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November 16, 1993 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-11-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Is

Creativity's nothing
.iew for Yo La Tengo
By ANDY DOLAN
Tonight, Hoboken, New Jersey's Yo La Tengo brings their experimental
yet strangely accessible sound to the Blind Pig. Their latest album, "Painful,"
again showcases their amazing ability to create harsh, mysterious sounds and
blend them effortlessly into the frame of gorgeously crafted pop songs. While
their songs are often simple in a musical sense, Yo La Tengo clearly has an
extraordinary talent for giving their songs a rich, impossibly complex atmo-
spheric element through experimentation, a practice which has allowed them
'o defy comparison.
Listening to their latest effort, it is clear the band - currently comprised
of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew- knows when to sacrifice
a few musical complexities for the sake of great overall sound. As songwriter
Kaplan explained, "We went into the studio with preparation, but at the same
time always wanting to be open to new ideas... I think it's abad idea to decide
what you're going to do and then just go about doing it. It just doesn't sound
like fun! It's between hard and impossible for me to hear something in my head
and then do it. It's more amatterofjumping off a cliff and seeing where I land
... I like seeing where the sound goes and trying to steer it."
Kaplan also gave some examples of how the band's sound evolved during
ie recording of "Painful." "We mixed almost the whole record in January and
decided we didn't like too much of it, so we went back in April and did it
again," he recalled. "The most specific example is on the song 'Double Dare.'
We mixed that in January and everybody was just unhappy with it. They
thought I should redo the rhythm guitar part ... so I just went through and
...It's between hard and Impossible for me to
hear something in my head and then do It. It's
more a matter of jumping off a cliff and seeing
where I land ...'
* -Ira Kaplan
played guitar noise for the whole thing. It created dynamics for the song, which
makes different things jump out and sink in at different times," he explained.
While Kaplan writes the majority of the band's songs, none of the band
members have a specific role as far as the instruments they play, either in the
studio or in a live situation. In fact, you'll see the band members smoothly pull
off several instrument switches between guitar, bass, drums and organ within
the course of a night, adding a dynamic edge to their show. "For each song, it
just seems like the best way to do it!" he said. "I enjoy when bands do that, too,
tt what I don't like is when it takes five minutes for them to do it. That won't
ppen with us ... it just seems disrespectful, because, realistically, you don't
really have to do it."
"This will be our second appearance at the Blind Pig," Kaplan said, with
a touch of sarcasm. "The first time was in 1987, opening for the Volcano Suns.
The club made no mention that we were playing in their advertisements, so we
were really steamed. So we ended up doing a three song set that was mostly
just jamming. It was great, but we probably won't be doing that this time!"
No matter how they decide to do things, Yo La Tengo are simply bursting
with fresh sparks of creativity and adventurousness, things that desperately
need to be thrown in the face of the often tired world of pop music. Tonight,
u'll get to see exactly how Yo La Tengo plans to go about doing it.

Sean Penn and Al Pacino star in the gangster tale, "Carlito's Way," directed by Brian DePalma. Hey, we wouldn't mind knockin' a few back with Al.
cmFo o dit agan

By MICHAEL THOMPSON
About 10 years ago a talented filmmaker and
terrific actor got together and made one of the
most under-appreciated gangster films of the'80s.
Now granted, "Scarface" was hardly any treasure,
but it was far better than average. Well, it's the
'90s now and Al Pacino and Brian DePalma are at
it again. Only this time they did it a whole lot
better.
Carlito's Way
Directed by Brian DePalma; written by
David Koepp; with Al Pacino, Sean Penn
and Penelope Ann Miller.
"Carlito's Way" is a not so simple story of a
gangster who wants to get out of the business.
He's been in prison for five years and has learned
the error of his ways. Now he just has to get
$75,000 and he's out. But as with most gangster
films starring Pacino, the people around him just
keep pulling him back in.

The story, adapted to the screen by David
Koepp, doesn't really give us anything new in
terms of the gangster tale, but that's a good thing
here. The success of the movie rests in the players
and the director. And they pull it off.
Pacino is perfect as a man who really has to
start dealing with the fact that he is a legend in the
mind of the street. For as much as he'd like to get
out, it also seems sort of cool to be worshipped by
people you don't know. Pacino's Carlito is sad,
sophisticated, frustrating and appealing all at the
same time. It's hard not to feel for him even
though he is what he is.
Sean Penn, on the other hand, is scum personi-
fied. His performance is so focused that as soon as
he appears on screen you want to throw up. The
evil lawyers on L.A. Law look like Santa's rein-
deer compared to this punk. Thank goodness Penn
came out of his self-imposed retirement to deliver
a performance that will definitely earn him an
Oscar nomination.
Penelope Ann Miller is also good in that she
and Pacino have a real chemistry that makes the
clich6 romance of the film believable. The scene

they have between the chainlock is awesome.
Fortunately, she's not a some by the numbers
damsel in distress. Miller plays her character with
style and grace.
The real hero of the film, however, is Brian
DePalma. The '90s haven't been so good to him.
"Bonfire of the Vanities" was a mistake from
every angle and "Raising Cain" was a rather large
miscalculation. But here, in "Carlito's Way," the
DePalma of "The Untouchables" and "Blow Out"
is back. He builds the tension of the pool hall
sequence to new, unbearable levels. He's in com-
plete control of his subject matter and his actors
are there to meet him. All the old stuff is still here
too.
So as the year winds down, we are given the
real treats of the theater. "Carlito's Way" is one of
the films that actually manages to be more than
what it probably would have been in the wrong
hands. It's the adventure of a real guy who is tired
and wants to get out. It's wonderful to watch him
trying to get there. And it's also great to see a good
director like DePalma get back on track.

