March 17, 2004
THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
Tom Hanks being funny - With Tommy turning all serious on us
in the '90s, the days of "Dragnet" and "Big" are long gone. Still, next
week's release of "The Ladykillers" looks to prove Hanks hasn't lost
his funny bone.
4 "House of Bush, House of Saud" by Craig Unger - In his latest
book, Variety reporter Unger investigates Saudi involvement in Sept.
11 and details the Bush-sponsored flights of many prominent Saudis
and bin Laden family members out of the U.S. days after the attacks.
"Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories"- Thanks to "Chap-
pelle's Show," Eddie Murphy's brother can finally step out of his sib-
ling's shadow (or should I say darkness). Not only did the sketch
create a new catchphrase ("I'm Rick James, bitch") but it also brings
a message ("Cocaine's a helluva drug").
By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Music Editor
Electric Light Orchestra, "Mr. Blue Sky" - Originally released
in 1977, ELO's Beatles-influenced romp around a sunny day has
reached an entire new audience playing
over the trailer for Jim Carrey's "Eternal
Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.";
Twenty-seven years later it's still a I..
theatrical, fun epic.r
The return of "The Shield" andx
"South Park" - New episodes of y
"The Sopranos" get all the press, but #x
FX and Comedy Central own the two
best shows on TV. Vic Mackey busts
your chops and your bones every
Tuesday night, and "South Park"
takes on anime' in its premiere
tonight before turning to "The Passion
of the Easter Bunny" later in the season. ourtesy of comedy Central
and the skill it takes to play
bass guitar, the backbone they
provide for a band is irreplace-
able. The importance of the
rhythm section in underground
music - where songwriting
and arrangements can get
slushy - is especially pro-
MUS IC REVI EW
The effects of a good rhythm section on rock
music have been well-documented. For all of the
jokes about the collective intelligence of drummers
for their antiquated approach: They make rock
music the old-fashioned way, from the rhythm on
up. The elastic, buoyant basslines of Bob Hardy and
snapping percussion of Paul Thomson stand out not
because of premeditated genre constructions, but
because they serve as a foundation for Franz Ferdi-
nand's finely crafted pop.
"Take Me Out" is exemplary of the transforma-
tion a song undergoes once it is subjected to Franz
Ferdinand's rhythmic juggernaut. Beginning with a
minute of vague, dismissible pop-rock, the track
morphs into a roaring post-punk anthem that both
echoes the shout-worthy thrash of Gang of Four and
carves out the imminent tunefulness of Blur. The
rest of the album finds a similar niche. "This Fire"
is Ferdinands most anthemic chant, skipping along
on heavy bass burbles. "Tell Her Tonight" is an alto-
gether less serious affair, as singer/guitarist Alex
Kapronos delivers a jerky verse before riding
smoothly into an upbeat chorus.
Some of the comparisons to New York's dance-
punks are warranted, but the similarities arise
Courtesy of Domino
Full album in
or It's free.
more out of content than aesthetic similarities. The
coked-up, disco homage "Michael" is a memo-
rable barn-burner. The synthesized organ and
vaudeville melody that open the superb "Auf
Achse" reek of a late-'70s dance floor, even if the
chorus pushes the song in a decidedly darker
direction. The first single, "Darts of Pleasure," is
built on a bold, theatric melody that builds into a
glimmering, showboat finale.
The band does have faults. Kapronos's heavy
Scottish accent is slightly off-putting, and the band's
reputation for being fashion-conscious pretty boys
won't raise their stock among the punk crowd.
There's not a weak track on the album, but there are
several tracks - "Cheating on You" and the closer
"40 Ft" - that aren't particularly memorable.
Franz Ferdinand paint in broad, majestic strokes,
riding their stellar rhythm section into propulsive,
exultant rock music. They have an ear for cutting,
acute melody, but it's their sharp arrangements that
breathe life into their debut album. They're the rare
rock band that's not embarrassed to sing and dance.
nounced. Indie rock's recent stabs at dance music
have ostensibly re-established the importance of
rhythm in punk music.
Scottish quartet Franz Ferdinand has already
received plenty of comparisons to the already-falter-
ing "dance-punk" genre, but they're more notable
New show misses the punch lines
*NSYNC member is
Schizophrenic in debut
By Doug Wernert
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Following in the footsteps of "Mal-
colm in the Middle" and the critically
acclaimed "Arrested Development," the
FOX network has produced another pro-
gram about strange families that put the
"fun" in dysfunctional. "Cracking Up"
has the strong cast and premise to create
another comedic gem, but the laughs are
and far between.
