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November 20, 1998 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-20

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Fmazin' gets its Groove
Amazin' Blue performs tonight at Rackham Auditorium. Find out
how "Amazin' Got Its Groove Back" tonight as the a cappella sen-
sation performs its fall concert. The singing begins at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $6, and are available at Michigan Union Ticket Office.
Also, check out Amazin' Blue on Monday, as it performs with two
professional a cappella groups in the Union Ballroom at 7 p.m.

A1 j e i d j m a a f

Mceay in Daily Arts:
8 Catch a review of MUSKET's production "Grease," a review
of the film "American History X" and a look into the holiday
movie line-up in an action-packed Daily Arts.

Friday
November 20, 1998

8

'Newton' r
By Garth Hutel
Daily Arts Writer
People say that activism is dead, even at the fas-
tidiously liberal University of Michigan.
Countered, with examples such as the recent
wave of protests against the potential bombing of
Iraq, the establishment of the Coalition to Defend
Affirmative Action By Any Means Necessary and,
to a much lesser degree, the huge number of can-
didates for the Michigan Student Assembly, those
denying the death of activism seem to Wive a pret-
ty good argument.
But the cynics will respond, with perhaps a head
shake and a knowing grin, that these political
activists are painfully moderate compared to those
of the '60s.

ecounts activism's past

A Huey R
Newton
Story
Trueblood Theater
Tonight at 8

For a return to those days of
progress and cultural upheaval
try taking a dive into the life
of one particularly deep and
enigmatic activist in "A Huey
P. Newton Story," playing
through tomorrow at the
Trueblood Theatre.
Created and performed by
Roger Guenveur Smith, this
one-man show combines ele-
ments of Newton's writings
and speeches, archival news
commentary and a throbbing
original score, provided live
by composer Marc Anthony

can't blame him for noticing the makeup of our
own activist clique, whom Smith dubs the "White
Panthers"), Smith gives Newton an enjoyable,
speedy wit, that emerges everywhere from his
thoughts on poetry to the NBA.
Having appeared in numerous television shows
and films, including Spike Lee's "Do the Right
Thing" and "Malcolm X," Smith's acting is never
in question. It's the show itself, which Smith cre-
ated with Thompson, that leaves us asking for
more. A brilliant portrayal of a complex historical
figure can only give us so much, about as much as
carefully edited archival footage.
But if that were all we wanted, we could find a
documentary and see the real Huey P. Newton.
Smith realizes that he needs to add more to his
show to get it moving, but what he adds doesn't
work.
The failure to progress into anything beyond a
great performance is easily seen in an interlude
where Smith performs a dance, his back to the
audience, his nose constantly sniffing to indicate
Newton's unfortunate demise into drug abuse. The
scene is blatant exposition, unsuccessfully
attempting to cover it up with poorly executed
concept.
But you'll have to bear through that to experi-
ence the finale, an introspective, gentle ending in
which Smith once again proves himself great,
encompassing many facets of his character in one
short speech.
The last monologue comes across as Newton's
death, with help from Smith's fantastic nuances
and Thompson's Angelo Badalamenti-esque syn-
thesized music, tied together with Macbeth's final
monologue, a favorite of Newton's.
Newton's life did not end as luxuriously as
Smith's performance piece. He was murdered in
Oakland, Calif., during a drug-related incident.
Although he and arguably the movement that he
helped create are now dead, reliving the past is an
available option this weekend at the Trueblood. If
voting for the Defend Affirmative Action Party
doesn't quench your activist desires, then maybe
seeing "A Huey P. Newton Story" will.
"A Huey P Newton Story" runs through Saturday
at 8 p.m. Admission is $25. For more information
call (734) 764-2538.

Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures
Will Smith prays that there is a button on his fly In his dash through the
streets In the new film "Enemy of the State."
'Enemy' lacks a story

I
I

Thompson, to create a portrait of the late co-
founder of the Black Panther Party for Self
Defense.
Smith's portrayal of the man, undeniably a strik-
ingly thorough characterization, suffers from
being placed in a piece that cannot offer the
opportunities necessary to turn a remarkable per-
formance into an equally remarkable show.
Piped-in audio clips from Newton and his peers,
including his fellow Black Panthers, play before
the show begins.
"Gradually they fade out and are replaced by
eerie, transcendent spirituals and news bytes from
the day Newton was murdered. Onto the stage
walks Smith, or as far as we are concerned,
Newton himself. The character is developed so

Courtesy pa.
Roger Guenveur Smith created and stars in "A Huey P.
Newton Story."
evenly and effortlessly that the chain-smoking,
leg-twitching man with the Louisiana drawl sitting
in that chair, speaking reservedly into the micro-
phone.
Smith's integration into Newton never lets up,
nor does his intensity. He manages to establish a
brilliant rapport with the audience while almost
constantly berating them.
That audience, by the way, is composed of '90s
Ann Arbor-ites, and Newton knows it. By treating
his audience as such, rather than as contempo-
raries of Newton, Smith chooses to abandon the
documentary feel that his performance elicited,
breaking down any fourth wall that we might build
in either time or space.
Though a little heavy on the "local" jokes (you

MxPx goes all the way to St. Andrew's Hall

By Gabe Fajuri
Daily Arts Writer
Christian punk rock? There are few
other word combinations in the English
language that are more diametrically
opposed.

r

MxPX
St. Andrew's Hall
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Strange though
the label may be,
for six years,
MxPx has com-
bined both down-
home Christian
values and the
musical essence
of punk rock ever
since their forma-
tion as a high
school band.
"The guys in
the band, we're all
Christians, so
that's where they

get that one from," said Tom, the band's
guitarist in a recent interview.
Regardless of the categories it gets
thrown into, MxPx, with the release of
1996's "Life in General" went from typ-
ical indie-rock punk trio to minor radio
celebrities. The album's first single,
"Chick Magnet" hit the airwaves in
numerous major markets across the
country, not to mention prime-time rota-
tion on MTV, however light it may have
been. The song's amusing title coupled
with a distinctive bass intro made it an
instant favorite across the nation.
With an increased level of success,
the band made a change of record
labels as well. Having been part of the
stable of bands on indie-Christian giant
Tooth and Nail since graduating from
high school, MxPx's contract was
bought out by A&M records in 1997,
not long after the success of "Chick

Magnet."
"We wanted to go to the new label,"
Tom said. Whereas Tooth and Nail did-
n't seem to serve the best interests of
the band, the guitar player felt that
A&M has already done MxPx a world
of good. "They're better (than Tooth
and Nail), I think," he said.
Whereas many groups recording for
Tooth and Nail focus on their music as
a vehicle for Christian missionary
work, the focus of MxPx and its mem-
bers is much different. "That's not our
deal," said Tom. "We just do it for fun."
The band's first album for its new
record label was released in mid-June,
and is called "Slowly Going the Way of
the Buffalo." True to the style of the
other three MxPx records, it's full of
blinding, pulse-pounding drumbeats,
guitar riffs played at the speed of light,
and songs about girls, life and growing
up.
Growing up listening to and idoliz-
ing the likes of Bad Religion and
NOFX, MxPx toured with not one, but
both bands on this summer's monster-
sized, 36-band Warped tour.
While MxPx will be making its inau-

gural appearance at St. Andrew's
tomorrow night, the band is not unfa-
miliar to Detroit crowds. In the past it
has played Clutch Cargo's, and "some
big community hall owned by a
church."
Back in the days of the community
hall shows, the band was known as
Magnified Plaid, or so the story goes.
The name was often too long to write
out, and was frequently abbreviated
"M.P." The dots in "M.P." eventually
became small x's and the name MxPx
was born.
Those days, however, are long gone.
The band's national reputation has been
established. With a major record label
backing them, a new album, and their
past successes, the future for MxPx
seems bright.
Its first solo tour in support of
"Slowly Going the Way of the
Buffalo," since the release of the
record, the band has labeled this seven-
week stint on the road "The Anchor is
Away Tour."
"Detroit is the last show of this tour"
Tom said, "and we plan on playing all
out rock 'n' roll."

