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November 23, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-23

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glas the Great 1M ItjrTmoatt rrow in Daily Arts:
ougas Fairbanks stars in "Wild and Woolly" tonight at the U Check out reviews of the animated "Princess Mononok"
higan Theater. Fairbanks plays a wealthy boy who wants to and the new Schwarzenegger flick "End of Days
slum it as a cowboy on the open range in this 1917 classic.
7 p.m., Michigan Theater, free.
November 23, 1999

Dieector sees
im as fresh,
n e
By Erin Podolsky"
Daily Arts Writer
"Things only change if you allow them to
change you," said film director Atom Egoyan during
a recent interview with the Daily.
He was talking about himself and the attention he'sa
ommanded since his surprising double-whammyy
Oscar nominations (Best Adapted Screenplay andF
Director) for his 1997 film "The Sweet Hereafter." He
could have just as easily been speaking of the underly-
ing themes of his films, which also include "Exotica"
and the upcoming "Felicia's Journey."
Things have changed a bit for Egoyan, or perhaps
he's changing them himself. He has moved away from Bob Hoskins plays not-so nice-guy Hilditch, the man who takes young Felicia, played by Elaine Ca
original screenplays of late, his last two projects being his wing in "Felicia's Journey
adaptations of novels. "It's never on purpose, it's reallyh
a matterofwhat you're inspired by.You read something several films that Egoyan has not worked with "One of the other real challenget
qpd it strikes you," Egoyan said. "I would say that after young Canadian actress Sarah Polley. Polley seems loved about 'telicia's Journey' is the
Exotica,' I was aware at that point I had gone as far as like a logical first choice for the title role, along two characters are kind of suspendedi
I could with a certain type of original idea I had. So with Ian Holm (also of "The Sweet Hereafter") in I wanted to do was have these comt
when I read 'The Sweet Hereafter,' I felt it was an Hoskins' shoes, but Egoyan decided it would be pieces: She seems to come from thel
opportunity to extend my universe, to explore other best to select an unknown actress. and he seems to be from the 1950s. Th
issues, take the gift that a great novel offers. "Sarah and I talked about it and we sort of both when you actually realize it's set in the
"I did start working on an original script after agreed that to have an actual person from (Ireland) are almost a shock," Egoyan said.
'The Sweet Hereafter,' but then I got 'Felicia's would be pretty crucial. And it's also because Sarah is "Notions of time are one of the m
Journey' and I read it and I just couldn't get it out so piercingly intelligent, it would have been really dif- aspects of how a filmmaker chooses to t
of my head. And that's really how these projects ficult to believe her as being that naive. We talked The ability to reorient and challenge o
begin, I think. You just can't get the ideas out of about it a lot. The original and kind of obvious con- what time is is a really important part o
ur head and you seen an opportunity to blend sideration was Ian Holm and Sarah Polley, but it just a film narrative."
your sensibility with someone else's and to create a would have been a bit odd since the two films were With "Felicia's Journey" opening
piece of work that will be cohesive." made so close to each other," Egoyan said. Egoyan has his eye on his next project
Ostensibly a tale of an unassuming serial killer, Instead, Egoyan went with previously unknown Irish ing on an original script again, but whi
played by Bob Huskins, and an innocent Irish girl, actress Cassidy. "I knew that it was a very difficult role you'll ultimately be moved by," he saic
played by Elaine Cassidy, out of her league in a British to pull off because it's so difficult to believe that in our most unpredictable aspect of what w
city as she searches for her absent love. Beneath the culture someone could be that innocent and naive that I you decide you're not going to read a
surface of the plot conventions, though, runs a current wanted to present somebody who we'd never seen might be working on something and
of pain and just-around-the-corner catharsis found before and who we might believe is the real thing. Now, and decide that that's what you need t
throughout Egoyan's original work. Elaine isn't - she's a really wonderful actress but Critical response to "The Sweet H
"Issues of personal and political self-determina- because we don't know who she is, I think it's easier to made Egoyan into a wanted man
n, issues of how people deal with denial, what's fall under the spell of the world she comes from," fringes of the film industry, refusing t
'e nature of choice, all those kind of ideas (in Egoyan explained. Canada into Hollywood's beckoning a
'Felicia's Journey') really fascinated me," Egoyan Hoskins, who has moved easily between big- looks back fondly on his time in the s
said, speaking of William Trevor's source novel. "I budget studio efforts like "Who Framed Roger "I'm humbled by that response an
also felt that it was an opportunity to deal with Rabbit?" and smaller fare such as "The Secret think that was a real miracle, what h
issues that I'd explored in my previous work but Agent," was a more obvious choice for Egoyan. years ago. The whole film was a peak
from a totally different perspective. It's just some- "He's somebody who has always worn his heart on Egoyan said. "That was just a very,
thing that is much simpler and the characters were his sleeve. He always makes his emotions so evi- time in my life to be elevated to that
much starker than they might have been in my other dent and palpable, and he plays this character who receive that type of support for a filr
films." we don't want to believe what he is," he said. "It's being conventional. It's all a bit of a n
"Felicia's Journey" is Egoyan's first film not set really important to get somebody who seems very how I make my films that I could su
his native Canada. It also marks the first time in accessible." into that pantheon."

