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Evansville, Indiana
September 8, 1989     The Message
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September 8, 1989
 

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0 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Entertainment September 8, 1989 'Shirley Valentine' Adult comedy about a housewife on holiday has 'lots of heart' By HENRY HERX Catholic News Service NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Shirley Valentine" (Para- mount) is the saga of a 42-year- old Liverpool, England, housewife who-leaves hubby and grown children for a two- week holiday in Greece where she rediscovers a long- submerged zest for life. Though there's nothing strik- ingly original about the story, Pauline Collins' performance in the title role makes the character of Shirley one to en- joy and remember. It's the por- trait of a feisty middle-aged woman battling the boredom of each day's routine, knowing that there's something more that she should be doing with her life. Her husband Joe {Bernard Hill} has grown into a boring mate, obstinately set in his ways and interested in little but his work. Her children, now on their own, are of little help. The .son is. a good-hearted dreamer, the daughter a self-absorbed twit. Shirley has a limited circle of women friends, the closest be- ing Gillian {Julia McKenzie), a prissy, often infuriating neighbor. It's little wonder Shirley carries on random con- versations with the kitchen wail and sips wine while preparing Joe's supper. When a feminist friend {Alison Steadman} wins a vaca- tion for two in Greece, Shirley tags along, meets Costas (Tom Conti}, a Greek with romance on his mind, and decides to stay on for a while. Joe finally gets the message after Shirley repeatedly hangs up on his calls and goes to Greece to fetch her home. Willy Russell's script is an adaptation of his own London stage play which, when transported to Broadway, earn- ed Miss Collins this year's Tony Award for best actress. The movie version records her win- ning, tour-de-force perfor- mance in the role of a spunky pixie, projecting a roguish sense of fun that is balanced by an equally strong sense of responsibility, something she often rues. Instead of letting her woes wear her down, Shirley laughs at them and at herself. The dialogue has some wit and intelligence, and Miss Col- lins puts over the often self- deprecating one-liners about life, love and marriage with definitive style, especially when she pauses to talk directly to the audience. The movie, however, in presenting what was originally a one-woman stage show, loses something when the play's ver- bal descriptions are visualized on screen. For instance, the scenes of her rebellious student days in a girl's high school are more a distraction than an asset. Produced and directed by Lewis Gilbert, the adaptation tends to be too literal in translating verbal satire into im- ages. For instance her boating tryst with the romantic Costas is rendered with some truly silly shots of surging surf and rock- ing boat. Though the other actors do their best, the strength of the show lies in Miss Collins' delightful performance. Though Shirley's vulnerability comes across clearly, it is her resilience that is most attrac- tive. The portrayal conveys an inner strength of character, one that wastes no time on self-pity or self-delusion. Shirley's marital lapse is a momentary miscalculation based on curiosity but neither she nor the audience are ever really taken in by the clay- footed Costas and his comic mangling of a four-letter, Anglo-Saxon sexual expres- sion. Conti tries hard but the role is little more than a plot device to set up a sentimental but satisfying ending. This is adult comedy with a lot of heart and a memorable ti- tle performance. Americans may fihd the Liverpool accent a little hard to understand at times but the point of the humor is rarely lost. If, among the laughs, viewers get a few in- sights about human nature, all the better. Because of some mature themes, fleeting nudity and comic use of a sexual expletive, the U.S. Catholic Conference classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted. U SI film series open to the public The University of Southern Indiana will be showing films as a part of fall class requirements. They will also be open to the public for viewing, free of charge. Films are shown at 2 and 6 p.m. every Tuesday in Forum I, on the USI campus. Below is a listing of the films on the schedule for September and October. For more information call Dr. Thomas A. Wilhelmus, chairman of the English Department, 464-1735. September 12 -- "The Maltese Falcon" (1941; director, John Huston; cast, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet) In Huston's first film, Bogart plays a San Francisco detective caught up in a web of lies, as the characters connive their way closer to a priceless statuette. September 19 -- "Meet Me in St. Louis" (1944; director, Vincent Minnelli; cast, Judy Garland, Mary Astor) This Hollywood technicolor musical follows the Smith family through four nostalgic seasons in turn-of- the-century St. Louis. September 26 -- "Holiday" (1938; director, George Cukor; cast, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn) In this screwball comedy, Johnny, a self-made man, is about to marry into a wealthy fami]y until he reveals that he in- tends to retire at 30 and live modestly. October 3 -- "Citizen Kape" (1941; director, Orson Welles; cast, Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead) Considered by many to be the best American film of all time, this masterpiece tells the tragic story of the life of Charles Foster Kane. October 10 -- "Grand Illu- sion" (1937; French; direc- tor Jean Renoir) A strong anti-war film made before World War II, Renoir's film shows how the real dif- ferences of class are easier to overcome than the imagined differences of nationality. October 17 -- "Playtime" (1972; French; director, Jac- ques Tati) Mr. Hulot returns only to become lost amid the fast pace of '70s Paris. Tati's film is a smorgasbord of clever sight gags that parody the uniformity of the world. October 24 -- "Olympia II" (1936-38; German; director, Leni Riefenstahl) A festival of athletic beauty -- 11/2 million feet of film were shot at the 1936 Olympic games in order to make Olympia I and II. Riefenstahl creates one of the best films of the strength and beauty of athletes in motion. October 31 -- "81/2" (1963; Italian; director, Federico Fe]lini; cast, Marcello Mastrianni) A successful film director committed to a new production is bereft of fresh ideas. Hounded by his wife, mistress, and pro- ducer, he escapes into his dreamlike personal fan- tasies, abundantly filled with images from the past.