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February 03, 1992 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-03

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ARTS
The Michigan Daily Monday, February 3,1992 Page 5
Almodovar runs r
wild with Heels
Spanish director fashions
hilariously murderous women

High Heels
dir. Pedro Almodovar
by Chris Lepley
W ith his newest film, Pedro
Almodovar, acclaimed director of
Women On the Verge of a Nervous
Breakdown, has subverted what he
has called "the melodramatic gen-
te's usual sentimental complacen-
cy." And he's done it with wit,
charm and, above all, style.
High Heels is the story of Re-
becca (Victoria Abril, best known
for her starring role in Almodo-
var's Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!)
* and her mother, Becky Del Paramo
(Marisa Paredes), an aging pop idol
with platinum blonde hair and mus-
cles like a 70-year-old Sarah Connor.
Becky has returned to Spain after
a 15-year stay in Mexico, in an at-
tempt to reconcile with her aban-
doned daughter. While Mommy was
in Mexico, Rebecca remained in
Madrid, working as an anchorperson
on the local news and marrying the
owner of the station, one of Becky's
former lovers.
Spanish teen-idol Miguel Bose
plays Femme Lethal, a drag queen
who impersonates Becky nightly in
front of adoring transvestite fans.
This casting is marvelous. Bose de-
livers a quirky and humorous per-
formance. If you wanted to make a<
cultural comparison, having him in

this role is like casting Richard
Marx as a rabid necrophiliac.
Manuel (Feodor Atkins), Re-
becca's husband and Becky's former
lover, is a jerk in every sense. No
sooner has Becky returned than he
attempts to rekindle their old ro-
mance, telling her that he dislikes
Rebecca and is dissatisfied with
their marriage. It's an ironic senti-
ment, because Rebecca is the only
person who misses Manuel after he
turns up dead.
Rebecca, Becky and a blonde
bimbo who gives the news in sign
language are questioned by the mys-
terious "Judge Dominguez" in re-
gards to Manuel's murder. The
bimbo admits to having had an affair
with Manuel because she was sick of
"signing" the news. "People think I
can't talk," she whines. The Judge
believes the three women when they
say they didn't kill Manuel, and lets
them go.
Dominguez is not very percep-
tive (in the police report, the Judge,
while wearing sunglasses, mistak-
enly labels the victim's hair as
"dark brown"), because a day later,
Rebecca breaks down under pressure,
and confesses to the murder during a
news broadcast. She is arrested and
sent to prison.
High Heels is funny, colorful and
tragic all at once - everything that
modern melodrama should be. Re-
becca is neurotic and confused. Upon
hearing that her mother's autobiog-

Competitors Rebecca (Victoria Abril) and Becky (Marisa Paredes) rest in designer clothed splendor in front of The Judge (Miguel Bose).

raphy is being written, she asks
timidly, "Am I in it?"
The film gleams with the glossy
reds and yellows of a technicolor
musical, and the tears are fully in-
tercut with laughs. Lethal's per-
formances are erotic and surprising.
The women's prison where Rebecca
is incarcerated is populated by six-

foot-tall blonde lesbians and their
"friends," who play basketball and
break into impromptu dance num-
bers.
High Heels breaks down melo-
dramatic conventions and injects a
much-needed sense of humor into
the so-called "women's film." Re-
becca and Becky are modern heroines,

but the interest of this film isn't
limited to its main cast. Supporting
characters add color and style in
their own way.
The Judge's mother, who has
been in bed for 10 years, tells her
son, "I'm feeling irregular. I want
to be tested for AIDS," and when he
protests, the 90-year-old woman

says, "I have a right to know if I'm
HIV positive!"
And if it does nothing else, High
Heels asks the question: What are
the Freudian implications of a
woman making love with a man
who is dressed as her mother?

HIGH HEELS is playing at
Michigan Theater.

the

Stress
Stress
Reprise/Warner Bros.
While listening to Stress' debut
album, you can't help but wonder
whether or not the band exists be-
cause of Lenny Kravitz. The com-
parison goes beyond the fact both
parties are black and "dig"'
psychedelic soul.
Singer Wayne Binitie's voice is
very similar to Kravitz's, and the
lyrics sound like they were written
by him too. "Flowers in the Rain"
says, "I believe there's a new salva-
tion comin'/ you better get runnin'/
People say there's heaven on Earth
. but it can't be found today." "You
hold your heart in perpetual devo-
tion" is from "Rosechild" In "My
Father Once Said," they even make a
gratuitous John Lennon reference.
Coincidence?
Stress is an enormous produc-
tion, masterfully worked by Guy
Chambers. A Tears for Fears influ-
ence is obvious in the orchestrations
and the background voices. For the
most part, though, the songs have a
Modern Rock edge while still
sounding soulful, and swing better
than most alternative funk tunes on
89X.
The only problem is that the
main audience for. this record are
those who like Sly Stonle and "thq
fat Beatle," and have never been ex-
posed to Lenny Kravitz. Unfortu-
nately, that person does not exist
unless he or she just woke up from a
three-year coma. While Kravitz's
success may have led to their sign-
ing, it is also the worst thing that
could have happened to their careers.
- Andrew .1 Cahn
My Bloody Valentine
Loveless
Sire/Warner Bras.
Forget the endless comparisons
to other English "ocean" bands such
as Chapterhouse and Bleach. My
Bloody Valentine is the group these
others wish they could be. Loveless,
MBV's first full-length U.S. re-
lease, only makes an already per-
plexing band more difficult to fig-
ure out. MBV possesses the uncanny
knack of making the grotesque
sound wonderfully appealing. Such
is the case with Loveless.
The band's now-trademark wall

