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January 13, 1994 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-13

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TheMichigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 13, 1994 - 3

Not Newton's 'Laws of Gravity'

Now '93 was a big year for the
mainstream picture. Spielberg, the god
of the blockbuster managed to pump
out the best thing any of us could sit
through for over three hours. But aside
from "El Mariachi" and "Menace II
Society," '93 wasn't a big year for the
independent filmmaker. '92, however,
had a blast of powerful independent

films, the leader being, of course,
"Reservoir Dogs," followed by "The
Crying Game."
But another film about criminals
also reared its ugly head in '92. Un-
fortunately only those in New York
and Los Angeles got a look at it on the
big screen. Fortunately it's finally
made its way to home video. So get
down to the video store and check out
"Laws of Gravity."
"Gravity" is a super independent
film, made in under two weeks for the
pathetic budget of $38,000. And it is
a powerhouse. The film is so honest
and raw that it makes the brutality of
"Reservoir Dogs" feel plastic and
The film is basically a retake of
Martin Scorsese's brilliant "Mean
Streets." But there is something ug-
lier in "Gravity" that makes itperhaps
even more poignant than "Streets."
But why argue between two thousand

dollar bills?
The main characters are small time
thieves who have nothing to look for-
ward to and nothing to look back at.
They seem about two steps away from
being homeless and yet they manage
to survive. The question of why bother
is always present, but never answered.
Guns come into the picture and ev-
erything gets ugly. But writer director
Nick Gomez won't look away from
the consequences, although he re-
mains classy enough never to exploit
the graphic pain.
Gomez is in top form with his
directing debut. He keeps the camera
constantly moving, but never under
tremendous control. The result is cin-
ema verit6 at its most painful. The
picture he paints is so real that it's
hard not to feel that perhaps this film
is actually a documentary about four
losers trying to get by in New York.
He cuts to black at the end of each
scene, but lets the sound play on.
Gomez blasts the necessary guilt atus
with talking darkness. This is how we
see these kind of people. We hear
them, but we're terrified to make eye
contact. We know they are real, but
wish they weren't.
"Gravity"'s characters are the
height of the pathetic. If they die, no
one is going to know or even really
care. Gomez, however, never forces
us to care (see Stone, Oliver), but we
do anyway. The characters may not
be the kind you would want for neigh-
bors, but they are the kind that you
know you might meet while walking
down the street. They are all real and
totally believable.
The acting in the film is amazing.
"Menace II Society" featured a tre-

mendous cast of virtually unknown
actors, but "Gravity"'s performances
are even better. The senseless rage of
Johnny is true and aggravating. We
sit and watch his friends try to save
him all the while asking why bother?
But we know why and Gomez re-
minds us at the end. Although the
outcome is predictable, it doesn't hurt
the film; there is no other way to end
While "Gravity" is "Mean Streets"
with another set of characters, the
film still stands out as more than a
remake. Gomez shows us a director
that is as in tune with the dregs of
America as Scorsese. Let's just hope
that Gomez stays away from this clas-
sical novel crap.
There seems little chance of
Gomez leaning toward the nice, pe-
tite literary adaptations that infected
so many directors in '93. Much like
"Reservoir Dogs," the operative word
in "Laws of Gravity" is fuck. In fact
(and this is hard to believe) fuck may
actually appear more times in "Grav-
ity" than in "Dogs." The film features
lines like: "Settle the fuck down, I'm
going to take her the fuck home and
then I'll be right the fuck back." But
the word is not gratuitous,just honest.
People talk that way, accept it.
But enough comparisons of the
great and the great. "Laws of Gralv-
ity" is (hopefully) only the beginning
of Gomez's great career. He's now at
work on another film being co-prp-
duced by super-independent director
Spike Lee. So, hey, we might actually
get to see his new movie on the big
screen. Imagine that.
LAWS OF GRA VITY is avai ableat
Liberty Street Video.

Dennis Archer takes over in Detroit
Inauguration of new mayor brings hope to the city

Motey Crue singer Vince Neil in the hey day of heavy metal. Would you pay good money to see him on stage?
Has metal s influence gone unnoticed?

New beginning. Rebirth. Hope.
These were the catch words at the
mayoral inauguration January 3 in
Detroit. But it wasn't just words; it
was a feeling. Detroit, the city which
many people fear, is headed into a
new era, and there is a feeling which

Do you remember high school - that time in your life
that when you began forming your musical tastes, among
other things? I have a vivid memory of the small group of
metal-heads that stuck together and stuck out like a sore
thumb. They looked different, acted different and some-
times they smelled different. Musically, they were so out
there - listening to unknown bands like Ripping Corpse,
Wargasm and Lawnmower Deth. If one of "their" bands,
like Metallica, became popular, the band was considered
a sellout. I must admit that I was an unofficial member of
this group of alcoholic derelicts even though I knew the
fallacy of their ways. Our link was the aggressive style of
music. Well, that contingent of outcasts still exists, but
now we're listening to their music even if we don't realize
For those who don't know (or can't quite recall) the
history of heavy metal, here it is in a simplified form. Led
Zeppelin, and soon after Black Sabbath, begun playing
rock'n' roll to the extreme; it was in a split from the hippie
rock of the time that had more ambitious intentions like
saving the world. Metal continued in the '70s with a
popular, but less than universal, appeal. Zep and Sabbath,
along with Deep Purple and Motorhead, led the charge in
the metal world, but barely made a dent in the overall
popular music scene at the time. The early '80s, a time
when metal and its image were idiotic and repugnant, was
when most of us formed an opinion of the genre. Bands
like Motley Crue and Quiet Riot with their ostentatious
display of androgyny gave 1 0-year-olds like myself some-
thing to poke fun at. Metal stayed on the outskirts of the
mainstream for a long time during the '80s only surfacing
in diluted forms such as the "cheese" pop-metal of Bon
Jovi and Poison.
Arguably, the point when the general public took
heavy metal seriously was when Metallica played "One"
on the Grammys in 1989. I liken it to the first Rolling
Stones appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Whether the
mass public enjoyed it or not, there were surely some
looks of disbelief being traded in living rooms across
The acceptance of heavy metal has been very gradual,
and calling something metal still attaches a stigma to it.
Given a choice between metal and alternative, the alterna-
tive label will almost always win out. Take Soundgarden,
for example. They're a band that takes more from Sabbath

