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March 13, 1991 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-13

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Page 8- The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, March 13, 1991

Badham's buddies get

burned, baby

The Hard Way
dir. John Badham
by Gregg Flaxman
L ike so many Hollywood cop
films, The Hard Way contrives to
throw opposites together like pi-
rannah and guppy and watch them
overcome their their inherently dif-
ferent natures in the fishbowl of
urban New York.
John Moss (James Woods)
comes on with the snarling, foul-
mouthed presence of a typical
New York cop. Embroiled in the
investigation of a psychotic
dubbed "The Party Crasher"
(Stephen Lang), Moss' life is a fu-
rious mixture of hard knocks and
pent-up aggression. Director John
Badham would have us believe the
last thing that Moss needs is a
naive, pampered actor sticking to
the cop like toilet paper on the
sole of his shoe.
Enter Nick Lang (Michael J.
Fox). As the undersized star of
Smoking Gunn Two - a quasi-In-
diana Jones film that's a box office
bonanza - Lang craves respect.
He's sick of doing schlock action
parts in unrealistic features, even
willing to defy his agent/maternal
figure (Penny Marshall) in his
quest for the role of a New York
cop in an upcoming flick slated to
star Mel Gibson. So Lang, en-
thralled with the begrimed and
bloody Moss he sees in a TV in-
terview, abandons Malibu for New
York City, where he sees Moss as
the ubermensch among policemen
and treats his words as if they were
straight out of the script or the
scriptures - the two, for Lang,
might well be the same.
But the film, intent on seeing
cops as saviors, shows how totally
unprepared Lang really is for the
dangers of police work. Trying to
figure out where the notorious
Party Crasher got his hyped-up
gun, Moss takes Lang into Harlem,
where the innocent actor is specif-
lecture Series '%
Examining the Role
Sand Portraya of Jazz in Flim
THE BIG BAND ERA
ONFILM
HAZEN SCHUMACHER .
Dtetor of BroadcastingandMediaResouroce,
ctrhin Comiunlcalon
7:00pm Wednesday March 13 ,
Michigan Union Anderson Room
BILLY HOLIDAY-
POPILAR ANDJAZZSTYLE .
JOAHMO41RRIS&
LOUes YA LAHL i
7:0pm Wedn March 20
Michigan Union Anderson Room
. .

ically told to stay in the car.
Within five minutes the car's been
stripped, Lang's portable phone
has been stolen, and he's weather-
ing a storm of bullets. Lang, char-
acteristically, thinks he's lost a
colored contact.
The repoire between Fox and
Woods is both hilarious and tenu-
ous. Woods, a fine physical actor,
plays the part with such enthusiam
and venom that at times he seems
to either out-act everyone on the
screen or to act in a vacuum. (In
some ways, this was a part made
for Nick Nolte.) Fox, on the other
hand, is consistently amusing as
the actor so desperate for a role
that he's willing to swallow
Woods' diatribes and put-downs,
and even Woods' insistence on
mocking or destroying all of his
expensive toys.
But the over-used premise of
Fox as an Indiana Jones prototype
flounders; it's simply not believ-
able. And, more imnportantly, the
realities of Badham's film and the
Nick Lang film are not dissimilar
enough: what Lang pursues as real-
ity isn't much different from the
hyper-adverture of his film, and
Badham's insistence on thrusting
elements of Smoking Gun Two into

his film are funny at first, but
wears thin after awhile.
Though Lang and Moss are
amusing, the film never lets the
characters extend beyond their pre-
tenses. Any kind of reconciliation
or understanding is eighty-sixed for
the excessive action and stunts
that, paradoxically, make up the
film's most boring moments. Hypo-
thetically, Moss should benefit
from Lang's advice about women,
yet we never see him do so. His re-
lationship with a New York single
mother, Susan (Annabella
Sciorra), doesn't hold water, not
only because he's either narcolep-
tic or just plain aggressive in her
presence, but because she's so
poorly developed. One feels the
inevitability in their eventual con-
summation, the tired slickness of a
plot that at times promises to ven-
ture away from the beaten path,
but never truly does.
For all its stretches of imagina-
tion, however, The Hard Way is, if
not wholly convincing, at least
appealing in its attempt. It can't be
said that Badham doesn't try to
please. The film is so furiously
paced that there's hardly time to
notice its seams. Unfortunately, it
feels as if the screenwriters wrote

