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March 06, 1991 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-06

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, March 6,1991

He reviewed
Stereotyping silly

She reviewed
Nope, I didn't like it either

He Said/ She Said
dirs. Ken Kwapis and
Marisa Silver
by Mike Kuniavsky
Gilligan's Island must have been
ahead of its time. Forging the future,
the episodes devoted to retracing
catastrophe back through each indi-
vidual character's perspective via a
series of flashbacks was a stroke of
genius. Invariably, all of the
versions were different, distorted in
favor of the storyteller (of course,
Gilligan usually got slammed in all
but his own, even though he
typically told the truth.)
Well, that's the idea behind He
Said, She Said. Two journalists,
Dan Hanson, played by Kevin "I've
looked 18 for 10 years now" Bacon,
and Lorie Bryer, played by Elizabeth
Perkins, have a television show
where they face off on current events
from their respectively conservative
and liberal perspectives, but off-
screen, they're in love and live to-
gether. When they break up on the
air we are forced to watch as the rea-
sons for the breakup are sorted out
through flashbacks (1) to the begin-
ning of the relationship, as told to
the pair's neighbors and co-workers.
After long sequences where they
fall in love despite their differences,
we see the typical "woman wants a
solid relationship, man can't com-
mit" storyline, and we get the ubiq-
uitous "it's no one's fault, that's the
way the sexes are" resolution. Great.
The idea of the film, and of the
Gilligan's Island episodes, is cute,,
and when handled the right way can
be entertaining. In this film, though,
the screenwriter and directors forgot
one important thing: that in order for
something like this to work, there
should be some fundamental differ-

ence between the two stories. The
viewer should get some insight
about the characters, about relation-
ships, or about "truth" from the con-
trasting parts. Unfortunately, this
doesn't happen here. We get two
stereotypes that act in stereotypical
patterns and say stereotypical things,
stereotypically. Which really tells us
nothing about the either gender or
about how people should interact.
Not to say that the whole film is
horrible; the first part (as told from
the male perspective) is basically
like one of those Tracy-Hepburn
screwball comedies of the '40s, with
plenty of fast-paced, witty dialogue,
cute visual humor, and bouncy mu-
sic. Kevin Bacon is pretty amicable,
successfully playing the part of the
womanizing "can't say the word
'love"' stereotypical male, even if
it's not particularly original. The big
problem here is in the script: why is
he telling the story as that of a
womanizer? Wouldn't a guy like that
not recognize that he's like that?
Wouldn't he blame everything on
the woman's lack of understanding
of his penis?
The second half is where the film
really falters. The screenwriter, Brian
Hohlfeld, a man, tried to tell the
story from a female perspective. Re-
grettably, all he was able to do is
tell it from the perspective of a neu-
rotic introvert. The direction didn't
help: Marisa Silver didn't seem to
have the sense of humor about the
whole situation that Ken Kwapis
did; her interpretation was much drier
and less interesting.
I was really hoping that this film
would help me sort out my
relationships with women, or at
least set me in the right direction.
Unfortunately, it wasn't even as
funny as Gilligan's Island.
HE SAID/SHE SAID is being shown
at Briarwood and Showcase.

He Said/She Said
dirs. Ken Kwapis and
Marisa Silver

by Jen Bilik

Bacon &
Perkins

Kwapis &
Silver

Considering the many elements in
He Said/She Said taken from other
films, it's quite a remarkable feat
that it turned out to seem so origi-
nal. There's a direct homage to Jack
Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces (and
a profound metaphor at that - rela-
tionship as sandwich); a use of older
couples to predict the antagonistic
future of an uncertain relationship
which calls to mind that very
copycat film itself, When Harry
Met Sally; and, as a colleague
suggested to me, a battle of the
sexes which seems perfectly suited
for a Grant/Tracy/Hepburn comedy
of the '40s.
The film's very governing idea,
the implacable differences between
male and female perception, sub-
scribes to a book that's been on the
best seller list for 30 weeks, You
Just Don't Understand, which
proves scientifically that men and
women speak entirely different lan-
guages. Actually, even the narration
isn't that original, because at the
impressionable age of 12, I was read-
ing pulp romance fiction for adoles-
cents, including a unique genre
wherein each book consisted of two
halves - one from the male side,
one from the female. Yes, the same
story told twice.
Why don't we just accept that
there are fundamental differences be-
tween the sexes and stop all this
progressive, free-to-be-you-and-me
bullshit? Why don't we acknowledge
that no man can control his sex drive
and that every woman is a jailer with
breasts, ready to pull every available
man into her iron clasp? The '60s
were full of crap - let's recognize
that testosterone and the nesting
instinct rule theaworld. If, as
Marxism would assert, all art derives
from class conflict (or, in this case,
gender conflict), then thank god for

