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April 17, 1996 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1996-04-17

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 17, 1996 - 9

excitement freezes in Midwinter'

By Christopher Corbett
Daily Arts Writer
The first scene in "A Midwinter's
Tale" grabs our attention: A man faces
us, his back to the wall. Wired, he
babbles about the nervous breakdown
he's having, and we want to know more
about him - how and why did he get to
is breaking point? But in a flash, the
ame fades to black and the man disap-
pears.
Talk about foreshadowing! "A
Midwinter's Tale" starts out by absorb-
ing us into the fabric of a man's frantic
dream.
An aspiring actor named Tom, hav-
ing been unemployed for a year, leaves
his big city and ventures off to the tiny
town of Hope, England, which has lots
of sticks and just two churches. Tom
&ings with him an entourage ofequally
luckless actors, with whom he hopes to
pull off a modem-day production of
"Hamlet."
The film's humor, though obvious,.
proves strongest when it parodies
"Hamlet." Anyone who's ever read or
performed the play will laugh because
director Kenneth "Mr. Shakespeare"
Branagh ("Henry V," "Much Ado
bout Nothing," etc.) shoots for the
art.

REVIEW
A Midwinter's
Tale
Directed by Kenneth
Branagh; with Nicholas
Farrell and Joan Collins
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2
The ruthless Branagh rips the som-
berness of the tragedy to shreds with
lines like: "Hamlet, cast off thy colored
nighty" and "If you forget your lines,
say, 'Crouch we here a while and lurk'
until you remember them."
"A Midwinter's Tale" is one of
those films where, when it's funny,
it's hilarious (and when it's not, it's
awful). Almost all the good moments
arrive in the first hour.
During an audition, one actor
sounds like Yoda describing the Force
when he says, "'Hamlet' is not just
'Hamlet.''Hamlet' is me; 'Hamlet' is
Bosnia; 'Hamlet' is air, sex, death,
the desk."
One second later, an actress lands

the role of Ophelia by singing a sur-
prisingly slick rendition of "Heart of
Glass" which had me groovin' in my
chair. A handful of early, smart lines
shape up as the bright spots of the
comedy.
A black-and-white piece, the film
looks stunning at times. Branagh of-
ten holds the camera steady: In one
nighttime scene, a church looms in
the distance and a pair of actors, un-
der a wrought-iron lamppost, appear
as mere shadows on the screen. In-
deed, the film has an old-fashioned
feel; it looks like an old black-and-
white photograph.
When Tom gets an offer for an acting
job just before his "Hamlet" crew hits
the stage, though, we start to get that
sinking feeling. "A Midwinter's Tale"
becomes a series of melodramatic se-
quences.
Too bad we end up yearning, dur-
ing the final hour, for the film to be
over. Since so many helpless, inno-
cent people depend on Tom to stay on
and direct the play, we start to suspect
that there's only one way the film can
end.
Branagh goes so far as to proclaim
Tom a "sweetie" who is developing a
heart and shedding his neurosis. And

It's Kenneth Branaghi

Let's not forget who the director is here:I

how do sweet movies end? Because we
can guess what will happen, we don't
feel the suspense.
Since all the characters in the film
prove to be cardboard cut-outs, we don't

feel anything for them. The film slips
and slides at the end because it tries to
get us to care at the last minute. By the
time such cheese starts oozing from the
screen (suddenly all the actors have

families which run up to them and sob,
for our benefit, about their past) we
haven't just slumped over in ourcomfy
cineplex chair - we've gone into a
coma.

RECORDS
Continued from Page 8
Ride
Tarantula
Sire
tve Light
Mutiny Records
Whenever a band changes their
sound, diehard fans panic. To them,
the new material is nearly always is
inferior to the good old stuff they
originally fell in love with. This phe-
,omenon couldn't 'be more true of
Fide's fans. Their last album, "Carni-
val of Light," ditched most of the
group's trailblazing ethereal sonics
in favor of a more traditional, '60s-
influenced pop/rock sound. Most of
the fans hated it.
Unfortunately for them, the trend
started on "Carnival of Blight" (as they
unaffectionately dubbed it) continues
on Ride's final album, "Tarantula."
Songs like "Black NiteCrash" and"Sun-
*ine/Nowhere to Run" actually, um,
rock. Perhaps having to open for fellow
UK labelmates Oasis made them snap
and completely abandon their dreampop
roots.
Ironically, it's that very band of
conquering Britpop heroes that Ride
most resembles on "Tarantula," espe-
cially on the cringe-worthy "Deep
Inside My Pocket," where normally
fey singer Mark Gardener affects a
llow imitation of Liam Gallagher's
biting sneer. Like Oasis, Ride goes
for by-the-books classic rock sound,
with heavy riffs, long guitar solos and
clich6d lyrics. If possible, Ride crams
even more generalizations into their
lyrics than Oasis does - words like
"Beautiful lady, I love you so" and
titles like "Burnin"' hint that
songwriters Andy Bell and Mark Gar-
dener took lessons at the Noel
allagher School of Lyricism.
Unlike Oasis, however, Ride fails
to make something out of nothing
on "Tarantula." While "Black Nite
Crash," "Gonna Be Alright," "Star-
light Motel" and "Dead Man" work
as decent pop/rock songs, they lack
the propulsive power and charisma
that Oasis has in spades. Ride
sounds tired on this album, and it's
by no means a fitting document of
*eir capabilities.
More in keeping with the band's
tradition is "Live Light," which fea-
tures 10 of Ride's finest songs. The
blend of dreampop and '60s
psychedelia on tracks like "Birdman"
and "Seagull" show the band at their
peak. Seminal songs like "Chelsea
Girl" and "Leave Them All Behind"
receive an added spark from perfor-
mance, and the sound quality is excel-
While it isn't utterly wretched, "Ta-
rantula" is the weakest work Ride pro-
duced. "Live Light" captures the band
at their best but offers nothing new.
Ultimately, both are important to un-
derstand the band's limits and strengths,
something that the diehards may not
want to admit.
- Heather Phares
to TEL
Continued from Page 5
movement are all equally co-depen-
dent.

