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December 02, 1983 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-12-02
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Cycling
rivalry
Rurhble Fish
Starring Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

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Yentl
soup
Barbra Streisand
Yentl ,
CBS/Columbia
By Susan Makuch
A FTER A LONG, difficult struggle,
Barbra Streisand has finally made
it. Oh, sure, Streisand has been suc-
cessful for many years now - she made
it a long time ago. The it referred to
here is not success, it is Yentl.
All the big bosses in Hollywood told
Barbra that Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy, a
short story by Isaac Bashevis Singer,
could never be translated onto the
screen. The story, about a young
Jewish woman who disguises herself as
a man in order to study the Talmud (the
Jewish holy writings, the study of which
was once restricted to men), was con-
sidered too limited in its scope to draw
a substantial audience. But Streisand.
fought diligently for the project. She is
said to have poured much of her own
money into the production, in which she
directs and stars. For obvious reasons,
Streisand needs Yentl to succeed. What
better way of insuring that success than
with a soundtrack?
If there's one thing Streisand can
almost always be assured of, it's that
her records will sell. Some of the top-
selling songs of the last 10 years can be
attributed to her - "Guilty," "The Way
We Were," and "You Don't Bring Me
Flowers," were all enormously
popular. Keeping this in mind, it's a
very good possibility that Barbra
received backing for the film based on
the fact that she would sing on the
soundtrack. Streisand even admits-that
"originally I had no intention of using
music." But she eventually realized
that the best way to convey Yentl's
story would be through song. So Yentl,
the movie soundtrack, was born.
There was no messing around when it
came time to composing that soun-
dtrack, either. Barbra (the producer)
enlisted in some of the most accom-
plished lyricists around when she hired
Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Noted for

their mellow, sometimes even sappy
tunes, the Bergmans are well-respected
in music circles.
With the creme de la creme of
lyricists, Streisand had to make sure
she had a decent music-maker. She hit
the right note by getting Michel
Legrand to write, conduct and arrange
the music for Yentl. With all this
million-dollar talent, Yentl will be a
sure-fire million-dollar seller, right?
Well, maybe.
Yentl is like so many other movie
soundtracks before it - boring.
Usually, unless you have seen the film,
the soundtrack by itself is missing
something. Yentl is no exception.
There are a few compelling songs, but
some of it is just plain ridiculous.
The first two tracks on the album
begin with prayers. A nice thought, I
will admit, but a pop album is not the
place for such sidebars. That's how the
whole soundtrack is, however. Very
ethnic. If you're not in the mood to hear
a tale, then don't bothertuning in to
Venti. Each song tells a part of the
story - something I'm sure works very
well in the film, but not in the casual
atmosphere of my living room. But if
you want a mellow, almost somber
record, then Yentl could be for you.
Of course, Barbra is in marvelous
voice for the Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack (is there an unoriginal ver-
sion?). "Where Is It Written?" (one of
the "prayer" tunes), is a little heavy in
the allegory department: Why have
the thirst if not to drink/The
wine?/And what a waste/To have a
taste/Of things that can't be mine?
Could this song possibly be trying to tell
us that Yentl yearns for something she
can't have in her life?
Another "prayer" song is the
religious-sounding "Papa Can You
Hear Me?" Streisand dedicated the
film and the album to her deceased
father, so it's little wonder that the
album contains this homage to the man
of the house. Actually, this is a sad song
that can really stir up emotions,
especially the way Barbra belts it out.
A rare upbeat moment on the album
occurs with "This Is One of Those
Moments." This song begins with the
slow, mellow tunes prevalent in every
other of the 10 songs on Yentl, but it
builds to an exciting crescendo
reminiscent of another Streisand fave,
"Don't Rain on My Parade." When
she sings There are certain things
that once/You have/No man can
take away/No wave can wash

4

By Steven Susser
T HINKING ABOUT life can be dan-
gerous; if you think too much,
you begin to realize that it has no pur-
pose, for it culminates in death -
sublime nothingness. You can live for
pleasure or thrill but when these days
are gone, what does one do? So,
thinking too much can be dangerous.
The Motorcycle Boy thinks too much.
Rumble Fish is located ambiguously
in time and space. It centers around
Rusty-James, a teenage delinquent
trying to maintain the gang that thrived
under his older brother, The Motor-
cycle Boy. Early in the film, The Boy
returns from an absence of undeter-
mined, but obviously substantial
length. It is through him and Rusty that
we get two intriguing and complex
character studies.
Besides a couple of beautifully
choreographed fight scenes there isn't
much fast-paced action. The movie
follows the Japanese technique of
focusing on a character performing
typical, mundane activities and allows
the character to unfold.
Rusty-James is trapped under his
brother's shadow. His adulation forces
him to try and imitate his brother, but
he only becomes a perverse caricature
of what The Motorcycle Boy once was.
This is sad, for behind the tough-acting
braggadocio is a sensitive, confused
and lonely adolescent.
Soon after the movie begins, we
realize that he has nobody who really
cares for him except his girlfriend,
whom he treats poorly. Rusty-James
feels he must act in this way in order to
enhance his macho image.
Neglected by the mother who

