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October 06, 1989 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-06
This is a tabloid page

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Beastie Boys rap
rhapsodic on
Paul's Boutique

Two films with strong characters f:

r w\
- - - -

Johnny Handsome ends
before answering, or even
asking, the big questions

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Beastie Boys
Paul's Boutique
Out of the blue, the Beastie Boys
had the first rap album to go Num-
ber One, Licence to Ill. The album
went at least double platinum, and
then the group vanished for three
On their return album, Paul's
Boutique, the Beastie Boys will
have an even tougher time crossing
over. In the last two years, more has
been done to push rap in the militant
direction than ever before: Public
Enemy preached 'no sell out' and
'too black, too strong'; Schooly-D
released "No More Rock and Roll";
and, in a bold move, NWA polarized
the mentality of many a rap listener.
The sentiments seem to be the same
all over- no one wants to hear from
these white rappers.
Which is unfortunate, because
Paul's Boutique is 'rope' (which
means 'dope', which also means
excellent'). Although crossing gen-
res may one day kill rap (pop and
R&B borrow from the form all the
time), it's also known as creative
The Beasties have mellowed out
over the years, as punks tend to do.
The hard rock guitars that saturated
the first record have been replaced
with smooth chillin' funk. There's
an overall sense here of 'live and let
live', almost to the point of Beat
poetry, rather than tales of unparal-
leled carnage and destruction. For the
most part, the Beasties have aban-
doned the "I'm Bad" mentality of the
rapper and gone almost post-mod-
em (or is that post '60s revival?)
The first single, "Hey Ladies," is
a funky, skittering, silly, sexist col-
lage of Beastie Logic, bouncing over
a '70s style disco groove and chicken
grease rhythm guitar. Samples of
J.B. and Zapp swirl about in the
mix. The three still have the same
vocal method: M.C.A. sounds like
the mafioso while Ad-Rock and
Mike D sound all but indistinguish-
able. But it's the interplay between
the three that makes it work. The
lyrics are still funny and they actu-
ally approach a literary level, at
times. Suggestive in a very subtle,
funny way, the chorus "Hey ladies
- get funky" is punctuated by a few
taps on a cowbell. Judge for your-
"Egg Man" is, well, brilliant. A
bassline reminiscent of "Shaft"
keeps the groove cooking while
samples of themes from Psycho and
Jaws chime together to describe the

rampage of the three as psychopathic
maniacs. Over tambourines and
knife-slash sounds, Ad-Rock boasts
"yeah, that's right, I'm the Egg
man... walkin' around, burnin' the
town... yeah - I'm the Egg Man."
What a terrifying concept. The
metaphors for egg become quite
challenging at times. At one point,
the rhyme goes "I pulled out the
jammy/he thought it was a joke/the
trigger I pulled/his face did yolk."
Paul's Boutique is loaded with
gems like that. One minute you're
laughing, the next you're gaping.
"The Sounds of Science" is particu-
larly ingenious, to the point of hys-
teria. It begins with the three Beast-
ies dropping rhymes over a 'Sesame
Street' style groove, dripping with
silliness and self-parody. "Cause I
been droppin' the new science/and I
been kickin' the new ki-nowl-
edge/M.C.s to a degree/that you
can't get in college." Then there's a
quick chorus, and BAM - the mu-
sic begins to mutate, and the true
groove kicks in, building up like a
formula. It took me a while to real-
ize that they were boasting about
themselves throughout the piece,
i.e.: "Time for money, girls covered
with honey/you aspire in life/to be
so cunning."
"B-Boy Bouillabaisse" is a mix
of rap snippets, like chapters, glued
together with scratching and trans-
forming by D.J. Hurricane. In one,
"A Year and a Day," MCA wags his
tongue like a double dutch jump
rope. He has the best voice of the
three, and he sounds like Melle Mel
or "Fantastic Voyage" here. Your
best bet would be to sit back and lis-
ten; it's impossible to follow him.
Paul's Boutique is knuckle-
headed, hyperactive, philosophical
and maniacal, with the extremist
halves of an idiot-savant's con-
sciousness. The music seldom stops
changing, and it makes the debut al-
bum reek in comparison. The album
is a natural step in the evolution of
rap. The Beasties drop names like a
whole season of Entertainment
Tonight and kick cultural motifs,
symbols and standards about like an
The point is, with all the clever
sampling in this record through lyri-
cal references and groove snatching,
the Beasties deserve a place in the
rap pantheon by way of innovation,
somewhere near De La Soul. And
there really isn't a bad tune on the
record. It has healing powers. Hey,
I'm gonna go home and crank it up
-Forrest Green III

