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October 22, 1996 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-22

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Look out!
Director Nicholas Roeg's 1973 classic horror story, "Don't Look Now,"
is a dark and troubling film. The gloomy movie is filled with famous
scenes such as a sexual encounter between Julie Christie and Donald
Sutherland, and a bloody climactic sequence. It will be shown tonight
only at the Michigan Theater at 7 p.m. Student tickets are $5.

Tuesday
October 22, 1996

5

'Sleepers'e
By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Arguably the most anticipated all-star film of the
fall, "Sleepers" will wake up a thus-far sleepy dramat-
is season as an electrifying movie that does anything
but lie down over the course of its two-hour-and-30-
minute running time.
A stirring film of friendship, revenge and the power
of tragedy, "Sleepers" stars everyone from the rain
raan to the sexiest man alive, from Travis Bickle to
Shep of "ER," - a virtual
smorgasbord of acting bravado,r
with a hearty, original storyline R E
'to match.
Translated to the screen with
brooding verve and dark bril- r®
fiance by writer and director
Barry Levinson, "Sleepers" is
Obased on last year's so-unbeliev-
able-it-can't-be-nonfiction bestseller by Lorenzo
Carcaterra.
Either fact or fiction, "Sleepers" tells the intense
tale of four young friends from Hell's Kitchen -
Lorenzo (Shakes), Michael, John and Tommy - who
live seemingly ordinary lives among the pressures of
the Mafia and the Roman Catholic Church in the
1960s.
Whether religiously reading "The Count Of Monte
Cristo," religiously consulting streetwise Father Bobby
,(Robert DeNiro) or religiously hanging out with neigh-
borhood junior vixen Carol, the four are busy being
inseparable boys doing boyish things like church-ser-
vice pranks, minor theft and rooftop tanning.
Their carefree days screech to an abrupt halt when
the innocent theft of a hot-dog cart turns grisly, leav-

nlivens tired film season

O
E1

ing a man critically injured and four lives shattered.
Convicted of reckless endangerment, the friends are
sentenced to juvenile detention at the Wilkinson
Home for Boys, making them "sleepers" in street
slang.
Once at Wilkinson, the Hell's Kitchen boys are left
under the guidance of four genuinely evil guards, led
by head sadist Sean Nokes (Kevin Bacon). Nokes'
supervisory techniques include everything from
lunchtime humiliation to pedophilia.
Enduring the physical and
sexual abuse, Shakes, Michael,
VIE W John and Tommy vow to survive
their ordeal and never speak of
Sleepers the horrors held within the walls
*** of Wilkinson.
At Showcase Flash-forward to 1981, when
the adult versions of John and
Tommy (Ron Eldard and Billy
Crudup) are now hardened criminals, irreversibly
scarred by childhood abuse, still living in the Kitchen.
Upon entering a greasy neighborhood diner one
fateful night, the hitmen encounter a weary security
guard they instantly recognize as one Sean Nokes.
For John and Tommy, relief at that moment is not
spelled r-o-l-a-i-d-s, but revenge.
With their two friends on trial for murder, journalist
Shakes (Jason Patric) and assistant district attorney
Michael (Brad Pitt) come together to concoct a risky
and elaborate plan to acquit John and Tommy.
Assisted by social worker Carol (Minnie Driver),
drunken defense attorney Danny Snyder (Dustin
Hoffman), mob boss King Benny (Vittorio Gassman)
and the reliable Father Bobby, the guys are inspired by
"The Count of Monte Cristo" to enact a more satisfy-

ing course of vengeance that will bring down
Wilkinson - not John and Tommy.
Epic, powerful and often shockingly suspenseful,
"Sleepers" is questionably crowd-pleasing, but
undoubtedly Oscar-fodder - chock-full of the tasty,
meaty performances the Academy loves.
Definitely earmarked by its too-good-to-be-true cast-
ing coup, the astounding lineup of renowned character
actors, though innately stellar performers, are surpassed
in virtuosity by their lesser-known counterparts.
Slimmed-down "Circle of Friends" star Driver
shines as the frustrated, lively girlfriend of all four
sleepers, Carol Martinez - perhaps due to the fact
that she's the sole female character of note, but more
likely due to her subtly charming performance.
Since Pitt, Patric, Hoffman, DeNiro and Bacon are
fundamentally supporting players, the weight of car-
rying the film and engaging the audience falls on the
capable shoulders of Brad Renfro, Joe Perrino, Geoff
Wigdor and Jonathon Tucker, young actors worth
remembering.
All its assets considered, "Sleepers" still leaves
something to be desired.
Chief among the detrimental factors are the lack of
depth, the sagging script and the monotonous Patric
voice-over, which all fail to mirror the quality and
emotional intensity of the plot, performances and pro-
duction.
Watch for the haunting, romantic, skillfully shot
scene with Driver and Pitt on the subway to get a con-
crete example of said quality and emotional intensity.
Part coming-of-age fable, part frightening expose,
part courtroom thriller and all outstanding, everyone
(including Academy voters) should be advised not to
let "Sleepers" lie.

