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March 08, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-08

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 8, 1995

'Shallow Grave' digs into dark humor

By Brian T. Armbrust
For the Daily
They scrutinize strangers, giggling
cruelly all the while. They peer
through holes in the ceiling. They saw
off limbs and burn appendages in
forests. So exists life at home for the
three central characters of "Shallow
Grave". Although burdened with
some faulty plot construction, their
tale delivers a most riveting, captivat-
ing and dangerous thrill.
The surreal story involves a trio of
20-something Scottish housemates
with completely different back-
grounds. Nevertheless, uptight ac-
countant David (Christopher
Eccleston), chic doctor Juliet (Kerry
Fox), and slacker wanna-be drummer
Alex (Ewan McGregor) manage to
turn their flat into an abode that ac-
commodates all three of them.
The three engage in affectionately
bitchy repartee, and sear prospective
fourth roommates with acerbically
cruel wit. When they unexpectedly
do decide to select someone else to
share the rent, the careful balance
between the three soon becomes ir-
reparably destroyed. Before it ends,
all three slink to new depths of cru-
John Hodge's screenplay merits

mixed praise. His finest moments
occur in establishing the three char-
acters through intelligently clever in-
terplay. Lines like "But Juliet, you're
a doctor. You kill people every day,"
work wonderfully. Hodge also suc-
ceeds in creating an unrelenting line
of tension, characterized by an inti-
mate degree of style.
However, examining some of the
Shallow Grave
irected by Danny Boyle
with Kerry Fox
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2

screenplay. The shots of thugs beat-
ing a man (with the audience witness-
ing the action through the glass of an
ATM computer terminal) and a char-
acter slowly creeping towards the
camera, spinning drill held aloft in his
hand, make "Shallow Grave" work.
Boyle plays with the rules of film
making here. It works. "Shallow
Grave" defies classification and genre.
Boyle gets help in creating his
picture with the efforts of cinema-
tographer Brian Tufano, who
smartly realizes when to drench the
expressionistic sets with light, and
when to obscure and mask them
with shadow. Simon Boswell's mu-
sic also complements the proceed-
The cast of "Shallow Grave" fares
well. Although none of them is likely
to gain any degree of celebrity through
this film, all three do their jobs. They
turn in credible, believable perfor-
mances. Whether engaging in whim-
sical banter or succumbing to their
basest instincts, we find validity in
these personalities. This is not the
sort of movie that demands heart-
wrenching soliloquies or stardramatic
turns to work. Instead, the subtle in-
terpretations by Fox, Eccleston and
McGregor convince the viewer that

motives that drive these characters
proves murkier than the Highlands. If
viewers can convince themselves to
forget these blemishes and concen-
trate on the action, though, a terse
thrill ride awaits.
The real star of this British pro-
duction is director Danny Boyle's
imagination. The story, risks
marginalization by a less creative di-
rector. However, Boyle takes advan-
tage of every opportunity to explore
exciting and risky camera angles and
points of view. His sense of pacing
and timing similarly enhance Hodge's

these are credible characters.
At this point, it seems a little hard
to adjudicate the significance of"Shal-
low Impact". Lauded by critics across
the country, it has fared surprisingly
well at the box office during its two

and a half weeks of limited release.
Whether or not this ambitious film
crosses over and becomes a "must-
see" hit like "Pulp Fiction" or "The
Crying Game" remains to be seen,
although it appears promising. Like

Black 47 have got your number

For years, Black 47 has had a devoted
following In their native New York. Fans
would Ilne up for hours to see the band
play one of their near-legendary
concerts at Paddy O'Reily's. Music biz
insiders were convinced that the band
would be absolutely huge when their
mawor-label debut, "Fire of Freedom,"
was released In 1993.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
Nevertheless, that didn't stop Black
47. Under the guidance of singer/
songwriter (and professional
playwright) Larry Kirwan, the band
turned out an album that rivals their
acclaimed debut - "Home of the
Brave." On "Home of the Brave,"
Kirwan's striking narratives are even
more moving; he manages to make
the life of a '90s Irish Immigrant
mythological. Also, the album
features a more coherent and
accomplished mix of pop, folk, rock
and hip-hop, making it as musically
satisfying than "Fire."
The fact remains, that no matter how
good Black 47 are on record, they
need to be experienced in concert to
be fully appreciated. Fortunately,
they're making a rare Detroit-area
appearance tonight. They'll be
playing the Magic Bag Theater in
Femdale tonight; doors open at 9
p.m., call (810) 5443030 for more
- Tom Erlewine

