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September 02, 2003 - Image 45

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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ARTS: 763-0379

Fall 2003

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'Hey man, I'm
in a band": A
look at the college
music scene
H ey, dude, I'm Ben, your new roommate. Since
we're gonna be spending the next eight months
together, I should probably tell you a little bit about
myself. I'm from Rochester Hills, and I play guitar in this
band called the Vortex. We're actually getting pretty good,
man. We started out doing mostly covers - Dave
Matthews, Zeppelin, stuff like that. But I've been working
on some of my own songs lately. They're not as good as
anything Dave does, but they're pretty good. Yeah, I'm a
music major, so hopefully that'll, like, help me out when it
comes to writing songs.
I don't know exactly how to describe our sound. It's,
like, kind of garage rock-y, like that band the White
Stripes - you've heard of them, right? - but not quite as
heavy. We like to do some acoustic songs, too, and our
drummer, Mike, can do this really hilarious rap stuff. You
really have to hear him sometime. Anyway, I don't think
you can really fit us into any particular genre, which is
what I think makes us, like, stand out a little bit. You
know what I mean?
I actually have a CD we recorded in my basement last
summer, if you wanna hear it. We did it on this really old
four-track, so the quality is pretty bad, but it can, you
know, give you a taste of what the Vortex is all about.
Our bass player, Andy, said he found this sweet stu-
dio in Detroit where you can record a few songs for,
like, $200, so we're probably gonna do that in a few
weeks. Yeah. I think the Stripes recorded there once
when they were first starting out, but it could be anoth-
er place I'm thinking of. Anyway, we wanna put togeth-
er an EP that we can sell at our shows and maybe send
to some radio stations and record labels. Mike's really
good with Photoshop, so he's gonna design this sweet
cover for it. We haven't really picked out a name for it,
yet, but I was thinking it should be, like, Into the
Vortex, or something like that.
My dad knows this guy who runs this printing compa-
ny, too, so we're gonna print up some T-shirts and stickers
pretty soon. Mike's working on some logos and stuff like
that now. Hopefully we can sell some of those at our
shows and make a little money. But it's really not about
making money just yet. We're just trying to get our name
out there, you know?
Our shows are pretty crazy, man. Like, this one time we
were playing at this shitty little club in Hamtramck, and
Brian, our other guitar player, was, like, totally shit-faced.
It was his birthday, and before the show he was, like,
doing all these shots, and then he had a few beers on top
of that. He was so flucked up he could hardly even hold
his guitar, man. He couldn't even, like,play any chords.
We actually had to unplug his guitar. He was that fucked
up. It was so hilarious, man. I was laughing so hard I
could barely play. The next day we actually told him that
he wasn't even plugged in at the show, and he was like,
"Dude, what show?" Aw, man, that was hilarious.
Yeah, music today is, like, separated into all these lay-
ers. You have people like Justin Timberlake and Eminem
on one layer, like the ones who sell billions of records
and everything. And then, like, underneath that you have
the bands like the Stripes, who have a decent-sized fol-
lowing but are still, you know, true to their music. You
know what I mean? Sure it would be cool to sell millions
of records and make all kinds of money, but I don't want
to, like, compromise the music for it. But I think it would
be cooler to be like the Stripes and really focus on the
music and have, like, a smaller fan base. I'm sure they
make pretty decent money, and they really get lots of
respect, which is cool. That's what you have to remember,
though, that it's all about great music.
It really worked out good for us, since we all got into
U of M. We were kind of worried for awhile, because
Mike was on the waitlist. If he hadn't gotten in, it really
would've sucked for practices and stuff, because we'd
be, like, all over the place and it wouldn't be that easy to
get together and play. So I think it's, like, a sign or some-
thing that we're all together in Ann Arbor now and we
can keep playing.
The scene in Ann Arbor is pretty awesome right now. I
don't know if you saw it, but Rolling Stone picked it as one
of the best college music scenes in the country, right up
there with Austin and Athens. So if you wanna get discov-
ered, this is, like, one of the best places to be. You never
know when you're in a place like this, man. One second

you can be playing in small club and the next you can,
like, be headlining a big show in Detroit or something.
We've been looking into places around here where
we can play, and there are a lot of sweet clubs. I heard
the Blind Pig has, like, an advance-booked open mic
night, which doesn't make that much sense, but it's
still a great place to play. We're definitely gonna try
to do that.
Hey, we're gonna be playing at this party next week to
kick off the school year. You should really come and see us
play. It should be pretty sweet. Aw, man, that's too bad.
Maybe you can check us out some other time.

