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September 30, 1996 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-30

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t8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 30, 1996

Flashy 'Basquiat' paints a mess

By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
Originally a New York graffiti artist known as Samo, Jean
Michel Basquiat lived a brief but eventful life that ended with
a heroin overdose at the age of 27. Although for a short time
Basquiat was the rage of the art world, he was tormented by
the pressure and expectations placed upon him after he was
discovered. The conflict that he faced is the focus of
"Basquiat," Julian Schnabel's potentially intriguing yet dis-
tant new film about the painter.
When we first meet BasquiatE
(played skillfully by Jeffrey Wright), R
he is a struggling spray paint artist and
musician living out of a cardboard
box. However, he has a bold, charis-
matic persona that endears him to
everyone he meets. It is this personal-
ity that enables him to brashly sell
some terrible artwork to Andy Warhol (David Bowie) at a
posh restaurant. The encounter with Warhol provides
Basquiat with his first taste of the hip modern art world of
the '80s.
Hungry for success, Basquiat gets the break that he needs
when, at a party, a prominent art critic praises one of his
pieces. It isn't long before the painter's work is being dis-
played at major art galleries. Consequently, every significant
player in the art industry wants a part of him, including
Warhol, whom he befriends. However, Basquiat eventually
sacrifices his integrity for fame and fortune, which ultimate-
ly leads to his demise.
Schnabel, an extremely famous '80s artist, wrote and
directed the movie, which perfectly captures the feel of the
whole New York art scene. Flamboyant artists, corrupt deal-
ers and sycophants parading as critics make up this world.


In Schnabel's film, these inter-related groups are dependent
upon and help define one another. Their microcosm of art
society reeks of insincerity, and due to money and huge
egos, has very little to do with art itself.
By creating the proper atmosphere, Schnabel makes it
apparent how someone's (specifically Basquiat's) work can
lose meaning. In order to be able to wear the fancy clothes
and attend the swinging parties, Basquiat stifles his develop-
ment as an artist by cranking out cookie-cutter imitations of
his earlier pieces.
Basquiat is fairly aware of what is
V I E W happening to him artistically; he knows
Ba that he is; being exploited by inaccu-
rately being considered the voice of the
** ghetto. However, Schnabel fails to offer
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2 an intimate portrait of the artist's psy-
che. We never get a sense of the psy-
chological makeup of the man who
knows he has sold out. Instead, the director provides dull,
superficial representations of Iiis pain.
All of this is especially unfortunate, given the complexity
of Basquiat's character. At times he wants to be rich and suc-
cessful; at times he just wants to paint. At times he wants to
be alone, and at times he feels too lonely and isolated. At
times he is a wonderful friend, and at times he is willing to
turn his back on the woman who loves him. Too concerned
with advancing the plot, Schnabel doesn't really try to
explain why Basquiat is like this, or why lie behaves in this
It is only fitting that this film is the brainchild of one of the
most representative artists of Basquiat's era. "Basquiat," like
much of the artwork of the time, is flashy and colorful, but is
far too immersed in itself to really be considered a profound,
thoughtful piece.

"Arf. Arf. Arf."

Spader and friends take a

detour in the crazy

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By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Writer
Forget the unbelievable trailers that
make "2 Days in the Valley" look like
the wildest, most exciting film of the
year. Forget the fact that comparisons
between it and some John Travolta
movie that Quentin Tarantino directed
have already begun to surface. This
movie is not that thrilling, and it sure
isn't another "Pulp Fiction."
Regardless, "2 Days" is still, a fun fea-
ture from first-time film director John
The complex plot involves a large
cast of characters who, in some way or
another, all come together by the end.
Explaining the whole story would give
away too much, but here's a general
synopsis. Two hitmen, Lee and Dosmo

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(James Spader and Danny Aiello) mur-
der the husband of a professional skier
(Teri Hatcher). Immediately afterwards,
Lee tries to kill Dosmo, who manages
to survive.
Dosmo ends up at the house of an
affluent art dealer.
He takes the deal-
er and his secre- R E
tary hostage in
order to escape.
Eventually the
dealer's sister and
a suicidal televi-
sion director are
added to the hostage list.
Meanwhile, Lee needs to return to the
scene of the murder to collect a large sum
of money. To do this he must get by
Officer Wes Taylor (Eric Stoltz), who dis-
covered the crime scene. As the movie
continues-and finally concludes- all
of the main characters converge.
The strength of the film lies in the
entertaining story penned by Herzfeld.
The plot is a tangled web of murder,
money, deceit, betrayal and all the rest
of that good stuff. Moreover, the film
lacks predictability, and the twists are
well-timed and somewhat unexpected,
yet logical (in retrospect).
And Herzfeld does a nice job of
maintaining an even hand with all of the
characters. Since each of the 10 fea-,
turedplayers have an equally important
role in the execution of the plot, a prop-
er amount of time must be devoted to
the development of all of them.
Herzfeld does this successfully, allow-
ing the viewer to understand why all the
characters behave as they do.


