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September 13, 1994 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-09-13

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'Eat Drink'
and be merry
Poignant follow-up film is full of
fresh food and family bonding

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
Father-daughter relationships are
not uncommon territory in film. Just
this past spring, we had the uncompro-
mising pleasure of enjoying that witty,

B T Directed by Ang Lee;
with Sihung Lung

misfortune of both).
"Eat Drink Man Woman," how-
ever, despite- a wealth of one or few-
dimensional characters, manages to stay
fresh and charming as it examines a
crucial growth period within aChinese
family.
Ang Lee, director of last year's
"The Wedding Banquet," outdistances
that well-received effort with an enter-
taining mix of humor and poignancy.
The film focuses on the relation-
ship between a widowed master chef
and his three daughters. The chef, Mr.
Chu (Sihung Lung) is losing his sense
of taste. As a result, his craft is dimin-
ishing. At the same time, his daughters
are beginning to drift away and seek
their own separate lives.
The three daughters' characters are
nothing groundbreaking. There is the
responsible but sexually repressed old-
est daughter, the successful business
woman whose embrace of modernity

Though there is lots of female bonding in "Eat Drink Man Woman," it manages

has strained her bond with her father,
and the young, wide-eyed innocent.
Strained personal relationships are
not Chu's only adversary. Modernity,
specifically western culture, is a subtle,
yet definite invasion into his old-fash-
ioned world. Although it goes unmen-
tioned, modernity is a motif through-
out the generation gap, planting the
seeds of full-blown consumer culture.
A never seen American ex-husband
of a family friend is constantly ridi-
culed. He serves as a symbolic whip-
ping-boy, a western invader who sought

the stereotypical, subservient Asian
wife.
Chu's is a traditional family, com-
ing togrips with the modern world. The
four all still live together in their long-
time home. They practice the tiring
family ritual of Chu's extravagant Sun-
day dinner without fail.
Yet, as Chu's taste diminishes, so
does his ability to truly create food
rather than to just prepare it. He is a
man who has always communicated
his love and admiration for others by
cooking for them. In losing this gift, he

needs to compensate by finding other
ways to embrace those around him.
Although "Eat Drink Man Woman"
may possess an embryonic Chinese
feminism and ditches at our fast-food
culture (in comparison to the meticu-
lous culinary art practiced by Chu), it
neverloses its accessibility or its charm,
even to a foreign audience. Despite the
language barrier (the film is in Chinese
with English subtitles), the relationships
within the family, the inability to com-
municate, is all too familiar.
Not unlike the vivid food itself, "Eat

Drink Man Woman" is something of a
delicacy to be tasted and savored.
Lee balances the family's teeter*
ing on collapse with a sly comic flair
that is constantly present, yet never
forced.
The eventual collapse into melo-
drama that tends to define too many
American films with female-domi-
nated casts (e.g. "Steel Magnolias") is
thankfully side-stepped. The result is
memorable.
EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN is
playing at the State Theater.

to avoid the weepy, whiny melodrama characteristic of American films.

wacky sex symbol, Gerard Depardieu,
in the comic romp, "My Father, the
Hero." Far too often this relationship in
films is either a ridiculously failed at-
tempt at laughs or tinged with incestual
undertones (Depardieu's film had the
St. Johnny
Speed is Dreaming
DGC Records
St. Johnny are the latestwunderkind
to be discovered by Sonic Youth's
Thurston Moore, and it's no wonder
why he likes them; the band's style is
an amalglam of Sonic Youth's poppier
moments, Yo La Tengo, Dinosaur Jr.,
and even some Television mixed into a
frothy post-punk confection. On "Speed
isDreaming" the band has somebreath-
takingly good moments, from the open-
ing track "A Car or a Boy?" to "You're
NotMy Friend," "Gran Mal," and "Tur-
bine." These songs successfully com-
bine the band's influence while main-
taining originality, but at other times it
. seems that St. Johnny are just aping
their record collection. At any rate,
"Speed is Dreaming" is a promising
debut with enough integrity to stand on
its own merit.
- Heather Phares
Flying Saucer Attack
Flying Saucer Attack
VHF
Unlike so many of today's radio-
friendly bands, Flying Saucer Attack
have realized that if you're going to
write simple songs with no more than
three or four chords that have surely
been used somewhere before, the least
you can do is smother them in thick
layers of atmospheric drone-fuzz and
ear-splitting squeals of feedback.

Lighter Shade Of
Brown
Layin' In the Cut
Mercury
Poppy? Yep. Taking rap in a direc-
tion no one in hip-hop wants it to go?
Yep. Rhymes that are simplistic, fairly
shallow and cliche? Yep. Overproduced
for your local radio station's pleasure?
Yep.

On their album "Speed is Dreaming," St. Johnny spend most of their time dreaming of being the next Sonic Youth.

But this album is not as evil as a first
listen might suggest. The music is too
smooth, but the synthesized melodies
and strings are reflective as opposed to
prominent. There is a little bit of sex-
ism, a little bit of moralizing about
violence in the 'hood, but for the most
part it is just playful talking.
After a few big pop hits, this group
may very well have gone with the flow
and come off like hard rocks, but in-
stead they laid low. There are a few
songs with some nice jazzy samples, a
few with a chant or two but it is for the
most part straight forward. The not so
outstanding nature of this album is
exactly what makes it appealing. It's
something you can throw on for back-
ground music, bob your head to and not
find in any way intrusive. Is this what
hip-hop is all about? No, it is definetely
more useful than artistic. But in the

end, are a few guys trying to pick up a
few papers, get a little radio play, rock
a few parties and retire so bad? It's your
call.
- Dustin Howes
Further
Somtimes Chimes
Christmas
Further's music falls somewhere
between old Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh,
and they're well aware of it, even going
so far as to title one of the 26 songs on
their debut "Furtherdoh Jr.-Q." Even if
that's meant as a joke, it's one that's
lost on the croony Mascis-esque vocals
and over-the-top, (under-the-bottom?)
lower thanlo-fl production, highly remi-
niscent of Sebadoh.
That said, "Sometimes Chimes" is
a highly impressive debut on the
strength of it's songs alone, despite the
lack of originality in their style. They
manage to cover quite a bit of ground,
from the pathos-inducing "Surfing

Pointers" and an amazing cover of
Unrest's "Isabel," to the histrionics of
"Pioneer 10" and the straight-ahead
punk of "Generic 7" and "She Lives By
The Castle."
In addition, Further's songs are de-
livered with just the right amount of
humor and silliness, with spontaneous,
unintelligible screams of pseudo-angst
poking fun at our good old world of
modern rock.
Further know where their music's
roots lie, but they aren't completely
tripped up by them. Hopefully, though,
Further will progress to the point of
merging their powerful songs with a,
sound that is more their own.
- Andy Dolan
Salif Keita
The Mansa of Mali ... A
Retrospective
Mango
Hailing from the land locked West
See RECORDS, Page 9

Mss meetingq wili auclitions to ollow
,etmber13 4

7NLLecture room I~

CHORUS AUDITIONS
University Choral Union - Thomas Sheets,
conductor
performing with
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe - Neeme Jarvi, conducting
Mahler's Symphony #2 - Jerzy Semkow, conducting
*0
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra
Handel's Messiah - Thomas Sheets, conducting

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