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February 18, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-02-18

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily
You're stuck in the

Monday, February 18, 1991

Page 5

trite,

Ward

Gaze through the
looking glass

King Ralph
Dir. David S. Ward
by Mike Kuniavsky
John Goodman is a damn good
actor. Let's hope that Hollywood
doesn't swallow him up. Rising
fast in the pop-cultural world -
surprisingly so, considering his
"non-traditional appearance" (read
that as "fatter than perfect") - he
k: has been in some pretty good stuff
-4as well as some pretty lame stuff,
:Goodman generally steals the
'show in whatever he's in (he was
the guy advertising for a wife in
True Stories, Al Pacino's partner
in Sea of Love, and, of course,
Roseanne's husband on her TV
show) but even he's not enough to
save everything. In True Stories,
for instance, Goodman was a very
natural and funny element of a
rather dull, over-intellectualized,
backhandedly-condescending. film.
His latest film, the first one where
he's headlining, regrettably falls
into the same mold.
King Ralph, pathetically written
and directed by David S. Ward
(the guy who amazingly won an
Oscar for his screenplay for The
Sting back in the early '70s), is yet
another rehashing of the Pyg-
malion myth: failed Vegas bar pi-

anist Ralph Jones is discovered to
be the last remaining heir to the
British throne after the whole royal
family is electrocuted during a re-
union. Crude, vulgar, beer-drink-
ing, football-watching Jones
(Goodman's unfortunate stereotype
after his success on Roseanne) is
taken under the wing of Willing-
ham (Peter O'Toole) to be taught
the ways of being a king.
After a while, bored with his
sequestered existence, Jones
escapes from Buckingham Palace
and goes to a strip joint where he
meets Miranda (Camille Coduri),
a stripper with stage fright. From
.here on in the predictability starts:
lots of ugly-American/stuffy-British
joxes, sight gags as Ralph tries
poise, and lame humor galore.
Basically, it's a completely
formulaic plot which doesn't
deserve any more explanation.
What is good about the film is,
of course, Goodman. He has a
great sense of timing and a great
way with physical comedy and
best of all, he can act. He brings a
very natural, casual, underplayed
element to a patronizing, self-sat-
isfied film (which happen when
Hollywood screenwriters decide to
write "a comedy;" almost univer-
sally these comedies turn out to be
unfunny, forced and basically
stupid). Regrettably, though, even

by Diane Frieden
You could be a voyeur.
You could be a fetishist.
Or, if you didn't necessarily
adhere to Freud's construction
of the spectator, you could in-
stead follow the definition of
The Female Gaze, a current
University Museum of Art ex-
hibit and you could, as a viewer
of the female body within art,
take on other, more expansive
roles.
Ambiguity, humor, shock,

and delight are a few emotions
that one is encouraged to expe-
rience by the exhibit, which
was produced in conjunction
with the Institute for the Hu-
manities' look into "Histories of
Sexuality." The exhibit wrestles
with the question: Is there more
than just a female and a male
viewpoint in the consideration
of artistic images of women?
The exhibit attempts to answer
its question with a variety of
"viewing positions" that are of-
See GAZE, Page'7

Happy because he's not the King of Boers, John Goodman as King Ralph I
symbolically relaxes knowing Roseanne Barr has nothing to do with his
latest project.

Goodman's performance can't save
what is ultimately a film doomed
to failure, massacred by a screen-
play as trite as the Jeff Lynne-pro-
duced version of Little Richard's

"Good Golly Miss Molly," which
plays during the closing credits.
KING RALPH is being shown at
Showcase and Fox Village.

