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November 09, 1998 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-11-09

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what's his name?
His Name Is Alive plays tonight at the Blind Pig. The indie-rock
band from Livonia-based 4AD recording artists. "Komeda" and
Dean Fertita open. Admission is $10 in advance, and are avail-
able at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or Ticketmaster outlets.
Doors open at 8 p.m.

L i&dgg

Tonorrow in Daily Arts:
V Hey, it's Tuesday tomorrow, so check out Breaking
Records featuring Alanis Morissette and Crucial Conflict.
Monday
November 9, 1998

II

Tappers jazz it up at Hill

By Jenny Curren
Daily Arts Writer
In the dance world, tap dancing and jazz are as inseparable
as ice cream and hot fudge. Great dancers and musicians
alike took to the Hill Auditorium stage in an enthusiastic trib-
ute to tap Saturday night titled Jazz Tap Summit.
*'As far as 'hoofing' goes, it's basically a lot of improvisa-
tion," said Parris Mann, who performed in the duo "Straight,
No Chaser" in the Summit. "We find a good connection with
jazz musicians because they improvise 75 percent of their
music."
Improvised it was. At points, the production failed in its

Jazz Tap
Summit
Hill Auditorium
Nov. 7, 1998
A A.j

lack of structure, but the professional-
ism of the performers made it look
almost intentional. The air of mutual
respect between the dancers and the
personal comments, often mumbled
out of earshot of the microphone, creat-
ed the feeling of a private party to
which the audience had been serendip-
itously invited.
The show opened with a technically
tight but lukewarm jazz piece by
pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Paul
Keller and drummer Pete Siers. Then,
the audience was treated to a guest per-
formance of local talent - The
Steppettes and Friends - a group of

and jumps. Both have worked with dance greats such as
Jimmy Slyde and Dianne Walker, who were showcased in the
Summit.
"The best thing about this performance for me is that it's
going to be almost like a reunion, with everyone under the
same roof again," remarked Mann.
Apparently Brenda Buffalino, Margaret Morrison and
Tony Waag felt the same way, given the excitement they dis-
played in their trio performance that followed "Straight, No
Chaser."
After the intermission, the jazz trio converted into a quar-
tet, bringing pianist Barry Harris and saxophonist Andy
McGhee to the floor for a smoldering jam.
Though legendary Jimmy Slyde introduced himself with
the assertion, "It is SCT- senior citizen time," it was anything
but, as Slyde gyrated around the stage in a display of flexi-
bility that would embarrass Elvis.
Dianne "Lady Di" Walker joined Slyde in an unforgettable
duet before she took the stage solo. Although technically
flawless, Walker's energy didn't match that of the other
dancers, especially when preceded by Slyde.
Taking a breather from the non-stop tapping, the band
launched into a swinging version of "Goody Goody" with
vocalist Yvette Glover, a formidable personality clad in a
sparkling orange gown.
"How many of you are not college students?" she asked the
crowd, greeted by deafening cheers. "Then you'll know this
song;' she promised, giving the audience the opportunity to
croon along to the chorus.
She then introduced her son, Baakari Wilder, a dread-
locked tapper whose spontaneous and sporadic movements
echoed the essence of the jazz music that accompanied him.
The finale, a massive chorus line featuring all of the
dancers of the evening, drove home the contribution of young
and old. Despite the friendly rivalry between the ages, at the
end of it all, it was clear that the tradition of tap relies on the
cooperation and mutual learning of many generations.

uberant and talented youngsters from Flint.
vGermaine Ingram and her mentor, LaVaughn Robinson,
performed a duo that reflected the tradition of tap throughout
generations. Robinson, who has danced with legends such as
Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Parker, kept up with younger part-
ner Ingram, despite diminishing dexterity.
A dynamic performance to Miles Davis' "Straight, No
Chaser" highlighted the talent of younger dancers Parris
Mann and Michael Minery, complete with elaborate kicks

