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February 08, 1991 - Image 5

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-02-08

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ARTS
Friday, February 8, 1991

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

The jerk vs. the smog monster

L.A. Story
dir. Mick Jackson
by David Lubliner
*A sa native New Yorker, I have
always been taught to hate Los
Angeles. I never really understood
the reason for this resentment, but
it was emblazoned into my con-
science at a very early age. I actu-
ally began to believe all the bad
things said about the place - the
smog, the superficiality, the shoot-
ings on the freeways. But often, as
@1 walk to class with my icy toes
three-feet deep in snow, I think to
myself, "What about the sun, and
the beautiful people, and the
glamour of it all?" With the words
of Frank Sinatra's not-so-famous
"L.A. Is My Lady" dancing around
my head, I dove into L.A. Story
with all of the excitement and
enthusiasm of any good West
Coaster wanna-be.
. Steve Martin is Los Angeles
weatherman Harris K. Telemacher.
Harris has become rather disgrun-
tled with his career. He tapes his
weather reports in advance be-
cause, .as he says, "This is L.A.
What's going to change?" But af-
ter one of his forecasts turns out to
be completely inaccurate, Harris is
fired. On the same day, he discov-
*ers that his girlfriend has been hav-
ing an affair for the past three
years with his longtime agent - a
typical Los Angeles problem. Har-
ris' life finally takes a dramatic
shift when a freeway sign commu-
nicates mysterious messages to
him. According to the sign, the
weather will change his life.
This crazy scenario sets the
tone for the entire film. L.A. Story
takes real-life events and exagger-
ates them, just a bit, in order to
convey different messages. First
there's the brunch, in which 10
people each order a different kind
of cappuccino. Then there's the
restaurant, appropriately named
L'Idiot, which demands to exam-
ine;Harris' financial status before.

When Martin Scorsese's King of
Comedy was released in 1982, the
film was considered a disaster. But if
any of the director's works have been
critically redeemed, it is this one.
Has there ever been a more an-
noying, obsequious New Yorker
than Rupert Pupkin (Robert
DeNiro)? He's a stand-up comic so
desperate to make it in the big-time
that he's taken to hounding stars,
and his number one target is Jerry
Langford (Jerry Lewis), the Carson-
like don of late-night TV. Despite
Rupert's appeals - he immediately
assumes he's on a first-name basis
with Langford - the neurotic fan is
rebuked. The fact is, it's hard to
believe that Rupert, with a
prostituted '70s Atlantic City style,
has any talent whatsoever. And the
audience wrenches when it sees this
leech consistently embarrass
himself; even when his demo tape is
rejected flat out by Langford's aides,
he refuses to take no for an answer
As Rupert reels further into de-
nial and obsession, The King of
Comedy goes from idiosyncratic to
sadistic and becomes truly intrigu-
ing. First, Rupert shows up at
Langford's house. Then, in cahoots
with a Langford groupie named

Masha, brilliantly played by Sandra
Bernhard, Rupert conspires to kidnap
"Jerry." Scorsese's black comedy
begins to articulate the thin line
between the parasitic and the so-
ciopathic, revealing the humor and
madness in idolatry and the will to
fame.
I like to think of this film as an
interesting partner to Scorsese's Taxi
Driver : they're about different kinds
of potential New York psychopaths,
both of whom are redeemed in the
end. But where then conclusion of
Taxi Driver is contrived salvation, it
would be unjust if Rupert Pupkin
were to be anything less than
universally loved, since that's the
only thing he really ever wants.
The King of Comedy is being
shown at Hillel on Saturday at 8
p.m. and 10 p.m.
-Gregg Flaxman
Childhood's unit of memory is
summer, as one school year blends
into another. The emotions of
summer hold powerful impact in
film, drawing on the audience's
nostalgia for lost innocence and
days before sunscreen. Summer
represents a combination of free-
See CINEMA, Page 8

Harris Telemacher (Steve Martin) helps British journalist Sara McDowel (Victoria Tennent) shop, another
typical LA activity.

allowing him to make a reserva-
tion. Scripted by Martin, L.A. Story
is full of insightful and biting satire
that has been written by someone
who knows his subject matter well.
But Martin does have a ten-
dency to resort to juvenile sex
jokes. At one point, Harris says to
one of his females friends, "I
couldn't be a woman. I'd sit home
and play with my breasts all day."
This kind of stuff is not funny, but
thankfully, the audience isn't sub-
jected to much of it. For most of
the film, Martin demonstrates what
he did best in films such as All of
Me and Roxanne - engage in a lot
of physical humor. Martin roller
skating through the corridors of the
Los Angeles County Museum of
Art is hysterically funny.
Victoria Tennant, Martin's real-

life wife, plays Harris' love inter-
est, Sara. She is a reporter for the
London Times, on location in Los
Angles to write a story on its peo-
ple and lifestyle. However, Harris
is also preoccupied with a young
"California girl" named SanDeE*
- that's right, uppercase S, up-
percase D, uppercase E, and a star
at the end. Sarah Jessica Parker,
best known for her role in the tele-
vision series Square Pegs, per-
fectly captures SanDeE*'s air-
headed and sexy free spirit.
Martin also tosses in all of his
Hollywood buddies for good mea-
sure. Woody Harrelson, Chevy
Chase, and George Plimpton all
have funny cameo bits. Rick
Moranis, who seems to appear in
every Steve Martin film these
days, is very amusing as a Los