IN

1 evie'

'Mats forgot
to take out
the trash
"God, Paul looks so good. Do I
look okay? My hair's not too big,
is it? No, no, of course not. That
song 'Merry Go Round' is just
great. God, I hate how those 18-
year-old guys come here and think
they know everything about the
Replacements "How lame. I know
every song off All Shook Down and
even some of the ones off Don't
Tell a Soul and Pleased to Meet
Me. I am a diehard fan, I'm telling
you, and I would just sleep' with
Paul in a second."
"Really? I mean Paul's hot but
there's just something about
Tommy. God, what I wouldn't do
to get him in bed. But the thing is,
he can really play, too. You know,
" I heard he joined the band when he
was like 10 or something. I guess
they used to be almost punk or
something. God, wouldn't that be
great to sleep with an ex-punker?
"Oh, I just love this song. 'You
take the skyway...' These guys are
just so cool because they play hard
stuff, y'know, but it's still kind of
mellow. Nothing too raunchy,
y'know. Like, I used to date this
guy and he was just always listen-
ing to such harsh stuff. Like he had
this one album called Stink and it
just gave me a headache. I mean,
there was no melody. Nothing like
this stuff."
"Why're Paul and Tommy so
pissed off though? I mean Slim
and Steve are just kind of hanging
out. What'd Paul say? 'Sorry we
suck tonight.' No, you don't Paul! I
love you Paul! I want you!!"
"Well, maybe it's an off night
or something. They do sound a lit-
tle sloppy, but I'll bet it's nothing
compared to their punk days. God,
can you imagine? I'm totally get-
ting into the lighting too. God, I
think I smoked too much on the

way over."
"Yeah, well, all the better to
enjoy the show with. Just make
sure you save some to share with
Paul and Tommy when we meet
them."
"Oh, no. Don't you read Rolling
Stone? They're sober now. On the
wagon, I swear to God."
"Wow. That's so cool. I totally
respect that. God, this is so great.
They're playing so many songs
from All Shook Down and 'I'll Be
You' sounds just like it does on the
CD. This is so cool."
"What'd that guy request?
Color Me Impressed?' Tommy
doesn't look too happy. Must be an
old one. God, it must get boring
playing the same stuff for years,
y'know."
"Yeah, but it almost seems like
he forgot it. Oh, good, now they're
back on track. More stuff off
Pleased to Meet Me. Cool."
"'Alex Chilton' is a little too
loud for me. The 18-year-olds are
digging it, though. God, I wonder if
that's how they sounded when they
were punk?"
"I don't know but I sure can't
wait for another album and tour. I
just don't get these people who say
the Replacements wimped out. I
mean, haven't they heard 'Talent
Show?' I mean, they've got videos
on 120 Minutes and everything. No
way, man, this band is going
places."
"Yeah, straight to hell. Hey, got
another cigarette? God, don't you
just love living on the edge?"
- Kristin Palm
Rose smelled
nice
In the problematic tradition of
John Stuart Mill's utilitarian phi-
losophy, the University Players
presented Lillian Garret's The
White Rose. The play addresses
timeless fundamental questions
concerning ethics, weighing indi-

vidual versus societal responsibil-
ity. Based on the true story of five
idealistic college students in
World War II Munich who dis-
tributed leaflets expressing con-
tempt for Hitler and Nazism, the
play chronicles the five-day inter-
rogation period following the stu-
dents' arrest.
Garret's plot was gripping in its
psychological insight. She created
characters who upheld the tenu-
ousness surrounding the question of
whether humankind shapes society
or society shapes humankind. So-
phie Scholl (Erica Heilman), the
only female group member, chal-
lenged the ethical consciousness
of Inspector Robert Mohr
(Jonathan Hammond). Heilman
was excellent in her delivery of.
incisive questions that cut Mohr to
the moral quick, yet she main-
tained an innocence that made
Mohr's heart go out to her.
In turn, Hammond completely
adopted the physical demeanor of
a middle-aged pragmatist. The
scenes between the two proved the
most volatile and exciting to
watch, as the idealism of youth
was pitted against the hard-boiled,
turn-the-other-cheek-to-survive
mind-set. As the two stuck to their
guns for the most part, the repoire
that Heilman and Hammond
developed was moving, as it
allowed each to penetrate the shell
of the other, if only slightly,
leaving the audience to ponder
which lifestyle was correct.
Other exceptional characters

