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October 06, 1997 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-10-06

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ARTS

'Lone Star' state
A special free screening of John Sayles' "Lone Star" plays today at
The Michigan Theater. With an ensemble featuring Matthew
McConaughey, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Pena and Joe Morton,
this Oscar-nominated film trancends genres as it traces the intertwin-
ing lives of the citizens of one Texas town. Mich 6:30 p.m. Free.

'U-Turn' should stop for directions

By Neal C. Carruth the lyrical eccentricity of Lynch's characters (from his
Daily Arts Writer "Blue Velvet,""Twin Peaks," oreven "Wild at Heart"),
A funny thing happens during the opening credit and consequently fail to involve the viewer.
sequence of Oliver Stone's new picture "U-Turn." The Of the actors, only Sean Penn manages to strike a
words "An Oliver Stone Movie" appear on the screen. chord with the viewer, as he is run through Stone's
With this gesture, Stone clearly intends to draw atten- sadistic fun house of frustration, seduction, brutal vio-
tion to the cingaste's classic distinction between films lence (psychological, physical and sexual) and dou-
and movies, the former corresponding to those works ble-crosses. Cooper's every attempt to leave Superior
created for an elite, educated audi- is foiled, and Penn's nervous,
ence and the latter to works meant R E V I E coiled energy serves marvelously
for the unenlightened masses. R Ito express the escalating despera-
Ordinarily, one would expect the id-Tr tion of his character. This is a
words "An Oliver Stone Film" or bravura performance by Penn.
"A Film by Oliver Stone" to * The question of why Stone has
appear, but "U-Turn" is emphati- At showcase & state chosen to produce this mordant
cally a "Movie." Therefore, the celebration of gratuitous violence
appearance of this "middlebrow" word at the begin- can be raised. He staked out this territory in 1994 in
ning of a work by a director of such "high serious- his marvelously inventive "Natural Born Killers."
ness" and "social relevance" as Oliver Stone has a dis- "Killers" was a work of trenchant social commen-
concerting effect, jarring the viewer out of compla- tary that rightfully took its place aside such Stone
cency, setting one on guard. masterworks as "Platoon" (1986), "Wall Street"
Stone's narrative centers on Bobby Cooper (Sean (1987), "Talk Radio" (1988) and "JFK"(1991). With
Penn), a small-time con with a mysterious past en these films, Stone proved himself to be the only
route in the Arizona desert to pay off a substantial American director consistently concerned with the
gambling debt. When the radiator hose of his 1964 social and historical issues that cut at the heart of
Mustang convertible blows out, he is forced to stop for American identity.
maintenance in the godforsaken town of Superior, But in "U-Turn" Stone defies these expectations
Ariz. While there, Coopercrosses paths with a bevy of and offers up an unredeemed and angry gorefest. He,
disturbed individuals who suggest second-string appears still to be stinging from the vehement criti-
weirdos at a David Lynch casting call, continually cism that was hurled at "Natural Born Killers," lead-
straddling the line between banality and depravity. ing one to read "U-Turn" as Stone's cynical attempt to
These supporting characters, played by the likes of establish definitively that the American moviegoing
Nick Nolte, Claire Danes, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Bob public is motivated by bloodlust. Perhaps the new film
Thornton and Powers Boothe are too willfully sick to is an aberration, a momentary artistic U-turn in which
be understood sympathetically. Ultimately, they lack Stone is not only using the cinema to present his moral

concerns writ large, but also using it for even more
personal ends.
In other words, he spent 42 days of production and
$20 million to prove a very private point to himself, to
confirm his own worst fears about American sensibil-
ities. One cannot help but conclude that this is a cruel
and egocentric use of the public.
Stone's egocentrism manifests itself on other levels
in the film, in particular in its visual idiom. As he has
in previous films, Stone integrates a variety of cine-
matic techniques and styles into "U-Turn." Most of
the footage is in color, but some of it is shot in a black-
and-white documentary style and in grainy, disorient-
ing color. While this integration served well films like
"JFK" and "Nixon" (1995), in "U-Turn" it is executed
so self-consciously that Stone appears to be indulging
in extended self-quotation.
Despite these problems, the film does have its
virtues. Stone constructs a richly textured landscape
of breathtaking vistas and ordinary details that lends
"U-Turn" visual appeal.
Also, the score by Ennio Morricone, who appropri-
ately cut his compositional teeth on the spaghetti west-
erns of Sergio Leone, possesses relentless energy and
seems to have its heart in the right place in spite of the
overall work.
On the balance, Stone's "U-Turn" seems unsure of
itself. One is left wondering afterward whether Stone
really wants his picture to transcend the overworked
subject matter of the "movies," whether he really
desires to be a genre-buster, crafting a "film" that
incorporates elements of film noir and westerns, or if
he just wants to play a nasty trick on his audience.
One also wonders if filmgoers will be smart enough
to bite back at the hand that has fed them.

