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September 28, 1989 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-28

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 28, 1989

Beauty meets

terror

Red Sorghum poignantly portrays '30s China

BY MARK SHAIMAN
The Chinese film Red Sorghum is
like a fine wine in that it gets better
with age. You'll enjoy it when you
first see it, and the more you reflect
upon it in the days to come (and if
you see the film, you will), the
more you will appreciate it.
There are two distinct parts to
Red Sorghum, and while each would
be likeable as an individual piece,
the film draws its poignancy from
the contrast arising from the combi-
nation.
The film begins amusingly as a
young woman, Nine, is being
brought to a neighboring town in
order to marry a prominent wine
maker. However, the husband-to-be
happens to be a leper, and Nine is
teased harshly by her bearers. Things
do not go exactly as planned on the
journey, but Nine does end up with
the winery and a healthy spouse.
Because of the traditional cos-
tumes and time-worn customs, the
temporal setting is unclear, and at
this point, is irrelevant. But when
the second part begins, the epoch be-
comes well defined: the setting is the
Japanese invasion of China in the
1930s. Military uniforms and rapid-
fire weapons take both the characters

and the audience from a world of
fancy to one of fear.
A natural comparison could be
made to the scene in Casablanca in
which the Nazis enter Paris and
cause the separation of Bogart and
Bergman. Yet as strong as that
statement was, it was clearly a reac-
tion to ihe events of World War II,
during which Casablanca was made.
Red Sorghum is only two years old,
The setting is the
Japanese invasion of
China in the 1930s.
Military uniforms and
rapid-fire weapons take
both the characters and
the audience from a
world of fancy to one of
fear.
is about a time 50 years before, and
gives so few details as to the politics
of the events that the film becomes
universal in meaning.
As fun as the first part is to
watch, the second half is equally as
difficult. It accounts the atrocities of
the Japanese, doing so as much
through what is not shown as what
is visually depicted. The Chinese do

rebel and it is their courage thatln-
ables the viewer to watch the rdal
ties of cruelty, which are difficuji t r
deal with even from the safety of a
plush seat in a movie theater.
While the two parts of the Tilm
are divergent, they are held tightly
together by two threads. The first is
the narrator, the grandson of Nine
(never seen onscreen) who is telling
the tale that has been passed down to
him. This adds a mythical quality
which further emphasizes the unie
sality of the story.
The second unifying trait is The
amazing cinematography that adds
life to the first part of the film and
gives life to the second. Sweeping
shots of the fertile fields could be
from almost anywhere in the world,
and play a significant role in both
parts of the film in their symbolism
of the peace that could and shoul,
exist.
Whether in its winsome begin-
ning or brutal end, Red Sorghum's
beauty takes this tale from China
and makes it a story for the world.

For this kinaesthetic trip, much thanks
Hamletmachine, an avant garde depiction of Shakespeare's black-robed Danish prince, runs roughly seven-
pages long but is heavy on innovative interpretation. Hamlet is the failed intellectual and a model for our
time, but Ophelia is the true revolutionary. This University Players production, directed by Arnold Aronson,
starts its run tonight at 8 p.m. in the Trueblood Theatre in the Frieze Building. Tickets are $7 and $5 for
students.

J

RED SORGHUM will be
playing through Saturday
at the Michigan Theater

Call 663-8397 for

times.

....

TAJ
Continued from page 7

While his influences are diverse,
Mahal does not deny the inspiration
of early blues players. "I played with
them all! 'Skip James, Mississippi
John Hurt, Arthur Big Boy Cruddup,
all of them. They would know about
me, when they knew I was in town
they'd say 'I'll give that Yank a call,
bring him up onstage...' All of them

had an impact on me. If I sing their
songs, you know they've been an in-
fluence."
Of more contemporary artists,
Mahal says, "I sorely miss Jesse
Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin;
we all were out there together, saw
people's careers move around.
"Jesse Ed was a great guitar
player, his death has left a big hole
in the band. There's not a guitar
player to replace him. I might have

