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April 06, 1995 - Image 22

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-04-06

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, April 6, 1995

The La's weave a timeless melody

By Thomas Crowley
Daily Arts Writer
1989. The decade winds down and
the Stone Roses release their debut al-
bum- a sort of overture, not only for
the'80s, but for the last 20 years of pop
music. The Happy Mondays, the Char-
latans and a host of other Mancunian
bands take theircue, flooding the indus-
try with psychedelic dance grooves as
the new "Madchester" scene's Ecstasy-
Second
*&U

promising as Liverpool's greatest ex-
port since Echo & the Bunnymen, if not
-- dare I say it-the Beatles.
Then, strange things began to hap-
pen. Go! DiscsLtd.withdrew theband's
second single, "Timeless Melody", a
song every bit as charming as "There
She Goes", from wide release and gave
no indication as to why. A few years
into the '90s, and no one has heard so
much as a peep from the foursome. Is it
really so strange? It doesn't look that
way. After all, one-hit wonders have
long been commonplace in rock music.
The La's self-titled debut album, re-
leased in October of 1990, however,
depicts a band destined for greatness,
not for obscurity or for an occasional
spin on The Big '90s. "The La's", quite
simply, is a gem of an album. Singer/
guitarist Lee Mavers proves himself a
phenomenal tunesmith with an almost
uncanny knack for composing instant
classics.Let yourown ears bear witness
to his ability as evident on "There She
Goes", and know that the remaining 11
tracks on the album are equally as im-
mediate in their appeal; not one weak
song tarnishes the album. Passionate
vocals and chiming guitars deliverrock-
ers "I Can't Sleep" and "Failure,"
shuffles like "Son of a Gun" and
"Doledrum", as well as the eight-minute
acoustic epic "Lookin'glass," all go
exceptionally well, yielding an abso-

lute masterpiece of an album.
Curiously enough, the band hated
the album, or more specifically, they
hated what producer Steve Lillywhite
had done to the songs. They cited, for
instance, the use of backing-vocal demo
tracks as lead vocals, among other pro-
duction travesties. Shortly after the
album's release, Mavers told Melody
Maker, "D'you wanna know the story
of that LP? We walked out on it. Then
they mixed it and released it and it's the
worst thing I've ever heard, bar nothing
... It's not the album we had in our
heads, it's an album of parodies of our
songs. IfIhad to say anything aboutthe
album, I'd say don't buy it."
After retreating from the public eye
to spend a full four years brooding over
the liberties taken with their debut al-
bum, The La's reemerged late last year
to play a few gigs with Dodgy, Paul
Weller and Oasis in the U.K. The word
on the street is that they've begun re-
cording their second LP. The Stone
Roses took five years to do a follow-
up - if The La's need five, let them
have it. Despite the hyper-criticality
of Lee Mavers himself, album No. 1
attests to a musical ability that will
not sour with the passing of time. And
although the band might disagree,
halfway through the decade "The
La's" stands as one of the best albums
of the '90s. Buy it.

ingesting enthusiasts flood dance clubs
and raves the world over. A few miles
south of Manchester however, in a leg-
endary coastal town called Liverpool,
rock 'n' roll music gets one final word
in edgewise.
The band: The La's. The Song:
"There She Goes". Nothing fancy, no
new tricks- just a catchy little ditty
that clocks in at under three minutes
long. Striking in its simplicity, the song
not only got heavy airplay, but it also
worked itself into countless film and
television soundtracks; everyone's
heard it. The La's, their name
Liverpudlian slang for "lads", appeared

Local film people make films locally

By Scott Plagenhoef
Daily Arts Writer
More and more lately the best way
to break into the film industry is to do
it yourself. The D.I.Y. attitude of
young filmmakers, fostered by a new
type of director-producer, the credit
card auteur, is democratizing a still
outrageously costly industry.
Allen and Albert Hughes, Kevin
Smith, Richard Linklater: They each
began with aVisa,a 16mmanddreams
of the Sundance festival and have
seen to some extent their labor come
to fruition. Most recently and more
close to home, the Ann Arbor-based
film "the four corners of nowhere"
received mentions in "Premiere" and
"Rolling Stone" magazines and nearly
broke house records at the Michigan
Theater on its opening night.
Fresh off the local success and
national attention of "the four corners
of nowhere," another group of local
filmmakers are just completing the
full-length feature film, "The Incor-
porated." Created through Make Be-
lieve Productions, INC. in Farmington
Hills, "The Incorporated" is a decid-
edly new twiston the increasingD.I.Y.
film genre. It is an action-adventure
film.