Ben Baxter Cracking Up
(Jason Schwartz- Mondays at 8:30 p.m.
man, "Rushmore") FOX
is a psychology
student who moves into a lavish Bever-
ly Hills house to counsel young Tanner
Shackelton (Bret Loehr). Oddly
enough, Tanner is the sanest member
of his family, which is good news for
Ben, as he now must deal with the
boy's crazy father (Christopher
McDonald, "Happy Gilmore") and an
unstable mother (Molly Shannon, "Sat-
urday Night Live). Tanner's siblings
are also a handful, as an obsessive-
compulsive jock named Preston (Jake
Sandvig) and a ditzy cheerleader
named Chloe (Caitlin Wachs) give Ben
TH RE E ( A KS
o R 0 U P
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By Emily Liu
Daily Arts Writer
coute sy u,
This Is me In a nutshell. Help!
plenty of subjects to study.
In the first few episodes, Ben adjusts
to the family and then attempts to con-
vince the parents to give their kids "the
talk." Usually with scenarios such as
these, the laughs would never stop.
Unfortunately, the jokes rely on topics
such as sex and circumcision, and the
truly funny actions and punch lines do
not happen nearly enough.
The chemistry between the parents is
there, as their happy husband-and-wife
banter has all the comedy elements nec-
essary, but fails to deliver. Preston's neu-
rotic jock persona is refreshing and Ben
is certainly a character that audiences
can enjoy, but the parents - one of the
reasons "Malcolm in the Middle" is so
good -just fall flat, through no fault of
Shannon and McDonald.
"Cracking Up" is a prime example of
trying to capitalize on a formula that has
worked in the past. Most of the time, the
follow-up program fails to capture the
magic of the original, and that is exactly
the case here. Although the premise is
unique and some characters are intrigu-
ing, the show is certainly not all it is
cracked up to be.
MUSIC REVI EW *
As the second member of *NSYNC
to go solo, J.C. Chasez seems doomed to
follow in the footsteps of Justin Timber-
lake, whose pop-R&B album, Justified,
was barely rescued from dullness by the
Neptunes' ingenious production.
Chasez, however, .
makes a departure C. Chasez
from the tried-and- ' ,
true boy band for- Schizophrenic
mula with his Jive
Schizophrenic. True to the album's title,
Chasez explores a variety of musical
stylings with varying degrees of success.
The album opens with the single
"Some Girls (Dance with Women),"
which has an infectious dance club beat
and suggestive lyrics. In fact, Schizo-
phrenic is loaded with sexual tension to
the point of absurdity. Even though
"Come to Me" has a nice '80s new
wave beat, lyrics such as " 'Cause when
I'm all alone / I lie awake and mastur-
bate" are extremely laughable. Similar-
ly, in the same song, "Conversation
hotter than a fireman engulfed" does
not conjure sparks of passion, but
rather images of pain and searing flesh.
While "100 Ways" also contains
bizarre lyrics about sex, Chasez effec-
tively evokes Prince with both breathy
and falsetto vocals, as subtle bass guitar
rounds out the tune.
"One Night Stand" includes per-
plexing dialogue between Chasez and a
female voice, in which Chasez asks,
"So Pm thinking it's kind of crowded.
You wanna get out of here?" The
female replies sarcastically, "Yeah,
'cause you're so smooth.' Who knows
what Chasez was thinking when he
included that sound clip, because it
deteriorates the sexy image that he
tries so desperately to create for him-
self. The female's orgasmic moans,
straight out of a bad pornographic
film, are an irritating distraction and
comprise yet another pathetic attempt
to make the album sexy.
Chasez sounds most comfortable
toward the end of Schizophrenic in the
sugary pop ballads, which are reminis-
cent of the more innocent songs of
*NSYNC. Throughout the rest of the
album, Chasez struggles to project a
sexualized image with no success; his
awkwardly worded, overtly sexual
lyrics merely make one cringe. To his
credit, the album's diverse songs, all
co-written by Chasez, showcase his
vocal talent and versatility. Chasez's
debut is decent and musically interest-
ing, but this former Mouseketeer is
simply a boy next door who is inca-
pable of convincing his audience that
he is an over-sexed playa.