2 Weekender Friday, October 28, 1977;
Long runs and reruns: the film game
Is Star Wars ever going to leave? "Not
when it's still making money," the theater
manager told me.
If people here were that ready to go
through a second childhood, you'd think
they would have done it to their heart's
content by now. The runaway success of Star
Wars (it will probably be the top-grossing
film ai all-lime by Christmas) -agairrshows
the all-powerful appeal of masstulture TV
and comic books in particular. Most people
want their movies to have the same formulas
and the same effect on them as TV does
quick, short and to the point. Everything is
worked out; you know how it will end.
Formulas are reworked time after time, and
audiences eat it up.
By HANK BAKER
There is some kind of reassurance for the
audience in this kind of repetition, being able
to see a world in which stability is
triumphant every week and characters have
familiar traits and nuances. Yet one cannot
help but wonder how many times people
have to see this stuff before it becomes
tiresome. Are people that afraid of being
stimulated by something they aren't familiar
The local (and, 1 suspect, limited) success
of films like Cria!. 3 Women, and Carrie is
encourages, particularly since these films are
much more imaginative and funnier than
Star Wars even begins to be. Yet you can't
help but notice that it is films like The Paper
Chase, American Graffiti (that George
Lucas has his mass audience Figured out
perfectly), Play It Again, Sam. and Women
In Love that keep returning. The only
Altman film that makes such a record
number of returns is MASH, while his
most innovative works McCabe & Mrs.
Miller, The Long Goodbye, Nashville)come
around infrequently, if at all.
The films that come back time after time
are like TV reruns audiences want their
weekly or monthly doses of the same old
thing. There's nothing wrong with wanting
to see a film again and again, but when all it
offers are jazzed up versions of tired or pat
situations, I wonder what people see in it.
The Paper Chase and Play It Again Sam
have some entertainment value, and the
reason that they're college favorites is that
both appeal to favorite fantasy pastimes of
The Paper Chase is a supposed "youth
movie" that is struggling to say something
and then doesn't. What it does provide is a
fantasy version of the student's life, full of
pat situations and cliched characters. These
are guaranteed to please people who really
want to believe that their lives and
experiences can be put across so simply. I
don't think there's ever been a director who
has succeeded at capturing a college
atmosphere in a film, but if one did, people
would probably stay away in droves.
Without a beautiful professor's daughter to
go to bed with, or the chance to call the
professor a son-of-a-bitch, there's no
Woody Allen is a f avorite everywhere, and
with the added attraction of the Bogart
figure, the filmmakers have killed two birds
with one stone. Never mind that the film has
a lot of stale jokes and a stodgy feel to it
because Herbert Ross allows no spontaniety
in his direction. When you've got an old and
new favorite along with the old 40's
Hollywood idealism in the same film, you've
got a sure-fire rerun hit.
Women In Love is different, to a degree.
But its appeal can be linked to the same mass
culture appeal as the other films. Women In
Love is supposed to be the "high art" cult
film hereabouts, but it has no more to do
with art than does The Paper Chase. Its only
claim to fame is its constant input of heavily
charged scenes. Ken Russell gives us all the
pulpy parts of D.H. Lawrence's book, as if
that was what the book was really about.
There are plenty of people who haven't read
the book and think they're getting a visual
equivalent of Lawrence. But Women In
Love is just Russell's own heavy-handed,
Hollywoodized condensation of the book's
sexual and sensual highlights: a gothic porno
Comics Illustrated version for supposed
adults. People don't care that the film is a
perversion of a great book and that Russell
1977 Good Dining
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never shows you why the characters act and
talk the way they do. As long as audiences
can get one highlight after another, like they
can on TV, then it's all right. Russell has
"since proven what he really is a campy
hysteric but his films still have an appeal
for those who like to be bludgeoned.
I was surprised when someone at a party
told me that Star Wars was funny, but that
Carrie was silly. The inherent foolishness in
that remark was the first thing that hit me
Star Wars is as silly a movie as anything I've
seen. But there's something else that shapes
an attitude like this. Carrie is a horror film
that' doesn't take itself seriously in fact, it
satirizes a lot of old horror movie
conventions and plays them up for a screwy
effect. Brian de Palma doesn't naively take
the old conventions seriously like George
Lucas does in Star Wars. Thi? may be the
reason for the hostility towards Carrie.
People don't want their comforting
conventions made to look so shamelessly
funny in such a potentially enjoyable way.
Star Wars rehashes the old plot lines and the
like even when the film sends up some
conventions, you can tell that Lucas 'still
thinks they're greater than they really are.
Enjoying old movies and old conventions
is all right to a degree, but when it gets to the
point where it's the only thing that people
will enjoy, then the growth and maturity of
American art forms is in serious trouble.
Films like The Paper Chase and Star Wars
are for people who don't want to ever take
films seriously because it's too much trouble.
The idea that films are just for simple
entertainment is as archaic and stupid as the
conventions that keep appearing too many
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Satoru Shimazaki, choreographer-dancer-instructor, will perform his solo "Geki
Sei" at the Seventh Annual Electronics Music Plus Festival at 8 p.m. Saturday. The
music, composed by John Watts, is based on two sections from the ancient
Japanese court music first performed in 1074. The festival, to be held at Hill Hall, is
co-sponsored by the Composer Theatre, Southeastern Composers League and the
UNC Department of Music.
A third tequila option
Down in the hot plains of Mexico, the
natives produce a liquor from the mescal or
agave plant which we have come to know as
Tequila. Good tequila tastes somewhat like
you would imagine fermented cactus juice
tastes. This flavor has puzzled great minds
for years. The unanswered question being,
"What can we do with tequila other than
drink it straight or make Tequila Sunrises,
like the kind you get in Mexico with a worm
R at her than see each of you face the task
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By CARL R. FOX
Drink of the Week: Frozen Bandito
of rising from bed after a long evening of salt,
tequila and lemons, 1 would like o offer at
least a partial answer The Frozen Bandito!
H ombres, this drink will keep you singing
long after the music has stopped. There's
plenty of Vitamin C, too. Try one soon.
Cisco and Poncho would have killed for such
Ingredients for The Frozen Bandito:
4 ozs. tequila; 3 ozs. grenadine syrup
2 ozs. Triple Sec;
6 ozs. frozen orange juice concentrate.
Pour ingredients into a blender jar, fill
with cracked ice and liquefy. Pour into large
wine goblets. Serves 6. NOTE: Use at least a
moderately priced tequila so that its flavor is
sure to come through.