The Michigan Daily
Saturday, March 27, 1982
'Deathtrap' is all plot
By Richard Campbell
MOVIE REVIEWER'S number one
rule: Don't reveal the ending of a
movie. That makes reviewing
Deathtrap almost impossible. There is
very little in the way of plot that can be
related without making the movie ex-
tremely boring because the film con-
sists of incredible climax after climax.
lout even the most general of plot
descriptions is impossible; there is too
much information about scene twelve
that would ruin scene one.
So I'm going to talk just about scene
one. Just take my word for it that the
rest of the movie is a lot more of the
same fun and games.
Michael Caine is Sidney Bruhl, the
once successful playwright whose
latest thrillers have been ignored by the
public. He is desperate for a hit, even
though he could survive in his quaint
suburban home on his wife's money.
Dyan Cannon plays Myra, the nervous,
constantly scared wife, who tries to be
serenely oblivious to all that surrounds
Into this arena comes Clifford Ander-
son (Christopher Reeve), the bright
young writer with a brilliant new mur-
der mystery awaiting its final polish
from the old master of stage murder. It
doesn't have to be added just how
delighted Sidney is to have almost in his
possession a practically flawless script
that only he has read.
Nothing more of Ira Levin's stage
play can be told.
Deathtrap is an exhilarating film that
delivers spasms of fear and humor
along its entire two hour length. But
what fun there is comes through only as
a result of the inventive plot twists, not
by depth of characterization or strength
of thematic material.
Does any of this matter? Not really.
There is more than enough fun in the
movie to make up for any lack of
traditional aesthetics. And Deathtrap
uses one fairly modern plot device ex-
Like Dial 'M' for Murder, Deathtrap
has an exceedingly complicated plot. It
is impossible to guess at what will hap-
pen in the next reel. Like Sleuth, this
plotting is tied to frightfully clever
dialogue, resulting in a movie that is as
interesting to listen to as it is to watch.
What Deathtrap adds to these
estimable qualities is a healthy dose of,
self-reference. The play that Anderson
has written, and. has asked Bruhl's
opinion of, is "Deathtrap." Bruhl
praises this thriller for the exact same .
reasons as have already been men-
tioned. And throughout the film , the
characters become concerned with
rewriting Deathtrap, tightening its
structure and smoothing the dialogue,
rewriting that is being performed even
as we watch the movie.
The mixture of self-reference with in-
tricate plotting is perfect for a thriller.
The audience never knows not only who
to believe, but whether what they are
seeing is truth or half-truth.
It's too bad about rule number one. A
lot could be said about the acting of
Caine, Reeve, and Cannon, but it would
have to be unjustified: specific exam-
ples would ruin the plot. The point is, of
course, that the superficiality of the
characters is ultimately unimportant.
It is the turns of fate, the traps of
death that will make you scream and
laugh at Deathtrap.
Michael Caine, as fading playwright Sidney Bruhl, and Christopher Reeve, as his aggressive protege, rehearse a scene
from their play, 'Deathtrap.'
Hope springs eternal in the souls of local bands
By Pam Fickinger
HE ROAD TO stardom is not the
I tree-lined boulevard depicted in
the movies; it is usually a long tow, of-
fering more discouragement than en-
couragement, and seldom ending in
Whatever it is, in spite of its more
than numerous ups and downs, the
hopes and ambitions of local musicians
on that road die hard.
- "It- takes about 10 years to be an
overnight success," said Mike Gould,
leader of the Gene Pool Band. Gould
has been in bands for the past 15 years
and his enthusiasm hasn't waned.
"My big goal," Gould said, "is to get a
contact with a large recording com-
pany. It can be done, but it takes a
It's also expensive. Gould said it costs
over $2000 to make a record. Many local
,bands just want to get a break as per-
formers on stage. In spite of tie.
*truggles, they keep working, hoping
one day to make it big. Ben Miller,.
Larry Miller and Doug Peterson are
three people that said they feel that
'They are members of The Other
Band. The biggest problem this trio
faces at present is getting a manager.
All the members of the group are wary
of outsiders and want to keep the
managing side of the band "in the
One of the band's goals, Ben Miller
said, is to move out of the area, and
that's the hardest thing to accomplish.
"Detroit has a complex about Ann
Arbor," Larry Miller said. "Just like a
lot of Ann Arbor people have a complex
about Ypsilanti," Peterson added.
All the members work on outside
jobs-but only when it's necessary. Ben
Miller added that he would "like to
make a living playing music."
Larry Miller said, "I'm in love with
the music, it's one of the only things I
can do. In the long run, it'll work out."
The band plays a mixture of new
wave, rock, and jazz. More recently,
they have begun experimenting with
polyrhythms, a technique developed by
Charles Ives in the late 1800's.
In spite of the let downs and failures,
the band keeps going. "You just know
there is nothing else you would rather
be doing," Peterson said. "You
definitely have to be devoted in this
business," Ben Miller added.-
Some bands, however, don't make
it-and don't keep on trying. They
branch off into other areas, and
generally don't stay with the same
people. But once they've started, it
hardto do anything else.
Fleenor Gray, lead singer for the now
defunct group Hard Corps, said, "if you
can do a good hype job, people won't
notice if you're bad." But he added that
"the adulation from one good show
lasts for a long time."
Hard Corps started two years ago at a
birthday party for guitarist Bill
Papineau. Someone at the party raised
the question, "Hey, wanna start a
band?" From there, numerous jam
sessions led, finally, to Hard Corps.
Doug Heller, another member of the
band, said the hardest part about star-
ting the band was getting everyone
together at the right time, with
everyone in the same frame of mind.
