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August 09, 1983 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1983-08-09

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, August 9, 1983-- Page 11
No shine from'Star Chamber'

By Joshua Bilmes
T HE NAME Peter Hyams is prob-
ably not all that likely to come up in
a conversation about great film direc-
tors. But his most recent film (his last
two were Capricorn One and Outland),
The Star Chamber makes a powerful
case for his inclusion. The Star Cham-
ber is not a great film, but what it lacks
in script it more than makes up for in
Hyams' direction and the crew with
which he surrounds himself - simply,
they do a good job of covering up the
film's rather huge plot deficiencies.
The Star Chamber
Starring Michael Douglas, Hal
Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, and Sharon
Directed by Peter Hyams
Now playing at the Movies at Briar-
Michael Douglas is a young judge in
Los Angeles who gets two consecutive
cases in which he has to rule valuable
evidence inadmissable because of
small technical defects in the searches
through which the evidence was ob-
tained. As a result, he begins to wonder
whether the law is working and justice
being administered. Douglas' con-
science especially bothers him after a
rather emotional encounter with the
father of a young boy who was allegedly
tortured and killed by two of the defen-
night you
can shoot
for the stars
(ContinuedfromPage 1)
beloved village of San Martino and
await a possible slaughter. Under the
gentle leadership of Giovanni, softly
underplayed by Oremo Antonutti, the
villagers roam the Tuscan countryside.
In a series of vignettes we see the group
encounter the futility of war and the
tragedy of dreams.
The film isn't as depressing as it
sounds. Directors Paolo and Vittorio
Taviani create a world where the
fairytale images of a five-year-old are
exquisitely balanced with the realism
of war as in the final battle between
villagers and Italian fascists which is
both terrifying and dreamlike.
Amidst the subtlety played out in the
main story are the characters' in-
dividual dramas. A newlywed couple
must contend with the iminent birth of
their child; one man cannot understand
his best friend's aloofness; and an old
man and woman discover love. As trite
as these vignettes appear on paper, the
superb direction, writing, and acting
makes them well worth watching.
If you have an eye for the magic in
life, see The Night of The Shooting
Stars. See it Wednesday night. For ac-
cording to Italian folklore, August 10 is
the night of the shooting stars.
And now you know the rest of the

dants who go free as part of a child por-
nography ring.
Then, one of Douglas' old law
professors (Hal Holbrook) reveals a
way for him to assauge his guilt. There
is a vacancy on a nine member group of
judges who formed a committee to deal
with criminals freed on technicalities.
They pass judgement and carry out the
sentence, which is always death for
those they find guilty.
Douglas joins the group, which is
supposed to be a modern day version of
the Star Chamber in England which
existed a few centuries ago, hence the
film's title. Douglas brings the case of
the child killers before the group and
they not too surprisingly find the defen-
dants guilty. Shortly after this decision,
however, Douglas finds out that the ac-
cused are actually innocent, but it is too
late for the committee to change its
verdict. Just as Douglas felt obligated
to justify the death of the children by
joining the group, he now feels
obligated to inform the two men ac-
cused that they are destined to death.
The suspense enters when we realize
that Douglas cannot inform the two
men of the threat they face because it is
against group policy. Will Douglas sur-
vive after exposing the group? Unfor-
tunately the suspense doesn't withstand
the lacking script and the answer to this
contrived mystery is revealed.
The Star Chamber comes in three
sections - the arrest and trials of the
accused with Douglas' tormented con-
science, Douglas' being a happier if still
a little uneasy member of the chamber,
and his crusade to save the two accused
criminals and himself. Unfortunately
these three episodes do not have enough
cohesiveness to really build up one
crackling narrative with a dynamic
conclusion. There are a few too many
changes in the characters for a suspen-
se flm, and the entire chain of events
lacks a certain plausibility when put
end to end as they are.
But Peter Hyams knows his craft
very, very well. He shoots a very good
chase scene, as he did in Outland and
Capricorn One. And he and his editor,
tion is called to the following
rules passed by the Regents
-at their meeting on February
28, 1936: "Students shall pay
all accounts due the Univer-
sity not later than the last day
of classes of each semester
or summer session. Student
loans which are not paid or
renewed are subject to this
regulation; however, student
loans not yet due are exem-
pt. Any unpaid accounts at
the close of business on the
last day of classes will be
reported to the Cashier of the
University and
"(a) All academic credits
will be withheld, the grades
for the semester or summer
session just completed will
not be released, and no tron-
scripts of credit will be
"(b) All students owing
such accounts will not be
allowed to register in any
subsequent semester or
summer session until
payment has been mode."
'I I II IIIII II tt ll I I nI I I11I III111111111II

Michael uouglas (right) and Haiasoiirookniscuss injustice in Peter Hyam-
s shakey suspense film 'The Star Chamber.'
Jim Mitchell, cut things together very Suspense is definitely not a strong point
well, in this film but there are those momen-
And the casting, too, is good. The is. The Star Chamber is not a film to
leads, Douglas and Hal Holbrook, are rush out and see immediately but it
both good, though not exceptional. The does have its merits and as a result
exceptional roles are in the supporting rates a bit above average.
cast, especially Joe Regalbuto and Don
Calfa as the two criminals Douglas has CT ERMINALS
to find before they are wrongfully
killed, and James B. Sikking as theRENT $47/month
aggreived father.
Peter Hyams does an adequate job TEL. 1B
directing The Star Chamber, however
his cast has to deal with a script that RENT A-BYTE,
doesn't compare to their potential.
HOURS: 7:30 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
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