'Felicia' explores
nostalgia, control

s and what I
idea that the
in titne. What
peting period
19th Century
ose moments
current time
ost important
ell their story.
ur notiqs of
f constructing
in theatres,
t. "I'm work-
o knows what
id. "That's the
ve do, unless
nything. You
read a book
o do next."
ereafter" has
working the
o move from
rms. Still, he
d grateful. I
appened two
very special
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Mi that is not
miracle given
ddenly enter

By Erin Podolsky
Daily Arts Writer
The verdant hills of an Ireland who
cannot abide the British and a Britain
whose gray industrialism seems firmly
rooted in the 1950s provide the back-
drop for "Felicia's Journey," a film that
moves easily between quiet moments of
recognition and nostalgic hilarity, all
tinged with an ominous undercurrent.
Overlaid with a serial killer with a gas-
tronomic bent
and a young girl
on an impossible
search, the film
Felicia's addresses ideas
Journey of control and
catharsis with
opens Wed. at the equanimity.
Michigan Theater A tale of two
troubled souls
who don't see
that they're trou-
bled until they
find each other,
"Fe ic ia's
Journey" repre-
sents a marked surface change for
writer/director Atom Egoyan. His
choice of material benefits his charac-
ters, and, indeed, embodies them, all
three, Egoyan, Hilditch (Bob Hoskins)
and Felicia (Elaine Cassidy), outsiders
in their locations no matter how at home
they think they are. Felicia travels to
Britain, motivated by her need to find
the father of her unborn child and
because her own father has threatened to
disown her because of her lover's politi-
cal leanings. Walking the cobbled streets
in her ill-suited shoes, there she is even
more alone than we see her in flashback
scenes to Ireland.
Felicia arrives in Hilditch's town and
the two cross paths many times. Hilditch
finally offers to help her search for her
missing lover, Johnny (Peter
McDonald), but the look in his eye says
that he knows more than he's letting on.
Hilditch himself has plenty of bag-
gage to deal with, and the explanation
for his actions is contained in a series of
scenes recollecting his mother's old
cooking show. Hilditch as a child

appears in each one of these, his pain at
being little more than a prop to his
voluptuous mother (played with juicy
horror by Arsinte Khanjian) more than
plain on his pudgy face; Hilditch as a
man has a room full of cooking appli-
ances and videotapes, which he watches
and uses to create exquisite meals.
Hilditch's eventual unmasking as a
serial killer is at once revelatory and
expected - the psychological pain that
he seems to absorb like a sponge in his
conversations with others can only reach
such a level before he must purge it from
himself. But in Felicia he perhaps finds a
When Hilditch is not a monster, he
seems as innocent as his new young
friend, a roly-poly man who, although
lonely, is at least happy. But in the well-
spring of emotional pain that flows
behind his eyes, the truth resides, and
eventually overtakes him. And Felicia?
Felicia discovers the nature of life and
learns to stop the lies that she has
unknowingly been living in, believing in.
Newcomer Elaine Cassidy, face fresh
as cream, does her duty as the unsophis-
ticated title character with the charm and
grace of a far more experienced actress.
Her Felicia is utterly believable-never
for a second do we think that Felicia has
any idea just how horribly she's been
lied to by Johnny. Hoskins, for his part,
is the ultimate good/bad guy, a man
whom we pray can be redeemed even
when we know he cannot. His jolly
fagade drops when he is alone in his
house of horrors, his sadness made real.
Felicia and Hilditch are haunted by
their respective memories, by the pain of
being lied to and left behind. The mys-
tery of their pasts unravels in due time,
as Egoyan once again turns to his
beloved device of displacing events, of
non-linear storytelling. In the hands of a
less skilled filmmaker, such a tool
would become tedious oreven expected.
In Egoyan's capable command, it's sub-
lime. While "Felicia's Journey" does not
pack quite the emotional wallop of the
director's last two films, it comes close
-and close is fartcloserthan most film-
makers can ever hope to get.

'Flaw'ed film shows
weak Schumacher

Come to 420 Manard toy get
free "Knoc kout Kings 2000"
posters featuring
the real king of the world
Muhammed All.

y rin Podolsy
as~rts Writer
itling a film something along the
nes of "Perfect" or "Four Stars" (both
f which exist, I assure you, although I
ave not seen them) is more often than
ot asking for trouble. It's trite and it's
ness - it encourages quote whores,
ose names in tiny print that you see in
ads below quotes

attempts to deal with themes of redemp-
tion and acceptance. Instead, it ends up
coming across as boring and crass and,
when not insensitive, rather schmaltzy.
De Niro plays New York City police
officer Walt Koontz, a career cop with
medals to back up his badge. We know
this because he likes to stare for hours on
end at a picture of himself and his old
buddies holding up their valorous