The Motorcycle Boy: Knows what it's like

Yentl: Sings like a woman"
away/No wind can blow away/No ,between Yentl and her friend, Hadass,
tide can turn away/No fire can burn becomes more prominent than the song
away/No time can wear away - one itself. It's not as if this were
can just picture Fanny Brice racing af- stimulating conversation, either. Yentl
ter Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl - it's says, "I was just thinking."
about the same type of song. That's Hadass says, "About me?"
what makes "Moments" a stand-out "Yes, as a matter of face," Yentl
track on Yentl; most of the others are replies.
so similar it's difficult to distinguish "Good thoughts, I hope," Hadass an-
where one ends and the next begins. swers.
Most prominent of the "sound-alike- This stuff is really important to the
songs" is the first single from Yentl, content of the song, right? It's at
"The Way He Makes Me Feel." This is moments like this that Yentl loses that
a solid, sentimental tune - it makes no certain something that could make it a
pretentions at being anything else. well-rounded album.
Again, this song reminds me of earlier Yentl is a nice collection of smooth,
Streisand - "The Way We Were," to be mellow songs. The reason it's not a
specific. great collection of tunes is, simply,
Yentl gets a little ridiculous during because it lacks variety. Mellow songs
such narrative songs as "Tomorrow are fine and dandy, but they can't be
Night" and "No Wonder (Parts 1&2)." the sole support of an entire LP. If Yen-
This is truly "movie soundtrack" tl was spiced up with a few more up-
material; the songs include voice-overs beat, fast-paced songs, the soundtrack
from the film itself. There is actual would be a little more interesting.
conversation in "Tomorrow Night" and But Streisand has to be given credit
"No Wonder (Part 2)," with the song for getting Yentl to the screen and in-
overlapping the voices in the to the recording studio. After all,
background. mediocre Barbra is better than no Bar-
In "No Wonder, Part 2," the chit-chat bra at all.

deserted him when he was a child, by
the father who took to the bottle to con-
sole the marital loss, and by the brother
who is so enmeshed in his own problems
and queries that he hardly focuses out-
side of himself at all, Rusty is obviously
in need of attention. He has never had
any guidance, and turns to his brother's
image fortself-definition.
The Motorcycle Boy is more complex
and obscure. He is brilliant and percep-
tive, yet spends so much time wrestling
with questions of existance and purpose
that he becomes an existentialistic
cipher incapable of divorcing himself
from thought and, thus, unable to act. It
is intimated the Motorcycle Boy found
that when he was younger, enjoyment
and fulfillment in gang fights. Now,
however, he is too old to rumble and too
scarred to enjoy it. He has neither goals
nor plans, but is irresistibly drawn to
the streets, which he walks in quasi-
psychopathic stupor, obviously tor-
turing himself with analysis.
Rumble Fish are Siamese Fighting

Fish that attack each other -when in a
group and, when shown their own
reflection, attack themselves. Like
these fish, Rusty, The Motorcycle Boy
and the many street dwellers, while
searcing for identity, recognition,
prestige or power tear themselves and
each other apart. Rumble Fish explores
humankind's self-destructive impulses
when he or she is placed in a sealed and
confining environment.
The special effects of the film are
fascinating. Director Francis Ford
Coppola rejects color and shoots the
story mostly in black and white. This
serves to emphasize the dreariness of
the dying city and gives the audience
the perspective of the Motorcycle Boy,
who is colorblind because of his many
fights. There is no place for brightness
in either his and Coppola's view of the
city, for smog and futility are grey.
The sound effects are striking and
disorienting; silence, cacophony, and
eerie strains are mixed in strange com-
binations of varying pitch and volume.

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Vital
option
Steve Smith
Vital Information
CBS/Columbia
By Byron Bull
D RUMMER Steve Smith has come
up with a double winner; a solidly
entertaining debut album that is also an

engaging contribution to the revitalized
jazz-rock movement.
VITAL INFORMATION forsakes
esoterics for energetic, robust pieces
that are simple in their arrangements
without being trite. Smith has cited
Weather Report and Pat Metheny as in-
fluences and while there are certain
surface similarities, Smith is clearly
more interested in having fun than in
dwelling on atmospherics.
Smith's previous session work no
doubt had a major part in the shaping of
his attitudes. Before cutting this record
he had worked with everyone from
Jean-Luc Ponty to Ronnie Montrose to
(whisper) a two-year stint with Jour-
ney. His style as a result is a blend of
traditional jazz attitudes with the kind
of hard-edged bite more prevalent in
rock.

The opening "Looks Bad, Feels
Good" is a funky, amusingly funky of-
fering. Likewise is the title track, with
some tight but fiery interweaving bet-
ween buitarist Dean Brown and Mike
Stern. Stern also tends to dominate
"All That Is," giving a passionately
raw solo to complement Dave Wilc-
zewski's equally sensous tenor sax.
Smith himself makes his strongest
mark on the final track, "13th Month,"
which he also authored. Here he plays
both piano and drums against a warmly
fluid bass line by Tim Landers,
creating a moody but lulling piece of
impressionism.
While none of the material is in-
novative or boldly origional, it does
hold up well under repeated listenings.
If first albums are generally accurate
glimpses of developing talent, Steve
Smith is someone to keep an eye one. .

Smith: Leaves Journey behind

Rusty-James: Fights brotherly love

4 Weekend/December 2 1983

9'

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