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December 05, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-12-05

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday. December 5. 1995 - 9


'Big Adventure' not that exciting

By sate Brady
Dally Arts Writer
Igo not let the title of this film mis-
lead you. This movie includes no gun
fights, safaris or road trips, nor any
other action-paced plot that one might
associate with the word "adventure."
It all takes place in the same city in
England in 1947, and the story is that
of one young girl.
At age 16, Stella, the star of this
drama, sets out to find a job. She
auditions for a theater group and finds
work prompting actors and taking the
notes. She falls in love with the direc-
tor, played by Hugh Grant, whom she
does not realize is gay. The theater
becomes her world, and she is wound
up in her girlish dreams. Working for
this theater group, with all its prom-
ises of greatness, is her adventure.
Based on the novel of the same
name, this adventure of hers does
not make for an upbeat movie. In-
stead we see her forced to deal with
some of the uglier aspects of human
nature for the first time, and even-
tually come see the tarnish on her

An Awfully Big
Directed by Mike Newell;
with Hugh Grant, Georgina
Cates and Alan Rickman
Ann Arbor ] &2
The play on stage is "Peter Pan,"
and the theme is eternal innocence.
Yet while the actors are on stage
awing the children in the audience,
the actions taking place backstage
are quite the opposite. Everyone in
this troupe partakes in some vice.
Stella gets to witness first hand the
sleaziness of the business as she
fends off the sexual advances of a
stagehand, a theater reviewer and
the man who plays the lead in this
children's drama. Despite her best
efforts to remain innocent, she re-
ceives a huge dose of reality before
her adventure ends.
One of these bad influences is
played by Hugh Grant, found here

playing a very different character
than American audiences are used
to seeing. Grant steps out of his role
as the charming, witty, flustered
upper-class Englishman, to try out
a more sinister part. His director is
a heartbreaking playboy, known for
selfishness and cruelty. Although
Grant receives top billing because
of his name recognition, he does
not really play a central role, and
that role is anything but comic.
Georgina Cates, who plays Stella,
is very good. Her performance
poignantly relates the emotions of
being 16, of wanting to be someone
and of losing one's youthful con-
cepts of love. She is likable and
believable, which makes her story
all the more bittersweet.
The plot seemed a bit slow at
times. It also contained many little
side plots or action, some of which
added color to the story of her the-
ater life. However, some were too
brief to illustrate anything and
served only to create an overwhelm-
ing feeling. Perhaps some of the
footage would have been best left

In "An Awfully Big Adventure" Hugh Grant plays a very different character than he does In films like "Nine Months."

on the cutting room floor.
The movie also seemed somewhat
critical of theater life, which was
depicted in less than the best light.
It employed many typical stereo-

types associated with theater, and
made several of the employees ap-
pear less than honest. Still, there
was no question of the attractive-
ness of the theater for Stella and

almost everyone else involved. An
"Awfully Big Adventure" is an in-
teresting ride, but don't expect to
find it as exciting as young Stella

