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November 22, 1995 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-22

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Page 5
Wenesday,
November 22, 1995

Sory' toys with technology

Ted Waftt
ly Arts Writer
There's a Disney animated feature
t, and it's different than any other
imated feature by anyone to date
causeitis the first computer anima-
n feature. It is "Toy Story," and if
u haven't heard about it, you must
ve had your TV off for the last
veral weeks.
Created by Disney and Pixar, the
mputer animation house that cre-
d the Oscar winning short "Tin
y" several years back, "Toy Story"
twell-executed and well-conceived
>ject. The fact that the hype sur-
unding the film has downplayed
m Hanks's presence as the voice of
oody in favor of allowing it to stand
itsownmerits shouldtell yousome-

REMW
TIy tory
Directed by John
Lasseter, with the voicesd
of Tom Hanks andTim
Alen
At Showcase
thing about its quality.
It is the story of a community of toys
who live in the room of a boy named
Andy. Whennohumans are aroundthe
toys come to life. Their leader by the
fact that he is Andy's favorite toy is
Woody, a cowboy action figure with a
grainy pull-string voice. The other toys
consist of various recognizable toys,
from brand name products like Mr.
Potato Head (Don Rickles) and Slinky
Dog (Jim "Ernest" Varney) to popular
generic toys like the piggy bank named
Hamm (John Ratzenberger).
Conflict arises when Andy gets a
new toy for his birthday: Buzz
Lightyear, Space Ranger (Tim Allen).
Because of his shiny gadgetry and
mod look, Buzz supplants Woody in
the place of honor on Andy's bed.
Woody is heartbroken by this, and
becomes adversarial with the new ar-
rival.
In an attempt to temporarily get rid of
Buzz by dropping him down a crack
behind a desk, Woody accidentally
knocks him out of the window, peril-
ously close to the home of neighbor-
hood toy sadist Sid. Sid is a creepy kind
nfm blnwinotnv dicmmbrn

other. He is, not surprisingly, an object
of great fear for the toys. Woody is
vilifiedby the othertoys forhis actions,
and goes after Buzz so that he can
rectify the situation. From there on in, it
becomes a buddy movie. Woody and
Buzz are at odds, andultimately need to
work together and gain a greater under-
standing of each other in order to get
back to the safety of Andy.
"ToyStory"takesthestandardbuddy
movie and uses it with the advanced
technology of computer animation and
makes you forget just how formulaic
buddy films are. The look is more than
enough to keep it entertaining, and to
distract you from the hack storyline.
And the look is really what this movie
is about.
Oneofthemoststartlingthingsabout
the movie is the use of camera move-
ment. In normal cel animation, it is
difficulttohave aconvincing shot where
the background changes perspective or
size because the normally stationary
background becomes animated. Even
in stop-motion animation like "The
Nightmare Before Christmas" itsis ex-
tremely difficult to have interesting
camera movement because of the vast
amounts of time and intricate camera
computations required to move frame
by frame through a given shot. "Toy
Story" has interesting camera move-
ment up the Jack-in-the-Box. It avoids
the problems in cel or stop motion ani-
mation because the world created in
computer animation is in three dimen-
sions and has no real life movement
consideration. It therefore looks like a

Buzz ughtyear, the coo,, wane-spaniing-new aasrnaut mthatupsets the oraer ou rungin -io my moy.

ogy lets it.
More importantly, the characters are
well animated. The plastic army men
are both convincing as plastic army
men and as plastic army men imbued
with life and movement. Woody and
Buzz, the two primary anthropomor-
phic toys, both move in reasonably hu-
man ways, but with suitable exaggera-
tion for their roles as toys. Itsis impor-
tant that Woody can walk realistically,
but it's nearly as important that his eyes
be able to spin around within his head.
Fortunately, both requirements are met,
andnotjust with Woody. The computer
models of the characters have enough
gestures and expressions to impartboth
believabilityand humor. Andthat's iust

