8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 13, 1996
Ka IA. ..
'Grill' fails to fan the flames
The Melvins are one big, happy family, as you can see.
Melvins return to beloved
Detroit, hit. Shelter tonight
By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Despite poignant, powerful perfor-
mances from a renowned, though not
necessarily superstar principal cast,
"The Spitfire Grill" fails to spark any-
thing more than mild entertainment and
excessive sentimental goodness.
Originally titled "Care Of The
Spitfire Grill," this small, formulaic,
marginally charming, three-hankie film
debuted to inexplicable acclaim at the
Sundance Film Festival this past
January. "Grill" burned a Cinderella-
like path across the history of indepen-
dent cinema, gar-
nering $10 million
for its theatrical R
Nowhere near as 4 Te
original as its
course to a theater
near you, the plot
of the film is an oft-told fable of a
remarkable individual who lands in a
strange environment to initial prejudice,
overcomes social and personal obsta-
cles to change the lives of those nearby
and demonstrates the power of the
human spirit. Getting misty yet?
In "The Spitfire Grill," the aforemen-
thing is Percy Talbott (Allison Elliott), a
convict who gets a new lease on life by
moving to the tiny hamlet of Gilead,
Upon arriving in Gilead, feisty, heav-
ily accented prison travel agent (don't
ask) Percy hooks up with crotchety,
dilapidated Hannah Ferguson (Ellen
Burstyn), owner of the Spitfire Grill.
Get it? Percy's a spitfire ... so is
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2
Soon, most of
the townsfolk view
Percy as the messi-
ah of central
Maine and stop, or
Hannah ,.. as is the Grill. Where do
they come up with this stuff?
Working as a cook-waitress-gopher
at the hottest, well - only diner in
Gilead, Percy encounters only whispers
and discrimination, but overcomes the
degradation with her sassy attitude and
lack of shame regarding her past. You
Citizen by country-fried citizen,
Percy wins over the town, stopping
along the way for touching scenes of
self-discovery and female bonding,
deliberately reminiscent of another
film could be half as stimulating.
Digging deeper than the sentimental
exterior, full of sweetness and absurd
subplots, the true heart of this film is
Allison Elliott. Magnetic and fresh, she
makes this film worth watching: One
cannot help but be affected by Percy
once the credits have rolled.
The other primary cast membersle
give outstanding performances, irclud-
ing Ellen Burstyn's stab at the gusty-
inside Hannah and Marcia Cay
Harden's Jennifer Tilly impression
known as Shelby.
Still, there is little to admire about
"The Spitfire Grill."
Writer and director Lee David
Zlotoff, while to be praised for hisbusi-
ness savvy in marketing this unin4
tive, weepy motion picture, should L
blamed for the various shortcomings of
"The Spitfire Grill."
For instance, Zlotoff could havdeasi-
ly rewritten such choice phrases as,
"You saved my bacon today," which are
usually indigenous to buddy-cop action
Aside from the far-too-few com-
pelling characters, the only other posi-
tive thing to say is that the landsc4
surely looks like Maine, judging from
past adaptations of Stephen King nov-
els and documentaries about lobsters.
Once you've looked over every selec-
tion on the menu of "The Spitfire Grill"
- Great Performances with a side of
Bacon, Bad Dialogue Omelets,
Pleasant Foliage Platter, Sentiment
Sandwiches and Free Refills of previ-
ously learned lessons about yourself,
the best choice is to go home and fi
up your own damned grill.
By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
"Is it a filthy hell hole?" Melvins' vocalist and guitarist
Buzz Osborne asked about the Shelter (where his band will
be playing tonight).
When informed it's below St. Andrew's, he responded:
"Oh, it's there. Gotcha." With the precise value of filth and
hellishness registering in his mind, the interview is able to
The Melvins have been responsible for 16 tons of rich
creamery rock during their career. But they haven't headlines
a gig in Detroit in the last couple of
years (and albums). "We like Detroit.P
Sometimes scheduling doesn't permit
it or we just don't have the time. We T
always like playing Detroit. It's fun. We
always have a good time there," Buzz Dol
"Good time" and "fun" are words
sprinkled liberally throughout the interview, as are the
occaisional punctuated yawns of grogginess. To be a musi-
With a sound generally on the harsh edge of modern
music, the Melvins can trace their influences to bands such as
KISS, with whom they played earlier this year on five dates.
"It was real good. They were totally cool to us. We had a lot
of fun;' Buzz said.
Kiss had even heard of the Melvins covering some of their
songs. "They're real aware of all that kind of stuff about them.
Gene and Paul are the main guys and their brains are still
intact because neither of them ever did drugs or alcohol so
they're totally aware of anything to do with KISS especially.
And I have to hand it to them, they could get straight cock
rock bands to open for them, and for us to do any shows with
them at all is kinda cool. I can't believe they would do some-
thing like that. But oh well. It was fun. I was glad to be part
of it," Buzz recalled.
