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March 12, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-12

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ARTS
Tuesday, March 12, 1991

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

s ___

A passage to Indi

Mr. and Mrs.
Bridge
dir. James Ivory
by Michael John Wilson
M aybe it was a mistake to
even try. Maybe the Merchant
Ivory filmmaking crew should
have had nothing to do with
Evan S. Connell's novels, Mr.
Bridge (1969) and Mrs. Bridge
(1959), instead of trying to
compress them both into a
single film. Maybe they were
doomed to fail before they even
started. But if Mr. and Mrs.
Bridge is a mistake, what an
exquisitely made, intriguing
mistake it is.
The team of director James
Ivory, producer Ismail Mer-
chant, and screenwriter Ruth
Prawer Jhabvala have success-
fully adapted several other nov-
els toethe screen, including E.M.
Forster's Room With A View.
This time they tackle Connell's
novels, which together describe
the Bridges - a middle-aged,
upper-middle class WASP fam-
ily living in Kansas City during
the late '30s and early '40s.
Connell presents each Bridge
through a segmented style. In
Mrs. Bridge, for example, we
are given one event after an-
other, not tied together by a
specific storyline, in 117 brief
chapters.
The film retains this episodic
style, which will surely bore
many viewers. One scene after
another washes over us, with
very little actually occurring.

Like snapshots out of family al-
bums (or home movies, which
open and close the film), we
gradually get to know the
Bridges, their children, and
their friends. It's an unusual film
which requires patience; to
many, watching these rather
unextraordinary lives may not
qualify as entertainment. Two
brilliant performances, however,
make these mundane characters
complex, fascinating, and to-
tally engrossing.
India Bridge (Joanne Wood-
ward) in some ways embodies a
familiar maternal character,
wonderfully caring yet naive
and out of touch. What makes
her so captivating is her desper-
ation at being repressed by her
husband, Walter (Paul New-
man, Woodward's real-life hus-
band). The plot might be de-
scribed as Mrs. Bridge's grow-
ing realization that her life has
been hopelessly stifled by her
husband and that her ideals will
never really come true. Her
name is bitterly ironic, suggest-
ing the exoticism and freedom
she will never achieve.
Nearly all of her enthusiasms
are insensitively dismissed by
Mr. Bridge, and there's abso-
iutely no escape from him. Even
when she proposes divorce, he
simply calms her down, never
believing for a second that
she'd have the nerve to go
through with it, and he's
absolutely right. Woodward's
performance is so right on that
it's at times uncomfortable to
watch her naive cheerfulness,
sadly hiding a hopelessly
trapped soul.

Bridge
Mr. Bridge is not merely the
bad guy here, however. New-
man's performance brings out
his sensitivity and his appeal,
while never letting us forget
what a cold and callous old fart
he is. Mr. Bridge also can't be
dismissed as merely old-fash-
ioned and repressed; he occa-
sionally shows signs of life and
sensitivity, such as when he
takes his wife on a trip to Eu-
rope and enjoys a lavishly exu-
berant dance show.

If your heroes have always been cowboys,
why would you send in the clowns?

Mr. Bridge's enigmatic
flict between repression

con-
and

sensitivity keeps us engrossed
throughout the film, but we
never gain any sufficient under-
standing of him. Minor charac-
ters, including their three rebel-
lious children, are themselves
intriguing and well portrayed,
but we learn even less about
them; the filmmakers tried to
cram too much into the film.
Even after 135 minutes, the film
ends too quickly for us to get a
grasp on the characters.
There was just no way both
books could be combined into a
film of this length. The scant
episodes shown to us leave us
empty and unsatisfied because
they don't form a complete pic-
ture. Perhaps as an eight-hour
PBS series, the film would have
worked better. With its brilliant
performances and beautiful pro-
duction, however, Mr. and Mrs.
Bridge is probably the best dis-
appointment released in a long
time.
MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE is being
shown at the Ann Arbor 1 & 2.

My Heroes Have
Always Been
Cowboys
dir. Stuart Rosenberg
by Jon Rosenthal
My Heroes Have Always Been+
Cowboys brings to Ann Arbor a:
slice of the American pie rarely
eaten here. Quintessentially Amer-
ican, the film portrays the trials of
a rodeo rider named H.D. (Scott+
Glenn), injured while substituting:
for a friend as a clown at the
rodeo. (It is difficult to understandr
why these individuals dress as
clowns. They have the unfunny job
of providing a target for two tons of
highly annoyed bull.) To recover
from being gored, H.D. returns to
his home town and discovers that
his sister Cheryl (Tess Harper) has
put their father (Ben Johnson) in
the local old-age home. Full of
righteous indignation, H.D. rescues
his father and romances his old
girlfriend (Kate Capshaw), whose
husband has conveniently died and
left her with two kids.
The film suffers from the con-
trived nature of its plot, which uses
elements that are designed to
strike at the heart of rural America.
The evil brother-in-law (Gary
Busey) works as a bank manager
and wants to sell off the father's
land - a reflection of the evil
foreclosure man who threatens the
small farmer. The old-age home is
a place where parents are shuffled
off to when the children can't put
up with their senility. The cowboy
is the symbol of the free individual
who refuses to give up, against all
odds and any form of common
sense. All of these elements ap-
peal to the ideals and echo the
problems of the rural American.
My Heroes Have Always Been
Cowboys is, above all, an epic
Western set in the present, and
some of the plot is very familiar.
The major difference lies in the
substitution of bull-riding for gun-
fighting. H.D. find himself ready to
lay down his spurs, but the evil
landbaron forces him to pick them
up again. Sound familiar? Another
hint: H.D. also begins to teach a
young boy (Balthazar Getty) how
to ride bulls. Yep, its Shane all
over again, only with the Wild
West reduced to the rodeo ring.
For the most part, the acting is
much more compelling then the1
story. The characters are interest-t
ing and well played, especially

