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September 18, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

An old favorite in a brand now light
"little Women" author Louisa May Alcott's long buried treasure, a novel
entitled "A Long Fatal Love Chase' finally makes its greatly anticipated
appearance. Come hear the novel's editor, Kent Bicknell, read from,
talk about and sign copies of this unusual early work. He will be
speaking at Borders, 612 E. Liberty at 7:30 p.m. The talk is free.

Page 5
September 18, 1995

.-~a~~-------- .------,-.-------..--.-.---..,--

Smith breaks boundaries, crosses styles

By Emily Lambert
Daily Fine Arts Editor
Geoff Smith apparently didn't know
that he was being interviewed by a
student. The introduction must have
been lost on phone lines somewhere
between Ann Arbor and the UK, which
is a good thing. Had Smith known
from the start that he was addressing
a student publication, he might not
have criticized academia so openly.
Smith's frustration is born out in
the description of him by Sony Clas-
sical, which is touting the young com-
poser as an up-and-coming classical/
pop crossover artist. "I think it's im-
portant to recognize that I'm not cross-
ing over on purpose," said Smith. "I
think that's just naturally the sort of
person I am and music I do. I've
always liked good music, whatever it
was called."
Though the boundaries of classical
and popular music expand daily,
Smith's compositions, which he per-
forms with his wife, Nicola, do not fit
neatly into either category and Smith
rejects "crossover artist" as an over-
simplification. His dislike of this title
may stem more from rejection he has
experienced in the classical music
world, especially in that of English

When: 2-4 p.m. Today
universities, than from the term itself.
Smith sought to distance himself from
classical composers whenever pos-
sible, and even found the term "com-
poser" too pretentious to use com-
"There was a review here in England
the other day, that said that my music
wasn't really classical music at all," he
explained. "I'm not Austrian and I'm
not 200 years old. To me, classical
refers to a specific historical period
that's over now... so I don't know how
you can write classical music today and
call it classical music. I don't know
what that stuff is. It just seems a total
Listen to Smith's new album, "15
Wild Decembers," and you can under-
stand his situation. The lyrics of the
eight tracks are 19th century English
poems, not exactly the makings of a
faddish following. Yet the repetitive
piano motives and heavy bass are too
familiar sounding to fit a classical mold.
Nothing could be harder to classify

than the sometimes dreamy, some-
times operatic vocals of Nicola
That "15 Wild Decembers" is being
distributed by a classical studio is a
moot point. Smith's first album, "Gas,
Food, Lodging," was produced by a
small, independent rock label. With tra-
ditional training and strong popularpull,
Geoff Smith is searching for a musical
home. He's not finding one in academia.
"It seems that academics have this
idea that classical music is a living,
continuing tradition and that it's down
to us to take the next step," he said,
"even though that means that no audi-
ence can keep up with it. But still aca-
demics think we should be churning
this incredibly complex avante-garde
rubbish out.
"So as soon as you get anything that's
melodic or rhythmic, those things are
considered too plebeian. Using the ver-
nacular is too simplistic, according to
them. No emotions. You don't write
music to touch people or to move people
or to excite people. You just write it to
be extremely interesting."
The irony that Geoff Smith is to per-
form in Ann Arbor, the epitome of
academia, is lessened somewhat for one
important reason: this is not England.
Smith sees America as a haven for new
ideas, a place where abstractions flour-
ish and stodginess is regarded with con-
"(American composers) gave me
the courage to say, look, just forget
about the academic thing and just try
and go with your own voice," said
Smith. "Over their careers, they have
developed their own languages in the
way a pop band might. There isn't a
school of composition, there isn't a
certain style that everyone's got to
use... they're all totally unique."
"New Voices," a book written by
Smith which features interviews with
28 American composers (including
Steve Reich, John Adams, Laurie
Andersen and Philip Glass), was pub-
lished earlier this year.
Geoff Smith isn't trying to be Philip
Glass, Beethoven or Phil Collins.
Geoff Smith is writing and perform-
ing a style of music completely his
own. He hasn't hit the big time yet
and Smith's Ann Arbor debut will be
held in Borders, not Hill Auditorium.
("I'm sorry, I don't know much about
Geoff Smith's concert," said one Bor-
ders employee. "It's probably more a
publicity event for the store, really.")
Maybe Smith's next appearance
here will be more celebrated. The
composer is optimistic but not anx-
ious. "I'd like to just keep living and
developing through writing, and hope
people will follow," he said. As for
goals, "I suppose one was just ful-
filled, and that's being able to live by
writing music I want to write... one
can live doing what they want to do."