He Said/She Said, the summit of
truth and psychological nuance.
It doesn't help, of course, that
Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins
are appealing actors who make this
film enjoyable, regardless of its
underlying predictions for romance.
It hurts further that the film's sur-
realism-a-la-Moonlighting fantasy
sequences are funny and well-staged.
In fact, the only element of enter-
tainment that indicates the shortcom-
ings of the film's premises is its
entire second half. Which, as you
might guess from the title, is the
woman's half.
If you haven't figured it out al-
ready, He Said/She Said is an inno-
vative cinematic excursion into the
diptych. The first half is directed by
a man, Ken Kwapis, from Dan Han-
son's (Bacon) point of view, while
the second half is directed by a
woman, Marisa Silver, from Lorie
Bryer's (Perkins) perspective. Thank-
fully, the two halves depict different
scenes from their relationship so that
very few are repeated.
The film traces their professional
and personal relationship from
newsprint to television. She, a feel-
good liberal, and he, a pragmatic
conservative, share first a column
and then a news show that presents
various issues from their opposing
sides. In their relationship, lo, she
wants to settle down into the M-
word (take your pick, monogamy or
marriage), while he wants to fuck
everything with the right anatomy.
One might argue that Hanson and
Bryer weren't meant to represent ev-
eryman and woman. In all the scenes
characterizing Hanson's and Bryer's
adoring public, however, the men
agree with Hanson and the women
with Bryer. Every other couple falls
into the same narrow categories.
Women commiserate, men fuck.
Even Hanson's long-time fling, his
female counterpart, proposes com-
mitment at the end.
In its intentional depiction of
stereotypes, this film offends both
men and women. Yet, as evident

from the male half, it attempts to
depict the humanity behind the@
stereotypes: Hanson successfully
passes through a life stage and be-
comes a complete character,tapable
of intimacy and good humor. When
applied to Bryer, however, the for-
mula fails - she remains flat, weak,
and stereotypical.
To good purpose in the first half,
the film employs cliches only to
show their absurdity. In the second
half, after hearing about 30 "you just
don't understands" without clarifica-
tion, I was about to scream. I don't
know whether this results from sex-
ism or the director and (male)
writer's sheer ineptitude. Apparently,
from a woman's perspective, women
express their feelings through whin-
ing, manipulation, competition with
one another, crying at inopportune
times in public, and unsubstantiated*
accusations towards men "because
they just won't change."
It is ironic, then, that the male
half of the film depicts Bryer better
than the female half. Throughout the
entire film, however, Hanson
emerges as remotely human in all
but his pre-transformed state.
There are some truly funny and
charming scenes in the film, yet
most, if not all, belong to the first
half, before the popcorn has run out.
The narration is innovative and skill-
ful, elevating what could've been the
film's most trite aspect.
Nature and nurture, promiscuity
and maternity, ejaculation and
orgasm: okay, maybe, through.
socialization and chromosomes, we
are somewhat different. But anatomy
is not destiny. Our differences attract
us to each other, and part of the fun
is figuring those differences out.
They're just not that simple, nor do
they cling to the gendered lines He
Said/She Said would have you be-
lieve.
HE SAID/SHE SAID is being shown
at Briarwood and Showcase.
"Pretty Good Life." While "Big Mis-
take" sounds annoyingly like any
Sub Pop band trying to sound like
Royal Crescent Mob, most of these
cuts emphasize JB's concept of
rhythm as deliverance, with pleasing
results. In the same cut, relatively
annoying white-boy vocals take the
place of funky, idiosyncratic croon-
ing, still with much the same effect
as Parliament's singing, "if you hear
any noise, it's just me and the
boys." Did I mention that they play
their own instruments?
-Forrest Green IIi

Kuniavsky &
Bilik

AAM 319 3 W "

The Michigan Daily is recruiting aggressive,
creative students for our Display Advertising sales
team! Great sales and advertising experience!
Both spring/summer and fall positions are
available.
Application deadline: Friday, March 15.
Mass Meeting: March 7, 7PM
Student Publications Bldg, 420 Maynard e 764-0554

i

SPRING DANCE
for
Lesbian and Bisexual Womyn
Sat. March 9
10 p.m.-2 am.
North Campus Commons
$4 Donation, Refreshments
763-4186
sponsored by the Lesbian Programs Office

RECORDS
Continued from page 7
yummy stuff associated with the
words "excellent garage-rock."
-Brian Jarvinen
Royal Crescent Mob
Midnight Rose's
Sire
About one month ago, a friend of
mine repeatedly deliberated to me her
problem with Urban Dance Squad
(another band derivative of indige-
nously Black music with a compara-
tively hybrid racial makeup), the

lyrics. "Yes," I answered her, "but
who's listening?" Like UDS, the
Royal Crescent Mob is more con-
cerned with saying anything than it
is with saying something. The band
is brandishing its funk edge simply
for the joy of playing agitative,
rhythmic music, and nothing else.
On Midnight Rose's, the guitar
playing of the Mob's Mr. B is more
important than anything else. Whee-
zling organ lines, robust bass pops,
and quintessential drum fills all must
step aside to B's lexicon of distor-
tion, rhythm licks, and wah-wah
pedal performance, especially on

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