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November 11, 1981 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-11-11

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.tARTS______

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, November 11, 1981

Pa 5

" wyv .r,

'Southern Comfort' Dixie ripoff

By Adam Knee
"NTOT SINCE Deliverance','claim the
, 'advertisements for Walter Hill's
Southern Comfort. Although the literal
meaning of this phrase is abstruse, one
thing is certainly clear: Southern Com-
fort has been designed to do no more
than to cash in on the popularity of the
earlier movie.
As is usually the case with a com-
mercial film built around a specific
gimmick or selling point, it is
hopelessly empty and not in the least
entertaining.
Southern Comfort is about a groupof
National Guardsmen, who, on a routine
military exercise in a Louisiana bayou,
run into trouble with some less-than-

friendly Cajun natives.
The guardsmen decide to "borrow" a
few Cajun-owned canoes, an act which
serves to have the sergeant's head
blown open. As they continue their
maneuvers, members of the ranks are
picked off with guns or traps, or they
drown in the bogs, or they go crazy. We
are expected to wonder why they are
set upon so, and who will get out alive.
Yet we are not truly concerned about
the Guardsmen. Hill, who helped write
the screenplay, depicts them as a pret-
ty nasty bunch. Dialogue is almost
completely in shouts and curses. The
men torture a prisoner and blow up his
house. They even attack each other.
The import of these actions is hard to
divine. One can't be sure what Hill is,
aiming at, and one can't held but

suspect that he's not aiming at
anything. The plot flows' randomly,
with as little clear order as the bayou
setting.
In keeping with the quality of the.
screen play, the characters are neither
believable nor interesting. Two Guar-
dsmen are singled out as being more in-
telligent and somehwat less brutal than
the others, but even they lack appeal.
Another Guardsman, a high school
football coach and history teacher when
not on duty, strangely decides to stop
talking in the middle of the film-a
move of rare ingenuity on the writers'
parts.
The acting does not help matters
much. Most of the performers show lit-
tle talent, and even the better ones,
such as Keith Carradine and Powers

Records

Boothe look like they'd rather be
anywhere but in Southern Comfort.
Hill the director only manages to
aggravate the problems of 'Hill the
writer. Camera coverage varies
tiringly little as the Guardsmen trudge
through endless swamps. He
repeatedly uses fades to end a sequence
when he can think of nothing else to do.
Most of the shootings-or, more ac-
curately, most of the woundings-are
filmed in a gimmicky and inap-
propriate slow motion. Form proves as
haphazard as content.
Southern Comfort does have one
commendable aspect; eerie music
composed and performed by Ry-
Cooder. But it is bogged down; even the
best frosting can't save a cake made
with swamp water.
A NN a ,R
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DAILY-7:20, 9:40
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$S With this entire ad,
. 5o one ticket only)
$1.50, Mon thru
GOOD THRU 1/12/81 "M" ThugEve.0
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MERYL
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Daily Photo by MIKE LUCAS
Kathy Devecke, Elizabeth James, Adrienne Thompson; and Wendy Wright:
'Ladies at the Alamo'
'Ladies ' Futile
attempt to fus
tragedy/cr -edy

