The Michigan Daily
Friday, February 24, 1989
BY LIAM FLAHERTY
THE blues is an art that does not allow for a lot of
variation. Either you are playing them or you are not,
and there is not a more embarrassing sight in the world
than someone who thinks they're playing them, and an
entire, unmoving floor that knows they're not. Buddy
Guy has never even approached the outer limits of.
this, as he has been delivering the blues in its most
unadulterated form for over 30 years. His guitar has
swathed through many a night, in Chicago and
throughout the world.
Guy was born in Baton Rouge, and was given his
first electric guitar at 16. In 1957, he made his way to
Chicago, and within the next year was battling Magic
Sam, Otis Rush, and other heavyweights in the most
exalted blues city in the world. He recorded his pivotal
A Man and the Blues album in the late '60s, and
Guy was headlining, and had been playing over an hour when Clapton slipped up on
stage.... Eventually Guy plucked out a few sloppy chords to "Strange Brew."
Clapton moved up, looked at Guy, and both started laughing. Clapton moved back
to rhythm guitar, and Guy got back to the real shit.
Clapton moved back to rhythm guitar, and Guy got
back to the real shit.
Unfortunatdly, the world does not operate on the
logic of late-night bandstands. Guy has not been
recorded often, for both aesthetic and racial reasons -
that ugly, long playing song once again. Guy will not
compromise his music and it's doubtful he even could.
He sounds like a hopelessly smitten lover: "I just love
the music so much." Anyone who has seen him play
is part of this pact, for it simply couldn't be any other
Guy's riffs find that impossibly human balance, a
precariousness that is in doubt every night he plays.
He plays with the wild abandonment of a heart break-
ing apart, while somehow finding the control of -a
mind that keeps it all together.
opened the Checkerboard Lounge, which has produced
some unimaginable, massive jam sessions over the
years. He received the W.C. Handy award for his 1981
album Stone Crazy, which was at last an opportunity
for Guy to cut loose in the studio, backed by a tight
rhythm section and unadorned by all-star well wishers.
And Guy has no shortage of these. He has been
cited as an influence on both sides of the Atlantic,
from Stevie Ray Vaughn to David Bowie. He has
toured with the Rolling Stones, often damaging their
delicate, strung-out egos by receiving longer ovations.
Eric Clapton has often stated his debt to Guy, calling
him the best guitarist in the world. Last year, at a
London club, I saw the two play together, and it was
not exactly a battle of the titans. Guy was headlining,
and had been playing over an hour when Clapton
slipped up on stage. Everyone was going nuts, but
Clapton respectfully took his place to the side, almost
hiding behind the bassist. Eventually Guy plucked out
a few sloppy chords to "Strange Brew." Clapton
moved up, looked at Guy, and both started laughing.
BUDDY GUY will play at the Blind Pig tonight at
9:30 and 11:30. Tickets are $11.50 in advance, $14 at
the door and are available at Ticketmaster outlets.
Aldomovar's Women on the verge of
BY ALYSSA KATZ
Have you ever had one of those days? You know,
when your lover leaves you and you accidentally set
your bed on fire and make some gazpacho with sleep-
ing pills just in case you want to kill yourself and your
good friend is hiding from terrorists and the crazy (not
to mention tastelessly dressed) wife of your lover is
trying to kill you? Meet Pepa (Carmen Maura), the
living embodiment of Murphy's law. She's an actor
living in Madrid, reknowned for her role as "the killer's
mother". on a popular TV show. Women on the Verge
of a Nervous Breakdown is the hysterically funny
story of a couple of days in Pepa's ridiculously com-
Director Pedro Almodovar (known for the raunchy
Law of Desire), with a great deal of help from Maura
and the other actors, takes material that in the hands of
most other directors would become a sitcom and makes
*it into a film that is not only watchable, but also one
of the best comedies of the past couple of years. He
even-manages to make a chase, involving a Harley and
a funky taxicab, into a goofily funny sequence - his
witty directorial style makes you laugh at scenes such
as this even as you are thinking that you should be
finding them infantile and silly.
Almodovar also has us empathize with his charac-
ters' almost impossibly confused lives, and as a result,
makes us laugh at ourselves. We've all had days that,
well, just don't work out the way we want them to.
Watching Pepa, we can see that we're not alone - in
fact, her problems are (hopefully) far worse than those
most of us have expdrienced. So we are amused for two
reasons: we laugh with Pepa because we understand
what she's going through, but we also laugh at her,
reveling in our smug belief that we would never let
things get so incredibly out of hand.
