The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 11, 1996 -11A
Showasis!Brits quench fans' thirst t
By Heather Phares
Daily Arts Writer
Like all mysterious things, there's
more than one way to look at Oasis. On
one level, the band is just five arrogant
Mancunians exhuming classic rock's
corpse. On another, it's a group that
demands a place for itself with legend-
tagrock'n'roll acts-and is wellon its
way to achieving that status.
Without wind machines, dry ice or
any mther rock theatrics, Oasis creates a
stadium-sized atmosphere at its gigs.
Their sweeping guitars, anthemic lyr-
ics and beautiful melodies are big
enough to fill stadiums like Earl's Court
in England and stretch the group's fame
worldwide. The now-ubiquitous but still
great'"Wonderwall" has been in the
clrts for more than 10 weeks, and their
second album,"What's the Story (Morn-
ing Glory)," has gone double platinum.
Mysterious indeed, considering that
Oasis was still playing small clubs like
St. Andrew's Hall just under a year ago.
However, their third time through
Detroit definitely, not maybe, holds
fame's charm. Twenty-eight-dollar T-
shirts, young 'uns swathed in flannel
and a mosh pit that won't quit christen
hesis as officially massive, a literal
oasis for music fans gasping in the
desert of grunge and hippie rock.
If the wild crowd at the State Theater
is anything to go by, there's a lot of
people thirsty for Oasis' brand of mu-
sic. From the first strains of "Swamp
Song" to the end of the lengthy jam ofN
"I Am the Walrus," the sold-out crowd
moshes, dances and whoops as if Oasis
is the only band on the planet.
And while they're on stage, they
*ght as well be. Even though the group
plays basically the same set every night
of their 12-stop tour, it's just another
example of Oasis' power to make the
tried and true seem fresh and new. Even
though the group's husic is mid-tempo
at its fastest, songs like "Cigarettes and
Alcohol," "Supersonic" and "Morning
Glory" keep the atmosphere charged.
Much of this spark originates from
March 3, 1996
lead singer Liam Gallagher, who, like
all other things about the band, is a bit
ofamystery. Though considerably more
animated at this show than at previous
outings, Liam remains a mostly static,
blank figure that sings with a sneer and
rattles an oddly-shaped tambourine. By
turns sensitive and a scalawag, he ex-
udes a deadpan cool when he sings
"Some Might Say" - and then throws
his tambourine down to help Alan White
play drums on "I Am The Walrus."
While he's not as technically good a
singer as brother/sparring partner Noel,
Liam is a large part of what makes
Oasis such a phenomenon.
Noel Gallagher's talent will always
be dimmed by Liam's superstar status.
Still, he grabs a chance to shine in the
middle of the concert. "The acoustic
set" has already become something of a
small legend at Oasis gigs, and it's easy
to see why. Sitting alone on a stool,
Noel sings three of his finest songs:
"Cast No Shadow," "Talk Tonight" and
"Wonderwall," emphasizing his fine
singing and song writing skills, which
often get overlooked in the hype sur-
rounding the band.
And Oasis is indeed a band, not just
The Gallagher Experience. Like a mu-
sical gang (though much tougher than
the ones in "West Side Story"), guitar-
ist Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, bassist
Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan and new
drummer Alan "no nickname yet"White
flesh out Oasis into the rock 'n' roll
monster the band becomes live. White
especially adds to the group's stage
presence with booming drums on songs
like "Live Forever," proving that there
was reason for Tony McCarroll,the Stu
Sutcliffe of Oasis, to get sacked.
Ultimately, Oasis are at the top be-
cause they are true to themselves. While
that might mean ripping off the Beatles,
T. Rex, Stevie Wonder and their grand-
mothers, standing almost stock-still in
concert and refusing to do encores, it's
nevertheless refreshing and exciting to
see them perform. Like new jeans that
surprisingly fit like broken-in ones,
Oasis' music makes their fans feel good.
That's no mystery.
Nathan Lane and Robin Williams sit on the dock of the bay in Mike Nichols' new comedy, "The Birdcage."
Lacking humor, Birdc'doesnt 0y
By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as a Miami
couple who operate and live above a drag queen nightclub
called, appropriately, the Birdcage, the film is utterly
unenthralling. Aside from the few sporadic moments of true
wit, every minute of the movie's two hours can be felt.
Like "La Cage Aux Folles," on which this film was based,
"The Birdcage" is the story of Armand (Williams) and Albert
(Lane), who have raised Armand's son Val (Dan Futterman)
together; the film follows their reaction to Val's announcement
of his engagement ... to a woman.
As the plot progresses, Armand's and Albert's openly
homosexual world, partially populated with drag queens,
Directed by Mike Nichols
with Robin Williams
and Nathan Lane
At Briarwood and Showcase
collides with the
of Val's future in-
laws, the Keeleys,
played to bland
perfection by Gene
H ackman and
The fact that the
families are polar
Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze before him, to don his
women's apparel as Val's "mother" to keep up the false front.
Under the direction of Mike Nichols, who is responsible
for such disasters as "Regarding Henry" and "Wolf," as well
as the shockingly good Melanie Griffith vehicle, "Working
Girl," the film is brightly decorated and attempts to be an
effervescent comedy. Ultimately, however, the film garners
roughly as many laughs as "Waterworld."
