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July 08, 1981 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-07-08

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Arts
The Michigan Daily Wednesday, July 8, 1981 Page 7
Lucas and Spielberg: Two guys
who should lay off the kid's stuff

By RJ SMITH
Hollywood doesn't make movies
anymore, it manufactures lollipops.
Big, rainbow-bright, sticky-sweet con-
fections passed out at the ticket booth,
sugary thank-yous of bright colors and
comic book characters that reward the
viewer for being nice and shelling out
the admission price.
Hollywood might have cut its own
throat within the past few years when
people started staying away from
many major releases. Instead, it
punished the regular filmgoers for.
having the bad-form to not like crappy
releases. When it became clear that the
regulars weren't lining up for whatever
came out, the studios began playing it
safer than ever, coming out with paten-
tly forgettable milquetoast cinema.
UNTIL THE STUDIOS learn how to
push all the right buttons, they have to
rely on wunderkind like George Lucas
and Steven Spielberg. And while both
have made their share of enduring
comic book action films, with Raiders
of the Lost Ark they combine to give us
a quintessentially formulaic product
trimmed of all the breeziness and won-
der that raised their best work above
the level of teeny-bopper matinee
status. Raiders has none of the heart of
Jaws, say, or The Empire Strikes
Back; all it has is the racing, unstop-
pable pulse. Raiders is like a very bad
Abstract Expressionist pain-
ting-every moment on the screen is
packed with activity, with meaningless
excitement that exists only to set up the
next moment. There is no pacing,,only
manic incident after incident pitched
up on the screen. None of them can sink
in because only a bit of our faculty for
excitement is ever activated.
The story is really only a sprout of an
idea: apparently Hitler was interested
in collecting archaeological artifacts
and believed in some forms of
mysticism. Raiders supposes that the
Reichchancellor commissioned a sear-
ch party to find the Ark of the Covenant,
the ornate chest which contained the
broken tablets of the Ten Comman-
dments. Biblical legend has it that
whomever owns the Ark has access to
invincibility and occult powers. So
American archaeologist/explorer In-
diana Jones jaunts off around the world
for the thing, perpetually a step ahead
Ypsi
jazz
f est

of the Nazis.
The opening moments of Raiders are
certainly the best. When we follow the
hardy Jones through a Peruvian jungle
and into an ancient temple rigged with
a fascinating array of blowdarts, sur-
prise antechambers, walls of spears
that fall from the ceiling, and other
such vicious hoodoo, we are immersed
in instant, giddy horror. It's like
walking uncertainly down a dangerous
dark alley and not being able to stop
laughing-director Spielberg makes
fun and fright seem like two sides of the
same coin. When Indy miraculously
makes it out we are whisked back by an
abrupt cut to a scene of Jones lecturing
his class in basic archaeology. There is
a langorous humor to the moments in
the classroom, suggesting a thoughtful
tempo the rest of the movie foregoes,
IN SUCH a teen-pulp setting the ac-
tors can't so much act through scenes
as act over them; they have to appear
light on their feet and full of hyper-
humor so that energy and high spirits
can fill the void their cardboard
characters leave on the screen. Nobody
in Raiders seems up to the task.
Harrison Ford, by far the most vital
presence in the Star Wars films, seems
hardly here at all. He delivers all his
lines the same way, whether he's bat-
tling a sadistic Nazi who looks like a
Teutonic Mr. Clear or lecturing to his
students. He plays Jones' single
characteristic-doggedness-to the
hilt, and in a few scenes he can survive
on it. But there are only so many ways
to set one's jaw.
If Jones is made of determination,
Marion Ravenwood's single identifying
trait as played by Karen Allen is her
feistiness. When we first see her she is
drinking a hefty Arab under the table;
such muscular perkiness gets Allen
past a few bad scenes (most notably,
one in an Arabian market square) and
makes her ultimately the most in-
vigorating character on the screen.
Which is still to say not really so in-
vigorating at all.
There are various other problems.
John Williams' sound track is often
caught in a ludicrous race to keep
apace with the action; themes and
melodies are born and then just as
abruptly disappear as scenes shift.
But what is moat aggravating about
The broadcasting arm of Eastern
Michigan University, WEMU-FM, will
be sponsoring a jazz competition for
local talent to highlight the Ypsilanti
Heritage Festival that takes place the
end of August.
Any group in the acoustic jazz
tradition can apply to be included in the
festival by filling out an entry form and
submitting an audition tape to Jim
Dulzo, the Music Director of WEMU, by
this Friday, July 10. The competition is
open to all bands in the acoustic jazz

Harrison Ford, starring as Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,'
prepares some fancy hocus-pocus destined to outwit ancient spells on a
priceless fertility icon.

Raiders is that the thing is obviously a
sincere effort, that producer Lucas and
director Spielberg so clearly believe in
what they are doing. They are a couple
of true pop cultural maniacs, and have
sought to revive the spirit of such '50s
moviehouse short features as "Spy
Smasher," "Lash LaRue," "Masked
Marvel" and "Tailspin Tommy." For
all I know they did a good job at getting
the essence of those utterly forgotten
features. But who should care? The pop
cultural detritus one grew up with can
be magical stuff on the screen when it is
used as source material (see The Em-
pire Strikes Back, the best film Lucas
has ever been affiliated with, or
Spielberg's Close Encounters of the
Third Kind), but when faithful
reproduction is the only intent, the
product becomes obsessively self-
indulgent. And with Raiders you can
add "dull".
tradition-from traditional through
swing and on to avante garde jazz-but
heavily amplified or rock-oriented ban-
ds are discouraged from applying since
this competition is to be in the "Real
Jazz" tradition.
The contest-which will be held in a
free outdoor setting-will feature cash
prizes up to $500 to be awarded by a
jury consisting of jazz teachers,
musicians, writers, and club owners. In
addition, the competition will be broad-
cast live on WEMU.

"I -did-it- myself
at Megatrames
on North Main Street across
from the old Post Office. They
had plenty of parking behind the
store and a convenient rear
entrance."
Come in and let us show you
how simple and rewarding it can
be to frame-it-yourself and save
money. too.
205N.MAINSTREET ANNARBOR,MICH.
PHONE 769-9420

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