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October 02, 1995 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-10-02

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The Michigan Daily - Monday,October 2, 1995 - 11A

Formality'is anything but standard

By Kate Brady
For the Daily
Before you go see "A Pure For-
mality," there are afew things that
you should NOT know about it. The
most important thing to be ignorant
of is the premise. Do not even look
at the movie poster before you enter
the theater. The less you know, the
more interesting the movie will be.
However, even if you fail to heed
this advice, this movie will prob-
ably still make you ask yourself,
"What the hell is going on here?"
from time to time. This is OK. Con-
fusion is an important part of this
movie. The whole idea, in fact, is to
figure out what is going on.
The film opens with a gunshot,
followed by Gerard Depardieu fran-
tically running through the pouring
rain, completely lost. He comes
upon several men in uniform who
take him into custody for being with-
out identification.
At the station he identifies him-
self as Onoff, a writer of great ce-
lebrity, and must prove that he is
who he says he is. He comes up
against The Inspector, played by
Roman Polanski, who happens to
be an avid reader of Onoff, and an
expert on his life and work.
As the interviews between the two
characters continue, things get
stranger.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
One Hot Minute
Warner Bros.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers might as
well be Spinal Tap. With more line-up
changes and probably less brains than
the cult heroes, the L.A. cock-rock
band's latest release "One Hot Minute"
throws another batch of the Chili's
music in your face, but continues the
band's downward spiral with mediocre
songs and dried out funk.
With the Chilis' well hyped line-up
change with ex-Jane's Addiction gui-
tarist Dave Navarro replacing John
Frusciante who "couldn't stand the pres-
sures of touring" after 1991's very suc-
cessful "Blood Sugar Sex Magik," ex-
pectations were pretty damn high for a
new record.
Hopes ofa harder, punkier and fresher
Chili Pepper may have been high, but
those were simply hopes. Navarro's
addition to the group on "One Hot
Minute" is simply minimal.
Frusciante entered the band with
drummer Chad Smith when original
guitarist Hillel Slovak overdosed on
heroin and drummer Jack Irons left the
group. White-boy funkster Anthony
Kiedis and bassist Flea continued the
Chili Peppers, but Frusciante brought a
new flame to the group for "Mother's
Milk," the group's best album to date,
that burned out when he quit the band.
Frusciante's gone, and for the most
part the funk is too. Famous for being so
funky that it hurt, the Chili's "Blood
Sugar" was just one great big fat funk
record with Kiedis annoying and lame
funk yelps and howls all overthe record.
This time though, you still have the
annoying vocals of Kiedis, but the
blander music can't always overpower
him and his obnoxiousness.
"One Hot Minute" is the most stripped
down and diverse Chili Pepper album
in years, and probably even the most to
date. Songs like "Aeroplane" and"Fall-
ing Into Grace" still got the funk, but
nowhere near that of "Blood Sugar."
The ballads "My Friends" and
"Tearjerker" show that maybe Kiedis is
finally growing up (but still in need of
singing lessons) with more mature songs

than the usual typical Chili shtick.
Paying tribute to River Phoenix,
"Transcending" tries to take the Pep-
pers' sincerity to a different level, but
the song fails to inspire any emotion.
After falling back into rehab earlier this
year, Kiedis' vocals are right back to
the Chili's usual songs of drugs and
devastated lives. "My tendency for de-
pendency is offending me," he chants at
the beginning of "Warped." "It's up-
ending me / I'm pretending see / To be
strong and free / From my dependency
/ It's warping me."
Despite its downfalls, "One Hot
Minute" isn't really all that bad. It's not
that great, but the band's maturing has
ended those great orterrible songs about
Anthony and his cock like "Sir Psycho
Sexy;" "One Hot Minute" doesn't even
have a parental advisory sticker on it.
Nevertheless, the album just isn't as
damn obnoxious as the Red Hot Chili
Peppers have been getting over the
years, but it just isn't as exciting either.
- Brian A. Gnatt

The rain outside continues to pour
down, flooding the dingy police sta-
tion, adding to the dismal backdrop.
Onoff is unable to remember the
events of the day before, and he
answers the same questions differ-
ently each time he is questioned.
A Pure
Formality
Directed by Giuseppe
Tornatore; with Gerard
Depardieu
At Ann Arbor 1 & 2
The inspector begins to question
him about a recent murder. Sus-
pense grows through a series of
choppy flashbacks which suggest
Onoff's guilt.
Originally shown at the Cannes
Film Festival, this French movie is
an undeniably remarkable piece of
work.
Technically, this movie is very
interesting. Giuseppe Tornatore's
direction is masterful and he crafts
an excellent motion picture. The
surreal images which float across
the screen stimulate the mind and
give the movie a feeling of other-

