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November 12, 1990 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-11-12

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'The Michigan Daily

Monday, November 12, 1990

Page 5



To Sleep With
dir. Charles Burnett
by David Lubliner
o Sleep With Anger begins with a
startling image of fire. Gideon (Paul
Butler) sits calmly in his house
vhile flames emerge from his shoes
and from the basket of fruit next to
him, beginning to engulf his entire
r body. The piercing sound of a
trumpet, being played by a small
boy, can be heard from outside the
house. The other kids in the street
wince and cover their ears.
Gideon's fire rages from within
and from the conflicts that are de-
stroying his family. As the fire ccdn-
sumes Gideon's world, an old friend Harry M
of the family named Harry Mention To Sleek
suddenly appears on his doorstep. film de
Beneath his cool exterior, it is obvi- divide g
ous that Harry is there for more than common
a visit. He is a trickster and a man one's pa
devoted to superstition. As he walks Desp
in the front door, he fears being roots, G
scraped by the whisk of a broom be- tradition
cause it portends bad luck, per day
The excellent cast of unknowns Lumbly
brings to life a world that is foreign howeve
to most of us. Different than the (Richar
* usual Hollywood production, To of the
Sleep With Anger puts Black actors drives a
in the forefront, rather than relegat- ably in
ing them to secondary roles. Director Black 1
Charles Burnett's respectful portrayal known
of a Black American family is hon- new gen
est and refreshing. While the film is ipate in
low on action, its character exposi- cial mai
tion and ongoing dialogue between Cont
the family members draw us in. The Harry re
Atomic Dog:'
by Forrest Green 11 I wa

ention's (Danny Glover) corn whiskey provides his friends with a taste of the old South in the new film
p With Anger.

Jves into the problems that
enerations and expresses the
n fear of losing touch with
perately clutching to his
ideon strives to retain the
ns of his Southern sharecrop-
ys. His son Junior (Carl
) identifies with that past,
r his sibling, Babe Brother
d Brooks), strives for a piece
modern American pie. He
fancy car and lives comfort-
Los Angeles with other
Urban Professionals (also
as Buppies). He represents a
eration of Blacks who partic-
America's financial and so-
rary to the Buppie attitude,
vels in resurrecting the folk-

lore of the old South. He drinks
from a jug of corn whiskey and re-
counts mystical tales. Harry recreates
the communal feeling that existed in
the past but is now lacking in mod-
ern urban life. Danny Glover, best
known for his roles opposite Mel
Gibson in the Lethal Weapon
movies, is captivating in the role of
Harry. Every one of his mannerisms
conveys tension and mystery.
Although the source of his powers is
never fully explained, the uncertainty
makes the film and his character all
the more involving. As Harry says
to Junior's wife, "You can never
really tell what's in the heart."
The longer he lives in Gideon's
house however, the more intense the
anger between the family members
becomes. Babe Brother's rift with

his father widens and Gideon is
struck down by a mysterious termi-
nal sickness. While the film moves
along at a somber pace, Harry's
mystic qualities heighten the ten-
sion, pushing the story and Gideon's
family eventually over the brink.
In the film's most haunting
scene, Gideon and Harry take a walk
down by the railroad tracks. Gideon
admires the work that went into the
construction of these tracks and for a
few seconds, imagines Black slaves
working in the twilight, laying
down the iron for the tracks. This
powerful moment accurately ex-
presses the film's lingering quality:
the ambivalence we all feel between
clinging to the past and breaking
from it forever.
SLEEPis showing at the Ann Arbor.

