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November 10, 1995 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-11-10

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, November 10, 1995 - 11

'Coldblooded': Priestley's hitman flick misses

By Jennifer Petlinski
Daily Arts Writer
Picture it. You're directing a new
movie about hitmen, their brutal mur-
ders and the dangerous, fast-paced lives
they lead. Hmmm ... who should you
cast as the starring role? Someone who's
tough, yet slick; someone who pos-
sesses the perfect balance of romance
and evil; someone who is the hitman of
all hitmen.
That someone is - Jason Priestley?
(Try to imagine this with the "90210"
theme song playing in your head.)
Apparently director M. Wallace
Wolodarsky thinks so. With his movie
"Coldblooded," we supposedly get a
glimpse of a hitman-in-the-making and
the psychological transformation of
fragile wimp man to sunglasses-and-
gun tough guy. Something tells us that
we've seen this story before. But it's
never been THIS bad.
Cosmo (Jason Priestley) is the bored
bookie in an illegal gambling opera-
tion, until he receives a promotion to -
you guessed it-become the company's
youngest and sharpest hitman. Right
away, the audience can tell the Cosmo
is anything but young and sharp, espe-
cially when he confides in someone
'about his new position: "Gordon's
making me; I don't want to." This is our
first clue that Cosmo is not cut out for
The Preside
By 'David Cook
Daily Arts Writer
What does one make of the Presidents
of the United States of America?
Are they the epitome of a one-hit won-
der, thanks to the buzz-bin staple"Lump?"
Or will they actually hang around long
enough to win respect fortheir songwriting
abilities and creativity?
Are these guys serious at all?
Most of these questions were an-
swered Wednesday night at St.
Andrew's, as the trio put on an ener-
getic, listener-friendly hour-long show
for a mostly full house. Despite their
stylish self-effacingpersona, from nam-
ing a song "We are Not Going to Make
It" (closing the show with it for empha-
sis) to repeatedly poking fun at classic
rock and rock'n'roll in general, these
guys would like to succeed. And al-
though they may just be the next in a
long line of bands whose success was
limited to one song, the Presidents de-
serve more than that.

the business.
With the help of professional killer
Steve (Peter Riegert), Cosmo learns
how to shoot. And, as anyone might
have guessed, he hits every spot on the
target. It's obvious to Steve and to the
audience - after only 10 minutes -
that Cosmo is ready for his first assign-
ment.
Thus begins a series of slow-moving
and stupid scenes in which partners
Cosmo and Steve kill those obese ci-
gar-smoking men who have yet to pay
off their debts. To make things worse,
this duo thinks that they are even badder
than Samuel Jackson and John Travolta.
It's fairly safe to say, however, that they
couldn't be more wrong.
Wolodarsky correctly assumed that
these ridiculous missions can not carry
an entire movie. To remedy the plot, he
throws in an equally absurd subplot.
Feeling guilty over his new job, Cosmo
joins a yoga class to soothe his mental
state. In the process, he falls in love
with the instructor, Jasmine (Kimberly
Williams of"Fatherofthe Bride" fame).
The movie proceeds in a cycle from
there: Yoga class, murder, sex with
yoga class instructor, yoga class, mur-
der, sex with yoga class instructor ... .
Jason Priestley takes a mediocre plot
and successfully makes it even worse
with his portrayal of Cosmo. The entire

REVIEW
Coldblooded
Directed by M. Wallace
Wolodarsky; with Jason
Priestley and Kimberly
Williams
At the Michigan Theater
movie revolves around what other char-
acters say to him, and every single time
Cosmo answers with aminimum of one
word and a maximum of three: "I don't
know." "Okay." "No." "Thanks." "No
thanks." "Never." This is the heart of
Priestley's dialogue. Something is defi-
nitely wrong with this picture.
There are, however, some rare mo-
ments when Cosmo goes out on a limb
and tries to make an intellectual com-
ment. For example, after a yoga class,
Cosmo's guilt surfaces, as he thinks
about the first obese cigar-smoking man
he had killed. "I can't stop thinking
about that guy. He's dead." Priestley
delivers all of these highly-intellectual
lines with overwhelming monotony and
rigid posture. There comes a time in the
movie when we begin to wonder, not
about his conscience, but about how he