to go back to Oklahoma, look up
one of Ed's cousins that he taught to
play. Ed had a wide array of influ-
ences, too. That's why I say you
need to look up your roots, whether
you be Black or whatever. You
couldn't imagine all the heritage he
brought into his playing. That early
band, those four pieces made the
sound of thunder. You never saw
four guys on stage play so much
music."
Last year Mahal did an album for
children called "Shake Sugaree." He
says, "It's got some great songs -
one called 'Funky Bluesy ABC's,'
which I did because I got tired of the
same tune for teaching the ABC's
getting passed down. We did it with
both parents and kids in mind, it's
something kids get off on but we
don't play down to them so parents
can get into it too. There is an in-
credible gap between young kids and
parents today. Sharing music is one
of the best ways to bring people to-
gether, particularly in today's de-

Reach 40,000 readers after class,
advertise in
_ _ _ _ _ _J I~t Igunn 191 -1- I
MAGAZINE

serted island of culture."
Mahal has contributed a song to.
The American Children's Album,
which also features Maria Muldaur,
Richie Havens, Rick Danko, John
Sebastian, and PDQ Bach. Also in
the works is a project with Danny
Glover narrating and Taj playing
music to the story of Br'er Rabbit
which will be animated and released
on Videocassette.
For his show at The Ark, Taj
says, "Be prepared for excitement,
and get up and dance if you've got
room! Tell them they can bark at me
if they want, like they do on the.
Arsenio Hall Show." Bark you may,
but you'll surely experience a once-
in-a-lifetime show... unless you
catch Mahal's upcoming Iron
Curtain tour. He says: "Things are
finally happening there."
TAJ MAIAL will be performing at
7:30 and 10 p.m. tomorrow night at
the Ark, 837 1/2 S. Main Street.
Advance tickets (available at
Schoolkids, Herb David, and the
Union) are $11.75.
Read Jim Poniewozik Every
- kn

Pogue plays plastere&
BY NABEEL ZUBERI
6W HEN it rains it really pours," Spider Stacey told the audience after
five minutes of the Pogues show on Tuesday night. The backing vocalist
and tin whistle player was almost pulling out his hair after a disastrous
opening to the group's Power Center debut. Vocalist Shane MacGowan'had
disappeared after only two numbers, never to return.
As soon as the Pogues appeared it was apparent that Shane was legle
rocking in front of the microphone, he hurled abuse at the audience. "Fuc
you, you and your fucking Batman," he hoarsely spitted at the crowd, He
sang completely out of time during "Boat Train" and then swaying a little
too far, he disappeared stage left. From then on you were left wondering
whether Shane was throwing up in the dressing room or in a state of alco-
holic unconsciousness. Maybe he just went back to the beloved bottle. The
band were clearly annoyed with him. "It's gone beyond a joke," said Spider,
"he's fucked us about and he's fucked you about. He's just too pissed to
sing." Spider confessed that he didn't know all the words to most of the
songs and couldn't sing them in the right key even if he did. Then on'e.
the strings on Darryl Hunt's bass guitar broke and accordion player JamW
Fearnley discovered that the keyboards weren't plugged into the PA system.
The rest of the show was a dogged attempt by The Pogues (minus
Shane) to salvage something of the evening. On the whole they were fairly
successful. It becomes more and more apparent with every tour that the
Pogues are a crisp, tight musical unit; the band never put a foot wrong.
Spider Stacey sufficed as singer; you can't make out Shane's words anyway.
Philip Chevron's singing on his self-penned "Thousands are Sailing"'and
"Lorelei" was excellent, as was Terry Woods on his records.
Two encores and a storming extended workout version of "Yeah, Yeah,
Yeah, Yeah" proved that the Pogues are still one of the funkiest white banq
around. Many of us left the Power Center wondering whether this was th
end of the Pogues with Shane as lead 'singer,' and if so would it be so awful
anyway.

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