8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 6, 1994
'Jimmy Hollywood' gets'
By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
"It's Not 'Clifford."'
"It's Not 'Clifford."'
The continual repetition of that key phrase
may be the only anesthetic for the pain of enduring
"Jimmy Hollywood," an absolutely unoriginal
pulp loser of a film.
"Jimmy Hollywood" is so misguided in its
Written and directed by Barry Levinson; with Joe
Pesci and Christian Slater.
attempt to say something significant that it can
only be salvaged as entertainment by blasting it
off to the satellite of love and letting Mike, Crow
and Tom Servo take their best shots.
The sketch of a plot begins when film obsessor
and would-be actor Jimmy Alto (Joe Pesci) has his
car radio stolen. A pissed-off Alto reacts by team-
ing with the mentally deficient William (Christian
Slater, destroying any respect he gained after
"True Romance") to form a two-man vigilante
group which apprehends criminals by video.
The local news airs the tapes Alto creates and
makes a celebrity of his vigilant alter-ego and the
mysterious group he is supposed to represent.
Because Alto considers himself an actor portray-
ing a vigilante, and because he is an unstable
freak, the media fuels his delusions and allow the
facade to escalate.
Alto's vigilante aspiration is a misguided reac-
tion to a minute problem and an early indication
that writer / director Barry Levinson has lost his
ability to create indelible, although safe and cav-
ity-inducing characters. The Alto character is a
uninspired hybrid of Pesci's "Goodfellas" mob-
ster Tommy DeVito and all of his caricatured,
comedic dunces whether Ralph Macchio's cousin
Vinny or one half of the wet bandits.
Slater's character is a truly pointless; simply a
cheap attempt at eliciting sympathy and recaptur-
ing Levinson's watershed moment, "Rain Man."
Victoria Abril, a Spanish actress best known
for Pedro Almodovar's black comedy "Tie Me
Up! Tie Me Down!," in her American motion
picture debut portrays Alto's girlfriend. She is
ideally the film's moral voice but disappears for
extended periods of time and simply ends up as an
Levinson is attempting to capture the frustra-
tions of the thousands who migrate to Hollywood
only to fail. Yet unlike the recent "Barton Fink"
and "The Player," inspired works both, this is no
clever Hollywood on Hollywood film.
Levinson's numerous references to film,
whether directly referred to by the characters or
simply alluded to by the plot, are infrequently
clever, oftentimes derivative and sometimes near-
blasphemous. Nora Ephron had the decency to be
up front with her rape and pillage of "An Affair to
Remember" last summer. Levinson passes most
of this crap off as original.
At the film's absolute lowest creative point
there is a scene in which Alto drives down the
Hollywood streets at night, verbalizing his con-
cern that the city he admires and cares about has
gone to shit and convinces himself that maybe he
should do something about it. He may as well have
been driving a fucking taxi calling the city "an
open sewer" and hoping that "someday a real rain
will come and wash all the scum off the streets."
"Taxi Driver," the comedy. No thanks. At
least Charles Grodin and Martin Short are no-
where in sight.
JIMMY HOLLYWOOD is playing at Showcase
Continued from page 5
of a novelty piece for his church of
late night empiricists. Unfortunately,
much of the poignancy of Nordine's
craft is lost when translated to a purely
live situation. The effects that he uses
on his radio show are a crucial part of
the Nordine formula and the end prod-
uct on this album is less volatile than
his normal creations. Imagine watch-
ing "Star Wars" without the special
effects and you can understand the
disappointment that may be felt when
listening to this album.
Although the pieces are very intri-
cate and are replete with the para-
doxes and word combinations that
made Nordinefamous, his radio shows
and other albums have a richer tex-
ture. "Upper Limbo" forces the lis-
tener to contemplate what is being
said. It is interesting to hear Nordine
in this "live" medium, but not satisfy-
ing. Listening to this album defi-
nitely leaves you unsatiated, craving
more of the pure, uncut Nordine.
Ken Nordine's album is only avail-
able through mail order. Call 1-(800)
- Ben Ewy
John Luther Adams
The Far Country
New Albion Records
Having abandoned "romantic"
conventions of Western classical
music, many modern composers have
turned to nature for order. French
composer Olivier Messiaen borrowed
bird songs for his "Catalogue des
Oixeaux" and, on this CD, John
Adams recreates the fragile placidity
Adams worked as head percus-
sionist for the Fairbanks Symphony
and composer-in-residence at the
University of Alaska Fairbanks, so he
is well acquainted with Alaska's land-
scape and natural presence. On this
CD, his minimalist tendencies are used
to the maximum, creating a fluid sta-
sis of sound.
"Dream in White and White" for
harp and strings is thematically and
musically based on non-chromatic
"white" tones. Open violin tuning
brings about an uncertain calm epito-
mizing Alaska's natural phenomena.
