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March 16, 1993 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-03-16

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily Tuesday, March 16,1993 Page 5

Dancer, Prancer, Cannes and A2

by Alison Levy
There's Dancer and Prancer, and Ca
Venice, and Toronto and Sundance, but do
... the most famous film festival of ther
Ann Arbor Film Festival, of course. So, ok
the most famous, but unless you've been s
those frequent flyermiles like amaniac, iti
accessible. The local event is a showcase
independent and experimental filmmak
ning with an opening reception Tuesday
ending with a viewing of the winners o
night. In addition, there are also free
seminars and screenings of the awards j
work. While it might sound heavy and p
this year's selection committee has done
lent job of gathering films from around
that are artistically spectacular as well
entertaining.
There seems to be a strong theme ofc
the 31stFestival in all four categories: doc
animation, experimental and narrative. C
best is a self-described rant by Lisa
Vancouver. "Did You Do The Napkin T
hilarious seven-minute color piece inN
director focuses on a faceless waitress
working as the background for her strea
sciousness / repetitive / sarcastic mono
moaning the joys of waitressing, remi
Maryn Cadell.
Another standout is Joan C. Gratz'
indescribable "Mona LisaDescending A
Using her own technique of "clay-paintin
developed at art and architecture schoo

created a breathtaking masterpiece of the world's
annes and masterpieces. Beginning with Impressionism, Gratz
you recall explores the history of art through all its phases with
n all? The artist portraits, and their famous works, melting into
ay, it's not each other and evolving to the next movement.
tacking up Thousands of hours went into the creation of this
is the most Academy -Award winning film. It's breathtaking.
for 16mm Anyone who has tried those Super Lemon F/X
ers begin- candies will identify with Jessica Yu's campy black
night and and white "Sour Death Balls." Set to a mambo beat
n Sunday she sadistically offers her various subjects the mouth-
afternoon watering, eye-tearing candy. With a static medium
ury's own shot, she captures their "pain" on film. The children
retentious, participating in the torture are especially funny.
an excel- Pennsylvania's Ferne Perlstein's film is sure to
the world interest the graduating, financially-strapped student.
as highly "Squatting" is a wry documentary about a guy who
feels it's his job to leach off society for his basic
comedy in needs. (Unfortunately, showering is not one of them).
umentary, The seven minute piece is eerily inspirational.
One of the Bergman fans will simply adore Kate Julia
Doyle of Goodnight's Ingmaresque film, "A Goat named
bps?!" is a Tension." The plot (?) revolves around two lesbians
which the who have lost their goat named ... (surprise!)
diligently Tension. Don't be scared, but it's actually based on
um-of con- a true story.
)logue be- New York's Jeffrey Scher entered a brilliant
niscent of animated piece called "Milk of Amnesia," but it's
virtually indescribable and shall remain that way.
s virtually Let's just say it's aesthetically riveting. Other films
Staircase." such as Bruce Spangler's "New World Murder",
g" that she David Michalak's "Who Stole The Keeshka" and
l, she has Eva Ilona Brzeski's "This Unfamiliar Place," handle
I l RC ORD1

subjects like the Gulf War, a memorial to a dead
brother, and a questioning of the Holocaust for
personal identity with varying degrees of intensity.
All of these films are competing for prizes which
include the $1500 Best of the Festival Award, a Tom
Berman Award of $1250 for Most Promising Film-
maker, the Larry Kasdan Award for Best Narrative
film and several memorial awards covering different
categories.
And, if you are still not convinced to check the
film festival out, here are a few more reasons why
you should. It has more culture than that expired
strawberry yogurt in the back of your refrigerator
(way back ... behind the salsa), thus giving you
something legitimate to debate over a double-mocha
cappuccino. Also, these filmmakers are artists. They
aren't sons and daughters of influential people who
think $40 million and a bad script starring tempera-
mental actors will bring you box-office success and
a 30 second plug on "Entertainment Tonight." Plus,
the films range anywhere in length from four to
sixteen minutes, with most somewhere in the middle.
That's the beauty of it. If there's something you don't
like, it's over quickly and relatively painlessly. Be-
sides, since the entry deadline on February 15, Vicki
Honeyman and her fearless staff have been relent-
lessly screening all 300 entries in order to select the
ones to be shown at the Michigan. If they can
enthusiastically sit through approximately ninety
hours of film, you can definitely handle at least one
night.
THE ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL is playing
through Sunday at the Michigan Theater.

An enthusiastic member of the audience at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Richman: a wealth of honesty