The other really solid aspect of the
film is the ensemble cast, which works
well together. All of the performers are
convincing, but especially strong are
the movie's headliners. Danny Aiell
Teri Hatcher and Eric Stoltz offer stri
ingly sincere por-
trayals of their
V I E WN roles. And James
Days in Spader is
ieValleyabsolutely chill-
ing as the menac-
ing hitnmin Lee.
At Showcase However, the
film is weighed
down by the poor touch of Herzfeld, t
award-winning television director ma -
ing his silver screen debut. At times, "2
Days" has the fast-paced attitude that
gives the movie its stylish look in com-
mercials. This is when the film is most
enthralling. However, it loses its edge
by featuring several overly sentimental
moments that can best be described as
Also, the movie's music manages to
be quite inappropriate. Not only does "
it work well with the flow of the fil
its ultimate weakness is that it detracts
from the action taking place on the
Despite shortcoiiiings that occasion-
ally give it aTV movie feel, "2 Days"' is
a worthwhile effort. Eccentric, and a bit
too hip (especially in the dialogue
department), the film features an
intriguing story and a game cast who
really get into their parts. Similarly,
Days" isn't too difficult to get into,
long as you don't buy the idea that it'.
the next "Pulp Fiction."

"Loved ya In 'Heat,' Ashley!"



The UM School of Music
Sunday, October 27 at Hill Auditorium
5:00 PM & 8:30 PM
1 Number your preferences-so if your first choice is unavailable, we can fill your
order with your next choice. If you do not indicate any other choices your check
will be returned to you if your first choice is not available. All ticket requests will be
filled in order of receipt. Limit 10 tickets per order.
2 Make a check or money order for your full payment payable to University of
Michigan. One check or money order per order please. Sorry, no credit card orders.
3 Include a self-addressed STAMPED envelope so we can mail your tickets to you.
If both concerts are sold out, your check will be returned to you.
4 Mail your order form, payment and self-addressed stamped envelope to:
Halloween Tickets, League Ticket Office, 911 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-
1265. There will NOT be an order drop box at the League. ONLY mail orders will
be accepted through October 1 1.
5 Please allow TWO WEEKS to process your order.
6 In-person sales for any remaining tickets will go on sale Monday; October 21 at
10 AM at the League Ticket Office. Orders will not be accepted by phone.
7 All tickets are reserved seating. No one will be admitted without a ticket, including
all children!
1996 Halloween Concerts Mail Order Form
Only Mail Orders will be accepted September 30 through October 11!
Name Phone_
PERFORMANCE LOCATION number in order of preference # TICKETS TOTAL
SUNDAY JMain Floor @ $7.00

Continued from Page 5A
with this new found popularity, howev-
er, and cried sell-out. Barlow replied,
"The day I made my first cassette to sell
it to somebody, that was when I sold
"I don't worry too much about kids
who think we sold out, cause they don't
know us," Barlow said. "I got a life, I've
gotta live and move forwardlin a way
I'm happy with. To me, to try to conde-
scend to someone else's taste is not in
the plan, really. For me to make pop
music, that's what I've always wanted to
On the heels of "Natural One,"
Barlow, Lowenstein and Fay released
"Harmacy," their best album to date.

"Harmacy" combines all of Sebadoh's
pent-up anger, gushing love songs, pop-
punk sensibility and musical genius
into a nice, neat 19-song affair.
Barlow and Lowenstein each wrote
half the songs on "Harmacy." Barlow's
songs tend to be the more telling, beau-
tiful songs, while Lowenstein's songs
capture more of a live punk energy.
Songs like the intense "On Fire" and
beautiful "Too Pure" are contrasted
with the harder, more angry "Crystal
Gypsy" and "Zone Doubt."
"I think ('Harmacy') is a lot more
powerful than ('Bakesale')," Barlow
said. "Comparing it to the records
before it is really tough for me, because
we just had a different idea of what
was going on, more like a collection of
things than like this 'band effort."'
The first single, "Ocean," has been


getting a lot of radio play, and the band
even made a hilarious video for the
song. The video makes fun of Barlow's
oft-heard reputation as the "most sensi-
tive boy in indie rock."
"When we first made the video, Sub
Pop were really worried because the
were like, 'no one's gonna know this 'is
a joke,' Barlow said. "We were like
'Well? Yeah! Isn't that a good thing?
That sounds all right!' There's some
guys who watch it, like Beavis and
Butthead types, who'll be like 'What
the hell?'That's fine. I think that's great
It probably won't hurt us in the long
The video shows Sebadoh live-i
concert, but don't expect blood a
Kiss, or hometown boy Barlow (he's
from Jackson, Mich.) to cry and kick
and scream and roll on the ground.
What you should expect from
Sebadoh, though, is an intense show
which showcases exactly why the band
is so critically acclaimed and so damn
talented. You might cry a little, you
might get pissed at times, and you
might wanna dance to a couple of the
songs, too. That's fine. I'm sure "cry
by" Lou and company wouldn't mire
one bit.
Continued from Page 5A
especially for those of us too young, or
unable, to have seen him before. But
how many aging rockers (The Rollie
Stones, The Who) hang on performing
in the same idiom, to the point where
they become pale parodies of thei-
It's to Springsteen's credit that he rec-
ognizes this - and the fact that he's 47
- and has made the hest of it. He's on

flo you're about to graduate.



The moment you've been anticipating since
orientation... But now what? Where do you go
from here? Well, here's the great part, you
don't have to go anywhere, because Nortel is
coming to your college campus! If you're
majoring in engineering, computer science,
busipess or marketing - or you're interested in
a co-op or internship - we're eager to meet
Sounds great, right? But who's Nortel? We're

"- N
R ;




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