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March 29, 1995 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-29

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MT - M - t _. - E1..r _

QOtte mtcirn u Jw a tu

Spring Is sprung and sung
Spring is here, and the Arts Chorale will be celebrating tonight with a free
performance at Hill Auditorium. Conductor Jonathan Hirsh will be leading
the group through the two part show.. The first half will feature "Dies lrae"
by early Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. The second half of the
program will be the "Requiem"' by Maurice Durufle, a twenftieth century
French composer. Throw on your spring clothes and come check them out!

Page 5"
Wednesday,

March 29, 5995

i

'Exotica' is the ultimate tease

March 29. 1995

By Michael Zilbemitan
SDaily Arts Writer
The title makes it look like the
latest "Emmanuelle" installment.
it's being ludicrously mismarketed
as a sex thriller; people are already
asking for tickets to "Erotica," which
is a bad sign indeed. In reality, "Ex-
otica" is a neo-noir study of loneli-
ness and repression from the Cana-
dian writer-director Atom Egoyan,
whose previous work includes such
10 films as "The Adjuster," a story of a
,porn-obsessed censor, and the Ar-
menian-shot "Calendar". While this
particular offering, distributed by
Miramax, might not make Egoyan
a household name, its art-house ap-
peal is undeniable.
The action in "Exotica" is
confined to a couple of sets, the
principal being Exotica itself - a
eseedy, yet oddly respectable strip
bar specializing in table dancing.
The slowly unspooling story cen-
ters on one frequent visitor, Francis
(Bruce Greenwood). Francis, a
middle-aged tax auditor, struggles
with the loss of his wife and daugh-
ter by desperately shifting his fa-
therly instincts to people surround-
ing -him: Tracey (Sarah Polley, a
dead ringer for an adolescent Uma
*Thurman), a babysitter he still pays
Tempest

to spend time in the empty house,
and ultimately table dancer Chris-
tina (Mia Kirshner of the criminally
Exotic
~Pzrctedby Atom Egoyan,
with Bruce Greenwood an
Mia Kirshne
At Showcas
underrated "Murder In The First").
Christina's dance is an exact reen-
actment of vaguely incestuous fan-
tasies Francis is hooked on reliving
over and over: She appears on the
stage dressed up as a Catholic school-
girl, and her movements, choreo-
graphed to Leonard Cohen's "Every-
body Knows," are full of studied
pseudo-adolescent awkward daring.
Egoyan is a polite, patient voyeur: the
film eventually allows a peek into
Francis' grim private world, but not
before presenting us, in Altman's tra-
dition, with a slew of marginal char-
acters. Among them, are sinister club
DJ Eric (Elias Koteas), who looks
like Trent Reznor impersonating Ed
Sullivan, Exotica's pregnant man-
ager Zoe, and pet store owner Tho-
mas, all crucial to the plot at one

point or another.
If this doesn't sound like the
stuff crossover hits are made of, it
probably isn't. Egoyan's trademark
narrative techniques further compli-
cate the story, turning it from a moral-
ity fable into an intricate puzzle. Now
you know the technique of playing
with the structure is big when a film
like "The Jerky Boys" is told in a
series of flashbacks, but few authors
possess an ability to weave their tales
as strangely and graciously as Egoyan.
Barthes once wrote in his "Mytholo-
gies," "Striptease.., is based on a con-
tradiction: woman is desexualized at
the very moment she is stripped na-
ked." Egoyan knows it, and applies
this reasoning to the story itself. The
plot of "Exotica" unfolds tantaliz-
ingly slowly, in unpredictable little
jumps, and when some loose ends are
left, they're not perceived as flaws: A
stripper's G-string unavoidably stays
in its place not because she forgets it's
there. In some sense, the story's in-
completeness becomes its dramatic
high point.
The general morals of "Ex-
otica" have a lot in common with
those of "sex, lies and videotape": a
strip club is viewed as a microcosm of
the world where people would rather
imagine sex than have it. The para-

'Exotica' provides a good look at the seamy underbelly of life.

doxical nature of the "look, don't
touch" policy, in Egoyan's eyes, re-
flects the most terrifying of modern
tendencies: people distancing them-
selves from each other via mediated
images and carefully preserved fanta-
sies,
The movie has its flaws. At
times, characters' paths are crossed

just for the sake of further plot com-
plication, and there's a gay subplot of
questionable, relevance. The ending
disappoints on the most primitive level
- the entire movie was spent build-
ing up to it, so something just has to
blow up. As with any good tease, the
movie denies us this orgasmic release
of tension. But it's there, in the last

reel, where "┬░Exotica"'s main pecu-
liarity becomes its main flaw - the
movie starts to look like a brilliantly
calculated intellectual come-on. As a
saying attributed to Chekhov goes, if
there's a rifle on a wall in Act One, it
must be used by Act Three. "Exotica"
introduces an actual gun in its first ten
minutes but the shots never follow.

