Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on December 12, 1980 · 31
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 31

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Chicago, Illinois
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Friday, December 12, 1980
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31
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CMcago Tribune, Friday, December ;J2.-1980 Sectfon2 '3 Movies Jazz 'FirsMate fairy tale for adults ABOUT MINUTES bU Teeere" yw wffl to muttering to yourself fa the manner of the film's central figure. Up oatfl then "Popeje" it tedious and totally without a point of view, an apparent big-budget bomb hi a year full of overproduced stinkeroos. Then something small and marvelous occurs In "Popeye." A 10-month-old baby appears out of nowhere, giving the film shape, focus, and a reason for being. "Popeye" then becomes quite entertaining and, in a few scenes, very special. One word of caution: This "Popeye," from director Robert Altman, is a sophisticated production that may soom over the heads of youngsters hoping to see repeated shots of Popeye gulping spinach and zooming into battle to destroy his foes. That only occurs three times at distant intervals. Rather than make a massive slapstick punchout,' director Altman has created a mood the mood that is a cartoonist's imagination, that strange, childlike state of mind that causes grownups to invent make-believe worlds with their own laws of gravity and foolishness. POPEYE" IS BASED. f course, en the 51-year-old comic strip character created by the late E.C. Segar from Chester, m. Originally, "Popeye" was introduced as a minor character in Segar's "Thimble Theater" strip. But almost immediately the squinty-eyed sailor with forearms the size of thighs became a leading man. Why? Probably because "Popeye" was a forerunner to the All-American superhero that in later years would take over the comic strips, pulp books, and kids' movies. A classic American hero, "Popeye" is rough and tough and honest a delightful American primitive afraid of no one. In the film version, as played by comic Robin Williams, Popeye is all that and more, a somewhat cynical, sotto vocce chronicler of human nature. The truths and frustrations he regularly mutters under his breath are cloaked in humor, but they couldn't be more serious. Popeye's public and private selves are masterfully presented by Williams in a performance that only a major artist could bring off. (Frankly, only a young Peter Sellers comes to mind as another possible Popeye.) , FILMED IN A splendid soantytown created en the ' side of a cliff on the island of Malta, "Popeye" tells the story of the first time Popeye meets Olive Oyl, a clumsy-spindletop who has been engaged four times to a local , tough named Bluto. Uh, the lady can't make up her mind. - Popeye's appearance is greeted with horror in the town of Sweethaven, which looks askance at anything foreign. This is one wiggy village with a logic that is . l'T.r"'n TRIBUNE MINI REVIEW: I 1 WaK for the baby jjfft v " 4j Plf f 4 ky Rafewt Mm; . k . Aofcwt Cmho; PvsnMinl ss JfT? TOt CAST I f I fimr - " L 1 -m I The) TewnMaamwHvDofwM Moftat I -lTtV I Cot. CM Itockityra DIon . I " SssVasVOalaSslBM CsWMf Oy4MMNvOonOVsW SCOtt ROUQtt HBUSs9hmmkJUIMI MCllOlsv wsj MMMifiaiy mn nun Swee'pea i. i just as screwy as any you'll find in comic art Characters are forever falling down, rushing by each other, bumping into each other. A tax man (the one non-Segar character added by screenwriter Jules Feiffer) patrols the town frustrating everyone with his question tax, his curiosity tax. We fully expect a quick confrontation between Popeye and Bluto, but that is delayed until the end of the film and is one reason, frankly, that Altaian's "Popeye" may disappoint the mass audience. In a Tribune interview five years ago, AKman ("M A S H" and "Nashville") said that he preferred to avoid predictable scenes in his movies. "For example," Altman said, "the only, gunshot in my war movie 'M A S H' takes place . . . in the football game." INSTEAD OF turning this film Into a series of Popeye-Bluto battles, unpredictable Altman and writer Feiffer tell the story of Popeye's search for tranquility. He doesn't find it immediately with Olive Oyl (cast perfectly with Shelley Duvall); she's too much of a Nervous Nellie. - ' Rather, Popeye finds tranquility with Swee'pea, his adopted infant son, whom he finds as an abandoned baby. Played by Altman's real-life baby grandson, this Swee'pea is one incredibly cute kid. His appeal is undeniable proof of that old movie editor's saw, "When in doubt, cut to a baby or a pet." (The guess here is that sales of sailor suits for toddlers will enjoy a "Popeye"-related boomlet.) I I . - ...