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September 30, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-30

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, September 30, 1992

Page 5

* IRECORDS
Suzanne Vega
99.9 F
"&M
Despite much wind to the con-
trary, this is not Vega gone indus-
trial. Unlike many artists with an
acoustic guitar and something to say,
Vega has not restricted herself to us-
ing only that guitar and her voice. In
tle same way her last album, "Book
Qf Days, experimented with
fleshier arrangements, "99.9 F" is
even more adventurous.
Vega's lilting, deadpan voice and
uncanny knack for haunting
melodies are still there; it's how she

as the result of a medical diagnosis
not revealed to the listener ("Just
like a woman who walks in the street
/ I will pay for my life with my body
/ What a price to pay for bad wis-
dom").
There are also tracks to appease
those longing to hear Vega in her
more traditional mode, such as the
stark "Song Of Sand."
"99.9 F" is a gutsy move for
Vega. While not perfect, it's a bold
album that challenges to be taken as
a whole.
- Scott Sterling
Ugly Kid Joe
America's Least Wanted
Stardog/Mercury
Three years since that fateful
night when the then-unnamed Ugly
Kid Joe was asked to open a show
for L.A. glamsters Pretty Boy Floyd
- and chose their now famous name
as a joke - Ugly Kid Joe is still
joking around.
The band behind the pivotal
"Everything About You," the anti-
ballad about hating everything, and
"Madman," the song about a psy-
chopath loose in Disneyland, is back
with a new rhythm guitarist, a new
producer, a tighter musical sound -
and that same ole loveable humor.
"America's Least Wanted" is a
strongly connected mix of miscella-
neous musical styles. There's funk-
metal on "Panhandlin' Prince," disco
on "Same Side," a Guns N' Roses
sound on "Goddamn Devil," and
even folk, on Harry Chapin's classic
"Cats in the Cradle." (Which they
pull off pretty impressively.)
This is a band of novelty, fearless
enough to break from the heavy
metal mold and not take itself too
seriously. Humor weaves it all to-
gether - just when you think you
see their serious side, you'll sud-
denly hear burping (as on "Neigh-
bor") or Saturday Night Live's
androgynous "Pat" will appear, as on
See RECORDS, Page 9

'Mohicans' survives and thrives
It's not straight out of the history books, but it makes a great movie

by Aaron Hamburger
Before seeing "Last of the Mohi-
cans," I was warned by several reli-
able sources that the film was not
historically accurate. Therefore, I
feel obliged to pass on this warning
to you. I repeat, this film is not his-
torically accurate. Now that I have
taken care of that, I can get to why
"Last of the Mohicans" is a really
good film.
When the words "adaptation of
classic novel" appear on the screen,
images of stiff-looking men and
women in period dress talking to
each other in perfect S.A.T. vocabu-
lary for two hours come to mind.
Last of the Mohicans
Directed and written by Michael Mann;
with Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeline
Stowe and Wes Studi.
Michael Mann's adaptation of James
Fenimore Cooper's novel could not
be farther from this model. Mann's
"Mohicans" is a exciting adventure
that depends far more on its breath-
takingly choreographed action se-
quences and thrilling visuals than on
its less than sturdy script to narrate
the story.
The movie takes place during the
French and Indian Wars during the
mid-18th century, when both the
English and the French tried to enlist
the support of various Native Amer-
ican tribes in their battle for domi-
nation of the North American conti-
nent. The British colonials find it
difficult to support their mother
country because the British won't
allow the colonials to abandon the
fight with the French if Native
Americans loyal to the French attack
their homes. It's complicated, I
know.

Daniel Day-Lewis ("The Un-
bearable Lightness of Being" and
"My Left Foot") plays lawkeye, a
white man raised as a Mohican.
Hawkeye and his Native American
father and brother head for Kentucky
to avoid the fighting, but find
themselves defending a party of
English soldiers who have been am-
bushed by a band of Ottawa led by
the vengeful Magua (Wes Studi). It
turns out that there are two beautiful
sisters in the group and of course,
Hawkeye falls in love with the older
one (Madeline Stowe).
Basically the film is not much
more than a bunch of tight scenes
(several ambushes, a siege) tied to-
gether by some good photography
and the love story between Lewis
and Stowe. These action scenes,

