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November 12, 1996 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-11-12

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UjzAItdjtimR ~g 'Brazil' hits Michigan Theater
Terry GUliam's 198 l ftutdstc cult classic BrazIl, starring Robert
DeNiro, Johnathan Pryce and Katherine Heliond, is playing tnight at
the Michigan Theater at 7 p.m. Tickets are only $5 for students,
$4.50 for members and $6.50 for others. What a good opportunity to
see this outrageous film on the big screen.
Tuesday
~ u November 12, 1996

Soundgarden spins back to Detroit
Seattle rockers continue on a downward spiral after latest release

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
When someone mentions
Soundgarden, you probably think of
their album "Superunknown" with its

"$et it Off"'s Jada Pinkett (from left), Kimberly Elise, Queen Latifah and Vivica Fox.
Set It Off'a Cl ode

wildly popular songs
Sun." You probably
don't think of their
new album, "Down
on the Upside,"
because it's too
long, boring and
generally unworthy
of attention in spite

like "Black Hole
~PRE
The P
with Rocket From the

frontman Chris Cornell. "It was like,
how do we come up with a title that
covers all the music on the record with-
out misrepresenting anything. And
then, how is it going to look, and we
went through all these different ideas
and ended up com-
"V IEWing back to that
because it seemed
Dundgarden to be what we were
trying to say.'
alace onightfuatu s730 Entirely under-
Crypt and Tenderloin standable. "Down"
means the poor
work on the album, and "the upside"
relates to the success of

"Superunknown." How clear it is now.
The band recognizes its calculated
relation to single-oriented radio.
Guitarist Kim Thayil refers, with a full
complement of irony, to "Burden in
My Hand" as "The 'Hey Joe' of the
'90s."
The sad part is that Soundgarden has
followed the classic rock paradigm too
closely in some respects. A combina-
tion of trying to give the audience too
much of what they are expecting and a
general shift towards tired or drawn-out
songs has been a pitfall for the rock
world for more than 20 years; Led
Zeppelin, KISS, all of '80s glam.
Now it's Seattle's

By Bryan Lark
Daily Arts Writer
Part exploitative sleaze, part socially
conscious cheese, part erotic-thriller
wheeze, the formulaic yet innovative
et It Off" is more entertaining than it
a right to be.
A guilty pleasure of an action film,
"Set It Off" fuses
high-octane action,
fueled inner-city R E
melodrama and
heated romance for AM
an overall effect that
equals more than
the sum of its parts
detrimental parts
t include a poor, inconsistent script,
an initative heist concept and an overex-
posed South Central mentality.
Cohesive as an ensemble, the fero-
cious, fabulous frontwomen Jada
Pinkett, Queen Latifah, Vivica Fox and
Kimberly Elise set off this otherwise
dormant portrait of bank robbery with a
flair and fury that recalls the greatest
cinematic action heroines, such as
.,helma, Louise, Catwoman and the
4men of "Waiting To Exhale."
With explosions, volatile tempers
and an arsenal that would make a mili-
tia blush (although these women don't
just exhale), they breathe flames.
Explosive elements aside, "Set It
Off" is essentially a not-so-fresh cau-
tionary tale of four fed-up friends and
the consequences of their desperate
measures - but it's a FUN not-so-fresh
SCutionary tale!
tony (Pinkett) is desperate because
she has resorted to prostitution after her
beloved brother was murdered by the
police. She'll do anything to get her life
in order.
Desperate because she has lost cus-
tody of her only child, Tisean (Elise) is
guilt-ridden over the accidental poison-
ing she has unwittingly enacted. She'll
do anything to reclaim her son.
Frankie (Fox) is desperate because she
now unemployed, having been wrong-
1ly terminated from her bank-teller
position. She'll do anything to get back
at the world that has done her wrong.
Desperate because she has long been
generally pissed off, janitor Cleo
(Latifah) boozes, smokes, steals, kills
and' relishes her lesbian lover. She'll
just do anything.
Conveniently living in the bank rob-
bery capital of the world (L.A.), the
{r decide to rob a bank, initially
romising each other that only one rob-
bery will be executed. Soon, however,
they begin a wild crime spree propelled
by-greed, adrenaline and the horsepow-
erof a Chevy Suburban.
Alternating disguises from translu-
ceti masks to long-haired lumbeijacks,
Stony, Cleo, Frankie and Tisean pull off
some of the coolest heists ever filmed
- including the novel idea of taking

the getaway car into the financial insti-
tution with you and driving back out
through a plate-glass window.
While the gang is casing a bank dur-
ing the planning stages of a new caper,
Stony encounters seductive Harvard-
trained banker Keith (Blair