-v.:.. mv &-f I HAVE A 5U66E5TI0N, MA'AM .YOU KNOUI WHAT WOULD MAKE A PERFECT 6IFT ID YOUR CLASS? PON TAS5I6M US A BOOK 10 REAP PURINE CHRISTMAS VACATION! ( ilHATPOfOU V 6TA9mWS". Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall) and Popeye (Robin Williams): Will she help him find tranquility? Popeye's original purpose in coming to the town of Sweethaven is to continue his search for his long-lost, sea-dog father; but armed with Swee'pea, Popeye first must be father to his own son. Once the baby is in the picture, great things happen. Popeye's relationship with Olive makes sense will she settle down and make a family with him? Also, the poignancy of Popeye's search for his father is increased because now it's possible that the old man will wind up at the end of the picture with a son and a grandson. "POPEYE" FEATURES a series of not-so-special musical numbers that are crippled with a mumbled 'sound track a hallmark of Altman's films ever since his "McCabe and Mrs. Miller." In his attempt to mirror the way humans really speak, Altman often goes too far, frustrating audiences with these barely audible sound tracks. The musical numbers in "Popeye" are a clear example. ' . On the other turnd, Popeye's mumbling under his ' breath (as he does in the old Max Fleischer movie cartoons) is frustrating at first, but it does contain its own logic. Those mumbles are the private thoughts of an honest man, and eventually we learn how to listen to them. Much of this review has been devoted to considering "Popeye" in terms that may appear odd for what the public may perceive as a kiddie show. If so, the point is well taken, because this "Popeye" is really not for kids. It's a grown-up fairy tale told with impressive movie making talents.- The very young may be confused by "Popeye," but i adults with the staying power to wait for the entrance of that little Swee'pea will be rewarded with a most entertaining motion picture. i Gene Siskel ' Gene Siskel regularly reviews the movie scene at 5 and 10 p.m. on Channel 2 News. . . Rich tone of Cobbs horn says it all THERE COULD BE M better proof of the importance of sound in jazz, the tone or timbre one gets out of an instrument, than the music of tenor saxophonist Arnett Cobb, who is performing through Sunday at the Jazz Showcase. A native of Houston and one of the great Southwestern tenormen, along with Buddy Tate, Ben Webster, the late Herschel Evans, and Illinois Jac-quet (who preceded Cobb' in the Lionel Hampton Band), this 62-year-old master has a sound that no recording studio is equipped to reproduce. It is, to begin with, simply huge, perhaps the darkest, most imposingly rich tone of them all. And what Cobb does with it the range of chortles, whoops, cries, trills, swells, slurs, shouts, and just plain honks that he has at his command is so overwhelming that he could say, along with Walt Whitman, "I am vast, I contain multitudes." NOT THAT COBB is limited merely to purveying that sound. He is, by any standards, a rhythmically agile, har monically sophisticated player who, shapes his melodic lines with surprising delicacy. But because the significance of sound per se is so often overlooked in jazz, as though it were a seasoning rather than an essential ingredient, it is his sound that I want to concentrate on for the time being. When a man has a tone like Cobb's and can manipulate it so freely, he has at hand an almost literal musical language, a collection of subtle timbres, each of which takes on a specific emotional meaning. And that specificity of emotional tone-color, which any listener can hear, even if he doesn't wish to analyze it, also ranges outward to affect every other aspect of the music rhythm, harmony, melody, and what have you. For example, during Cobb's solo on "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," he began a chorus with a seemingly simple two-note phrase, which might be rendered onomatopoetically as "Yah-dun." Now I suppose you had to be u Arnett Cobb: Master of sound no recording studio can reproduce. there to hear what that "yaMuh" did, but let me assure you that within, its apparent simplicity there was more musical meaning than 1,000 words could exhaust. ASIDE FROM the way he attacked the first note, creating a catapulting sense of swing, there was the way its relative density its heavy, centered sound contrasted with the grainier, more oblique tonal texture of the second note. The effect of this might be compared to a gymnast's second, more easeful bounce on a trampoline. And listening to it one could feel a literal loosening in the knees, an invitation to enter a realm of romantically sensuous physicality. The