it at the same breakneck speed.
The film wavers between following
Moss' floundering relationships
and pursuing the investigation of
the Party Crasher. The curious re-
sult mingles the two, and both are
botched. When the film finally
does posit the investigation center-
stage, the pace lags for the first
time in the film and the flaws are
subsequernly magnified.
This is partly the result of the
film's willingness to ignore or only
briefly allude to the Party Crasher.
He is only vaguely revealed: a
psychopath with hints of a messiah
complex, a kind of Travis Bickle
compulsion to cleanse. Are the
killer's penchant and Susan's
lightly-touched-on fear of violence
symbolically related? Who knows?
Badham, who directed Stakeout
and Bird on a Wire, has yet to
learn that often his films work bet-
ter on purely comic levels. The ac-
tion in The Hard Way is more than
adequate, but as the stunts grow
more frequent, they become more
distracting. The film works best
with it's two stars on the screen,
preferably bickering.
THE HARD WAY is being shown at
Briarwood and Showcase.

KENNETH SMOLLER/D
Billy Joel may not be as pathologically depressed as Morrissey, but MĀ°
"Piano Man" is a lot more fun to listen to than "1 Just Got Hit By A Bus
And My Girlfriend's In A Coma And Nobody Cares."
necesrl etisef

by Kim Yaged

Ron Jovi, Billy Joel, Phil Collins,
Poison, Cher, Skid Row, and
Sinead O'Connor tapes are among
the many that comprise my
collection. And I'm not ashamed.

Hey, check out this concept - Michael J. Fox and James Woods as two radically different guys forced to work
together as cops! Leave it to John Badham, the director of Saturday Night Fever, to tackle this groundbreaker.

TLH Productions, Ann Ar-
bor's only alternative video show for
African-American fare, drops images
in Tree Town's face like Detroit's
Video Jukebox, the kind of images
that MTV has been cautious of since
it began censoring Black music com-
ing from Black faces (save Prince).
TLH delves into the rap scene in its
most unconditional circumstance, re-
sulting in a blend somewhat between
Black Entertainment Television and,
perhaps, Detroit's WGPR.
My faith in TLH and its creator,
Tony Harris, was crystallized when
Too Short's "The Ghetto" was fol-
lowed with Ice Cube's absolutely

tremendous "Dead Homiez." Filmed
in black and white, Cube's dedica-
tion to his deceased homeboys is so
sincerely somber that it should do
better than a 100 more facsimiles of
"Self-Destruction." Cryptic images
of African Americans inundated in
the Baptist church and its supposedly
timeless powers are juxtaposed with
the solemn, unwavering face of one
of African America's angriest, most
critical spokespersons.
Usually wholly invested in his
flawless portrayal of the teenage
kamikaze that is seething with all
the acerbity and hysteria of Amer-
ica's inner cities, Ice Cube utilizes

his unique position to criticize his
own people. Among images of the
cathartic funeral services of many, he
observes, "Somethin' ain't right,
when there's a tragedy, that's the
only time that the family's tight."
About as compelling as the form can
get, "Dead Homiez" is the best that
"Black music video" can provide, and
TLH is one place that Ann Arbor
can always look to to find it.
TLH Productions airs on Com-
munity Access Television (cable
channel nine) Tuesdays at 11:05
p.m.
-Forrest Green III

It seems as though, increas-
ingly, people are having to defend
their musical tastes, to prove that
they are, in fact, not mainstream.
It's OK to bust a move to Queen
Latifah, but homeboy M.C. Ham-
mer just ain't fresh. Of course,
Hammer's albums prior to hurtin'
'em are still cool to chill with, but
he's sold out since then, right?
Wrong.
Sure, I have my selection of al-
bums by societally-ignored per-
formers: TNA, Will and the Kill,
the Laughing Stock... and I gen-
uinely enjoy jamming with them.
But there's no denying the fun in-
volved in searching through ran-
dom radio stations and finding a
song you love to rock with playing.
If one of these tracks happens to
be on regular rotation at your local
pop-overdose station, so what?
It's come to the point where
there's almost no more music for
music's sake. The last two con-
certs I went to at Hill Auditorium
both had Green Peace opening for
the opening band. I'm beginning to
wonder if, in order to be politically*
correct (or just a simple music
lover), I am morally obligated to
enjoy only the music of those per-
formers who voted along the same
party lines as I did in the last elec-
tion, if in fact they would be in fa-
vor of my voting in the first place.
When the Beatles used to shake
history and implications which
Material Issue does not live up to.
Three of the arguably most im-
portant trios of all time, Cream,
the Police, and Husker Dii,
decided the elements of a good
three-piece band. One basic thing
is that the three instruments are
guitar, bass, and drums; MI passes
this part. The more important
element is that there is at least
one strong personality in the band,
expressed both musically and
vocally. While Husker had Bob
Mould, the Police had Sting, and
Cream had Eric Clapton, MI has
no one. The leader of the band is
guitarist/vocalist Jim Ellison, and
he does not play, sing, or write
songs particularly well. No one in
the band challenges him, making
their brand of pop bland.
The musical sins they commit
are numerous. Trios usually use
sparseness to their advantage,
highlighting the strongest points
and sounding uncluttered and
direct. MI sounds like they need

