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December 01, 1995 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-01

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40 -The Michigan Daily - Friday, December, 1, 1995

An empty
'Mtone
By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
Wesley Snipes and Woody
Harrelson star in "Money Train," a
rather dim-witted action/adventure
comedy that desperately wants to be a
suspense caper. Of course, the two
actors are reunited after their 1992
smash "White Men Can't Jump."
While "Money Train" attempts to re-
vive some of the energy of that film,
it is ultimately derailed by a trite
5toryline, occasionally laughable dia-
Iague and some hokey characteriza-
tions.
Snipes and Harrelson play John and
harlie, respectively, "brothers" who
Money Train
Directed by Joseph
Ruben; with Wesley Snipes
and Woody Harrelson
- At Briarwood and Showcase
grew up together in a NYC orphan-
age. When we meet them, they are
transit cops for the New York subway
system. Due to Charlie's reckless gam-
bling habit and petulant temper, John
must continually serve as his keeper
_;nd guardian. Eventually, Charlie
loses his job at the hands of the ma-
levolent transit director, Patterson
,Robert Blake), and concocts a plot to
steal the train that carries the transit
system's payroll and revenue.
Along the way, both John and
Charlie fall for their tough-as-nails
colleague Grace Santiago (Jennifer
Lopez). Lopez, formerly a Fly Girl on
TV's "In Living Color," is the best
thing about "Money Train." She ex-
4des considerable heat and sex ap-
.peal. Unfortunately, her character is
rather poorly written, as is often the
case in this male-oriented genre. She
does her best with the material,
,hough, and gives Santiago real sizzle.
Snipes and Harrelson bait one an-
other with more testosterone-induced
banter that gets old rather fast. The
fprmula and dialogue are reminiscent
of "Running Scared" (1986), a con-
siderably better film that is much

Award-winning play comes to Power Center

Woody's sad 'cause his movie sucks.
lighter on its feet than "Money Train."
In fact, this film is rather like a sec-
ond-rate fusion of "Running Scared"
and "Runaway Train" (1985). Nei-
ther the relationship between John
and Charlie nor the attempt to hijack
the money train are very compelling.
This is largely the result of the auto-
pilot performances turned-in by both
Snipes and Harrelson. Even though
they are both generally charismatic
actors, their performances tend to be
rather inconsistent.
In "Money Train" Snipes gives us
his usual brash but endearing confi-
dence. He's fun to watch, but it's
nothing we haven't seen before. And
Harrelson plays the somewhat be-
fuddled loser, a role he has been un-
able to shake since his days on
"Cheers." John is a little less mild-
mannered than Woody Boyd, but
Harrelson probably could have
phoned-in the performance.
Also troubling is Robert Blake as
Chief Patterson. I could overlook the
unexceptional performances by
Snipes and Harrelson, but Blake al-
most sends his scenes careening into
high camp, with his improbably
wicked villain. The filmmakers have
turned a two-bit transit director into a
vengeful, megalomaniacal ego wor-
thy of a James Bond movie.
Director Joseph Ruben (an alum-
nus of the University) can't keep from
lapsing into cliche. And his direction,
of a number of scenes, including the
climactic money train heist, is sub-
par. We are treated to all the plot
rudiments from the vast wasteland of
American action films, including ex-
plosions, a damsel in distress andmale
camaraderie. Of course there's noth-
ing wrong with these elements when
they are handled in a novel fashion.
Otherwise, this tired "buddy film"
formula needs to be put to sleep once
and for all.

By Erin Crowley
For the Daily
For its 100th production, MUSKET,
the University's biannual, student-run
musical, takes a fantastical, frantic,
fairy-tale journey through the imagina-
tive world of Stephen Sondheim's show,
"Into the Woods." Premiering on Broad-
way in December 1987, Sondheim's
collaborative effort with James Lapine
produced a show which again confirmed
Sondheim's dedication to authoring
plays that not only delighted and
charmed, but also considered profound
emotional and aesthetic truths about
the way we live and interact as social
beings.
Deservedly awarded three Tonys,
"Into the Woods" explores pressing
social realities by inviting its audience
to revisit the fairy tales that we've all
been raised on-this time, from a more
mature, emotionally and intellectually
astute point of view. Mike Babel, a
senior in the Musical Theater Program
and the directing eye propelling
MUSKET's production, explains "these
are the characters we've know for a
lifetime."
Enter Cinderella, Jack and his infa-
mous magic beans, a trusting little girl
capped in red, a baker with a fresh loaf

in the oven, and a lonely, tower-bound
woman with a head of golden hair some
might mistake for a ladder.
Masterminding the interaction be-
tween the characters and their wishes in
the first act, the witch promises to break
the spell of infertility that she has cast
on the Baker and his wife if they will
bring her a cow as white as milk, a cape
as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn,
and a slipper as pure as gold. Is it all
beginning to make sense now?
Into the woods each character travels
to find and possess that which he/she
desires, crossing paths with one an-
other and complicating one another's
stories. "They have a very immature
point of view of only their worlds, but
as all their worlds interact, they become
aware of other people and how they
actually affect one another," Babel said.

INTO THE
WOODS
When: Tonight and
Saturday at 8p.m.,
Sunday at 2p.m.
Where: Power Center
Tickets: $9 ($6 students).
Call 7641450.

