The Michigan Daily.
Wednesday, March 3, 1982
Emotions clobber viewer in 'Shoot the Moon'
By Chris Case
T HERE IS A whole new milieu of films about broken
families. This is, of course, a reflection of our times,
and as the divorce rate continues to rise we can enjoy or fail
t1 enjoy ever-increasing numbers of movies bewailing the
trauma of marital separation. It is a subject peculiarly
t sceptible to the melodramatic, which, based on the
critical acclaim of films like Shoot the Moon, already en-
'jys a resurgent appeal.
From the moment this film opens with the proverbial
shots of teddy bears and baby dolls lying unusued on the
floor of a sunlight-streaked room, mediocrity sets in and we
are forced to prepare ourselves for a lamely but insistently
"Not that there aren't moments of successful emotional
involvement in Shoot the Moon. Yet many of these seem
almost accidental, as though director Alan Parker inadver-
tently captured them between efforts to overwhelm us with
a series of embarassingly melodramatic scenes;
Shoot the Moon is the story of George and Faith Dunlap
(Albert Finney and Diane Keaton) and the events surroun-
ding their separation. The emphasis here is apparently on
"reality," and just as real life consists of a certain amount
of dead matter, so is much of Moon lost to the mundane
events of everyday life. Dialogue tends to revolve around
whether or not a particular character would like a cup of
coffee, of whether he or she minds if another smokes a
When the conversation turns to more involving topics the
trivialities all to readily become theatrics, leaving the
evasive middle ground of realism somewhere in the dark.
Hence we get Diane Keaton lamenting aloud in the form of
an old Beatles song until she can't stand the pain anymore
and breaks down, sobbing. The effect of scenes like this, in
which we are clobbered over the head with the pain and
trauma of the characters in this film, is not necessarily
engaging, and may even repulse you.
Albert Finney is more convincing and somewhat less
melodramatic as a man caught up in a growing rage and his
own indissoluable immaturity. The tension between his oldest
daughter (Dana Hill) and himself emerges effortlessly as
the center of the film. There is real power in the scenes with
these two, and one of those scenes will put you right on the
edge of your seat.
But many of the other relationships are vapid and appear
to be almost obligatory. The curiously vague and theatrical
relationship between Faith and George is not enhanced or
enlightened by what we see of their affairs on the side.
George's lover seems almost deliberately uninteresting,
and says things to George's three younger daughters like:
"Making love to your father is like eating ice cream."
("Eating ice cream?" says one of the daughters, in one of
the few really enjoyable moments of the film, "I think it
would be gross.") Faith manages to find someone more in-
volving (Peter Weller), and their relationship is at times
touching, though largely unconvincing.
The movie is almost saved by the performances of the
girls playing the Dunlap daughters, whom the director
seems to throw into a scene whenever things threaten to
get too oppressive. Their constant banter gets annoying and
somewhat unbelievable at times, and their use of four letter
words in reference to their parents' sex lives grows trying,
but they provide on the whole a sense of life and excitement
that would otherwise be more noticeably lacking.
The film ends with a last-ditch effort to knock us out with
the reality and trauma of the Dunlaps' situation. The last
scene is indeed surprising and effectively painful, but we
end up wishing, for the movie's sake, that it had never hap-
pened. Finney's character has been building up for this all
along, but the scene has the same staged quality that has
haunted the movie since the opening scenes.
If you've read all the reviews and your heart is already
set on seeing Shoot the Moon-think twice. This is the kind
of film that ends with a beaten man's hand reaching up
towards the dark night sky as he utters the last word before
the credits flood the screen: "Faith." You might want some
ice cream instead.
- - -
Quarterflash- Quarterf lash '
There is no better way to turn an
average band into something
noticeable, and therefore salable, than
to hire a good producer.
David Geffen has taken this approach
to marketing his first new group on Gef-
fen Records, Quarterflash.
Quarterflash is sure to contend for
this year's "Contrived Package" (I
mean band) of the year. Each song,
each facet of the album is geared
toward profit maximization. The folks
at Geffen have targeted their product at
an audience somewhere between the
Air Supply/Hall and Oates easy
listening segment and the
Eagles/Foreigner/J. Geils rock
In spite of its successful sales, Quar-
terflash finds itself making neither
group particularly happy. It combines
fluffy compositions with polished,
though occassionally gritty, guitar
chords and, well, awful vocals. The
finished product is uneven, but has a
couple bright spots.
