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February 04, 1992 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-02-04

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily- Tuesday, February 4, 1992
Wenders' Wims of
desire create a self-
servin Notebook
P i_ 4 rC y 8 l

Notebook on
Cities and Clothes
dir. Wim Wenders

by Jen Bilik

Notebook on Cities andi Clothes is
what Wim Wenders calls his recent
film - sounds pretty haphazard,
doesn't it? But, a notebook is just
what it is - a tenderly compiled
collection of interview and work
footage with Japanese designer
Yohji Yamamoto. If a lens frames
an image from a particular view-
point, then Wenders uses his topic
- fashion - as a lens through
which to examine our identities as
creatures of the modern world, sub-
ject to vagrancies of time and place.
Wenders is a master of the anal-
ogy. Throughout Notebook he wa-
xes friendly and philosophic, unable
to resist comparisons, between his
own art form and Yanamoto's. le
wants to find similarity rather than
difference. He seems to feel that art
shapes identity amidst the elec-
tronic homogenation of a mass re-
production world. Wenders' own
querying presence in the process of
filmmaking and in the finished
product distinguishes Notebook
from the standard portrait of an
artist.
The middle ground between re-
flected image - whether in a mir-
ror, a camera, or the eyes of others
- and self-perception creates iden-
tity. A milror in a design studio is
the same as a home movie in convey-
ing our identity outside of internal
perception; hence the analogy be-
tween fashion and finmaking.
Alternating between video and
film, Wenders endearingly narrates
the process by which he manipulates
the image. In making Notebook,
Wenders tells us that he's acquired a
new respect for video. Its electronic,
post-mechanical mode of depiction
suits the Japanese culture. Video's
unobtrusive ability to capture the
secret moment suits the interview
process, so Wenders combines dif-
ferent screen images in one frame,
alternating between video and film.
There's a commercial on TV
right now that starts out with John
Cleese giving a pitch for a televi-
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$30 DAILY SHOWS BEFORE 8 PM
ALL DAY TUESDAY
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Naked Lunch (R)

sion; the camera zooms out, and you
see that his image is on a tiny TV,
but. the same guy's holding that TV
with his image on it. Zoom back
again, and he's in yet another TV.
That's what Wenders' film looks
like, but he often combines two im-
ages on one screen, so that we see not
only the full frame but a TV in a
lower corner, or a watchman held by
a huge hand. Film, video. Film,
video. It's a personal exploration of
the tools of the trade.
Wenders watches Yamamoto in
his studio, at his show, in a pool
hall, looking through his favorite
books of photographs. Yamamoto
talks about his designing style and
his artistic preferences. Wenders
never appears egotistical by includ-
ing so much of himself; insteadl, he
juxtaposes himself with Ya-
mamoto, never losing the deferen-
tial stance of the interviewer, but
injecting his observations in voice-
over narration.
He admires Yamamoto's work in
part because he doesn't understand
it. It's a glimpse of two mutually
respectful artists at work, each try-
ing to understand the other.
One sees an affinity in Notebook
with Wenders' best known work,
Wings of Desire whose
philosophical, lyric quality touches
even the most mundane of questions.
Filmmaking and fashion are not
trades, but ways of life, and cloth-
ing functions as a reflection of iden-
tity as we clothe ourselves to con-
vey an outward image. Context is as
important as our clothing shell, and
Wenders tries to understand the dif-
ferences between Tokyo and Paris,
each artist's point of departure.
Intrigued by the influence of
time and place on the artist, Wen-
ders paints inquisitive and loving
portraits of both cities, with their
different artistic requirements.
Wenders' comparative tendencies
work well in a film where both
men, one German, the other Japanese,
speak in English. They need a com-
mon ground, a bridge by which to
span their different cultures and art
forms. The universal common
ground is mass media, especially
television. It is responsible for the
Westernization of Japan and the in-
timate understanding of other cul-
tures that is impossible without the
electronic era. Even with the global
village, Wenders finds the need for
personal contact, which he achieves
with Yamainoto, injecting the hu-
man into the electronic.
NOTEBOOK ON CITIES AND
CLOTHES is playing at the Michi-
gan Theater through Satu rdayv.

0

The men and their bus-ridin' thoughts: Andrew Innes, 'Zzzzzzzz.' Bobby Gillespie, 'What the FUCK are you lookin' at?' Toby Toman, 'If I don't do a
primal scream soon, I'm gonna waste Bobby, that weird fuck.' Robert Young, 'Oh, Jesus, I, I dropped my 'ludes in the john.' Henry Raycock, 'I
got the name, I got the black turtleneck, I am just way too cool for you assholes!'

