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January 05, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-05

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RTS

'Ready' doesn't wear well
Altman's latest film is the emperor's new clothes

By SARAH STEWART
In 1993, Robert Altman turned
22 char ac lers, several distinct
storylines and a climactic earthquake
into "Short Cuts," a maze of a film as

Directed by
Robert Altman
with Tim Robbins
and Sophia Loren.

Wear" is a discombobulated series of
undeveloped storylines and charac-
ters that lacks virtually everything
except an abundance of runway mod-
els.
The only element of cohesion in
"Ready To Wear" is that it is set in
Paris during the annual Pr&t-i-Porter
(ready to wear) fashion week. Other-
wise, the many subplots might as well
be the start of many distinct films,
none of which are teeming with prom-
ise.
A simple plot rundown tells al-
most all: Terri Garr's lover is a cross-
dresser; reporters Tim Robbins and
Julia Roberts are stuck in the same
hotel room, only to become lovers;
photographer Stephen Rea is manipu-
lating three fashion magazine pub-
lishers; Sophia Loren's husband
chokes to death, and she and her long
lost first love are ecstatic; the Lo
design company is sold to Lyle Lovett;
and Kim Basinger is Kitty Potter, a
fashion reporter with an annoying
Southern drawl and a reliance on cue
cards.
Basinger's role, mainly interview-
ing designers and other fashionable
folks, serves to introduce some of the
characters and provide a limited means

of transition from scene to scene. But
basically, "Ready To Wear" is a struc-
tural free-for-all that moves from one
storyline to the next with little at-
tempt to provide clever or even logi-
cal connections. In some sense, this
flaw is an unavoidable consequence
of isolating storylines within a single
film.
The inclusion of the superficial,
purely sexual relationship between
Robbins and Roberts exemplifies the
problematic nature of "Ready To
Wear." The storyline is so isolated
that it has no bearing on the film as a
whole. Roberts can't resist sex under
the influence of alcohol, Robbins can't
resist Roberts and apparently, Altman
couldn't resist the allure of two big
names that add a lot to the film's
billing even if they add nothing to its
substance. What's worse is that most
of the other subplots are just as dis-
posable, just as pointless.
Fortunately, the acting in "Ready
To Wear" manages to stay afloat.
Roberts and Robbins actually play
their parts well - both actors are at
ease in their plush hotel robes or un-
der the sheets, which is important
considering they wear little else.
Sophia Loren, after her husband's

emorable for its complexity as for
disturbing content; by the end, all
the characters are intertwined and
almost every incident has significant
repercussions. Unfortunately,
Altman's' newest film, "Ready To
Wear," fails where his previous work
succeeds.
Instead of celebrating Altman's
ability to manipulate multitudes of
characters, as he did in "Short Cuts,"
d instead of using hoards of Holly-
"ood cameos with the same effec-
tiveness as they were used in his
1992 film, "The Player," "Ready To

Kim Basinger leads the ready-to-wear singers in a show-stopping version of that catchy hit "Here Comes the Hotstepper."

death, wears only black - a black
hat, black polka dots, black garter belt
- and gives the film's only stand-out
performance; she's sexy, like she's
supposed to be, and maintains a nec-
essary unaffectedness as she mingles
amidst the festivities of Paris fashion
week.
In a film like "Ready To Wear,"
in which almost nothing seems to be

right, there's a tendency to question
the director's rationale for follow-
ing through with the project. The
only logical reason behind the mak-
ing of "Ready to Wear" is the appeal
of the fashion industry. Anyone
who's been mesmerized by Cindy
Crawford's "House of Style" or ap-
palled by Kate Moss's practically
anorexic look will find something

redeeming about this film. If noth-
ing else, these viewers will be in-
trigued by the backstage glimpse
into modeling, amused by the de-
signers' eccentricities and exhila-
rated by the catwalk scenes and the
fabulous clothes, or lack thereof,
that comprise them.
READY TO WEAR is playing at
Ann Arbor 1&2 and Showcase.