"Harden My Heart," the monster hit
with the first grade bass line, combines
typical "you hurt me" lyrics with just
enough guitar to keep the kiddies hap-
py. The vocals are interesting at first
listen, but unbearable at second. That
brings me to Rindy Ross.
Rindy (think that's her stage name?)
is the lead female vocalist in Quarter-
flash, and she suffers from Linda Ron-
stadt Syndrome. Put a song in front of
her and you'll never know whether
she'll sing is with understanding, grace
and power, or botch it with the whines
that say "this thing went right over my
head." Rindy can sing with energy, as
she. does on the album's finest cut,
"Find Another Fool," and with beauty,
as she does on "Love Should Be So
Kind," but she can screech with as
much insipidness as the best of the wor-
The only thing to be said about Rin-
dy's male counterpart, Jack Charles, is
that his vocals should have been left off
the record. Not even John Boylan's ef-
fective production can save his tunes.
This group doesn't have much to say,
and their sound is lacking, it's that sim-
ple. Emulating the Eagles and Fleet-
wood Mac isn't a bad idea monetarily,
but Quarterflash just can't pull it off.
Frankly, their voices don't have the
range, and their lyrics make "The
Greeks Don't Want No Freaks" sound
like great literature.
I'm certain Geffen was ready to hear
reviews like this when he released
Quarterflash, but they really don't hurt.
He can glance at this, then pull out the
sales figures and feel nice and warm all
over-business is good.
Laurie Anderson-'O Super-
man' (Warner Brothers)
Laurie Anderson's "0 Superman"
grabs your attention in a mellow, syn-
thesized grasp. But mellow is not
boring. On "0 Superman" and the flip-
side of the EP, "Walk the Dog," Ander-
son tries to make music that's art. Or
maybe art that's music.
Anderson's lyrics are pointedly
satirical. In "0 Superman," which has
little to do with the famous superhero,
she pokes not so gentle fun at American
society with lines like "Hold me mom,
in your long arms/Your petrochemical
arms/Your military arms/In your elec-
tronic arms." She sings this through a
vocodor voice synthesizer in a subtly
Anderson's music is bizzare, but biz-
zarely fascinating. Each instrument is'
like a seasoning that is used sparsely,
but to maximum effect.
For instance, she begins, continues,
and ends "0 Superman" repeating a
strange, childlike chorus singing "Ha-
Ha-Ha-Ha." Sung in an odd, quick
rhythm, it unifies "0 Superman," and
focuses your attention on the music.
At first, I thought this chant was ab-
surdly silly. But after hearing her
satirical lyrics a few times, it seemed
like Anderson was laughing at
American society. "Walk the Dog" is
not as accessible as "O Superman," but
just as imaginative. It has no unifying
rhythm. The lyrics are separated by an
interlude that first'sounds like a clash
of instruments, but later becomes much
more in the listener's mind. Each time
the instruments come together they
seem on the verge of becoming a sim-
ple, easily-digestable melody, but then
they break out of it again. In this way,
Anderson teases and taunts her audien-
ce into listening to her music.
Anderson's music is worthy of a good,
long listening because it is imaginative
and innovative. But it takes a few
listenings for her charm and power to
Kool and the Gang-'Something
This album continues in the previous
tradition of Celebrate and Ladies' Night
by offering more of the pop/soul/jazz
style that has come to be known as
uniquely Kool and the Gang's.
The entire album oozes mellow,
melodious sounds that slide right off the
turntable and make yur body groove.
Despite the bouncy rhythms, songs like
"Take My Heart," "Get Down on it"
and "Steppin' Out" are for the most
part relaxing, smooth, and never harsh
Something Special is infused with the
music that has brought Kool and the
Gang such great popularity, especially
during the past few years with such hits
as "Hanging out" and "Celebrate."
Although Kool and his gang might be
accused of moving away from their
earlier jazz-oriented style for the sake
of big money, it really seems as though
they should be commended for
remaining solvent during the current
recession in the record industry. There
are few black groups other than the
Jacksons, Earth, Wind and Fire, and
the Commodores who have been able to
do so and they have all at one time been
accused of selling out as well, so Kool is
in good company. If this is the least that
their group can present, they are in-
deed something special.
Yello-'Claro Que Si' (Ralph)
Finally a Ralph record one doesn't
have to have an INSIDER'S GUIDE to
fathom. You don't even have to have an
anthropology degree to detect the
musical antecedents of this record,
although a familiarity with spaghetti
westerns, The Residents, Atari sound
effects, Humphrey Bogart, and mole
culture will prove invaluable. "Pinball
Cha Cha," indeed!
Thanks to Schoolkid's Records
for making many of these record
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