The majority of the credit card
films that have come to national atten-
tion, such as "Slacker" or the original
rough photography of "MenaceII Soci-
ety," are slice-of-life works. They bor-
der on, if not reflect entirely, a reality-
based community, even if the actual
characters and events are scripted and
fictional. Each of these films, and
"Clerks" as well, is a reflection of the
director's own life.
"The Incorporated" is pure fiction.
Action-adventure is far from the near
sociological slice-of-life work of other
young filmmakers, and not only in tone,
but expense. In a genre in which the
biggestpyrotechnics, the trickiest stunts
and the most outrageous car chases are
puzzlingly associated with quality, "The
Incorporated" returns the genre to its
roots: suspense. Before the advent of
the green screen or other Industrial Light
and Magic special effects works, it was
the building of suspense which intrigued
an audience. "The Incorporated" is hop-
ing that the audience can recall the
ability to think rather than simply be
numbed by visual aesthetics.
Yet the list of credits of those in-
volved in the project must begin with
the visual: director of photography
Robin Browne. Browne, apart from

working on the Academy-award win-
ning big-budgetepic,"Gandhi," Browne
has action film experience as the cin-
ematographeroffourJames Bond films.
"The Incorporated" is the story of
an entrepreneur creating a new energy
source and inadvertently attracting the
wrath of a government agency, the in-
corporated, who in the process of pro-
tecting large oil companies threatens to
destroy the inventor and his family. The
single, idealistic man mixed up against
the rich and powerful has cinematic
roots from Alfred Hitchcock to John
Sayles and "The Incorporated" is hop-
ing to attach itself to this film tradition.
Besides being produced by a local
company, the picture was also filmed in
the Detroit area. Detroit, Flint and even
Ann Arbor served as locales giving this
film the same recognition factor which
drew many people to "the four corners
of nowhere."
Amongst the cast members are John
Reneaud ("Hoffa"), Ed Oldani ("Colli-
sionCourse"),andMichigan Statealum-
nus and New York stage actor Steve
Gibbons.
For now, "The Incorporated" is be-
ing completed and will be in the process
of searching for distribution. Kenneth
Guertin, director and producer, is cur-
rently working nights in the editing
room to finish the project. Film festi-
vals and local theaters such as the Michi-
gan seem the next logical step. Make
Believe Productions, their Emmy-win-
ning producer David Baker, and the rest
of those involved in"TheIncorporated"
have realized their dream, the creation
of their feature film, with a little luck
their dreams will follow the Smiths and
Linklaters of the industry and become
fruitful as well.
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Robbins is a real redee

By Scott Plagenhoef
Daily Arts Writer
Like Travis Bickle, but certainly
not in the same manner, Tim Robbins
is "part real, part fiction; a walking
contradiction." Robbins has a fresh,
boyish face, yet is often criticized for
his serious-minded, overly political
persona. The 6 foot 4 Robbins is a
physically commanding figure, yet
has the ability to hide his stature and
portray the humble, the innocent.
Robbins is, along with Susan
Sarandon, one half of one of the few
'40s-like glamorous Hollywood
couples, yet he is not a truly Holly-
wood actor. Despite the difficulty to
pin down just who Robbins is, it is
quite less a problem to define what he
is deservedly becoming: a star.
Robbins may have gotten lost in
the surprising cach6 of Academy
Award nominations bestowed upon
the past year's "The Shawshank Re-
demption," but as the film, virtually
ignored upon its initial release, has
courted an audience, Robbins is turn-
ing from a Hollywood eccentric to a
household name. Robbins' star-mak-
ing turn demanded he show both sides
of his public persona as the falsely-
convicted Andy Dufrene: a likable
innocent desperately attempting to be
a beacon of hope and promise in what
he feels is a not an entirely cruel
world, but a cruel situation which he
can alter for the better. Robbins'
Dufrene displays a restrained wis-
dom which Robbins chooses to bubble
to the surface of his character when
appropriate.
Robbins's failure to be nominated
for an Academy Award had as much
to do with the crowded field of de-
served candidates as it does his off-
camera life, but they were each prob-
ably factors. Robbins and his com-
panion Sarandon are amongst the
staunchest liberal voices in the liberal
town of Hollywood. Their plea to
assist the boat people of Haiti rather
than ignore them out of a paranoia