Ex-.Irlfriend
It's a Woman Thang
eprise Records
"X in Your Sex," the first song of
"It's a Woman Thang," is fair, but it is
nothing to be bronzed and held up for
admiration. This description best
charscterizes the entire album.
Granted, Stacy, Tisha, Monica and
Julia - the four fine women of Ex-
Girlfriend -- have both spectacular
voices and drop dead gorgeousness;
this they proved in their 1991 fresh-
*an effort, "X Marks the Spot." Nev-
ertheless, these women don't offer
anything in the way of uniqueness or
ingenuity which makes "It's a Woman
Thang," their second release, worthy
of remembrance. This was the same
plague which killed "X Marks the
Spot."
With titles like "Can I Get Nasty,"
"Sexual Chocolate" and "Takes Me
sway," it becomes obvious that Ex-
irlfriend is obviously using sex ap-
peal to draw attention to this CD
(nothin' wrong with that). But, sex-
laden lyrics come a dime a dozen,
which basically makes "It's a Woman
Thang" good for a buck or two. With
the overall dullness of the beats and
unimaginativeness of the lyrics in-
herent in "It's a Woman Thang" -
overall a CD which just ho-hums its
y from start to finish-you'll soon
want even that dollar back. Further-

more, Ex-Girlfriend's pitiful attempts cape the comparisons to the late
to mimic the style, sound and flava of Vaughan remain to be seen; in the
En Vogue show, to the group's em- meantime, enjoy every track of "Texas
barrassment, that these women are no Sugar / Strat Magic."
En Vogue. - David Cook
This is Ex-Girlfriend's second re- Keoli
lease, and two for two, they blew it.

lV V , K V1 ii- , 1J V1 a.
- Eugene Bowen
Chris Duarte Group
Texas Sugar / Strat Magic
Silvertone
If you are into Stevie Ray Vaughan
at all, then you need to take a listen to
Chris Duarte. He accurately recreates
every nuance of Vaughan's playing
on "Texas Sugar / Strat Magic," re-
sulting in a monster album. From the
opening riff on "My Way Down" to
the final note of "Borrowed Love,"
Duarte's powerhouse, active guitar
work (complemented by John Jordan
on bass and Brannen Temple's drums)
makes every song listenable at worst
and fantastic at best. Duarte will not
be able to escape comparison to
Vaughan on this release --the shuffle
of "Letter to My Girlfriend" sounds
eerily like any Vaughan tune on the
radio. Duarte acknowledges the simi-
larity on "Shiloh." Weighing in at
nine minutes and 40 seconds, it is
dedicated "to Stevie and Jimmy;" it is
a classy, monstrous tribute.
Duarte's solos and creative riffs
make this album one worth checking
out soon. Whether or not he can es-

Journey by DJs: Keoki
Moonshine Records
Keoki, perhaps best known for his
Wednesday night jams at Limelight
in New York, adds another feather to
the "Journey by DJs" cap. Heavy in
sampled frivolities, Keoki shows that
it is possible to be a serious DJ and
have a sense of humor as well.
From the beginning of the album,
Keoki let his listeners know that he is
in control of this journey through
dancedom; cutting and mixing in his
own unique. Keoki weaves thick tex-
tures of music; combing track, after
track, after track.
His sound is surprisingly under-
ground for someone who is the guru
of the New York club circuit; Keoki
does not appeal to the masses with an
overly recognizable play list and pulls
no punches along the journey. Where
does he get his records...
The cover art and liner notes dis-
play Keoki at his campy best. The
liner notes are Keoki's promise to his
listeners to raise them to new heights
and his introspective picture on the
inside shows his intimate side. He is
joking, isn't he? He must be.
-- Ben Ewy
Dean Magraw
Broken Silence
Red House
Instrumental guitar albums seem
to take one of two paths: either they
all into the pit of Satriani-styled
wanking or they slide off down the
road to Muzak hell, treating the Cyndi
Lauper songbook as if it were a
fingerpicking goldmine. Fortunately,
Dean Magraw avoids both traps on
his debut, "Broken Silence." Known
primarily for his work with mando-
linist/fiddler Peter Ostruoshko and the
pair's brilliant and beautiful record,
"Duo," Magraw proves himself just
as capable in a solo setting.
While the occasional guest does
pop up on "Broken Silence," includ-

