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September 28, 1995 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-28

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86 - The Michigan Daily - WeArs ed , . - Thursday, September 28, 1995

ando 'Dons' screen, continues strange career

By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
Ceremonies for the 1972 Academy
Awards were marked by the general
sweep of Bob Fosse's "Cabaret," and
the victory of young director Francis
Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" in
the Best Picture category. But per-
haps the most memorable moment
of the evening occurred when a short
woman dressed in American Indian
garb walked up on stage in the place
of that night's Best Actor winner.
Sacheen Littlefeather, as she called
herself (she was, in fact, later dis-
covered to be a B-level actress), pro-
ceeded to address the audience, de-
clining the award because its recipi-
ent protested the treatment and rep-
resentation of Native Americans in
Who, you may ask, would have
the audacity to so flamboyantly and
preposterously refuse to accept the
film industry's highest praise? It was,
of course, none other that Marlon
Brando (winner for "The Godfa-
ther"). And this event was not only
indicative of the disgust that this
great actor has always harbored for
IHollywood and America in general,
but it also proved to be a harbinger of
events - both tragic and strange -
that would later transpire in his life.
Brando rose to great fame in the
1950s, starring in such films as "The
Wild One" (1953) and "On the Wa-
terfront" (1954) - he received his
first acting Oscar for his performance
in the latter.
But following a lull in his career
during the 1960s, an aged Brando
blasted back onto the silver screen in
1972, starring as the wise and slick
Mafia don Vito Corleone in "The

Godfather." Afterthis award-winning
role, he received even greater acclaim
in Bernardo Bertolucci's Franco-Ital-
ian-American sex epic "Last Tango
in Paris" (1973) in which he played a
disillusioned American living in the
romantically-charged French capital.
By then, it seemed as if Brando's
career was certainly back on the fast
track. Yet although he was, and is to
this day one of our greatest living
actors, a series of embarrassing and
bizarre events have kept him out of
the Hollywood mainstream (besides
the fact that he usually resides outside
of the United States in such extrava-
gant locations as Tahiti).
In 1976, during the making of
"Apocalypse Now" (1979), Coppola's
third masterpiece of the '70s (follow-
ing "Godfather"s I and II), Brando
delayed production by showing up to
the movie's Philippines set weeks be-
hind schedule. To make matters worse,
he was tremendously overweight, by
some 30 or more pounds, which fur-
ther complicated the production. His
character, Colonel Kurtz (based on
one depicted by Joseph Conrad in his
short novel, "The Heart of Darkness")
was supposed to be gaunt, emaciated
and suffering from malaria - a far
cry from Brando's apparently healthy
and rotund condition.
Then in 1978, Brando set a repre-
hensible record by receiving $3 million
(a very large sum back then) and suing
for a share of the gross of Richard
Donner's popular "Superman." This is
not all that bad until one considers that
he was not a primary actor in the film
and his screen time lasted a paltry 10
minutes (in a 142-minute movie!).
As in the case with "Apocalypse
Now," however, Brando's distress-

ing idiosyncrasies were ignored and
all his demands were met because he
is, above all, a phenomenal actor. He
is. capable of conveying any role with
the greatest restraint and apparent
This fact has become increasingly
apparent in the 1980s and '90s with
his limited amount of fine parts in
films like "A Dry White Season"
(1989), in which he played an attor-
ney dealing with racial tensions in
South Africa. He also starred in the
satirical comedy "The Freshman"
(1990) in which he spoofed his own
Don Corleone persona as a ruthless
crime boss.
Such performances were, on occa-
sion, interrupted by Brando's strange
personal problems. Most memorable
was the trial and conviction of his
son, Christian, for the murder of
daughter Cheyenne's boyfriend. Dur-
ing this case, as in the past, Brando
frequently showed hostility towards
the press and the motion picture com-
munity he has always held in relative
It seems, however, that more comi-
cal roles are now this usually dra-
matic actor's forte. With this week's
home video release of 1994's sleeper
hit "Don Juan DeMarco," we may
once again experience the genius of
this giant thespian.
In this lovely fantasy-romance
Brando plays an aging psychiatrist
who, while treating delusional patient
Johnny Depp (himself a budding
Brando-like teen heartthrob, who be-
lieves he is Don Juan), is enlightened
by the power of fantasy and conse-
quently learns to be more romantic
with his wife (Faye Dunaway). It is a
heartwarming comedy that teaches us

