January 26, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
U e @fdrligan &ptg
. ... ....... .
'L I .
ThE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
U2's "Vertigo" tour - According to Billboard Magazine, the
philanthropic uber-band is already expected to claim 2005's top-
grossing concert slot. With tsunami devastation still affecting
South Asia, Bono's humanitarian soapboxing should seem a lot
less tedious this time around - nothing like a tragedy to get the
people rocking out.
The New York Times Op/Ed columnists - To those who fear
news outside the Jon Stewart safety zone, tremble no longer. Wil-
liam Safire, Maureen Dowd and the whole crew make highbrow
current events both palatable and hilarious. Clinching the deal is
that illusory self-improvement element so vital to solid procrasti-
nation: It's The New York Times ... it's good for you.
MC Gainey - He has a substantial role in
"Are We There Yet?" - the No. 1 movie in
America. As if that weren't enough, he gets
substantial screen time in the most mem-
orable scene of the year's best film. For
those who saw "Sideways" (and you
should), think jigglage. Horrible, hilari-
ous, naked jigglage.
Hey, a bunch of bankrupt, late-'90s dot-com executives called. They want their suits back.
A SOFTER SNIDE
ART FOLKERS QUIETLY IMPROVE
J.J. Abrams - While the Golden Globes
threw a housewarming party for ABC's
suburbanite soap opera, the network's
unsung hero - creator of "Alias" and
"Lost" - got zilch in the way of drunken
black-tie feting. Fortunately for us, the net-
work is airing Abram's bravely original and
high-quality shows back to back. Besides,
anyone who can offer steady work to a former
hobbit has earned his place on this list.
By Aaron Kaczander
Daily Arts Writer
Clem Snide is a band that embodies the idea
of contentedness: They have
remained securely snuggled
under the altjk-country Clem Snide
umbrella since their 1991 End of Love
debut. The Boston-based spinART
group occupies a place
off the radar where crit-
ics tend to sympathize and fans are loyal, but
never obsessive. With this cozy, anti-high profile
veneer, they remain content.
On their fifth album, End of Love, Snide adds
a quietly enjoyable offering to their repertoire of
drowsy, sorrowful tunes. The record is a lulling
mix of distant electric guitar, brush drumming
and woeful wailing from alarmingly Michael
Stipe-sounding vocalist Eef Barzelay. Snide
avoids the glaring limelight of the recyclable,
hipster-approved rotation of indie-pop bands,
all the while seeming at ease in their cozy little
nook on the overcrowded folk highway.
Despite lumbering like Life's Rich Pageant-
era R.E.M., End of Love relaxes listeners with
ease, brooding like a pensive and sweet back-
ground album at a hip cafe. A stripped-down
acoustic guitar accompanies Barzelay and the
dreamily innocent voice of a young female in
the duet "Made for TV Movie." "Jews for Jesus
Blues" features a foot-tapping country tempo
and a Southern-infused twang. Lyrically, Bar-
zelay yearns for light and love, but not quite
enough to lament with the intensity of his emo-
tionally tormented musical peers.
The sweet "Something Beautiful" offers a
delicately picked, hi-hat heavy dose of sleepy
balladry, though suffering from tepid lyrics in
The album's tempo fails to change drastically,
which plagues the flow of the tracks as if they're
one consecutive yawn. Though this isn't always
a bad thing, End seems to quietly pass without
the fervor of a classic progressive folk album.
In the tradition of quiet-core aficionados like
Elliot Smith and Nick Drake, Clem Snide reach
out to the thoughtfully moody, emotionally
torn, albeit patient, listener. The album serves
as a fitting addition to Snide's continually
expanding library of folk-country balladry. Yet,
End stalls in its low-profile spot behind their
folk icons' melancholy wake. That isn't to say
that the to-fi enthusiast won't find a good slot
for an End of Love tune on their sleep mix. By
no means is this a revelation of an album, but
it's thoughtfulness and light sway will sustain
Clem Snide in their cozy cultural nook. The
record will still stand behind the folk gems of
the band's late predecessors, but for now, they
seem content with that.
- It's the+
day every movie geek
and pun-happy editor dreams of all
year. Leonardo flies high! Nat-
alie's closer to some industry
recognition! If Jamie Foxx can
act surprised by his nomina-
tion, he probably deserves the
a "You make me wanna
" confession of love.