what they needed.
A point which is both an asset and a
liability is the textures. The choice of
toysasthemaincharactersforthis film
was made deliberately, because the
technology lends itself very well to
creating them. Smooth plastic objects
are very well rendered in this film. The
characters' skin, Buzz'shelmet, Slinky
Dog's Slinky are all shiny, uncompli-
cated surfaces. Even limited textures,
such as the grain in the plastic of Mr.
Potato Head or polished wood sur-
faces, are well executed. The texture of
human skin and hair, however, has not
yet been perfected. Or even really
worked upon, from the look of the
humansin"TovStorv."Theirhairlooks

like Astroturf and theirskin is so smooth
you'd think it was made of plastic. But
that isn't what is trying to be imparted.
Insteadofacleardifferencebetweenthe
toys and the humans, you get the unset-
tling perception that thehumans arejust
big toys. This seems a little too odd
when there is some beautifully textured
distressed paint on the walls of the sets.
Well, it is a technology in the works.
"Toy Story" is a pretty good first
effort for a computer animated film. It
has a standard Hollywood story line,
star voices, a new and interesting look
done fairly well and lots of jokes about
Mr. Potato Head's parts coming off.
And if you go for it, maybe Disney will
produce more non-sissy animation.

Pdy and Buzz, the film's bddles.
Carrington'
labut
efresh
ftVEW
Carrington
Directed by Christopher
Hampton; with Emma
Thompson and Jonathan
Pryce
At the Michigan Theater
Kristen Okosky
- y Arts Writer
Fromthewriterof"DangerousLiaisons"
erypromisingsigninitself),"Carrington"
estoryofEnglishpainterDoraCarrington
d her long term relationship with
oomsbury writer, Lytton Strachey.
The film spans a time period from 1915
gh 1930. It is, as billed, about two
ple who defy the conventionalmorality
their time in order to live as honestly as
sible.But thestrengthof"Carrington"is
t it goes deeper than this. It deals with
mplex issues of human identity.
The film is about two individuals who
plore the ambiguities of personal rela-
nships,bothemotionally and sexually.
arrington" avoids simplistic charac-
'zation and one-dimensional stereo-
es.
On the surface, the plot sounds almost
e a bad soap opera. Carrington falls
ly in love with Lytton, who is a
mosexual twice her age. Unexpect-
ly, the two develop an strong mutual
ection and respect and end up living
gether. They begin an affair with
rrington'sfriend,Ralph Partridge,who
o moves in.
In this oddlovetriangle, Ralph falls for

or guy, DOWng toys up, use eng

,...... ....J .w , v .. ..,J ..,..,,). .. ,..

'Devil Love' a wrenching look at life

By Kristin Cleary
For the Daily
"Waming: This Show Contains Adult
Themes That May BeOffensive."Thesign
hangingontheentrancewaytothisweekend's
production of "Devil Love" tipped me off
that this play might be one of the more
interestingshowsIhadseeninawhile.This
assumptioncouldnothavebeentruer. From
the second we entered the theater, the audi-
ence was saturated with "adult themes" by
the means of the twisted lives of two of the
strangest characters in theater.
Performed by the University Depart-
ment of Theater and Drama's Basement
Arts group, the cast was mainly com-
posed of two main characters: SugaRee
SugaRee (playedby Ingrid Eggertsen), a
wanna-be go-go dancer and phone-sex
girl;and Roy Eisenstadt(playedby Randy
Kurstin), a nerdy, self-mutilating hermit.
Therelationship betweenthetwochar-
acters is abusive and detrimental to both
individuals; unfortunately, however, this
pattem is not recognized until nearly the
end of the play. Before the finish, both
characters have been so contorted by the
influence of the other that they have lost
completely their sense of identity. The
play ends with an eerie role-reversal that
definitely sends the audiencehomethink-
ing.
"Devil Love"was written by a former
Department of Theater and Drama stu-