all how important it is to enjoy life,
regardless of what problems we might
This highly-recommended film fits
well on an impressive resum6 with
Brando's other outstanding works.
Despite his frequently reprehensible
behavior and his perplexing personal
life, Brando has achieved the grand
reputation of being one of the most
talented and powerful actors in the
history of movies. He will forever be
a man larger than both the parts he
plays and the life in which he thrives.
Other recent releases include:
"The Basketball Diaries" -
Leonardo DiCaprio does the River
Phoenix/Keanu Reeves thing by living
on the streets, making ends meet by
hangin' with Marky Mark, dealing drugs
and doing that fellatio thing. If history
then runs its course, in three years we
will find young Lenny either face down
and convulsing on the floor of the Viper
Room, or chasing down that slippery
madbomber Dennis Hopper with Sandy
Bullock at his side. I think the former
may be a better career choice.
"The Jerky Boys" - These two
punks from New Jersey, or someplace
whose population majority resides in
Mary Markley residence hall, spend
their days making prank phone calls
to everyone from the next door neigh-
bor to the White House. The whole
movie is pretty funny until the open-
ing credits stop rolling, the weak at-
tempts at comedy begin and you real-
ize that, instead of paying $3 to rent
the film, you could have just gone
over to Van Tyne house and heard the
same scatological humor coming
straight from the horse's mouth.
"New Jersey Drive"- Another rip-
off of"Boyz N the Hood." This time,
however, the gangsters cruise around
Ann Arbor (a.k.a. "New Jersey
North") and cause more mayhem on
Hill Street than those naughty
SAMmies ever did.
"Once Were Warriors" - Aussie
flick about some aboriginal punks star-
ring Russell "Virtuosity" Crowe. Not
to be mistaken for the upcoming film
about the now-defunct Michigan
men's basketball team. Juwan, take
me away ...
Coming to
video Oct.3:
Bulletproof Heart
French Kiss

We are from Nubia. Take us to your leader.

Kelsey showcases Nubian art

By David Cook
Daily Arts Writer
We all know what lies on State Street
between the Union and William: The
LS&A building, Angell Hall, some trees,
a church - but chances are you didn't
know that an exclusive traveling exhibi-
tion of African artifacts is making its
home at the Kelsey Museum of Archae-
ology on that same block, asthe"Ancient
Nubia: Egypt's Rival in Africa" exhibi-
tion makes a stop in Ann Arbor.
What was once ancient Nubia lies
south of the modern boundary between
Egypt and Sudan, up the Nile from
Egypt. The Nile and its tributaries play
an important, contemporary role in the
exhibition because the construction of
the Aswan Dam in the 60s led to fantas-
tic discoveries. There was a massive
salvage project to collect and unearth
artifacts in that region which, in 1978,
brought about the first major exhibition
of these and other Nubian relics.
Prior to the exhibit and the effort to
put it on, very little was known about
Nubian people, their lives or their art-
istry. "They had a very sophisticated
culture which was largely unknown,"
says the Kelsey Museum's Ric Smith.
"Even today, most scholars don't know
anything about the Nubian culture be-
cause it was so unstudied."
This exhibition certainly improves
awareness of Nubian culture, but it is
only a beginning. The flooding of the
Aswan area makes finding more arti-
facts difficult if not impossible. Even a
greater obstacle is the fact that nobody
can translate the Meroitic language that
the Nubians spoke. Exhibit curator
David O'Connor has stated that under-
standing ancient Nubia might be the

key to figuring out more about ancient
African civilizations as a whole.
One of the show's most interesting
displays is a comparison of these"new"
objects from ancient Nubia to those from
Egypt. The elaborate artwork and intrica-
cies of the ceramics and jewelry speak of
a high civilization that existed for over
3500 years, and a people whose achieve-
ments rival those of ancient Egypt.
"The Egyptologists really like to see
how the two cultures influenced each
other," says Smith, "and where they
drew from one another as far as art and
daily life artifacts: Make-up pallets...
things that were used by everyday
Nubians, not just the Kings and Pha-
raohs." This is of special interest to the
Kelsey Museum itself which, since its
inception, has focused on Egyptian cul-
ture and its impact on world history.
It wasn't easy to get "Ancient Nubia:
Egypt's Rival in Africa" to make a stop
in Ann Arbor, but a big effort on the part
of the museum, as well as some prior
connections of Kelsey's Dr. Thelma K.
Thomas, curator-in-charge of installa-
tion of the exhibition, helped land this
prestigious collection. As usual, admis-
sion to the museum is free.
Smith is quick to remind how im-
pressive it is that "Ancient Nubia:
Egypt's Rival in Africa" is here at the
University of Michigan until Decem-
ber 15th. "It's a very big deal. There
were museums allover the countryjock-
eying for position on the touring list;
it's been at the Smithsonian in Wash-
ington, it's been at the University Mu-
seum in Rochester, it's going to Balti-
more after this... it was really quite an
achievement for our museum to get a
spot on this traveling slate."

Chuck mit blineerini Careers
.;C;>t"": ri 4:;:~ r}: 'arii~~Si <''>

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