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March 24, 1989 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-24

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60

Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 24, 1989
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There are alternatives to the cliched
'pseudo-realism' of modern films

BY ALYSSA KATZ
AN old and contagious disease is
running rampant in movies today; it
afflicts many of both the most
popular and most shunned films we
see. Call this disease pseudo-realism.
It is, simply, the tendency of a
movie to fall into a rut of clich6 and
conventionality, and then, often,
proclaim its content as unquestion-
able truth. Shockingly, though, such

on my all-too-brief "best of 1988"
list - demonstrates that successful
adults are not always concerned with
the completeness of their set of Eu-
ropean kitchen paraphernalia. Some-
times, in fact, they have
psychological problems - big ones,
in this case. It is, to be honest, fun
to watch the Mantle twins (played
brilliantly by the Oscar-snubbed
Jeremy Irons) fall to pieces in their
expensively furnished apartment.
Dead Ringers is wonderfully anti-
success, showing that even
(especially?) the most accomplished
and wealthy of us can also be truly
deranged.
Mississippi Burning, although
good in some respects, is also in-
sulting to its audience. Director Alan
Parker makes a great effort to con-
vince the viewer that he is present-
ing the events in the film as they
actually occurred back in the early
'60s. When a group of Klan leaders
is arrested, Parker shows black and
white freeze frames of the moment,
accompanied by titles proclaiming
the lengths of the prison terms these
men face.
Clich6d, yes, but tolerable. The
problem with the movie only be-
comes evident during the end credits,
which explain that while the events
in the film were inspired by actual

ones, any other resemblance to his-
tory is purely accidental. Then what
about those prison terms? The pho-
tojournalism-style freeze frames? If
someone's going to play around
with my understanding of history, I
want to know about it. That's why I
like The Thin Blue Line, an amaz-
ingly creative documentary, which
lets you in on its process of blurring
reality and fiction instead of assum-
ing that you don't know and don't
care.
The Accidental Tourist, another
case of pseudo-realism, demonstrates
the old, "the audience won't get this
so let's make it really obvious"
syndrome in a flashback scene, in
which Macon Leary (William Hurt)
recalls the death of his son. The en-
tire flashback is tinted a sickly
green, just in case we don't under-
stand that this scene does not
chronologically follow the one
shown before it.
For healthy, alternative viewing:
Bagdad Cafe. This fun, much lower-
budget film makes use of colored
filters simply because they enhance
it aesthetically - a magenta sunset
happens to look really nice. Who
ever said anything was wrong with
that?

films are often considered among the
best around.
Films suffering from pseudo-
realism display a range of symp-
toms. One victim is Broadcast
News, which television journalists
say is about as true to life as a bad
comic book. I see it primarily as a
repulsively insistent glorification of
yuppiedom. Yet the film's makers,
and publicists, seem to be doing
their utmost to have us believe that
we're seeing the real thing.
A suggested alternative: Dead
Ringers. This masterpiece - which
I unfortunately saw too late to put

Flanking Genevieve Bujold,
Jeremy Irons as both Beverly and
Elliot Mantle plays two seriously
disturbed twins in Dead Ringers
(above), an antidote to the virus
of pseudo-realism that plagues
both good and bad movies. But
Academy-award nominated Mis-
sissippi Burning (right), starring
Gene Hackman and Willem
Dafoe, blurs the line between
reality and cinema in an ambigu-
ous, and insulting, fashion - an
example of the dreaded pseudo-
realism.

X000000

Steps Ahead
N.Y.C.
Intuition
What do you do when you're not
doing that same steady gig with a
major rock 'n' roll band like Jour-
ney? Well, if you're drummer Steve
Smith one thing you do for fun is
play in a fusion band like Steps
Ahead.
Steps' last album Magnetic
sported some incredible work, with
Michael Brecker (saxophone player
extraordinaire) playing his Iwi, the

synthesizer-driving wind instrument,
and was produced by music great
George Duke. Steps has stepped out
on their own this time, with leader
Mike Manieri stepping in to handle
the production on this album. What
N.Y.C. lacks without the slick
Duke production, is more than made
up for with the opportunity for Steps
to show off their genius in their own
way.
Manieri's axe is something called
the midi vibraharp, which he appar-
ently uses to drive the now industry.

standard Synclavier. This technique
paves the way for a really crisp
sounding album, and with the other
renowned studio musicians on the
album help bring the crisp sound
into focus.
Technically skilled, and not afraid
to apply technology to their music,
Steps creates some memorable mo-
ments with the flashy "Get It", and
the title track recreates the busy
mood of New York.
-Jean-Michel Creviere

Pinetop Perkins
After Hours
Blind Pig Records
Blues musician Pinetop Perkins is
a man who very well could be a leg-
end in his own time, save that he has
spent most of his career playing ace
backup piano for the likes of Muddy
Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and
Robert Nighthawk. After Hours,
Perkins debut album, may change
things.
With help from Mike and the
Mechanics, (not that Mike and not
those Mechanics) a New York based,
self-proclaimed "working class band,"
Pinetop has recreated that classic
Chicago blues sound which includes
a screaming mouthharp backed by
driving piano riffs way up on the
high end of the scale. His keyboard

line stays true to the boogie-woogie
style which his namesake, Pinetop
Smith, helped popularize in the early
part of this century. High-speed
choppy notes and sudden breaks are
augmented by Perkins' gravel-tone,
all-the-way-down-in-the-basement,
voice. This is an album blues con-
noisseurs shouldn't be without.
Pinetop hangs with tantalizing
precision on notes that a lesser artist
would have hurried past without
thought. It's as if it were just after
last call and the blues were those fi-
nal drops of whiskey at the bottom
of a warm glass. He rolls oh-so-
slowly through "Easy Chair" and
"Thinks Like a Million" - both
original material - then drawls
through a number of flavored covers
like Willie Dixon's "I'm Your
Hoochie Coochie Man" and
Nighthawk's drawling "Anna Lee."

As if his audience were right there
in the nightclub with him - the
smoke rising up past his bench and
into the darkened ceiling fan overhead
- Pinetop ends his jamboree with a
tribute to Smith. "Stop," he yells in
the middle of the song, (and we do).
"Watch me now," he continues,
"when I go, you go." And after
hanging in silence for a tantalizing
second we ride the crisp notes off
into the night - into the after hours.
Indeed, it is late. Do you know where
your musical roots are?
-Rollie Hudson

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Because they worked here:
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Women

s

Glee Club

presents its
Annual Spring Concert
With

*Madrigals *Harmonettes

*a 60's medley

J(O)STENS
A 1I CA S CO LL.E G E R IN G!
Stop by and see a Jostens representative,
Thursay, March 23 and Friday, March 24,
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
to seIect from acomnlete line of sold rins.

,

*M Songs
Friday,
March 31
Rackham
s
Aiudi triiur

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