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September 06, 1995 - Image 36

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-06

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18B - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 6, 1995

'Desperado' a flashy success for Rou ez

By Michael Zilberman
Daily Arts Writer
"Desperado"'s very existence appears
to be somewhat paradoxical. In an un-
precedented case of a reversed franchise
evolution, it's a big-name, big-budget
sequel to a barely released original (the
first installment, "El Mariachi", was re-
portedly shot for seven thousand bucks).
With all the enigmas and buzz heralding
this movie's entrance, it's fairly easy to
overlook or unblinkingly take for a face
value the fact that its main character is a
guy who comes into bars with a guitar
case, produces a machine gun, offs every-
body in sight and moves on. There is a
diminutive premise and a couple ofsenti-
mental subplots, but good old blood bal-
let is what the authors are most interested
in - and decidedly unapologetic about..
Somebody who blurted out "'Pulp
Fiction' goes south of border!" got it all
wrong. Instead of drowning the plot in
self-referenciality and sarcasm,
Rodriguez allows the action to under-
mine itself. At times, he comes across
as a Tex-Mex John Woo: he operates
exclusively with archetypes in their raw-

est form. If a character is a hero, he's a
hero. If he is a villain, he dials the phone
with his dagger. Everything is dragged
to the nth degree, every othet-word and
gesture threatens to break the delicate
balance between genuine emotion and
inspired preposterousness.
"Desperado" looks and feels as an
adaptation ofa nonexistent comic book.
In fact, its underlying guitar-as-a-
weapon theme is so disarmingly ado-
lescent, it had already found its way
into "graphic novels," albeit in a slightly
different form ("The Crow"?). And as
in a comic book, heroes don't need
traits, quirks or personalities. Instead
they have Game Boy motivations (a
death that has to be avenged, a debt of
honor) and lots of guns. The exclusive
right to individuality is reserved after
minor players - bartenders, friends,
henchmen. Rodriguez goes for short
all-encompassing introductions: the
heroine's entrance, for example, is
summed up by two cars crashing into
each other somewhere behind her shoul-
der. It's a giddy grace note - and also
a complete dossier: She's beautiful, she

Directed by Robert Rodriguez;
with Antonio Banderas and
Steve Buscemi
At Showcase
stops traffic, and that's all you have to
The casting works perfectly
well. Banderas understands what is ex-
pected of him, and plays El Mariachi as
the Magnificent Seven rolled into one,
with young Clint Eastwood thrown in.
Steve Buscemi, with his eyes of a griev-
ing rabbit, makes for a perfect reluctant
sidekick, and Cheech Marin is quite
memorable as a scruffy (and casually
murderous) bartender. Quentin
Tarantino, in a nasty cameo, repeats his
"Reservoir Dogs" stint: he shows up,
tells something funny. and gets killed.
The only difference is that "Reservoir
Dogs" was his movie, and "Desperado"

most definitely isn't. and he ends up a
little out ofplace. (In an unrelttcd aside.
I agree to suffer his "appearances" be-
cause I think I'm starting to see the
agenda behind them: he realizes the
movie world is ripe for a Tarantino
backlash, and allows critics to let off
the steam before facing them with an
actual new movie).
Rodriguez, on the other hand, seems
to have left nothing up his sleeve: "Des-
perado"is a flashy business card ofa film.
an exhaustive list of influences (Sam
Pekinpah, Sergio Leone, John Woo), id-
iosyncrasies (this movie has't met a this-
beer-tastes-like-piss joke it didn't like),
strong and weak points (editing and dia-
logue, respectively). It's clear that we'll
see much more of Robert Rodriguez -
next up is a segment in highly anticipated
"Four Rooms" -and he has yet to bring
his writing up to par with his directing
skills. But until then, go see "Desperado"
- at the very least, when Rodriguez
receives his Lifetime Achivement Oscar
somewhere in 2030, we'll all be able to
nod and mumble something about "liking
his early stuff."

Ok, it's not a photo from 'Desperado,' but Antonio Banderas is still dreamy.


Continued from page 178
Black Sabbath
This is not your mother's Black Sab-
bath with Ozzy, and unfortunately Mom

knew best. This isn't even your older
brother's Black Sabbath with Dio or
Ian Gillan or Glenn Hughes. Nope, like
Woodstock and free love, we get the
watered-down, conservative and less
fun version with lone original member
Tony Iommi and his ragtag cast of vo-
calist Tony Martin and British rock
castoffs Cozy Powell and Neil Murray.

