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January 20, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-20

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ART S

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, January 20, 2004 - 11A

P 1A_

..«

NOT So RIGHTEOUS
DIFRANCO MISSES HER MARK WITH EDUCATED GUESS

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
Music REVIEW *
To the uninitiated, the name "Ani
DiFranco" probably evokes Lilith Fair
or chill-out music for the van ride
home from a World Trade Organization

I
DVNew DVD
At first glance, "Uptown Girls"
seemed like a relatively cute premise
for what was ultimately the summer's
biggest chick flick. This fairy tale
adventure of two very different lost
and confused kids in the city was
supposed to elicit the feeling that
selfless friend- _____________
ships can heal
wounds faster Uptown
than any money Girls
or any man. With MGM
the lackluster
array of summer movies last year,
this ploy may have worked for some.
Unfortunately, after forcing oneself
through the DVD special features,
the film better resembles a comedy
of errors than a whimsical story.
The movie might not be half as bad
if only it were better cast. As expect-
ed, Brittany Murphy ("8 Mile") and
Dakota Fanning ("I Am Sam") play
virtually the exact same roles they
always play, and the behind-the-scenes
feature suggests their on-screen per-
sonalities aren't too far off from their
off-screen mannerisms. Murphy uses
her limelight more often as a forum to
shake her booty rather than act and
strives to highlight her uncontrollable
facial twitches in each of her many
close-up shots. Fanning, who acts like
a creepy 30-year-old trapped in a little
girl's body, performs her character
with all the warmth and personality of
a totalitarian dictator.
Just because one can add special
features and audio commentary to a
DVD does not necessarily mean one
should. The special edition of
"Uptown Girls" includes a trip to the
resident costume designer, who pro-
ceeds to provide a lengthy explanation
of how she dyed Murphy's shoes to
match one flower on her dress. The
deleted scenes prove that only the
very best actually made it to the final
cut, which makes the movie seem
even more pitiful than before.
While "Uptown Girls" may have
caught a few eyes in the midst of the
summer lull, its DVD release floun-
ders in competition with this season's
feel-good success stories.
Film: *
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: **
SHORT
,TAKES
DAwsON's CRJoE
/ SEAoN Two
CoWMIA

The over-nalytical 20)-some-
things acting as high schoolers are
bac t reash ld Q1 wes and con-
front new controversy on this
for-disc set. New chrters join
the Capeside gang in the second
season~ plagued with~ death, heart-
brapsychosis and homopoi
Unfrtunately, the DVD) brings
wih i all the faults of the first-
seasont set. Discs are unmarked
and an insert listing the 22
episodes provides onily a sentence
'to describe' each rather 'thain a
thoogh overview. While the set
contains new music selected by
eeutv producer Paul Stapin,
the audience is left wondering
'which sogaebe hne

protest. But on her
fifteenth (yes, fif-
teenth) studio
album, the dread-
locked acoustic
warbler is political-
ly vague, quotidian
and lyrically without

Ani DiFranco
Educated
Guess
Righteous Babe
conviction. Ani

DiFranco's reputation was built on
her poetry. Sure, the gal can turn a
phrase once in a while and she some-
times manages unexpected rhymes, but
her politics-cum-confessional approach
doesn't work on Educated Guess.
Sometimes her poetry seems poignant,
or at least sounds that way when
DiFranco's sprightly voice harmonizes
with itself, but she makes more than a.
few lyrical gaffes. In "Swim," she com-
pares a bad relationship to the
ocean,"Pushing and pulling at me / ...
Deeper and deeper in." If there's a song
style that needs some fresh analogies,
it's the break-up song.
Hearing "Educated Guess" or
"Origami" over the PA in, let's say, a
downtown coffee shop would be about
as noteworthy as hearing Bob Marley's
Legend blasting from a dorm window.
The album would contribute to the
atmosphere (for better or worse), but
even if you could hear the lyrics over
the noise of the espresso machine, Ani
would still just be ambiance. The bland
poetry on Educated Guess would
sound at home coming out of Jewel's

If Educated Guess is a gauge of
musical rhetoric, DiFranco conveys
her personal politics - bisexuality,
feminism, do-it-yourself ideals -
via image, not lyrics. Come on, Ani.
You've had a solid career for
more than a decade, you have
legions of adoring fans
posting your lyrics in
their LiveJournals
every day and you
even sound pretty
sometimes. Back
up your righteous
-babe status with
an album that
your fellow
feminists r

sounds like she might mean something
on this album, but damned if anyone
can tell what it really is.
Despite the pretty harmonies and
laid-back acoustic strumming, Educat-
ed Guess sounds more like a sopho-
more slump album, or a crappy debut
that's forgotten once the artist finds
her voice and makes it big, not the
result of a successful decade as a
musician.

snaggletoothed mouth rather than from
DiFranco's beatific smirk. But when
Ani tries to take a stand, she uses truly
embarrassing language. "Origami"
begins "I am an all powerful Amazon
warrior / Not just some sniveling girl."
In "Grand Canyon," she says, "Why
can't all decent men and women / Call
themselves feminists?" With open mic-
quality lyrics like these, who would
heed her call?

would
proud of.

be

Courtesy of
Righteous Babe
Look at me.
Who am I
supposed
to be?

-------- -- _

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