The piece suspends a fragile,
pointalistic net of notes. Together,
the slowly bowed notes create undu-
lating multi-tones, fleetingly con-
nected like lines that seem to dart
between constellations on a clear
Beginning with a quiet rumbling,
"Night Peace" uses the Atlanta Sing-
ers instead of the string ensemble to
conceive the same slowly pulsating
calm. The sung and plucked notes
hover like the crisp chill of winter.
"The Far Country of Sleep" opens
with a trumpet call, stepping up inter-
vals reminiscent of Charles Ives' "The
Unanswered Question." While this
composition is not quite as successful
as the first two (mostly because it
reminds me of an epic film score), its
balance gives it continuity without
boredom, as the fragile solemnity is
repeatedly shattered by a pounding
All three pieces convey an expan-
siveness and solitude that resonates
in the vast territory of Alaska. Any-
way, it's cheaper than airfare.
- Chris Wyrod
The Greenberry Woods have al-
most all the traits of a typical bubble-
gum pop group -familiar chord pro-
gressions, some decent harmonizing,
endearingly sappy lyrics and an in-
spirational debt owed to the avatar
"Rapple Dapple," the Woods' de-
but album, is short on innovation, but
the above characteristics arej ust abun-
dant enough to merit a thorough lis-
"Rapple Dapple" is essentially a
rehashing of the same old themes that
have been around since rock'n' roll's
genesis -love. Though it is at times
clichd-riddled ("'Cause it's all up to
you" etc., etc.), there are hints of
something clever, such as in lines like
"I used to sing you love songs sweet
and slow / until you brought a new
radio. / Now I sing to people I don't
Though some artists have been
able to pull it off successfully, God
help the troubadours who sing for a
cause - especially if we know that
they'd be better off covering the Par-
tridge Family. Case in point, the
Greenberry Woods' attack on abu-
sive relationships, "I Knew You
Would", contains a number of lines
like "Please excuse my temper /But I
guessI'mjust like my old man," which
can hardly represent an effective take
on the subject - they're just plain
What manages to lift most of the
album above mediocrity is the marked
melodic quality of "Trampoline,"
"#37 (Feels So Strange)" and "That's
What She Said," though the latter of
the three songs has a lyrical and mu-
sical content that bares such a striking
resemblance to the Beatles' "She Said
She Said" that it would have been in
order for the Woods to credit Lennon
and McCartney in the sleeve.
Though there are definitely flaws
in "Rapple Dapple," the album re-
veals, at least, a band who has the
potential to become a mildly refresh-
ing alternative to the noise hounds
prevalent in American music of to-
- Thomas Crowley
No matter how many fans he has, Beck has an equal number of detractors,
claiming that he's a record company fabricated hip-hop folkie or that he just
rips off Basehead. It doesn't matter if he is a phony or a plagiarist - his
debut album, "Mellow Gold," is a gas. Beck's music is a glorious junk-heap
of pop hooks from the past three decades; everything from Dylan to the
Beastie Boys is thrown in, with a hefty dose of camp culture. "Mellow Gold"
was recorded on an eight-track in Beck's living room, so it shares the same
loose experimental vibe as Ween or Basehead. By now, you know "Loser" by
heart; check out the rest of the record. Or go to his show. True to form,
Beck is playing an "alternative" venue if there ever was one - the Detroit
Science Center. Tickets are $6 and only available at the door, which opens
at an early 7 p.m. Losers of all ages are welcome and go early to catch Lync
and That Dog.
The Quiet Revolution
4th and Broadway
With the success of such endeav-
ors as Blue Note's US3 and Guru's
Jazzamatazz, it is evident that we are
witnessing "The Quiet Revolution."
Jazz and rap are past exploring each
other in a superficial way; the en-
gagement is confirmed and a date is
set; Ronny Jordan's second attempt is
the bachelor party. Jordan's first al-
bum, "The Antidote," was notable to
those who had their ears to the jazz/
hip-hop vibe in '92 in that a talented
new musician combined his
strummin' and writing ability (on
guitar, keyboards, basslines and drum
programming) with samples and
rhymes that did not upset the flow of
the jazz. But some of the tracks had an
airportish feel which suggested some-
thing like a successful but nerve-race-
ing first date, a feel completely absept
from the new album.
Yes, the accompanying artistshave
moved up a notch - Dana Bryant
(jazz poetess), Guru's jam "Seaso9
for Change" and Gary Belfield on sax
and flute all enhance the power of the
album - but all of these folks are
belittled at the hand of Jordan's skill
ful merging of musical strains. Ile
1kept the album simple; there is almost
no overcrowding musically, he sim.-
ply extracted the slickness and cool-
ness of modern jazz andrevitalized it
by injecting subdued samples and
scratches. It is incredibly full yet no
overpowered; it takes the best of jazz
for the "Quiet" and the best rap for the
"Revolution," creating something theft
stands on its own.
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