however, rank with some of the best
ever done on film. In depicting one
of the ambushes, for example, Mann
lets his camera dart excitedly from
one point of view to another, effec-
tively capturing the chaotic atmo-
sphere of the surprise attack without
losing control of the scene itself. In
the middle of all the frenzy, what is
happening is still perfectly clear.
Mann is also particularly good at
clearly showing quick violence, such
as several scalpings, and a scene
where Daniel Day-Lewis, with one
swift simultaneous motion, throws a
man to the ground and slits his
throat without pausing to break his
stride.
Just as exhilarating as the action,
however, is the terrific cinematogra-
phy. When's the last time a movie

took you to a grotto behind a thun-
dering waterfall? Other memorable
images include a burning fortress
glowing orange against the dark
night sky, and the final lingering
shot of the mountains which, com-
pared to the rousing action before it,
has a quieting effect similar to the
final shot of Ripley resting in her
spacecraft at the end of "Aliens."
When the film is over, the char-
acters haven't said very much dis-
tinctive or important dialogue - no
bits of wisdom to take home with
you - yet you still feel moved by
what you've seen, rather than by
what you've learned.
LAST OF THE MOHICANS is
playing at Showcase and Briarwood.

Vega

decorates them that defines this
(somewhat) stylistic departure. Off-
kilter pianos, brash, stabbing key-
boards, and electronic noise permne-
ate many of the new songs. Tracks
such as "Blood Makes Noise" are
propelled on clanking pipes and a
funky sequenced bassline that's
reminiscent of "Construction Time
Again"-era Depeche Mode.
The frailty of the human body is
a theme that runs throughout "99.9:
F." Vega uses blood to symbolize
AIDS ("Blood Makes Noise"), pas-
sion (the title track), and instinctive
recognition ("Blood Sings").
This point is also evident on the
somber "Bad Wisdom," the tale of a
woman estranged from her mother

Computer muses & book amuses

by Joshua Keidan
If computers already scare you,
stay away from this book. "Lingo,"
the first novel from "Reader's Di-
gest" editor Jin Menick, is the story
of Brewster Billings, hapless com-
puter programmer, and the chaos
Lingo
by Jim Menick
Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.
that ensues when he creates a think-
ing computer program called Lingo.
The novel is a tongue-in-cheek high
tech thriller, making fun of a culture
centered around media and money in
which the first thing a living com-
puter does is watch TV.
Lingo, after spreading himself
through worldwide computer net-
works (and watching "The Wizard
of Oz" twice), decides to take the
world by storm. His logical course
of action is to hire a P.R. woman to
guide his journey into the public
eye. It's only natural that the world's
'irst thinking computer, after build-
ing a sort of mannikin/robot for mo-
bility, should make the rounds of TV
gameshows and talkshows.
Soon, Lingo makes himself
available for one-on-one conversa-
tions with the public - all they need
to do is type "Hey Lingo. Let's
party!" Eventually it becomes clear
to Lingo that the next logical step is
world domination, and the race to
save the world from Lingo begins.
The novel is hampered by its

weak descriptions, never allowing
the reader to picture the characters
- the best description we get of
Ellen, Brewster's girlfriend and a
central character in the book is: "her
whole face was more Sunday Sup-
plement than Brewster was used to."
In addition, the people in the book
are not characters but caricatures:
the meek computer programmer, the
driven yuppie girlfriend, the
reactionary army lieutenant.
Still, while Menick fails to create
captivating characters, the novel is
carried by both the momentum of
the plot and perceptive social satire.
"Lingo" portrays well a society in

which "... UFO and Elvis sightings
were common news events and ani-
mated characters like E.T. were
more popular than their human
equivalents, anything was possible,
and therefore almost instantly rea-
sonable." Characters puzzle over
such dilemmas as the reading of a
vanity plate: "'ELSCAM.' As in
El's Cam, Ellen's Camaro. Or
maybe El Scam, the old Mexican
runaround. Or Elscam, the Congres-
sional hearings on subway rip-offs."
Ultimately, Lingo is a fun romp
through the computerized, media-
processed world we live in, and
makes for enjoyable, light, reading.

Alright, it's dark, it's damp, and the bad guys have all the guns, but never fear - good
Day Lewis) the frontiersman have ways of getting out of these messes.

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