The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 22, 1995-9
U we 'Gen animates a moment in time
By Joshua Rich
Daily Arts Editor
Looking something like a cross
between "Schindler's List" and
"Speed Racer," Keiji Nakazawa's
"Barefoot Gen" is a graphic, touch-
ing and surprisingly entertaining ac-
count of the bombing of Hiroshima.
Perhaps what makes this picture es-
pecially interesting is the fact that it
is not some ordinary live-action,
melodramatic sob-fest - although
there isn't anything terribly wrong
with weepy portrayals of such a hor-
rible historical event.
In this case, "Barefoot Gen" is ac-
tually a cartoon. It is one of the many
corny yet creative Japanese animated
features to be released amidst the
great wave of "Japanimation" which
started in the 1970s.
Honoring the 50th anniversary of
the bombings of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki to end World War Two in
1945, the Ann Arbor Film Co-op is
A witness that remains
Directed by Masaki Mori
Tonight only at Angell Hall
Auditorium A at 7:30 and 9:00
presenting this special cartoon (made
in 1983) tonight only. Told from the
perspective of a precocious and amus-
ing boy, "Barefoot Gen" is a frighten-
ing, 80-minute account of death and
destruction. It is a novel approach to
what may be an otherwise banal his-
Director Masaki Mori has made
"Barefoot Gen" in a manner so that
children may better understand just
what happened back then. Neverthe-
less, it often involves dry adult humor
and extremely graphic images of
mangled bodies and suffering people.
But this is certainly part of the ap-
peal of this film. At one point, we are
wholly amused by the childish behav-
ior and slapstick antics of the charac-
ters on screen (as well as their strik-
ing resemblance to Japanimation su-
per hero "Speed Racer"). At the same
time, however, we are also drawn to a
touching story of protagonist Gen's
struggle to cope with the instanta-
neous annihilation of everything he
knows and loves - although his
mother and best friend strangely sur-
vive, as well. We share in his emo-
tions as he discovers dead friends,
assists dying soldiers in the hospital
and finds that radiation from the blast
has made him lose all his hair.
In many ways, the story of "Barefoot
Gen" is best told through the eyes of an
animated character. Gen is an adorable
kid who can melt the heart of many who
lay eyes on him. As a result, the events
that transpire around him appear all the
What's the 311?
it may seem surprising that a band who sprung straight out of the corn fields of
Nebraska can rock as hard as 311. The band, who now resides in LA., blends
rock, funk, reggae and rap into a whirlwind of sound on their latest, self-titled
release "311." Slightly more aggressive than their first two albums (1993's
"Music" and 1994's "Grassroots"), the band's latest album Is an eclectic mix of
razor-sharp styles and good old, down-home grooves.
if you've never heard of 311, there's a good reason. Uke Fugazi (for whom 31,
opened at their first gig in 1991), the band doesn't have a glossy, radio promotion
strategy. They rely mainly on touring and word of mouth to spread the gospel of
311. So don't miss your chance to catch these diverse rockers when they play St.
Andrews tonight. They just might make you a believer.
By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
This is a unique Holocaust documen-
tary - one that doesn't concentrate on
people. In fact, humans are virtually ab-
sent from this picture. It is more preoccu-
pied with buildings.
"Silent Witness" is a somber, striking
I-hour film about the current state of
concentration camps Dachau and
Auschwitz (in Germany and Poland, re-
spectively). In part, it's also about the
people who live there: criminally under-
paid librarians and tour guides living off
Directed by Harriet
Playing Saturday only at
7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
in Angell Hall
mentaries usually dwell on survivors'
faces, "Silent Witness" lingers instead on
facades. And the effect is all the more
haunting: the simple sight of an empty
brick structure once crammed withpeople
underscores the point better than any in-
The movie could, perhaps, focus more
on a controversial point it barely bothers
to mention. Namely, should concentra-
tion camps be turned into memorial com-
plexes, as most of them were in the '50s
and '60s, or should they be preserved in
their natural state in order for people to
feel what survival was really like? Would
future visitors more likely be impressed
by abarrack or amonument to abarrack?
