The Michigan Daily
Tuesday, March 17,1992
uamn, tiese teens are tough. Young Santana (rancnhito uomez Young Muno
(Steve Wilcox) look so mean that they might grow up to be ...
Like the American way
Me is hollow and lame
dir. Edward James Olmos
by Aaron Hamburger
A merican. Me is an extremely environmentally
aware movie. Not only does the film recycle the same
actors, costumes, and sets over and over again in
scenes where they don't belong, but it also recycles
old plot lines and dialogue from every ethno-gangster
movie ever made.
One of the most hackneyed bits of dialogue, "You
wouldn't find your head if it wasn't fastened on,"
(uttered by a little boy who apparently is too young to
realize how dumb the script sounds) applies well to
the people who made American Me.
The movie has no plot in the original sense of the
word. Instead, the screenplay provides a series of ob-
ligatory scenes, stolen from better movies like The
Godfather and GoodFellas, and serves them up with
a touch of salsa.
An obligatory race riot scene precedes the obliga-
tory young kids fall into crime scene. Then there's
the obligatory Mafia in prison scenes (for a good les-
son in quality, compare these segments with similar
scenes from the far superior GoodFellas) followed by
some obligatory rival Mafia war scenes. The movie
even has two obligatory sex scenes going on at the
same time! The only original thing about this movie
is that it features recurring obligatory scenes of ho-
mosexual rape, each one depicted in loving detail.
Don't bother asking what the title means, because
it has absolutely nothing to do with anything in the
movie. Presumably it refers to the ethnic/racial divi-
sions that cause Bad Things like crime and drugs.
The filmmakers, however, are so concerned with
being fair and showing all sides of the situation, that
its hypocritical depiction of the Hispanic drug Mafia
never really offers more than a token condemnation
of its activities. The portrayals actually glorify mob
life while the script hollowly condemns it.
The movie, which is the directorial debut of Ed-
ward James Olmos, only proves one thing: Olmos
should stick to acting. His direction is gratuitously
stylish; his camera swerves, swoops, pans, and does
everything but stand still.
At times, the plot is so incoherent that it is im-
possible to tell who the different characters are on the
screen. For example, one character seems to have
suddenly disappeared, until you find out that he has
actually shaved his head and has been there all along.
Then again, based on Olmos' performance in the
movie, maybe he'd better stick to directing. Nothing
Olmos does in the movie points to his much better
work in movies like Stand and Deliver. He mugs
stone-faced through most of the movie, bored, smok-
ing a cigarette, trying to imitate Humphrey Bogart or
Al Pacino. The only time Olmos shows any emotion
is in the overripe voice-over narration,which actually
The filmmakers seem to have had a noble cause in
mind when making this movie - an attempt to show
the horrible nature of the drug Mafia in East L.A. and
its devastating effect on the Hispanic community.
Unfortunately, movies like American Me do little
more than to trivialize this serious subject matter.
AMERICAN ME is playing at Showcase.
Dreams Made Flesh
After the first few chords of
"Arkansas," the track which starts
off Pacifier, you begin to think that
Dreams Made Flesh actually has
some potential. The lustful singing
of Buff, complemented with back-
ground vocals from MG (pseudo-
nyms if you haven't caught on by
now), and the hard driving rhythm
section of Peech on bass, and
Rooster on drums, shows glimpses
of a powerful rock outfit. Where
they go wrong couldn't be any sim-
pler to detect.
There's only so far you can carry
the same bass line, the same vocals,
the same subject matters - get the
point? Dreams Made Flesh just lacks
creativity. By the time you're asking
yourself how much longer can this
song really be, you notice that
you're already on track number six.
Unfortunately, at that point, there are
still six more songs to go.
Buff's singing works well for a
song or two, but her aspirations to-
wards being a brutal female vocalist
with a sensitive side die soon after-
wards. Things have gone awry when
you find yourself laughing at just
now much she wants to be some-
thing she's not.
MG is no better. Sharing lead vo-
cals on about half the tracks, his
voice doesn't possess the ability to
change in any noticeable variation or
tone. What results is an average
singer crooning to average songs.
The music on the album also
suffers from a scarcity of variation.
The bare-bones rhythm lines and
guitar lines are fine, but in this case,
simplicity is not the key. As you're
expecting for a song to suddenly
jump into a ripping guitar jam, or a
quick drum assault, you are instead
disappointed by hearing the non-de-
viating, altogether boring, riffs
played over and over again.
What's truly sad about this album
is howwthe lyrics have been wasted.
MG, who wrote every song on
Pacifier, displays a knack for great
poetic imagery. The music, however,
doesn't cut it. Good poetry put to
mediocre songs isn't very memo-
rable any way you look at it.
If you're not one for surprises,
Pacifier will keep you entertained
for a little while. If you like a little
ingenuity in your music, look else-
where. For fear of lapsing into a
coma, you've been forewarned.
