Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 55° Cloudy

Dan Webster

This individual is no longer an employee with The Spokesman-Review.

All Stories

‘Billy Jack’ Movies Were A Real Kick For One Nostalgia Buff

It all began in 1967. But before it was over 10 years later, the "Billy Jack" phenomenon had swept the nation. Today, just about the only memorable aspect to it remains the image of actor-director Tom Laughlin, a half-breed karate expert, with his black hat boasting a bright feather. Remember him, the guy who talks of peace while knocking the starch out of a gang of bad guys? Praise the Lord, he seems to be saying, but keep passing the film canisters. The character of Billy Jack first showed up in 1967's "The Born Losers," an action film in which the kick-happy character ends up getting rough with a gang of bikers. (Note: T.C. Frank, the ostensible director, is a pseudonym for Laughlin.) Then came the big one: 1971's "Billy Jack." This time, our hero is fighting for a school, a vulnerable woman (Dolores Taylor, Laughlin's wife) and a gaggle of cute kids. It played for months across the nation, including Spokane, attracting a following by adhering to a simple formula: "Billy Jack" preached against violence even as it gave its audiences healthy doses of it. Two more films complete the quartet: 1974's "The Trial of Billy Jack" and 1977's "Billy Jack Goes to Washington." It is the first of those two films, "The Trial of Billy Jack," that one area video fan is interested in seeing (don't ask why; it seems to have something to do with nostalgia). And the facts are these: According to A Million and One World-Wide Videos, a Georgia-based company that specializes in searching out hard-to-find videos, "The Trial of Billy Jack" is not in current release. That means a copy could be sitting on a shelf by chance someplace. More likely, though, you'll need to check the collector's market, which could be expensive. Phone calls to all the larger Spokane video stores revealed they don't carry any copies (a couple of clerks had never even heard of the film; one offered "The Trial of Jeffrey Dahmer" as a substitute). Seattle's Scarecrow Video, one of that city's main video outlets, also struck out (one clerk, in fact, claimed that the film had never even been released on video). So perhaps A Million and One World-Wide Videos is the answer. The 24-hour number is (800) 849-7309. Or if someone living more locally has a copy, give me a call at 459-5483. The image of Billy Jack beckons. Exotica *** There are no clear answers provided by Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan in this look at the obsessions that drive us, so often, to distraction. The plot involves a man (Bruce Greenwood of television's "St. Elsewhere") who haunts a sex club, the young dancer (Mia Kirshner) who works there, the club's moody announcer (Elias Koteas) and a pet-store owner (Don McKellar). It's all involved with the death of innocence and the search for redemption, themes that Egoyan underscores with a collection of visual metaphors. Not for everyone, but then inherent idiosyncracy is precisely what makes Egoyan's work so intriguing. Rated R. The Cure ** 1/2 Joseph Mazzello ("Jurassic Park") stars as a boy with AIDS, and Brad Renfro ("The Client") is the abusedboy-next-door who befriends him. The two fight all the standard battles, against ignorance, bigotry and bullyboy attitudes, in the process of discovering what the intimacy of friendship is all about. The movie stumbles here and there as filmmaker Peter Horton resorts to fantasy, but the young actors keep it mostly on track. Keep a hanky nearby. Rated PG-13. Jury Duty ** More funny than the O.J. Simpson trial, and certainly more clever than Kato Kaelin, this little comedy starring Pauly Shore takes on the legal system in much the same way "Airplane!" took on the airline industry. But despite the few jokes that work, too many fall flat. And Shore just doesn't have the Jim Carrey-type energy to propel the action on his own. Rated PG-13. The Santa Clause * The only real value in this Christmas-themed comedy is its subject: the reaffirmation of childhood dreams. But the way the film gets there works against the very spirit of Christmas that many of us hold dear. "Home Improvement" star Tim Allen is a divorced man who is quick with a retort but slow to figure out why his pre-adolescent son doesn't want to stay with him on Christmas Eve. And then matters get really mixed up when dad is forced to take the place of Santa Claus - for real. Every time the film hints at having a gentle side, the music video begins and the whole production turns into a lump of celluloid coal. Rated PG.