By Gail Negbaur
H jOMOSEXUALITY, promiscu-
.L ity, alcoholism, death,' woman's
role: ih society, mental health, and,
operating a theater. "What's left?" is
the only question an audience can ask
~ifter sitting through Ladies at the
Aamo, playing tomorrow through Sun-
day at the Canterbury Loft.
Paul Zindel's comedy/tragedy is
about running The Alamo, a theater in
Texas. The theater's benefactor Joanne
Remington (Kathy Devecka), is'trying
to get rid of the director, Dede Cooper
(Elizabeth Jahnke). Cooper has eviden-
tly been too generous with the operating
budget, spending it on things like a new
set of teeth for a technician and'a badly
needed singles' cruise for someone else.
1The dramatic conflict would seem to
te between this kind, generous soul.
and the tyrannical benefactor.
But Cooper'is just as mean and~tough
as Remington. She fights for her
theater in the most unscrupulous ways
possible, while insisting that she is
really good on the inside. It is hard
for one's sympathies to lie with a
character whose actions contradict her
words. But it is obvious that this is what
*indel expects from the audience.
In the middle of the last act, all five
characters give some revealing con-
fessions. We find out that Cooper's
beloved best frienid, Bella has had
sexual relations with Mr. Cooper;
Remington's secretary, Suits (Melissa
Berger) has had a lesbian affair with
the intended new director, Shirley
Fuller (Adrienne Thompson); and
Remington herself had been taught how
bad it is to be a woman.
This excess information serves only
to make the play confusing. Cooper
does finally get to keep her theater, but
she has to threaten Remington with a
toy hammer first. One walks away
after the play ,relieved that the chaos is
finished.
Why has the Canterbury Loft chosen
to produce this play? Maybe beacuse
there are five women's roles, or
because the actors are required to
exhibit every motion in the book. While
it might be a good acting exercise,
Ladies is not good theater.
However, interspersed among the
many melodramatic themes in the play
are some truly funny lines. Although

they tend to be somewhat crude, Zin-
del's one-liners are all that keeps the
play going.
The best of these lineseare delivered
by Bella (Wendy Wright). Wright is
funny and enjoyable to watch; she has a
good voice that carries well. But, like
2indel's other characters, the different
aspects of Bella's personality do not fit
well together.
Bella is supposed to be an alcoholic
and quite drunk throughout the play,
but at the same time Cooper is constah-
tly calling for her emotional support.
Evidently, Bella is capable of giving
this support no matter how drunk she
is. Understandably, Wright has a dif-
firult time conveying what Bella is all
about.
Most of the action in the play directly
affects Dede Cooper (Elizabeth
Jahnke), but the character is too
loosely defined to hold the play
together. In the first act Jahnke han-
dles the burden of her character well,
yet when the action becomes confused,
she follows suit.
The people at Canterbury Loft have
their hands full with this production.
Whatever the good intentions may have
been, the play just doesn't work well.

Cabaret Voltaire-'Three
Crepuscule Tracks'
(Rough Trade)
This is a welcome change of pace
from Cabaret Voltaire. On the highlight
cut of this EP, "Sluggin' fer Jesus (part
one)," Cabaret eschew their usual
arhythmic, atonal, amelodic weir-
dness-for-its-own-sake in favor of an
ominously danceable bass riff and lif-
ted, looped evangelist vocals designed
to do Byrne and Eno's My Life in the
Bush of Ghosts one better.
The two cuts on the B side of this EP
are much more typical Cabaret stuff,
however. At best, it is interesting
though uninvolving; at worst, it is
gratingly self-indulgent.
-Mark Dighton
Cameo-'Knights of the Sound
Table' (Chocolate City)
Cameo are back to remind us once
again that fun is a major part of funky.
Unlike a lot of soul albums that feature
a few cuts destined for airplay and are
padded with just as much forgettable
filler, Cameo prove capable of a con-
sistently and stiltvaried funk attack.
Of course, the highlights of Knights
are the hyperactive hit "Freaky Dan-
cin' " and Nona Hendryx's snide guest
vocals on "Don't Be So Cool." But even
the two ballads are fine pieces, with
Larry Blackman's passionate vocals
keeping them from slipping into a
dispassionately endless groove.-
This 10-piece range of talent (in-
cluding head honcho Blackman)
promises and delivers some of the most
reliably substantial funk on record with
Knights of the Sound Table.
-M.D.
Henry Badowski-'Life is a
Grand ... ' (A&M)
This Badowski guy is sure smart. By
waiting until the creativity of anyone
connected with Roxy Music was long
dead and buried, he has made it easy to
borrow liberally from their best
moments without having to fear being
labelled derivative. Roxy fans will be
far too grateful for a real reminder of
the band's past glories to quibble over
questions of grave-robbing.
In fact, this album should prove a
complete embarrassment to the
various Roxy musicians. By fusing