Reality
loud in
comed y
By Erin Podosky
Daily Arts Writer
"Living Out Loud" has no mental-
ly ill people. It is missing the usual
kooky or disease-stricken next door
neighbors. It lacks cute little kids and
villains with hearts of gold.
"Living Out Loud" has ...
divorcees.
In an industry strapped for quirky
premises about people making
friends, falling in love and getting on
with their lives, "Living Out Loud"
mines what is perhaps the last vestige
of American culture before movies
begin lurching towards normalcy, and
what could have been a two-hour
lump of coal instead plays as one of
the gems of the fall movie season.
The film opens with Upper East
Siders Judith (Holly Hunter) and
Robert Nelson (Martin Donovan)
having a heated
lunch discus-
Judith accuses
Living Out her husband of
Loud infidelity. The
,, exchange goes
like this:
At Showcase "No, no, you
weren't ner-
vous - you told
her the joke
about the three
A doctors."
_"So what, is
that our joke?"
"Fuck you."
And with that, she's off. Hunter
owns this movie, carrying on lengthy
inner monologues at lightning-fast
speed about such subjects as crack
babies and schoolyard taunting and
ending up "alone and wrinkled in
Queens," her only companion the i11
o'clock news. The film makes great
use of surround sound during these
moments, with Hunter's voice com-
ing from all corners of the theatre
until it becomes a chorus, a cacopho-
ny, a thunderstorm of neuroticism.
She tosses and turns at night while
imagining jumping out the window
and, in a divine twist of fate, landing
on her ex-husband and his new wife.
She eats lonely meals alone in restau-
rants filled with couples.
She goes to a jazz club where her
favorite singer, Liz Baily (Queen
Latifah), performs and impulsively
pours her heart out like a obsequious

Derivative style kills Golde

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito try to live out loud In the adult comedy "Living

By Ed Slhollnsky
Daily Arts Writer
During Todd Haynes' "Velvet
Goldmine; Brain Slade's (Jonathan
Rhys-Meyers) wife, Mandy (Toni
Collette), tells him, "You live in terror of
being misunderstood.' The same
Id be said of Haynes' ode to glam
rock - it fears being understood.
Haynes does make it abundantly clear,
however, that Slade is a David Bowie
clone. Before the movie Haynes writes
that the film should be "played at maxi-
mum volume,' a quote taken from
Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust. "
Structured as "Citizen Kane;' "Velvet

Out Loud."
groupie. In a matter of seconds all of
the pent-up frustration that has been
building up in Judith's over-clocked
mind is finally let loose. She admits
to not talking to anyone in weeks.
Literally.
But she does begin to talk, not only
to Liz - with whom she becomes
friends - but to the elevator man in
her building as well. His name is Pat
(Danny DeVito). A gentle man, he
gambles a bit more than he should, he
has an ex-wife and he misses his can-
cer-felled daughter like crazy. He has
big plans at age 52 but he doesn't
have the means to bring them to
fruition. The two make an unlikely
pair, but lonely people need friends,
too. Their friendship grows. Do they
fall in love? Do they live happily ever
after?
These aren't important questions
in "Living Out Loud" - what's
important is that they've found each
other. They've found the courage to
speak openly and honestly about
themselves and their lives. Things
aren't held back. Truths are told.
There is no more inner monologue.
It's all finally out loud, and that's
where it stays.
There are many wonderful scenes
in the film, including a massive
dance hall experienced while Judith
and Liz drop an ecstasy-like drug that
"makes you feel like touching every-
one." Late in the film, Judith, mad as
hell and refusing to take it anymore,
finally sticks it to her ex just when he
wants everything to look civil. Elias
Koteas, who was a "Crash" victim
with Hunter, has a brief cameo that
acts as the trigger for Judith's meta-
morphosis.
The cast is superb. Hunter looks as
though she may be lining up for