Continued from page 8
Mon Flux: The
perodotus File
Mark Mars and Eric Singer
MTV Books/Pocket Books
The, world surrounding MTV's ob-
ject of foot fetishism lEon Flux finds a
further outlet in this slickly packaged
graphic novel. With a cover mimicking
a file folder (it even tucks into itself),
the book is an experiment in presenting
only documents to tell a story, quite
-possibly unique as faras graphic novels
thus far.
Spinning a tale of intrigue and deceit
straight from the desk of Trevor
Goodchild, the ever nenacing chair-
man of the mythical Bregna, "Opera-
:o ti dotus," is interesting in and of
its-f awell as an expansion of infor-
ltton surrounding the television show
"Eon Flux." The book is a collection of
bits ofa story about the smashing of the
Be'rognican Reunificatioi Movement,
a group that wants to reunite Bregna
aud its lawless neighbor Monica.
You get to see cultural errata from
the fictional world. Things like pages
from a soft-core porn rag with .Eon's
fdot'in a prominent erotic position or
death announcements from a Monican
necrophile mag. More salient to the
story and the reality of the fictional
world are the documents concerning
the history of the warring states tEon is
a terrorist in. You learn facts like Bregna
arid Monica used to be a single country
called Berognica and the reasons be-
hindthe twisting border that divides the
two countries and is a recurrent plot
point in the TV series. It is very enlight-
eiing and makes significantly more
sense than most of its episodes.
The book stays true to the heart of the
series; though. There's sufficient weird-
ness, murder, sex and futurism to sat-
isfy the expectations of the long-suffer-
'ffg fan. For example forensic examina-
tion of )Eon's twisting eyelash reveals
the excrement of the household
Africanus fly, a gentle nod to the fly
trapped in our leather-clad heroine's
lashes at the beginning of every show.
Right under that report is one concern-
ing some scabs found in Eon's resi-
dence. Delightfully sick, these authors.
;The main drawback of this package
is' its price tag. At $18 it is nearly more
expensive than a video of episodes of
the show. And this one doesn't move.
Well, it won't get sucked into your
VCR, either. Weigh your desire for this
package and make your decision. And
'always remember, it could make a great
gift for that special fetishist in your life.
- Ted Watts
Carol Orsborn
solved by Sunset: The Right
Brain Way to Resolve
Whatever's Bothering You in
Qne Day or Less
"You are entrusted in this particular
tiie and place with a sacred task: to
bringyourself into alignment with the
ia e ergy of the divine." Carol
Orsbr makes it clear early on that
s not merely a book to read but
rahera mission to undertake.
<rsborn proposes that her readers
take a day out of their lives to contem-
le theirplace in the universe with the
Ilp 1of the exercises she outlines and
discusss in her book. In place of chap-
r the book is divided into hours. Her
idea is that after more than seven hours

("by sunset,") the spiritually hungry
reader will have the proper spiritual and
philosophical tools to solve not only the

Renowned author Amy Tan
welonmes the unusual

Ron Flux is one tough cartoon terrorist babe.

"Inner Voices" you can dig up (I found
my 'Cynical about Self Help Books'
and "Far Out, Man" voices elbowing
their way into my group.)
The book seems aimed at a fairly
well-to-do corporate audience,judging
by the referencestto country inns, mo-
bile phones, spiritual retreats and cor-
porate management strategies. Of
course, the very idea of taking a day
away to contemplate one's place in the
universe is rather luxurious in itself.
Perhaps most'entertaining are a few
distinctly modern parables: Orsborn
tells about her self-aware cohorts find-
ing inspiration in such modem banali-
ties as the search for a parking space
and the flushing of a toilet.
Orsbornhas all the necessary creden-
tials to dispense this spiritual/philo-
sophical/psychological advice: She has
attended Divinity School at Vanderbilt
University, is founder of Overachiever's
Anonymous, has led "hundreds ofprob-
lem solving workshops for major cor-
porate clients" and has even appeared
on the Oprah Winfrey Show (but then
again, who hasn't?). Orsborn's personal
accounts of her own quests for spiritu-

ality and the problems of those she has
met along the way are often funny and
strangely touching.
Orsborn's direct address to the reader
(as in "the experience of divine com-
munication can be yours also - you
need only to become receptive to it.")
comes uncomfortably close to sound-
ing patronizing and pedagogic. And too
often Orsborn's prose sounds too delib-
erately "inspirational" to be very in-
But who could dare criticize a book
that gives you the "secret to life" on
page 189?
- Jessica Callaway
The Unofficial X-Files
By N.E. Genge
Crown Trade Paperbacks
Just getting into the breakthrough
TV show "The X-Files?" Or do youjust
have a memory like a sieve ? Either
way, this book would not be a valuable
way offilling in the gaps inyourknowl-
edge of the show. But no matter who
you are, this book is designed to fill in