Continued from page 5
RCA Records
And you thought the Gregorian
Chant craze had ended. Guess again.
MoJoe and Dana Nicosia, also
known as Enchanted, came up with the
cool idea of mixing synthesized techno
style music with the newly revived
chants of the monks. In this case, all
chants come courtesy of the choir of the
Abbey of Mt. Angel.
Enchanted's tracks (surprise, sur-
prise) sound quite similar. Consisting
mainly of the chants, airy keyboard
noises, drum machine beats and on
"Enchanted" (did I mention the lack of
original names?), the sounds of the rain
forest. Nothing truly special, but good
for mindless listening.
Dana Nicosia does get in vocal
performances on "Angels (Mother's
Theme), "Love Vacation," "Fly
Away," "Heaven," and the afore-
mentioned "Enchanted." Her voice
suits the entire album; both have a
thin, light quality to them.
All in all, the little talent theNicosias
collectively possess somehow produced
this album. MoJoe produced, mixed,
arranged and engineered each track,

and Dana sang little tidbits. The end
result? A CD that could easily be played
in any club or be sitting in the please-
buy-me-rack at the music store. Either
way, do yourselftwo favors: save money
by not purchasing "Enchanted" and lis-
ten to better music.
- Ella de Leon
The hardcore punk band Samiam's
latest release, "Clumsy", is fresh and
energetic pop with a brooding attitude.
Filled withpowerful riffs,"Clumsy"
refuses to roll over and die, pushing its
emotional songs throughout the album.
Between the songs of broken relation-
ships and the grinding daily routines of
life, Samiam get into deeper and more
interesting topics as in "Stepson" and
also "Simca," a modern day Beach
Boys-esque story about a car.
Throughout the pounding punk
drums, and the upbeat guitar work,
vocalist Jason Beebout screams and
yells throughout the album in a sort of
melodic way. On the typical, yet col-
orful "Bad Day," he sings "It's been
another bad day / Just saw a dog get
hit on the freeway / With my stomach
in my mouth /1I almost hit a truck
driving in the next lane."
On other tracks like "No Size That


Now hiring for Spring/Summer & Fall/Winter terms
Application deadline this Friday, March 10, 1995

these two films, "Shallow Grave"
certainly provides audiences with an
intriguing and exciting tale. If this
film is not for everybody, at least
detractors will not be able to claim
Small," and the first single,'"Cap-
sized," the music is saturated with
captivating guitar and bass lines giv-
ing the album a constant flow of en-
ergy and creativity. Most of the other
tracks are just as good, with only a
few feeling repetitious and dragging.
With Green Day opening the
doors of '90s pop punk to sheltered
people everywhere, new and superb
albums from talented and harder
bands like Samiam and Bad Reli-
gion are getting their shots at being
poster pinups for teenagers every-
- Brian A. Gnatt
I Hope You're Sitting Down *
Merge Records
Over the past five years, Merge
Records has established itself as one
of the best independent record la-
bels. In the past year, Merge has put
out great new releases from the Mag-
netic Fields, the 3D's, Polvo,
Portastatic, Superchunk and now
Lambchop is a 10 piece band
from Nashville whose debut album,
"I Hope You're Sitting Down", is
one of the most diverse and interest-
ing albums released so far this year.
Diverse musical styles are incorpo-
rated from country, blues, Sonic
Youth noise, jazz and just about
everything else into mellow, often
beautiful songs. Instruments vary
from mandolins to saxophones t
string accompaniment. The lead
singer sounds almost like Lou Reed
in a strong country drawl, telling
strange tales about drugs, women
and air-fresheners.
"I Hope You're Sitting Down" is a
great album that gets better with every
-Ariel Gandsman
Zbigniew Preisner
Trois Couleurs - Red, Bande
Originale Du Film
Virgin Records America
The soundtrack from the lastpart
of a trilogy, "Red" is an album with
contemplative mood music for ca-
fes and snazzy dinners. The orches-
trations' subtly consistently buildsr
but never lets loose - and that is
surprisingly good.
The album leaves you wanting,
but it reflects the general mood of the
film; it does not hit you over the head
with melodrama. Instead, when you
feel sure that violins will set the score
on fire, the lilting guitar of Januez
Strobel fades into the forefront.
It sounds how you expect a Eu-
ropean film to sound, especially
when the voice of Zbigniew
Zamachowski graces the opening@
track. In general, the album carries
a rainy-day feel which is perfect for
contemplative tea sipping.
-Dustin E. Howes
Continued from page 5
sion of the song.
Other highlights of the show were.
"Radio," "Side Kick," and the band's

first single off "Let's Go," "Nihil-
ism." Armstrong and Frederiksen
were constantly dancing and jumping
around like little kids who can't sit
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