by Michael Thompson
Fade in.Asmoky, somewhat preten-
tious bar in the midst of angst-ridden
Ann Arbor. Two guys. Chain smokers.
The Seattle look. Yes, they are filmmak-
ers. Deal with it.
e Welcome Steve Chbosky and Mark
Wilson both founding members of
American Platypus, Ltd. The movie,
described by one of the writer's friends
as "aroad movie in one town," is called
Ibe Four Corners of Nowhere." And
they are shooting it right here in Ann
Arbor,this summer. Steve, aUSC filmic
writing grad, wrote the film (in only
three weeks) and will also direct it.
Mark will play Duncan, the drifter of
"Well, I guess the movie's about
us," says Steve. "Notnecessarily us. It's
. set in Ann Arbor for one reason. Ann
Arbor is like the perfect place because
jhe people here take their lives really,
'really seriously but at the same time,
they're really, really funky. So in that
conflict, you can have a blast. It's about
these people our age, in Ann Arbor."
Mark adds, "From the responses
that we've gotten back, what this film is
going to do is, for lack of a better term,
almost explain what (our generation) is
all about without feeling the necessity
to do it. It kind of puts it on the table and
says, this is what we are. Accept it. We
;;don't have to go anywhere,, we're just
here. Let us figure out our shit."
But it's not "Slacker." As Steve ex-
plains, "'Slacker' wandered, like the
title indicates. But this movie has a real
story, a real purpose. It's integrated. All
the characters, they serve a purpose,
everybody has a story, and everybody is
coming from somewhere. What's com-
ing together is all of their thoughts
Show Me Your Heart
Get on your feet, people! The first
track of this album, "Love Can Be
Enough," is pure '70s disco. Puton that
white suit, smile like John Travolta and
,point that finger high! Heavy beats,
rapid tempo, all that's missing is the
strobe light. Well, that was fun. Now sit
back down. This is where "Show Me
Your Heart" begins its descent down-
ward intotheabyss calledboring.As the
tempo decreases, a very overproduced,
r&b-flavored dance music arrives. The
!i)xtures of repetitive cloruses, back-
ground singers, rap and uncomplicated
pseudo-motivational lyrics (nine of 11
are about love) are almost reminiscent
of the time not as good. (Never thought
you'd hear that sentence, didja?). I will
say, however, that one of the ballads,
"All Because of You," qualifies as cute.
And hey, the cover offers some fun.
The beautiful, long-haired, lipsticked
Andrew leans forward Sears-Portrait-
Studio-style, and let me tell you, he
would have been really cool back in like
1982. Unfortunately, while you and I
both know that we are in the nineties
now, poor Andrew hasn't caught on.
The flashback might have worked if his
songs were strong enough to sustain it,
nmakers pay dues
through this one character, Duncan, this
philosophical nomad. He walks into
town, he stays there one week, he fig-
uresoutAnnArborandhe leaves. That's
the whole thing." When asked if that's
what happened to him, Steve replies,
"No, not at all."
Aside from Hal Hartley, Steve cites
a road trip as the major inspiration for
'From the responses
that we've gotten back,
what this film is going
to do is, for lack of a
better term, almost
explain what (our
generation) is all
the film, Portland being the height of it
all. "All of this traveling was just an
inspiration. But the inspiration was to
find the answer, at least one that I could
live with, because I was just crazy for
years. And I was thinking about the
Declaration of Independence and I said,
all right, the life, O.K. thatmakes sense.
Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And I went, wait a minute. I've been
pursuing happiness for a long time.
Grades, school, fucking relationships.
You name it. And I never got it. Happi-
ness is not something you pursue, it's
there. It's like a right; you exercise it."
Another inspiration for the film were
friends of the writer / director. "I didn't
cast anyone because I wanted to help
my friends. I want to help all of my
friends, but they are part of the inspira-
tion for this film."
The film isn't, an exercise to neces-
sarily move on to bigger and better
things. "I wrote the script ... and I felt it
deserved to be made. It's like I take
some of the credit for it, but I don't care
about me, I care about it, period."
When askedaboutfilm school Steve
says that it's great. "(USC) was pretty
cool. The filmic writing school is kind
of like avery small version of this place.
Just kind of this incestuous, weird fam-
But film school rules are meant tobe
broken. "I just threw out the rules for
this one, and that's why it's good. (I)
didn't plan a thing and it's the best
structure, this is my seventh screenplay,
and it's the only one I like, the only one
It was that simple, Steve explains. "
...I sentthe scriptand it started." It. The
hype. Batman insignias. Who is
people (that we sent it to) kept saying
how good it was," Mark commented,
"but added that we hadn't 'paid our
dues."'Steveadded, "If theyknew what
we have gone through in order to reach
the point we're at now ... they'd know
that we have paid our dues."
With onlythe casting of a few small
parts left, pre-production is all but fin-
ished. "Shooting begins July 27th and
runs through the 31st of August." The
money, however, is coming together,
slowly. "At this point we could do it for
50,000 or 400. The idea was let's make
it now. Let's basically record you. As
bad as the direction might be, as bad as
this [situation] might be, we just em-
brace it knowing we have certain limi-
tations. And with that, you-you can't
Pay your dues, believe the hype.
Four in 94.
Paul Mercurio promises to rival Danny Terio as far as cute dancer hunkdom goes.
'Ballroom': strictly success
butas itstands, allhe'sgotisanoutdated
sequined leather jacket. Sorry, but that
ain't gonna do it.