By Brent Edwards
Is an individual's behavior de-
termined by such external factors as
looks, and will his character be al-
tered if his appearance is changed?
John Sedley, cruelly nicknamed
Johnny Handsome because his face
resembles the Elephant Man's on a
good day, becomes a test-case for
this question in Walter Hill's latest
film, Johnny Handsome.
An uncharacteristically clean-
shaven Mickey Rourke (9 1/2
Weeks, Barfly) plays Johnny, a
paroled criminal who undergoes fa-
cial surgery by a doctor who believes
his patient has never had a chance at
a normal life. Rourke, whose charac-
ters have always been at least psy-
chologically deformed, is intense as
the reconstructed Johnny- who
must not only deal with a past in
which his one friend was murdered,
but also, for the first time in his
life, with a woman's love.
This is possibly Rourke's best
performance. His emotional portray-
als range from a tearful first look at
his new face to a cold determination
in avenging his friend's death. The
power of Rourke's portrayal makes
the fact that this movie is a failure
all the more disappointing.
Hill, known for making fast-
paced action movies (48 Hours, Red
Heat) reveals a masterful touch in
creating this noir piece. Set in the
seedier parts of New Orleans, he cre-
ates moody imagery which is atmo-
spheric without being slick.
With Hill's skillful direction and
an incredibly talented supporting cast
- Elizabeth McGovern, Ellen
Barkin, Forest Whitaker, Morgan
Freeman, and Lance Henriksen - it
is the undeveloped script that ruins

Mickey Rourke ugly

the movie. The film runs for barely
90 minutes, spending far too much
time in giving Johnny a new face
and not enough exploring the poten-
tially fascinating psychological
aspects of his new life. His relation-
ship with McGovern, who plays her
meager role very strongly, is little
more than atwalk through the park
and a hop into bed. The relationship
we see develop on screen does little
to support the tense confrontation
they have near the end.
Given such a strong supporting
cast it's a shame the characters are so
one-dimensional. Freeman plays the
obligatory unbelieving detective, ap-
pearing every now and then to tell
someone that he hasn't been fooled
by Johnny's new face and that
Johnny will never change. Barkin
and Henriksen are the stereotypical
nasties who killed Johnny's friend.
Their actions are so cartoonish that
when Barkin snarls a threat during
the climactic finish, the audience
laughs. These characters seem as un-
realistic around Rourke and McGov-
ern as Roger Rabbit did around Bob
Will Johnny Handsome's crimi-
nal nature be changed by his newly
modified face? The movie answers
this question, but it fails to examine
why and how. This lack of depth dis-
tances the tragic character of Johnny
Handsome from the audience and
prevents Johnny Handsome from
becoming the great movie it could
have been. U
Johnny Handsome is playing at
Fox Village Theaters.

Bruce Willis and Emily Lloyd develop their characters 1
searching for a script in Norman Jewison's Vietnam Warfilm,
In Country: Willis and co-st
themselves in a film withot

By Tony Silber
Innovation and the popular cinema
don't mix.
Except on very rare occasions, it's
easy for a critic to be a pessimist
when reviewing popular motion pic-
tures of the '80s. And when working
within a popular genre such as the
Vietnam War, it is even moreadiffi-
cult to set out and tread new ground
in filmmaking. In Country, the lat-
est attempt in this genre, this time
by long-established director Norman
Jewison, does not earn the labels of
"innovative" or "unique," but the
film makes one think- a good start
in those directions.
A graduation scene at a Hopewell,
Kentucky high school in 1989
would appear to be far-removed from
the Vietnam War, but as a bearded,
heavy-set drifter smokes Camels in
the audience and listens to the prin-
cipal speak, his mind rather unsur-
prisingly drifts several thousand
miles ande20 years off. Innovation
Number One: give us a setting
where we won't expect a Vietnam
Bruce Willis, attempting to widen
his horizons, has widened his belly
and his southern drawl for the part of
Emmett (no last name). Some may
not recognize the Die Hard, Moon-
lighting star, but it is indeed him.
Emily Lloyd co-stars as Samantha
Hughes, Emmett's free-spirited, cu-
rious and naive niece. Lloyd is com-

ing off a celebrated performance in
the lackluster Cookie.
These two are the main characters
in a film without a story. In Coun-
try is a character's film with no plot
and no general direction. This cannot
be faulted, but it is a homemade mi-
croscopefor us to view the film
(Innovation Number Two).
The film is an American portrait
of the war and its effects - 20 years
later - through several distinctly
different characters. The small town
life magnifies the significance of the
war for Sam as she lives two lives
- one trying to raise herself out of
a town "that's dead without a mall"
and the other trying to come to some
reasonable conclusion about the war.
Aside from its innovations, In
Country needs some genuinely stu-
pendous acting to make this kind of
film affect the way it was intended
to. Willis is excellent most of the
time. The unemployed drifter, both
angry and disturbed and quiet and re-
served, is played beautifully. But his
zealous, vengeful vet is somewhat
overdone. This is more the fault of
the script than Willis. Emily Lloyd
is generally quite believable. Her
probing and indecisive nature deco-
rate her role neatly, but often her
hyper-naivete is noticeably bother-
There are three leading figures in
this film. Samantha, Emmett and
Dwayne Hughes, the mythical father


Mickey Rourke handsome

Page 12 Weekend/October 6,1989

Weekend/October 6,1989

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