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January 06, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

mre iiici gdii LadIy - riluy, Jdama y U, iasz - Z

Sweet Honey makes music for all ears

Steve Martin evidently forgot to use either of his two brains in "Mixed Nuts."
Steve Martin s 'Mixed Nuts' is
nuttin' to write home about

By FRED RICE
The name Nora Ephron attached
to any film is supposed to assure
movie-goers that they are about to
see something enjoyable, well-writ-
ten and well worth their money;
E hron wrote the thoughtful and
9ty screenplays for "When Harry

Mixed Nuts
Directed by
Nora Ephron
with Steve Martin and
Madeline Kahn

The story has Steve Martin run-
ning a life saver's hotline out of his
apartment. It has saved thousands of
lives, or so it's recorded on a
McDonald's-like billboard. Unfortu-
nately, his business does not make
much money, so the landlord has de-
livered an eviction notice. And Steve
does not want his staff to find out
about it.
But that's not really the focus of
the comedy. There is no focus to speak
of really. The film is perpetually
grounded in its opening act. Once his
staff finds out about the notice, the
story falls on its face. The stories of a
troubled newlywed couple and the
strange relations between members
of the life-saver's staff and their cli-
ents serve only as filler until the film
devolves, finally, into a Christmas
story.
That would have been OK - to be
pointless and inconsequential - had it
been a funny movie. If the laughs could
make up for lack of plot, then by all
means go for it. The script tries its best,
throwing a joke at the audience just
about every minute. It seems desperate
to produce the slightest chuckle as it
circles the humor spectrum, from slap-
stick and sight gags to a comedy of
errors and mistaken identity.
Watching Steve Martin bungle a
suicidal phone call one moment, and
then goofily try to snatch the eviction
notice from the unsuspecting
Madeline Kahn the next is not amus-

By SANGITA M. BAXI
One night in 1973, Bernice Johnson
Reagon founded the a cappella vocal
group Sweet Honey in the Rock in
Washington, DC. The name of the group
comes from a biblical land where the
land is so rich that when a rock was
cracked open, honey would flow from
it. Now, after 17 years, 10 albums and a
Grammy Award for the anthology, "A
Vision Shared: A Tribute to Woody
Guthrie and Leadbelly," success has
clearly come for the Washington, DC-
based group.
Sweet Honey in the Rock consists
of five vocal members - Reagon,
Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade
Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Evelyn Harris -
and Shirley Childress Johnson, the
group's sign language interpreter.
Throughout time, and changes in
group members, Sweet Honey in the
Rock has developed a distinctive sound
influenced by jazz, blues, reggae, ca-
lypso, traditional African songs and
20th century gospels. The group is a
cappella, except for the occasional per-
cussion accompaniment.
"Singing is an expression of one's
self, one's soul - an opportunity to
express one's feelings," said Johnson.
The music composed and performed
by Sweet Honey in the Rock is an
expression of many emotions and as-
pects - politics, race, celebration of
heroes and heroines, cultural links,
spiritual, love and what it means to be
a woman. The array of music is in-
credible, ensuring that there is some-
thing for everyone.
Johnson, the hearing daughter of
deaf parents, met Sweet Honey in the
Rock in 1979 and has been with the
ing.
Despite the awkward material that
they have to work with, the character
actors do their best to look profes-
sional, neverappearing as if they know
their scenes are stupid. Madeline
Kahn's prim and proper demeanor
turns stupid situations (i.e. being
trapped in an elevator) into some-
thing mildly humorous, never becom-
ing too annoying. Adam Sandler ap-
pears as one of the neighboring resi-
dents in need of "help" as he attempts
to be romantic with a ukulele and
falsetto. And Rob Reiner, as a veteri-
narian, looks cheery, trying his best
not to ruin his relationship with Nora.
Kudos can only go to the set de-
signer who made Steve Martin's apart-
ment. It's where most of the movie
takes place and looks homey and lived
in. If you're in to set designs, you
might want to stay for the first hour of
this dud. Otherwise, skip it.
MIXED NUTS is playing at
BRIAR WOOD.

