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September 14, 1995 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-14

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6B - The Michigan Daily - %u4" 4. - Thursday, September 14, 1995

Local film explores teen life
Tim Naylor goes back to school in his debut film

Smiths sound better second time around

Sy Alexandra Twin
Daily Arts Editor
When Tim Naylor was gearing up to
shoot his graduate thesis project for
N.Y.U. film school, he knew exactly
what kind of movie he wanted to make.
Not a deeply moving foray into the
lives of south-of-the-Jersey-border sani-
tation workers. Not an urban melange
of love and violence involving over-
worked cafe employees with bad hair
cuts. Not a documentary about pigeons
on the lam.
Nope. This former Ann Arborite
wanted to make the kind of film every
formerhigh school kid in America could
relate to, even shooting the piece at his
old high school, Pioneer. He even went
so far as to give the film a subtitle so
direct that even the foggiest members
of his future audience couldn't claim
confusion: "Generic Metal Titan" (An
Honest to Goodness Headbanging
Delinquint Film).
Not quite so odd for a guy who sights
the cult classic 'River's Edge' and
MTV's beloved 'Beavisand Butt-Head'
as two of his biggest influences.
These punks are
so overathe-top
that they're
While not in imitation ofeitherofthese
two precious (heavy) metals, "Generic
Metal Titan" is certainly an hommage of
sorts to the teen-angst genre, particularly
that which lived and thrived in the early
80s. Although in this version, the cool
kids and the geeks don't magically solve
the insurmountable by breakdancing to-
gether at the big dance to Devo's latest.
These kids like metal, bad haircuts and

weed. They're townies, stoners and los-
ers. They're also an exaggerated and
wonderfully cheesy counterpart to the
stars ofrecentteen-flicks like "Clueless"
and "Kids." However, unlike the anti-
heroes of "Kids," these punks are so
over-the-top that they're downright hi-
Even their creator thinks so. "How
can you not laugh at them,"asks Naylor.
"They're ridiculous. That was the whole
Chuck Larue (Barton Bund) is a bad
guy. He and his pal Neil (Brendan
McMahon) smash mailboxes, smoke
pot and cut class. They've got stock,
evil school security guards with names
like "Harding" and a group of metal
shop punk friends who worship them.
They've also got some pretty extremist
ways of dealing with the pressures of
being Outlaw Rebels In School.
don't take that car. It's my mom's" -
and Neil's entryway to the stoned life is
more out of an ABC afterschool special
than reality - he takes one hit and in-
stantly gets all googly-eyed - the film
manages to revel and soar in its own
hokiness. In addition, the sharp camera
work and interesting transitions -a gun
shot that yields a hand knocking on a
door, a belt about to be cracked against
skin that becomes the chant of athletes
doing aerobics- serve to produce an
enjoyable, if slightly dimwitted account
of high school.
Nayloris no stranger to the life. "When
we were young stoners, we'd go to the
park acrossfrom Pioneer, lie on our backs
so the school guards couldn't see us and
just smoke for hours."
In the film, this is exactly what Lame
does, except that his mid-afternoon ex-
cursion quickly disolves intowarfare when
he becomes the hunted and the park be-
comes reminiscent of a Vietnam-era
Larue's ardent actions are his way of

establishing his loser credibility. Says
Naylor: "Stoners are into lore -if you
want to be a school legend, you have to
earn your lore credibility."
Insofar as the credibility of his cast,
Naylor attempted to make the film in
New York with all East Coast actors,
but soon realized that "New York kids
just don't have that stoner quality. We
needed kids who'd you'd actually find
in that high school." And so, they did.
The two principle actors, (as well as
a number of the extras) were all from
the drama department of Pioneer High
School. The bulk of the crew was from
Ann Arbor. The 20-minute film was
shot in the summer of 1993 (right be-
fore Ann Arbor's "the four corners of
nowhere" was cranking up to get roll-
ing) for a mere $15, 000.
But don't call Naylor an "indepen-
dent filmmaker." "I'm an independent
filmmaker by default," he says. He be-
lieves that, like himself, most indepen-
dent filmmakers would be glad to have
studio money to make their films pro-
vided that they were able to retain con-
trol over the projects.
Naylor and his "Generic Metal Ti-
tan" co-screenwriter Michael Heppner
are currently working on a script that's
beingconsidered for HBO. Meanwhile,
Naylor teaches at the New York Film
Academy and is being considered as a
possible director for a few music vid-
While "Generic Metal Titan" does not
yet have a commercial distributor (a par-
ticular difficulty for short-length films),
the film will be playing at the Michigan
on Sunday. As for its fate beyond that
point, it's hard to say. "Sometimes its just
a matter of chance, whether or not things
are going to work out," he said, "but that's
not gonna prevent me from moving for-
ward, regardles of the results."
"Generic Metal Titan" will be playing
at the Michigan Theater this Sunday at 4
p.m. The screening is free.

