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March 05, 1991 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-05

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ARTS
Tuesday, March 5, 1991

,The Michigan Daily

Page 5

Was

hi

Book of Love
dir. Robert Shaye
by Gregg Flaxman
In the same class as the many films
that have the middle-aged glancing
back on years past and mistakes
made, Book of Love opens with Jack
Twiller (Michael McKean) listening
to his answering machine. His
lawyer informs him that his ex-wife
has won a hefty divorce settlement;
on the brighter side, he goes on to
say that one of Jack's high school
sweethearts is back in town. This is
the pretense for a post-pubescent
retrospective in which Jack's own
high school yearbook photograph -
no joke - leads him through a
mishmash of memories not unlike
the Ghost of Christmas Past.
There's something so harmless
about Robert Shaye's first film that,

gh scho
in the more compassionate and sen-
timental moments, it's worthy of
cable schlock, or maybe even made-
for-TV fare. Otherwise, Book of
Love, with roughly three separate
opportunities to laugh, is so wholly
unconnected and so poorly conceived
that it cannot even justify its con-
clusion, much less its budget.
It's 1956 and a naive young Jack
(Chris Young) finds his family mov-
ing to a new neighborhood. He's
only assured of one thing: that he'll
get the crap kicked out of him.
Though this happens, Jack is even-
tually befriended by Crutch (Keith
Coogan) and two other socially-pe-
ripheral types. They form a junta of
wanna-be's who aspire to date the
elite women, yet who seem to get
rejected at every turn.
Jack, in particular, has his sights
set on Lily (Josie Bisset), but this is
one sophomore tap-dancer who's off
limits. She's in tight with Angelo

ol that dumb?

Gabooch (Beau Dremann), the mo-
torcycle bully and New Kids on the
Block clone who says a couple of
words during the film, but generally
reverts to a Cro-Magnon sneer.
Shaye's film conspires to make
us remember a time when getting
the girl was more important than
losing a limb, when the Prom
seemed the convergence of every
hormonal and social urge that we'd
ever known. Of course, any penchant
for nostalgia will have you identify-
ing with Jack's plight, but the
teenage angst wears thin.
Book of Love does not have the
complexity nor the mischief of any
number of its predecessors, and what
it does have is generally ignored. Of
course, the older Jack Twiller's ex-
wife is Lily; yet in the course of the
hour-and-a-half flashback, they never
consummate anything. It's only after
Jack's gone to the prom with An-
gelo's sister, Gina (Tricia Leigh

Fisher), that it's explained that Lily
got jealous and fell for Jack. The in-
coherence is rampant.
Jack, for instance, returns home
at the film's opening to an enor-
mous apartment, with the filmmak-
ers literally tagging a sign on him
informing us that he's "made it big."
This is the same Jack that seems so
incredibly average in high school,
whose hormones remain consistently
in line with those of every other
male in the film, who is told by his
guidance counselor that he can't get
into any university. The filmmakers
never give any indication that this
really isn't the case; there's only the
vague assurance that Jack is "unique"
and has a "vivid imagination." The
older Jack's success is nothing less
than a non sequitur.
At times, Book of Love aspires
to be a "kinder, gentler" version of
Porky's, as if America needed an-
other film with characters named

Crutch (Keith Coogan) and Jack (Chris Young) cleverly hide their naked
bodies with cardboard boxes in Book of Love.

"Drainpipe," "Meatball,"
"Bunny." Wait for it on cable.

and BOOK OF LOVE is playing at Bri-
arwood and Showcase.

-o -a

.In the wee hours, turn on the boob tube Bok

by Mark Binelli
It's two a.m. and you know exactly
where you are and that is the
problem, because you are sitting in
your dorm room/house/apartment
and you are not tired at all and ev-
eryone you know is either asleep or
studying or doing something else
with somebody else that you weren't
invited to do as well. So you think
to yourself, "I'm going to finally
start reading that Dostoevsky novel I
bought at Dave's my first year here
and haven't picked up since." Then
you turn on the television.

Someone is showing sports
bloopers on Jay Leno. The first
blooper is of a man in a rowboat be-
ing bitten by a goose. You change
the channel, but on Arsenio Hall,
Arsenio is wearing a purple suit and
explaining to his audience that Sad-
dam spelled backwards is "Mad Ass."
He then cracks a crowd-pleasing
"I've fallen and I can't get up" joke.
You know Dave will be on in a half-
hour, but you wonder if it will be a
re-run, and if so, what his hair will
look like. You think to yourself, "I
would trade my Ray Ban sunglasses
for some information on what's
worth watching after midnight other
than Late Night with David Letter-
man."
(Any sunglasses or objects of
equivalent value can be dropped off
at the Student Publications Building,
420 Maynard. Ask for Mark.)
The Top Ten Late-Night Televi-
sion Shows (Besides Letterman):
1. Later with Bob Costas -
Monday-Thursday, 2:05 a.m., Chan-
nel 4 Detroit (NBC)
I used to picture all "sports fans"
as overweight white men anxiously
awaiting the outcome of the "Bud
Bowl" in their Motor City Bad Boy
T-shirts. Bob Costas has erased this
unfair stereotype from my mind. The
smooth-as-Miracle-Whip sportscaster
turned graveyard-shift TV host runs
the most intelligent talk show on
television (that I watch, anyway -
the PBS channel on my TV set is
broken, you understand), featuring
the guests who are too smart for Ar-
senio and too young for Johnny and
too afraid of being made fun of by
Letterman, ranging from George
McGovern to Robert Altman to
David Crosby.