group since 1980. "My first obliga-
tion is to translate for text," she said.
"I study the song and I try to come to
an understanding of the song. Then
(I) translate the text and production. I
want to produce a translation that is
rhythmically in tune with the song.
The music scene has not always been
accessible to deaf people. Music and
singing is for everyone."
The change in the number of deaf
people who are attending the concerts
of Sweet Honey in the Rock show

what Johnson calls, "a slow, but steady
growth. Early on, Sweet Honey had a
large positive response (in Washing-
ton) and it's still growing. In some
areas, it's still brand-new, so the ac-
tual numbers may be small but enthu-
siasm is great."
With a group that is so focused
and yet diverse, it's easy to see the
universal appeal Sweet Honey holds.
There most certainly is something for
everyone.
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK

Unlike other groups, Sweet Honey in the Rock's music doesn't fall on dear ears.

will be at Hill Auditorium on
Friday, January 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets
are $24, $20, $16 and $12. Student
rush tickets will be available today
for $7 at the Union Ticket Office
and the North Campus Commons.
For more ticket information, please
call the UMS Box Office at 764-
2538. This performance will be
sign-language interpreted and will
offer special seating to accommo-
date the hearing-impaired and deaf
communities.

Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Se-
attle" (which she also directed.) Con-
sidering both her background and
the outstanding cast she's assembled
for her latest - it is almost impos-
sible to understand how she man-
aged to fashion such an embarrass-
Vturkey.
The embarrassment turn to sad-
ness when you watch the film unfold
into an incoherent mess and you real-
ize that you could have told Nora
how to make it better. Granted, she
did not create and shape the work
entirely on her own. This is suppos-
edly a remake of a French film, but
she must have lost something crucial
in the translation.

'm

R-ECORDS
Continued from page 8
of the biggest bores in Tinseltown
really means nothin', but anyway I'm
rambling.)
Latimer fits somewhere in the
Sonic Youthian synagogue, dressing
itself in a vest of Pavement and a
gktie o' Weezer. Now, frenzied
guitar feedback and riffs awash with
treble do not a bad band make, and
Sonic Youth does manage to activate
once in a green moon. Nor do off-key
vocals necessarily denote that a band
will engage you to puke. However, I
believe the American people dig a
little melody in their musical mix,
and I'm siding with the people on this
e, for Latimer takes noise to new
Avels of boredom on "World's Por-
table."
,Dig it if you must, but don't come
crankin' back to me when all the used
CD stores won't buy the disc years
down the road when you finally real-
ize that all this shit holds no bearing
or impact in your life.
- Matt Carlson
]lead Hot Workshop
iver Otis
Seed Records
Yeah! Yeah! Just taking one hard
look at (Yeah!) Dead Hot Workshop
(Yeah! what a hard-rockin', full-on,
get down rock 'n' roll name! Yeah!)
on. the flip cover of their new CD
"River Otis" (Yeah! do ya get the
clever title - a river called Otis?
ird! Wild! Yeah!), I could tell that
Was in for some maximum butt-
shakin' grunge action. Song titles like

"Mr. S.O.B." (Yeah!) and "Rise of
Decline" (Yeah!) coupled with a band
photo of the four long-hairs sportin'
shades and tees (Yeah!) could only
mean one thing - overblown hair-
shakin' stinkiness.
Nope.
Now flatulencecomes in all shapes
and sizes (seeing that it is a permeable
gas), and Dead Hot Workshop, though
wank and swank they may not be, will
still almost certainly induce nausea
with their we're-so-mellow country
strum and weaker-than-R.E.M. lack-
luster shine. Acoustic wattage cans
still shock with extreme voltage -
the Wipers and Billy Childish have
both been strumming listeners to

shreds for over ten years now. But,
apparently Dead Hot Workshop
doesn't own a large enough needle to
tap into this self-same vein. Only when
they crank up the distortion on the
closing "257," can they hold any sem-
blance of an engaging song. Not that
"257" is a good song - the minute-
long guitar solo about three minutes
into the tune shatters any hopes you
might have of a wankless song - but
"257" is the best of an extremely
weak and wasted offering by Dump
Truck Sandwich ... er, Dumb Shit
Convenience Store ... or is that Red
Hot Workbench?
Whatever.
-Matt Carlson

ONE MEDIUM PIZZA*
k hIS YOURS FREE
FROM MICHIGAN
BOOK AND SUPPLY!
BO *minimum purchase required

;:

EVIWN -.0 '10--E

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