'Romeo' shows that
year holds surprises
By MICHAEL THOMPSON
Oohh ...1993 was a great year. Harrison Ford finally came back while
Arnold received the death he deserved. Spielberg managed to be himself and
then beyond himself at the same time. So is it any doubt that we all have great
expectations for'94? Aren't we all waiting with baited breath for the next great
revisionist western or, perhaps, revisionist film noir thriller?
Well look no further because-al-
* L ready in the second month of the new
Romeo is Bleeding year we have "Romeo is Bleeding,"
the most entertaining new film noir
Written by Hila; Henkin directed since "After Dark My Sweet."
by Peter Medak; with Gary Gidman, "Romeo" has sex, violence, intrigue,
Lena Olin and Juliette Lewis. Rmo a evoecmrge
mass confusion and plenty of laughs.
It's just what a smart audience needs
The plot is not all that new. Boy meets girl. Girl turns out to be very evil.
Girl sets up boy. Boy usually takes the fall, but can also die trying to kill the
girl or even escape scott-free. The latter rarely happens and has to be
outrageous to be believed. Yeah, the plot sounds pretty sexists and back in the
'40s it probably was, but in'the '90s it's clear who's on top.
Director Peter Medak is in top form with "Romeo." One of his previous
works of genius, "The Krays," suggested his ability to create violence without
exploiting it. "Romeo" has plenty of violence in it, but it never becomes the
highlight of the film. Thanks to everyone involved, violence becomes inte-
grated into the story and characters with disturbing credibility.
Oldman is the perfect film noir anti-hero. He's only a few steps above
deserving what he's getting. And he keeps getting it from everybody in the
film. Although the voice-overs at the beginning feel sort of hokey, they
suddenly take a sharp turn as our main character "gets ahead of himself." The
subtle and humorous way that the screenwriter and director challenge our
notions of narrative are witty and slick. Just as Quentin Tarantino toyed with
the idea of seriously messing with narrative structure, "Romeo" gives us
everything with a little more subtlety. And the film suffers nothing at all.
In fact, the bizarre, almost calm way that violence is shown, makes it hard
not to let a little laugh out every now and then. Sure, it may be nervous laughter
at first, but it's genuine before the first reel ends. And there are plenty of little
touches of humor here and there. ,
As with most good and even great films, the little touches are the sprinkles
on the frosting - a guy in a wheelchair, a toe, a trail of drool gleaming in the
light, and watching a woman get out of car. All of these and more come
together and you'll laugh whether you want to or not.
The show, however, is stolen whenever Lena Olin walks onto the screen.
This woman is badder then bad and she loves being that way. Unlike most noir
thrillers it usually takes a little while to figure out that the woman is actually
conniving and perhaps evil, "Romeo" waste no time and insults no one's
intelligence. She's bad and we all know it and love it. And we know that if we
were in Oldman's positions, we'd gladly be doing the same thing.
After a good year, it's great to see that perhaps the new year holds a few
more surprises. And with a little blood here, a little intrigue there and laughs
at every possible turn, "Romeo is Bleeding" is hard to beat.
ROMEO IS BLEEDING is playing at Showcase.
Getting to know Rodan
and their favorte veg es
The Might ihyBstnseioietetu at ad intti ht iete wy
Bosstones ska hyMgt osoe ptmzetetu at ad inthi ho ierhmway into m-a jrs
By BRIAN GNATT
They came from Boston and
they're bad in plaid. There really is no
way to describe the Mighty Mighty
Bosstones. "A good rock 'n' roll band,
maybe," lead singer Dicky Barrett
suggested. "We let other people cat-
So how do you categorize The
Mighty Mighty Bosstones? Hard-core
ska is a good description, but the best
would probably be "unique." The
eight-man Bostonian band has the
typical guitar, bass, drums and vo-
cals, but add two saxophones, a trom-
bone and a "Bosstone" and you get a
very different product than the typi-
cal "rock 'n' roll band."
"The ska from the late '70s and
early '80s are very important to us,"
bassist Joe Gittleman said. "The Spe-
cials, Bad Manners, English Beat,
Madness and stuff like that is shit I
grew up listening to. But at the same
time we were all listening to punk
rock, so it's all important to us. Early
hard-core is very important and hard
rock too-AC/DC, Motorhead. Some
of the guys are more into jazz and
that's starting to play a slightly larger
part in the big picture."
Another way the Bosstones have
created an image for themselves is
with the way they dress. Go to a
concert, and all you see is plaid. The
band is wearing plaid and many of the
fans are wearing plaid - sport jack-
ets, pants, bow ties, hats, anything
that is plaid.
"It was really nothing more than a
cheap gimmick when we first started,"
Gittleman said. "We were terrible,
and we wanted to offend people with
sight as well as sound, so we just
dressed in tacky clothes. Dicky started
it, and it just kept. It's just something
we like to do."
. One of the Bosstones' most im-
pressive aspects are their exceptional
live shows. After touring for almost
four years straight, the band has per-
fected what the concert experience
should be. The thrilling and vigorous
atmosphere of the performers and fans
make their concerts unsurpassable.
"We get on stage, go crazy for an
hour, and that's it," Barrett said.
