The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 14, 1988 - Page
Weak plot KOs Decisions
BY TONY SILBER
The Funky Record
What is Maroon?
A. A verb meaning to strand on a
deserted island or coast
B. A dark reddish-brown or pur-
plish red color
C. Will E. P. and MK Chilly
The correct answer is C. William
Pflaum, is Will E. P. and MK
-Chilly Dog is Martin Kierszenbaum.
Although Martin has since left
town, the local duo's funky rap al-
bum is still around, and worth
The album consists of 13 tunes.
And contrary to the ancient supersti-
tion, the13 songs on Maroon's al-
bum have proved to be nothing less
than a good luck charm. Last spring,
Maroon received an "A minus" from
the Village Voice's Robert Christ-
gau, who said the group presented
"the best white rap since the Beastie
Most of the songs on the album
are representative of most raps - a
slow, monotonous beat paired with a
heavy discussion, riddled with social
criticism. "Fresher Than This" is a
* typical rap in which Pflaum and
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Film Fights!
Tonight, a three-generation boxing family copes with
their personal relationships and professional struggles in
Split Decisions. In this corner, let me present two new
actors and their excellent performances: Craig Sheffer and
Jeff Fahey. And in the other corner, a story so unbeliev-
able, a plot so misguided, and a yarn so ridiculous that it
questions the intelligence of whoever came up with this
garbage - Ding! Ding!
So it goes for this newly released film, Split Deci-
sions, a picture torn between two genuinely fine exhibi-
tions of acting and a completely misconstrued and wacky
storyline. The setting is an urban ghetto, New York's
Hell's Kitchen, the ethnic neighborhood of fire escapes,
dark alleys, and old-fashioned tough guys, a gritty world
of self-determination where one must rise up through his
own abilities to make something good of himself. The
characters in this film use boxing as their one way ticket
out of this oblivion.
Craig Sheffer stars for the first time in a full-length
feature as Eddie McGuinn, the third generation of his
fighting family. He's an honest, hard-working college-
bound boxer who also has his sights set on the
Olympics. Sheffer turns in an admirable portrayal, mix-
ing emotions and sensitivity with naivete and action,
grabbing the audience early and keeping us in his corner
throughout the film.
In contrast to Eddie, Ray McGuinn (Jeff Fahey) is the
obvious black sheep of the family. He's a headstrong,
arrogant, pugnacious type who boxes for money, not re-
spectability. Turning pro against the wishes of his father
creates thick (sometimes too thick) tension between fa-
ther and son. The relationship between Ray and Eddie is
also a major theme of this picture - the two brothers
live out a Rumble Fish -type sibling existence in which
the younger brother continually strives for the acceptance
of the elder brother.
The first hour of Split Decisions deals with these
intense interfamily relationships. But then the picture
switches gears rather suddenly, regretfully, and starts
harping on a revenge story whieh builds up to the last,
big fight - a la Rocky. But even at this stage in the
film, Rocky was more concerned with people than
punches. Decisions leaves all emotion and any semb-
lence of an intimate story behind at the beginning, and
the film is given a very choppy and sloppy appearance.
These two good performances are clearly overshadowed
by poor story development and a basically inane plot.
The supporting characters in this film are also split.
The family members like father Dan McGuinn (Gene
Hackman) and Pop McGuinn (John McLiam) are colorful
and somewhat enjoyable, but altogether forgettable. Jen-
nifer Beals (Flashdance ) also shows up, giving a dry
performance in a completely unnecessary role. The other
characters represent assorted ethnic stereotypes which are
as meaningless as the story. Director David Drury does a
disappointing job in his portrayal of Irish Catholics and
Spanish-Americans, bombarding us with the shallow
clich6s that give Split Decisions no social integrity
As this bout ends between the performers and the
story, it is clear that the brief, bright light Sheffer and
Fahay give the picture is no competition for this atro-
cious story. Hiding good acting behing rotten scripts is-
often a frustrating situation, but these two young actors
have the abilities to make great films, and the fact that
Split Decisions is a lousy picture should not discourage
them from finding that quality niche in motion pictures
which they deserve.
Martin Kierszenbaum (left) may be gone, but his spirit lives
on in Maroon's funky album.
Keirszenbaum informally introduce
themselves, and "Baddest and the
Hippest" is bad, hip and surpris-
ingly fast. The album concludes
with "Red, White and Blue"- a so-
cial statement ("I took a little trip to
Washington, D.C./ Reagan called
me up and said he wanted to see me/
I went to his White House/ It sure
was nice/ But by the doorstep, a
homeless man spent the night").
Pflaum and Kierszenbaum want
to make strong political and social
statements, communicating feelings
and opinions through their music.
"We're not just looking for fame and
recognition," Pflaum explained in a
recent interview, "we're looking for
people to listen to our music and
take it seriously."
But does Maroon pass the test?
Yes. -Veronica Woolridge
Best Of The BUBs
Wamer Brothers Records
Son of Pure Rock
Both of these compilation/contest albums have in-
teresting things to offer. The first, Best Of The BUBs,
is the result of the Best Unsigned Band contest spon-
sored by Musician magazine. Ten songs were sifted
out of 2000 tapes by Musician's editors and four
celebrity judges (Mark Knopfler, T-Bone Burnett, Elvis
Costello, and Mitchell Froom). The songs featured
range from country to cool jazz to "college rock." Fa-
vorites are Adam's House Cat from Alabama, Idle
Hands from Massachusetts, and The Conversation from
The second record, Son Of Pure Rock, is a hard
rock/heavy metal compilation sponsored by radio sta-
tion KNAC in southern California. This restriction of
the source material is no handicap, as southern
California is both a hotbed of hard rock talent and a
magnet for out-of-state bands. The ten songs here range
from album-oriented to generic to blues-based metal.
Favorites here are Chalet, a polished AOR band, and
Aces & Eights and Angora, two blues-based groups
with large debts to Aerosmith. Surprisingly, no speed
'metal is present.
If you'd like to check out up and coming talent,
these two albums feature a ton of it. Hopefully we'll
see albums by some of these groups in the near future;
that's the whole idea of these projects anyway, isn't it?
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