Julian Cope has been a lot of things
in his musical lifetime, from the starry-
eyed leader of power popsters Teardrop
Explodes in the early '80s to the envi-
ronmental visionary of"Peggy Suicide"
andfrom thejitterydrug addictof 1989's
"Skellington" to the cross-loving critic
of the Christian church on his latest,
Sixteen songs long, and divided into
three "phases," thealbum is a70 minute
meditation on life and "natural" reli-
gion. "Embrace the cross. Reclaim the
cross," Cope writes in the liner notes.
"The Christians only want it as a
Sound pretentious? It is. But since
thedeath of JimMorrison, theworldhas
been sorely lackingacharismatic source
of pompous music and self-righteous
poetry and Cope is trying desperately to
fill that role. Witness, for example, the
tasty, but melodramatic "Fear Loves
This Place," or the 10 minute "The
Tower" in which Cope intones "Until I
was old, I was very old and I was an
elder of the tribe."
Unfortunately, while phase one and
two contain some of Cope's best mate-
rial, phase two is a throwaway, with the
possible exception of "Julian H. Cope"
in which the narrator shamelessly com-
pares himself to the New Testament
figure who shares his initials.
Sure, perhaps Cope should tackle
less weighty subject matter on future
albums and sure, he should definitely
hire a new photographer, but he cer-
tainly means well and when he moans
"My God, my God, baaaaaaah" on the
not-quite-chilling coda "Peggy Suicide
is Missing," he is obviously taking him-
self seriously, even if no one else is, and
that counts for something.
Grant Lee Buffalo
The debut album of the year has
arrived, courtesy of Grant Lee Buffalo.
out desolation and wry social commen-
tary, borrows just as easily from the
See RECORDS, Page 9
by Alison Levy
It's nearing the end of the semester and finals are close at
hand. For many students, procrastination sets in and they try
to find basically anything to do in order to put off studying.
But cleaning out your whole apartment isn't very fun and
hangovers are a waste of a day. One suggestion might be to
Directed by Baz Luhrman; written by Baz Luhrman and Craig
Pearce; with Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice.
check out the Australian film, "Strictly Ballroom." This
light-hearted comedy can best be described as what might
have happened if John Waters directed "Dirty Dancing." It's
highly entertaining and not too taxing on your only remain-
ing brain cell.
The film begins as a faux-documentary, focusing on Scott
Hastings (Paul Mercurio) and his partner Liz Holt (Gia
pionship. But in a competitive tragedy, rivaling the Tai
Babalonia / Randy Gardner incident, they get caught in a
corner by the nasty Ken Railings (John Hannan), and Scott
shockingly breaks into his own "crowd-pleasing" moves.
Oh, the horror. Anyway, his mother is in shock, the ballroom
dancing federation is in a tizzy, his partner dumps him for
Ken and the prestigious Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Ballroom
Dancing Championship is only two weeks away.
Enter Fran. She's aless-than-attractive beginner who has
been dancing with women for the past two years. However,
she's hell-bent on becoming Scott's new partner. Scott
reluctantly trains with Fran, behind the backs of everyone
else, who are busy pushing glamour girls on Scott.
Most ofthe film's charmcomes from the tongue-in-cheek
way it looks at itself. If the filmmakers had taken themselves
even a little bit seriously, this film would be a dog. For
example, when Liz goes to break it off with Scott, he asks her
what she wants. She replies, for Ken's partner, Pam Short
(Kerry Shrimpton) "to break both her legs and Ken to come
ask me to be his new partner." We cut away to Pam Short
getting in a car accident and then return to the dance studio.
Ken enters and asks Liz to be his new partner.
This is the tone of "Strictly Ballroom," which pokes fun
at the filmic manipulation of time and events. If you want it
to happen it will. Because of this consistency, you never
think, "Oh right! Like that could ever happen." Even a dance
on the roof, in front of a huge Sparklette Coca Cola sign, and
to the happenin' sounds of Cindy Lauper's "Time After
Time," seems quite normal.
One of the best attributes of the film is the superb acting.
Mercurio and Morice are both outstanding in their first film
roles. Mercurio has been a principal with the Sydney Dance
Company since 1983. Also a choreographer, he perfectly
captures the ballroom rebel who perhaps has aspirations of
being the next John Travolta. Morice too, is winning as the
ugly duckling who becomes the romantic heroine. It's hard
to believe that she's the same person at the end. Basically, she
makes Jennifer Grey look really dopey.
Other standout performances are given by the late Pat
Thomson, as Scott's mother, Shirley. Having been thwarted
top honors at the Pan-Pacific herself, she has pinned all her
hopes and aspirations on her son. With her big yellow hair,
tacky clothes, metallic eyeshadow and manic delivery given
through stained and gritted teeth, she's anightmarish picture
of a really pushy Mom.
The intensity of the characters is due in part to the
fantastic camerawork. All the extreme-close-ups do a won-
der of reavealing these people's desires and warts. And the
tacky production design goes a long way in backing this up.
Nothing is half-way done, it's all way over the top.
It isn't likely that real ballroom competition is this enjoy-
able, but it may be this fierce. And "Strictly Ballroom" is a
guaranteed pleasure. Besides, if you take a study-vacation to
see this little gem from Australia, you can keep your mind off
the books for another hour and half. But you really should
clean your apartment anyway. It's disgusting.
STRICTLY BALLROOM is playing at the Michigan
_ .: : 9
The big one's o
nly 12 hours away. You
paid more attention in
ut tonight you've gotta
. First, you better keep
hose eyes from closing.
Revive with Vivarin.
Safe as coffee, it
helps keep you
awake and mentally
alert for hours.
So when your most
difficult problem to
solve is how to
stay awake...make it
a Vivarin night!
J - "
^ n .
00, /' xt?
/" h ,
.N : .: