The Michigan Dailyf
Friday, September 13, 1991
England's got a brand new bag
Ned's Atomic Dustbin: da godfodders of Brit pop?
Wharlie Meadows (John Goodman) tries to calm Barton Fink (John Turturro) after Barton endures too many
lanxieties. Among them: dripping wallpaper paste, a vicious mosquito, a scotch guzzling hack novelist, and a
dead... oh, never mind, go see the movie.
Barton goes to H'wood
by Annette Petruso
fifth and last part
« don't think we sound like any-
body else," says Alex Griffin, 20,
one of the bass players of the dy-
namic young guitar band, Ned's
Atomic Dustbin. I spoke to him on
the telephone from his hotel room
in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"We're from a place called the
Black Country, which is ten miles
outside of Birmingham in England,"
says Griffin. "And even though it's
only ten miles away from Birming-
ham, it's a completely different sort
of place. It's just very regional -
our humor, our attitude."
But God Fodder, the band's
compelling American debut album,
while thick with reflections of such
insular attitudes, sparkles with the
charisma and disgust that only
young musicians can produce. The
lyrics, written by John Penney, the
oldest member of the band at 23, in-
tensely portray what goes on in the
minds of young adults.
From "Kill Your Television"
("She said/ 'you don't know shit/
because you've never been there"')
to "Cut Up" ("Did you think that
if you shout you can sort it all
out?") to "Your Complex"
("Don't go telling me it's gone
wrong/ don't go telling me on the
phone/'cause the only voice I hear is
my own"), Penney and company
eloquently express anger, fear and a
point of view rarely drawn so
vividly. "John's lyrics are mainly
about his experiences or somebody
else's," Griffin says.
But the wordsyaren't arrogant.
"We don't include politics because
that's unfair of us," he says. "If
somebody likes your band, then
they're more likely to listen to your
views about politics, and therefore
you've swayed somebody. And it's
up to people to make their own
minds. And none of us agree on each
other's politics anyway, so we
Ned's is also a strong guitar-
based outfit. On disc, their music
sears with noisy but melodic gui-
tars, sounding like reined frustra-
tion seeking out a focused, con-
trolled expression. The six-
stringed- and four-stringed-guitar-
based music supersedes even
Penney's words in its assault, dodg-
ing to and fro between mountain
tops and valleys, resonating, with-
out overwhelming, the lyrics. Part
of this strength comes from the
band's use of two bassists.
"Me and Mat (Cheslin) both
wanted to be in the band and we
both happened to play bass," Griffin
explains. "And John said, 'Well
Mat could join,' and Mat got going
in the band the week before me, and I
said to John, 'Oh, do you still need a
bass player?' and he said, 'Well, Mat
joined.' And I said, 'Oh, you bastard,
like, I wanted to be in the band as
well, so why don't you have two
bass players as well?' And he said,
'Don't be silly,' and then the next
day he came back and said, like
'Yeah, go on, we'll give it a go.'
"I play chords and stuff, and
Mat plays just like, low bass. But I
play what a rhythm guitar does and
stuff. It makes the sound full and
Live, Ned's (which also includes
See NED'S, Page 9
ir. Joel Coen
by Michael John Wilson
,Boy, those French sure have lousy
taste in movies - but at least
they're consistent. Last year, David
Lynch's freakish and pretentious
American film Wild at Heart won
the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film
'Festival. This year, the festival's
three major awards (best actor, di-
rector and film) all went to the
equally freakish and pretentious
American film Barton Fink. Though
both films entertain in quirky and
original ways, they're ultimately
hollow at the center.
Fink is the fourth film by Joel
and Ethan Coen, a writer-producer-
director team whose credits include
Blood Simple and Raising Arizona.
Their flashy film-school camera-
work and offbeat sense of humor
were the stars of these films. After
last year's Miller's Crossing, the
Coens seemed to be on the verge of a
great film, one that would balance
their unique stylization with an
equally excellent story. Unfor-
tunatly, Fink isn't it.
Instead of a mature effort, the
*film represents their most indul-
gent and pretentious work to date.
Yes, the beautifully lit, finely
KOne Fish, Two Fish,
Maize Fish, Blue Fish"
Monday, September 16 @ 7:00pm
2105 Michigan Union
For INFO: call UAC @ 763-1107
crafted look of a Coen film can be
pleasurable in itself, and yes, it's
fun to watch the camera enter a
drainpipe and do other crazy stuff,
but, as with Lynch and Tim
(Beetlejuice) Burton, their distinc-
tive atmosphere of bizarre charac-
ters and dark humor is also enough
to keep our interest... up to a point.
Eventually, though, the Coens have
got to get on with the story. And
that's Fink's weakness.
John Turturro (Miller's Cros-
sing, Do the Right Thing) plays the
title character, a leftist playwright
who, after scoring a hit on Broad-
way, heads to Holly wood to earn
money by writing screenplays.
There he runs into all sorts of
Hollywood types, from the
friendly bellhop named "Chet!"
(Steve Buscemi) to the Hollywood
mogul (Michael Lerner) who
"expects great things." There's also
the wacky reighbor, played by John
Goodman (Raising Arizona), an af-
fable insurance salesman with an X-
rated tie, and Barton's only friend.
Barton is hired to write a
wrestling picture. Then he gets
writer's block. And the film stalls.
Our initial meetings with each
formidably acted character are,
however, quite fun. Goodman's big,
smiling, cartoonish face is espe-
cially apt for Fink's world of exag-
gerated characters. Other Coen regu-
lars like Buscemi and Turturro also
work well, with their nervous, hy-
per quality perfect for the film's
edgy atmosphere. The rapid-fire
Hollywood speak of Ben Geisler
(Tony Shalhoub) also welcomes us
into what begins as a hilariously en-
tertaining black comedy.
While Barton struggles to write,
the Coens pile on the weirdos and
the eerie shots of empty corridors.
And peeling wallpaper. And oozing
glue. And nothing happens. And we
get bored. When something finally
does happen (and does it ever hap-
pen), it's so unexpected and incon-
gruous with the comic tone of the
first half that we're completely
thrown off, unsure whether to
laugh, cry or scream. The film never
recovers, tailspinning into a hope-
lessly obscure ending.
Fink ends up as just another
amusing but ultimately unsatisfy-
See FINK, Page 8
I 'e .. .". .m~lniRNR~iMNEiRe
Ned's is, clockwise from bottom left, Mat Cheslin, Dan Worton, Garath
Pring, Alex Griffin, and Jon Penney. Griffin says of their album's title, God
Fodder, "Actually we're speech therapists that go around listening to
people who mispronounce words, and then we turn them into album
in Ann Arbor"
--The Michigan Daily 1991 poll
* * 0 * * "**" *** **#
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Sunday Worship 10 am
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