Now I know
how Joan of
Arc felt
Armed with a historical play that
transcends its own genre by reaching
beyond past events into a fundamen-
tally human struggle, the RC Play-
ers' production of Jean Anouilh's
The Lark this weekend was a seam-
less and impressive mixture of excel-
lent acting, costume design and set.
The key to the emotion and vital-
ity of the RC Players' production
centered on the wonderfully genuine
acting job by the protagonist Joan of
Arc (Amy Freedman). She took a
challenging role with many difficult
displays of emotions, including ex-
plosively tearful monologues, and
moved from one mood to the next
with a fluidity that drove the play
forward. Her performance was intrin-
sic to the play's success. Because
most viewers are somewhat familiar
with the Joan of Arc legend and
know what is going to happen, there
must be other elements of interest
besides plot development. The most
important aspect of the play is
Joan's spirit, her character develop-
ment; Freedman's performance was
honest and unforced.
Warwick (Matt Rains) added a
wonderfully comic touch to. the
drama, as a well-bred society charac-
ter. "If you go on at this rate," stated
Warwick with an absurdly aristo-
cratic impatience,"we shall never get
to the trail, never have her burnt,
never get anywhere." Clearly there's
more than a small element of cruelty
here, but Rains played the dandy so
well - with intermittent bursts of
humanity - that one could only
laugh at Warwick's hypocrisy.
Rains' snide, conceited delivery was
so good that he almost threatened the
play's balance by stealing some of
Freedman's thunder.
The costumes were excellent.
Like the play's action, they catered
to no exact time period - just
vaguely medieval, fitting perfectly
with Anouilh's impressionistic style
of drama. Further, the costumes
matched the character's personalities:
Jane was plain and naturally dressed
in boy's clothing, while the Inquisi-
tor and the Promoter were dressed in
bright red and black. Jane looked
very human and sensible. The In-
quisitor looked demonic; his whited
face pushing the image of the plas-
tic, dogmatic establishment that he
The set was all black, and spare.
In its blackness, the set served as a
physical scaffolding for the stratifica-
tion of the classes on stage. On the
top of the three platforms which
were set up, the inquisitor and pro-
moter reigned, looking out over the
audience from above, as though to
more easily control them. They were
not only above Joan of Arc class-
wise, but they were above her physi-
cally. Their almost constant presence
there made for a chilling effect.
The Lark presented by the RC
Players will be performed again this
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8
p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the
East Quad Auditorium. Tickets are
- Mike Kolody

Reckless, which was performed
in the Arena Theater this weekend,
ran for over two hours, and spanned
approximately 15 years in the life of
its main character, Rachel. She was
forced to become a fugitive when her
husband took out a contract on her
life one Christmas Eve, and her
plight takes her everywhere from p
gas station to a game show to sev-
eral psychiatrists' couches and fi-
nally, Alaska.
The play, under the direction of
Jon Casson, was not as unconven-
tional as one might have expected it
to be. It was well acted, though -
Jennifer Thompson was an energetic
Rachel, Aaron Williams gave strong
performances both as Rachel's hus-
band and as her son; many of the
other actors also executed their
multiple roles well. The production
design was strong; some interesting
choices were made, which effectively
set the play in a non-naturalistic
,space, although it sometimes tended
toward an almost Chekhovian real-
The set, which primarily con-
sisted of a long, raised platform cov-
ered with white, satiny material,
proved to be versatile, and the actors
seemed to work comfortably with it.
The lighting and costumes provided
the dreamy, faintly surrealistic edge
that the production seemed to strive
for. But the play often had trouble
sustaining this kind of feeling on an
internal level.
Some scenes, especially the ear-
lier ones, had a genuine life and hu-
mor to them, and achieved a kind of
balance between the familiar and the
extraordinary. But somewhere the
production lost its focus and its
rhythm. The game show sequence
was somewhat intrusive, trying to
be bigger than it was - whatever
point it was attempting to make was
overshadowed, or even lost, under-
neath all the self-conscious hype.
The later scenes, especially after
the death of two of the more
interesting characters, Tom an
Pooty ( Williams and Elizabeth
Keiser, respectively) often felt
artificial. It was unclear if this was
an intentional change of tone, in
which case it wasn't taken far
enough, or if things just started
getting sloppy.
There were an incredible number
of scenes in this play, and some of
them felt expository, as if they had
no real reason to be there, and some
of them didn't flow effortlessly
enough. Overall, Reckless was am-
bitious, but inconsistent.

the ultimate homeboy song

s 12 and in the seventh grade

"D you promise to funk, the
whole funk, nothin' but the
"Atomic Dog," the most
relevant and powerful song ever
created under the genre of funk, is
*my anthem. It greets me when I
wake and it sings to me when I go
to bed. Its powers are undeniable and
# irrevocable. By the time it was
written, its creator, George Clinton,
had already earned his calling as
undeniably the most powerful
lyricist in R&B - the established
mad genius of funk while he helmed
the psychedelic rock 1and Funkadelic
and its loosely R&B counterpart
Classics such as "One Nation
Under a Groove," "Flashlight,"
"Doctor Funkenstein" and "(Not
Just) Knee Deep" had all come and
gone, leaving every freak in America
in a daze. By the time of Clinton's
1983 solo debut, Computer Games,
it was Clinton's calculating finesse
for couching social themes in clever
mantra that created the ultimate
homeboy song, "Atomic Dog."
the concept of specially
* designed afrenauts... was first
laid on Manchild.