Greatly impairing its success is also the grossly unamusing
script by Elaine May. As the basis for the film, the screenplay
takes itself a bit too seriously, instead of emphasizing the
zany antics of the purposely stereotyped characters. None-
theless, the film should be commended for its overall mes-
sage of the acceptance and adoption of diversity.
Also impeding the light, farcical tone is Robin Williams'
mostly humorless performance. Not in top comedic form
since "Mrs. Doubtfire," Williams' work here fails to match
the unabashed hilarity of his annual appearance on "Comic
Relief." Then again, in such appearances, he acts naturally
wild, and in "The Birdcage," he is playing it straight, so to
speak, compared to those around him.
Shining through the otherwise dull film, isNathan Lane as the
fragile, effeminate cabaret performer Albert. A Broadway mu-
sical veteran, Lane showcases his impeccable comic timing and
natural acting talent in a role he seems born to play.
Hank Azaria, as the inept, Gloria Estefan-worshipping
houseboy, Agador, is another highlight. Recognized for his
work on the sit-coms "Herman's Head" and "Mad About
You," Azaria portrays Agador as a lusty, supportive lunatic,
with a penchant for cut-off shorts and bare feet.
All negative aspects aside, "The Birdcage," does offer
several hilarious sequences for your movie dollar, or unfor-
tunately, your $7.
Three such scenes, alternately involving a delightfully
boring study of American foliage by Senator Keeley, pecu-
liarly patterned soup bowls and Armand's training of Albert
in the mysterious ways of masculinity, fail to make the film
worthwhile as viable entertainment.
Mark Brown, M.D.
Emergency! True Stories From
the Nation 's ERs
"To talk of diseases is a sort of 'Ara-
an Nights' entertainment," writes
l iam Osler. If this is true, then
'Emergency! True Stories From the
Nation's ERs" is a safari into the dense,
tangled mass of people and problems
that converge in the jungle of the emer-
This book pounces on the craze of
hospitals as hotbeds for human drama, as
sparked by television's "ER" and "Chi-
cago Hope."You can almost seethe agent
the phone: "Dr. Brown? Remember
t book you had always wanted to put
togeth erbasedon experiences in the emer-
gency room? Well, this is the perfect time
to milk it for all it's worth."
Brown apparently spent a few years
researching this book, inviting ER doc-
tors and nurses from across the country
to submit their favorite tales about their
profession. Then he arranged them into
what feels like a -mix between "All
Creatures Great and Small" and those
Ocdotes in the humor section of the
'Readers' Digest": Tales of life and
death enclosed in bite-size pieces to be
snacked on at your leisure.
The book jacket promises the "raw
power of life and death" and that "you
might laugh out loud, perhaps even
cry." In some respects, Brown remains
true to his promises. There are some
humorous sections here, and the writ-
' g-ranging from the straightforward
the poetic - is certainly raw.
But there is a fine line between enter-
tainment and exploitation on which this
book balances. The author seems to
remain oblivious to the fact that most of
its reading public is used to being in the
position of a patient, vulnerable at the
hands of these doctors. Maybe that's
why I found myself cringing as I read
that the favorite pastime in the ER is
"making fun of the patient," and read-
ing stories of suicides and rapes under
such cutesy-morbid titles as "A Bloody
Mess" and "Doggie-style." Many sub-
jects that seemed to warrant a serious,
or at least respectful, attitude were
treated with a dismissive shrug and a
knowing chuckle. So much for human
At times, "Emergency" sinks into
disgusting detail, more than once mak-
ing me mutter aloud, "I really didn't
want to hear that." There are maggots,
disembodied limbs and objects discov-
ered nestled in various bodily orifices.
As these scenes are paraded across the
page like a freak show, their signifi-
cance is not fully explored.
The best stories here are the ones
where the doctors struggle with their
decisions, are somehow affectedby their
patients, or have the guts to admit oth-
erwise. One doctor admits a difficult
truth about learned numbness, "I rarely
suffer for my patients anymore." In a
series of letters, another doctor realizes
he cannot handle the rigors of his job;
hetakes a position as a director of a
medical department. These are stories
that say something worth saying.
Too often in this book do we feel an
impersonal distance between doctor and
patient, inspiring a mental picture of a
group of physicians on some lofty
height, staring down on patients with
disinterest. A real strength of "ER" is
that we get a chance to see the doctors
as human and imperfect, we see the
messiness oftheir marriages, the thought
that goes into daily decisions - and it
You can read "Emergency," on the
other hand, and expect to keep your
Kleenex box intact. Nor will you likely
be forced to set it aside to calm the
beating of your heart in the wake of"the
raw power of life and death." For that,
pick up the remote control.
- Sarah Beldo
opposites is not an issue; Val and his fiancee, Barbara (Calista
Flockhart), have neglected to mention to Senator and Mrs.
Keeley that Val's "parents" are Jewish and both men.
To ensure that the uptight Keeleys give their blessing for Val
and Barbara's wedding, Armand reluctantly agrees to pretend to
be an ambassador to Greece - and a heterosexual - when the
in-laws come to visit. In the best interest of his son, Armand
redecorates his flamboyant apartment, changes his mannerisms
and asks Val's biological mother (the disappointingly unfunny
Christine Baranski), who has never known Val, to play house-
wife for a day.
Supposed fun ensues when the Keeleys arrive at the Birdcage,
while Val's mother is stuck in traffic. Albert is forced, like
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