by Tom Erlewine ____

In many circles in the rock & roll
world, Jonathan Richman's name is leg-
endary. Through their numerous live
performances and self-titled debut al-
bum, his first band, the Modern Lovers,
had an enormous influence on the punk
and new-wave movement in the late
70s. Yet when the album was finally
released in 1976, five years after it was
recorded, Richman had changed direc-
tions. Since the late 70s, Richman's
music has been quietly rocking, sub-
dued electric guitar-based rock & roll
that appeals to audiences of all ages and
backgrounds and has gained quite a cult
following. Richman has a genuine in-
nocence in his music that separates him
from the rest of the rock world. On
Tuesday night, Richman will bring his
latest tour to the Blind Pig.
At his concerts, Richman is sup-
ported only by a drummer. "I've been
doing solo shows for the last five years,"
he says. "I said,'Jonathan, what do you
need?' I said to myself, 'I need a
backbeat.' That's all I need." Different
drummers support Richman at each gig;
his friend / producer Brennan Totten is
playing with him in the midwest. "Al-
most all the drummers on 'I, Jonathan'
have played with me live in the past six
months in different parts of the coun-
try.
Although Richman's first album,
"The Modern Lovers," isgenerallycon-
sidered as one of the greatest rock & roll
albums ever made ("Rolling Stone"
called it one of the 100 best records of
the last 20 years in 1987), he is not fond
of it. "We could have done it so much
better live," explains Richman. "Except
for'Hospital,' which was about as good
as it got, and 'Pablo Picasso' - that
came out about as good as it ever got.
But we did the rest of the stuff so much
better on a good night. To me, it's just a
bunch of demos, which is what it was."
Richman prefers his new album, "I,
Jonathan" - "my favorite record that I
have so far yet made.".
Most musicians will claim their lat-
estalbumis theirbest, but with Richman
the statement makes some sense. Since
the Modern Lovers dissolved nearly 20
years ago, Richman has not performed.
the minimalist guitar rockers exempli-

fied by the first album's "Roadrunner,"
"She Cracked," "Astral Plane," "I'm
Straight," "Girlfriend" and "Pablo
Picasso." The Modern Lovers took the
stripped-down sound of the Velvet Un-
derground, removed all of Lou Reed's
cynicism and grit, and replaced it with
Richman's wide-eyed, occasionally
geeky, persona of an average guy. Ever
since, Richman has moved away from
the angst, minimalism, and volume of
his first band and has made very inno-
cent, light-hearted music inspired by
late-50s and early 60s rock & roll.
Judging by these standards, which
represent Richman moreaccurately than
the first demos, "I, Jonathan," is cer-
tainly his best yet. Richman's lyrics are
clear and direct, without any dark un-
dercurrent other than a slight melan-
choly apparent on "That Summer Feel-

swinging; everyone involved sounds
sessions, playing drums on "Parties in
the U.S.A."
Richman's performance at the Blind
Pig should be exactly what he promises:
"I would call it a rock & roll show that
is supposed to be like a beach party -
intimate yet fun."An addedbonus to his
time inAnnArboris a Jonathan Richman
look-alike contest at Schoolkids'
Records. Winners will receive akaraoke
machine, Richman's Rounder Records
catalogue, and tickets to the concert.
Richman has never participated in such
a contest before, and says it should be
fun but, "it will be disturbing if they
look exactly like me because then I
wouldn't know who to give my falafel
sandwich to."

Exquisite Corpses
from p.s. 122
;What Next? Recordings
O.K.,sure, so modernity is officially
dead. And the unanswered question of
avant-gardismisrenderedmoot... sim-
ply a quaint notion reinvented by each
generation to convince themselves that
they are doing something really differ-
ent. Current composer-hipsters are left
looking quizzically at theirfeet, chicken
scratching at the musical material accu-
mulated in the present in hopes of turn-
ing up some overlookedkernels of"new-
ness" worth digesting.
Since deconstructionism destroyed
all of its own material, it has become
pointless to look toward the future to get

the jump on "the next big thing." Mod-
ern minded composers have begun look-
ing through their legs for direction from
the past, but they are faced with the
impossible decision between full blown
Romanticism and Naked City-esque
post-modern pie fights, where musical
genres whirl by faster than a quick
wristed spin of the FM dial (or free-
form radio on fast-forward).
Yet, a slight enlightened few have
paradoxically turned to formality for
freedom. While some jazz-schooled
composers subvert the autocracy of tran-
scription and orchestration by incorpo-
rating improvisation /chance into their
notations, othermusicians from the East
Coast isle ofsanity experimentwith less

conventional outlines fororder. Exquis-
ite Corpses pushes 30 of NYC's most
unconventional musicians onto shaky
ground by forcing each to improvise
against partial duets, inverted solos and
flashing windows of sound.
Like a surrealist chain letter, the
original game exquisite corpses is a
process of collective composition, in
which players base their contributions
on bits or hints of their predecessors'
motifs. On this premise, the musicians
erect short improvised sound collages,
ranging from group bozobursts to sub-
tly intertwined duets. The music shoots
off along individual tangents and con-
verges on briefly contained lucidity.
See RECORDS, Page 7

Although Richman's
first album, 'The
Modern Lovers,' is
generally considered as
one of the greatest rock
& roll albums ever
made ... , he is not fond
of it.
ing," "Parties in the U.S.A." and "Twi-
light in Boston" and helplessness of
"You Can't Talk to the Dude"; it's a
good-time, party record. Richman
doesn't have any favorite song on the
album: "Ireally like'You Can't Talk to
the Dude' and 'Parties in the U.S.A.'
and'I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar'
- in fact, it's my favorite album be-
cause I can't think of anything I don't
like on it." The entire album is loose and
swinging; everyone involved sounds
like they're having a blast. Richman's
17-year old son, Jason, sat in on the

JONATHAN RICHMAN will perform
at the Blind Pig on Tuesday, March
16. Doors open at 9:30, tickets are
$8.00 in advance. The look-alike
contest begins at 4:00 PM at
Schoolkids' Records.

Richman

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