Brad Pitt and
Jason Patric
(above) and
Robert DeNiro
(left) star In the
much-anticipated
Barry Levinson
crime epic,
"Sleepers."

Ween jumps from the
waterfall into Detroit
The world contains two types of mad-
men: Those who listen to Ween and
those who do not. The ever-evolving,
food.craving, scotch-gard sniffing duo of
Gene and Dean Ween has never been a
proprietor of sanity. Ween has shed its
image as confused basement-trippers for
one much more disturbing. On "Ten
Country Greats," Ween has taken on
country music. They've strapped on the
spurs, donned the 10-gallon hats and
.hired studio musicians who have worked
h both Roy Orbison and WIllie Nelson.
The transition certainly hasn't been a
bad one. The album contains more
acrotch jokes and drug references than
ever, still ringing true to Ween's pop-
savvy, well-executed releases of the
past. If you're still interested, Ween is
playing St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit
tonight with Bobby Ogdin & the
Shitcreek Boys and also Doo Rag. Doors
open at 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $15
*oin advance. For more information, call
(313) 961-MELT.

Criminals muse on joys of road life, recording

By Kari Jones
Daily Arts Writer
Check out the three gangster-homeys
on the cover of the Fun Lovin'
Criminals debut album "Come Find
Yourself." Pretty tough, right? Pretty
scary-looking, right? Probably packing
a gun somewhere, right?
"Well, the whole idea of the band was
to make fun of all that. And it's kind of
hard to be a tough guy with your tongue
in your cheek," vocalist Huey said in a
recent interview with The Michigan
Daily. "You know, growing up where
we grew up, that was like the predomi-
nant way of life, and we thought it was
hilarious that people were buying into
all that bullshit. So like to kind of mock
it, we're the 'Fun Lovin' Criminals' and
on the front of the album we tried to
look all crazy ... just goofing around.
Some people get it, and some people
don't."
The down-to-earth Criminals
appeared to have gotten over their idol-
atry when they took the stage at
Pontiac's Sanctum last Wednesday. Clad
in suits and ties, FLC smiled through
their entire set of gangster classics. And
who wouldn't smile? Porno for Pyros'
Perkins played percussion for a few
songs, and if you looked closely at the

flannel-clad man on bass, you'd realize
it was none other than Mike Watt.
"We just met (Watt) a few weeks ago
on tour with these guys, but he's like
our new best friend," Huey said. "He's
like our Uncle Watt. (Goes into a grum-
bling impression of Mike Watt) Uncle
Watt! Watt like you! Watt bear hug!"
Long before going on tour, however,
the band - com-
posed of Fast
(bass, keyboards,' RE
trumpet), Steve
(percussion) and
Huey - grew up
and found musi-
cal inspiration in
and around New
York City. The three former roommates
formed Fun Lovin' Criminals a few
years back, and so far their gritty, gun-
toting criminal rock has brought them
nothing but success, including a present
tour with Porno for Pyros. But the three
homeys have yet to let success go their
heads.
"Yeah, you meet Perry (Farrell) and
you meet Steve (Perkins), and you're
like, 'Damn!' I mean, the only thing
that separates us from everybody else is
that we happened to bring equipment,"
Huey insisted. "You know, we're just

