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March 02, 1992 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-03-02

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Page 8-The Michigan Daily- Monday, March 2,1992

Bollocks to those who
say Life ain't so sweet

Life is Sweet
dir. Mike Leigh
by Elizabeth Lenhard
Never was a dysfunctional family
so functional. Using a surnameless,
working class clan, British director
Mike Leigh and the characters he
created do their damnedest to con-
vince everyone that Life Is Sweet.
Relying on everyday perversity
(in the sexual and epicurean sense),
Leigh has collaborated.with a fantas-
tic cast to depict a pungent slice of
life in working-class England. Any-
thing but working stiffs, a family of
four commences with a few days of
punctuated existence before us. Nei-
ther the parents nor their twenty-
something twins play a central role;
they revolve around each other,
depending on the family, rather than
the outside world, for contentment.
Wendy (Alison Steadman) and
Andy (Jim Broadbent) have raised
cheerfulness to an art form. Not par-
ticularly happy in their occupations,
and not exactly thrilled with the way
their daughters have grown up, the
couple still breathes fresh air every
day, waiting for a pleasant interlude
or perhaps, even a change, to come
their way.
The twins - placid Natalie
(Claire Skinner) and angry, sneering
Nicola (Jane Horrocks) - are not as
practiced in grinning and bearing it.
While neither seems pressed to make
a move out of her parents' house,
each has pressures of her own.
Beneath the surface of Natalie's
cropped hair and men's clothing
may lie some rebellion against her
resignation to an average joe life. "I
do disgusting things ... I stick my
hands down toilets and on a good
day, I get bitten by a rat."
While Andy, Wendy and Natalie

cheerfully eat dinner in the kitchen,
Nicola, who doesn't eat, exiles her-
self to the living room, regularly
growling at them, "Sexist pig!"
"Capitalist!" "Bollocks!" She ner-
vously pats her face, pulls out her
hair and smokes, avoiding the sun
and shooting down a kind word. We
quickly learn that she is bulimic and
desperate for a relief from her dis-
Nicola's daytime lover (David
Thewlis) - whom she goads into
chocolate-covered sexcapades right
before she kicks him out of the
house - leaves because she refuses
to have an intelligent conversation
with him. She's finally inspired to
dig herself out of her hole, which
gives the only truly pessimistic ele-
ment of the film an uplifting outlook.
The family friends, while held in
affection, prove to be more nuisance
than nicety. Patsy (Stephen Rea) is
forever trying to con Andy. Patsy
sells him a snack trailer with the in-
tent of launching Andy on a venture
as self-made man. The used (dented,
rusted, leaky) trailer needs some
work though, and the broken front
porch and paperless walls are evi-
dence that Andy might not get
around to fixing the eyesore.
The most humorous moments in
the film are provided by Aubrey (Ti-
mothy Spall), a tubby lech who also
hopes to get into the restaurant
business on a higher scale (he bills
his soon-to-be-opened establishment
as "tres exclusive").
Lumbering and grunting, Aubrey
fusses with his menu (one prawn per
customer and lamb tongues because
"you couldn't swallow a pig's
tongue") and kindly teaches his
sleepily wan cook to play the drums
before sticking his tongue in her ear.
The skinny cook's anomie seems
to pervade the lives of all the charac-
ters, though Nicola is the only one


Director Mike Leigh (High Hopes) gives us complex and quirky characters such as Aubrey (Timothy Spall) and Nicola (Jane Horrocks).

who isn't constantly in motion.
Natalie is happy with her job as a
plumber and an occasional game of
pool (though Skinner subtly conveys
a wealth of thought behind her
docile eyes, the opposite of
Horrocks' constant twitches). And
Wendy's bubbly laugh conquers all
the longing and pathos of her work

as a pre-school aerobics teacher and
salesperson of "sophisticated" sailor
suits to babies named Nigel.
Yet one senses that Andy is never
going to get the trailer on the road,
and when Natalie returns from her
holiday stateside, she'll go right
back to her life as a tomboy living in
her parents' house. It's not a tragedy,

but perhaps a sobering reality.
A family trying to get by with a
bit of money and some laughs, de-
spite a bad seed or two - it's some-
thing we see every day. But the
twists tied into the mundane - no
one comes to Regret Rien's opening
so Aubrey makes a drunken pass at
Wendy and passes out in his rainbow

briefs; Andy breaks his ankle when
he trips on a spoon - proves an en-
tertaining, human glimpse into a 1
family. They're not a cross-section
per se, but they probably resides in
the house right next door to yours.
LIFE IS SWEET is playing at the
Ann Arbor]I & 2.

today. Live the adventure.

Continued from page 5
samples: "You want to swim in a
chlorinated pool / Live with risk /
All the praise and all the pain are
only fingers in your brain."
Fact TwentyTwo is one of the
more original electronicky sounding
albums you can get your hands on

today. Live the adventure.
-Jeff Rosenberg
Various Artists
Living Chicago Blues,
Vol. I-IV
B.B. King, Buddy Guy and
Robert Cray may be the nation's best
known blues players, but there are
countless others who may be as good

or even better. Many of these per-
formers do not aspire to fame and
fortune, and prefer to play blues
clubs for as long as they are able. A
few of these guys are included in the
series Living Chicago Blues, which
is a celebration of electric Chicago
blues originally released in 1978.
These live recordings, finally
available on CD, are a must for any-
one who has dropped by Rick's on

random Fridays and has seen a
smokin' blues band, and woke up
the next morning saying, "I saw the
sweetest band last night, but I can't
remember who they were." Chances
are, that band is included here, for
A.C. Reed & the Sparkplugs, Lonnie
Brooks and Luther "Guitar Jr." John-
son are all frequent guests at Ann
Arbor's best place for blues.
One of the best things about the

four-disc compilation is how it is
Many of these per-
formers do not aspire
to fame and fortune,
and prefer to play
blues clubs for as. long
as they are able.
packaged. Each CD features fifteen
to twenty minutes sets of four differ-

ent bands. Not only does this give
the listener a primer to each artist,
the booklets include informative
bios, where you find out these guys
have been playing in Chicago's
clubs for decades.
If you listen to these discs, and
the room fills with smoke and smells
like stale beer, don't worry; the
blues is workin'.
-Andrew J Cahn




Continued from page 5
Their program will start off,'as it
.customarily does, with several sa-
cred works, written specifically for
boys' yoices. They include, Dixit
Dominus by Baldassare Galuppi, and
Verbum Caro by Orlando di Lasso,

whom Strode calls "one of the great
polyphonists of the Renaissance,
along with Byrd and Victoria."
The choir will round out the sa-
cred portion of the program with
compositions by Alessandro Scar-
latti and Johannes Brahms, Exultate
Deo and Ave Maria, respectively.
Alessandro was father to Domenico

Scarlatti, who fathered many well-
known keyboard works. .
The rest of the program, featuring
secular literature, ranges from an
Italian madrigal by Luca Marenzio
to a melodic art song by Schubert. If
you are fortunate enough to see the
Vienna Choir Boys, you'll pay wit-
ness to a five century old legacy of
- musical tradition.

1217 PROSPECT, ANN ARBOR 665-1771
OFF with this ad.


perform Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hill
Auditorium. Tickets range from $10
to $20 and are available at the
University Musical Society or call
764-2538. Rush tickets will be avail-
able Wednesday at 10 a.m..
Save the LP!


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