This is Black Sabbath Vegas-style.
Oh, it was supposed to be different.
Ernie C. of Body Count was enlisted as
producer to bring a "raw" edge to the
mix, and Ice T does a 10 second rap on
the opener "Illusion of Power" (which
tries way too hard to sound like old,
great Sabbath). But that's it for ingenu-
ity. By the second track "Get A Grip"
it's pure 80s "Headbanger's Ball" cock
rock (not to mention an Aerosmith al-
bum title).
If we must find a saving grace among
the generic guitar solos, out-of-place
keyboards and Martin's impression of
an evil John Parr, it's the ballads. "I
Won't Cry For You" and "Can't Get
Close Enough" work ... if this was
Dokken and itwas 1985. Which isn't an
insult, just a reminder that sounding
like Dokken is not "modernizing" your
The really sad part (unlike the other
merely laughable ones) comes with the
only real attempt to enter this decade on
"Rusty Angels." For a few minutes
Iommi gets a good riff without self-
flagellation and Martin peppers the tune
with some nonchalant "Oh yeahs," or it
might be him reading the "oh yeahs"
from the included lyric sheet. And
there's that new punk vibe of lyrics like
"you've gotta be the closest thing to
hate I've ever known." Sounds cool,
right? Suddenly the song wanders into
Michael Bolton overemoteland and
strange phrases such as "gifts you bring

are fire" appear. Gifts of fire? This isn't
Rusty angel is right; this was once a
beautiful machine that was made obso-
lete long ago by newcomers like
Soundgarden and White Zombie. Ifthis
was a defense project we would have
shipped it to a war-torn Third World
nation by now. Please?
- Kirk Miller
Are You Driving Me Crazy?
Touch and Go
The lineup of Chicago's mighty Seam
changed for the sixth time in the band's
brief history before recording this al-
bum, their second long-player. But
singer/songwriter/guitarist Sooyoung
Park and his newly altered (again) band
prove on these ten excellent tracks that
the old adage rings true: the more things
change, the more they stay the same.
Nothing on this record significantly
deviates from the successful, guitar-
driven formula Park and his bandmates
laid down on last year's debut "The
Problem With Me." Seam plays the
loud-soft game to devastatingemotional
effect: drizzles ofdelicate picking swell
into thunderstorms of electric guitar
work. Park doesn't really sing his tales
of failed relationships; he merely
changed the volume of his anguished
whisper, letting his songs' lovely melo-
dies rest primarily in his ethereal lead

guitar work, riding over lush layers of
electric noise.
Small departures from "Problem"
only add to the new songs, with guest
Julie Liu's violin and backing vocals
adding to the sadness of "Rainy Sea-
son" and an acoustic rhythm guitar
breaking the album's electric fuzz on
"Broken Bones." Standouts include the
record opener "Berlitz," the quiet, af-
fecting "Tuff Luck" and the noisier
"Hey Latasha" and "Haole Redux."
And while "Are You Driving Me
Crazy?" doesn't contain a song as im-
mediately memorable as "Bunch" or
"Something's Burning" from "Prob-
lem," after a few listenings its overall
loveliness conquers any resistance.
Change seems to agree with
Sooyoung Park, and if records like this
one are a result, keep those revolving
doors churning.
-.Jennifer Buckley
Kenny Garret
Warner Bros. Records
At 34 years ofage, your average, aspir-
ingjazz saxophonist would still be looked
upon as a musical infant - especially
when compared with artists like Miles
Davis, Woody Shaw and Freddie
Hubbard. But, as anyone familiar with his
music will tell you, Kenny Garrett, a
Detroit, MI native, is far from "average."
In terms of experience and saxophone
ability, this relatively young man's musi-

cal career has ripened in leaps and
bounds more attune with dog years.
"Triology" offers both the sounds of
a musical era that has only bettered with
age and the power of Garrett's youthful
vigor. Reproductions ofJohn Coltrane's
"Giant Steps" and Wynton Marsalis'
"Delfeayo's Dilemma" will take you
back to the days of be-bop and swing
when the parties were constantly in
motion because of the music's "rat-a-
tat" vibe. Some cool down is offered by
the snazzily-played "Night and Day"
and "Wayne's Thang," a Garnett origi-
nal whose bass-line will creep up on
you like a stealth tiger while the alto sax
flutters to and fro like its prey.
With "Triology's" slowest songs, like
"Your Own Sweet Way," Garnett will
lead you on a musical walk on the edge
of a calm beach where the only sounds
are those of the waves and gulls. Or,
better yet, in "A Time for Love" Garnett
will quickly put you in the mood for
some sweet, old school lovin: with his
intoxicating control of the instrument
he holds in his hands with both strength
and sureness. This cut is better left for
those after-hour "get togethers."
Established upon a firm foundation
of writing brilliance and performance
excellence, Kenny Garrett has garnered
for himself an endowed chair among
the most notable jazz musicians of all
time. Garnett is surely one of the most
gifted jazz artists of modern times.
- Eugene Bowen





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