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November 21, 1995 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-21

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 21, 1995

Reiner's American dream

Pianist Ohisson captivates

Bykate Brady
Daily Arts Writer
Be controls the most powerful coun-
try- in today's world. He spends his
every waking minute flankedby guards,
and dealing with important issues. His
every action is material for the evening
news. How can the president get a little
time forhimselfRob Reiner's latest film
"An American President" takes an inter-
esting look at the man behind the office.
Michael Douglas plays Andrew
Shepard, a man who is father, widower
and president ofthe United States. He is
The American
Directed by Rob Reiner
with Michael Douglas and
Annette Bening
At Briarwood and Showcase
popular entering an election year, until
he meets Sydney Wade (Annette
Bening). He asks her to join him at a
state dinner, and they begin dating, much
to the great joy of the press, and his
conservative rival. Shepard comes un-
der attack, but comes out looking like a
real winner.
Reiner does an interesting job of
eploring the politics that take place.
behind the scenes in the White House.
It Is revealing to see how much of the
running of this country the voter
knows nothing about. He presents a

sympathetic look at how difficult it
must be to be president, to have so
much power, and to remain a real
Michael Douglas is extremely lik-
able as commander-in-chief. He seems
well cast in the role of an intelligent
leader, which he plays with humor and
charm. Annette Bening is also good as
Sydney, the tough, environmental lob-
byist who becomes the president's love
The main members of the president's
advisory staff provide much of the hu-
mor. Michael J. Fox - as an over-
anxious adviser - deserved more
screen time to develop one of the film's
most entertaining characters. The writ-
ers would have also done well to in-
clude more of the humorous supporting
players, and less of the cheesy dialogue
.that preceded many of the romantic
Despite its billing as a sappy ro-
mance, which it, unashamedly is, "The
American President" is also very funny.
The unexpected spots of humor, both
political and otherwise, spice up what
could have been a much less enjoyable
Actually the romance between
Shepard and Wade is probably the most
difficult thing to believe about this
movie. Sure, they are two single, intel-
ligent and attractive individuals. How-
ever, the plot seems to race through
their courtship at top speed; one minute
she is telling him off at a meeting, the
next they are declaring their love for
one another. The movie really does not
show any development of this relation-

By Matthew Steinhauser
Daily Arts Writer
Garrick Ohlsson arrived in Ann Ar-
bor to give the sold-out Rackham Audi-
torium a quick fix, a trip to the lovely,
delicate, haunting paradise of Frederic
Chopin's piano music. The pianist pre-
sented the fourth concert in a six-part
series, in which he will perform all of
Chopin's piano compositions.
For nearly three hours Sunday after-
noon, Ohlsson again proved his remark-
able ability to capture the hearts and
minds of an audience, while playing
only the work of one composer. Every
piece left the crowdstunnedandbreath-
less. His ability to seize the souls of the
audience lies much deeperthan his flam-
boyant style and technical proficiency.
Ohlsson understands and communi-
cates the multiple dimensions of
Chopin's music. He captures the under-
lying angst in many of the composer's
pieces, but also displays a remarkable
propensity for revealing the lighthearted
moods in many of Chopin's mazurkas
and scherzos. Like few other pianists in
the world, Ohlsson's playing paints
enthralling pictures for the listener.
For most of the first half of the pro-
gram, Ohlsson concentrated on
Chopin's light, dance pieces. He
warmed up with Three Waltzes, Op. 34,
playing them with a delightful touch.,
After Tarantelle in A-flat Major, Op.
43, the pianist explored the Mazurkas,
Op. 41, and the Scherzo No. 4 in E
Major, Op. 54. The scherzo fit perfectly
with Ohlsson' s flamboyant person al-
ity, as he jumped all over the keyboard
with ease, playing the sharp, skipping
- with the same skill as the clear.

*Garrick Ohlssou
Rackham Auditoium
Sunday, Nov. 19
melancholic melodies.
Ohlsson melded together the con-
trasting Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op
45 and the Polonaise in F-sharp iinor,
Op. 44, leaving a split-second pause
between the two pieces. At the cnd ot
the flowing, graceful prelude, the pia-
nist held out the last note for several
seconds before diving into the fast, fu-
rious polonaise. The big chords ex-
ploded from the piano. After the initial
onslaught of stormy progressions,
Ohlsson calmly slid into the exhausted,
beauty of the middle portions before
the harsh, deliberate final lines.
Near the end of the program, Ohlsson
again presented a thoughtful reflection
into Chopin's dark side, playing Two
Nocturnes, Op. 48. He squeezed all of
the somber pain out of the pieces, while
maintaining the graceful elegance in
the compositions.
Ohlsson released the audience from
the heavy, depressing spell of the noc-
turnes with his final selection, Scherzo
No. I in B minor, Op. 20. He completed
the scherzo with a rambunctious foray,
reminiscent of stormier pieces.
Ohlsson's technical brilliance, char-
ismatic style, and unique interpreta-
tions of Chopin's music satisfied all in
attendance Sunday evening. Ohlsson
deserves recognition as one of the pre-
mier pianists in the world today.

"Pardon me, but would you have any Grey Poupon?"

This movie is also probably more
enjoyable if one is not a member of the
conservative right. The president's main
rival, Sen. Rumpsin (Richard Dreyfus),
is a Bob Dole/Newt Gingrich amal-
gamation, and the movie's only villain.
So, steer clear of this film if you would
feel bad about seeing either of them get

Reiner has presented a man that
seems an ideal president, full of all
the talents and virtues and guts that
are so lacking in most of politics. His
president remains a real person, some-
how largely untainted by the business
he is in. Too bad he only exists on the

'Carrington"s Jonathan Pryce earns the role of his life REORD
Kenny Drew Jr.