By Thomas Crowley
Daily Arts Writer
Here we have the second of what one
could consider a "Greatest Hits" pack-
age (following 1993's two volume"Best
of... "). Morrissey must have seen this
coming eight years ago. "Re-issue! Re-
package! Re-package!/Re-evaluate the
songs/double-pack with a photograph"
he sang on the group's swan song. The
record company has indeed painted a
vulgar picture and all that's missing is
the tacky bag. Yes, he'd known it could
happen to the "Most Important Band of
the '80s" or to a band who many (my-
self included, I confess) may regard as
the "Most Important Band ofAll Time".
And it did.
Hailing from gray Manchester, the
foursome, led by Morrissey and co-
songwriter/guitarist Johnny Marr, com-
bined the conventions of punk, rock,
and teenybop pop, adding a few crucial
twists here and there. Morrissey sang
his clever, tongue-in-cheek anthems of
celibacy, hanging DJs, vegetarianism,
girlfriends in comas, loneliness and
shoplifters ofthe world uniting, exquis-
itely, over Marr's tight, melodic back-
drop of guitar hooks. The duo, with
influences wide in range yet uncompro-
misingly particular, operated as a veri-
table yin-yang of musical derivation.
Where Marr was a Rolling Stones en-
thusiast, Morrissey was a tremendous
Sandie Shaw devotee. At the same time,
Marr honed his playing style working
out the arrangements to the Supremes'
hits while one could easily link
Morrissey's dynamic stage presence and
forthright vocal style to his preoccupa-
tion with flamboyant punk outfits like
the New York Dolls.
In many ways, the idea behind the
Smiths was quite simple: guitar, bass,
drums, voice. Perhaps a piano and strings
here and there, but unlike contemporaries
Frankie Goes to Hollywood or OMD, no
synthesizers. They were traditionalists.
Pop songs. Rickenbackers and "Brian
Jones haircuts", but unlike contemporar-
les Bon Jovi or Loverboy, no spandex
trousers. Even their fashion sense made
everyone else look ridiculously dated.
The Smiths truly were "four lad against
the world" and no Evil was safe from the
dagger-sharp wit of the Moz- not the
Queen of England nor McDonald's nor
Duran Duran. All were at the least slagged
by the band, at the most eclipsed by their
unaffected yet still-engaging and ulti-
mately timeless spins on pop music.
What really stood out was their rejec-
tion of certain classic rock'n' roll-isms in
the midst of embracing other ones. The
band reveled in controversy, yet stirred it
upnotbytrashinghotel rooms northrough
massive drug use, but through the un-
conventionality of celibacy, sexual

Oh Morissey, you jaunty young lad. Who needs greatest hits with a body like that?

ambiguity, and vitriolic attacks on the
Royal family. Musically, the songs were
catchy and concise. Big on big choruses,
short on lengthy, indulgent solos. Lyri-
cally though, for one ofthe first times ever
in music, a voice was consistently given
tothemal-adjusted. The albums,ofwhich
there isn't a one short of excellent, con-
You'd be quite safe to say that Morrissey
and Marr, likeprecious few otherpartner-
ships- Lennon & McCartney, Leiber &
Stoller, to name two, both of which the
pair has been compared to- only wrote
singles. Now, seeing as how the band
turned out over 70 songs in four odd
years, an 18-song "Singles" collection
such as this becomes problematic. Not
that "Singles" isn't a perfectly solid col-
lection oftunes. Quite the opposite is true,
andthe track listing, which kicks offwith
"This Charming Man" and then runs
through "Louder Than Bombs" territory,
with "The Queen is Dead" and
"Strangeways..." singles appropriately
thrown in, at least has method where "The
Best of..." did not. The problem how-
ever, with putting together any sort of

Smiths compilation ismuchlike the prob-
lem facing a mother who has to choose,
from among all her children, who her
favorites are. The Smiths are one of the
few bands that could release a b-sides
collection stronger than the strongest
"Greatest Hits" collections that other
bands would have to scramble to put
In short, the Smiths' "Singles" may
appear pointless to the daffodil-twirl-
ing, die-hard fans who already own
everything on it, but take notice: with
"Singles" Warner/Reprise coinciden-
tally released "Sweet and Tender Hoo-
ligan" as a maxi-single, backed with
three Smiths' rarities: the hard-to-find
b-side, "I Keep Mine Hidden", the Cilla
Black cover, "Work is a Four-Letter
Word", and a live version of the James
song "What's the World?", from a 1985
Glasgow performance. As for those who
are not currently fans (or fanatical) but
have heard something they like in the
group's music, I would urge them to
forget "Singles", sell their cars, houses
or kid-brothers, and buy the entire
Smiths back-catalogue.




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