Costas can even make someone
like Ed McMahon seem hip. When
he was a guest on Later, the
Million Dollar McMahon explained
that one of the reasons he's always
laughing at Johnny's stupid
monologues is because before the
show, the two wild men crack jokes,
"sometimes a bit risque," Ed can-
didly admitted. So during the mono-
logue, when Johnny says "Aren't
those laws about tearing those tags
off of mattresses just crazy?" he
might really be making a subtle al-
lusion to a dirty joke he made back-
stage concerning Shelly Winters and
Don Rickles.I
And not only are his guests
sentient, but Costas actually asks
informed, probing questions, and he
actually has almost an entire half-
hour to talk to them. And most of
all, Costas is one of people who can
aptly be described by the word
"earnest," literally jumping out of
his chair, for instance, when Ed
mentioned that his favorite Johnny
character is El Moldo. When Bob
grabs Ed's arm and shouts gleefully,
"I love El Moldo," it's obvious that
Bob genuinely means it.
2. Dragnet - every day, 3:30
a.m., Nickolodean
Jack Webb is the ultimate
straight-man in the ultimate sit-com
about cops featuring the best Sahara-
dry irony next to listening to Milli
Vanilli's "Girl I'm Gonna Miss
You."
3. People's Court - Monday-
Friday, midnight, Channel 20 De-
troit
Judge Wapner is still a mean old
prick after all these years, particu-
larly to women and anyone who
can't speak English very well. In
other words, great fun watching peo-
ple who are willing to subject them-
selves to abuse, humiliation, and
condescension from a stupid retired
authoritarian asshole just to get on
the TV.
4. Love Connection - Monday-
Friday, 11:30 p.m., Channel 20 De-
troit
If you've ever wondered what
kind of people actually call those 1-
900-LONELY-PATHETIC-N-
HORNY hotlines. This show is the
best way to find out without
shellingout the seven dollars a
minute. Good first-date gossip about
people you don't know or care about
and can laugh at and openly choose
sides without feeling guilty.
5. Siskel and Ebert - Sunday,
1:00 a.m., Channel 7 Detroit
We all know they're great, but
the question of the hour is and al-

ways has been: who is the greatest?
My money still goes on Rog (a.k.a.
"the Fat One"), friend of Russ Meyer
who wrote the screenplays for the
incredible Beyond the Valley of the
Dolls (the psychedelic Citizen Kane,
with Orson Welles' "Rosebud" death
overshadowed by the decapitation of
porn star Lance Rock by a nude
hermaphrodite) and Who Killed
Bambi?, the Sex Pistols movie that
should've been but couldn't be made,
which was to include a scene in
which Sid Vicious raped his own
mother. Remember this and smile
the next time the guys start bitching
about how there's too much violence
in cinema these days.
6. MTV - all day, all night, ev-
ery day, for the rest of your life
That Australian guy is a real
dickhead and they make all the VJ
chicks wear tight sleazy outfits, but
hey, that's what MTV has always
been about, right? Dickhead guys
with tight, sleazy chicks in their
videos still abound (David Lee
Roth's new video even features a
Monster Jeep), as well as too many
power ballads, but Iggy Pop in
heavy rotation was good to see, and
as long as you remember to take this
type of output in VERY SMALL
DOSES, preferably while you're
also doing something else, like exer-
cising or reading or sleeping, it only
does a minimal amount of damage.
7. CNN Headline News - same
as above
"Hey, is it top of the -hour?" is
probably the most frequently asked
television-related question in my,
apartment, rivalled only by the
slightly more awkward, "Hey, is it
top of the half-hour?" And come on,
it was worth suffering through all of
those Luther Campbell sound bites
just to hear the insufferable Bernie
Shaw crying "We're in the middle of
hell!" from under a table in Baghdad.
Any newspaper is still always better,
but never as current.
8. Movies So Bad That They
Haven't Even Been Released On
Video, And If They Have, You Sure
As Hell Won't Find Them at Your
Local Family Blockbuster Store -
varies, you just have to be vigilant
One recent example that springs
to mind is Can't Stop the Music,
the Village People vehicle in which
they perform the wonderfully homo-
sexually-undertoned "Milkshake" and
frolic together in a swimming pool
during "YMCA." The boys got a lit-
tle help from their friends, most no-
tably Bruce Jenner and a young
Steve Guttenberg, but as one of the
band members (the gay biker guy, I