LONDON (AP) - Dora Carrington
may be the title character, but the
performer commanding the attention
- and early awards - ih the movie
"Carrington" is Jonathan Pryce.
Pryce plays the homosexual Lytton
Strachey, biographer and author of
"Eminent Victorians" (1918) as well
as Carrington's beloved if platonic
companion from their meeting in 1915
at Virginia Woolf's country home to
his, death 17 years later at the age of
"I'm very glad the film is not called
'Lytton,"'the soft-spoken Welshman
said, "because then it's all to do with
confounding expectations and surpris-
ing an audience."
The film, the closing night selection
at the New York Film Festival this fall,
begins its commercial release across
the United States tomorrow.
Emma Thompson plays Carrington,
the Bloomsbury artist who commit-

ted suicide at 39, shortly after
Strachey's death.
Appearing in glasses and a long red
beard, fingers long and sinewy, Pryce
plays Strachey as the liveliest wit
Oscar Wilde never wrote.
On his deathbed, he sniffs, "If this
is dying, I don't think much of it."
The role of an actor's dreams?
"It's partly why Carrington was so
obsessed with Strachey. He did draw
the light," said Pryce, who won the
best actor prize at the Cannes Film
Festival in May for this performance,
and is being talked up for an Acad-
emy Award.
"The opportunity to explore that
depth of character in a film is quite
rare," said Pryce, 48, who has been
far better represented on stage than
screen over the last 25 years.
"It's like Wilde in terms of lan-
guage but as far as depth of character
is concerned, the nearest equivalent is

Chekhov; it's quite a literate script."
Chekhov provided two of the actor's
stage triumphs on London's West End
- as the writer Trigorin opposite
Vanessa Redgrave in "The Seagull"
(1985) and, three years later, as Astrov,
the doctor, to Michael Gambon's Uncle
Pryce's Hamlet in 1980 at the Royal
Court remains one of his generation's
most acclaimed, as does his Macbeth at
the Royal Shakespeare Company in
He won a Tony Award in his Broad-
way debut in 1976 in Trevor Griffiths'
"Comedians." He got a second Tony in
1991 in his Broadway musical debut,
playing the sleazy Eurasian pimp in
"Miss Saigon."
On screen, Pryce has been mostly a
supporting player for hire in films as
diverse as "Jumping Jack Flash,"
"Glengarry Glen Ross," "Shopping" and
"The Age of Innocence." His choice of

movie roles, he said, has been far less
discriminating than his work on stage.
"Often, with a film, I read a script
once and think, 'That would be fun to
do,"' said Pryce. "Then I start filming
andsay, 'I shouldhavereadthistwice.'
"Films to me in the past have taken
less commitment to be involved with.
They are a passing thing which seemed
very rarely to do with the actor unless
you were in a position ofpower that you
called the shots.
"You did it, and either people en-
hanced it in the editing process or ru-
ined it; it seemed a very much more
haphazard venture than theater, so it
takes me longer to commit to a piece of
theater than it does to a film."
On TV, he received anEmmy nomi-
nation as Henry Kravis in HBO's "Bar-
barians at the Gate" and is known to
devotees of U.S. TV commercials as
the Infiniti car spokesman for the past
three years.

Live at Maybeck
Jazz lovers have been waiting on
pins 'and needles for the Next Great
Pianists for some time now. After the
deaths of Bud Powell, Thelonious
Monk and Bill Evans (among others),
it seems like any young piano player
who comes along with moderate tal-
ent has had accolade after accolade
thrown at him. Blinding chops seem
to be more in favor these days instead
of good taste or hard swinging, which.
is why someone like Kenny Drew Jr.
has become popular within jazz
How much do you love scales and
finger excersises? Ifyoujust can't get
enough, go get "Live at Maybeck," as
Drew has provided for you the lis-
tener ten songs filled with 5 million
notes each. Technical facility im-
presses me as much as the next jazz
critic, but only ifthere's more to one's
playing than that, and Drew sadly
hangs his musical hat on playing
things twice as fast as anyone else,
even on ballads. Get ready for Horace
Silver's "Peace," the standards "Stella

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by Starlight" and "Autumn Leaves,"
replete with all sorts of dramatic flour-
ishes and stops and starts that sound
impressive; in the end, though, all of
the showing off doesn't matter.
Another thing: This man couldn't
swing if you gave him a rope and a
tree. He really should have sat down
and listened to a few of his father's
recordings with John Coltrane and
Miles Davis before embarking on his
solo career. In comparing Kenny
Drews Sr. and Jr., the two are almost
complete opposites of each other. Both
are good players, but the elder Drew
made up for what he didn't have in
chops by swinging hard and funky.
Junior, on the other hand, covers up
his funk/swing deficiencies by' warp
speeding everything.
Bottom line: This guy is still a good
pianist, but until his playing escapes
its one-dimensionalism, he's goingto
sound more like a circus act than a
serious artist. It would be worth it to
check him out in an ensemble setting,
where he might feel like he has less
space to fill, because what talents he
does have just don't come through in
the solo arena.
- James Miller
With a little help from
modern technology,
from the Daily vaults
comes this cartoon
from 1980, originally
published shortly.
after lead Beatle John
Lennon's death. How
appropriate for the
release this week of
the first Beatles song
in 25 years, which the
three living members
recorded recently with
an old tape of
Lennon's vocals. Don't
miss the remainder of
the three-part special,
ABC's "The Beatles
Thursday at 9 p.m -

Would you like to be an art critic? Then call Fine
Arts Editor Emily Lambert at 763-0379.


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