towards AIDS was considered inap-
propriate and boorish (OK, it was)
and has been much lampooned since,
even by the couple themselves at this
year's Oscar ceremony. Ironically, a
year later, Haitian refugees became
and still are an American foreign
policy concern.
Robbins' love of the arts and lib-
eralism has as its root his father, Gill
Robbins, a Greenwich Village folk-
singer. The younger Robbins would
eventually parlay his experiences in
the New York folk scene into his
directorial debut, 1992's "Bob Rob-
erts." "Roberts," a brilliantly con-
ceived and highly ambitious debut
project, is a mock-documentary sur-
rounding the senatorial campaign of a
right-wing, folk-singing businessman
who becomes a folk hero with his
self-righteous, intolerant preaching.
The Bob Roberts character origi-
nated in the mid-'80s on a single
episode of "Saturday Night Live."
The idea for the faux Senatorial cam-
paign may have derived from
Robbins' friend Robert Altman's
HBO series "Tanner '88," which also
featured a fictional senatorial cam-
paign.
Itis Robert Altman's recent come-
back work which has elevated Robbins
from his eccentric roots to a wider
recognition and viable lead actor sta-
tus. Robbins' early career featured
some notable moments, though, as
well as some forgetful ones. Robbins'
early film career features an alternat-
ing pattern of embarrassment and tri-
umph. The low point was his turn as a
ladies' man's lackey in the T & A
spring break flick, "Fraternity Vaca-
tion" (1985) and the peak his role as
minor-league pitching phenom, hope-
lessly empty Nuke Larouche in the
Ron Shelton comedy "Bull
Durham"(1988), the film in which he
and co-star Sarandon met.
In between, Robbins was a
showtune singing car pool driver in
"The Sure Thing," appeared in "Top
Gun" and "Howard the Duck," co-
starred with friend John Cusack in the

iing player
underrated cult film "Tapeheads," sold
cars with Robin Williams in "Cadillac
Man" and had lead roles in "Erik the
Viking" and "Jacob's Ladder."
Robbins failed to attract audiences
to theaters on the strength of his own
name, yet, along with Cusack, Johndy
Depp and the late River Phoenix,
managed to avoid joining his other
fellow young actors in empty, cookies
cutter ensemble films such as "The
Three Musketeers," "Young Guns"
and "Mobsters."
Robbins's persistence and insis
tence on choosing interesting roleg
over typical Hollywood fare was ro~
warded in 1992 by Altman. Robbins
starring role in "The Player" as Grif,'
fin Mill, an egotistical film studit
producer driven to murder a screen-
writer by the rumors of his upcomin,
termination at the studio . "The
Player," an on-target satire of Holly-
wood as well as a well-crafted taleof
suspense was punctuated by RobbinO
near-perfect portrayal of claustropho,
bic paranoia. In an industry in which
control is of utmost necessity, Mill is
loosing his. Yet despite Mill's pomp
posity and felonious action, he rep
mains charismatic, the audience re4
mains fixated. A walking contradie-
tion.
That contradiction has since had
lesser roles in Altman's last two film
1993's equally impressive "Short
cuts" and, this past year, the lessa
than-watchable "Ready to Wear," act
well as romantic comedy "I.Q." and
the Coen Brothers' highly entertain%
ing and stylish "The Hudsuckbi
Proxy," in which Robbins again bal.
anced naivetd and intuition. '
Yet despite Robbins' appearance
in no less than four feature films i
1994, it is "The Shawshank Redemj#
tion" that made Robbins a new toast
in a town he has often avoided, onee
lampooned, and has not yet fully
embraced. The film is not only abofft
the redemption of the falsely-accusetI
Andy Dufrene, but may end up be-
coming Hollywood's redemption to
Tim Robbins.

is is seen here in the fine film "Jacob's Ladder." Go rent It, it rocks.

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