Wednesday, November 8, 1989
e Michigan Daily
The fruit of glasnost
Soviet Little Vera presents unprecedented critique
Y MIKE KUNIAVSKY
With the media overflowing with news of the politi-
Sal events in the Soviet Union we are sometimes prone
to forgetting that along with all of the political reforms
,that must occur there must also be fundamental social
changes in order for the Soviet Union to survive eco-
nomically. Unfortunately, we must guess at what hap-
pens outside of Red Square because the daily life of the
people of the USSR is not covered by most of the me-
dia. This is where Vasily Pichul's Little Vera comes in
41s an expos6 of Soviet daily life, and probably the first
truly critical film to come out of the Soviet Union at
the time it was originally meant to open (other films
Criticizing the socio-political structure have come out,
but usually five or even ten years after their creation).
i Shot completely with a hand-held camera, the film
looks much more like a documentary than an artistic
gscapade, its grittiness in image continuing in the char-
,acters and plot of the film, though sometimes over-ex-
tending itself in an effort to show it "how it really is."
The action in the film centers on Vera (played by Na-
talya Negoda), a 19 year-old in a southern port town.
She is the archetypal rebel without a cause, lashing out
through self-abuse and sarcastic rebuttal of her elders at
a world which refuses to accept her as a person. The
plot, in a nutshell, is the story of her engagement to
Sergei (Andrei Sokolov), how her father ends up stab-
ping him in a drunken brawl, and the aftermath of this.
But these actions are not nearly as important as the crit-
icism that the film levels along the way at the society
which has produced people who act like these characters
do. In many scenes it is how the people on the screen
react to situations, rather than the situations them-
selves, which holds the harshest condemnations. There
are several scenes where, after Vera has done something
with which her father disagrees, he asks for her to di-
vulge the names and addresses of all of the people in-
volved; this is a reaction of a man who has expected and
been exposed to such actions from his superiors - the
government - and who knows of no other way of deal-
ing with the situation.
An important stylistic criticism comes when the
characters want to relax, to escape from the pressures
put on them by the city. Naturally, being in a southern
port town, they go to the beach on the outskirts of the
city. But the beach is covered with old rusty pieces of
metal, chunks of concrete and derelict ships and sits
right next to a pile of slag so large that it cannot even
be completely seen on the screen. On this beach of
stranded technology, of lost efforts and forgotten pro-
jects, Sergei asks Vera if she has a goal in life. She
says, "We have our common goal in life: communism."
Though sometimes heavy-handed in its symbolism
and at times contrived in its dialogue, what really saves
the film are the excellent performances by all of the
main actors, with both Negoda's and Yuri Nazarov's
(who plays Vera's father) performances standing out.
Another problem that most of us can't compensate for
is that the translation is pretty rough at times, leaving
out some important details. See Vera, page 8
North Carolina's Fetchin Bones comes to the Bind Pig tonight with their melodic rock. Their latest album,
Monster, has a neat cover; it looks like a s6ance accessory, with a spooky zodiac/ouija theme.
Monsters of rock: Fetchin
Bones brings surprises
BY MARK SWARTZ
IT came from the Deep South, furi-
ous and ugly, stomping all over col-
lege campuses and hipper cities
across the nation. Alert the authori-
ties! Lock your doors! Pretty soon,
no one will be safe. It's right there
behind you! It's Monster.
Monster, the third full-length al-
bum by the melodic, punky Fetchin
Bones, came out Independence Day
this year. According to lead singer
Hope Nicholls, it's their best album
yet. She attributes the success to
producer Ed Stasium (Living
Colour, Ramones, Talking Heads).
"He brought the kickassability that
we've been trying to get down on
vinyl that we had never been able to
get before with Don," she says, re-
ferring to Don Dixon, producer of all
the other Fetchin Bones efforts, as
"Ed came and saw us like three
times before we started the record, so
reall- understood what the hell we
wanted because he heard it live. It
has that kind of in-your-face qual-
ity," enthuses Nicholls.
By "in-your-face," she probably
means the group's controlled assault
on its instruments. Two guitars col-
liding head on against a funky - as
opposed to merely rocking -
rhythm backdrop. Nicholls, borrow-
ing much of her spirit from Patti
Smith, defines the band's sound by
ranting on like an irregular bad-ass
bad-girl in a bad mood. "In the
South we're the new Led Zeppelin,"
The songs on Monster are writ-
ten by the group as a whole, but as
Nicholls says, "I write all the words
and they critique me violently."
They are songs about, as she puts it,
"love, life, and destiny." The center-
piece, "Say the Word," explodes
Berry Gordy's old paean to material-
ism, "Money," into thousands of
white-hot metaphors. As a rave-up,
it kicks. As social commentary, it
bites. "'Astronauts' is a heavy song
but it has a lighthearted feel," ex-
plains Nicholls about another of the
cuts. "And I really like the lyrics to
'I Dig You' because I like the atti-
tude about it. I really like singing
The great thing about Hope Ni-
cholls is she loves singing anything.
Two years ago at the Pig, they sur-
prised everyone with a great version
of Rick James' "Superfreak." She
promises something new this time,
but refuses to divulge anything at
this time on the grounds that,
"That's kind of like giving away the
punchline to a bad joke."
FETCHIN BONES plays at the.Blind
Pig tonight around 10 p.m. The show
DON'T BE UNINFORMEDI
READ THE DAILYI
It's not surprising that this photo features Natalya Negoda (as well as Andrei Sokolov) in a revealing pose.
Negoda appeared on the cover of Playboy, and as a result Little Vera has been promoted as starring the first
Soviet sex symbol. That's too bad; the film has important things to say, and Negoda's a good actor.
. -- - -- -- -.-
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