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October 18, 2000 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-10-18

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 18, 2000- 9

New sitcom for Midler fans only

By Jacquelene Smith
For the Daily

Within the past five years, there has
been a serious if not alarming trend
developing in television. The scenario
is as follows: Said actor/performer
decides that movies/touring simply

Grade: CG
CBS
Wednesdays,8 p.m.

isn't enough and
wants to move
into the weekly
sitcom and or
talk show gen-
res. Examples of
this phenome-
non are "The
Geena Davis
Show" and "The
Drew Carey
Show." Bette
Midler wants in
on the action

SoresyofFne Line Fere s
Bjort stars as Selma in the emotional and groundbreaking musical "Dancer in the Dark," directed by Lars Von Trier.
rans Cends musiCa genre

upstaged by younger or simply more
famous individuals. The first five min-
utes of the show are wasted on numer-
ous attempts to soothe her neuroses.
The one-liners fly back and forth
between her manager Connie (Joanne
Gleason), her accompanist Oscar
(James Dreyfus, "Notting Hill") and
her husband Roy (Kevin Dunn,
"Snake Eyes"). So much so, in fact,
that what would normally be consid-
ered funny just becomes redundant
and boring.
But, the show must go on. So now
what? She sings of course, because
that is what Bette is best at. The
scenes that follow prove this time and
time again. Bette is not as good an
actress as she is a singer. Meeting
Bette at the after-show party, Danny
DeVito offers her a cameo on his
"own" show. What she doesn't know
is that he wants her to play his mother.
Knowing that this would be a shock to
her all too fragile confidence, her sup-
port network, i.e. husband, daughter,
and manager, go to great lengths to
hide this from her.
There are two instances however,
that redeem this predictable and
Midleresque half-hour. In the first,
Oscar and Bette get together to do a
little ditty. Having spent some time
with her daughter at the mall, which
was really a lame attempt at recaptur-
ing her youth, Bette comes home with
CDs of Anthrax and Kid Rock. As
Oscar opens up the sheet music for

"Bawitdaba" Bette plays the CD. They
make an effort to imitate the original
but somehow it metamorphoses into
something resembling "The Bugle
Boy from Company B." The second
instance is when Roy comes into the
bedroom to confront her about her
obsession with her looks. I-e finds her
in the bedroom making good use of
her new Swedish workout equipment,
which resembles a jungle gym. As the
conversation becomes heated,Bette's
exercises with the springs are reminis-
cent of the contortions only Lucy
could pull off on "I Love Lucy." But,
remember Bette's a singer. Not Lucille
Ball.
While we all enjoy a star that can
poke fun at themselves, "Bette" offers
the viewer no reason to have a'vested
interest in the show. After all, the
point in a weekly series is to make
people want to watch by seeing how
the characters evolve and being con-
sistently funny. If you're a Bette
Midler fan, in the sense that you like
to hear her sing and see her dance,
then this is the show for you because
she gives you plenty of herself. But if
you enjoy smart and witty comedy,
"Bette" offers little decent acting and
merely a long series of one-liners that
lose their value with overuse. Perhaps,
if she were really interested in doing a
weekly show, she could follow Rosie
O'Donnell's suit. At least then; the
viewer wouldn't be expecting her to
act as anything but her "real" self.

By Joshua Gross
Daily Arts Writer
You are watching the evening news,
there's been an accident, some kind of
suburban tragedy, the cameraman sur-
veys the scene, locates the victim, clos-

es in, closer, closer,
: :
Dancer in
the Dark
Grade: A-
At the Michigan
Theater

closer, until your
television
becomes her
eyes, gaping like
a slaughtered
lamb, her mouth,
slack like a
bloody rag, the
droplets of her
cold sweat, leak-
ing out like tears.
Your stomach
acids burn, your
retinas combust,
your heart beats
like a hysterical
dr ma bit

dred-camera set up for musical num-
bers, Von Trier sweeps us from the
drainage ditch of reality into the heav-
enly ocean of our dreams, but then tears
the firmament away bringing us crash-
ing back down into the mud. The
stereotypical musical is populated by
tracking shots and crane shots. These
methods, while entertaining, disassoci-
ate the audience from the characters;
the camera breaks through the roof and
they are reduced to tiny dots blanketed
by intoxicating blue skies and vast,
rolling hills. The camera work in
"Dancer in the Dark" is too close for
comfort, gritty, real, consisting main-
ly of disturbingly revealing close-
ups, allowing no naked emotion to
crawl out of the camera's eye. It
doesn't translate like a film; the char-
acters appear to have no predestined
fate. It is beyond improvisation, the
tragedy becomes a live transmission.
Bjork, who won the French equiva-
lent of Best Actress at Cannes for her
portrayal of Selma Jezkova, is not an
actress; when she cries she is crying,
when she screams she is screaming.
Her performance is absolutely heart-
breaking because it is absolutely gen-
uine. Her squinty innocent eyes and
gentle, childlike smile makes the pathos
extraordinary, elevated, ethereal. She
plays a Czech immigrant, a leaf blown
about by the whirlwiniid of I %60s rural
America. She is a single mother, slowly
going blind from a genetic disease that
her son will soon inherit. She works in

a factory, slowly saving enough money
to pay for an operation that will save
her oblivious son's sight. Her passion
for musicals serves as a diversionary
amphetamine that carries her through
each day. As her sight fades, her best
friend Kathy (Catherine Deneuve)
and neighbor (David Morse) become
her eyes and helping hands. However,
the darkness is creeping in and the
lush musical rainbow that composes
her fantasy world is dissolving. None
of this seems to bother Selma though.
Everything is a song to her.
The music of "Dancer" is delight-
fully original and organic. The songs
appear unexpectedly and burst like
explosions from hidden cannons. Cre-
ated by objects of everyday life, the
most mundane components of
dreams, gyrating machinery, march-
ing footsteps and the clatter of an
approaching train form rhythmic per-
cussion over which Bjork's tormented
vocals shriek and soar like an operatic
banshee.
"Dancer in the Dark" is something
new, an alternative to the predictable
formulaic drivel that so often passes
for melodrama. Never before has a
musical, the very encapsulation of
triteness, stirred emotions to such an
assault. You feel mugged when you
exit this movie, you feel exhausted,
you feel violated, as if your heart has
been opened and your emotions
removed and molested by some tyran-
nical cinematic genius.

