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November 06, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-11-06

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, November 6, 1991

Page 5

W-

Conned, and Mulched, by bad
sequel, I want my $5.75 back!

Highlander II: The Quickening
dir. Russell Mulcahy

by Mike Kuniavsky

How should I start?{
Should I talk about the misogynistic Aryan Superman myth of the first
film, reincarnated as a much paler, sicklier version of itself? No, too easy.r
Maybe I could ask why the main character, a Scot, is played by al
Frenchman (Christopher Lambert), and the other main character, a
Spaniard, is played by a Scot (Sean Connery)? I could continue with a dis-
cussion of how the two main characters - whose origins were properlyc
mysterious in the first film - are now supposedly from The Planet Zeist,
where the evil overlord (played by perennial bad guy Michael Ironside,
who possesses a Japanese name) tries to put down The Resistance. I couldc
ask, "Why do they have to use swords when they have guns? And why do1
they all have such funny names? And why do they speak English (when, in
the first film, it was clearly stated that they didn't)?" Nyaa, sounds too
much like Andy Rooney.
Should I talk about the incredible continuity problems (also known as
"The Battle of the Changing Room and Swords" and "Now I'm dead, now
I'm not!")?
I could approach the film from a stuffy academic standpoint, comparing
and contrasting it with the other work of director Russell Mulcahy, whose
other credits include the first Highlander and the recent Ice-T splat-o-rama,
Ricochet. Yeah, I would make it about a zillion big words long and refer to
boring, long-forgotten French films! I could talk about the thematic pla-
giarism from Blade Runner, Batman, Superman, Brazil, The Wizard of Oz
(dig those Monkeymen on skateboards!), The Arthurian Legends, Mein
Kampf, every Arnold movie, Citizen Kane - no, not Kane, I must be think-;
ing of the new Hammer video - and the Bible. Well... maybe not, since I
don't know how to use "postculturalistic infantilism" in a sentence.
Heck, I should just talk about the Freudianness of swordfighting in a
big, round, glowing chamber that's pierced by a thick, round, glowing shaft

(which, incidentally, is the key to the salvation of all mankind). Nyaa,
Maybe I should quote some of the dumber lines, and add witty com-
ments at the end? For instance, I could mention the scene right after
Connor MacLeoud (Our Hero) regains his immortality (lost at the end of
the first film) in a huge explosion that must have cost thousands of dollars
(not to mention brain cells). Right after becoming superhuman again, he
walks up to the Incidental Female Lead (Virginia Madsen) and says, "My
name is Connor MacLeoud and I was banished from the planet Zeist five-
hundred years ago and I cannot die." She proceeds to immediately kiss him
and I wonder if that line would work for me.
Should I just mock the horrible production design, which tries to use all
of the leftover sets from Batman, but doesn't know how? Should I mention
that the film takes place in The Land of Dramatic Lighting Where Backlit
Fans Spin Slowly in Darkened Rooms? Or that "wet streets and old cars do
not Blade Runner make?" Or the beautifully inept product placement of
Hills Brothers"M coffee and Wendy's"'" burgers in all of the right hands at
all of the right times?
I could propose the theory that the producers ran out of money after hir-
ing Connery and decided to skip on some of the nonessentials, like writing
and editing.
Still, there are the recent trends of sequel revisionism and environmen-
talism injections (suitable for whatever ails your screenplay!), both in
heavy overdose here, and both of which deserve attention...
And, of course, there are the comments of my co-watchers ("Ya gotta
wonder about a film where the best line is 'Shithead."')
Then, of course, there's the central question, "What the hell is The
Quickening?" which neither I nor the other 11 people who were with me (I
didn't want to go alone - I would have been too embarrassed) know the
answer to.
Hey! That's it! I'll talk about -
Oh, darnit, out of space.
hIGhLANDER II: TILE QUICKENING is playing at Showcase.

This untitled photograph of a grandmother and her child was taken
taken by Bill Lee in Valdusta, Georgia in 1986. Lee photographed Black
Americans in the rural South over a five-year period.
Photographer Bill
Lee captures South
in black-and-white

Electric
fol ksin ger
meshes
genres
by Greg Baise
t Folksinger, penetrating analyzer
of contemporary problems, psyche-
delic reinterpreter of standards
from around the world, noisy avant-
garde jazz guitar frontiersman:
Eugene Chadbourne is a person of
many kaffiyehs.
And if you're going to judge a
person not only by his kaffiyehs but
by those of his friends and collabo-
rators, just try these two groups on
for size: Shockabilly, which was
"Dr." Chadbourne's appropriately-
named group with David Licht and
Kramer, and the ensemble Chad-
bourne organized for the Moers
International Jazz Festival in
Germany last spring. The latter
improvization event involved the
participation of Jonathan Segel
from Camper Van Beethoven, Brian
Ritchie from the Violent Femmes,
some old Mothers like Jimmy Carl
Black and Don Preston, sitarist
Ashwin Batish, a bluegrass banjoist,
a harmonica player and a bassoon
player - just what one would ex-
pect a Chadbourne conglomeration
to be like.
When touring solo, or semi-solo,
like he is right now, Chadbourne's
main pigeonholed genre is folk, al-
though by no means conventional
folk. Chadbourne has demolished
certain audience preconceptions of
what folk might or might not be by
implementing certain homemade in-
struments, like an electric rake, an
electric birdcage and an electric
plunger, into his performances.
Phil Ochs never did anything so
outr6; still, Chadbourne received a
lot of inspiration from that folk
legend. "He used to come out
alone," remembered Chadbourne,
"and he would play alone. He
would really make you think about
a lot of things and make you laugh.
He used to be one of my favorite
people to go see. I probably
wouldn't be doing what I'm doing
if it wasn't for him." Each perfor-
mance, Chadbourne tries to include
W~~ ~ - - -X

