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January 29, 1991 - Image 5

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-01-29

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'The Michigan Daily

ARTS
Tuesday, January 29, 1991
through

Page 5

Alice

takes

you

a

Alice
dir. Woody Allen
by Jen Bilik
* W oody Allen's latest addition to
his impressive body of work, Alice,
will encounter criticism for its in-
ability to match his best films in
moral profundity and innovation.
Yet, as a self-conscious artist work-
ing within a fishbowl of intellectual
scrutiny, Allen has consistently
countered the critical standards to
which he is held.
As a function of his huge range
of styles, Allen has faced an audience
of critics who cry foul each time he
fails to live up to his externally im-
posed status as genius and social
documentarian. One of his recurring
thematic concerns is the role of the
artist within society, and the conse-
quent loss of integrity that arises
simultaneously from the lowest
common denominator of public
opinion, represented by Hollywood's
bottom line, and from the demands
of his intellectual following.
In Stardust Memories, for exam-
ple, Allen autobiographically por-
trays a filmmaker trying to experi-
ment with different styles, strug-
gling against an audience that wants
him to mimic and surpass earlier
work so they can spin off endless in-
terpretations. Again and again, Allen
* snubs critic and masses alike, asking
for the freedom to explore - some-
times less brilliantly - his own di-
verse artistic whims.
True, Alice is a fantasy that re-
peats themes and conventions seen

lookin
has been able to heal.
Alice functions best as a portrait
of worlds, and Allen positions the
posh ennui of Park Avenue next to
the mysticism of a dilapidated Chi-
natown to emphasize the difference
between material and spiritual wis-
dom. After diagnosing Alice's prob-
lem as psychological rather than
physical, Dr. Yang proceeds to send
Alice on repeated herb-induced drug
trips that allow her to explore her
true, unrepressed desires.
Although Alice breaks little new
ground in the way of convention and
theme, Allen combines elements of
his earlier films to service a new
premise. Allen fan will sometimes
feel a potentially disappointing sense
of d6ji vu, especially from the fan-
tasy journey in The Purple Rose of
Cairo and the return to childhood in
Crimes and Misdemeanors. The par-
ody of a New York social milieu
will remind many of the empty in-
tellectual conversations of Manhat-
tan, as well as Annie Hall's exagger-
ated portrait of Los Angeles.
Allen departs from his usual
Jewish male protagonist with
Alice's distinctly female and
Catholic dilemmas, but focuses on
the androgynous guilt complex that
distinguishes both religions rather
than breaking from previous subject
matter.
Allen prefaces Alice's lack of ful-
fillment with his depiction of her
upper-crust world, characterized by
her dispassionate husband, Doug
(William Hurt), and her extravagant
friends with whom she gossips at
the beauty salon, health club and
boutique. Her world consists of mak-

glass
ing children's "play dates" for week-
ends in the Hamptons and deciding
on range-grown chickens for dinner
parties. Although the parody bears
the unmistakable mark of exaggera-
tion, the portrait exhibits Allen's
usual accuracy on all matters relating
to Manhattan social spheres in each
given time frame.
While Alice revolves primarily
around its three main characters, Al-
ice, Doug and Alice's fantasy lover,
Joe (Joe Mantegna), the focus of the
narrative is augmented considerably
by Allen's use of cameo appear-
ances. Most of the other characters
occupy little on-screen time, but
each is used to perfect advantage to
develop both the social world and
Alice's dilemma, whether it's Al-
ice's socialite friends who speak of
manicures and vaginal tumors in the
same breath or Bernadette Peters ap-
pearing as an unexpected muse.
Indeed, then, it is the texture of
Alice that elevates it from the trite-
ness of its plot and theme. The fan-
tasy is predictable: bored, repressed
socialite finds fulfillment in extra-
marital affair, then must decide be-
tween lifestyles after the catalytic
magic disappears. But the wit of the
script, the engaging quality of the
main characters, the endearing per-
formances of the actors, the substan-
tiative roles of the minor characters
and Allen's impeccable production
values and concern with setting
combine to lift Alice not to the
height of Allen's major works, but
instead to the level of an intelligent
and entertaining film.
ALICE is being shown at Briarwood
and Showcase.

Okay, you intellectual whiners -time to get your nose out of the Kierkegaard and recognize ripe intelligent
fluff for what it's worth.

before in Allen's own work as well
as that of others. But, as all Woody
Allen films do, Alice bears the dis-
tinctive mark of its creator, with the
combination of past work and future
promise that identifies many of
Allen's transitional films.
Alice is the perfect Mia Farrow
vehicle, and the couple's personal
and professional relationship is ap-
parent both in the way that Allen al-
lows Farrow's sweet style to set the

tone and pace of the film as well as
in Farrow's adoption of Allen's ner-
vous intonations and verbal tics. Her
ability to combine naivet6 with kind
intuition, endearing insecurity with
inner strength, bestows a richness to
what is perhaps her long career's
best performance.
Farrow plays Alice Tate, a
Catholic in a world of WASPs, who
unwittingly manifests boredom with
her Park Avenue marriage into lower

back pain. She's wife with a capital
W, who deprecates herself as "one of
those women who shops all day and
gets pedicures." Fantasy and parody
often go hand in hand, and Allen
capitalizes on the plausibility that
caricature lends to unbelievable
magic. Farrow is urged by many of
her friends to seek the services of Dr.
Yang (Keye Luke), a stereotypical
Chinese acupuncturist, to relieve the
back pain that no Western physician