Heller also said the guys in Hard Cor-
ps were interested in the com-
munication of art.
"It sounds pretentious," he added,
"but it's true."
Gray said he had "dreams of making
it as a rock star," and that he sang in
the band for the "ego trip" and the fun
Hard Corps, like many other local
groups, write their own material.
Heller said the group's music covered a
lot of different grounds. He added that
you "can't describe the kind of music
The bands themselves are only one
aspect of the more than crazy music
business. Every day, promoters are
inundated with people hoping to make it
big in the business. But as much as he
promoters would like to, they can't ac-
Tom Stachler and Lee Barry of Prism
Productions get calls from five to 10
bands a week that are looking for their
break in the performing business.
They advice new bands not to rely on
the income of.the band as their total in-
come. It "creates tension," Stachler
said. The bands should "always have
something to fall back on," he added.
Both also stress the importance of the
package the band presents. It's "just
like a resume," said Stachler.
Some things that should be included:
a tape of their material, a lable, song
list, history of the members, pictures,
what they've done in the past, clips,
referrals, and sometimes, a logo.
Because they deal with so.many ban-
ds, there's "a point where we have to
qualify some of the bands," said
Stachler. "It's a drag," he added, "but
something you have to do in any
Barry said the bands must have a
"certain reasonable goal,, then they,
won't get discouraged so quickly." But
he added that lately he's seen "more
unemployed bands than ever before."
Rich Franks of Brass Ring Produc-
tions said what he looks for when he
gets a demo tape from a band is "a real
good cassette, like Memorex." He said
the bands don't need to put a whole
album on the tape, just "two or three of
their best songs, the name of the band,
a contact person, and their phone num-
Franks said he listens to all the tapes
he gets-about 15 a month. He likes to
know where the band will be playing
next so he can go listen to them and
"make sure they can handle it." If the
band is good enough to open for one of
their acts, he has to make sure that the '
music is compatible.
Franks said he gets about 45 phone
calls per month from new bands, and
he's glad. "We need new bands,"
Franks said. He added that Michigan is
a good place to find those kinds of ban-
Gail Parenteau of Parenteau Produc-
tions said what she looks fortis talent
and a well-done demo tape. She said for
local bands with no major recording
deals, it's mainly word of mouth that
gets them noticed.
When booking for bars, Parenteau
says that "very, very new bands will
get a percentage of the door to, pay for
their performance." Once, and if, they
become a national band; they'll get a
"guaranteed price and a percentage,'
Parenteau said she gets about ten
calls and tapes a day, a lot of them from
local bands. "There's a certain-percen-
tage (of the bands) that follow through
(past the tapes and phone calls-)," said
Parentrau. "You try to see them all,
but it's hard," she added.
Getting a start in the music business,
whether recording or performing, is not
as glamorous as it may seem. It's a
bumply road that leaves many behind.
But for those people who get started in
Ann Arbor, the thrill of a potential vic-
tory keeps them going.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30 8:30 PM MICHIGAN THEATRE
TICKETS ON SALE:
Michigan Theatre-Box Office, 603 E. Huron, Ann Arbor
2-6 p.m., Mon.-Sat.
Hudson's, Wherehouse Records and all C.T.C. outlets.
The comic opera Guild, 432 S. Fourth Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48104
I really don't think XTC us capable of
producing a patently bad album.
However, this one is at least uncomfor-
tably far from their best work..
0Certainly, there is't really much
wrong with English Settlement, but
there is less inarguably right about this
album than previous efforts. I don't
doubt that I would still be impressed if
this were the first XTC thing that I had
ever heard, but I'm equally certain that
I would't be as floored by this as I was
by Go 2.
Even on their most uneven albums,
White Music and Black Sea, there were
lways moments that jumped off the
urntable. English Settlement, conver-
sely, lies there quite pleasantly and
politely. It seems strangely well-
intentioned, almost to the point of
renouncing the cheeky disregard for
pop decorum that always made XTC so
Like Drums and Wires, much of
English Settlement seems nearly
anemic in presentation. Of course, if
thesuccess of Drums and Wires is any
indication, then English Settlement
might well be XTC's most populat
album. I would certainly recommend it
highly to anyone who likes pop music
only With the sharp edges removed,
though I would never recommend it as
a good example of XTC's real worth.
That is not to say that English Set-
tlement is completely without its
moments. At its best, though, it works
through quite atypical and unexpected
understatement. "Snowman," "Senses
Working Overtime," and "All of a Sud-
den (It's Too Late)" are pop songs so
pure that they don't need to force the
issue with bombastic production.
However, most of the other songs
would benefit greatly from a more ad-
venturous and upfront attack. As it is,
the memorable moments on this LP are
too limited and isolated to hold your in-
terest, must less command attention.
Completely missing are the elec-
tronically eccentric solos that pushed
XTC's work to frenetic heights. The odd
vocalizations (yodels, yelps, and
various other labial aberrations) show
up here and there, but seem curiously
uninspired and underplayed.
It seems that the only thing that
hasn't changed this time around is
XTC's lyrical intelligence. XTC show
no signs of losing their ability to tackle
the topical issues and make the most
radical viewpoint seem utterly sensible
(i.e., "Melt the Guns") and still bring a
fresh insight into the most hackneyed
pop themelove. Just about any line
from an XTC song is bound to say a lot
.more to you than just words. For in-
stance, "Snowman" has this to say
about the human heart: "People will
always be tempted to wipe their feet on
anything with 'welcome' written on it."
However, this lyrical insight alone
isn't always enough, especially when
we have come to expect so much more
from XTC. There'a certainly no
question that their hearts are in the
right place on English Settlement, it's
just that the music to match seems to
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