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March 20, 1991 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-03-20

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Page 8--The Michigan Daily -Wednesday, March 20,1991

Prolific
Class Action
dir. Michael Apted
by Michael John Wilson
The idea: a courtroom drama about
two lawyers - a father and a
daughter - who go head to head in
a highly-charged class action lawsuit
that may destroy their family.
Sounds great. Not. Despite the rather
weak premise, however, Class Ac-
tion is a satisfying, enjoyable moe
which proves that good filmmaking
and good acting can overcome m
diocre concepts.
Apted (Gorillas in the Mist, 2

Hackman can act, too

Up) is aware of the story's limita-
tions, and doesn't try to do too much
with the plot. Leaving aside any in-
cisive examinations into the nature
of justice, the film remains focused
on the relationship between Jedediah
Ward (Gene Hackman) and his
daughter, Maggie (Mary Elizabeth
Mastrantonio). To its benefit, most
of this courtroom drama takes place
outside the courtroom. The most ef-
fective scenes allow the father and
daughter to go after each other with-
out the restraints of legal procedure.
Jedediah is a famous civil liber-
ties lawyer who has won many
"David and Goliath cases" over the
years. His slick, unorthodox court-

room style is powerful and utterly
effective, reminiscent of James
Stewart as Paul Biegler in the best
courtroom drama ever filmed,
Anatomy of a Murder. Although
he's appealing and fun to watch, be-
hind the strong public personality is
a questionable past that includes
many extramarital affairs, a past
which his daughter cannot forget.
In balancing these sympathetic
and unsympathetic elements, Hack-
man is brilliant; it's a juicy role that
he plays to the hilt. When grilling
the opposition, we worship him, his
smile, his wink. Yet when Maggie
grills him on his past, we don't like
him, but we can't dismiss him either
- he's only human. In perhaps the
best scene of the film, Jed and Mag-
gie go from uneasy warmth to subtle
jabs to nearly violent hostility, and
Hackman remains at once powerful
and vulnerable throughout. As usual,
he brings a wonderfully honest Ev-
eryman quality to the part. Despite
the many mediocre films he makes,
like Loose Cannons or The Pack-
age, a good film like Class Action
serves to remind us that Gene
Hackman is one of the greatest ac-
tors of our time.
Mastrantonio is a suitable oppo-
nent and daughter for Hackman. As
seen in Scarface or The Color of
Money, she is a strong actress on
the verge of stardom (which will
probably come with her next film,
Robin Hood, with Kevin Costner).
As Maggie, she's powerfully driven
against the father whom her mother
who, i , -

could never stand up to. The story is
primarily Maggie's, following her
choices when her ambitions for a
successful career come into conflict
with her sense of justice, which she
learned from her father.
Not surprisingly, Class Action's
main problems are with credibility.
After having us accept the idea that a
father and daughter will coinciden-
tally face each other in a case, the
film pushes plausibility to its limits
when Jedediah's wife (and Maggie's
mother), Estelle (Joanna Merlin), is
so disturbed by their conflict that she
keels over dead outside the court-
room after the first hearing. Like
Jedediah, the filmmakers also reduce
the opposition, a huge car company
accused of making cars which blow
up, to evil bastards who would rather
allow a few deaths and pay off the
lawsuits than recall a defective car.
Colin Friels, as Maggie's co-worker
and lover, is similarly nasty. He's a
limited actor who succeeded as the
comic-book villain of Darkman but
is out of place here.
Though it's predictable at times,
Class Action succeeds as satisfying
entertainment. If only for the plea-
sure of watching Gene Hackman in a
decent role, it's worth seeing. Unlike
Presumed Innocent, which milked
the life and spirit out of a good
story, Class Action makes a weak
concept interesting and exciting, a
fine Hollywood product not to be
overlooked.
CLASS ACTION is playing at
Briarwood and Showcase.

*1
J'
v
p

Seductive disco diva Mica Paris is often confused with that other Paris, a
but she never claimed to be the militant Black Panther of house music.

Mean Gene Hackman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio assume
dramatic poses in Class Action.
Student Oganization Development Center
inter-mnshi1p s
strengthen leadership skills
gain career-related experience
earn 3 credits
" Applications for Fall 1991 internships,
available in 2202 Michigan Union, must
be submitted by 5pm on Wed. March 27.
* Questions? Call SODC at 763-5900.