Glenn's almost childish tantrums
when he becomes frustrated with
his sister and Mickey Rooney's
character Junior, the slightly de-
mented old man who believes that
Dolly Parton was given her
"abundance" for being a good
Christian. Director Stuart Rosen-
berg is generally competent, ex-
celling during the final bull-riding
scene, which was shot in slow mo-
tion with a heart-beat soundtrack.
The element that works best in
the film is the terse and laconic
dialogue so definitive of the clas-
sic western. Harper tells the hero,
"You shuffle and grin, but you
never grow up. Always more hat

than cattle." Some elements clash
drastically with the rest of the film.
The most obvious is the training
H.D. receives before his last battle,
taken right from The Karate Kid.
Instead of standing on a piling with
a foot and hands in the air, he sits
on a barn roof with his hand in the
air. This final piece destroys the
movie's credibility, and leaves the
viewer with the feeling that Hol-
lywood should wake up and smell
what it's shoveling.
MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN
COWBOYS is being shown at
Showcase.

Educated in Romance:
Women, Achievement,
and College Culture
by Dorothy C. Holland &
Margaret A. Eisenhart
University of Chicago Press
Educated in Romance gives an
insightful look at the female
college experience, revealing why
it often fails to prepare women for
their future. Romance is held
above all else; the mundane world
of academics falls by the wayside.
Commissioned to investigate
why, decades after the onset of the
women's movement, relatively few
women were entering traditionally
male-dominated fields, Dorothy C.
Holland and Margaret A. Eisenhart
studied 23 women at two Southern
universities from 1979 to 1987.
Their study resulted in an alarming
discovery. Ultimately, two-thirds
abandoned their careers or, at the
very least, considered them sec-
ondary to those of their husbands.
Holland and Eisenhart expected
to find an atmosphere in which
women supported each other in
l academic pursuits and steered
friends toward lucrative careers.
Instead, they discovered the oppo-
site to be true. The women they in-
terviewed couldn't have cared less
about the academic existence of
their peers; what did end up
mattering was their standing in the
college dating scene.
The first few chapters of the
book are so bogged down in
references to previous studies that

it seems the authors wrote it for
the sole benefit of their fellow so-
ciologists. Once they begin evalu-
ating their own material, however,
Holland and Eisenhart demonstrate
a keen understanding of heterosex-
ual relationships on campus. For
instance, they suggest that a new
version of the old double standard
is at work today. While women are
no longer barred from having pre-
marital sex, it still remains some-
thing the woman "gives" in return
for "good treatment" from the man.
The authors use this idea to
make a pointed observation about
the implications of a woman's
need for this "good treatment."
Rape proves the ultimate form of
"bad treatment," and, "because
attractiveness is attested to by the
treatment women receive from
men, rape creates the victim's lowr

correlated attractiveness come
from the attention they receive
from women and from success at
sports, in school politics, and in
other arenas. Women's prestige
and correlated attractiveness come
only from the attention they
receive from men."
The authors refer extensively to
their subjects, whose quotes
enliven and clarify the text. One
woman says another woman
actually told her, "You may be
able to do calculus, but I'm dating
a football player." All in all, while
I find Holland and Eisenhart's as-
sessment of female friendships to
be a little bleak, their insights on
female college life and relation-
ships are compelling and thought-
provoking.
-Jodi Lustig

"Why yes, as a matter of fact these are Bugle Boy jeans I'm wearing,"
Scott Glenn tells Ben Johnson in My Heroes Have Always Been
Cowboys.

I
t1

Summer
Job Fair
Thursday March 14 I
nterview for summer jobs Pick-up applications and
fom across the country position descriptions

2:00 - 4:00 pm
Michigan Union

r-

prestige." This goes a long way
towards explaining the prevalence
of date rape on college campuses;
women don't speak out after they
are victimized because they fear
this lowering of prestige.
Holland and Eisenhart also
discuss the nature of sexual
attractiveness and the role it plays
in romantic relationships. They
consider attractiveness to consist
of two components, one deter-
mined by an individual's physical
features and the other by the atten-
tion the peer group bestows upon
the individual. However, a major
difference exists in the peer
group's method of determining the
"auxiliary" attractiveness of the
two sexes. "Men's prestige and

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