If in one generation's span there emerge
people quite seriously convinced that the
Holocaust never happened - isn't ev-
erything that's been done, ultimately
Then again, "Silent Witness" is not a
documentary that raises questions only
to dish out quick answersin its last reel.
The scariest thing about it is its Zen
objectivity and unwillingness to evoke
rage. "Silent Witness" makes for an
hour-long immersion into the state of
strange quietude. The movie, to its great
honor, refuses to make statements and
point fingers in any directions. It is
smart enough to never get in your face,
which doesn't prevent it from slowly
creeping under your skin.
Mac, Laura and company deliver another fine release.
relatively serious and thought-pro-
voking, but the plaintive, little kid
wail of McCaughn is perky enough
to keep the songs out of the dark
well of artistic I melodramatic self-
doubt and overinflated importance
that too many groups throw their
music into these days. There's prob-
ably only a handful of bands that
can keep their music intense and
unhappy without hitting the listener
over the head with it, but
Superchunk pulls it off.
"Here's Where the Strings Come
In" might be the best representation
yet of what Superchunk's sound is,
and what kind of songs they write.
From beginning to end, there is no
weak link. Then again, there's no
obvious strong link either. But this
fact is not enough to keep their new
album from being recommended,
and recommended highly.
- David Cook
Botfly has some problems. Seri-
ous problems. Like a singer who
doesn't know how to sing, so he
kind of rap/shouts out the lyrics
(which are actually worse than the
delivery) for lack of anything better
to do. Like the absence of enough
common sense to figure out that
harmonicas do not work well in
heavy art rock. Like a guitar player
who can't decide whether he wants
to sound like Rage Against The
Machine or Megadeth. Like the fact
that if you put the album on, chauices
are somebody's going to start laugh-
ing. Really loudly.
From the moment the epic first
song, "Turns," comes on the stereo,
Botfly will have you (and all of
your friends that you invited over
for a little listening party) giggling
with glee. You'll laugh especially
hard when the "vocalist" enters the
rockin' good time with the poetic
line "I'm your friendly neighbor-
hood Botfly." Comic relief at its
On the dirty white funk of the
second track, "Texas Toast," the
vocals get even better. Squeal in
delight to the line "Dig my super-
freaky platypus." From this point,
the songs get indistinguishable from
one another, each one ripping off
several different styles at once,
whether it be pseudo-hardcore, bad
funk, art rock, metal, or hippie rock,
each one utterly forgettable.
Maybe Botfly would be a little
easier to stomach if they only chose
to rip off one style at a time. Maybe
they would be a little easier to stom-
ach if they ditched their vocalist.
Still, if you have the chance, check
out the tape- everybody needy to
laugh every now and again.
- Mark Carlson
ridiculous federal funding; Carmelitenuns
who set up cloisters on the sites ofrmassa-
cres (the spookiest sequence in the film);
survivors who can't find strength to leave
the place of their own torture.
But the real focus of the movie is on
buildings themselves - they are, as the
title indicates, the most reliable and elo-
quent witnesses to what has happened
inside. As a majority of Holocaust docu-
Here's Where the Strings
Another solid effort from
Superchunk. This shouldn't come
as any surprise to those familiar
with the North Carolina quartet's
previous albums. The review is al-
most as obvious: A great record,
not their best, but close.
Superchunk probably wasn't in-
tending to make an album without a
hit, or even an obvious single. Not a
very business-smart decision, if that
was indeed what they were going
for. But what the album lacks in
catchiness or memorability in any
single track, it has more than made
up for it in mood and atmosphere.
"Strings" is an album to put on and
leave on, not the kind that you're
going to always turn to a specific
song or two because those songs are
so much better than the rest. This
isn't to say that the songs aren't
good - just not outstanding enough
to warrant much extra attention.
There's plenty to like on "Strings"
- the guitar work is just as solid and
creative as ever, and most all of the
songs are very well-written, but the
highlight is easily singer Mac
McCaughn's vocal style.
Superchunk likes to keep things
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SPECIAL GUEST: GRANT LEE BUFFALO
The Dr. Martens 1460 boot. Worn by the English police for over thirty years.