got that huge pole up his ass.
Peter Riegert and Kimberly Williams'
characters do nothing for this already
pitiful movie. Steve is a part of Cosmo's
killing side; Jasmine is a part of his yoga
side. And they inevitably fall into the
movie's aforementioned main cycle.
The plot rolls even further downhill
with special appearance by producer
Michael J. Fox, playing another one of
Cosmo's "hits." So does this film then
become "90210" meets "Family Ties?"
No, it is just two stars desperate to hype
up their careers. We thought it couldn't
get much worse than "Calendar Girl"
and "Doc Hollywood" - well, we
thought wrong.
One hour of these stupid cycles is
enough to make any audience want to
leave. True, we do witness a Cosmo's
metamorphosis from coward to cold-
blooded killer. But how can we under-
stand the mental awakening of a charac-
ter who thinks and speaks in five syl-
lables or less?
What we should really do is wait until
next Wednesday night to see Priestley
where he belongs - in Beverly Hills.
Until then, we may constantly wonder
about the people who created this flop.
But in the end it's probably better for the
director, actors and the audience to pre-
tend that this movie never actually hap-
pened.

nts of the United States rock the house

Slide Into Willams' show
A soulful singer that falls between Godion Ughtfoot and the Beautiful South's Paul Heaton,
singer/songwriter/gultarist Brooks Williams Is one of the few artists who prevents
Southemfolk from becoming completely bong Blowfish and mundane McCakms William" ;
keeps the genre exciting through unconventional tunings and eclectic array of playing
styles; songs like "From Boston to Dublin" exemplify the unique way Williams has bridges
the gap between heartland-bluegrass and Celtic folk. He slides into the Ark Sunday evening
at 8 p.m., tickets to William's performance are $10 through Schoolkids' Records.

The
Presidents of
the United
States of
America
St. Andrew's Hall
November 8, 1995

One thing's for certain: There's
more chance of these guys becoming
the actual Presidents of the United
States of America than taking them-
selves or their music seriously. Lead
singer Chris Ballew yelled
"Rock'n'roll!" sarcastically after sev-
eral of their songs, as well as pointing
to guitarist Dave Dederer during a
solo and dryly observing "Ladies and
gentlemen ... rock'n'roll." The height
of the inside joke was reached when

Ballew had all of the lights turned off,
asking for the ceremonial lighters to
make an appearance; the crowd grate-
fully obliged. He then went on to
comically mimic a Peter Frampton
guitar-voice box solo using only his
voice. When the song concluded, he
graciously thanked the audience for
"indulging me in my arena-rock fan-
tasy."
The setlist included most of the
songs from their debut as well as
several new numbers. Ballew intro-
duced one of the new ones by saying
"this next song is about the joy of
smashing matchbox cars with big
hammers," and another with "This
song is about the place in your back-
yard where all the bugs go. It's called
'Bug City."' Behind the goofiness,
believe it or not, there's some serious
wit at work.
Not only are the songs funny,
they're also good. The Presidents defi-
nitely have a handle on how to write a
polished song, throwing in enough
clever twists and turns to keep them
from ever becoming repetitive.
"Peaches," for instance, starts out with

a loose, funky groove, then shifts
suddenly after a few minutes into a
driving rock feel that takes the song
out. "Kitty" also hops back and forth
between funk/punk style and an aux-
iliary percussion-based section,
where the band inexplicably keeps
singing "meow." It never sounds like
the changes happen because the guys
are restless or trying to show off a
compositional flair - they always
make sense within the context of the
song.
Then again, the Presidents of the
United States of America might laugh
at anyone trying to seriously analyze
their compositional techniques, or
their music altogether. These guys
are out to have a good time and to
make some money, and they seem to
be doing well at both. Listen to their
songs and laugh. It's refreshing to
find a band out there that underesti-
mates their music instead of taking it
way too seriously - what other show
could you go to where a cardboard
cutout of Bill Clinton was crowd surf-
ing along with members of the audi-
ence?

a
B

ESTABLISHED 1983
IN CHARLESTON, ILL.. TO AID
STUDENTS G.PA. AND GENERAL
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WITH JIMMY JOHN S LEARN MY USI-
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WORK 1 YEAR PART-TIME AND PROVE
YOU RE THE BEST. WE LOVE THE BEST.
ANN ARBOR
929 EAST ANN STREET
OPEN 10 AM

I

The Presidents of the United States get our votes.
Oh, The Strange Things We Do For Love
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I

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