and Zeppelin than the Melvins and Green River, but the
bottom heavy band has enjoyed critical and popular suc-
cess anyway. "Black Cat" by Janet Jackson was a popular
song that would neither have been made nor accepted
eight years ago. Nirvana, the kings of grunge, take guitar
and drum sounds from modern metal. Just listen to their
first album, "Bleach," and hear the difference.
If you've analyzed trends in music yourself, you may
think that punk, rap or country are the driving forces
depending on your preferences. In their own realms, rap
and country are huge styles and still growing. In the realm
of popular alternative, punk gets parental credit which it
well deserves in many cases. However, the metal influ-
ence often goes unnoticed. Since grunge is a major com-
ponent of alternative music, I'll use it as an example. Kim
Thayil of Soundgarden breaks grunge down as one part
punk, one part metal and one part weird noise. Can you
guess which part is unacknowledged for its contribution?
Let's also remember that punk was a response to '70s
disco much like metal was a response to what is now
classic rock. Punk was preceded by metal and followed a
similar trend.
If you're convinced of the notion, the reason for the
trend is still puzzling. Why would this generally despised
form that is widely perceived as unmusical have such an
Although your parents will have you believe that this
insurgence is a reflection of the dire state of society, we
know it's just an energy surge that reminds us we're still
alive, as Eddie Vedder might say. There is a release in hard
driving, fast paced, aggressive music that is not fully
understood by the older generation. What used to be rock
'n' roll has expanded into an even more raucous and
obnoxious form that has outdistanced our parents' com-
prehension. Whether we'll be able to deal with new music
in 20 years remains to be seen.
The main point is there are traces of heavy metal in a
lot of modern music that go uncredited. This is a shame,
but the good news is that the influence is present, regard-
less of whether or not it is acknowledged. There'll always
be people who think metal is too abrasive, but will gladly
blast Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Maybe some day
someone will inform the metal-hating majority of the
roots of their cup of tea. If the metal stigma persists, we'll
be calling everything alternative. Aren't you sick of that
word yet?

that dream. He will be at the helm,
leading the people, but he can't be
successful if the people don't support
him. And judging from the thousands
of citizens who scrambled to be a part
This inauguration was
about more than a
swearing in ceremony
for a new mayor. It was
about revitalizing
Detroit into a vibrant
of the inaugural festivities, the people
of Detroit are ready to follow Archer
where he leads them.
This inauguration was about more
than a swearing in ceremony for a
new mayor. It was about revitalizing
Detroit into a vibrant city - a city
seen not as a blot on the reputation of
the suburbs but rather, as Sampson
said, one where the suburbs are "sat-
ellites hooked to the mothership of
Detroit." It was about changing De-

troit and getting the people fired up to
do it.
Having grown up in Detroit, all I
can say is that it is about time that this
has happened. We as the citizens who
have cleaned up our alleys, renovated
our homes and watched out for our
neighbors, have been waiting for a
leader who would entreat us to join
hands with him to make a difference.
We've waited for someone who would
show up to public appearances and
not spew forth profanity when he
It is a refreshing change to listen
to someone speak about the benefits
of living in Detroit. It's amazing what
a little cheerleading from the man in
charge has done for the city.
Within the short time since Ar-
cher was elected, I have overheard
and participated in several conversa-
tions about the renaissance of Detroit.
And not once have I heard someone
say that it would never happen.
Maybe this is just a honeymoon
period, but I'm going to enjoy it as
long as it lasts. And when Archer asks
me to roll up my sleeves and pitch in
to make the change, I'll be there. And
I won't be alone.

in all my 20 years, I have never felt
It is the feeling that now when I
protest the often ignorant comments
made about Detroit, by people who
usually have never really been to the
city, I will have something to back up
my defenses. It's the feeling that
change is coming, and that it will be
It's the feeling that when I invite
friends from out of state home with
me, they might come without having
to hear my hour long lecture on the
safety of the city.
It's the feeling that if I ever need a
police officer to come to my house,
one might actually arrive within three
days of when I call.
At the Ecumenical/Interfaith Ser-
vice, prior to the inauguration, Pastor
Frederick Sampson welcomed "those
who've come to see how a dream gets
started." And that was exactly what
inauguration day was, the beginning
of a dream.
But Mayor Archer can't be solely
responsible for creating and fulfilling

1217 PROSPECT, ANN ARBOR 665.1771
SFFwith thisad.

f, f~E

The Sixth Annual
In January

Join Us for Intergroup Dialogues
in Celebration of
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!
Choose from the following groups:
" People of Color
" White People and People of Color
" People with Disabilities and People without Disabilities
" Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Heterosexuals

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