cats. Her superb solos, as on
"Blown a Wish," overpower the
listener after a short while. With
her singing buried so deeply beneath
the mix, this is certainly not an easy
task. Yet somehow, her vocals al-
ways find their way to the surface
of the songs and compete with the
guitars, taking them over in more
than one instance.
Colm ' Ciosoig (drums) and
Debbie Googe (bass) provide the
perfect balance of chemistry to
Shields' distortion obsessions and
Butcher's vocals. The drums can be
seemingly non-existent on some of
the tracks, but come in fast and furi-
ous when least expected. Googe's
bass playing has improved over past
albums, and there is less reliance
placed upon his simply providing a
back-up distortion sound.
Another new facet of the MB V
sound on Loveless is the strong use
of keyboards. On the album's open-
ing song "Only Shallow," the dis-
torted guitars are almost challenged
by the keyboard that flutters in and
out of the tune - about to take it
over, yet always receding.
"When You Sleep," one of the
more memorable songs on the al-
bum, also features a duel of sorts
between the keyboards and guitar. It
seems that MBV is no longer satis-
fied with simply "drowning" (as in
noise) people into submission. In its
place is a truly orchestral piece,
with each song blending and melt-
ing into the next.
Closing out with "Soon"
(which also appeared on the 1990
U.S. EP, Glider), MBV offers a
glimpse back at the sound that it
helped pioneer. The members of
MBV are definitely experimental-
ists.
For years, they have been playing
the sort of music that only now is
becoming popular among their Eu-
ropean counterparts. While there
has been a widespread move on the
part of these bands to emulate this
technique and sound, MBV has al-
ready moved on to the next genre of
experimentation.
Loveless does a tremendous job
of displaying this "new" sound. At
once it is soft, moody, silent and
almost adorable, while remaining
raw, loud, cold, and glaringly ugly.
As an indication of things to come,

Sexual frustration
or talent? You judge
by A. J. Hogg
64 can't live my fantasies with my wife, so I've got to do it on stage," O.J.
Anderson explains in a chat from his Ann Arbor home.
Huh? Would people really want to come and watch that sort of thing?
Well, I suppose so, if that sort of thing involves an Elvis Presley imita-
tor's workshop, a Martian playing musical chairs, folk rap, and a Polish
wedding reception.
"I like to consider my show pretty much like vaudeville - doing any-
thing I can to kill time," O.J. Anderson explains. "I'll sing, I'll dance, I'll
do sad stuff, I'll do mostly really stupid stuff, a lot of audience participa-
tion, fun things to do with a Maytag dryer hose ... " But what sort of his-
tory results in a man who mimes the song "My Girl" on stage?
"It started when I was a kid when I'd make my dad laugh so hard
mashed potatoes would come through his nose," Anderson says. It, of
course, is his life-long love of vaudeville shows. But, like most of us, he
got sidetracked.
"I thought I was going to be a writer first," he confides. "I hitch-hiked
across the country when I was about 19 and I was going to write, like, The
Grapes of Wrath, so I went out and picked grapes for like four hours in
California and said 'Look at my fin1gcrs! This is shit! Oh God, they're pur-
ple!,,
Since, writing didn't worked out, Anderson moved on to more dubious
activities. "I just goofed around,- Anderson admits. "I sang in a jazz band
in the rocky mountains at a mini-glacier hotel - a four-story log cabin -
watching grizzly attacks come in while I was singing 'Fly Me to the
Moon.'
Education soon got a hold of him, in the form of a theater scholarship to
the University of Detroit, where, among others, he studied with Madonna.
He has also studied opera, mime, and clowning.
"There are four kinds of clowns, really," he explains as his on-and-off
work as a teacher with Ringling Brothers Clowns surfaces in the bizarre
conversation. "Circus clowns, birthday party clowns, corporate clowns,
and psychotic killer clowns. You know, they wear the mask and stuff, but
you have no idea what they do."SeOjPg8
ARE YOU AN ARTIST WHO JUST CAN'T GET
USED TO THOSE DAMN PENCILS?
TRY ONE OF OUR COMPUTERS.
Weekend etc. needs a graphic artist who has experience with Pagemaker
and Freehand on the Mac. We will pay you oodles of money for assignments,
plus 'benefits.' And there's the glory of seeing your logos & graphics on
40,000 papers. To apply, call 763-0379 and ask for Julie, Mike or Elizabeth.
Friends of the Ann Arbor Public Library
[ BIG WINTERI

Direct from the fashion show of hell, Stress just wants to be Kravitz.

didn't hear Play With Toys.
This warped amalgamation of
funky beats, jangly guitars, and mel-
low vocals is so many light years
away from anything else going on in
rap, it's nearly impossible to de-
scribe. Imagine De La Soul guest
starring on Prince's Dirty Mind,
covering a Cowboy Junkies tune af-.
ter one 40 ouncer too many of Olde
English 800.
Basehead is the brainchild of
Michael Ivey, who I'm tempted to
call the Black Trent Reznor (of
Nine Inch Nails). Ivey wrote, pro-
duced, and played the whole album,.
except for the live drums. And like
Reznor, he has turned out a debut
that is going to be tough to follow.
Play With Toys flows like a val-
ium-drenched daydream. From
Ivey's sleepy-eyed vocals to the

Saw Your Face," making him even
more depressed. "Ode To My Fa-
vorite Beer" finds him composing a
love song to his malt liquor of
choice, complete with Eazy-E's "8-
Ball Junkie" skipping in the back-
ground.
The tone turns more serious on
"Evening News," a sad commentary
about Black-on-Black crime, with
the sample of a somber newscaster
intoning, "In the past eighteen
See RECORDS, Page 8
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