RECORDS
Continued from page 5
like "I Can't Stop Loving You," a
SAXY Anita Baker-like mellow-out.
But elsewhere, a la Soul II Soul,
Paris pumps up her smooth material
with strong hip-hop/house beats. A
guest appearance by rapper Rakim
also adds punch to the creamy, Mar-
vin Gaye-style unity message of the
title track.
And if she evokes Public Enemy
with the ominous rhythm intro to
"South," Paris goes even further to
trace its sonic roots in '70s cop-
show themes, with the gutsy in-
strumentation featured on some of
the other tracks. When she retrofits
Smokey Robinson's "More Love"
with a percolating, state-of-the-art
groove, Paris broadens the time
frame instead of just updating it, by
boosting the cut's arrangement with
a horn chart that recalls Earth, Wind
and Fire.
Yet unlike those one-hit disco
wonders mentioned earlier, Paris
surpasses the mere stereotypes -
her singing suggests subtler influ-
ences like Curtis Mayfield and Rose
Royce, or Chaka Khan.
Small wonder it is, then, that
Paris slips so easily into the right
range on Prince's "If I Luv U 2
Nite" - written for Contribution -'
you'll be surprised he isn't guesting
on backup vocals. With the help of
studio mainstays like former Chic
man and production ace Nile Rodgers
on guitar, George Michael's bassist
Deon Estus, and former Roxy Music
backing vocalists Fonzi Thornton
and Michelle Cobbs, producers Celli
and Levin have managed to temper
the modern chart technology with
some refreshing appreciation for
human contours.
The material is, granted, pretty
lightweight stuff, and Paris' presence
isn't nearly as sophisticated as, say,
Lisa Stansfield's; but Paris' elegant

he didn't even play. But he has
rescheduled his performance for

tonight at the Nectarine Ballroom at
9:00 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 in ad-
vance at TicketMaster, but those of
you who still have tickets from his
originally-intended date don't need to
spend any more money. Hopefully,
he'll close with the immortal "Rock
& Roll Hootchie Koo" after a few
hours of rockin' Texas blues.
Stephen Rush (the guy in the
black turtleneck who writes that
weird music for the School of
Dance) will give a piano cital on
March 27, at 8 p.m. in the MacIn-
tosh Theatre of the School of Music.
Rush will hide a small chamber or-
chestra in the bowels of his concert
grand in order to condense Mozart's
Symphony no. 36 to a piece for one
piano, four hands. The recital will
also feature "Concord Sonata" by
Charles Ives (the guy in the black
turtleneck that they make you listen
to in Intro Musicology.)

way with influences is more than an
ample Contribution to the style ofr10
'90s soul.
- Michael Paul Fische
Pigface
Spoon Breakfast (EP) a
Invisiblethn
It's amazing how some things
can make it to vinyl. It's also amaz- i
ing how such otherwise talented mu
sicians can make such a piece of
shit. Spoon Breakfast should hav;
been an industrial music dream come
true: members of Ministry, Nina
Inch Nails, KMFDM and others led
by the drummers from Killing Joke
and the Revolting Cocks all on one r
project. Instead, it's a nightmare of O
(literally) wasted opportunity. u
There really isn't much to say
about the four songs that makeup
Spoon Breakfast. They all seem to
be an excuse for some drunken goof- r'
ing off in the studio; no song actu-
ally has much musical merit. For
example, "Bushmaster Bushmaster'
is basically a bunch of drums and
screaming with a ridiculous amount
of echo effects - there's no point t
it at all. This is the type of stuff that',
should be left in The Vault of Failed
Experiments, not released to an univt9
suspecting public. The one song that
does manage to have some amount
of worth is "Tonight's the Night
(Little Sister)." Unfortunately, this"
song drowns in its sheer repetitive:.
ness.
All of the songs are taken from
the group's full-length album, GUB,
and are included here in "remixed"t
form. If the remixes give any indica&
tion of the quality of the original,.
tracks, then GUB probably sucks as,
bad as Spoon Breakfast. What a dis- ;
appointment.
-Mike Molitor
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