-_

Razor & Tie presents R&B res's

mixes
* orrison,
mandol..ins
By $heila Wisely
For the Daily
"Probably the trippiest show
yoj' ll see all year," said director
Pete Fletcher describing his Base-
ment Arts production of
Shakespeare's "The Tempest," run-
ning this weekend at the Arena The-
atre.
Through this performance,
Fletcher, along with assistant direc-
tor Karina Miller, attempts to merge
music with theater in creating a
"brave new world" where no direc-
tor has gone before. A bit ambi-
tious? Perhaps. But unattainable -
*:definitely not.
"It was something that Jim
Morrison dreamed about doing," re-
marked Fletcher. "You can invoke
certain ideas, open up new doors of
possibilities - of imagination -
with music and with words. Sepa-
rate, they're strong, but together,
they're even more powerful."
In having musical accompani-
ment with the University professor
0 Bert Cardullo/James Gardner adap-
tation of Shakespeare's script,
Fletcher hopes to conjure images
that will inspire audiences to think
beyond what is put in front of them.
Morrison learned that he could ap-
peal to certain emotions in his audi-
ences with this combination that
neither poetry nor music could
'alone.
...Fletcher hopes to achieve a
similar effect, but at the same time,
maintains that this is not a mod-
#ernization of the classic play.
"We're taking the myths of the
ages," he said, "and I have given
(the actors) the bounds that liter-
ally anything is possible, staying
in the fact that I want them to
communicate a message with what

By Tom Erlewlne
Daily Arts Editor
With their recentR&B and soul com-
pilations, Razor & Tie have cemented
their status as one of the finest reissue
labels in the country. What makes their
recent discs so impressive is the fact that
they have picked a set of important, yet
neglected, artists (King Curtis, Don Covay,
James Carr) and have given them their
proper due.
Of these three artists, King Curtis is the
most widely-known, as well as the most
widely-heard. King Curtis nearly defined
rock 'n' roll and R&B saxophone in the
'50s and '60s, as well as being afluentjazz
player. As a session man, he performed on
a literally innumerable amount of records,
including theCoasters' "Yakety Yak"and
ClydeMcPhatter's "ALover's Question."
As a composer, he co-wrote the graceful
"Soul Serenade" and Buddy Holly's
"Reminiscing." By the end of the '60s, he
became a star in his own right with his
sweaty, soulful instrumentals. KingCurtis'
career was going full-speed when he was
stabbed to death in 1971. "Instant Soul:
The Legendary King Curtis" illustrates
how significant that loss was. For the farst
time, the most essential solo tracks that
King Curtis cut throughout his career are
collected on one disc; the 23 tracks show
the saxophonist's wide stylistic range, as
well as his astonishing technique and vi-
brant musical ideas. It's a long over-due
tribute to a master of the sax.
While his music was never as popular
as King Curtis', soul singer James Carr
was also a master of his craft. Carwas a
powerful Southern soul singer with as
much sheer vocal talent as Otis Redding;
his recordings for Goldwax in the late '60s
showcase a vocalist that could cry and
shout with as much emotion as any other

singer, regardless of genre. But where
Redding was a phenomenally gifted
songwriter, Carr never wrote a song- his
talent lay simply in his voice, which left
him dependent on the quality of his mate-
rial. Two of his songs have become pop
- E
King Curtis
The Legendary King Curtis
James Carr
The Essential Jamnes C'arr
Don Covay
Mercy Mercy.' The Definitive
Don Covay
Razor and Tie
classics: "The Dark End of the Street"
and "Pouring Water on A Drowning
Man." Hundreds of artists have recorded
these songs, yet Carr's versions remain
definitive. Sadly, they were also among
the most obscure, since Carr' s material
has been out of print in America for
years. "The Essential James Carr" is the
first domestic disc of his materi al and it
lives up to its title. Not all of the songs
on the disc are first-rate, yet each one
features a searing vocal from Carr.
Without a doubt, he is the great lost soul
singer.
Similarly, Don Covay has been ne-
glected by history and reissue labels. Con-
sidering the strength of the 23 songs on
"Mercy Mercy: The Definitive Don
Covay," that oversight is nothing short of
appalling. Covay was an R&P songwriter
ofgreattalent; with his partnerJohn Berry,
they wrotehitsforChubby Checker("Pony

Time"), Little Richard ("I Don't Know
What You've Got But It's Got Me"),
Wilson Pickett and Fabian. Yet his best
songs-thebbistering"BipBopBop"and
the wonderful, gorgeous "Mercy Mercy"
- he recorded himself. As a vocalist,
Covay could croon, shout and rock - he
could do it all. As a matter of fact, his
singing was a major influence on Mick
Jagger (the Rolling Stones recorded
"Mercy Mercy" a year after it was re-
leased). Covay never had that many hits,
yet he managed to make the transition into
the early '70s with the lush, soulful "I Was
Checkin' Out While She Was Checkin'
In." Over the years his reputation among
R&B devotees has grown and this collec-
tion should continue to expand his audi-
ence; any fan of R&B and soul will find
much to treasure here.
Although the wait for these three reis-
sues was inexcusably long, the results
were well worth it - this music is time-
less.
If you have a strong 1
piano background,
you are invited to
audition
to learn to play the
BELLS3
Burton Tower
for the 1I
fail term
Callifor an
appointment
764-2539

they're doing ... to show people
that Shakespeare speaks to them."
Fletcher said that Shakespeare
has spoken to him by giving him
"so many insights on how to deal
with emotions and the complexi-
ties of life," and wishes his audi-
ences to share in those insights
while having a little fun as well.
A BFA Theatre junior, Fletcher
is making his directorial debut
with this production. However, he
is no stranger to the combination
of music and Shakespeare. He
appeared in a production of

"Macbeth" which experimented
with the convergence of the two,
and later worked as musical di-
rector in John Russell-Brown's
production of "King Lear," after
which he began attempting this
approach in his own work.
Now in his own project,
Fletcher is taking the approach
full scale. "The Tempest" will in-
clude a wide variety of sounds,
from live instruments such as the
guitar, mandolin and flute to re-
corded music. Even the African
drummers whom we all know and
love from Friday afternoons on
the Diag will take part in the per-
formance.
So for all of you who've been
looking for some trippy Shakespeare
with a Jim Morrison slant to help
make that mental transition from term
paper writing to hash-bashing this
weekend, look no further. Fletcher's
"The Tempest" just may prove to be
"the trippiest show you'll see all year."

READ
~. BTTERNATE
THAN NVER

I l l'/ l 13l' AAl171 "T

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