their mop tops and sing "Oooh;,
that's all it was, because that
what they wanted to do. There v
no hidden meaning; the music was
just an overt demonstration of fun.
People who accuse others of
being shallow simply because thy
accept and enjoy mainstream m;*
sic are themselves close-mindeĀ°
Abhorring pop music by virtue
the fact that it is pop is opposite
action but equal in effect to bei
what these people are accusing the
pop fan of being. Then there r
those "core fans" who simply dr4
what used to be their favorite ba"
once that group starts playing
venues larger than the local bed'
dive. How many former fans
sented U2 once The Joshua Tr
began climbing the chart? (Yeah~'
know U2 had long left the sm
club scene before The Joshua Tre
but you get the point.) And what i
going to happen to Sonic Youdfl
and Jane's Addiction if their
videos start surfacing on MQ
even more frequently?
There is no doubt that there wfl
always be cult bands and local
music scenes; that's good. But,4
doubt that the best of these groups
is there because they want to stay
there. Given the opportunity, agJ
the right circumstances (i.e.: n
having to sell out), most wo414
leap at the chance to break oI
Perhaps one day a group in ths
genre that you're a sycophant; g,
will be the band we'll be accusing
of selling out. But if we continue
ally choose to label performersjj
this manner, we will be tI
poseurs - not the bands or tij
mainstream music fans. ;;
So, the next time you he
(insert the appropriate song) on the
radio, and your legs start shaking
to the groove and you find yours'g
mouthing the lyrics, don't fight it
- release it!
more instruments to flesh out tN.
sappy pop songs. They try tb
recapture the ideals of the earls
'84s, British new-wave pop song:
fun and harmlessness. "Valer'i
Loves Me" is reminiscent itf
Madness without the humor or tlI
crispness. When Ellison and
company try to sound like anothr:
early '80s pop god, Elvis Costelh , 0
both musically and lyricall,
cynical yet with a sarcastic ed,
as in "Out Right Now," their
superficial passion utterly fails.
MI's song lyrics discuss eve
form of teen-age boy-girl loyW
imaginable: lost love ("Th
Letter"), rejection ("Out Right
Now"), love not yet wop
("Crazy"), etc. This fault r-
iterates the lack of spirit ai@
imagination in their music -
acoustic here, a ballad there, a
standard pop guitar solo thrown in
for credibility. They think in "LP4
Christine" that if "I try real hard,
maybe I'll find my way to yofd
heart"; I doubt it.
-Annette Petru!$

THE BIRD SYNDROME IN'
"Ma'BE7TER BLUES'
.AURA MOSELEY
tanrliConuuiicaons
f { 7:00pm Wednesday March27
;Michigan Union Anderson Room.

f

:RECORDS
Continued from page
Ultimately, Adams

7
ki's trendi-
England is

3

ness may do him in.

r----

notoriously fickle, and America
has yet to embrace much dance
music beyond Technotronic and
other Club MTV garbage.
(Incidentally, was it just me, or
were all of Technotronic's songs
the same- music with different
words?) Nonetheless, this is the
cutting edge of dance music,
which probably makes all other
considerations foreign to dancing
irrelevant. - Mike Molitor

Material Issue
International Pop Overthrow
Mercury/PolyGram
Material Issue badly re-define
the power trio. Though they are a
pop band and sing many stupid
love songs (plus one required
socially-conscious song that shows
the band knows there are problems
in the world, "Trouble"), the idea
of a band as a trio has some

FOR A HOT TIME THIS SUMMER, IT'S.

. .

U'

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0 COUNSELORS 0 UNIT HEADS 0 SPECIALISTS 0 KITCHEN STAFF
SPECIALIST OPENINGS INCLUDE:
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0 DRAMA L NATURE CRAFTS J ROPE CHALLENGE COURSE 0 JUDAICS
{.UPIONEERING U ATHLETICS 0 POTTERY
CAMP SESSIONS RUN FROM
JUNE 23-AUGUST 15
POSITIONS AVAILABLE FOR FULL 8-WEEK OR 4-WEEK SESSIONS

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