think) declared before they took the
stage for their big final-performance
finale-extravaganza, "Leather men
don't get nervous." I missed the first
half and wasn't able to tape it, so
please don't send me MTS messages
requesting copies.
9. Night Flight - Sunday, 2:30
a.m., Channel 7 Detroit
Stream-of-consciousness pop-cul-
ture at its finest, with a soothingly
plastic female voice-over as your
guide through videos, film shorts,
stand-up comics, and profiles of
people and things that you've proba-
bly always wanted to see profiled,
but only at 2:30 in the morning.
The show used to be something like
seven hours long when it was on the
USA Network, but this newer tease-
version is only an hour. The last one
I watched featured segments on John
Cougar Mellencamp, James Garner,
Jane's Addiction, an Italian film en-
titled "Goodnight, Michelangelo,"
and the obligatory tribute to John
Wayne.
10. One Day At a Time - Mon-
day-Thursday, 3:30 a.m., WGN
The funny thing about the great-
est sitcoms of the '70s is that every
one had an Italian character, sort of
greasy, usually related to the under-
world somehow, with a completely
ridiculous name, yet always by far
the coolest character on the show
(see Vinnie Barbarino from Wel-
come Back, Kotter, Chaci and the
Fonz from Happy Days, Carmine
"the Big Ragu" from Laverne and
Shirley, etc.)
The only '80s Italian sit-coin star
to even come close was Tony Danza,
who played "Tony" on Taxi and now
plays "Tony" on Who's the Boss,
and who was first seen as the class-
conscious gardner slapping rich
young Marilyn Chamber's face with
his three-foot penis in the porn
classic Insatiable II, which is
exactly why there are no longer any
prime-time shows worth watching.
But going back to One Day at a
Time, Pat Harrington Jr.'s Schneider
would fit perfectly, except I think
he's supposed to be Polish, so that
leaves us with the lovely Valerie
Bertinelli (as Barbara Romano) who
isn't really greasy or a criminal, but
her last name in real life rhymes
with mine (unless she changed it to
Van Halen, in which case One Day
At a Time automatically is rescinded
from my list and is replaced by The
700 Club.)

Nothing if Not Critical
by Robert Hughes
Alfred A. Knopf
There are two types of people
called "art critic": those who wishy-
washily comment about art and
those who really criticize it. Robert
Hughes (The Shock of the New, The
Fatal Shore) is one of the latter.
Writing for such a pop-ish and
superficial magazine as Time,
Hughes has been able to consistently
provide rich, incisive art criticism in
entertaining and understandable
terms. His best work from the past
decade has finally been collected in
Nothing if Not Critical.
For a book about art, Nothing if
Not Critical is initially surprising in
that it contains no pictures whatso-
ever. Maybe this is because he cov-
ers something like 130 artists in the
book's 430 pages, and to illustrate
each one would have made the book
five times as long. Or maybe pic-
tures just aren't necessary. The art

Hughes talks about, though ostensi-
bly on canvas or paper, really works,
as he puts it, "between the ears."
Most of the essays, though su-
perficially dealing with concrete
works of art, are actually about the
meanings, connotations, resonances,
and effects of that art. Hughes never
talks about how the art looks or
what it's made of. Instead, he dis-
cusses the art's context, and how
that context relates to all of us.
Moreover, Hughes does this in such
a profound and enjoyable way that
one soon forgets that there are no
pictures here to look at (or that there
were any pictures in the first place).
Often, Hughes' statements tran-
scend the current topic and become
philosophical comments in and, of
themselves. For instance, when
commenting on the last disturbing
works of Francisco Goya (anl8th
century Spanish painter), Hughes ca-
sually writes, "Hysteria, evil, cruelty
See BOOKS, Page 7

1 991 Student Recognition Awards
The deadline for receipt of
nominations for
1991 Student Recognition Awards is
March 6, 1991
Nomination forms must
be submitted to the Student Organization
Development Center, 2202 Michigan Union
on or before that date in order to be
considered. For more information, contact
SODC at 763-5900
A -CLAS S ACT
'91 A LASTING IMPRESSION

The University of Michigan
Department of Recreational Sports
presents
"MICHIGAN CLASSICS"
ADULT SLOW-PITCH SOFTBALL
ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

SPEECHMAKERS
- wWANTED!
Here's the chance to tell your classmates
what your years here at
The University of Michigan
have meant to you.
WHO: All eligible graduating LS&A seniors
(through Winter Term 1991)

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