when the uncanny "Atomic Dog" hit
the airwaves. The song, laden with
trademark P-Funk weirdness, took
the then-open format Black radio by
storm. Clinton's surreal video for
"Atomic Dog" had me reeling with
its layered imagery. A jit (now
vaguely referred to as a homeboy) is
enticed away from an arcade by a
decidedly feline seductress.
Subliminally loaded animation is
combined with images of freakishly
dressed dancers riding bizarre,
abstract "joystick" apparatuses.
Clinton smirked and wagged his
tongue, almost drooling on the
camera lens, confident of his
transcendental power as the ultimate
super freak, Doctor Funkenstein.
The song's maniacal harmonies
and perversion of standard R&B
vocal arrangements caused me to
writhe enthusiastically. Keyboardist
Bernie Worrell sent penetrating vibes
deep into my nervous system with
his disarming synthesizer
performance. Clinton's bizarre
interpretation of Black sexuality
became a separate world to itself
with this enigmatic song and video.
And what did the concept of an
"Atomic Dog" mean to me in '83?
Not a thing.
Pledge your Groovallegiance to
the Funk.
It was July 1990 when Detroit's
Electrifying Mojo kicked his radio
show off with "Atomic Dog." I
absolutely reeled in rapture. Over the
last seven years, I realized, Clinton's

song had worked itself into the
collective mind and subculture of
every Chocolate City in America.
Talk about songs that stay with
us. The panting sound-rhythms of
"Atomic Dog" had been skillfully
sampled, giving Public Enemy's
"Brothers Gonna Work It Out" its
street-corner urgency on Fear Of a
Black Planet. The song was then
further appropriated by militant
rappers X-Clan and Ice Cube to great
effect. The Bomb Squad production
crew, like me, has a passion for
"Atomic Dog." Yet "Brothers" and
Ice Cube's "The Nigga Ya Love To
Hate" sound completely dissimilar.
These amazing references by rap
only verify that Clinton and his band
produced some of the most powerful
rhythms that ever grooved Black
America, no less influential or
pervasive than J.B.'s "Funky
Hey little pussy, you sure look
sweet, knockin' me off... my
four feet.
"Atomic Dog" has influenced not
only the way we all think, but the
way we all act, as well. Ever go to a
movie or show and hear the Dog
Bark? This show of applause, an
essential part of every Arsenio Hall
Show, can be attributed to Clinton
as well. Whenever homeboys bark
their approval for anything, this is
directly derivative of the distinctive
vocal performance from "Atomic
Clinton's utterly ingenious
appropriation of slang for sexuality,

previously most notable on
Parliament's "I Call My Baby
Pussycat," also gripped the
consciousness of an entire
generation. The descent of his
"futuristic bow-wow" can be traced
up to Prince's "La, La, La, Hee,
Hee, Hee." The explosively funky
song also draws interesting parallels
between men, women, dogs and cats:
"Is it really worth one night of fun?
You've got nine lives, I've only got
Time... Is education.
Finally in 1990, the concept of
"Atomic Dog" touches me.
Actually, it grabs me by the collar
and dangles me in midair. George
Clinton was writing one of his most
insightful explorations of self, an
essential question of irrational sexual
desire and lust. Now that I am a 19
year-old college student, the
paradigmatic lyrics, "Why must I
feel like that? Why must I chase the
cat? It's the dog in me/ nothin' but
the dog in me," cling to my
subconscious like a second skin.
Still, "Atomic Dog" tirelessly
remains my favorite funk jam; the
song's driving rhythms cleverly
work on the same psychological
energies that its lyrics are attempting
to harness. Clinton recently tried to
return to greatness with "Why
Should I Dog U Out?" a reference to
his magnum opus. His effort was
basically for naught.
From the appropriation of the
term "rock 'n' roll" to the entire
See ATOMIC, Page 7

full of it

-Jill Robbing

humor, that is
Chuckles, cackles and giggles
were the predominant sounds heardI
during The Sound of Big Show last
weekend as the Comedy Company
successfully performed their 11th
seasonal show. Twenty-two sketches
of silliness and fun were presented;
some sketches were funnier than
others. Most of the skits were
See WEEKEND, Page 7

Did you miss

f I

Adam Ant
Antics in the Forbidden Zone
When MTV was introduced in the
* early '80s, the music video industry
exploded and the world of music was
changed forever. Consumers would
no longer be content in simply hear-


ing a song on the radio. Many bands
were a product of MTV, and as the
Buggles aptly coined, "Video Killed
the Radio Star," Bands made up for
their lack of musical talent by using
their style and good looks to pro-
mote their careers.
One of the people who benefited

from this trend toward videos was
the original Prince Charming him-
self, Adam Ant. His antics, style and
pin-up looks made him a pop icon,
a direct competitor with contempo-
rary glam-os, Duran Duran.
Now Mr. Ant has released a vol-
ume of his greatest hits, Antics in

the Forbidden Zone. This album
samples all of the stages of his ca-
reer, except (beneficently) his recent
"Room at the Top" phase. We en-
dure his punk stage in the first four
tracks, and these are fairly hard on
the ears, with the exception of
See RECORDS, Page 7

-Mb 1 pmv


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