The Family Stand
Moon In Scorpio
East West Records America
The Family Stand, V. Jeffrey
Smith, Peter Lord and Sandra St.
Victor, jam a fiery groove to a
crescendo in the opener "New World
Order." Lord and Victor wail defi-
antly, "I've got this problem with
this system of denial / The world
court circus / Where the clowns
control the trial."
There's an angry chorus of
"What is this new world order,
c'mon," a lively flourish of horns,
and then a breakdown. This is punc-
tuated by a dizzying free jazz saxo-
phone solo, a crucial moment of
finding the groove and then the song
rebuilds itself. The Family Stand has
a band now. The Family Stand has
gone revolutionary in both their mu-
sic and politics.
The Family's stand on this new
world disorder is expounded upon in
the provocative but pretentious title
cut "Moon In Scorpio," "New world
orders get seen for what they are 1
The same old folks trying to hold
onto power / Is.the moon, is the
moon in scorpio?"
Is this Black rock rebellion with
maximum artistic license or a fright-
eningly retro trip to the pomposity of
classic rock storytellers such as The
Who? This is the critical question
regarding Moon In Scorpio.
Along the way we get delightful
mind trips like "Winter In My
Heart," a ballad featuring gorgeous
strings by Claire Fischer over a
funky hip-hop beat. And we get
Lenny Kravitz-like forays in funky
writhing with the psychedelic jams
"Sky Is Falling" and "Chakra Love."
The brilliant pop song "The Edu-
cation Of Jamie" teaches a sister a
lesson about the roots, "1, get Black;
it's your resurrection/ Know 2, the
white lies hold no protection/ And 3,
know this, it's your one salvation/
The education of Jamie."
Is this Black rock
license or a
frighteningly retro trip
to the pomposity of
storytellers such as
On the down side, the retro re-
turns in "Shades of Blue" which
sounds eerily like the Rolling
Stones, and a limp "new jazz" piece
entitled "Free Spirit." "In the Midst
of Revolution," with Vernon Reid
delivering a nicely spasmodic guitar
solo, is a fair reprise of "New World
Order." But this becomes quite re-
dundant in the third return, "Boom
The Family Stand knows what it.
doesn't want to be (commercial and
spineless), but can't decide who it is
(the gamut runs from classic rock to
hip-hop and many disparate hybri-
disms in between).
Unfortunately, Moon In Scorpio
finds these rebels getting such a blast
from being themselves that Lord's
circular theme of harmony through
rebirth crashes and burns into some-
thing more chaotic and angular by
The Family Stand has its bases
covered lyrically and vocally. They
need to leave the pop ideologies far
behind and just jam harder.
- Forrest Green I
Falling From Grace - The
Original Motion Picture
The problems with reviewing
movie soundtracks, especially if one
hasn't seen the film, can be numer-
ous. Often, the music has been tai-
lored to fit certain segments of the
film, making it have less meaning
outside of that context. A couple of
Top 40-friendly songs will also be
thrown on to ensure increased sales.
The soundtrack to John Mellen-
camp's acting and directorial debut,
Falling From Grace, doesn't fall
into that trap. Snippets of dialogue
from the film begin each track, giv-
ing it something of a setting.
. More importantly, because the
film concerns musicians and was
made by a musician, only two or
See RECORDS. Page 8
What's a nice fellow like Sir Mixalot doing trying to bash a camera lens in?
Love the four-finger ring, however.
... craggy Santana (Edward James Olmos), wrinkled Mundo (Pepe Serna) and male-pattern-balding J.D. (William
Forsythe). Even though they're decrepit, these are still the coolest Hispanic Mafiosos you'll ever see on film. (NOT.)
who what where when
'Tis St. Patrick's Day! Top o'
the mornin' to ya, Erin go braugh,
and all that malarky. We're feelin'
the Blarney comin' upon us, so hang
on to your shamrocks and ignore the
green beer (which we're sure the
Irish had nothing to do with. Just be-
tween you and us, we suspect the
Hallmark division of Budweiser is
the real culprit). Quaff a Guinness or
a Harp, start the cabbage boilin', and
have a look at what's goin' on.
(Don't pay attention to that lep-
rechaun behind the curtain - he
old fashioned Irish poesy and beats
the Dickens out of television. We'll
be there with bells on.
Speaking of Irishfolk, we've just
heard the most delightful rumor. Our
sources say that The Pogues, noto-
rious bad boys of Ireland (and
thankfully without U2), will be ap-
pearing in Lollapollooza II next
summer - with the Red Hot Chili
Peppers, of all people. Stay tuned for
developments, and don't forget your
"Bottle of Smoke."
entertaining a couple folks from
Arizona State University. Robert
Spring will perform on the clarinet
and J.B. Smith will honor us with
some soothing ditties on percussion.
Admission is free.
The Fifth Annaul Jack L. Walker
THE POLITICS (OR UN-POLITICS)
OF THE UNDERCLASS