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September 12, 1988 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-09-12

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ARTS
Monday, September 12, 1988

The Michigan Daily

Page 9

Wings:

Wim

BY MARK SHAIMAN
The '20s are considered the great
era Of German film, with the motion
pictures of this time falling into
three categories - the psychological
drama, the expressionist film, and
the historical melodrama. In his new
film, Wings of Desire , German
director Wim Wenders has combined
these three elements to create a mo-
dern wofk worthy of his pre-
decessors, and one worthy of win-
ning him the Best Director award at
Cannes in 1987.
We follow the story of two
angels, as they wander along in the
mundane world. They have the spe-
cial ability of being able to overhear
peoples' thoughts, and we are al-
lowed to join in this experience
which becomes somewhat sur-
realistic as the incomplete thoughts
of one person are connected to the
thoughts of another. There seems to
be, no direct link in these Ais-
continuous thoughts but this method
stresses the uniqueness of the
individual.
Yet, while they can hear
thoughts, the angels can see only in
black and white. Wenders does this
to teach "how beautiful it is to live
every moment. How privileged peo-

ple are that they can taste, feel the
rain in their faces. Drink coffee,
touch somebody - whereas the poor
angels cannot." And when Wenders
teaches, we learn.
As well as the two angels, there
are three other main characters, and
these are all humans. The first is an
old man named Homer, who invokes
the Muses to help him in the telling
of his story of a devastated Germany.
The second is a young female trapeze
artist who is searching for some-
thing, but what that is she doesn't
know. The third is an older Amer-
ican actor who has already found that
something. By combining their
stories Wenders is able to display the
learning process that one goes
through in order to find the meaning
in one's life.
The American actor is portrayed
by Peter Falk, who has been given
terrific cameo roles this year. Earlier,
he played the grandfather in The
Princess Bride and now inWings of
Desire he plays himself. Wenders
has some obvious fun with the actor
and character being so closely
related. A couple of times during the
film passersbys see Falk and com-
ment "Wasn't that Columbo?"
Again, Wenders is dealing with
the definition of the individual. He
has full rights to do this - not only

wins
did he direct the film, but he wrote
it, too, along with the help of
Austrian playwright Peter Handke.
Moreover, he has an understanding
of humanity and the ability to
combine this with his film work
that few directors today even strive
for.
Too many films today do not
explore the possibilities of their own
art form; a few, conversely, over-in-
dulge themselves. Wenders, though,
is entirely comfortable with his
medium and has put to use the
advantages that are inherent in film.
Complements must go to Henri
Alekan, the cinematographer, who
says "I love black and white because
it's already an interpretation." It is
his visual interpretation of Wender's
ideas that adds the perfect touch to
the film.
The story is a fairytale, and .so
everyone ends up living happily ever
after. The trapeze artist does find
what she seeks by looking for it, and
thus comes to the realization "I don't
know if Destiny exists, but Decision
does." Wenders himself understands
this well. His decisions brought
about this remarkable film. All that
remains is the decision to see it.
WINGS OF DESIRE is showing at
the Ann Arbor Theatre.

Y

pQ

No, it's not Clapton -it's J.J. Cale

IF you want to get classic rock fans
riled, just mention Michelob beer
commercials. Just get them started
on whatever of their favorite species
of dinosaur was the latest to sell
suds with their hits - Eric Clapton
with ."After Midnight," for example.
! "It's disgusting," they'll say. "It's
-revolting to see an artist of his sta-
ure prostituting his own song for a
TV ad."
They're wrong, of course. It's not
even his own song.
It's actually J.J. Cale's - as is
one of Clapton's other smashes,
5ocaine." As is Clapton's "I'll
Make Love to You Anytime," as is
Lynyrd Skynyrd's "They Call Me
the Breeze, as is Cissy Huston's
~"Caju Mon" - all milked to
some sccess by popular artists, all
from the pen of a veteran performer
in his own right without a record of
any variety of metal to his name. A
performer who still lives in a trailer
-park.
You probably haven't heard of
J.J. Cale. But in all fairness to you,
It
PASS
IT
AROUND!