Courtesy of Universtal

Eminem's tackles the character Jimmy Smith Jr., whose rap name is "Bunny Rabbit," In gritty "8-Mile."

Taking a trip down

By Ryan Lewis
Daily Film Editor
The once-promising city of Detroit is separated from the
suburbs by a bleak boundary, a border to the city limits
known as 8 Mile Road. Where life formerly thrived and
prosperity prevailed in the past, the city has little left to
offer. Inside the line is pain: no chance, no money, no
hope; across that line, that man-made border, is destiny: a
record, a future, a voice. When all you desire is something
else, but pride, the past and a need for respect hold you
back, it is up to you to stand up and be heard. "8 Mile"
deals with that life marked by a disparity between what it
is and what it should be.
Director Curtis Hanson unfolds the emotional struggle
of one man trying to find his own way in a grittily
unflinching style. He presents Detroit through desolate
images and a story that rings true to the life it portrays.
Provocative, important and intense, he takes a sensitive
topic, adds a controversial rapper and stresses a message
that is as pertinent to young people everywhere as it is to
the inner-city dwellers it models.
Eminem plays Jimmy Smith Jr., rap-named "Bunny Rab-
bit," a struggling white rapper in the black-dominated world
of underground hip-hop in 1995 Detroit. In a powerful open-
ing scene, Rabbit's friend Future (Mekhi Phifer, "Clockers")
beckons him to the stage to battle and be heard. On this
stage, battles are done with words and rhymes but have emo-
tional blows that liken it to a fierce boxing match. Over-
whelmed and nervous, he chokes on his words and is booed
off the stage. Everything is wrong in his life. Fired from his

job, separated from his girlfriend and without a car, he is
forced back across 8 Mile into the 810 area code to live with
his broke mother (Kim Basinger). She lives in a trailer park
with his sister (talented young Chloe Greenfield) and a
boyfriend that graduated high school with Jimmy.
All Jimmy has to rely on are his friends, the Three-One-
Third - appropriately named for the Detroit area code.
Future wants to bring him back to battle, hoping that Jimmy
will be discovered and gather a following; the self-righteous
Wink (Eugene Byrd, "Sleepers") wants to give him a way
out by producing a demo tape for him. With Jimmy's situa-
tion becoming ever bleaker, he has to do more on his own.
Somewhere in the confusion of trying to be heard, working
at the stamping plant to make money and fighting with the
rap-group the Free World, the beautiful, model-dreaming
Alex (Brittany Murphy, "Don't Say a Word") puts dreams
of a better world into his head. Tension constantly builds as
Jimmy fights for control and opportunity.
Pleasantly surprising in his demeanor, Eminem proves that
he has skill beyond the recording studio. His performance is
powerful and convincing with an emotional range that even
the most experienced actors would have trouble reaching. In
every scene, Eminem carries the entire weight of the film on
his shoulders. The controversial raps and bad press become
lost as he truly personifies the character. As the movie pro-
gresses, Eminem disappears and Jimmy Smith Jr. takes cen-
ter stage. Even where it starts to resemble a biopic of
Eminem himself, he becomes immersed in the role's com-
plexity that translates into an enthralling screen presence and
riveting debut. Certainly praiseworthy, this portrayal should
change naysayers' opinions of the cultural phenom.
Supporting cast members also provide a wonderful array

of characters and performances. Murphy, Basinger and
Phifer bring a touch of class to the set. Their experience and
expertise adds validity to the film, but their embodiment of
characters has the raw nature of reality. Casting known rap-
pers in bit parts also adds a depth to the story as they raise
the battles to a level of extreme intensity and natural flow.
The best move that Hanson makes in casting is his decision
to use unknowns and native Detroiters to fill bit parts and
be extras. These people are the story; they have the natural
ability to create the aura because they live it.
An excellent compilation of songs accompanies a realis-
tic, grainy film stock and the concentrated camerawork.
Eminem's amazing amount of input, including the lyrics
for every battle, is astounding when considering his lack of
film training. The photography brings the audience in for a
close exhibition of emotions necessary to understand the
characters' intricacies. With a story that resembles the orig-
inal "Rocky," Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto transforms
Rabbit's trials on the microphone into an exchange of
words that cut like right-hooks and knockout punches.
Unlike other movies based in Detroit, Hanson shoots the
neighborhoods and not the sights. He uses the city as more
than a setting; it becomes a dominating, oppressive force.
Where other films show the prominent venues, he shies
away from known features to show the harshness that
encompasses the majority of the area.
Hanson has added to his awesome list of credentials (high-
lighted by "Wonder Boys" and "L.A. Confidential") with a
wonderful piece of drama and truth. Everything comes
together in powerful fashion and leaves a lingering sense of
satisfaction. "8 Mile", entirely shot in Detroit, is one film in
which the people and city it projects should take pride.