ing the ever-amazing mandolin of
Ostruoshko, the record is Magraw's
show. He is all over his acoustic gui-
tar, inventing chords, bending strings,
rolling the bass notes like distant thun-
der and squeezing sounds out of the
instrument that should not, it seems,
be possible. His songwriting shows
endless variation, as well. "Gracie's
Reel" finds him dashing off Irish runs
like he was born to do so while the
lyrical "Mohandas" is almost scary in
its spare beauty. Charles Mingus's
"Better Get It In Your Soul" is given
a solo overworking that still retains
the feeling of a full band. This is
passionate music, genuine composi-
tions that come from the heart, neither
sterile chances to show off nor watery
pop covers.
-Dirk Schulze
Korn
Korn
Immortal/Epic
Name aside, Korn is one evil bad-
ass, pissed-off, cool-as-shit
motherfuckerofan album tocome along
since Pantera released "Cowboys From
Hell." And there's a reason behind that
reference; there is no way this band
would exist if it wasn't for the angry
thrash riffing of Pantera.
Lead vocalist Jonathan Davis takes
a lot from Phil Anselmo, from the
gutteral mutterings to the bad-boy ma-
cho stance of the lyrics. But Davis also
plays bagpipes, adding a unique touch
to songs like "Shoots and Ladders."
Davis is mad, and sometimes it's
chillingly effective. "Daddy" is a 17-
minute epic told from the point of
view of an abused child, complete
with sobs and screams. This pretty
much gets the "Schindler's List"
award for cheery subject matter, but
it's also quite jarring.
On the other hand, "Faget" (their
spelling) is either extremely
homophobic or uncommonly sensitive;
the lyrics are too muddled and the point-
of-view shifts too much to discern the
real content. It doesn't help that the
chorus sounds too much like "I'm a
baguette," effectively destroying what-
ever content Davis started out with.
But I digress. This is not your
parents' thrash; Korn has taken bits of

Deep down, thrash monsters Korn just love baguettes. With cream cheese.

Rage Against the Machine hip-hop
metal, Barkmarket-style distortion
and Biohazard anger to create the best
debut album of the last five years. It's
the kind of album that can annoy,
anger, and provoke your sexually-
repressed, Gin Blossoms-loving, col-
lege power-pop obsessed, culturally
elitist, politcally correct friends
enough to make 'em run screaming in
horror. What a thrill it is.
- Kirk Miller
Shawn Colvin
Cover Girl
Columbia
Well, no one can say that Shawn
Colvin isn't audacious. This album,
after all, consists of 12 covers of songs
written by everyone from Bob Dylan to
Jimmy Webb to pal Greg Brown from
Iowa. Colvin offers softly sweet ver-
sions of them all, and while it makes for
some pleasant background music, it
certainly doesn't break any new ground.
Shawn starts off "Cover Girl" with
her interpretation of the Police's "Ev-
ery Little Thing (He) Does Is Magic."
All of Sting's "she's"become "he's"-
clue number one that this track is NOT
going to work. A pretty live version of
Tom Waits' "(Looking for) The Heart
of Saturday Night" follows, with Colvin
showing some very welcome vocal
abandon. Texas songwriter Willis Alan
Ramsey's "Satin Sheets" is worth itjust
to hear Colvin chirp, "Praise the Lord
and pass the mescaline."
Mary Chapin Carpenter contrib-
utes a fine duet on Brown's lovely
"One Cool Remove," and Colvin her-
self turns in aachingly sweet vocal on
the quiet, affecting "Killing the Blues"

by Roly Salley.
She gets ambitious with the Band's
"Twilight;" Colvin explains in the
copious liner notes that she "was sure
it was an old Civil War song," and
sings it accordingly. A countrified
version of Dylan's "You're Gonna
Make Me Lonesome When You Go'
brings out the best in Colvin's singing
and guitar playing. Her voice -usu-
ally so smooth, clear and girlish -
acquires a neat little twang and re-
veals an angelic throatiness.
It's a nice ending. And it's a nice
album, by a nice woman with a very
nice voice. "Cover Girl" leaves you
wishing Shawn Colvin would get a
little naughtier.
- Jennifer Buckley
Evil Mothers
Pitchforks and Perverts
Invisible
Raw industrial noise a la Ministry
circa "Land of Rape and Honey" per-
meates this record with the odor of
dung. Evil Mothers, huh? Oooh.
We're really shakin' in our Doc Mar-
tens now, aren't we, people? We all
know that death and crucifixion and
fucking God and prostitutes and bad
cops and sickness and junkies and
disease and poverty and social decay
and guns and greed and death and shit
and the blackness of man's universal
soul and death and religion and needles
and blood and death are so deep and
dark and brooding and intrinsically
artistic that we should be bowing at
the feet of such powerful doom-cast-
ers. Fuck that. These guys are full of
shit. Almost as much as Trent Reznor.
- Matt Carlson

I I --l----- .. . ........ )

Ex-Girfriend proves that their talent is inversely proportional to their looks.

w
f -4
UAC is looking for motivated individuals
for its executive board for a variety of positions
ODE'IM
friendly

lnterviews with over fifty law school
admissions officers reveal:

How the admissions process really works
How to write an effective personal statement
What makes a strong recommendation
Where to apply to maximize your chances for acceptance
How to prepare for the first year of law school - and beyond

,, a ,.

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