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March 30, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-30

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Wednesday
March 30. 2005
arts.michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ARTS

5

THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER

S.

GIANT Magazine - Ever wanted to know what character actor James
Rebhorn does during his free time? What about the history of John Hughes?
This publication hasn't been around long, but it's already establishing itself
as the next great printed source on popular culture. Each issue is colorful
and well designed, and the articles are rather in-depth and entertaining.

"Sideways" screenplay - Readily available from the good people at
Newmarket Press, the Academy Award-winning script is a must-have
A for any fan of the movie. The fantastic introduction by Rolling Stone
writer Peter Travers, the afterword by novelist Rex Pickett and the half-
serious/half-comedic study guide by the screenwriters really makes this
script worthwhile.
Ennio Morricone - Widely considered one of the greatest film com-
posers of all time, Ennio Morricone's classical compositions have lasted
through the decades and have crossed many musical genres. Morricone's
score for Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In America" is complex and
bold, but lately, I cannot stop listening to his music from "Cinema Parad-
iso," which is filled with immense sincerity and intense warmth.
Andi Watson - I'm really not much of a comics reader, but I simply
can't resist the work of writer/artist Andi Watson. Watson's art is subtle and
distinct, but the man truly shines as a storyteller. His fish-out-of-water story
"Slow News Day" and rather bleak "Breakfast After Noon" are well rec-
ommended.
Playstation PSP - It's terrible for playing MP3s and viewing photos,
but that's ok - Sony's new handheld device was really meant to play
games, and it does that amazingly well. Complete with a sleek interface
and sexy look, it really is like having a PS2 on the go - which means
that Sony is
going to beĀ«
Ninten-
do's first
true & J D
com-
petitor
in the
portable
gaming *
market.

There's always that one friend - the one that
picks the band that'll make everyone's "next big
thing" list for the coming year.
He's always reading the preview issues of Roll-
ing Stone or Spin and checking
blogs, making mental notes of
which post-punk revivalists or The Bravery
folk-fusion or glitch-hop acts The Bravery
will really stir the buzz. Island
Most of the time, he's right.
But he's also a victim of the
hype machine, which is all
too often just a glittery, tightly packaged, finely
mascara'd game of musical telephone.
Such is the case with the spankin' new debut
from the latest scowling New York quintet, The
Bravery. Sure, that friend's been raving about The
Bravery's totally rad brand of disco-glam rock for
months now. The real problem is that The Bravery
have scarcely been a band longer than that; playing
their first gig in the summer of 2003.
Thanks to major magazine buzz and the grand
appetites of record execs who love a good new wave
hair cut, The Bravery have, in some sense, already
made a name for themselves. Their sizzling single,
"An Honest Mistake" runs circles around MTV U
programming, and is a near perfect blueprint for
the attitude of the dorm-room hipster that sneers at

Courtesy of Island Records
Sam never suspected that his bandmates were about to jump him and steal his kicks.

his beer-guzzling neighbor.
For their self-titled debut album, the boys wear
classic influences on their stylish sleeves. Singer/
guitarist Sam Endicott has claimed to not own
many Duran Duran or Depeche Mode records, but
listeners can't help but hear "No Breaks" and think
of a young David Gahan.
Unfortunately, Brandon Flowers of The Kill-
ers has already staked this coveted claim. This,
by transitive property, pretty much makes Sam
Endicott a copycat singer. Still, The Bravery rock
with a lazy intent, favoring bass pedal heavy disco
beats and plenty of effects-laden keyboard accents.
This makes it a bit strange that there's a notice-
able lack of pounding synthesizer, which listeners
might expect from a crew of apparent New Wave
worshippers.
Nevertheless, Endicott has a right to toss his
batch of pouty sing alongs into the ring of other
next-big-thing bands. His lamentation in "The Ring
Song" almost evokes some empathy, as he croons,
"Well I don't see no ring on these fingers." That
is, until he crudely offends with "You put the 'art'

in retarded" in "Public Service Announcement."
Guitarist Michael Zakarin's arena-style soloing
often seems out of place, tacked on at the end of
otherwise enjoyable tunes, like "Fearless." A small
handful of the album's tracks are easily dismissible,
lacking a real hook and even less competent lyrics.
Keyboardist John Conway provides some of The
Bravery's most lush backdrops, filling the space
between guitar lines, as well as adding a dream-
like intro to "The Ring Song."
Yet for all of the comparison and criticism,
The Bravery is a record that will carve out a fan-
base. Sam Endicott will fit nicely into the dream-
ily weird, New-Wave crooner "Walk of Fame" in
2005. It'll entice the MTV2 generation to buy an
album from a hip new "It" band bound for season
three of "The O.C." And that friend, the one that
finds all the hot new acts, will let them fizzle away
into next year.
The Bravery won't leave a major imprint on
the rush of bands cashing in on a disco beat and a
prayer, but they'll exist in the year-end wrap up in
that, "Oh, yeah, them" sort of fashion.