0

Careers in "Turn"-around: (Top) Jennifer
Lopez struts her stuff as femme fatale
Grace; (Above) For Billy Bob Thornton's
sadistic mechanic, grease Is the word;
(Right) Are Grace and Bobby in the
throes of passion or In the clutches of
death? Only Oliver Stone knows for

Star "Turn": (Top) Gambler Sean Pepn
knows when to walk away and wh( jo
run; (Above) Joaquin Phoenix and
Claire Danes play young Idiots In lvoi
(Left) Oliver Stone temporarily shu
conspiracies In favor of ultra-violent
genre flicks with "U-Turn."

sumx.
All mixed up: 311's jumbled mess 'Transistor' proves laughably resistible

,

311
Transistor
Capricorn Records
311 had this thing going for it: origi-
nality. They had it way back before any-
one but skate punks and snowboarders
knew who the hell they were. They had
it when they released "311" in 1995,
and radio didn't jump on the bandwag-
on until the year after. They were the
band who made a name for themselves
by touring and grassroots appeal. They
were the band you wanted to see suc-
ceed.
Now I wish they weren't so god-
damned big.
"Transistor," 311's latest effort, and
first since superstardom, is completely

laughable and utterly terrible. The
group's debut, "Music," was great,
although immature and inexperienced.
311 combined metal riffs with reggae,
rap and funk rhythms.
1994's "Grassroots" showed a great
deal of growth, with tighter
playing and lyrics that
weren't so trite. 311
showed it knew
how to rock a
party, and that it
had a smoother,
trippier, more
reflective side as
well. The strength
of the band remained
its live show, which is
what they aimed to capture
on their third album. "311" was an

amazing, fun burst of energy with much
better songwriting than they'd had
before. Then, MTV and radio finally
caught on.
Everyone heard "Down;" "All Mixed
Up," and "Don't Stay Home" about 3
million times, yet they still sound-
ed like nothing else you'd ever
hear on the radio. Fans had
the album "311" for a
year before they became
MTV darlings, and were
ready for a new album
for a long time. And this
is what 311 comes up
with?
"Transistor" has 21
tracks. That's right, 21. Most
bands record 20 or so songs for an
album and then include maybe 12. Oh,

no, not 311. They thought they'd put
every single piece of crap they recorded
over the last year and a half on the
record.
There's enough crap on this record to
fill a litter box.
I guess when you smoke enough pot,
you start to chill and get into this real
funky state of mind where you dream of
space and Buddhist harmony all the
time, cause that's where 311 is right
now.
The album starts with the title track
and current single, which is, unbeliev-
ably, the best song on the disc. It's a
weak rehash that sounds like a throw-
away from their last album.
The rest of the album will irritate,
and then infuriate the listener. Where
are the guitars? What is with this weak,

slow, trippy dub beat, song after song and oh so deep.
after freaking song? What Self-indulgence is one
is with this outer thing, but
space theme? The "Transistor" .i'so
song titles are far gone thit it
very similar: can't eve-'be
"Galaxy""Inner seen as creatwe.
Light Spectrum," This is exactly
"Light Years," what happens when a
"Starshines," "Borders," band gets big and dee s
and so are the songs themselves. A to flake out.
repetitive eclipse encompasses the Don't buy this album, no matter how
entire album with no clear bright spots much MTV tells you to, and let's seg if
anywhere to be found. 311 thinks before they release another
Imaginative lyrics like "Twilight disc.
zone twilight zone I'm / Floating in the At least they can still rock the stage
dark alone and / Is there any love out live - as long as they don't play dny
here let me know" from "Prisoner" new material.
sound like a Grateful Dead song gone - Colin Bartos
wrong. Everything is trite, overly naive

- MrCHrGAN
real music.
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IT'S NOT A CLOG.IT'S
Available for .t
women in ar
K, large selection::
of colors.

On Sale Monday, October 6
EMU Box Office
noon - 5:30 Window Only
By Phone, Tuesday, October
313/487.1221
EMU Student Tickets $8
Non-Student Tickets $12

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