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'Cat's' got a
lot of class, but
too little heart
By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
May 13, 2002 8
Peter Bogdanovich has always been a better film histori-fi:
an than a filmmaker. The director, who came to fame with
the admittedly superior 1971 film "The Last Picture Show,"
has written the definitive books on both Orson Welles and
Alfred Hitchcock, and their ghosts permeate many of hisg
filmatic judgement. He is too smart and knows too much
about film to simply let the magic of filmmaking happen.
He is a fine director that aspires to greatness and never
quite achieves his goals.
His latest, "The Cat's Meow," is a fun 1920s period Dunst wondering why she wastes her timew
piece about a weekend excursion on the yacht of media parts that attempting any sort of cohesio
mogul William Randolph Hearst. Hearst, most famous for Peros, adapting his play, has a hard tim
being the inspiration for Welles insurmountable debut premise into a film. The dialogue is appr
"Citizen Kane," is thoughtfully played by veteren character but never lets any of the characters out
actor Edward Herrmann. Herrmann ("Nixon," "The Lost sometimes two-dimensional roles.
Boys") is Hearst by way of Kane, alternately The talented cast also i
charming and growling at his guests, but Lumley ("Absolutely Fabul
with surprising humanity. Herrmann has gossip columnist Elinor G
complete control of the character and turns *** Tilly ("Bride of Chucky"),
rip-off into homage. Louella Parsons (who, in rea
The story centers on the Hollywood lore THE CAT'S most feared gossip columni
that Hearst killed fading movie mogul MEOW The two women are wonderf
Thomas Ince (Cary Elwes) during a weekend the same coin, the jaded an
excursion celebrating Ince's birthday. Rumor At the Michigan though both are as ruthless a
has it that Hearst was enraged to find out that Theater anyone else on the ill-fated b
another guest on the yacht, a haughty woman- Liens Gate Dunst, a little young for]
izer named Charlie Chaplin (Eddie Izzard, the-less charming and wh
"Shadow of the Vampire") had been making time with his Believablity is the only thing lacking from
mistress, actress Marion Davies (Kirsten Dunst, "Spider- formance. He fails to embody Cha
Man"). Mistaking Ince for Chaplin in the dark, Hearst movement and is to stocky to play the Tr
shoots him in the head. rated Elwes brings his trademark wit to h
This is the entire plot of a movie that has little to do characterization of the desperate Ince.
with story and everything to do with acting and atmos- Bogdanovich, despite his expert's grasl
phere. Bogdanovich recreates the 1920s entirely on one falls into the background and does little
yacht and allows his actors to explore the fairly liberal from its stagey roots. He may understan
morality of the time. The actors are given plenty to chew than anyone, but he does not have the spy
on, with a script that spends more time handing out juicy ness into greatness.
Midtown attempts to
hit the mainstream
t;By Tony Ding their meticulously arranged and flow-
Dstly Arts Writer ing compositions-professional
Lots of talents have come out of The quality of the album perme-
the "state" of New Jersey, whose ates Midtown's concentrated work
usual primary purpose has been to throughout, and the production
serve as the suburbs for New York demonstrates the difference of quali-
City. Take Jay and Silent Bob for ty assured from being propelled by
instance, or poet Allen Ginsberg or busy-bodys MCA Music and the
actor Jack Nicholson or even singer well-respected Drive Thru Records.
Lauryn Hill. Today's The only disappoint-
talents that hail from ment is the length of
the Garden State, how- the album, which
ever, are mostly comics * * bounces off in just over
to the caliber of J&SB. I I35 minutes. But, within
In the rock music LIVING WELL IS this playtime is packed
courtesy of t sate scene, the fruits haven't THE BEST a far-reaching selection
cith comics. been as fresh lately. REVENGE that serves punk rock
n. Scribe Steven Now, in a well Midtown consumers an assort-
e expanding his rehearsed third release, ment of flavors. The
opriately cheesy, titled Living Well is the MCA/Drive Thru pop-oriented scoops,
t of their campy, Best Revenge, NJ punk like "Get It Together"
rockers Midtown have soberly toned and "Like a Movie," clearly reflect
ncludes Joanna their craft to a sound fit for the Big the experience of album producer
ous") as veteren Apple. You won't hear them at Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World,
lyn and Jennifer Carnegie Hall mind you, for these are Blink-182). "Like a Movie" and its
as young upstart punks we're talking about. Neverthe- compliment "One Last Time" are in
1 life, became the less, with melodic harmonies compa- essence theatric performances with
st in Hollywood). rable to an a cappella group and low-fat lyrics fit for the soundtrack
ul as two sides of sing-along pop beats that spreads of "Sex and the City." One thing that
d the hopeful - good vibes, this Jersey quartet has gives Midtown an air of supremacy
nd demanding as attained a cosmopolitan appeal for is their intertwining lead vocals, with
oat. success. bass player and songwriter Gabe
her role, is none- Living Well's lyrics are clean, sin- Saporta and guitarists Tyler Rann and
olly believable. cere and rousing. There isn't an utter- Heath Saraceno all sharing mic time
Izzard's sly per- ance of a four-letter word, and jives between songs and within them.
plin's grace of like "You Should Know" and "Per- Equitably, Midtown drummer Rob
amp. The under- fect" are spiritually uplifting and opti- Hitt also does a formable job keeping
is unsypmathetic mistic anthems. This may be because the harmonies generated as a seam-
these boys are well educated (the less musical package.
p of atmosphere, band was founded by the college bud- The album offers classic tribula-
to save the film dies while attending Rutgers Univer- tions on love, balanced with straight-
d the craft better sity), or maybe it's simply because of edged elegant jeremiads on being
ark to turn good- their passion for solid, intelligent socially conscience and un-contrived
music. The effect, as a result, shows ("It's not that your friendship was a
front / It's just that I can't see the
real in you" in "Become What You
Hate"). In an unabashed declaration
of brotherhood, the boys also pro-
_ n claim their personal bonds to each
other with "In The Songs," a senti-
mental ballad characteristic of the
good-natured group. Midtown is
punk without a doubt, but their latest
production is so well engineered that
understudies of varying majors of
rock can certainly find home in their
zeal. While listening, one can pic-
ture the pre-meditation, revision,
S I b Ic siaaggression and love that have been
Experience the fun side of tea so meticulously packed in this
k1 ,eleven-track selection of tear-induc-
Open0 RE12$E" IN
Getting the diploma is the easy part.
"When you're in your twenties...you know that standing in your way
between college and the places you're supposed to go is: rsumes'
cover letters, rejection letters, soul searching, rtsumes, being dirt poor,
and more rejection letters. Quarterlife Crisis is all about the 'midlife
crisis' for what might be the hardest decade of your life."
-The Washington Post
Quart e r i ie
Sr is is by
Published by Tarcher/Putnam
U.S. $14.95/Canada $21.99
Available at your favorite bookstore or through amazon.com