some of the most basic Roxy elemen-
ts--Phil Manzanera's artsy Spanish
guitar, Andy Mackay's stylish '54s sax,
and Paul Thompson's eloquently sim-
ple drumming-to a refreshingly clever
Europop sound, Badowski has quite
clearly and simply shown the potential
these ideas still carry to please and ex-
cite.
Indeed, it all of its well-behaved syn-
thetic warmth, Life is a Grand..
comes closest, to Eno's sublimely
-twisted pop sensibility circa
somewhere between Taking Tiger
Mountain and Another Green World.
It's all here for the asking-the swarm
of snake guitars, wryly deadpan vocals
and lyrics, little-fishies synthesizers,
and propulsive pop drumming. And if
"Silver Trees" isn't a new chapter in
the journey through Judy's Jungle, then
I'll eat my copy of "The Seven Deadly
Finns.''
In short, this is a far better album
than any of the present or past mem-
bers of Roxy Music have put out (and
probably will put out) in any
recognjzable span of time. And for now,
I'm more than happy to make do with
Henry Badowski.
-M.D.
Ragnar Kvaran-'Wrecked on
Love' EP (A.T.C.)
"Finally, some modern hometown
music this city can be proud of. (Sure, I
liked The Corvettes' album-a lot-but
I'm not going to stick my neck out by
championing it as more than a cute
novelty piece. And I certainly won't
mention The Looks' excuse for music./
The Destroy All Monsters singles?'
Well, I still haven't made up my mind
on those, so you could safely say I
wasn't bowled over, I guess.)
But that's not the point. The sound in
question is Ragnar Kvaran's, and I'm
generally pleased by what I hear on this
six-cut EP. I've always liked Kvaran's
live shows to one extent or another, but
I think this vinyl catches them near
their best.
Kvaran's got a style that covers a lot
of the popular basics (Chuck Berry,
The Cars, and so on) in a way that
always seems to put a fresh edge on
them. And I've developed a real affec-
tion for his rough twang of a voice, too.
Not only has this EP inspired me to
start going out of my way again to see

him live, but I wouldn't be embarrassed
to take this disc around to out-of-
towners as an example of some of the
finer music available around the
Square.
-M.D.
EARTHWATCH
A weekly series of
environmental
talks
How Much is a Life Worth?
THE HAZARDS OF
COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS
Sanford Lewis
Wed., Nov. 11-7:40 p.m.
Mason Hall, Rm. 443
Sponsors: Environmental Low Soci-
ety, PIkGIA, MSA, LSA-SG, And LSSS.

t°

Help Prevent
Birth Defects -
The Nation's
Number One
Child Health
Problem.
Support the
March of
BIRTH DEFECTS
FOUNDATION
This space contributed
by the publisher

"At this time I know ofrno other musical ensemble that
combines, as these superlative musicians do, the deep concern,
musical perception, and faultless realization of all they play.1
- The Washington Post

Richard Stoltzman, clarinet Fred Sherry, cello
Theodore A rm, violin and viola Ik-Hwan Bae, violin and viola
Ida Kavafian, violin and viola
a i

375 N. MAPLE
~t~fll~rn769-1300
MAPLE VILLAGE SHPG'R
* 0 " MON FRI S2PI6PM SAT- SUNS2 t I 3PM
} li ohn tleese *,W 'LDAM HURT
Shelley Du~val! 1:45 K.AiHLEEN TURNER
Se Connery 4:00,
Katherine Helmond 7:001 L)UU 0
U David Warner 920 H C AT r

Program
Mozart: Divertimento for String Trio in E-flat major, K. 563
Husa: Evocation de Slovaquie
Weber: Quintet for Clarinet and Strings in E-flat major, Op. 34
Suiiday, Noveniber.15, at 4:00
Tiaek la $ $udito.iu, ,
Tickets at $8.50, $7.00, $5.50

i

t .

11 1, if

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