worldliness.
The camera pays attention to
strange details which provide clues
to the film's largest question: Who
was killed? The use of seemingly
unrelated imagery to help tell the
story gives the movie a very lay-
ered feel. The flashbacks add to the
overall sentiment of disorientation,
which is shared by both the charac-
ters as well as the audience.
The acting is skillful throughout.
Roman Polanski is well cast as the
Inspector, and he performs well op-
posite his co-star.
Depardieu is also wonderful as
the troubled alcoholic writer, strug-
gling to remember the events of his
recent past. His fans will welcome
this opportunity to see him in a very
serious role. Less welcome, per-
haps, is the chance to see him in the
nude several times. Close your eyes;
it will be all right.
Although engaging throughout,
the big payoff of this film comes in
its final scenes.
The big surprise ending, when all
is revealed, does not fail to evoke
the feelings of awe and apprecia-
tion that we should have for a well-
constructed and thought provoking
conclusion to a complex, absorbing
movie. Well worth the price of ig-
norance - and admission.

Catch a Whale of a show at St. Andrew's
The bizarre undersea creatures pictured here are none other than Whale, Swedish pop-culture critics of the highest rank. You
might remember their single from 1994, "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe," the video for which mixed tinfoil, lollipops and
underwear to innovatively kinky effect, much to the pleasure of Beavis and Butt-Head and other Instant fans. Well, Whale's
back, along with their sleazy new album "Pay For Me." It's well worth the money if you're into sludgy, glam-rock guitars, trip
hop beats (trip-hop guru Tricky is a guest on the album and co-produced a few tracks) and provocative song titles and lyrics.
"I'll Do Ya," "Kickin'," "Eurodog" and of course "Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe" are Just some of the fun tracks Included on "Pay
For Me." Double your pleasure and see Whale tonight at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit, opening for Britpop geniuses Blur. An
odd but highly entertaining combination, Whale will provide a comic foil (not to mention tinfoil) for Blur's more acerbic pop
witticism. It's an all-ages show; doors open at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (313) 961-MELT. Whale and Blur
together - definitely the catch of the day.

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Anthony Kiedis practices what he preaches and sucks Flea's kisser.

Dream Theater
A Change of Seasons
Eastwest Records
Right off the bat, this is no EP. These
EP things are supposed to be short, and
this one comes in at just under an hour.
So just how long are their full-length
albums? We'll see sometime in '96, at
which time Dream Theater is due with
their sophomore effort. In the mean-
time, though, "A Change of Seasons" is
here to tide all you Dream Theater fans
over. Enjoy.
And you will enjoy, because this is
basically a good album. It breaks down
into one new song from the studio and
4 others recorded live in a jazz club.
The sound quality is impeccable, and
the Led Zeppelin cover medley has
been getting some air time on the radio
as of late. But they are still Dream
Theater, and yes, they do get a little
overwrought at times, especially in the
title track. After the millions and mil-
lions of notes that they play, as well as
the seven "movements" (with such titles
as "Carpe Diem" and "The Inevitable
Summer"), the song is over 23 minutes.
If the group would have made the
decision to extend each musical idea
from the epic into its own song, they
easily could have had a double album
on their hands. Maybe that would have
been too easy, or not mathematical
enough. So they left it to be all one
song, and it ends up being this great big
technical chopfest that borders on be-
ing a train wreck - but it works. The
coolest track may well be the final med-
ley, appropriately titled "The Big Med-
ley." To hear Dream Theaterplay, you'd
never guess that Queen, Journey or
Genesis (among others in the medley)
are influences, but they do cover their
own rock idols well.
As is the case in their first album, "A
Change of Seasons" makes it clear that
the boys in Dream Theater can play,
and thatthe title 'Thinking Man's Metal'
that some may use to describe them
might not be deep enough to explain
what it is that they do. But don't kill
yourself trying to figure out each and
every note and chord and song from this
one. Otherwise, you the listener will be
spending way, way too much time deci-
phering the 10, 15 or 23 minute epics
that Dream Theater has a hankering for.
Just sit back and let them impress you -
just like they're trying to do.
-David Cook

MoKenStef
azz izz
Outburst/RAL
Russell Simmons has found three of
the most hideous organisms on the conti-
nent with voices like Oscar the Grouch
and, hoping that some random, French-
sounding group name would cover-up
their lack of real talent, packaged them
arounda"dome baby"personaandpushed
them off on us hoping to sell a few albums
and make a few bucks.
The buck stops here.
These three no-talent-having, walking
mugshots are as worthy of a recording
contract as ... hell, me. (In fact, I sing
better than them, and I know I sound like
shit. Imagine howlfelt listening to them.)
If you've already made the mistake of
purchasing "azz izz," you probably al-
ready know how pitifully hopeless
MoKenStef is. Take "Sex in the Rain" for
instance. If actual sex was like this song
- droning on and on monotonously,
drowsily with no hint of ever ending -
Catholic seminaries and convents would
have no shortage of enthusiastic candi-
dates. Rougherthan a brillo pad and more
harsh than Ajax MoKenStef's perfor-
mance of "Just BeGentle"is scary enough
to give Freddy Kruger nightmares.
Even sadder than the very existence
of "azz izz" is the fact that MoKenStef
actually gained props from women na-
tionwide with "He's Mine," the first
single off this CD. This ghetto-ho song
made popular by a ghetto-ho mentality
basically says if a man cheats on you
with another woman, keep him and
attack the woman. This song doesn't
just confirm how much their singing
sucks; it also shows what a joke these
three 's (I refuse to call
them women.) are as people. The only
good thing about this song is the music,