Imax Offers Two Unique Film Experiences

An IMAX film seldom offers anything surprising. Sooner or later, you know the IMAX camera is going to take you over a cliff, through a narrow canyon, over the planet or into the claustrophobic darkness of an undersea cave. IMAX filmmakers feel a need to make full use of that giant screen. But if the films are done well, then no matter how predictable their individual parts are, the overall IMAX experience remains a thrill. And few of the more traditional IMAX films have been done better than "Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets."
News >  Features

Saved-Up Conversation Evaporates At Last Moment

In his book "Fathers," author/ editor Jon Winokur has compiled a book that is the antithesis of his better-known "The Portable Curmudgeon." It is a moving collection of reminiscences about fathers that, for the most part, are positive. One that isn't, but yearns to be, was written by Anatole Broyard: "When I was a boy, my father's silence was one of the great mysteries of my life. Not only did he fail to answer when I spoke to him, he didn't even seem to hear me.
News >  Features

Golden Rule

1. Ann Rule draws from her experience as a Seattle police officer in writing her true-life crime books. 2. (Photo of book jacket.)
A&E >  Entertainment

‘Seven’ Deadly To The Competition

(From For the record, Saturday, October 21): Gary Oldman is the lead male actor in the movie "The Scarlet Letter." A photo caption in Friday's Weekend entertainment section indicated otherwise. Brad Pitt and Demi Moore can run but they can't hide from the fact that their movie, "The Scarlet Letter," fared poorly in its deburt week. Photo by/Takashi Seida/Buena Vista Pictures
News >  Features

It’s Never Too Early To Start Picking Oscar Contenders

So ask yourself this: If you had to choose the top Oscar contenders right now, who would they be? Tough choices, eh? Over the next couple of months, we'll be assaulted both by Hollywood's final entries in the 1995 Oscar sweepstakes and those that have already played theatrically and are now just coming out on video.
News >  Features

Inner Limits John Bradshaw’s Philosophies Help Us Find The Key To - And Face The Facts Of - Our Sense Of Self

I was among a crowd of mainly middle-age people walking one recent Wednesday afternoon across the pleasant, grassy campus of Spokane Falls Community College. A bearded twentysomething man - perhaps he was a student, perhaps not - watched us pass by, a look of bemused curiosity on his face. " Where are you all headed?" he asked. In answer, I held up my bright purple folder, the one with the words "John Bradshaw Seminar" printed across the front. "Oh, John Bradshaw," he said, smiling. " All your inner children are going to be healthy and happy." I laughed, thinking as I did so about how Bradshaw accuses us media types of not understanding his message. Did he, I wondered, ever consider how common-denominator messaging tends to evoke such common-denominator reactions? Bradshaw, for those of you who have never heard of him, is the high-profile - and I'm taking this right off the cover of his latest book, "Family Secrets" - counselor, theologian, management consultant, public speaker and "one of the primary figures in the contemporary self-help movement." You'll find no argument about those claims here. I first encountered Bradshaw one night a few years ago while semiconsciously channel-surfing through a dull evening. My thumb paused as channel 7 filled the screen and Bradshaw's Texas-born twang filled the room. Yes, he was talking about his inner child. But unlike some other "primary figures in the contemporary self-help movement," whose images seem more tied to talk-show consultations than legitimate therapeutical work, Bradshaw seemed to radiate sincerity. With his voice mirroring the religious fervor of the Catholic priest he once was, he seemed to be making sense. It is that inherent feel of integrity that allows Bradshaw to stand out in an overcrowded field. It also allows him to hold on to that feeling even while he operates with a marketing philosophy that depends on hot phrases such as "toxic shame," "ego integrity" and, of course, "inner child" - the very phrases that evoke smiles from twentysomething college students. The benefit of such a philosophy is obvious: Hot phrases are easy to understand and easier to remember. They not only make complicated theories of behavior more accessible, they make it easy for celebrity therapists to attach such popularized theories to themselves. The danger is equally obvious. Any catch-phrase, even a "hot" one, quickly becomes outdated. It passes over into the realm of cliche, and as it does so it loses effectiveness. Sometimes it even becomes a joke. Remember "I'm OK, you're OK"? Yet fashion is the nature of contemporary pop psychology. And even in such a realm, particularly among a crowd dominated by self-promoters, a John Bradshaw is worthy of attention. There's nowhere near enough room in this limited space to do justice to all Bradshaw has to say during a daylong conference on such topics as personal boundaries, interactive patterns, healthy vs. dark secrets and the need for family honesty. But we can cover one. When, for example, he talks of "boundary violations," Bradshaw weaves a scene we all should be familiar with: a parent trying to quiet a crying child by stuffing food in its mouth - and unknowingly setting the stage for an eating disorder. The child, looking to his parent for guidance, gets a distorted sense of values. He fails to learn early on about how to delay gratification, never gets in touch with his body and tends for the rest of his life to eat beyond the point of satiation. The likely future for this child involves stress, anxiety, unhappiness and, maybe, years of individual therapy. And eating is just one area in which such problems show up. "You can reduce most human problems to boundary violations," Bradshaw said. The onus is on parents to correct this situation, he said. And the best way to do that is to honor the child's attempts to establish his or her own identity - even when, initially, something unpleasant might occur. "One Sunday my son wanted to wear his pajamas to church," Bradshaw told the SFCC audience. "I didn't say no. I just let him do it. I don't know what happened, but he never did it again." Bradshaw's point, which he made amid the resulting laughter, concerned the need he felt to celebrate his son's attempts to utter his first "no." The boy was only attempting, Bradshaw said, to affirm his own sense of self. "And when you crush it," he said, "you crush boundaries." And hurt that inner child to its very core.
News >  Features