To help get fans pumped and re-
ally into the show, band member Ben
Carr has the job "Bosstone." He
dances, jumps, dives and also sings
some back-up vocals. So is Ben the
luckiest guy in rock 'n' roll? "Ben
wasjust a pal, and was a roadie for us,
and we wanted to bring him along.
So, we just kind of created his role,"
Gittleman said. "Ben is the second
luckiest. The luckiest is actually the
bass player from Nirvana. Krist
Novoselic is just kind of a goof."
One major problem the Bosstones
have with their concerts is the style of
crowd control many venues employ.
"We feel like no one should have to
tell anybody how to behave if they are
paying money to get into a show,"
Gittleman stated. "The club feels dif-
ferently obviously, and maybe under-
standably, for insurance reasons or
whatever, but we don't like to see it.
We feel bad if someone breaks their
leg at our show, but they knew what
they were getting themselves into. I
feel worse when I see a bouncer beat-
ing the shit out of somebody."
The Bosstones' most recent al-
bum, "Don't Know How to Party,"
made them the first American ska
artist signed on a major label.
Switching from Taang! Records
to Mercury was the toughest decision
they were ever forced to make as a
"We were scared, but it worked
out to be for the best," Barrett said.
"We always want to be an indepen-
dent band and we have completely
independent hearts. We were afraid
of the big rock 'n' roll machine. Mer-
cury allowed us the creative freedom
we needed and asked for."
With plans to start recording again
in the spring, the Bosstones have been
writing several new songs. "The mu-
sic is always going to be similar,"
Gittleman claimed. "From 'Devil's
Night Out' to our last record, I think
(the music is) similar because you can
never lose influences. It will evolve,
but will never be a drastic change. It's
all from real life. It's nothing too deep
or overly political. It deals with social
issues we feel affected by and it talks
about friends we have or experiences
that we've had. We just try to write
stuff that we like, and keep it interest-
ing and short."
Are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
successful? "We don't have to work
day jobs," said Barrett. "It's a lot
more successful than a working class
kid like myself thought possible. I
don't have to pound nails at this
present time. It all depends; you take
your successes and your victories one
at a time, and so far everything has
gone good with us. We're happy as a
band, I know that."
THE MIGHTY MIGHTY
BOSSTONES will play February 10
at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. Call
961-MELTfor ticket info.
By JOSH HERRINGTON
"Kosher punk rock." In the words
of Rodan's bassist/singer Tara Jane
O'Neil, this is the term which keeps
some bands merrily from the buzz
bin, "alternative asphyxiation" delin-
eating commercial punk. If nothing
else, this Louisville menage remains
on the fringe (or some may say cut-
ting edge) of punk's modern evolu-
Most of the indie audience were
introduced to O'Neil, drummer Kevin
Coultas and guitar/vocalists Jason
Noble and Jeff Mueller through a
delightful instrumental called
"Darjeeling," which appeared on the
seven-inch "Inclined Plane" along
with the likes of Tsunami, Superchunk
It seems as though Rodan is quite
fond of indulging Sonic Youth-style
instrumental tumult, as songs like
to-be-released album "Rusty" sug-
gest. When asked about this inclina-
tion, Tara responded with, "I don't
think that much about it at all. I just
happen to write things that stay in-
strumental. Sometimes words de-
tract." Jason's comment on the issue
was simply that, as the brevity of the
statement suggests, "words should be
used sparingly, only when you need
Rodan has only been around for a
couple years; "Rusty" is their debut
album. Jason and Jeff were originally
members of a rap/rock group named
King G and the J Crew. Tara added,
"they still are extraordinary rappers."
They picked up Kevin and Tara and
joined the Louisville music scene
along with "a lot of people playing in
their basements." Obscurity may
reign, but who says you have to be
from Chapel Hill to make good punk
As could be expected, when asked
what inspired them to enter the music
ranks, a variety of names were men-
tioned. For Jason, "early to late"
(what?) Police and Foreigner's "Hot
Blooded" circulated the creative
juices, but for Kevin it was Waylon
Jennifigs' "Greatest Hits" that made
him want to make some noise. Al-
though Tara chose Grace Slick as her
inspiration, she realized her calling
listening to "Eight Days a Week." "I
got a new tape thing for Christmas,
and I taped the song over and over and
over for like 30 minutes."
After all the preliminary back-
ground stuff, the band was eager to
get down and dirty and talk about
what vegetable they would like to be
and why. Jason happily selected the
leek, adding that "It's not as abrasive
as a vidalia." Kevin chose the mush-
room, because he's "into psychedelics
(said with much bemused laughter)
... like those black-light glow post-
ers." Tara admitted, "I'm pretty unde-
cided. I want to be cheese, but I can't
be cheese. Ithinkl'mjustgonnaleave
it at that."
These ramblings might not speak
too directly about their musicianship,
but that you can find out yourself this
Wednesday. If you're looking for
some fine punk cacophony, stuff your
ears with cotton and check them out,
or support independent labels and buy
"Rusty" when it comes out in March.
RODAN will be opening for Rocket
From the Crypt on Wednesday at
the Michigan Union Ballroom.
Tickets are $6.50 and the doors
open at 8p.m.
Arts is looking for
writers in Fine Arts,
Books and Theater. Call
Nima or Melissa at
763-0379 for info.
Time ticking away...
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