The mighty Gen X warriors of 'Hackers' do their best New Kids on the Block impersonation.
RCKerS C0SheS Whno-save

By Dean Bakopoulos
Daily Arts Writer
There might be some hope for"Hack-
ers." People could confuse it with the new
Martin Scorsese-Spike Lee film "Clock-
ers" and buy the wrong ticket. Or the
growing number of cybergeeks may ac-
tually leave the safety of the Internet and
venture into amultiplex cinema. Or, most
likely, it could hit the cheap theaters on a
very uneventful weekend. But even with
these slim hopes, the outlook seems rather
dismal for director lain Softley's
("Backbeat")new film.
"Hackers" centers around 18-year-old
Dade Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller), a com-
puter genius whose hacking ways have
landed him in trouble with the law in the
past. Now he's teamed up with a veritable
dream team of computer nerds, and
they've gotten themselves in a little jam.
It seems they have gotten mixed up with
The Plague, a horribly cliched and annoy-
ing computer villain played by Fisher
Stevens ("Short Circuit"), who gives one
of the more nauseating performances in
recent memory.
The struggle of Dade and his well-
meaning cohorts against The Plague
shows occasional potential for being
somewhat interesting, but quickly
dwindles into the equivalent of a cyber-
western flick. The good cowboys, with
the law against them, have to try and
prove their evil and powerful nemesis is
the true criminal. At times the plot twists

f .. ."'
t '-
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ryy e-!
~ .

Dzrected by Iain Softley;
with Angeline Jolie and
Jonny Lee Miller
At Briarwood and Showcase
tensely enough to get exciting, but it
quickly fades back to mediocrity with
thinly-drawn characters and predictabil-
ity. There is no comic relief from "Hack-
ers" either; when snippets of humor are
thrown into the film, they often conjure
up memories of some old "Saved by the
Bell" punch lines.
Still, there are a few bright spots in
the movie, mainly Angeline Jolie, the
daughter of 1970s superstar Oscar-win-
ner Jon Voight. Jolie plays Dade's even-
tual love interest, Kate Libby, asaucy and
hardened computer hacker. Jolie is able
to make Libby into the most believable
character of the bunch.
Other characters seemed randomly se-
lected from the High School Movie Pool
ofStereotypical Characters, amotley crew
including an eccentric headbanger, aflam-
boyant streetwise hacker and an inno-
cently naive techno-amateur. Jolie's abil-
ity to work well with a vastly substandard
script like "Hackers" indicates that she

may be able to do much better work in
something more substantial.
Director Softley also manages to cre-
ate a very interesting look at the growing
computer counterculture. The high school
hackers inthisfilm are dominated by their
"technolust." Their social activities in-
clude virtual reality night clubs and hang-
ing out, smoking cigarettes and hacking
away on laptops. "Hackers" reveals a
bizarre world in which computer hacking
isan obsession. Probably unsuspectingly,
Sofiley manages to make a striking com-
mentary regarding the exploding domi-
nance of computers.
But Softley's use of mixed media and
computer graphics is less successful and
it comes off as less interesting. This is a
prime example of cinematic over-zeal-
ousness. True, "Hackers" is fast-paced
enough to keep you awake, but not clever
enough to keep you interested (unless you
are a Net-surfing techno-geek yourself).
Maybe most refreshing about the film
was its leadingactor. Not only does Miller
turn in a rather decent performance (at
least it's nothing worse than Hollywood's
latest hotboy Chris O'Donnell), but he
has a goofy crewcut that gives bad 'do
sufferers everywhere some hope. Bad
buzz cut and all, Dade (a.k.a. Crash Over-
ride) actually ends up getting the exoti-
cally beautiful Kate (a.k.a. Acid Burn).
And what ensues is a deliciously trite
dose of cybersap that almost makes one
want to become computer literate.

Geoff and Nicola Smith transcend classical music

at Liberty



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