Sondheim spins these familiar char-
acters' tales together, inventing con-
nections between them, throwing them
into wild and wonderful confrontations
with one another, and, ultimately, haunt-
ing them with resonances that we could
have never detected in those "happily
ever after tales" that once lulled us all
peacefully to sleep. Babel's production
intends to sound those resonances with
emotional clarity. As he so poetically
puts it, "this musical bridges the gap
between the imagination of a child and
the thoughts of an adult."
If as a child, your imagination al-
lowed you to sail to a land where little
girls ultimately outwitted wolves and
giants always fell to their death as if by
some metaphysical guarantee in the
prevalence of good over evil, as an
adult it's a different story. Watching
these same stories cast into a whole new
world of confused mixing and retelling
becomes an experience with revelatory
power in "Into the Woods." Sondheim
calls our attention to what Babel called
the intrinsically "dark" nature of fairy
tales, but does so with a light and opti-
mistic spin. He asks us to consider that
"dark" nature from a socially-enlight-
ened vantage point, and always with a
well-pronounced hint of humor..

In the second act of the play, death
assumes a powerful presence and each
character must confront his/her feel-
ings of isolation and new awareness of
the many realities (the many stories)
around him/her. In the end, they dis-
cover that they must learn to listen to
one another and that fulfillment is only
possible when they recognize thatthey
are not alone - they are all in this
together.
"We all need a sense of community.
We all do need to rely on one another
and we do need to know that our actions
affect the people around us" - a state-
ment Babel said with a tremendous
amount of sincerity and urgency. That
statement is clearly the principle that
has guided and informed this fall's
MUSKET production.
Pooling artistic visions, finding dif-
ficult compromises, and devoting an
inordinate amount of time and energy
over the past six weeks of rehearsal, the
students involved in MUSKET thisyear
have clearly developed a strong, driven
community that promises to deliver a
show with emotional gravity and magi-
cal levity - a show that will undoubt-
edly prevent you from ever looking at
that little red riding cap in the same way
again.

Pure Soul

Pure Soul
StepSun/Interscope Records
Pure Soul - an all-woman R&B
quartet - already garnered credibility
earlier this year with the release of their
debut single, a cover of the old-school
"We Must Be in Love." "I Want You
Back," Pure Soul's second single, pro-
duced by BLACKstreet's Teddy Riley,
garnered the group some additional
props.
With the release of their first full-
length LP, Shawn Allen, Keitha Shep-
herd, Kirsten Hall and Heather Perkins
have presented the world with three
Awl

things that can't be touched: Outstand-
ing voices, harmonizing together like
angels descended from above, a loveli-
ness that transcends all definitions of
feminine beauty and four pairs of legs
that could put any NC-17 fantasy to the
test. From Pure Soul we get 12 songs of
extraordinary quality, clarity and ex-
cellence.
Take "Wish You Were Here" or bet-
ter yet, the remake of the O'Jays classic
"Stairway to Heaven." These are some
of the best-sounding love songs ever
sung. I haven't been this excited about
an R&B CD since last year's "A Love
Supreme," Chante Moore's lovely, lusty
sophomore release.
Pure Soul does an equally remark-
able job with "Baby I'm Leaving,"
which has a distinctly revivalist-bor-
dering on gospel - sound. "I Feel Like
Running" is a perfect blend of the psy-
chedelic music of past decades with a
'90s groove, opening with what ap-
pears to be a sample of Zhane's "Hey
Mr. DJ" remix.
"Pure Soul" is without question one
of the best R&B LPs released in some
time. It is well-written and well-sung
by some well-looking ladies. And to
think I live in a country where po-

lygamy is illegal. A helluva time to fall
in love with four women simulta-
neously.
- Eugene Bowen
The Effigies
Remains Nonviewable
Touch and Go
A lot has been made in the last year
about the punk revival, thanks to the
sudden success of snot-rockers Green
Day and their ilk. Unfortunately, not
enough attention has been paid to real
punk rock, the kind of music that makes
you want to drive your car backwards
through a forest blind-folded. This reis-
sue of The Effigies' early recordings is
a reminder that the punk of the eighties
can still kick your face in harder than
anything before or since.
Which isn't to say that this is a
great album. Personally, I like a little
humor in my political subversion, and
The Effigies are about as funny as a
heart transplant. But no matter, be-
cause underneath all the humorless
rantings, The Effigies do have some-
thing to say, and in today's world of
faux alternative, I'll take all the hon-
esty I can get.

From the first song, "Body Bag," it
becomes evident that "Remains
Nonviewable" isn't going to be an
amusement park ride. "See what it's
like to be dead/Not a thought there to
be had/I'm just not there to just not
care/Sane's equal to mad," screams
lead singer john Kezdy, with the kind
of punk rock ferocity that dares you to
disagree.
The album keeps up the same lyri-
cal intensity throughout. Songs about
working for The Man, raging against
The Machine, and other types of
struggle, are all belted out over the
kind of four-on-the-floor beat that en-
courages good people to do bad things.
Definitely not for the weak-of-heart.
The music is your basic 3 c.hord
punk - too fast to crack the top 40, yet
slow enough that it doesn't become a
parody of itself. Stuck right in the
middle of the disc is the mandatory
"punk won't die" song, "We'll Be
Here Tomorrow." As The Effigies
tell their listeners, "Go to the extrene
say you'll be dead next year.", For the
time being, at least, The Effigies'
warning remains correct. Hard-hit-
ting political punk rock, R.I.P.
- JeffDinsmore

Pure Soul.

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