The Melvins' newest album, "Stag," is actually a bit of a
departure for the band in that it has many varied parts, rang-
ing from the traditionally swampy stuff to almost gleefully-
"We certainly wanted to do something that was a lot dif-
ferent than our last record. We're not the Ramones. We want-
ed to do something that covered a little more ground, but still
remained interesting to us. So it's good. I think it's our best
record, I don't know what everyone else thinks, but I'm happy
with it definitely. Sonically, song wise, everything," Buzz
And he's right. The album is masterfully diiferent from
"Stoner Witch" their previous album. It's almost like a skill
showcase. But be careful of how you
relate it to the band: "Some reviewers
E VI E WN accussed us of growing up on this
ie Melvins record. What the fuck are you talking
ight at the Shelter. about? There are so many songs on
s open at 6:30. call there that are (grunt) completely
61-MELT for details. fucked up, I don't know if that can be
considered growing up," Buzz
As for people who don't get it Buzz let it be known: "In
a world of bands that I hate, I think this record is really
interesting and creative, and if people fail to see that in it,
it's not my fault. It doesn't mean I don't think they're fuck-
ing idiots. They can go listen to their fucking double com-
pact disc of Smashing Pumpkins and get all the inspiration
What a nasty thing to say. Heeheehee. The Melvins have
better cover art, too, with images inspired by voodoo tapes-
tries instead of 19th Century fantasy angels.
Well, the Melvins are also doing their own thing with their
set on this tour. It's just them for three sets of varying crazi-
ness. "No opening bands. An evening with ... ," joked Buzz.
"We play a little over two hours trotal. So it's plenty."
The first set will run about half-an-hour and will be exper-
imental. The second set will be slightly quiet. And the final
set will be real damn loud, with both a Flipper and a
Fleetwood Mac cover. Make sure to see the whole damn deal.
The very first song is new.
start, depending on your perspective,
treating her like a side-show freak.
Watch the almighty Percy soothe
Hannah's leg pain with magic lotion!
See the amazing ex-con girl forge a
special friendship with the town's mys-
terious homeless man!
Witness Percy turning water into
Without going exactly that far, Percy
single-handedly revives the town, both
economically and spiritually, until her
honesty and true intentions are ques-
tioned by those who hold her most dear.
The subsequent final scenes are easily
the best of the film; they seem less like a
feel-good message movie and more like
an intriguing mystery. If only the rest of
the sluggishly paced, poorly structured
Singer Dali breaks out on her own
Singer / songwriter Cynthia Dall is best
known for her collaboration with lable-
mates Smog, and though no name or title
appears on her solo debut album, her
work is refreshingly distinctive. While
Smog's Bill Callahan appears on
"Untitled," contributing guitar and vocals,
the similarly stripped-down production values
are the only similarities between Smog's music
and Dall's solo work.
She's able to turn a question like "What are you getting me
for Christmas?" into a frosty, thinly veiled threat, and the
echoing pianos that make up "Untitled"'s musical motif
sound as if Dali was in a faraway place that's both
nightmarish and dreamy.
That's not to say that "Untitled" is a to -
pletely bleak record; on tracks such as the
Callahan / Dall duet "Holland" and thewist-
ful ballad "Bright Night," the album
achieves a remote, luminous beauty, and on
"Aaron Matthew" becomes downright warm
and genuine. Brittle, disturbing and magnet-
ic, "Untitled" shows that Dal] has plenty to say
on her own terms.
- Heather Phares
See RECORDS, Pagi
Continued from Page 5
new band and no one's ever heard of
The tour is sponsored by Calvin
Klein and Tower Records, where the
band will be playing Sunday at 4 p.m.
on South University Ave. in Ann
Arbor before the show at the Shelter
that night. With all the corporate
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sponsorship, Linton laughed, "I was
like afraid of (the tour), like when I
heard about what it was going to be
..." Linton said the whole CK thing
hasn't been a big deal, though, except
for at the beginning. "It so funny
because one of the guys at Capitol
gave us these CK shirts and we w-
gonna (wear them on stage) as
joke. Then we figured, no, we better
Linton said that "the true energy of
the band comes out" in Jimmy Eat
World's live attack. That's not to say
these crowds won't be the biggest
they've ever seen. If five people show
up to the show, Linton said that they're
"used to it." It doesn't bother them that
much, though. "When you drive 10
hours to a show and there's like no '
pie there, it kinda bums you out ... t
you just look forward to going into the
Linton said that the band will hope-
fully stay together a long time and keep
getting better. Jimmy Eat World is
starting with a bang. Go meet Jimmy
Eat World at Tower, practically in your
backyard, if you can't make it to the
Shelter, and then you'll know. about
something millions of people are yec
discover: what could be the next big
1031 E. Ann St.
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