RECORDS
Continued from page 5
On Screamadelica, Primal
Scream combines gospel stylings,
new age noodling and bombastic
breakbeats, somehow making it all
work. This sprawling, ambitious
work covers quite a bit of territory.
Lead singer Bobby Gillespie seems
to be as equally influenced by the
Rolling Stones as by mystical new
age dance gurus the Orb.
"Movin' On Up " and "Come
Together" showcase these X-heads
at their hippie best. These songs
sound like a Southern Baptist church
with a DJ. Rocking choir complete
with tambourines and hand claps.
These celebratory tunes are enough
to induce a revival in body painting
and free love.
The drugs really kick in on "I'm
Coning Down," which gives an in-
dication of what the Dream
Academy would sound like if some-
one woke them up. A distant sax,
squiggly keyboards, and Gillespie's
drowsy vocals combine to make a
rolling cloud of melodic unbience.
On "Damaged," Gillespie's wet
dream (becoming a young Mick Jag-
ger) comes in full bloom. Twangy,
acoustic guitars, honky-tonk pianos,
even a sloppy, Ron Wood-style gui-
tar solo - this could be a missing
track from Exile On Main Street..
This record would make a great
soundtrack for a virtual reality va-
cation: as real as you want it to be.
It's also a pretty good alternative to
that muffled Grateful Dead bootleg

the next time you feel like going
barefoot and weuing flowers in
your hair. Best of all, it sounds
nothing like My Bloody Valentine
or Chapterhouse.
- .Scott Sterling
XYZ
Hungry
Capitol
So often, a band has everything it
takes to hit it big - powerful vo-
cals, raging guitars, and a pounding
rhythm section. What happens be-
tween the garage and the recording
studio that makes a band so ordi-
nary? In this case, nothing - and
that's the problem.
With so many competent musi-
cians out there, a band needs one
thing to make itself special - good
songs. Unfortunately, XYZ falls
into the category of distinctive mu-
sicians, undistinctive music. While
sharpening his David Coverdale imi-
tation, singer Terry Ilous. should
perhaps have been working on his
songwriting skills instead.
When given a great song like
"Fire and Water," it becomes clear
that this band has talent. And the
heartfelt ballad "When I Find
Love" could well become a hit. But
this band just doesn't have enough
songs like this; instead, it falls into
the maybe-if-I-turn-it-up-real-loud-
nobody-will-notice-what-I' mn-play-
ing idea of rock.
It's a common idea, and the songs
end up being useful for those Satur-
day night cruises down the highway.
But for this band, it's sad. They just

don't have enough places to shine.
The opener "Face Down in the Gut-
ter," the Zeppelinesque "H.H. Boo-
gie," and the potent "Whiskey on a
Heartache" are fair songs, but they
demonstrate that while Guns N'
Roses had an Appetite For Destruc-
tion, XYZ is merely Hungry.
- Kristen Knudsen
Matthew Sweet
Girlfriend
BMG/Zoo Entertainment
You want to make some great
music. You grab an electric guitar.
You strum. You rock! Sound sim-
ple? Don't let those Jesus Jones
boys fool you.
Some people can rock n' roll re-
ally raw, including the pleasantly
original Matthew Sweet. le is one
hoopy frood who knows where his
guitar is. After his two previous
incognito solo efforts, Sweet's
finely-crafted Girlfriend is bound
to gather some avid listeners.
Sweet's name is apt regarding his
vocal chops. The harmonies are pure
and incredibly flawless in every
tune, without exception. Even
though his lyrics sway from cool
raunch-o ("Does She Talk?": "Does

she lick your palm to tell your for-
tune tonight?") to cheesy ("I
Wanted to Tell You": "I wanted to *
tell you, what I couldn't say'") to
tributes ("Winona": "Could you be
my little movie star?"), Sweet's
voice makes cotton candy seem bit-
ter throughout the album. Even if
you wish the guitar had never been
created, you'll still want Girlfriend
just to hear Sweet croon.
The guitar sounds on Girlfriend
are magnificently, ardently crunchy
- almost but not quite the Beatles'
"Revolution" crunchy - aided by
acoustic and pedal steel guitar. "I
Wanted to Tell You" has some-
Claptonesque lead lines that rip.
"Divine Intervention" puts a lead
six-string in your face, and incorpo-
rates some niftly panning effects so
that the parts swing between both
ears if you pop on some headphones
Ultimately, though, it is good
songwriting that separates this al-
bum from bogus, gimme-dough
cause-I in-so-hot guitar-playing
competitors. Put away your EMF
and go get some quality Sweetness.

who what where when

IL
UL

Present this coupon
when purchasing a large
popcorn and receive one
FREE LARGE DRINK
Expires 2/10/92

Congratulations to the Univer-
sity's own Charles Baxter, winner
of the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest
Writers' Award for work with non-
profit organizations. Baxter will
receive $35,000 each year for up to
three years, and the Washtenaw
Council for the Arts, the organiza-
tion with which Baxter is affiliated,
will also receive $10,000 each year.

If a re-perusal of the venerable
Charles Baxter is a tad too much for
a logy February afternoon, make at
stop at the Rackham Amphitheatre
at four o'clock this afternoon and
thrill to the reading of poet Jill
Rosser. Rosser represents the next
installment in the Borders Book
Shop Visiting Writers series.
Should be a blast. Don't miss it.

9

I

Mr. Matthew Sweet looks as good as his sweet vocal work, his sweet
guitar riffs. Ooh, ooh, look at those SUH-WEET threads of his!

The University of Michigan's
Office of Minority Affairs

BEYOND
THE
DREAM IV

presents

Livel Via Satellitet!

Discovering The Past -
Understanding The Future
A two-hour moving and inspiring videoconference that will
serve as the national kickoff of the month-long observance of the
contributions made by African Americans to our country.
Beyond The Dream IV will originate and air from our nation's
capital, Washington, DC, on
Wednesday, February 5,1992
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.

4 .

:qw q

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