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January 26, 2004 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-26

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4

8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 26, 2004

ART S

By Vanessa Miller
Daily Arts Writer

MOVIE REVIEW
The past year had its fair share of
literary adaptations, most notably
"Cold Mountain," "Master and Com-

4

mander: The Far;
and "Mystic
River," all of
which received
much critical
acclaim. "Girl
with a Pearl Ear-
ring" undoubted-
ly falls into the
same category,

Side of the World"
Girl with a
Pearl
Earring
At the Michigan
Theater
Lions Gate

Courtesy of Microsoft

Still cooler than "2 Fast 2 Furious" ... and Paul Walker sucks.

mostly because of a wonderful, Gold-
en Globe-nominated performance by
Scarlett Johansson ("Lost in Transla-
tion") and beautiful art direction.
Based upon the book by Tracy
Chevalier, the considerably faithful
cinematic adaptation of "Girl" is a
tale of Griet (Johansson)a young
peasant lass, who is sent to work as a
maid for the Dutch artist Johannes
Vermeer (Colin Firth, "Love Actual-
ly") and his family. As she spends
long, tiring hours cleaning Vermeer's
studio, Griet slowly becomes
absorbed into the artist's world. Even-
tually she forms a bond with Vermeer
and is chosen to pose for one of his
most controversial paintings.

Courtesy of Lions
Gate
I guess
every girl
goes -
through a
photography
phase. You
know,
horses ...
taking
pictures of
your feet.
accurately based upon an actual
Vermeer painting, "Girl with a
Pearl Earring," and Johansson is
eerily its twin, a quality that sweeps
over the film. Even though "Girl"
offers little conflict, the shadowy
relationship between Vermeer and
Griet captivates, allowing the imag-
ination to wander in this darkly
quiet, yet magical world of art.

Kudos to Microsoft's
'Project Gotham 2'

"Girl" is a riveting story driven
by hidden desires and little dia-
logue. Griet barely speaks, though
dialogue would have clogged up
the intimate artistic space she
shares with Vermeer. Johansson's
body language alone is remarkably
powerful and compensates more
than enough for any lack of words.
Firth also portrays the darkly

brooding Vermeer with a quiet
intrigue, allowing his growing
interest for his unexpected artistic
muse to be reflected in his smile
and penetrating gaze.
Each shot in "Girl" translates
perfectly into the true reality of
Vermeer's art, taking on the color,
lighting and stillness of his oil
paintings. The film and book are

I

By Charles Paradis
Daily Arts Writer

While "Mario Kart Double Dash"
might have been the best racing
game to come out over the holiday
season, "Project Gotham Racing 2"

ran a close sec-
ond. The sequel
to one of the
games that made
the XBox launch
s u cc e s s fu I,
"Gotham 2" is a
welcome addition

Project
Gotham
Racing 2
XBox
Microsoft

remember power sliding and other
moves to earn "Kudos," but
Microsoft has made some worthwhile
additions to the trick list. Now play-
ers can also earn "Kudos" by draft-
ing, following closely to reduce wind
resistance and using other realistic
race strategies.
The wonderfully rendered vehicles
would look out of place were it not
for the spectacularly constructed
environments. ThL "Gotham" team
scoured the globe in search of suit-
able areas, finally deciding on 10
cities including Sydney, Hong Kong
and Moscow. Each of these locales
was rendered in the utmost detail,
including signature landmarks such
as the Sydney Opera House. Gamers
speed through these cities while lis-
tening to a soundtrack featuring cur-
rent artists such as Trapt, Simple Plan
and the Flaming Lips. One notable
omission, however, is New York, fea-
tured prominently in the first game
but left out of this sequel.
With the introduction of "Gotham
2," the series without a doubt the best
racing games available on XBox. No
other franchise of games affords the
player as many lifelike cars in such a
well-rendered environment. Of
course, a couple of blue turtle shells
wouldn't be so bad either.

I

By Matt Kivel
Daily Arts Writer

Cast requires more elbow grease

to the series for fans of the original,
supporters of the genre and especial-
ly car enthusiasts, as the game owes
part of its success to its ultra life-
like representations of real-world
cars. From the Ford Focus to the
Enzo Ferrari and everything in
between, "Gotham 2" gives its play-
ers a wide range of automotive
selections.
Gameplay is fairly straight-for-
ward: Go fast, race, win. However,
with the unique "Kudos" system,
rewards are given to players for styl-
ish driving, giving "Gotham 2" more
depth than the typical racing game.
Fans of the first "Gotham" will

In Cast of Thousands, Elbow lead
singer and lyricist Guy Garvey has
hit his band with an extra dose of
Prozac, departing from the haunting
lyrics of the band's first album,
Asleep In The ____.____..._
Back. Now, it Elbow
must be under-
stood that Elbow Cast of
has by no means Thousands
entered the realm V2
of Hilary Duff
and the Disney Channel: The music
remains moody and dark, but the
band seems to have lost the chip on
its shoulder.
Cast begins with "Ribcage," bor-
rowing the sing-along appeal of
Blur's "Tender" by employing the
London Community Gospel Choir.
Although it's all "been heard before,
it's difficult not to sing along, "And
when the sunshine / Throwin' me a

lifeline / Finds its way into my room
/ All I need is you."
As the album moves along, the
songs are held together by the band's
ability to create emotion through
sparse arrangements. "Fallen Angel"
is one of the few high paced
moments and its churning guitars
and pounding drums temporarily
awaken the listener from the lethar-
gic haze of the album. "Not a Job" is
the most chilling track on the album:
Garvey's singing draws comparisons
to Nick Drake and the song is clearly
his best vocal work. "Grace Under
Pressure" is the band's crowning
achievement, with amazing drum-
ming, a catchy melody, the gospel
choir, Jimi Goodwin of Doves, and
Alfie; the band has pulled out all the
stops on this track. The song ends
with the crowd of the Glastonbury
music festival in 2002 singing, "We
still believe in love so fuck you." It
doesn't get much better than that.
The album was expertly produced
by Ben Hiller who allowed the music
to breathe, giving space to each

instrument. The album's main down-
fall is its lack of originality. Every-
thing on Cast seems to have been
done before, but Elbow's strong
musical sense helps them to get
away with being derivative. Aside
from "Grace Under Pressure," most
tracks aren't singularly impressive.
Elbow has crafted a very strong
album that only seems to be lacking
in the singles department.

SHORT
TAKE S
DUB NARCOTIC SOUND
SYSTEM
DEGENERATE
INTRODUCTION
K
Degenerate Introduction, the
first full-length album from K
Records funk-troupe Dub Narcot-
ic Sound System in five years, is
an open, airy fusion of punk,
funk, dub, indie rock and hip-hop
with a lo-fi hue. The album coa-
lesces like an ad-lib throw-down
among old friends in their par-
ents' garage. The unprompst~,
unsophisticated jams lay the
groundwork for former Beat Hap-
pening frontman Calvin Johnson
to bellow his frayed ruminations
over the microphone in a snarl
that you wouldn't find4aprmally
in dub or reggae-infused funk-
In the end, Degenerate Int-
d.:, 'i.pails wggg g e
vious works such as 1998's
hypnotizing Out of Your Mind
succeeded. Johnson's vocals are
polarizing and force to you to
become annoyed as he drowns
out the empty beats. But while
there's no melody to be found
anywhere, there's enough flow
found buried within the trem-
bling bass-lines to make this
novelty worth investigating. **
-Alex Wolsky

w)~i ly

A r t s

STAR SYSTEM

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