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August 14, 1996 - Image 11

Resource type:
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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1996-08-14

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i _ __.

ARTS

f

Coppola's 'Jack' hits right
buttons as a genre picture
B Michael Zilberman mortality into something downright enjoyable.
His performance as Jack deserves special atten-
Watching trailers for "Jack" in a crowded the- tion for several reasons: First, Williams' imper-
ater, one could feel audience's jaws collectively sonation of childish motions, speech patterns, etc.
go slack at the sight of the very last credit: is not even close to condescending. He shows
"irected by Francis Ford Coppola." The kid-in- enough tact and intelligence not to turn this into
-adult's-body romp that otherwise would be yet another excuse to bounce off the walls - but
compared to switcheroo fantasies like "Big," if he does, he does it in character as a ten-year-old
"Freaky Friday" or at the very worst, Coppola's kid, not Williams being Williams for Williams'
own "Peggy Sue Got Married," was now destined sake (the attitude that marked his tums in "Nine
to be measured against the director's entire back Months" and even "Mrs. Doubtfire").
catalogue. So it's no wonder "Jack" is getting In doing that, he slightly outclasses the script
seriously slammed in the itself, which spares no
press: Its hard dealing with REV I EW humiliating details in its
the fact that this movie was Jack treatment of preadolescent
seriously considered, let i t as ro trials and tribulations. Aside
alone created, by the same with Robin wilians and Diane Lane from the usual stuff like
11n who brought At rianood andShowase comic books and treehouse
"The Godfather," *** (out of five) sleepovers, a kid's life is
"Apocalypse Now" and depicted in all its cussing,
"Conversation." Naturally, it seems somewhat worm-eating, fart-lighting, masturbating glory.
deficient - wouldn't anything? The movie, with surprisingly unflinching accu-
The truth is, "Jack" is a very good genre pic- racy, captures little things like "cool" schoolyard
ture; nothing more, but nothing less either. jargon, a wild mix of TV soundbites with infan-
Why Coppola decided to tackle it is a different tile gang-speak, proud aversion to the opposite
question, but once he did, he executed it with sex being gradually replaced by curiosity and
ultra-professional finesse, hitting all the right quick disillusionment in parents as higher-order
buttons at the right time. beings. Add to that a receding hairline, and you'll
Its plot may sound like high-concept drivel, have a general idea of Jack's everyday pressures.
which it is in a way; It also sounds like an At this stage in any persons life, relative hap-
opportunity for at least one great performance, piness and complete misery are detennined by a
which it delivers. single factor: acceptance or the lack of it. After
Jack Powell is a kid who grows at four times several misfires - an infatuation with a teacher
the normal rate. At the age of ten, the poor guy (Jennifer Lopez, soon to be seen as Selena in an
experiences first pains of adolescence and upcoming movie), an awkward encounter with
midlife crisis simultaneously. What most of the an aggressive single mom ("The Nanny"'s Fran
ads which succeed in making the movie look like Drescher) -- Jack ultimately finds the accep-
a lighthearted comedy) fail to mention is that tance of his peers. After all, Ile can outshoot
Jack's growth/aging hardly stops at ten, and most them all in basketball, buy "Penthouse" without
ely, he'll be dead by the time he reaches the ID and even impersonate a teacher if needed, to
'nking age. Looking at it this way, the premise a hilariously dreadful effect. Jack also finds
is chillingly cruel: Since Jack is doomed, we words of wisdom from a private tutor (perfectly
essentially watch a cute kid dancing down a cast Bill Cosby), who neatly sums up the
slightly extended death row. Coppola uses the movie's point in a little hamiiy speech that com-

Wednesday, August 14,,1996 - The Michigan Daily - 11
Imperial Teen-difficult, but
poppy with a little yelling
By Ted Watts
l).ily Arts'rtenr R.EVIEWv
OK, Imperial Imperial Teen
Teen has members Seasick
of Faith No More Slash/London
and Sister Double ***(out of five)
Happiness in it.
That has nothing to do with the sound of this album.
No, this album sounds like a lotm of albums sound now.
Smiley sounding guitar, drums, bass and vocals. That Veruca
Salt, Foo Fighters sort of thing, but in a calmer way, for the
most part.
"Water Boy" is an enregetic song, with some strained
vocals and some strong rhythm and is easily the best song on
the album. "Imperial Teen" is almost diametrically opposed
to "Water Boy" as far as sound goes, being a laid back tune.
But it has the virtue of being beautiful and rough at the same
time. "You're One" is kind of a mix of these two styles, and
done fairly well.
But the album is a little difficult to listen to. The songs are
mostly in the poppy light indie category with some requisite
yelling bits, and that can grate over time. Well, CD players do
have those useful "skip" buttons.

pares Jack to a shooting star.
Coppola shows off his trademark touch in the
opening scene, where Jack is born amid a freak-
ish carnival; the sequence is both farcical and
profoundly disturbing and also amazingly
filmed. Soon after, though, the director settles for
an extremely polished, Spielbergian look, and
signs off'with a scene as shamelessly tear-jerking
as it is effective (Jack, acting 17 and looking 68,
graduates from high school). That, once again,
drags the movie down for some audiences: those
looking for genius and spontaneity have to settle
for professionalism and finesse.
The histrory of cinema is brimming with cases
of brilliant directors trying their hand at unexpect-
ed genres; who'd ever know Scorsese had both
"The Last Temptation of Christ" and "The Age of
Innocence" in him? Ultimately, there is nothing
wrong with writing "Jack" off as a semi-success-
ful experiment. The side effects of this experi-
ment, however, are enough to win Robin Williams
an Oscar.

Put on the Raincoats for
iconoclastic musical spirit
By Heather Phares
Daily Arts 'iriter ' REVIEW
After a long hia- Raincoats
tus, original Looking in the Shadows
Raincoats Ana da ' DGC
Silva and Gina ***(out of five)
Birch have
reformed their leg-
endary girl-punk band and opted for a more sedate, accessible
sound. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. "Looking in
the Shadows" tends toward sing-songy, catchy tunes, of which
"Only Tonight," "Don't Be Mean," and "Pretty" are successful,
and "Babydog" and "You Kill Me" aren't. On the whole, da
Silva's songs capture more of the Raincoats' iconoclastic, fresh
musical spirit. "Forgotten Words,""Truth is Hard" and the title
track in particular carry on with the droning, intense sound the
group perfected on their earlier albums. While it's not an
entirely successful return, at its best "Looking in the Shadows"
measures up to the Raincoats' finest.

opportunity to throw in an elaboration on
the fleeting nature of human life, making
the point even more poignant by having
Jack try to interact with "normal" ten-
ear-olds.
He's fortunate to have Robin Williams
hand, who turns this gloomy essay on

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