blues, marked by a maximum of
twang anda minimum of sixteenth-
notes, has made him an icon among
his more successful imitators -
most notably Clapton, who ad-
mittedly owes the greater portion of
his "Slowhand" style to Cale.
"I was ... tired of gymnastic
guitar playing," said Clapton in an
August 25, 1988, Rolling Stone
interview. "When I listened to J.J.
Cale records, I was impressed by the
subtlety, by what wasn't being
played."
That's not exactly a big drawing
card in the Metal Age, when what
passes for guitar virtuosity is Yng-
wie Malmsteen's look-at-me-I-can-
run-up-and-down-a-scale-faster-than-
you-can recitals, when album sales
are a function of the number of notes

you play per second rather than what
order you play them in. J.J. Cale is
sippin' whiskey in an age that just
wants to pound Michelob.
It'd be a real shame - if J.J.
really cared one way or another.
"Music is not a commodity," he
has said. "I never really wanted to be
famous." No need to worry - his
client6le of cover artists, a group
ranging from Bryan Ferry to Waylon
Jennings, is more than glad to do it
for him, while he sticks to what he
does best - making aged, hickory-
smoked blues in his own sweet
time.
Life is fast enough as it is. So
maybe it's for the best that Cale's
chosen the beginning of fall to come
in to town. Before you throw your-
self completely into the born-anew
rat race, why not put those damn
books away for a while, forget it's
Monday night, and come set a spell
and take it slow-like with J.J. Cale.
Just like in the beer commercials.
J.J. CALE takes it easy at the Ark
tonight at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Tickets
are $12.50 in advance.

Michelle Shocked
Short Sharp Shocked
Mercury
The most striking thing about the
cover of this album is not the neon
orange lettering or the photo of
Shocked being dragged off by police
at the Republican National
Convention in 1984, is the sticker
stating "Place in Pop/Rock section."
This is an apt and necessary
precaution, because although the
singer/songwriter has been thrust
into the "new folk" category since
the release of the U.K. smash The
Texas Campfire Tapes, you won't
find anything like "If I Had A
Hammer" on this album - just as
you'd never findeJoan Baez belting
out a firey duet with MDC as
Shocked does here.
But this is not to say that
Shocked doesn't have a folksinger's
touch for intricate fingerpicking or
gripping story-telling, because
there's plenty of both on Short
Sharp Shocked. And it's not to say
that she doesn't have any sense of
her folk roots, as evidenced by her
powerful cover of Jean Ritchie's
"The L&N Don't Stop Here
Anymore," and the fart that she
includes the key each song is played
in on the lyric sheet. But her
traditional folksinger's technique -

including a strong social
consciousness and conversance with
the acoustic guitar - is backed by a
husky toughness one could hardly
describe as "waif-like."
Two of the strongest songs on
the album, for example ("When I
Grow Up" and "If Love Was a.
Train") would sound far more at
home played on a rickety front porch
in the Mississippi Delta than at a
love-in or a stopover on a peace
march. On "Train' s low-down
twelve-bar blues, Shocked bemoans
the state of modern love not in a
plaintive whine, but in the tough

growl of a woman who just ain't
satisfied ("Most trains these days/
Ain't got no engine/ Much less a
caboose").
In contrast with her debut,
recorded in one shot at - no kidding
- an outdoor fireside jam session,
Short Sharp Shocked was recorded in
a real studio with all its
accoutrements. This will leave a lot
of people saying she's sold out. -A
lot of people can take a hike. While
several songs would have been no
worse or even better off without
See RECORDS, Page 11

now= "I

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HIGH HOLY DAY SERVICES

REFORM
(Hillel)

ROSH HASHANAH
Sun. 9/11 7:00 p.m.
Mon. 9/12 10:00 a.m.
Tashlich (1429 Hill St.)
Tues. 9/13
YOM KIPPUR
Tues. 9/20 7:00 p.m.
(Kol Nidre)

CONSERVATIVE
(Michigan Union
Ballroom)
7:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m.

ORTHODOX
(Friends
Meeting House)
7:00 p.m.
8:30 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m.
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Wed. 9/21

10:00 a.m.

8:05 pm Grad/Professional Student Break Fast
PLEASE PHONE IN RESERVATIONS BY SEPT.15
Hillel, 339 E. Liberty 769-0500

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