background to the episodes.
That's right, this is a book of esoteric
facts about the stuff that's in the show
but that isn't only in the show. You get
facts about seances and Area 51 and
optical printing. All the background
that has been well covered in the Weekly
World News and various paranoid rant
rags (the ones that aren't strictly politi-
cally oriented, at least) is included here.
It's esoterica. But it almost has to be
more truthful than that book out about
the physics in the "Star Trek" universe.
You also get bits of trivia and trivia
quizzes, little informational boxes that
include images or all the problems with
major scientific principles found in the
show and a bibliography that you don't
need because of the book.
Well, if you haven't been listeningto
internet discussions about this material
or buying the conspiracy nut literature,
this might be a good bathroom read. Or
you can wait for an official companion
that'll probably be better. Then again,
thereisn't a lot of"X-Files" stuffaround.
Oh, the decisions.
- Ted Watts

NEW YORK (AP) - Some
women stop hearts. Others stop
people in their tracks. Some stop
traffic. Now comes Amy Tan with a
more unorthodox approach: She
stops cassette recorders.
Not that she tries to. "I'm sorry. I'm <
so sorry," Tan says, shaking the ma-1
chine, its fresh Duracell batteries and
her head. It happens half the time she1
does interviews, she admits sheep-l
ishly. For much of her life, Tan, 43,
the Chinese-American author of "The
Joy Luck Club" and "The Kitchen
God's Wife," has been a lightning rod1
for unusual events - "weird electri-
cal stuff," prescient dreams, tele-
phones disconnecting at key moments.I
She has learned to live with it.
This clearly is a woman whose;
experience with the supernatural
goes much farther than her hobby
- playing in a band with Stephen
King. And the supernatural is the+
premise upon which Tan's latest
novel turns.
After dealing primarily with
mother-daughter relationships in1
her first two novels, Tan moves into
the realm of sisters with "The Hun-+
dred Secret Senses."It is a fantas-
tic, metaphoric yarn that weaves
Chinese traditions about ghosts and
past lives into a modern tale about
faith and juggling American and
Asian values and beliefs.+
"I decided to embrace all of the
wonderful people in my life who
have died, and I came up with this,"
Tan says. Many of its characters are+
named for people in her life who
have passed away. In the story,+
Chinese-American photographer
Olivia Bishop recounts spending
much of her life being bothered by
and trying to figure out her older,1
oddball and much more Chinese
half-sister, Kwan, who appeared
from China as a surprise when
Olivia was 6.
Kwan has "yin eyes" that allow
her to monitor the continual pres-

ence of the spiritual world alorg-
side the living one. For years, sle
regales Olivia in Chinese and b4p-
ken English with eerie tales of past
lives - an elaborate saga of 19th-
century locals and foreign mission-
aries.living in a tiny Chinese vl-.
lage called Changmian.
"Kwan is saying, "We all havec
Hundred Secret Senses. We just
have forgotten," Tan says. "It's the
ability to sense things between two
people so naturally that you don't
need other senses." As the book
progresses and Olivia separates
from her husband, Simon, 'events
push the three of them away from
their San Francisco homes and into
a visit to Changmian, where past
and present meet in a most unusual
way. For Tan, this foray into the
fantastic was, in a literary sense,
uncharted territory. It resonates with
elements of her own life.
"My mother and many people in
my life think I have yin eyes," she
says. "I've had many things happen
that are difficult to explain. So in
writing this book, I decided to let go
of my skepticism and see what would
come through." She is quick to add
about her new novel: "It was certainly
not to say, 'Yes, there are ghosts or
past lives.' It's about love."
Tan, the American-born daughter
of a nurse and an engineer turned
Baptist minister who emigrated
from China in 1949, learned only at
age 26 that her mother had three
daughters from a previous marriage
- all living in China. Meeting them
deeply affected her and made her
examine how her "Americanness"
and her "Chineseness" interacted
within. "I think I've been fascinated
by that theme of separation of your-
self in two different nations," she
says. "It's almost a sense of your-
selfthat's been left in another coun-
try. Finding out about it at a later
period in life makes me skeptical of
many things."







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