Underwood) and
EVIEW
$et It Off
At Showcase

before you can say
"Shoop!" the two
are buck naked.
Complicating
their newfound
careers, the four are
troubled by Stony's
and Keith's bur-
geoning relation-
ship, as well as the

of the presence of several good individ-
ual songs.
Well, Soundgarden is coming
around on tour once again. They'll be
in our general vicinity tonight, in
fact. Being busy, they had no time
to grant an interview to The
Michigan Daily. Instead, their
label sent an interview disc
that was, astonishingly,
even more lackluster than
their newest album. Any
quotes that follow are
taken from that piece of
whitewashed and boring,
band- and label-approved
trash.
Nevertheless, we will
attempt to determine
whether this new album is an
intentional piece of corpo-
rate rock crap or just a hor-
rible testament to how
musicians' inventiveness
can go downhill.
Soundgarden seems to
recognize its own lack of
ability on the album, as
can be found in its
name, "Down on the
Upside." "It kinda
came around, it kinda
went full circle, said.

turn.
Technologically, the band seems
somewhat divided in its downward spi-
ral. While the members do use odd
instruments such as mandolins deca-
dently, they buck corporate rock in pro-
duction.
One band member commented on
the producers by saying "Middlemen
usually try to make it sound a little bit
better," with a disgusted accent on "bet-
ter."
Several songs on the album are even
straight, vanilla demos. The resulting
grittiness is in some ways an old rock
cliche, but since the alternative of
disgustingly overwrought produc-
tion is a bigger and much uglier
one, the band's decision seems
relatively positive.
The answer to whether
Soundgarden had the
choice to lead its sound
where it has gone seems
clear: they did indeed.
.<Their motivations for
their decisions are less
than clear, however. Do
they want money? To
be loved? Do they
." actually believe that the
music they are making
now is worthy of their
j: ~ past performance?
During the interview,
:: Lollapalooza is referred to
as Liesapalooza. The main
thing to remember is that
Soundgarden bought into
that. Twice. Of course,
there's always a chance
that they won't play
-M1 much from this new,
boring record. But if
you stay home, you
won't have to worry at
all.

i

presence of a pair of nosy detectives.
They begin to individually doubt their
illicit behavior, find that money cannot
solve their problems, and learn that they
must take a risk or face the consequences.
Of course, some win and some lose.
Formulaic because of its been-there-
done-that aura and innovative because
of its screw-'em-all, female perspec-
tive, "Set It Off," as a whole, definitely
outweighs its problematic parts.
The first major problem is the slick,
capricious direction by F. Gary Gray,
whose music video prowess enabled
him to create last year's ode to doing
nothing, "Friday." His rapid editing and
hip cinematography inject motion and
pictures, but not substance, into this
motion picture.
The, second substantial problem is
the script. Written by Takashi Bufford
and Kate Lanier, the bullet-ridden
screenplay can be blamed for many of
the faults of the film - the nearly non-
existent plot crudely fills the holes left
by the action sequences, and the poten-
tial substance of the film manages to be
nothing more than that - filler.
Redeemed from the mediocrity of
the script and the direction, "Set It Off"
succeeds on the merit of its lead
actresses, whose fiery star-turn perfor-
mances harbor nerves of steel to match
their buns and firearms.
Also rather redeeming is the hip-hop
soundtrack that pulsates to the rhythm
of robbery, and includes new songs
from En Vogue, Bone Thugs-N-
Harmony and Queen Latifah, whose
ditty of respect "Name Callin"' con-
tains such acid-tongued lines as "You'll
never be the woman that your father
was."
Possessing an incidental narrative, an
air of classic exploitation and a "life
sucks" sensibility, the shamefully fun
"Set It Off" isn't adept at setting off
cerebral satisfaction or Oscar-caliber
filmmaking, but certainly sets off an
overwhelming desire to leave the the-
ater and rob a bank.
Perhaps only then, with the illegal
capital stolen by its audience, will "Set
It Off" be able to afford more than its
present wealth of mindless amusement.