creation and control of such effects, in which the abstract and the , emotional aspects of jazz become one' thing, is what Cobb's music is all about. And if the principles at work in that'yah-duh," which must have lasted no more than a second, are expanded to cover an entire performance, it is eas.y to imagine just how richly varied this master's language can be. Given strong support by the trio of pianist John Young, bassist Don Pate, and drummer Wilbur Campbell, Cobb was in peak form Wednesday night, which is remarkable since he never has recovered fully from a mid-1950s car crash that injured both his legs. But respect and pleasure rather than sympathy are the emotions his music evokes, along with the sense that, in listening to him, one is listening as well to the entire history of jazz, which somehow has been cap-, tured within the bell of Arnett Cobb's horn. Larry Kart DICING OUT DININ9 OUT DININO OUT DINING OUT CELEBRATIONS LAST LONGER AT THE -IS-! -Tf, C3 9 . I I ? tA Ml ly. i.s r,H met.- ror your nexi ceieorauon, m ine ivun ivai ukc yuu away K to a South Seas Paradise. Because celebrations at the Kona Kai have a way of turning into more than just a night out - they turn into cherished memories. t W Ia! mmm tm JSnnM M1 Ia MkAltA fM UUall f 94in(V JUHI 119 ivi fjiiiim anil rci us vwuiv yvw ai9vnunig ' waterfalls and romantic musk, excite you with tempting - L array of perfectly prepared cuisine - from the traditional to the exotic, and please you with our friendly and relaxed service. All that paradise should be. fANia 4a AIM aMMlsMl Sclaiwf Pnitlaft aWlWIWirsTl WVIIIC IV VUI wrewMwe naiwwm the magic of making memories at the Kona Kai. then rood times on tab in theTavern for New Years. Good food, good drinks, good friends. Get them all together at the Tavern New Years Eve. Come early for dinner and select from our regular menu or enjoy a special complete dinner for two. Then stay for the midnight party with champagne, noisemakers and general merrymaking. Reservations requested. JAMES TAVERN , 1775 Lake' Cook Road 1000 31st Street at at Northbrook Court. Highland, Downers 498-2020. Grove. 960-5700. CtT-AWAY-GUIDt; 9' ! .Mj asssw.Msjbi "' J II feaVSiCJ jP CF , y ill II -rr- "I On-AWAY-OUIDI OCT-AWAY-OUIDf For the entire family (the longer you stay, the less it costs) A CHRISTMAS PACKAGE . . . Children stay free! Our social director will feed and entertain thsml (Limit 2 children per .room with adults.) Price includes Dinner-Theatre ticket to see the New Cristy Minstrels! Complimentary Tennis. , Stay two to six nights; FROM $56.b0'to $1 11.U); A NEW YEAR'S PARTY PACKAGE . .. New Year's Eve Party with lavish buffet dinner, . dancing, 'unlimited ' cocktails. Complimentary Tennis. . . Stay two to six nights, FROM $72.5010 $127.55.' pir ptrwn, double OMupany, Plut tm. OTHER PACKAQI PLANS ALSO AVAILAILI fy&tiea&ant Sim At Boston Sea Party, k'slhe way we serve It that makes the difference. And it starts the moment you walk in A unique cokmlal stmospnere 8 enjoy as much as you Uke. Fresh ShnnTO,ciarosonuieiBusiicu, . Abukan ling Crab, Qysws ItocldBlkirja miitIi murnmnn. TOfK Strm SWUt, or nns oi u j tht cssertpier.Air for one price. . Serving from 5:00 PM nlgliUy. CaD for teseratJonfc RESORT Route 64, Box 64, St. Charles, I L 60174 Phone: (312)684-6300 Chicago (312) 261-7368 . 545 North Ave., Carol SHwwi 9045 9001 Waukegan RdM Morton Grove 967StO V Find your next auto In the biggest shopping center in print-Chicago TObuM classified pages. AMUSIM1NTS AMUSIMINTS arie cnovn SCHOOL PRESENTS DIRECT FROM MIAMI BEACH JACKIE UMOll Sunday, DNnbsr 14th, 180-70 PJL Ticket Information 274-9445 General Admission $12.80 VI GET-AWAY-OUIDI GET-AWAT-GUIDI 10 reasons to spond Christmas vockond of t ha Chafoau Louisa: 0 3 SAUNA fit 5 plus tax ant gratuity Our 3-doy2-nlght weekend vacation Is a luxurious getaway designed to warm up your winter. Call GAsllght 6-6000 for details and reservations. lf you can't spend the weekend with us. Join us for a fabulous Christmas Day Buffet, which is included in our 0-day2-night package. $8.95 ($4.95 for children) buys a lavish array of traditional holiday favorites and delicious accompaniments. lmtti north oj 'Northwest Ibllumy ou Ktt, 31, Buniio, BU Come Celebrate with ust 12 HOURS New Year's Eve Party 6 p.m. to s a.m. 12 hours celebration Special Menu Complete 6 course dinner 5 entrees to choose from ' unlimited champagne live Entertainment 2 bands Dancing & Part Favors Open bar 3000, MR0O Complete package cocktails A entertainment only per person 4256 N. Central Ave. Chicago . Call Early For Reservations 736-5828 Kn Your Chrlattinas Pfrty-nquet Rooms Available V4 Mr,

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