By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
What do you get when you take one
of Hollywood's most profitable stars
and cross him with one of
Hollywood's most profitable action
directors? Well, in the case of "Enemy
of the State," a mediocre, paranoid
mess.
Working from the premise that all
Americans are under the surveillance
of the government - which is not too
far fetched these days - "Enemy of
the State" strives to be an intelligent
mix of intrigue, thrills and action, but
falls far short of the mark. The film's
shortcomings lie mostly in writer
D a v i d
Marconi's laps-
es of reason
and director
Enemy of Tony Scott's
the State ("Top Gun,"
"C r i m s o n
Tide") quick
At Showcase cuts, keeping
and Ann Arbor 1&2 his camera on
an object no
longer than 20
seconds.
I__ iThis sum-
mer, another
J e r r y
Bruckheimer production,
"Armageddon," did much the same
thing, making it difficult to focus your
attention on a single person or scene.
While the abysmal "Armageddon"
didn't strive to be anything more than
an action flick, "Enemy of the State"
wants to be taken very seriously, and
the rapid fire editing does not bode
well for the film.
Its rather interesting story - bor-
rowed largely from today's headlines
and the film "Three Days of the
Condor" - revolves around a rouge
National Security Agency higher up,
Thomas Reynolds (Jon Voight), who
kills a congressman (Jason Robards in
one of many unbilled roles). The con-
gressman refuses to support a
telecommunications bill that would
allow the government to tap into any-
one's phone and private life on little
more than a whim.
But there's a minor glitch: Nature
photographer Daniel Zavitz's (Jason
Lee) digital camera captured the
whole murder, which was made to
look like a heart attack.
As Reynolds and his men go gun-
ning for Zavitz, Zavitz makes a copy
of the digital tape, which he carries
with him when the NSA finally catch-
es up with him.
A big chase ensues during which
the supposedly top notch NSA agents
can't seem to catch Zavitz despite their
immense skill and global satellite
tracking system. Zavitz temporarily
gives the NSA the slip, and has

enough time to bump into lawyer
Robert Dean (Will Smith).
Conveniently, Zavitz and Dean went
to Georgetown together, and Dean
gives Zavitz his business card while
Zavitz slips Dean the tape.
This premise might have worked
better had director Scott not relied on
so many action movie conventions.
The coincidence is too much to swal-
low, even within the context of an
action movie. But since "Enemy of the
State" desires to be taken so seriously,
the problem of convention is made
even worse.
The most interesting parts of the
movie are when the NSA is invading
Dean's life. It's here that "Enemy of
the State" gets inside everyday life and
upsets the balance of things everyone
takes for granted.
As Dean falls deeper into the trap
the NSA has set for him, he gets in
touch with his PI., Brill (the brilliant
Gene Hackman), who turns out to be a
former operative for the NSA, and
they join forces to restore Dean's life.
"Enemy of the State" falls short,d
though, because it tries to include too'
much. The movie bashes the audience
over the head telling them that govern-
ment monitoring "1984"-style is
wrong, where a more subtle point
would have been more effective. But
this is typical of a Bruckheimer testos-
terone movie. "Enemy of the State"
too often tries to show off its budget
rather than working out plot holes.
Not that there aren't some great
parts of the movie. In particular, when
the NSA goes Big Willie Hunting in
an expensive hotel, the action, thrills
and humor are at their best. Despite
the fact that Scott has been an enemy
of filmmaking throughout much of his
career, he occasionally handles intense
action scenes very well.
This is complemented by the fAct
that the acting is far better than the
movie deserves. Smith stops playing
the role he's played in "Bad Boys,"
"Independence Day" and "MIB," and
settles into a more dramatic role. Here
he plays a family man with a lot to
lose, including his wife, his son and
his job. Smith is both funny and
intense, and goes beyond what his role
called for.
Hackman is also terrific, playing
the terminally strange Brill. Although
Hackman is slumming in "Enemy of
the State" he demonstrates why he's
one of the best in the business, stealing
every scene he's in.
In the end though, a couple of
intense action sequences and great
acting can't help "Enemy of the State."
Scott subverts his own attempts to
make an important action movie by
giving way to explosions. and
shootouts, in lieu of story and charac-
ter development.

p

I

swf (Single widowed female) seeks attractive (or not attractive) bw mate+
likes include surfing the web, murder mysteries, or just hanging around.
call rosie, short term relationship preferred.
~6

G

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november 25
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CDISNEYPIXAR

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in association with Michigan Student Assembly presents
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