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Starring: Tom Cruise and Rebecca DeMornay
Directed by Paul Brickman
Playing at Movies at Briarwood
By Andrew Baron
W HEN I SAW Risky Business I
entered the theater expecting to
confront good-hearted, juvenile
delinquency. Instead, I came upon a
film that transmits style and insight
so much so that I can say only good
things about it.
Unfortunately, in the ads that I've
seen for the movie, the promoters play
up only the sleezy aspects of it (and this
film definitely deals with sex in a direct
manner). But if you can look past what
little smut there is, you'll discover a
movie that is true to life and is, as such,
The film is about a young man nam'
Joel (Tom Cruise) who comes from
extremely affluent family. He is about
to end his high school career and seeks
desperately to be accepted into a
respected college - immediately, the
University student finds himself
assaulted by old memories. But in the
opening dream sequence of the film,
Joel enters a deserted house where he
comes upon a beautiful woman in a
steamy shower. As he approaches her
through the fog, she gradually fades
away. Later on, in another scene he
describes to his friends how he was
unable, psychologically, to have sex
when a girl, baby-sitting nearby, awk-
wardly propositioned him.
Things become clearer in another
dream sequence, where a S.W.A.T.
team, Joel's parents, and the baby-
sitter's father all spontaneously appear
and surround the house as he begins to
make love to her. It becomes a classic
farce, when the girl's father yells
through a bullhorn, "Get off of the girl,
What becomes obvious to Joel and his
contemporaries is that sexual activity
is taboo within the confines of suburbia.
The solution for this is to find a girl
from elsewhere - a callgirl. Hence,
the premise for Risky Business is born.
Joel's life begins to turn around when
a Harvard-bound pal takes two impor-
tant steps in being his 'brother's
keeper.' So he tells Joel that he must
adopt a newstance about theworld.
First he must learn to say, "What the
fuck." And second, he sets the ball
rolling, rather indirectly, for Joel to
meet Lana (Rebecca DeMornay).
When Joel gets entangled with Lana
and her world Risky Business really
takes off. Problems first arise when she
steals a valuable piece of art - an ab-
stract sculpture, representing an egg.
This act could be interpreted as being
well grounded in Freud, where the egg
represents Joel's mother (we learn that
the egg is his mother's prized
possession). So again, what seems to be
a random act can really hold a lot of
Anyway, tension worsens as Joel falls
into deeper trouble academically, and
physically when he must confront
Guido, Lana's so-called "manager." As
the curtains begin to close over Joel's
head, we grow more and more anxious
with him. I attribute this to Tom
Cruise's acting ability and to the
overall unity of spirit that runs
throughout the film. That is, every
scene in this flick works - nothing is
wasted. The script is excellent, the
direction is stylish but not self-
indulgent, and the actors- do what is
required to contribute to this sense of
"budding youth in turmoil."
Some critics have compared this film
to The Graduate. I, personally, see a lot
of similarities. In both movies we have
the hero caught between a desire to
please and a desire that wants to say
"What the fuck." I love to think about
juxtaposing the character of Lana
against the character of Joel's mother.
In this way it looks a lot like The
Graduate - Mrs. Robinson vs. her
daughter. In either film, Freud would
have had a ball.
ON FAMOUS,-NAME WATCHES.
Too Low for Zero
By Michael Baadke
ELTON JOHN'S latest release, Too
Low For Zero, has a lot to recommend
it even before the disc is removed from
the sleeve. Together for the first time in
eight years are the members of the
original Elton John Band - Davey
Johnstone on guitars, Dee Muray on
bass and Nigel Olsson on drums. This is
the crew that backed Elton on over a
dozen hit singles in the early '70s, in-
cluding "Crocodile Rock" and
"Someone Saved My Life Tonight."
In addition, the songs on Too Low For
Zero) were all co-written by Elton and
Bernie Taupin, a reuniting of the team
that shot Elton John to the undisputed
top of the pop charts for a span of
nearly five years. Just reading the in-
ner sleeve of this LP is like taking a
step back through time to 1975.
This reconstruction of a proven suc-
cess formula might well prove
beneficial for Elton; his career took a
shaky turn following the release of Blue
Moves in 1976. He's only recently
achieved a portion of his past
popularity with the release of Jump
Up! last year, which produced the
singles "Empty Garden (Hey Hey
Johnny)" and "Blue Eyes."
Too Low For Zero is a sedate album,
almost cautious by Elton John's
prevous standards. As might be expec-
ted, the music is more reminiscent of
the '70s Elton than anything he's done
in recent years. His keyboard perfor-'
mances, although tempered, are much
more in the foreground on this album.
Oddly enough, one of the most
familiar sounds here is the vocal har-
monization of four band members. It's
a combination which never garnered
much critical attention, but which con-
tributed a great deal to Elton's distin-
ctive sound. (Consider a song like
"Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," which
showcased these smooth harmonies.)
Nigel Olsson and Elton John: Reun
Although there is a great deal on Too
Low For Zero which is familiar, Elton
has included some subtle changes to the
sound to adapt to shifting musical
tastes. "Crystal" features the trendy
combination of synthesized drums
resembling handclaps and a keyboard
synthesizer put to minimal use. Much of
the music has been minimized on this
album; Elton indulges in strings on only
one cut here, and they're tastefully
arranged by an old associate, James
There's a great deal of under-
statement on Too Low For Zero, and it
may be the album's sole weakness. To
the outside observer it appears as
though the old group has been assem-
bled with great care, and no one wanted
to jeopardize the outcome by going off
the deep end. However, going off the
deep end was always Elton John's
trademark, whether it was manifested
in his stage antics, his appeance or the
songs he recorded. Although the band
rocks on cuts like "I'm Still Standing"
and "Kiss The Bride," it's a tightly con-
trolled energy and nobody really cuts
One exception is "Whipping Boy,"
where the band cooks until the steam
starts to rise. Lyrically this is far from
a Taupin masterpiece, but who cares
about lyrics when a song kicks you in
the backside and demands that you get
up and dance? Everyone works double-
time on this cut, although unfortunately
Elton doesn't add his piano this melee.
Despite the seeming restraint on
much of the album, the band works
together impressively from start to
finish. This smoothness culminates
with the title cut, which effectively cap-
tures every nuance of depression and
exhaustion expressed in Taupin's
lyrics. The album's sense of under-
statement is most fitting here,
magnifying the simplicity of the song's
theme with a stoically persistant drum
beat and Elton's toned down con-
tributions on piano and synthesizer.
Too Low For Zero sounds very much
like a new beginning for Elton John, a
hesitant step toward a sound that over-
whelmed the world 10 years ago. It's
not really nostalgia, but rather a return
to the career he once had.
In any case, it remains to be seen if
Elton will stay with this formulation,
and if the world is willing to pick up on
it once again. Too Low For Zero is a
very enjoyable album, and it's a little
like seeing Elton John come back
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