Basement Arts proves sophisticated, talented
Off-the-wall 'Poet, 'The Sandbox' make for entertaining productions

By Tyler Patterson
Daily Theater Editor.
It is difficult to appreciate what the
double-bill ensemble of "The Sandbox"
and "The Poet and the Rent" accom-
plished this weekend. There could be no
greater disparity
between the two
plays chosen by R E %
director Lauren 1 The P
Miller. Yet her The '
cast successfully Ren
fused the bizarre Ar

DH
it
r,

1.11

and morbid
Edward Albee
play ("The Sandbox") with David
Mamet's off-the-wall children's show
("The Poet and the Rent") into a single
evening of worthwhile entertainment.
Serving the latter part of the evening,
"The Poet and the Rent" proved itself to
be the crowd favorite. Following the
story of a poet in search of his rent, the
play implemented a wide variety of
characters, all bringing exaggerated and
humorous qualities to the fold.
Jake Wagner as the Poet had the right
mixture of cluelessness and cheer as he
searched for a way to find $60 in order
to pay his landlord (Jason Lindner)
before the next day. Another notable
performance, put forth by Matt
Clifford, was of Kodiak Prince, the
wonder dog. Clifford took the typical

"doggie" role in children's stories and
gave him an edge. Whether it was
smoking a cigarette, gambling or recit-
ing canine poetry, Clifford brought his
sneering and comic contempt to good
use.
The show was
stolen, however, by
VIEW Matt Oberg as the
)et and the camp counselor
Aunt Georgie. His
t, Sandbox interruptions and
rena Theater commentary of the
Nov. 9, 1996 play inspired the
heartiest laughter.
Although pies were smashed into his
face at least half a dozen times, he never
failed to make it funny.
"The Sandbox," which began the
evening, did not sit quite so comfortably
with the audience. This play, which chal-
lenges the audience's desire to "know
what's going on," is always a difficult
piece to do. By remaining faithful to the
text and simply following the directions
laid out by Albee, this cast gave "The
Sandbox" a powerful persona.
The story centers around Grandma
(Stacy Mayer) being placed into a sand-
box by Mommy (Jennifer Davis) and
Daddy (Matt Clifford). Mommy, off
and on, gives cues to The Musician
(Michael Spatafora), who plays a
bluesy saxophone to set the mood when

appropriate. Rounding out the cast is
The Young Man (Jake Wagner) who
spends most of the performance doing
calisthenics.
It is clear that the proceedings are
some sort of funeral. The Young Man
identifies himself, albeit as an actor
delivering lines, as the "Angel of
Death." The play ends with The Young
Man posing over the motionless body
of Grandma.
There are two more clear indications
as to what exactly this play is about.
One is that the character of Grandma,
although childlike in the beginning,
handles her imminent demise with
grace. Despite the fear of her death, she
still retains the wherewithal' to com-
mend The Young Man on the delivery
of his lines.
The character of Mommy also has
some very clear characterization. She
was a somewhat dictatorial mourner, to
say the least. Albee drew her with harsh
and hard-edged lines, although he did
allow Mommy to retain some complex-
ity through her genuine sadness during
a crying scene.

The effects of these qualities, played
out nicely by the cast, made for a touch-
ing testimonial to the grandmother
character and displayed the sometimes
disturbing complexities of how we deal
with the death of a loved one. The play,
in fact, was dedicated by Albee to his
late grandmother, so this rather confus-
ing and highly symbolic play could be
seen as an unusual but sincere attempt
to honor her.
As the evening closed and the audi-
ence trickled out, the laughter and the
images of "The Poet and the Rent" no
doubt lingered on their minds. That per-
formance was no doubt a considerable
success. It could go completely unno-
ticed, however, that the more difficult
portion of the evening, under Miller's
astute direction, was the enigmatic
"Sandbox." A performance such as that
could easily be forgotten for its utter
smooth delivery of the "hostile-to-inter-
pretation" play. Rather than a sign of
failure, however, it is a testimony to the
sophistication and talent of this cast and
crew that such a problematic piece
could go unnoticed.

1+1

IOttawa 11
Intern ship

Free12oz. Chili]
with any purchase
valid after 4 pm only.
Open until 8 pm
Limit 1 offer per coupon " Limit 1 coupon per customer
Valid at Michigan League Only " Expires: 11/16/96
................ ................. .......

Ttg Akbigtn aiI
IS HIRING
for Winter Term!.

10 Openings Available
In the Canadian House of Commons
with Members of Parliament
May 6 - June 20, 1997
Six Weeks+ (47 Days)
Invites Students
To Two Information Meetings
on Tuesday, November 12
6 to 8 p.m. Political Science Lounge
6th floor Haven Hall
ani '

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