Courtesyof MGM

like "'Perfect' is awards. Walt lives a lonely life in a tene- r"nnipeur n"""'" a ".'oer ue scar.n .oe aenuuan a r .
perfect!" and it ment populated with dealers, hookers the room, piano still ringing, they sud- Robin," he's offering yet another so-
e n c o u r a g e s and drag queens. We know this because denly realize that they need each other.' called skill up for the media to skewer.
lawless exceedingly lame we are introduced to representatives of Isn't that sweet? Rodney King was right! All I can say is, Joel, I accept your chal-
t a g 1 i n e s . each during a stupid subplot involving We can all get along! Tolerance is possi- lenge. Just keep on turning out the crap.
* "Flawless;' the stolen drug money and the kingpins who ble! It's official! Drag queens and police I'll be here to warn the mdltitudes.
new film - and I want it back. Walt hates and ignores all officers can live in harmony not in their The problem with "Flawless" is not
SWetd. aQlty1 use that term of them - until the day he suffers a performances, but in their very presence. its subject matter, or at least not its only
showcas extremely loosely debilitating stroke. We know this What possessed these two fine thespians problem. The problem is that
- - from Joel because there's nothing like physical to sign on (and to make matters worse, Schumacher is so concerned with ham-
Schumacher, is no adversity to change the intolerant ways De Niro's Tribeca production company mering home his message that it robs
exception to the of a protagonist. produced the film) is as big a mystery as the plot and the relationship between
rule. Its tagline is Part of Walt's therapy to improve his which three brgin cells are still function- Walt and Rusty in particular of all sub-
"Nobody's per- decimated speech skills is singing ing in Schumacher's head. tlety. If the film had been a ten minute
feet. Everybody's lessons. Because he has difficulty mov- "Flawless" was not only directed by slide show instead of a bloated two
awless." It is, of course, anything but its ing around, he asks friendly neighboring Schumacher, but written as well. It's hours, it would have had the same
tIe. Perhaps it won't be long now before showtune-loving, makeup-proficient, Schumacher's first official attempt at impact. If the film had been a series of
'e see films entitled "Dreck" and robust drag queen Rusty Zimmerman screenwriting since helming and author- crayon drawings done by a six-year-old,
Worst Film Ever." (Hoffman) to teach him to sing. ing brat pack standard "St. Elmo's Fire" it would have had the same impact.
Starring two talented actors, Philip Naturally, neither party wants to be with- in 1985. Not satisfied with proving him- Making this a movie does not make it
eymour Hoffman and Robert De Niro, in 10 feet of the other, but after umpteen self incompetent as a director with such better. It does not make it flawless. It
flawless" is a paper-thin tale that scenes in which one or both stomp out of films as "8MM" and "Batman & makes it pointless.
Flarlem Nutcracker comes to Detroit

y Neshe Sarkozy
>r the Daily
With the holiday season just
'ound the corner there seems no bet-
ter way to get
into the holiday
spirit than with
"The Harlem
Harlem Nutcracker."
lcracker Based on
troit Ogera Huse f a m o u s
Nov. 26-Dec. 5 "Nutcracker
Suite," "The
H a r I e m
Nutcracker" puts
a modern spin
on the well-
known holiday

classic ballet. With the musical
arrangement by Duke Ellington and
the choreography by Donald Byrd,
"the show not only tells a story but is
filled with jazz and modern dance
Theater," said Kenneth C. Fischer,
president of the University Musical
What we can expect to experience
in this particular production is a story
that is set in Harlem in the '90s. The
story surrounds itself around an
African-American family over the
holidays. With the central focus being
Clara, a grandmother and is set in her
house. Clara reminisces about the
good old days, Harlem in the '20s,
and how she misses her later husband
and the life they lived.

"Since African-Americans don't
have the same holiday traditions, such
as Handel's Messiah and "The
Nutcracker Suite," said Fischer,
"Donald Byrd (show creator and
choreographer) wanted something
that the African-American population
could relate to and enjoy."
With the help of UMS, Byrd's show
premiered in 1996 at the Power
Center, As the show expanded and the
audiences became larger, it moved to
Detroit. "This way people could see it
more conveniently," said Fischer. In
1994, UMS first learned of "The
Harlem Nutcracker" and co-commis-
sioned, along with six other commu-
nities around the country, the whole
production. This year there will be 11

performances and two full-length
performances for children throughout
An interesting thing to note about
the show is the wide range of partici-
pants. The Rudy Hawkins Singers
chorus, which consists of 50 people,
became a professional chorus
through the show. 22 members of the
cast are professional dancers.
Auditions were held in the Detroit
Metropolitan area; out of 180 chil-
dren only 27 got in. The 15-piece jazz
band arranged by David, Berger (a
former member of Duke Ellington's
orchestra) plays in Ellington's swing
era style. Fischer exclaimed, "All that
is left now is that we are hoping for
snow - for the holiday spirit."

* " Shabbat Israel
" Experiences . ". Tours


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