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March 30, 1994 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1994-03-30

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8- The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 30, 1994

Wenders comes close but still too far

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
"Faraway, So Close!" continues
the recent trend in film of beginning
with the original and ending up with
Faraway, So Close!
Written by Wim Wenders and
Richard Reitinger; directed by
Wenders; with Otto Sander, Willem
Dafoe and Nastassia Kinski.
the conventional. "Blue," "Reality
Bites" and now the latest Wim

Wenders film begin with ambition
and become wasted potential.
To say that "Faraway" is original
may be misleading because it is the
sequel to Wenders' film "Wings of
Desire." "Faraway, So Close!" is also
about angels. The two films share
many of the same characters, but you
don't need to see one before the other.
Although why Peter Falk is the only
mortal who can see the angels is a
mystery to those unfamiliar with the
original.
The picture begins with the angel

Cassiel (Otto Sander) and his cherubic
friend (Nastassia Kinski) observing
the oft-broken and mundane lives of
Berliners. The angels, unaffected by
the passage of time, examine the
human condition through their
comments and the thoughts of the
mortals they overlook.
The observances and musings of
the angels, sometimes lofty,
oftentimes poignant and thought-
provoking, serve as a road map to the
emotions of the detached Berliners
who in some cases lived through the
Third Reich, and in all cases
experienced the reunification of the
country and the city.
Cassiel, discouraged that his Berlin
constituents no longer believe in
angels, but rather in tangible earthly
things, wishes to live life as a mortal.
He wants to experience the city and
the world as a person, rather than in
his present omniscient condition. He
gets his wish and the film is all down
hill from there.
Wenders dosen't insult the
audience with the usual obligatory
scenes where someone goes through
a transformation in the "Vice Versa"
crappy switcharoo mold. Instead,
Cassiel's experiences as a mortal are
entirely one-sided and provide no

fabric for his original intention. Life
on earth is shitty, he knew that to
begin with, and as a mortal discovers
it as well as rediscovering his capacity
as an angel for goodness, but in the
most mundane ways.
The characters which were
intriguing when being observed by
Cassiel are largely empty when he
finally does meet them. By the end it
has all degenerated into an imitation
Joel Silver production with Bruce
Willis titled "Striking Force" or
"Killer Instinct."
No, Cassiel dosen't precede or
follow a shooting of the greasy bad
guys with a one-liner about his good
pals Smith and Wesson, but the plot
does eventually fall into a race against
time to save lives from crooks in
which the omniscient qualities of the
angels switch from a thick-layered
metaphor to a cheap plot device.
Wenders may simply be too
ambitious in -his moralizing. His
characters eventually are discovered
to have interwoven lives and he
attempts to use them to comment
simultaneously on the poor conditions
of their lives and the city in a way only
Robert Altman can do.
Unlike Altman, Wenders spreads
himself too thin and loses sight of his
original vision. The ambition of
Cassiel and the philosophy of the
angels is not challenged when Cassiel
becomes a mortal. There is no real
consequence to his action and so to tie
it all together all Wenders can do is
end with the angels restating that
which they had already known before
Cassiel's experiment. Unfortunately,
this also reminds the audience what
the film could have been.
FARA WA Y, SO CLOSE! is playing
at the Ann Arbor 1&2

Soft Boys
Soft Boys 1976-1981
Rykodisc
Should there ever be a movement
in music away from what is now called
grunge and toward a more Beatles-
influenced, psychedelic pop approach,
the SoftBoys will certainly be credited
for being far ahead of their time.
Born in England in the middle of
the punk revolution of 1976, the band,
like Big Star in the early '70s, was
striving for a sound far different from
its peers and consequently found an
equally small audience.
Those who heard, however,
obeyed the call; Peter Buck of R.E.M.
has often remarked that his group was
more influenced by the Soft Boys
than the Byrds.
A recent 2-CD collection of the
Soft Boys' work, entitled "Soft Boys
1976-1981," offers the chance to take
another much-deserved look at that
band's unique vision.
The sound was pure, yet ragged,
focused yet manic and always on the
verge of veering out of control.
It was ultra-catchy pop twisted

exactly 17 degrees left of center by
the pen of lyricist and band-leader
Robyn Hitchcock. What resulted was
a small number of brilliant albums
populated by prawns, bugs, reptiles
and yodelling Hoovers. The chord
progressions and harmonies of "He's
a Reptile," may be straight from tho
1950s, but this is far from "Earth
Angel."
"The Soft Boys 1976-1981" offers
a great deal of unreleased material
along with album tracks from the
band's three releases. The novice
receives an excellent introduction to
the band through the inclusion of
classics such as "Queen of Eyes," "I
Wanna Destroy You" aad "Leppo
and the Jooves," while even the
already-converted will want the many
early demos and live cuts, including
versions of "Heartbreak Hotel" and
"The Book of Love."
The Soft Boys were unjustly
ignored during their time together and
should not be allowed to continue
suffering the same fate. As Hitchcock
sings, "Have a heart, Betty, I'm not
fireproof."
- Dirk Schulze

0
0

RUSTBELT
Continued from page 5
to promote all of the talented artists
that they discover, financial
considerations often pressure them
into being a bit more selective. "You
have to budget it out in a way that's
feasible," MacDonald explained.
"You want to have the money to
actually push each band in the proper
way."
"We mail out singles and CDs to
radio stations across the country. Big

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Block has gotten extensive radio play
out west, so the bands are definitely
making strides," McGuire added."I'd
say that college radio is the champion
of the whole thing. It's people that are
so far into music that they seek you
out. They want to find something new
and cool as far as underground music."
According to Rustbelt's founders,
the ultimate goal is, of course, "world
domination," but barring that, they
would like to be thought of as a major
partof the music scene in the Midwest.
"We've noticed that small
independent labels don't aim at
(becoming) national labels,
MacDonald observed. "I think they
limit themselves to being so
underground."
"Over the next year, we want to
build (Rustbelt) into a national record
label," he continued. "I think the
Midwest needs another working
label." Hopefully, Rustbelt will
succeed in giving Detroit and all of its
diverse local talent the recognitionit
deserves. This city has certainly
waited long enough.
RUSTBELT RECORDS' NIGHT
featuring Walk On Water, Crossed
Wire, Big Block and Forehead Stew
happens at the Shelter tomorrow
night. Tickets are a mere $5, doors
open at 8 p.m., 18 and over. Call
961-MELTfor more information.

University Towrs Apartmfent
536 S. Forest Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
761-2680

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