were Hans Scholl (Matthew
Letscher), Sophie's older brother,
the student who instigated the
White Rose movement. Letscher
had all the vivacity of a young
man absorbing the tenets of the
world's greatest philosophical
minds in an attempt to order his
own world. Letscher's energy was
inspiring and the audience sensed
the visceral rush that Hans got
from rallying for his cause.
Alex Irvine offered a fine por-
trayal of Alexander Schmorell, the
student who maintained his posi-
tion through sarcasm. Irvine's mat-
ter-of-fact attitude toward the inter-
rogator and his mocking answers
provided comic relief. Moreover,
Irvine instilled a sense of
verisimilitude in Schmorell by
providing a tranquility of character
that eased his transition from wary
to flippant.
These outstanding performances
were enhanced by Robert J. Far-
ley's direction, as well as by Allan
Billings' scenic design. The set
was minimal, yet functional. With
the Inspector's desk on one edge of
the stage and the students' quarters
on the other, there was ample open
space in which the accused re-
mained onstage and offered their
testimonies separately beneath a
spotlight. This structure empha-.
sized the significance of each in-
dividual without allowing the au-
dience to ignore the group dy-
namic. It was also crucial to
Mohr's character and to the play's
moral tension for the audience to

Chris Hillman and the
Desert Rose Band
A Dozen Roses: Greatest
Hits
MCA
Chris Hillman is best-known as
the bassist who often played with
his back to the audience as a member
of the Byrds, the '60s 12-string-jan-
gle and later country-rock pioneers
who developed the sound so admired
by '80s groups like R.E.M. But
after following his days in the Byrds
and the Flying Burrito Brothers by
spending low-profile years as a jour-
neyman instrumentalist in marginal
'70s acoustic-rock combos, it is
Hillman - not fellow principal
members Roger McGuinn or David
Crosby - who in recent years has
emerged artistically as the most au-
thoritative former Byrd. And he's
done it not by recapitulating old glo-
ries, but rather by returning to the
sounds he played before he became a
rock-and-roll star - no-nonsense
country music.
Although, to be exact, it was
bluegrass that Hillman cut his teeth
on, his Desert Rose Band has in the
last five years virtually defined the
country-pop sound currently in favor
on Nashville radio. Of the nine pre-
viously-released tracks on A Dozen
Roses: Greatest Hits, all but one
were top-10 country hits, and the
other made it to number 11. But the
Desert Roses' chart sound still has

little in common with slick
schlockmeisters like Lee Greenwood.
The instrumentation is light and
traditional, backing lilting pedal
steel and air-tight harmonies with
easy, mid-tempo beats. Things pick
up with a version of John Hiatt's
rompish "She Don't Love Nobody,"
as well as with "Hello Trouble," a
Buck Owens toe-tapper. And with
the songs from 1990's Pages ,of
Life, DRB start developing harder
edges: a minor-key guitar figure
gives "Start All Over Again" a
moody twist.
If the playing sounds flawless,
it's no wonder; four of Hillman's
five backing men (on bass, steel,
guitar, and drums) have been honored
or at least nominated by the Country
Music Academy as best player on
his instrument in the last handful of
years. These guys have played on
just about everyone else's records -
guitarist Herb Pedersen can in fact
lay claim to having played on every
episode of The Rockford Files, The
A-Team, and Dukes of Hazzard!
But as the gritty jams of the sig-
nature concert tune "Price I Pay"
prove, they're not letting profession-
alism get the best of them. Listen
closely to the new cut, "Will This
Be the Day," and you'll even hear a
familiar Rickenbacker jangle. This is
one rose that's got plenty of life still
left in it.
-Michael Paul Fischer

see him frozen in his chair in a
hunched position while the stu-
dents spoke.
Farley and the players also
achieved a strong aesthetic grace.
In the beginning, the students ex-
pressed their moral indignation by
literally forming a stiff, affirmative
front, their eyes focusing on some-
thing above and beyond the audi-
ence. Farley also paid homage to

the grace associated with martyr-
dom and defeat. As Sophie sat
dfreaming of the future in her prison
cell, the sudden collapse of her
head and shoulders upon her knees
complemented Mohr's primal at-
tempt to shield himself with his
arms in a solitary moment of an-
guish.
Both gestures were reminispent
See WEEKEND, Page 7

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