arranged by Hami.
It only gets worse. Take "Laid Back"
which features MoKenStef rapping!
Rapping people! Can't you just feel
something rising in your throat this
very second? This song sounds like
weak Da Brat runoff, which is doubly
pitiful since Da Brat ain't nothing but a
Snoop Doggy Dogg-wannabe minus the
genitalia (well, maybe).
- Eugene Bowen
Ben Folds Five
Beni Folds Five
Passenger I Caroline
After the music of grunge-infested
Seattle began to be tapped in the early
'90s, indie-hipsters tried to name the next
city that would become the next craze in
indie rock. Chapel Hill, N.C. looked like
it would be the place, so the underground
scene exploded (more like farted), releas-
ing a few bands like Superchunk and
Polvo that tried their hardest, but ended
up finding little mainstream success.
But nowthere's Ben Folds Five,athree
piece pop band from the Chapel Hill
scene that stands up and spits in the face
of the pretentious indie crowd. With their
guitarless mix of bass, drums, and Ben on
piano and vocals, the trio's music blows
a breath of fresh air at the indierock scene,
spewing out its upbeat melodies and har-
monies to create one ofthe best debuts of
the year.
With their Badfinger, Beach Boys and
Jellyfish influences, the band has its syr-
upy sweet vocals and upbeat music that is
a great change from the dull, repetitious
and creatively worn-out rock scene. With
Ben's piano pounding and twinkling
throughout the entire record, the group's
voyage to create something without the
heavy distorting and dominating sound
of a guitar is so effective, the listener

doesn't even realize the instrument is
missing until they wonder why the songs
are so charming.
Besides Ben Folds Five's musical stab
at underground rock, the lyricsjump right
in to make a statement too. "Underground"
takes a direct stab at the pretentious alter-
nativerock scene, while othertrackschal-
lenge the boring formula of everyday
indie-rock bands.
The lighter side of the band comes out
in songs like "Julianne," where Folds
sings "I met this girl, she looked like Axl
Rose /Got drunk and took her home, and
we slept in her clothes."
Ben Fold Five breaks the mold of
today's rock'n'roll band with their risky
and thrilling lack of guitar and the addi-
tion of great harmonies to create a great
and fresh sounding record.
- Brian A. Gnatt
Various Artists
Pump Ya Fist
Avatar/PolyGram Records
Ifyou were an LP with the subtitle "hip
hop inspired by the Black Panthers" what
African-American rappers would you
want featured? Any CD which is sup-
posed to be discussing the ideas which
brought about the formation of the Black
Panther Party in 1966 would do good to
include hip-hop performers like Dred
Scott, KAM, Speech of Arrested Devel-
opmentandthe Haitian-memberedFugees
(TranzlatorCrew). These performers have
earned the respect of many - and the
wrath of many others-for tearing away
at the wall of racism and prejudice with
both lyrical strength and eloquence. This

is just what "Pump Ya Fist" does.
Other performers include KRS-One
("Ah Yeah"), still out kickin' pro-Black
knowledge, and teaching a much-needed
history lesson while he's at it. The sur-
prise appearance of Yo-Yo ("Crazay"),
the only female soloist on this album, is a
most interesting choice. Her observances
of being poor, Black and a ghetto resident
from a too-often ignored fem'ale point of
view are much-needed when race and
race-relations is seen as a "man's sub-
ject."
The heart of this LP is its songs' ability
at taking the combined attitudes and hurts
of Blacks of the past and present and
displaying their opinions in a cohesive,
intellectual way while still leaving a little
something to jam to.
Incidentally, "Pump Ya Fist" also fea-
tures the incarcerated Tupac Shakur per-
forming "Throw Your Hands Up." Many
wouldwretch athis inclusion in anLPmeant
to represent Blackness at its most positive.
Others would laugh uncontrollably upon
hearing him rapping to a song with a "leave
the guns and the knives at home" refrain. I
advise these people to rethink their objec-
tions. As his "Me Against the World" LP
showed,2PAC has beguntoshedhisgangsta
rap past in exchange for a more socially-
conscious outlook in his art. If Malcolm X
can go from beingpimp andhustlerto one of
the most important and influential people in
American history, why can't Shakur be
given the chance to do the same?
By the way, I still say 2PAC's not guilty
of raping homegid. So there.
- Eugene Bowen

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