This Book Could Be Highly Rewarding For Industrious Readers

Author W.C. Jameson spends his time writing about, if not searching for, buried treasure around the United States. His latest book, "Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest" (August House Publishers, 224 pages, $11.95 paperback), tells of 32 different sites where untold riches might be found. Sites such as the "Buried Treasure of the Wynoochee River Wildman" or the "Lost Gold of Devil's Sink." The nearest treasure to Spokane would be the five bags of gold that, originally stolen from a Northport smelter, were last seen on a farm near Colville. The ore, said to be worth about $20,000 in the 1930s, is thought to be buried somewhere on a Colville golf course.
News >  Features

The Newer Man Robert Bly Brings His Thoughts On Men And Relationships To Spokane

1. (Photo of Robert Bly) 2. As one of the founders of the men's movement, Robert Bly has influenced a generation of free thinkers with his poetry and music. "This movement is very young. I think the best effect we've had is on young fathers, by urging them to be really strong fathers from the time the baby is born." Millicent Harvey photo 3. Bly wrote best-seller "Iron John."
News >  Features

Children’s Book Author Gerald Mcdermott Will Lecture, Autograph

Gerald McDermott puts pictures to the ancient stories of native cultures. In a series of brightly illustrated children's books, McDermott tells, among others, the Southwest Native American tales of Coyote looking for trouble and Sun having a son ("Coyote" and "Arrow to the Sun"), the West African tale of Zomo the Rabbit looking for wisdom ("Zomo the Rabbit") and the Pacific Northwest tale of Raven looking for light ("Raven"). McDermott has won numerous awards, including three Caldecott Medals for "Raven," "Coyote" and "Anansi the Spider."
News >  Features

Top TV Readers Share Their All-Time Favorite Television Shows

1. Readers voted "M*A*S*H," the Korean War comedy/drama, as their favorite television show of all time. 2. Ted Knight played news anchor Ted Baxter in "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." 3. The original "Star Trek" and "Next Generation" blasted their way into the second and third spot on readers' lists.
A&E >  Entertainment

‘Don Juan’ Well-Made But Few Take Notice

It's best never to expect too much from Hollywood. As a friend in the business keeps telling me, critics are the only ones who continually hold movies to the standards of art. And to think, people call us negative. It is a struggle, though, to retain such standards in the face of an industry that considers James Belushi a star, Nicole Kidman a sex symbol, Tim Burton a visionary and pays Joe Eszterhas millions to write warmedover Shannon Tweed tinglers.