VIEW
Arena Theater
November 17, 1995
dent who, according to director John
Neville-Andrews "wished to remain
somewhat anonymous."With allthesoul-
searchingandself-probingthatmusthave
gone into the creation of the show, I can
definitely see why. "Devil Love" is a
play thatclosely examinesthe difference
between the public and private lives of
individuals. In fact, the examination in
this case is so close that it aids in the
eventual destruction of both characters.
It seems as if, through "Devil Love,"
Masters is questioning the reality of the
facades that each individual presents to
society as a whole. As Neville-Andrews
said in an interview preceding the show,
"I think the most important theme is,
Who are we really? Are we the people
we present to the outside world, to our
friends, to our loved ones, to our fami-
lies? Or are we someone else, and is that
someone else deserving of being re-
leased?" These are precisely the themes
intensely examined in "Devil Love."
The actual production ofthe play isan
interesting story in itself. Theaudienceis

firstintroducedto SugaRee as shesugges-
tively dances and writes about the stage.
Soonafterthispoint,shelosesherclothing
and for the rest of the play wears skimpy
underwear and knee-high fishnet stock-
ings. The play is wrought with a sexual
frustrationthat isnever consummated be-
tween the two main characters, despite
their constant groping of one another.
Throughout the play, SugaRee's seduc-
tive actions, dances and monologues
heightened the sexual tension within the
show.
The two main actors did an excellent
job with theunorthodoxsituationbetween
them. Even in the most unrealistic scenes,
the relationshipbetween the two was sur-
prisingly realistic. The transformation of
qualitiesbetweenthetwotookplacegrace-
fully, making the end of the play a tribute
to the acting abilities of the main charac-
ters.
"I want the audience to be affected by
the play. I want them to recognize some-
thing in themselves that they might want
togohome andtake care of,"said Neville-
Andrews. Itsis safe to say that everyone
confronted with the graphic scenes and
disturbing nature of "Devil Love" was
definitely affectedby it. The authorofthis
untraditional play shouldbe congratulated
for a heartwrenching and fulfilling pro-
duction that may in fact impact several
members of the audience.

Carrington, while Lytton falls for Ralph.
Because she loves Lytton, Carrington
marries Ralph to keep the three of them
together. Throughout the course of the
relationship, they each take on other out-
side lovers as well.
Buttheemotional depthofsincereaffec-
tion, insecurity and quiet desperation the
castbringstotheircharacterskeepsthestory
relatively safe from melodrama.
Although Emma Thompson does not
physically look the part (which is mildly
disturbing), weean't blame filmmakers for
wantingtocasther.Herincredibletalentand
range in portraying Carrington's strengths
and vulnerabilities make up for most prob-
lems. Jonathan Pryce's performance (for
which he won the Best Actor award at the
1995 Cannes Film Festival) is also very
strong.
The film does a good job capturing the
time period and its distinct mood. The cos-
tumesandsetsarebeautifully detailed.Dora
Carrington's paintings - which were not
availablefor shooting-were recreated by
artist Jane Gifford who copied the works
directly, while incorporating locations and

actors involved.
Themajor problem with "Carrington"is
its frostratingly fast pace. Short, choppy
scenesdelaytheaudience'sabilitytoengage
deeply with the characters and keep us at a
distance throughout the film.
Although filmmakers are admirably
trying to cover a large portion of
Carrington's life, their rush really de-
tracts from the impact ofthe film. During
themostmoving,heartbreakingmoments,
we are barely allowed time to register a
reaction. The next scene begins, before
any kind ofemotionalreflection can take
place.
In the last scene, Carrington is finally
left alone to think. Both she and our
emotions are allowed play. This contrast
withtherestofthe filmmakesit clearthat
there should have been more of these
touching moments spread throughout.
Although itis a bleak and sad explora-
tion of the world of love, "Carrington" is
interesting and definitely worthwhile. It
is refreshing to seea movie that can still
makeyouthinkandfeelfiveminutesafter
you leave the theater.

BU.
ON ALL MICHIGAN T-SHJRTS,
SWIATSHIRTS, AND COTTON HATS.

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