Courtesy of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences
does little to improve
By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer
When the "Robotech" anime series
was first released in the United States,
audiences couldn't relate to the "femi-
nine" robots or convoluted history, and
"MechAssault" was created as a more
American offshoot. The huge, lumber-
ing robots (or mechs) that were previ-
ously the villains
5 in "Robotech"
became the stars MechAssault
of "MechAssault," 2: Lone Wolf
and the franchise Xbox
became typi- .s
fied by its regu-
destruction. The "MechAssault" video
games have never been known for
complex plot development or techno-
logical innovation, but they have been
consistently enjoyable nonetheless.
"MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf" is no
exception. Even in the training stages,
players are thrown into multipart res-
cue missions that most games would
have saved for the end. These first
missions are thrilling - there are few
things more exhilarating than acciden-
tally bombing entire city blocks to kill
a lone enemy mech.
"Lone Wolf," however, is mostly
mindless gameplay: Steal mech, circle
strafe around enemy mech, shoot, kill,
repeat. There's really no advantage to
using any particular weapon, and it is
nearly impossible to strafe past an ene-
my's attacks. The game lacks any strat-
egy to the combat or any indication as
to how much damage an enemy mech
has taken. The game's lone improve-
ment over the first "MechAssault" is
the ability to hijack any vehicle.
Stylistically, the game is at the
other end of the spectrum from this
generation's best mech game, Kona-
mi's "Zone of the Enders." It is nearly
impossible to care about the storyline:
The main character in "Lone Wolf"
is creatively named "Mechwarrior"
and emotes less than "Halo's" Mas-
ter Chief. The Americanization of the
series really shows: The level design
is uninspired and the soundtrack is an
amalgamation of every high school
Continued from page 1
including Best Director and Best Original
Screenplay. "Maria Full Of Grace" earned
a Best Actress nod for star Catalina San-
dino Moreno's portrayal of a drug mule.
On the supporting side, veteran actor Alan
Alda picked up a nod for his appearance
in "The Aviator," while the unheralded
Sophie Okonedo received notice for her
role as Don Cheadle's endangered Tutsi
wife in "Hotel Rwanda."
The Best Actress race is reminiscent of
1999, where Hilary Swank and Annette
Bening will prepare for a rematch for
~ their respective roles in "Million Dollar
Baby" and "Being Julia." Swank won
the Oscar in 1999 for "Boys Don't Cry,"
even though Bening was the favorite to
win for "American Beauty."
However, it wouldn't be the Oscars
without several snubs, as plenty of mov-
ies with major critical buzz in 2004 failed
to sustain their momentum. The widely
praised "Eternal Sunshine of the Spot-
less Mind" only received two notices -
Best Actress for Kate Winslet and Best
Original Screenplay. "Kinsey," about the
life of the famed sexuality researcher,
scored a sole nomination for Laura Lin-
ney as Best Supporting Actress. "Clos-
er," while shut out of many important
categories, did earn two nominations
for supporting players Clive Owen and
Natalie Portman. Arguably, the most
surprising omission was Paul Giamatti
for his role as a depressed novelist and
wine connoisseur in "Sideways." Gia-
matti was also snubbed last year for his
performance as cartoonist Harvey Pekar
in "American Splendor."
Many of the year's popular foreign
films - such as "House Of Flying Dag-
gers" and "The Motorcycle Diaries"
- failed to capture spots in the Best For-
eign Language Film category and barely
received any other mentions.
Two of 2004's most talked-about
and controversial films also failed to
capture significant nominations. Direc-
tor Michael Moore, who pulled out his
Bush-bashing documentary "Fahrenheit
9/11" from the Best Documentary cat-
egory, did not receive any recognition
from the Academy. Mel Gibson's bib-
lical epic "The Passion of the Christ"
received three nominations, but only for
ABC will televise the 77th Acad-
emy Awards ceremony, hosted by Chris
Rock, on Feb. 27.
Courtesy of Microsoft
It's morphin' time!
guitar riff ever played.
The salvation of "Lone Wolf" is with
Xbox Live and a game mode called
Conquest. Similar to the clans found
in "Halo 2," Conquest has the player
enlist in groups of mechwarriors with
the ultimate goal of controlling the
universe, planet by planet. When the
team conquers a planet, they acquire
the territory and the members of the
conquered team. The larger team then
moves through the universe, gain-
ing and losing team members, while
acquiring new planets and defend-
ing their territory from other teams.
Conquest is ongoing and immensely
dynamic, with gainers who were ene-
mies only one planet before now offer-
ing support, airlifting in supplies and
providing covering fire. Unfortunately,
it seems like it should be a part of a
All criticism aside, the "MechAs-
sault" series is nothing if not enjoyable.
"Lone Wolf" is a game with features
that you may have seen before, but it's
still undeniably fun and much better
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