Courtesy of Sony

' DVD brings 'Incredibles' to
! life with superb picture, extras

Realistic 'Runway' scores

By Nichole Qerard
Daily Arts Writer
Generally considered one ofthe world's

By Marshall W. Lee
Daily Film Editor
Sure the animation was groundbreaking, the writ-
ing superb and the voice talent unmatched, but when
an upstart studio from southern
California released a quirky, The
smart, family-friendly comedy
named "Toy Story" nearly a Incredibles
decade ago, very few Friday- Pixar
night filmgoers suspected that
they were sitting in on history.
Nobody knew that a cowboy
called Woody and a spastic astronaut named Buzz
were going to spark a celluloid revolution.
Flash-forward eight years to 2003 and the release
of "Finding Nemo." Heralded as one of the finest
American films in recent memory by nearly every
critic on the planet Earth, Pixar Studio's fifth fea-
ture film wowed audiences to the tune of $339-mil-
lion in domestic box office and an Academy Award
for writer-director Andrew Stanton. Suffice it to say,
expectations for Pixar's next film were rather astro-
nomical.
But then came Brad Bird, the man behind War-
ner Bros. critically acclaimed 1999 flop "The Iron
Giant," and his big-hearted story about a family
of reformed superheroes struggling to live like
normal folk in suburbia. "The Incredibles," Bird's

four-year labor of love, hit theaters with a ven-
geance last fall, earning more than $630-million
worldwide and garnering a Best Animated Feature
statuette for Bird and his Pixar cronies at Febru-
ary's Academy Awards.
The story goes something like this: After decades
of dutiful service and valor, America's superheroes
are being ousted by an ungrateful citizenry. Law-
suits force the flaxen-haired Mr. Incredible (Craig
T. Nelson) and his wife Elastigirl (Holly Hunter)
into a superhero relocation program that leaves them
stranded inside the confines of their pastel, subur-
ban-tract home. Mr. Incredible, known to his new
friends and neighbors as the mild-mannered, clock-
punching claims adjuster Bob Parr, is now sporting
a bulging beer-gut and a repressed-hero complex big.
enough to make any ex-quarterback jealous.
But when a mysterious summons sends Mr.
Incredible back into action, the Parr family must
band together in order to fight off the evil-doers and
once again save the world.
To put it plainly, the movie is simply superb. Bird's
script is a smart, incisive and surprisingly ruthless
invective against America's growing obsession with
mediocrity, and the story of a disquieted suburban
family coming together to save the world - and
themselves - from imminent destruction is a mes-
sage so timely the film hardly needs all off its brim-
ming wit and warmth to cut straight to our hearts.
The animation is top-notch - the characters look
like hand-drawn comic book heroes plucked into the

greatest living writ-
ers, Alice Munro
has a remarkable
talent for finding
the extraordinary
in the mundane,
and her latest effort,

Runaway
Alice Munro
Knopf

Couesy ofPlxar

"I'm super, thanks for asking."

digital third-dimension - and the action sequences
are filled with the kind of'edge-of-your-seat urgency
and suspense that Michael Bay could stand to learn a
lot from. The picture on the DVD is bright, clear and
brilliant, and the sound is crisp and theater-quality.
Similar to the treatment that made "Finding
Nemo" a smash hit on DVD, "The Incredibles" is
packed with generous special features - everything
from commentaries and deleted scenes to story-
board art, bonus bloopers and even an all-new ani-
mated short "Jack-Jack Attack," but it is undeniably
the feature that makes this disc worth owning. Bird's
assessment of the intricate script-to-screen process is
insightful, and yes, the bloopers are actually funny
and cute, but at the end of the day all that really mat-
ters is the movie, which is simply incredible.

"Runaway," exemplifies this skill: It is a
collection of eight stories, each focusing
on the life of a Canadian woman at some
kind of crossroads.
Three of the stories focus on a woman
named Juliet at different stages in her life
- as a young student, a mother and in her
senior years. This narrative trio is par-
ticularly remarkable because of Munro's
dedication to allowing Juliet to develop
organically on the page; the arrangement
of the stories in chronological order,
which fives us the chance to watch Juliet
grow up before right before our eyes, are a
wonderful account of Munro's dedication
to her characters.
Some of the stories, however, are less
than gripping. In "Tricks," the main char-
acter meets a handsome foreigner, who
promises to meet with her again in the
future. A ridiculous series of events leads
to a surprising conclusion, but unneces-
sarily complicates the story. The plot

becomes rather unbelievable and almost
Dickensian,whichdistractsfromMunro's
powerful writing. Another story, "Pow-
ers," is also plagued by this problem.
However, where the plot suffers, the
characters shine. Munro's emphasis on
ordinary people keeps them realistic. A
convincing protagonist is essential for
any compelling story - and "Runaway"
is filled with them. Munro is skilled in
her character portrayal and development;
each person, while unique, is simultane-
ously similar to others in the work. One of
"Runaway's" recurring threads is human
identity, which neatly ties the work togeth-
er; The protagonists lives and stories are
connected by this theme, but each story
maintains a distinct voice.
The book's main strength is undoubt-
edly Munro's thoughtful, clear writing.
Each story is vividly depicted and "Run-
away" is unburdened of flowery rhetoric
designed to impress the reader. Rather,
Munro's natural, simple style creates a
fluid text that is a pleasure to read. She
creates compelling and beautiful imagery
with a dark undercurrent.
As the title of the book implies, these
stories also deal with escape - from
people, reality, family and from life in
general. Certainly "Runaway" will appeal
to any avid Munro fan; however, her well
developed, engaging writing style offers
every reader a chance to run away into her
world of solid fiction.

Film: *****
Picture/Sound: *****
Features: ****

I

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