Although he is pictured here in a more subdued moment, Dr. Eugene Chadbourne has created some of the
wildest hybrids of folk music you'll ever hear. By the way, the title "Dr." isn't a degree or anything - it stands
for dropout, as Chadbourne dropped out of high school!

by Heidi Hedstrom
Enigma, Georgia, Eclectic, Alaba-
ma, and Columbia, South Carolina.
These are some of the towns that
Chinese-American photographer
Baldwin Lee visited during his five-
year photographic exploration of
the American South, from 1983 to
1988. In his exhibition at the
University Museum of Art, viewers
can experience all that Lee encoun-
tered while he was on the road. The
show contains a series of 58 black-
and-white portraits.
The photographs are all unti-
tled. Names are not necessary to cre-
ate a mood, because the photographs
alone evoke feelings of regret, pity
and even anger in the viewer. The
subject matters of the portraits are
Blacks in the rural South. Lee met
thousands of people with whom he
had the opportunity to work. Lee
writes that all of his subjects will-
ingly participated in the making of
the photographs.
"Every person I photographed
was Black, initially a stranger and in
his own environment," writes Lee.
"Although my original intention
was to describe the lives of Black
Southerners as a group, I realized
that rather than dealing with a gen-
eralized group, I was instead work-
ing with distinct individuals each of
whom was in a unique situation."
The photographs are disconcert-
ing because they force the viewer to
acknowledge that there are many
Americans who live in a dis-
turbingly real poverty-stricken ex-
istence. In regard to his subjects, Lee
states, "You can't help but feel

guilty. You want to do something
to help but there's only so much you
can do. The futility of this sinks in."
This desolate existence is imme-
diately apparent in the photographs'
revelations about their subjects' en-
vironments. They live in tiny,
downtrodden -wooden shacks. The
insides of these "homes" are worn
down - -there are holes in the

some type of tribute to Ochs,
whether it be through a solo per-
formance addressing important top-
ical issues, or through actually cov-
ering a few of Ochs's tunes.
, One break from the Ochsian solo
tradition will be the presence of
Shoji Hano at Chadbourne's per-
formance tonight. Hano is an im-
provisational free-jazz percussion-
ist who has worked with Peter
Brotzmann of Last Exit. Hano will
hopefully arrive in Chicago from
Japan sometime today and book out
to Ann Arbor in time to perform
with Chadbourne. "We play a lot of
different styles of music together,"
said Chadbourne. "The whole act of
improvising with him and improvis-
ing in performance is another type
of thing I like to do."
Improvisation stems from Chad-
bourne's interest in jazz. He
explained, "I'm trying to make new
things still happen with that kind
of music. I think a great thing about
jazz is that it's constantly paying
tribute to the past masters. I think
that's one of the things that a good
jazz musician has to do. He has to be
able to play Duke Ellington and
Louis Armstrong." Past masters
for Chadbourne, though, can range

from Mingus and Monk to Ochs and
Buckley to McGuinn and Lennon
and Arthur Lee.
Or to Johnny Paycheck, whose
"Take This Job and Shove It" gets
covered on Chadbourne's landmark
LP, There'll Be No Tears Tonight,
which featured new musicians like
John Zorn, Tom Cora and David
Licht, and did not feature Garth
Brooks. As Chadbourne continued,
"Yet another thing is that I con-
sider myself a country and western
player. I've played in that vein and
I've played with country players
and bluegrass players, especially the
ones that are kind of on the fron-
tier."
Just when you think Chadbourne
has exhausted his various back-
grounds and fields, he pulls out yet
another: "There's a few other things
that I think I picked up from being
involved with performance artists.
When I lived in Canada in (he
Seventies, we had groups where
some of the musicians were more
like performance artists. We were
improvising actions on stage, not
just music. If you did something
funny with the audience or with an
object, or did something theatrical,
it added to the music. It wasn't nec-

essarily something you'd hear on a
tape. It was visual."
All of these genres merge into
the musical social protests of Dr.
Chadbourne. "One of the biggest
threats in this country, I don't know
where it comes from, is this attitude
where people want to change the
way people live or think, through
legislation," he said. It's not just
honchos like Bush and Reagan or,
senators from Chadbourne's home
state of North Carolina. "They'd
certainly be big threats," said
Chadbourne. "But it can be anyone
in the community, really."
EUGENE CHADBOURNE and
SHOJI IANO play tonight at 8 p.m.
at the Performance Network.
Tickets are $6 in advance at
Schoolkids and $8 at the door. The
Detroit saxophone duo MAJOR
DENTS opens.

Lee
walls and old sheets serve as cur-
tains. The rooms are unadorned ex-
cept for a few decorations and old-
fashioned, broken television sets.
Outside, the environment is often
barren, with dirt roads bereft of any
grass or flowers. In the portraits,
children are frequently seen stand-
ing outside with dirty legs and bare
feet. The settings are as important as
the human subjects themselves to
the stark and poignant tone of Lee's
See LEE, Page 8

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