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February 15, 1996 - Image 17

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-02-15

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The Michigan Daily - Wueste, ec. - Thursday, February 15, 1996 - 7

Romantic comedies tap Generation X sentiment

By Bryan Lark
For the Daily
Since the advent of motion pictures
over a century ago, love stories, in any
form, have been embraced by movie au-
diences of all ages. From the epic to the
incomprehensible, people have found
escape and enjoyment in watching the
romance between two - or in some
perverse cases three or four- characters
on screen.
In the '30s, comedy was fused with
romance to make more amusing, memo-
rable films. Once the two genres merged,
romantic comedies began incessantly
flooding movie theaters, starting with film
god Cary Grant and later featuring fallen
angel Hugh Grant.
The ensemble romantic comedy, popu-
larized in the '80s by "Diner" and "The
Big Chill," flourished temporarily, but
audiences soon found the formula obso-
lete. Pressured to revive the genre, stu-
dios in the '90s turned to people in their
20s, those unfortunately labeled Genera-
tion X.
With the release of "beautiful girls,"
interest has again been generated in Gen-
eration X ensemble romantic comedies.
The genre originated with the release of
Cameron Crowe's "Singles." Depicting
the misadventures of single people,
Crowe's film createdthe standardtowhich
every ensemble romantic comedy cur-
rently follows.
According to the "Singles" model, a
film must have: A good-looking cast
(Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon), characters
in similar predicaments (uncertainty in
both career and love), a hip city and
backdrop (Seattle - the high point of
grunge) and a soundtrack that includes at
least one classic song (Jimi Hendrix's
"May This Be Love").
The film was certainly not an astound-
ing critical or commercial success upon
its release. Nonetheless, it did spawn many
imitations and a multi-platinum
soundtrack. In fact, strangely enough,
each imitation has also done poorly at the
box office andproduced a relatively good
soundtrack.
Though other films borrowed many
elements from "Singles," the first bona
fide clone was "Reality Bites." This film

Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder search for love and the right job In the "Singles" clone "Reality Bites."

tellsthe story ofattractive singles Winona
Ryder and Ethan Hawke struggling to
find love and the right job in Houston
after graduating from college. The movie
was underscored by classic songs from
Peter Frampton and Squeeze. Do you see
a pattern?
The next "Singles" look-alike occurred
in the peculiar form of "Threesome."
Starring Stephen Baldwin, this is the tale
of three people searching for friendship
and sexual identity in their first year of
college, to the tune of, appropriately,
"Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order.
This film suffers from a blatant lack of
originality. If"Threesome"were any more
asinine and intellectually offensive, it
would star Pauly Shore. Although, if it
did star Pauly Shore, the love scenes
would be slightly more nauseating.
1995 brought the unveiling oftwo more
ensemble romantic comedies. Set against
the backdrop of New York City and fea-
turing a non-classic but pretty cool song
by Sarah McLachlan, "The Brothers
McMullen" injected the genre with the

efficient quality of independent cinema.
This helped the film overcome its predis-
posed Generation X roots and become a
really good movie.
On the other hand, "Empire Records"
was also released, or was not, depending
on your location. Since it was shown in
only two cities, it can be assumed that the
fable of record store employees, told to
the beat ofthat peppy Gin Blossoms song,
was one of the worst films of all time.
With that infamous film heading di-
rectly for video stores, one might think
that Hollywood has finally seen enough
such Generation X movies. "Beautiful
girls" proves this theory wrong.
Taking place in a working class Massa-
chusetts town, "beautiful girls" portrays
old and new friends, including Timothy
Hutton and Uma Thurman, drinking beer,
plowing snow, philosophizing, finding
love and participating in a rousing rendi-
tion of the questionable classic, Neil'
Diamond's "Sweet Caroline."
More Generation X ensemble roman-
tic comedies are in store for your viewing

pleasure - or discomfort. Despite con-
spicuous similarities, the forthcoming
films seem to promise departure from the
"Singles" school of filmmaking.
In March, we will be graced by the.
presence of Keanu Reeves and Courtney
Love in the dark, twisted "Feeling Min-
nesota." Jennifer Aniston and David
Schwimmeroftelevision'sromanticcom-
edy, "Friends," will also throw their re-
spective hats into the ring.
Aniston will be seen with "Brothers"
creator Edward Burnsin "She's The One"
late in the year. Schwimmer will star
opposite Gwyneth Paltrow and others in
the funeral comedy "The Pallbearer" in
the spring.
Since the trend shows no signs ofslow-
ing down, the only thing members of
Generation X can hope for, in the long
run, is diversity. -The day when Drew
Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell are to-
gether again (in a nursing home, remem-
bering the classic songs of Alanis
Morissette), is the day when we should
stop going to the movies.

Artists celebrate Black History P

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Today marks the halfway point
through Black History Month. In honor
of the spirit of this celebration, NBC
and a Web site
called Loci have
teamed up to cre-
ate Club Noir, a
World Wide
Web chat line.
Each weekdaya
since Feb. I a
different African
American musi-
cal artist has
joinedClubNoir
at9 p.m. ESTto
answer ques-
tions typed in to
them since the
beginningofthat
day.
Alan Cohen, Chaka Khan Is just o
NBC's execu- artists who surfed thi
tive vice presi-
dent of market-
ing, was right on when he said, "Never
before has the online community seen
an event of this magnitude."
Already such well knowns as
Quincy Jones (Feb. 1), Chaka Khan
(Feb. 2), Seal (Feb. 7) and The Sounds

of Blackness (Feb. 12) have answered
a myriad of online questions addressed
to them. Yesterday evening Barry
White did the same; tonight, Babyface
and L.A. Reid will join in the fun.
Loci, a site
"developed by
college stu-
dents for col-
lege students,"
was the brain-
child of Barnes
& Noble Book-
stores, which
recognized the
-'lack of Web
sites for col-
lege-age stu-
dents. Staffed
almost exclu-
sively by Bos-
ton University
students, Loci
e of the talented is a logical
Web at Club Noir. choice for such
a great Infor-
mation Super-
highway venture.
Questions for an artist to appear on
a particular weeknight can be typed
into the Club Noir database during
that day. The procedure for joining
Club Noir is as follows:

1. Join Loci's homepage (http://
www.loci.com).
2. Click on the statement which
begins "<artist's name> will be online
3. A list of instructions on how to
submit questions and hear the artist's
responses will be provided.
Guest artists include r&b vocalists,
jazz musicians, rappers and various
bands. The black artists scheduled to
appear during the rest of Black His-
tory Month are as follows:

Thurs., Feb. 15: Babyface and
L.A. Reid
Fri., Feb. 16: TLC
Mon., Feb. 19: Organized Noize
Tues., Feb. 20: Sonie Marie and
Tony Rich
Wed., Feb. 21: Toni Braxton
Thurs., Feb. 22: George Duke
Fri., Feb. 23: L.L. Cool J
Mon., Feb. 26: Andrae Crouch
Tues., Feb. 27: Tevin Campbell
Wed., Feb. 28: Earl Klugh
Thur- Feb. 29: Joe Samnle

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