named, Roberts as
Brockovitch is a pleasure to watch in
action. Its not that she wears, umm
... interesting, revealing outfits all
the time, or that her cleavage seems
to have more screen time than her
face. No, really. As an embittered
divorcee, she knows how to take
care of herself and makes it clear to
everyone around her. Roberts show-
cases Soderberg's excellent writing

as she takes down everyone from her
boss to the corporate fatcat lawyers
she has to deal with.
However, there is a flipside to this
portrayal of Brockovitch. It seems
her tharacter is almost too perfect.
She has a great figure, takes care of
three kids, and takes part in one of
the largest lawsuits in our nation's
history. And she has something
funny and cutting to say at every
turn. And she sleeps five hours a day,
cures the blind, saves puppies from
oncoming steamrollers. That last part
was a bit of an exaggeration, but you
get the point. Given, it's a true story,
but one gets the feeling sometimes
she belongs in a Marvel comic book,
not a legal drama.
The other characters in the film
round out "Brockovitch" nicely.
Albert Finney does a wonderful job
as Erin's Boss, Ed Masry. Erin's love
interest George (Aaron Eckhart) is a
charming enough guy, but the
romantic side story involving him
never really takes off. The kids are
cute and endearing, but like the love
story, it never seemed to follow
through. The people of Hinkley, the

affected town, are your usual country
types, passive and distrustful of "city
folk.". However, they turn in some
moving performances as the afflict-
ed.
For a film about trials, documents,
and settlements, Soderbergh has
approached the subject with a fresh
perspective. There are precious few
drawn out, melodramatic courtroom
scenes to slow the movie down. The
legalese is kept to minimum, and all
the relevant details about the case are
explained throughout the film.
This film is one of those "feel-
good" jobs. It's uplifting and enter-
taining, but wow, those breasts. They
almost become a detraction, if such a
thing is possible. They are, at times,
giggle inducing in their prominence.
And no, "Tomb Raider" fans, they
are not real. Massive mammaries
aside, "Erin Brockovitch" is a solid
legal thriller with enough bite to
keep your attention, and makes "A
Civil Action" seem dull, slow, and
lifeless in comparision. Do yourself
a favor and check out "Erin
Brockovitch" and her two friends at a
theater near you.
DAILY ARTS
HAS FREE
PASSES FOR
THE ANN
ARBOR FILM
FESTIVAL!
STOP BY THE
/ARTS OFFICE
AND PICK
ONE UP.
SUPPLIES ARE
LIMITED SO
HURRY IN.

a4
Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Julia Roberts goes for the jugular in her role as spitfire law clerk Erin grockovich.

'3 Songwriters' fill Hill
w chill evening of fo

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Editor

About midway through Thursday night's "3 Songwriters,
3 Stools, and I Stage" folk concert, singer/songwriter
Gillian Welch asked the audience in a rather delightful tone,
"Can you tell we're having a good time? As the crowd gri-
maced in laughter, one thing seemed
certain. The venue of Hill Auditorium
was filled with a feeling of somber
fun, a standard set early on in the
Three evening as the three talented folk/rock
Songwriters --- poet musicians - Ani Difranco,
Hill Auditorium Greg Brown and Welch - took the
Mar. 17, 2000 stage without any pretense, carrying
simply their beautiful, distinctive
voices and wonderful pearly white
smiles.
Opening the concert with an
expressive folk spiritual, Difranco
and Welch harmonized in back-up to
Brown's deep vocals. The combina-
tion of all three musicians on stage at
one time (with strong backing from guitarists David Rollins
and Bo Ramsey) right at the start of the show seemed to
bring into focus the essence of the event - this was not a
one man or woman show, this was not an "Ani Difranco and
friends" concert tour. No, this was simply three great singer

poets getting together and playing some evocative tunes. And
what fun it was.
As Difranco rightly declared herself "den mother and
hostess" (no doubt the majority of the eclectic age ranging
audience bought tickets just for her alone), she arranged the
first half of the concert in a series of themes, with each artist
picking one and the others would then follow up with songs
that fit the chosen theme.
During Brown's selection of "What's size got to do with
it," Difranco elicited a roaring response with her pulsing and
almost guttural bursts through "Not So Soft" Later in the set,
when a fan called out "Wichita" to Welch (referring to her hit
bluegrass song), she called him on it by declaring the theme
to be "States" and quickly eased into a crisp version of the
tune, backed by the swinging Rollins and his clean acoustic.
The rudimentary basics of the show - just the singers,
their guitars and, as the title of the show reads, three stools
- kept the warm energy between the audience and the per-
formers well into the concert as each artist played small sets
on their own. DiFranco's featured the always incredible
"Untouchable Face" as well as several new songs - one, a
Ginsberg-inspired outlook on America; the other, a quaint,
self-reflexive piece that felt a touch surreal in watching her
sing the words "Imagine I am on a stage .. That's when I
hear my guitar singing."
Ending the concert with a lively "fever," the three song-
writers proved that music can be so fun when you're with
friends, all on a "crazy folk journey."

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