Lotion
Nobody's Cool
spinART Records
Nobody's cool?
If anyone's cool,r
it's modernist lit-
erary icon Thomas
Pynchon,authorof
"V.," "The Crying
of Lot 49," and the
liner notes to F
Lotion's new al-
bum. Pynchon, a
sel f-profes se d
drooling Lotion-
ite, drizzles praise
all over"Nobody's
Cool," and with
good reason.
What strikes
you most about Lotion contains ni
"Nobody's Cool"
is its versatility; just when you're ready
to pigeonhole them into a convenient
modern-rock classification, Lotion cov-

ers new and satisfying ground. That's
not to say the album is an incoherent
jumble ofeclectic styles; rather, it sticks
to a base of melodic flirtations with
cacophony, a la Husker Du, and lets
various influences mix things up.
Lead singer
Mike Ferguson's
voice often has
the same endear-
ing nasality as
Bob Mould, and
it works well on
garage-litetracks
like the opener,
"Dear Sir." Like
Mould, his tone
is assured but
fragile, and
handles personal,
intimate lyrical
themes in moody
glory. A lot ofthe
aloe, disc stays within
these confines,
and, amazingly, nothing seems redun-
dant. The crunchy, semi-anthemic
"Sandra" and the relentless groove of

"Juggernaut" are great examples of inno-
vation where formula easily could have
been.
On "The Enormous Room," Ferguson
might as well be Mark Eitzel, as the
track would fit seamlessly on any
American Music Club album. He moans
the chorus, "I'm going home/god bless
whiskey," over a smoky, sparse and
atmospheric mix of protracted guitar
chimes and sadpiano plinks, neveronce
sounding fake or pretentious.
Then there's the fun presence of
lounge music creeping into tracks like
"Rock Chick" and "Namedropper."
Lotion is no Urge Overkill, but the
loungey chords, performed slightly
tongue-in-cheek, provide a fun new di-
mension and complement the rest of the
disc surprisingly well.
Pynchon fans should pick up
"Nobody's Cool" just for his impossi-
bly hip prose that alludes to "The Love
Boat," "Times Square" and "The
Jetsons," and ties them into his Lotion-
worship in a few neat little paragraphs.
And the music isn't too bad, either.
- Dave Snyder

VAC's'Comedy Jam'arrives
at Union Ballroom tonight

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Want a few last-minute laughs
before final exams bring you to a
state of irreversible depression?
UAC/Laughtrack and Black Folks
Productions have teamed up to bring
the "End of the Year Comedy Jam,"
hosted by University senior Horace
Sanders. The show takes place to-
night.
The headline acts will be De-
troit native Tony Roberts and Deon
Cole, who hails from Chi-town.
Roberts, in addition to performing
stand-up here two times in the past,
has also made numerous appear-
ances on BET's Comic View and
H BO's Def Comedy Jam. Cole has
performed more than once at
Chicago's All Jokes Aside, the

same place where such names in
black comedy as Bernie Mac and
Adelle Givens first made names
for themselves.
Also appearing will be one of the
hottest up-and-coming stand-up
comics in Detroit, The Mighty Bo-
Bo Lamb, who is sure to do his
forever-hype kung-fu impressions.
Laughtrack co-chair Kirk Gibbs
promises everyone who attends will
have agood time. "If over 300 people
come, Horace will run in the naked .
mile. I promise."
Tickets for the "End of the Year
Comedy Jam" may be purchased
for $6 at the Michigan Union
Ticket Office. The show takes
place tonight, beginning at 8
o'clock in the Michigan Union
Ballroom.

10

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