another Oscar nomination, while
DeVito and Queen Latifah (who has
a gorgeous singing voice and the
screen presence to match) also deliv-
er Oscar-caliber performances.
DeVito has never been warmer on
screen, revealing if not a romantic
leading man, then at least a tender
side we'll be lucky to see more of in
the future.
"Living Out Loud" is the direct-
ing debut of prolific screenwriter
Richard LaGravenese, who is also
responsible for writing such films as
"The Horse Whisperer" and
"Beloved" in addition to writing this
film's script. It wouldn't be a stretch
to say that this is his best effort to
date, and he has clearly taken copi-
ous notes on the directors who have
made his scripts. "Living Out Loud"
isn't quite the striking cinematic
debut of fellow first-timer Gary
Ross ("Pleasantville"), but
LaGravenese has a good eye and a
magic pen. His plot may be mini-
mal, but his characters are richly
drawn and very real. Besides, the
lack of concrete plot is irrelevant as
a result of the dazzling characteriza-
tions.
You don't need to know how
"Living Out Loud" ends, because
that's not important either. It is per-
haps a flawed ending, but in plot only
- the characters remain true to them-
selves. We see only a few months in
the lives of these people, but they are
a good few months. And they are
good people, funny people, people
who have a lot to offer and are final-
ly getting their chance. They are peo-
ple we'd be glad to know. They are
people who have ended their invisible
existence and are whooping it up, out
loud and clear.

r
YVet
Goidmine
At the State
wy

Goldmine" could
easily have been
called "Citizen
Slade." The film
revolves around
mysterious pop
star Slade who
faked his own
death on stage and
went under-
ground. Reporter
Arthur Stuart
(Christian Bale)
has the unenviable
task of trying to
find Slade and
reconstruct his

Courtesy of Miramax
Jonathan Rhys Meyers talks with Todd Hynes, the director of "Velvet Goldmine."

life since his disappearance.
Unlike "Kane," though, "Velvet
Goldmine"'s "rosebud" is less defined.
The sled in "Kane" is either a bejeweled
pin - which might have belonged to the
ultimate pop icon Oscar Wilde - or
Slade himself.
*And that's where "Velvet Goldmine"'s
major flaw overtakes an otherwise inter-
esting movie. Haynes' film is unclear
and random, so it's hard to attach mean-
ing to much of what's on screen.
Although the film shows that the image
of glam rock was fake, it achieves this at
the expense of narrative coherence.
"Velvet Goldmine" moves through
time, from Oscar Wilde being left on
Earth by aliens to the childhood of Jack
Fairy (the first glam rocker, played by
*cko Westmoreland) to the youth of
Brian Slade to the end of his career. All
of this takes place while trying to anchor
the action in New York in 1984. By doing
this, the film gets muddled, making it
hard to decipher what's going on at some

points in the film. It's not exactly confus-
ing, but sometimes hard to connect all
the pieces.
Part of the problem is that the film
occurs at the speed of memory - the
memories of Stuart, Mandy Slade and
Brian's ex-manager. The three recon-
struct the life of Slade from a youth who
deflowered school boys to a bisexual
glam icon to leper for fans furious
because he faked his own death.
In this respect, Haynes bites off more
than he can chew, trying to tell not only
the story of Slade, but also Slade's best
friend and lover Curt Wild (Ewan "Obi
Wan" McGregor) and Stuart.
"Velvet Goldmine"'s reconstruction of
this era plays out like a costume drama,
following the changing fashion and
music of the era. Slade acts as a catalyst
with his anti-hippie music and style,
adding glamour and free love to the
frumpy peace movement.
Slade's influence is felt not only
through the music and clothes, but also
on Stuart himself. Through Slade, Stuart
in his youth finds the meaning the film
lacks. Even after Slade's career disap-
pears under a blizzard of cocaine and

self-pity, Stuart maintains his idealism
that Slade and the whole glam rock.
movement gave him direction in life.
Although flawed, "Velvet Goldmine"
has its strong points. McGregor, Rhys-
Meyers and Collette are in top form, giv-
ing captivating performances. If this film
is a hit, expect McGregor to have a
strong chance at an Oscar nomination for
his manic performance as Wild.
Also important to "Velvet Goldmine"
is the music. While the soundtrack is
generally strong, there are a few notice-
able hiccups, especially when the musi-
cians try too hard to emulate Bowie's,
sound.
But in the end, the music plays second
fiddle to the spectacle. That is ultimately
how Haynes and "Velvet Goldmine"
miss what made glam rock so wonderful
- the talented musicians.
"Velvet Goldmine" ends up dying by
its own ambition. By trying to encom-
pass the lives of multiple characters and
achieve a dream-like cohesiveness,
"Velvet Goldmine" falls on its own
sword. Though it strives t^ be "Citizen
Kane" it's only a glam-drenci.4 bisex-
ually-inspired derivative.

m

Ann Arbor
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