I too. Thus fol-
lows "Bette" on
CBS, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Most peo-
ple have seen "Beaches" and "The
Rose" and Midler has received a great
deal of praise for both of them. But
does she have what it takes to meet
the high demands of a weekly situa-
tion comedy?
Unsurprisingly, Bette plays herself
in what would be considered her ele-
ment: Showbiz. The scene opens with
a frantic Bette trying to cope with her
larger than life anxiety about what she
feels are her shortcomings. Like a typ-
ical diva, she's petrified of being
DAILY ARTS:
WE CAN 1SHW YOU
PLEASURE BEYOND
YOUR WILDEST
DREAMS, BEYOND
YOUR DARKEST
FANTASIES.I
THE PASSWORD 1$
PIDELIO.

Visiting
Students
Take a break. Spend a
semester at Columbia.
Explore New York City.

Study Summer
Abroad Session 2001
" Columbia University in Join us for an exciting
Paris " Berlin Consortium summer! It's not too early
for German Studies " to plan for 2001. The
Summer Program in Italy bulletin will be available
(Scandiano) " Summer - in February-reserve
Program in Beijing yours today.

Y Yummer, Qu
you cannot look away. Once human
suffering has its hooks in you, you
become its prisoner, as docile as a hyp-
notized calf. Most filmmakers fear this
reality; Lars Von Trier revels in it. For
two and a half hours "Dancer in the
Dark," with its unflinching eye, forces
you to make a sacrifice and surrender
yourself to its control.
Musicals have always been holy
houses of solace, refimge from the cold
boundaries of reality. Alternating
between bleak, shaky, documentary-like
camera work and a lavish, vibrant hun-
(TT T 1 0
'WelCOme'
poise~d to
Newsradio'
By Matt Manser
For the D1aily
If you're like me, you were a huge
fan of the NBC sitcom "Newsradio."
You thought the writing was sharp
nd the cast was perfect. The point is,
"Newsradio" has been gone for more
than a year, but a new show on CBS
nay be able to fill the void. That
show is "Welcome to New York."
The premise of "Welcome" is very
similar to "Newsradio." In "Wel-
come," Jim Gaffigan plays a weather-
man from Indiana, creatively named
Jim Gaffigan. (The character appears

(212)854-6483 + cesp-info5@columbia.edu * www.ce.columbia.edu/ys
CONTINUING EDUCATION AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS
Postbaccalaureate Programs " The Special Stu*ents Program ."Forein Languages " Study Abrad
Computer Technology and Applications " The Creative Writing Center " The High School Prognzms

Career Planning & Placement " 3200 Student Activities Building www.cpp.umich.edu

Thursday, October 19, 2000

ffnl Ad i ing

1

5:10U-7:O~pm u

1200 CHEM

Interested in learning about a career that allows you to write, design, and create for a
living? Meet with professionals who are currently working in several areas of
advertising including, account management, market research, copy writing, and media
planning. Panelists will speak of their own experiences and answer your questions
regarding beginning an exciting career in advertising.
7.c utfrao.ty o! Mh.n Mps "n""""
" '' ar-oer Plarinig P~ac ent --

Welcome to
New York
Grade: A-
cEs
Wednesdays, 8:30
Jim on his first day

to be partially
based on former
Indiana weather-
man David Let-
t e r m a n.
Letterman's
"Worldwide
Pants" produces
the show). Jim
gets a j ob as the
weatherman for
a morning show
in New York,
"a.m. New
York." The first
episode shows
on the job, where

I he meets the requisite wacky co-
workers. There are plenty of familiar
faces in the cast. Sara Gilbert
("Roseanne") plays assistant-with-a-
tude Amy. Rocky Carroll ("Chicago
Hope") plays the Bill McNeil-ish
inchor of the show, Adrian Spencer.
Newcomer Anthony DeSando plays
the very Joe Garelli-ish Vince, Jim's
assistant. Familiar characters, yes, but
the acting and writing are fresh
enough to make it work.
The other familiar face in the cast

'34% i Ou i
i J/ Ut

The Program in Film & Video Studies has openings in a course which
teaches the "How-to's" of Motion Picture, TV and Video production. F/V
200 is a hands-on survey course which introduces students to the pro-
duction process for Television, Motion Pictures and Video and places pro-
duction methods within the context of the History and Theory of these
media. Students make projects in all three media during the term. This
course is the pre-requisite course for more advanced production courses
in the Film & Video Studies Program. If you've ever wanted to make a
movie, direct TV, or push the limits of video as a means of personal
expression, this class is for you. Stop by the Film Video Main Office,
Room 2512 Frieze Building today to sign up on our in-house wait-
list for Winter Term. The wait-list closes on December 13, 2000.
200 001 Film, Video, & TV LEC MW 900 A 1100 A *ARGUS I I-TV BEAVER
Production
200 002 Film, Video, & TV LEC MW 1130 A 130 P *ARGUS l -TV SARRIS
Production
200 003 Film, Video, & TV LEC MW 200 P 400 P *ARGUS I I-TV STAFF
Production
200 004 Film, Video, & TV LEC TTH 100 P 300 P *ARGUS I I-TV KYBARTAS
Production

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