U1

Boston's Scarce beats the odds

like you all - like 'Damn, that's Perry
Farrell over there!"'
Luck definitely isn't lost on the Fun
Lovin' Criminals - even in the face of
critics who don't understand their wry
humor and label them "white boy, light-
weight funk" or "Beastie Boys wanna-
bes."
"We're just happy to be in this - I
mean, to be a
musician, and to
VIEW be able to make a
Fun Lovin' record is the end-
. . as all, be-all. That's
Crinals where it began
Sanctum and ended for us,
Oct. 16.1996 you know, Huey
said. "I was in the
Marines - I know what a tough job is,
so doing this is totally cool. It beats
working for a living, and it really does-
n't matter what people say. Because if
somebody can dig the song, and it
makes them feel a little bit better, I
mean, that's what music is about. It's
least about us, it's about the music."
With their high-energy music and
fun-lovin' dispositions, one might won-
der what life on the road with FLC is
like. Does it ever get a little ... crazy?
"The craziest shit is when the police
come after you. When police get
involved, that's when it gets crazy -
other than that, it's all right," Huey
shrugged nonchalantly, referring to the
time a fight at one of the band's Albany,
N.Y., shows was broken up.
If you haven't seen the three comic
gangsters yet, look for the video for the
album's first single "Scooby Snacks"
on MTV soon. The song tells the story
of a couple of pill-popping Mafiosos
who rob banks while feeling the effects
of their "Scooby Snacks." Which only
leaves one question: What are "Scooby
Snacks?"
"Well, we thought it was (valium)
when we wrote the song, but it's like a

parochial term. In L.A., some people
say it's speed, some people say it's pills
of some sort - or in Newsweek, they
said it was pot," Huey said.
"Come Find Yourself" has been out
for close to a year now, and the band has
been fleshing out new material, but they
are waiting until they have time to go
into the studio before they start playing
any new tunes live.
"When we recorded this album, we
did it pretty much kind of fast. We just
went right into the studio and recorded
it, and it kind of kept a flavor- a spon-
taneity. So we don't really get ideas too
firm until right before we're going to
record. We have a framework, but we
don't really have the guts to it, Huey
said.
He also had a few words of wisdom
for the youth of America.
"Yeah, pay attention!" he insisted.
"Because, I mean, with this election
Dole is out and Clinton is in. But what's
gonna happen four years from now? We
really have to pay attention and use
these four years to our benefit."
So, there you go: Words of wisdom
from the smartest bunch of gangsters
you'll ever come across. Intelligence,
irony, comedy ... it's all in a day's work
for Fun Lovin' Criminals.
"What we do is we just make fun of
everything we've seen growing up. I
mean, we've seen people die from drug
overdoses, we've seen dumb mobsters
with pinkie rings acting like they own
the block, we've seen all that shit, and
we're just ... trying to keep the humor
alive," Huey said.
"Life is really fucked up. There's a lot
of good in this life, but to get it, you
have to use humor as your perspective.
Because if you lose your humor, it's like
you're just banging your head against-
the wall. You gotta be able to laugh at
yourself. ... We're laughing at ourselves
all the time."

Scarce
Deadsexy
A&M
Even when a band tries its
hardest to beat the odds,
sometimes it isn't meant
to be. Last year, on the
eve of releasing his
band's debut album,
Chick Graning, lead
singer and guitarist
of the Boston band
Scarce, suffered an
*aneurysm so debilitat-
ing it sent him into a long
coma. When he came out of it,
he had to relearn virtually everything
from walking to playing the guitar.
Needless to say, the release of the
album was pushed back until Graning
was well enough to play the songs on
it.
Late this summer, that album,
"Deadsexy,' was released. The band
*had their video for the single "All
Read
Fall Outlxk
A career / graduate school section
in Thursday's Daily.

Sideways" aired on MTV's "120
Minutes" and a tour was in the works.
Yet, because of all the internal stress put
on the band because of Graning's ill-
ness, Scarce decided to split at the end
of September.
It's a shame, not only
because of all the time
f and dedication put into
"Deadsexy," but also
because it means
there won't be more
albums like it from
the band. Ranging
from acoustic folk-
pop ballads like "Days
Like This" and "Obviously
Midnight" to grinding rockers
like "All Sideways," "Honeysimple"
and "Glamourizing Cigarettes," the
album is in the tradition of the best col-
lege rock from the '80s (Pixies, Sonic
Youth, Husker Du) but still sounds up
to date. A unique, eclectic band, the
likes of Scarce and "Deadsexy" are
scarce indeed.
- Heather Phares

i

The Fun Lovin' Criminals recently hit Pontiac while on their current road tour.

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