Women on the Verge also, unlike most comedies
made today, possesses a great sense of style. Pepa is
always the glamorous actor, even when confronted with
the most extreme crises, wearing expensive suits,
shoes with heels, and to top it all off, impeccable lip-
stick. Her penthouse apartment is huge and stunning,
filled with almost too-fashionable furniture. Her spa-
cious balcony, with a wonderfully tacky painted view
of Madrid, is replete with rabbit cages and chicken
coops. Throughout the film, Almodovar's attention to
visual detail pays off in a big way - he and his pro-
duction designer have constructed an exaggeratedly arti-
ficial world, a sort of Disneyland, whose placid-look-
ing, sleek surface stubbornly refuses to betray the
chaos raging within its inhabitants. Pepa's apartment,
in which much of the film's action takes place, is like
a sparkling stage or movie set in which she lives her
Carmen Maura is magnificent as Pepa. She has the
great ability to look both confused and self-assured si-
multaneously. She also has what can best be described
as presence, a magnetic star quality. The actors playing
her friends and rivals also shine. Maria Barranco is fun
as-Pepa's naive friend Candela - her eyes grow won-
derfully large as she speaks of the terrorists she be-
lieves are pursuing her. And Julieta Serrano, in hideous
wigs, false eyelashes, and pass6 clothes, is a howl as
Lucia, the insane wife of Pepa's ex-lover.
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown will
still be playing after spring break - and given its
quality and its recent Oscar nomination for Best For-
eign Film it is almost sure to be playing for some
time. If you have any midterms when classes resume,
see this film the night before you take one. You'll not
only have a great deal of fun, you'll also realize that
you could be a lot worse off than you are.
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS
BREAKDOWN opens at the Ann Arbor Theaters
Friday, March 3.
Ray Peterson (Tom Hanks, center) and his weird neighbors Mark Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) and Art Wein-
gartner (Rick Ducommun) chat in The 'Burbs, which teaches us to love our neighbors. As long as they had
no part in making this film.
Hans:Sub- pa rin the suurs
BY GREG FERLAND
Join the Daily
Arts staff .. .
Tom Hanks may very well be the
biggest flash in the pan of the decade.
He has starred in a string of critical
flops (Money Pit, Volunteers,
Bachelor Party) and then hit paydirt
with Nothing in Common and
especially Big. He was brilliant in
this latter role and deserves the Oscar
nomination he received. Since last
year's Big, though, Hanks has
starred in two horrendous movies: the
godawful Punchline and now The
'Burbs - one of.the worst comedies
I've seen. Ever. I'm afraid Tom
Hanks has begun his "bad movie"
cycle all over again.
In The 'Burbs . Hanks plays
husband to Carrie Fisher, and
together they live in a nice house on
a nice street with their nice son.
Hanks stays at home during his
vacation in order to spy on his
neighbors who have been seen
digging in the yard at night. The film
is merely a series of antics showing
Hanks and his weird neighbors,
played by Bruce Dern and Rick
Ducommun, who try to infiltrate the
house and snoop around. In a way,
the plot can be described as a cross
between Neighbors and To Kill a
Mockingbird - except that The
'Burbs is an utter failure.
The "weird neighbor" plot has
been abused in films and television,
and here it receives its worst beating.
The 'Burbs is completely predictable
and has even less humor than a TV
sitcom. Theaudience laughed weakly
and nervously, not at the jokes, but
at the realization that they paid for
humor that consists of: doggy-doo
jokes, getting hosed down, spilling
coffee on one's lap, talking with
one's mouth full, and sifting through
trash. Fun, huh? Add to that endless
arguments, lots of dumb narrative
stories, and teenagers saying, "Hey,
dude" and ordering pizza. Cooool...
The 'Burbs is also technically
lousy. The dialogue seems dubbed,
and Joe Dante's (Twilight Zone,
Innerspace) direction is obvious and
heavy-handed, which is no surprise
coming from the man who directed
the loathsome Gremlins . The 'Burbs
also seems, well... quiet. Despite
Jerry Goldsmith's incessantly inane
music and the constant screaming,
there are long intervals of silence
both on film and in the audience.
The ending of the film made me
positively livid. The screenwriter,
Dana Olsen, tacks on a moral saying
that we should accept people as they
are and not snoop around. Awww...
isn't that quaint? And isn't that...
false... and nauseating, too.
It's rather surprising, considering
the talent involved, just how bad The
'Burbs is.Carrie Fisher is always
ingratiating, but seems lost and
miscast in this film. And even more
miscast is Bruce Dern, who needs a
new agent. He can be intense, as in
Silent Running and Coming Home,
but for the last few years has played
the "wacky guy" in several minor
films (1969 and The Big Town).'
After Big, everyone was falling
over themselves calling Tom Hanks
an "artiste"; but he really belongs in
the category of Burt Reynolds and
Dudley Moore - talented actors who
consistently choose poor roles.
Thankfully, Tom Hanks is young
enough to turn his career back on
track in order to show his all too rare
talent once again. He's also young
enough to lose the 40 pounds it
looks like he gained gorging himself
on miniature corn cobs in Big.
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