Yo La engo and Tiger Trap will be appearing tonight at the Blind Pig.
Tickets are just $6.50 plus service charge in advance, doors open at
9:30pm, and 19 and over are welcome. Call 996-8555 for more
information.

CARLITO'S WAY is playing at wease.

...ARLITO. .. . .. :WA Yva nlavi jsr v ii rvvA~ a..

Keaton's' MyLife'elicits sympathy and tears

By SARAH STEWART
Michael Keaton's newest film,
"My Life," wastes no time cutting to
the chase. The audience is pushed
head first into a spiritual and realistic
portrayal of a man battling the con-
straints of both life and death. Almost
My Ufa
Directed and written by Bruce Joel
Rubin; with Michael Keaton and
Nicole Kidman.
immediately, it is revealed that this
man, Bob Jones (Keaton), is dying of
cancer and his wife Gail (Nicole
Kidman) is pregnant with their first
child.
To the film's credit, there are no
Hollywood doctors to serve as the
liaison between Bob and the audi-
ence, informing them of the tragedy
of untimely death. Instead, Bob looks

deeply into a video camera and tells
his unborn child, and the audience
too, that his life is coming to an end.
In an effort to utilize every avail-
able resource, Bob makes several vis-
its to Chinese healer Mr. Ho (Haing S.
Nor). The audience is reminded of the
spiritualism behind "Ghost," also pro-
duced by Jerry Zucker, which pre-
vents Patrick Swayze's character from
resting until his wife (Demi Moore) is
safe from his killers. Similarly, Mr.
Ho ultimately heals Bob into realiz-
ing that the key to death is setting his
life straight.
It is this idea that occupies the
majority of "My Life" and once again
proves itself to be a successful con-
cept. Although the time frame of the
movie is confusing, Keaton's struggle
to live long enough to witness the
birth of his son is invigorating with-
out becoming melodramatic. Simi-
larly, his visit to Detroit, his child-

hood home, serves as the film's real-
ity check when Bob is unable to re-
solve years of family conflict in a
single visit. The only possible flaw in
the resolution is his family's final gift
to him, a circus in the backyard, which
lacks the emotional impact it was
undoubtedly meant to create.
Regardless of this mishap, don't
expect to leave with a dry eye;
Keaton's performance makes this vir-
tually impossible. While the situation
is inherently devastating, the honesty
and poignancy of Bob's video-taped
monologues to his unborn son are a
constant reminder that his death is
more than the loss of a life; it is also
the irreplaceable loss of a father's

wisdom that Bob does his best to
preserve for his son. Reminiscent of
Keaton's fathering in "Mr. Mom," he
teaches his son everything from how
to make a lay-up to the merits of his
beautiful mother.
In fact, Bob's touching tales about
Gail are almost more convincing than
Kidman's performance as her. It is
impossible for the character of Gail to
attain a complexity equal to that of
her dying husband, but nonetheless,
Kidman could have been better.
Throughout the film she seems un-
able to maintain a balance between
remaining stoic and displaying her
own grief. There is often the feeling
that a real person in the same situation

would be either more uncontrollably
emotional or less critical of her
husband's way of dealing with his
suffering.
Not that the rest of the movie is
perfect: the effects representative of
Mr. Ho's healing do little to convey
the meaning behind them, the time
frame of the film, based on the pro-
gression of Gail's pregnancy and the
number of months until "death day"
is blurry and perhaps not enough
emphasis is placed on the baby once
he is born, considering the large part
he played while in his mother's uterus.
Overall, though, "My Life" is well
worth a few tears.
MY LIFE is playing at Showcase.

F

Syracuse University
Division of International Programs Abroad
119 Euclid Avenue
Syracuse, New York 13244-4170
1-800-235-3472

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S Y R A C U S E

A B R O A D

Something to write home about!

(just ask Claire)
"It's the most
professional job
you can get as a
student. It's FUN,
y you get to meet a

rv~ N

- Programs in Africa, Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, England,
France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Poland, and Spain
" Prior foreign language not always necessary
" SU credit
" Field trips/traveling seminars
" Internships
" Study for a semester, a year, or a summer
" Home or limited apartment placements

Applications for the Spring 1994 Semester are still being accepted.
IN THE ARMY,
I C CAD T EECT IM %IMAMI%

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