Angeles gravedigger with an
English accent.
Although the jokes become
repetitive at times, L.A. Story
doesn't attempt to do too much.
It's the simple tale of a romance
- in this case, set against the
backdrop of Los Angeles. Ulti-
mately, Harris comes to realize
that love can exist in the heart of
his hometown. It's a pretty sappy
ending, but even the most adamant
Los Angeles-haters won't be able
to resist its uplifting feeling.
L.A. STORY opens at Showcase.
kimnko's
44
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A shorter bard of Stratford
by Sue Uselmann______ " I

I

DAILY $2.75 SHOWS BEFORE 6 PM & ALL DAY TUESDAY' (*EXCEPTIONS)

i

_ITY TH

RS_ INC.

fln

" A classic," according to Mark
Twain, "is a book which people
praise, but never read." For the
Reduced Shakespeare Company,
however, this is not the case.
Combining hilarious renovations
*and unfailing dexterity, the RSC
will perform The Complete Works
of William Shakespeare (Abridged)
tonight at the Michigan Theater.
The hilarious trio, consisting of
Adam Long, Jess Borgeson, and
Reed Martin, had their humble be-
ginnings back in 1981 as a street-
theater troop for a Renaissance
festival. Daniel Singer, the RSC's
founder, helped put together a 15-
*minute production of Hamlet,
which started them on their way.
Through this initial abridged per-
formance of the classic, the Com-
pany began to develop its style.
"In order to keep the audience's at-

tention, Long says, we aded a
broad, physical aspect, because
we were on the streets."
By 1987, the RSC had its own

full-length snow, performing the
first hour-long version in Scotland,
and since then the Company has
See BARD, Page 8

:::: Oh nol 1 just checked my -
calendar and Valentine's Day
is Thursday! What on Earth
. should I get for Lis ?
Well Matt, just check the
Valentine's Day page in
Tuesday's Daily and find
millions of possible gifts!

1 Q A'4GIJJIA7W Ida iloL n "m K w *l11INGITI POST -idIrm
DIJAS t1ORNt(4SISG
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A!g apo rt f j1I!.t rother s 7 IoVA n G oI y4 Roer lAI'.l bt anL Or
Vrweit Zv Tteo
An original portrait of the brothers Van Gogh by Robert Altman.

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G REEN Golden Glb.
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This Entire Ad (no soho)

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COMPARE.

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OVERTHROW!!
Sure, it's a toddlin' town, and it's the Windy City and the
birthplace of electric blues. But to a generation of guitar-
crazed midwestern rock fans, Chicago is the power pop
capital of the world-the place where Cheap Trick, Shoes,
Off Broadway, The Boyzz, and dozens of others cranked,
up guitars in sweaty clubs, got drunk on cheap beer, and
sang songs about the girls they got and those who got
away. These are the roots of Chicago's newest rock and
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sounds of The Romantics and The Buzzcocks emerges
Material Issue.
Founded in 1985, Material Issue (lead singer Jim Ellison,
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STUDENT A
UNIVERSITY TOWERS RESIDENT
TU e RISt

STUDENT B
GO A S PAJCCL. 9DUS? OFF-CAMPUS HOUSING RESIDENT,

T HEN:
WAKES UP AT 7:25 A.M.
7:25 TAKES SHOWER
7:50 EATS BREAKFAST
&00 READS THE PAPER{
8:20 WALKS TO 8.30 CLASS_
8:25 ARRIVES IN CLASS
STATISTI CS:
" HONOR ROLL 3 YEARS IN A ROW-
" M.V.P. TRACK TEAM
MEMBER 2 YEARS IN A ROW
* GRADUATED MAGNA CUME LAUDE
" LIVED AT UNIVERSITY T6WERS
LAST THREE YEARS IN COLLEGE

THEN:':
WAKES UP 7:25 A.M.
7:25 HITS SNOOZE ALARM
7:50 HITS SNOOZE ALARM
8:00 JUMPS OUT OF BED; NO WATER
FOR SHOWER (LANDLORD NOT IN)
.8:20 CALLS TOW TRUCK
(CAR WO['T START)
9:15 ARRIVES IN CLASS
(TOW TRUCK LATE)
STATISTICS:
" ACADEMIC PROBATION;
3YEARS INA ROW
./ " CAR BURGLARIZED-
2 YEARS IN A ROW
" STILL WAITING TO GRADUATE...
" CONTINUES TO LIVE FAR AWAY,
OFF CAMPUS HOUSING
NOW:
3RD ASSISTANT, NIGHT SHIFT,
JOHNNY'S BURGER SUNGERHAUS

l

NOW:
PRESIDENT OF
MAJOR CORPORATION

(ci

I (dRetu' I

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