Bntabi's Royal Shakespeare (

By Christine Lasek
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor

In March, the Royal Shakespeare Compa-
ny performed three plays, in the second
installment of its five-year residency at the
University. Headlining the lineup was the
U.S. premiere of a stage adaptation of
Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children," as
well as two Shakespeare plays, "The Merry
Wives of Windsor" and "Coriolanus."
Where the 2001 residency totally
immersed audiences in the world of Shake-
speare's histories, the 2003's selections were
all over the board. The two Shakespearean
selections, nearly total opposites of each other
as far as themes and content are concerned,

were played by the same 20 actors. Each
actor appeared in both productions.
The cast of "Midnight's Children" fea-
tured 20 different actors with some x
playing as many as five roles during
the three-and-one-half-hour longr
production. Because the content of
"Midnight's Children" included many,
instances of magical realism, direc-
tor Tim Supple's production was a
multimedia masterpiece, including
some parts of the play performed
against the backdrop of archive
footage of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indi-
ra Gandhi and 1960's Bombay.
In reference to the addition of
this highly controversial play, "Midnight's

ompany begins residency at 'U
Children," Michael Boyd, the new artistic rior, raised to be the perfect fighting
director of the RSC, said: "The Royal machine. Yet, he has no understanding of
Shakespeare Company is in continual revo- politics, and his arrogance turns the citizens
lution. I am not interested in the RSC of Rome against him. Outraged, he joins
being a pontificating center of expert- with the Volscians, raises an army and
f ise, but more an explorer of the avant- marches on Rome. Coriolanus brings the city
garde with Shakespeare as its guide." to the brink of mass destruction, but subsides
The second installment of the when his mother likens marching on Rome
Royal Residency only built on the to treading on her very womb. When Cori-
accomplishments of the first. The olanus agrees to negotiate for peace, the
RSC is not only devoted to keep- Volscians accuse him of treason, and he is
ing Shakespeare's words alive in stabbed to death.
adaptations of his classics, but also Despite his arrogance, it is hard not to see
in discovering new classics of our Coriolanus as a sympathetic character,
own time. caught in the sticky web of politics. Cori-
AP Photo 'Coriolanus' olanus was raised to be a great warrior, and
Coriolanus is an unparalleled war- See BARD, Page 4D

Over 30 pieces at Picasso's masterwork exhibit

By Christine Lasek
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
Through Sept. 15, 2002, the Michigan Museum of Art
featured "Picasso: Masterworks from the Collection" in the
Museum Aspe. This collection was an overview of Picasso's
career, and was comprised of 31 works, most of which were-
from the UMMA's own extensive collection.
The artistic career of Pablo Picasso lasted over 75
years, until his death in 1973. He painted his first picture
at the age of 10, under the guidance of his father, and
went on to create an astounding body of work spanning
several genres of visual art. Although he is perhaps most
famous for his pioneering efforts in cubism, his full
body of works span all facets of art, including sculp-
tures, prints and ceramics.
In "Masterworks from the Collection," there were several
different artistic forms, including oil paintings, drawings,
etchings, engravings, dry point and lithographs. The collec-

in different artistic forms and periods not only illustrate
Picasso's personal growth, but also serve as a survey of sig-
nificant 20th century innovations in art.
One of the oils on canvas included in this collection
was "Two Girls Reading, 1934," which is one of several
works demonstrating a fascination with women engaged
in everyday activities. Several of Picasso's paintings done
in the 1930s are said to reflect Picasso's pleasure at hav-
ing a new love interest, Marie Therese Walter. The curvi-
linear lines present in "Two Girls Reading" almost express
and underlying eroticism, which could seem to lend sup-
port to this hypothesis.
Picasso's pieces illustrate a personal need to discover the
true nature of the thing observed. The violent but still
poetic movement of a bullfight is evident in his oil on can-
vas "The Bullfight, 1934," and the purposefully striped
bodice in, Portrait of Francoise, 1949," seemingly
enforces the idea of precision as beauty. Picasso's works of
art are never stagnant, but instead always have an underly-
ing activity even in his "still lifes" In this collection, one

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