-Cathy Dennis
Move To This
Polydor/PolyGram
Dance, dance, dance is what
Move To This is all about. Dance
diva Cathy Dennis has left her suc-
cessful collaboration with D-Mob to
cut her own album, and the result is
a very solid release of disposable
dance ditties.
Cathy Dennis enlists the aid of a
formidable entourage, including
dance-music wizards Shep Pettibone
and Nile Rodgers. She also has the
production help of Mr. D-Mob
himself, Dancin' Danny D, and she
includes their hit "C'Mon and Get
My Love" on her solo release. But
even with all of this help, Cathy
still gets most of the credit from
writing and performing the material
on Move. Did you read that Janet
and Paula?
While most of the dance songs
on the album have a definite House
swing, none have enough to merit
the dreaded phrase, "Oh no! Not an-
other House wanna-be album." The
songs are not, pretentious or boring,
but rather tight and groovy. The bass
pounds out the catchy rhythms. The
horns stab out happy melodies. The
cheerful strings fill in the back-
ground. And the vocals ...
Well, the surprise of the album is
the fact the Cathy can actually sing
really well. (Still listening, Paula?)
Her voice sounds good on the upbeat
tunes, but she displays her vocal tal-
ent best on the three ballads that
show up on Move. The best of the
these is "Tell Me," which could eas-
ily be played on any R&B station.
*'The song has a soothing soulful feel

to it that really showcases Cathy's
silky voice.
The lyrics are hardly earth-shatter-
ing. Love is the main focus here -
surprise, surprise. The phrases "my
love" and "my heart" show up in
some form or another on each of the
ten songs. But who cares? If you
need motivation to dance, play this
album. If you need to challenge your
intellect, well, you'd better move on
to something else.
To paraphrase a Pet Shop Boy,
"Ballads are all fine and dandy, but at
the end of the day it's good dance
music that really matters." Whether
or not that's true isn't important.
The point is that Cathy Dennis has
certainly heard this and has become a
believer.

Bernstein
by Nick Hoffman
T his evening, the University
Philharmonia and the University
Symphony Orchestra will pay trib-
ute to one of America's most tal-
ented and accomplished musical per-
sonalities - Leonard Bernstein. In a
special concert, these two groups
will perform a wide range of Bern-
stein's works, each specially selected
to represent an important phase in
the composer's career.
Throughout his remarkable ca-
reer, Bernstein cultivated a style that
was distinctly American. As a con-
ductor, composer and teacher, he
touched many lives and profoundly
influenced the music community.
Because of his tremendous activity,
Bernstein became recognized world-
wide as the ambassador and cham-
pion of American music.
The Director of the University
Orchestras, Gustav Meier, became
acquainted with Bernstein at the
Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox,
Massachusetts, where he has taught
conducting classes for the past 11
summers. Bernstein frequently vis-
ited Meier's classes as a guest lec-
turer. When Bernstein passed away
last year, Meier felt he had to do
something to commemorate the
man. "His presence was so over-
whelming, we had to somehow
honor him," Meier said. He added
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that the concert was "the natural
thing to do." "We were all touched
by him," said Meier.
Tonight's concert will commence
with the Associate Director of Or-
chestras, Donald Schleicher, conduct-
ing the University's Philharmonia

artistic development.
Afterwards, , the Philharmonia
will perform Halil: Nocturne for
Solo Flute, this time conducted by
Meier. Bernstein wrote Halil in
memory of a young Israeli flutist
who was killed during one of the

,We were all touched by him'
- Gustav Meier, director of the University
Orchestras

is dead, but his music lives

stein's earliest works, and it will fea-
ture mezzo soprano Karen Lykes as a
soloist. Lykes is an assistant profes-
sor of voice, and she has performed
as a soloist with the Boston Sym-
phony, including a performance of
Bernstein's Chichester Psalms con-
ducted by Seiji Ozawa.
The Symphony Orchestra will
conclude the concert with Donald
Schleicher conducting the Overture
to Candide, which was completed in
1956. Candide is Bernstein's comic
operetta based on Voltaire's novel,
and the overture is a sensational
crowd pleaser.
THE ALL-BERNSTEIN CONCERT
is tonight at Hill Auditorium at 8
p.m. Admission is free.

Orchestra in a performance of the
Symphonic Suite from the film On
the Waterfront. Although Bernstein
wrote a great deal of music for the
stage, this score is the only one
Bernstein wrote for a film. It was re-
leased in 1954, a time when Bern-
stein was undergoing a great deal of

Arab--Israeli wars. Keith Bryan, a
professor of flute, will appear as the
featured soloist.
Following the intermission,
Meier will conduct the University
Symphony Orchestra's performance
of Bernstein's Symphony No. 1,
Jeremiah. This piece is one of Bern-

Dennis

The University Activities Center
Tuesday, January 29
7:00 p.m.
The Michigan Union
Be a part of The University of Michigan's
largest student run organization. Come to the
mass meeting and find out about these
committees:

II

ANN ARdbiI1&2'
5TH AVE AT LIBERTY 761.9700
Daily $2.75 shows before 6 pm
& all day Tuesday* (*exceptions)
rznnn~r14 I1 rtTH AtTFOC' It'

What do
YOU9
want
Alpha Sigma Phi wants to know.
Come visit us during Rush Week,
January 27-31.

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Comedy Company
Homecoming
Impact Dance

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