10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Willams fires up A2
By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
It's hard to indict an entire genre, but
it's also hard to disagree with Lucinda
Williams when she says "(Country
music) is horrible today. Believe it or
not, country used
to be edgier." On
Sunday night Wil-
lilams proved that
country can still
and fierce. Her
set had the pre-
At the Michigan Theater
dominantly older crowd rowdier than
usual, cheering madly after every
obscenity. Williams and her road-
worn backing band's combination of
Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
inspired stoned-country, and Louisi-
ana pride got standing ovations after
nearly every song.
Williams opened with "Pineola," a
crowd favorite, and followed it with
the Byrds-ian "Drunken Angel,"
from her most acclaimed album Car
Wheels on a Gravel Road. The band
started to cook with a little grease
on the somber slow-burner, "Fruits
of Our Labor." Williams's backing
group - guitarist Doug Pettibone,
bassist Taras Prodaniuk and drummer
Jim Christie - was in top form. Petti-
bone was especially impressive, vary-
ing his guitar sound each song and
never stepping on Williams's heels.
Even more impressive was the new
Lucinda Williams performs at the Michigan Theater.
material Williams debuted. Songs like
"Learning How to Live," "What If"
and "Where is My Love?" matched
her notoriously high standards. Her
uncompromising lyrics are as divisive
as ever, but the new song "Jailhouse
Tears," rumored to be recorded as
a duet with Hank Williams III, may
be the commercial breakthrough she
deserves. Considered one of the top
songwriters of the last 20 years, she's
been held back by a reluctance to bow
to major-label pressure to release
songs aimed at country radio.
Williams has deftly mixed songs from
all eras of her career. She sounded par-
ticularly sultry on the self-pronounced
"hip-a-billy" track "Righteously," and
carried the momentum from that song
through the Paul Westerberg inspired
"Real Life Bleeding Fingers and Bro-
ken Guitar Strings."
The encore was highlighted by
"Crescent City," an ode to New
Orleans, and Grammy-winning "Get
Right With God." The largest cheers of
the night weren't for her music; how-
ever, but for her politics: She declared,
"Fuck politics; It's all about getting
right with God. Even George W. Bush
has to get right with God. After all, you
gotta serve somebody."
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
That hair-do is awesome.
BA CK TO THE FUTURE
'2046' CONTINUES WONG KAR WAI'S HOT STREAK
By Kristin MacDonald
Daily Arts Writer
Arrows' misses out on a bulls eye
By Kimberly Chou
For the Daily
Imagine Matt Damon driving through Boston, Mass.,
going up and over the hills in that little _______________
red car at the end of "Good Will Hunt- Matt Pond
ing." Take that image, throw in extra A
fall leaves and a cello. That's Matt
Pond PA. With the creative pliability several arrows
of Play-Doh, the band's latest, several later
arrows later showcases their genre- Altitude
shifting sound in satisfying fashion.
Born out of Philadelphia, frontman
Pond and his band craft pretty little chamber-pop ditties
that can only be described as autumnal. Several arrows
later - a perfect release for October - is a soundtrack
for a season; it's mellow and evocative. Pond's lyrics are
paired with juicy violin- and cello-based melodies. "It
Is Safe," with its moody Spanish guitar segueing into
piano and strings, conjures wet fall days longing for past
Pond connects with his inner Walt Whitman: "Lying in
the sand / Ifall asleep / Dream of the summer / When we'd
slip behind the pool and go with nature." Album opener
"Halloween" is a babe of a track, with tinkling piano echo-
ing the chorus and a raw-silk cello strain. The rustle of
fingers on frets is appropriate and subtle; it's more Beatles'
"Blackbird" than Extreme's "More Than Words."
With lush, sounds-simpler-than-it-is music, it's tempting
to classify Matt Pond PA as "indie-pop." Comparisons to
their peers are difficult to avoid as well.'
"The Trees and the Wild" could be a lost Spoon song
- just minus Britt Daniel and a fitted shirt. "The Movie-
goer" is The Strokes transplanted to New England, a sort
of "Last Nite" at Walden Pond.
At the same time, Bright Eyes fans and emo kids could
easily pick up Matt Pond PA, as could James Taylor folkies
and Yo-Yo Ma followers. Certain key moments - the fre-
netic drums on "From Debris" pushing along the orches-
tral strain before the bridge, the multiple-tracked vocal on
closing "Devil In the Water" - makes the listener wish
guys like Pond and Brendan Benson could finally knock
down that next-big-thing barrier. The album shows that the
band has the ability; next time they have to maximize it.
No one does longing like writer/director Wong Kar Wai.
His critically lauded "In the Mood for
Love" not only achieved a melancholy 2046
case study of unfulfilled love, but also
kept all the moody silences and mean- At the Michigan
ingful pauses mesmerizingly interest- Theater
ing. And "2046," his long-awaited Sony Pictures Classics
follow-up, beautifully maintains the
same elegantly lovelorn tone.
Though it picks up the storyline of "Mood's" main char-
acter, "2046" is really more of a continuation than a sequel.
Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung, Wong's perpetual leading man)
has changed radically since last seen as "Mood's" soft-spo-
ken cuckolded husband. Now he is a paperback novelist and
serial ladies' man who allows a long string of various romantic
entanglements to float in and out of his life. His inability to
choose or claim any one of these women leads Chow to the
creation of the titular 2046, a futuristic fantasy world popular-
ized in his novels and so named in honor of the room number
of his romantic encounters - past and present.
The overlapping threads of Chow's revolving-door relation-
ships unfold in the graceful beauty of Wong's signature soft-
palette cinematography - so lush and fluid you'd swear you
could swim in it. Wong's camera indulges freely in the beauty
of his female cast, and with so many Chinese all-stars head-
ing the bill, why shouldn't it? Though most Americans will
probably only recognize "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's"
fiery Ziyi Zhang as a slinky young prostitute, Chow happily
romances a whole series of Hong Kong cinema A-listers,
among them singer Faye Wong as his landlord's daughter and
'90s favorite Gong Li as a sadly elegant, black-gloved gam-
bler. Wong doesn't dare put such a wealth of female class to
waste: If not luxuriating in lingering close-ups, his camera is
pulling back to practically drink in the graceful curves of his
stars' impossibly slight silhouettes.
"2046" is indeed a film of undeniable visual thrills, as sur-
prisingly varied as they are breathtaking. Set in late-'60s Hong
Kong, with all the period's necessary oil-slicked side parts and
old-timey ladies' updos, the film moves deftly into Chow's
sleek version of the future, complete with wildly-colored wigs
and aluminum-like spandex. Even in switching visual tone,
whether light sepia, silky neon or vibrant pastel, Wong main-
tains both his particular flair for beautifully askew composi-
tion and characteristic focus on certain arresting details: the
graceful click of ladies' heels, the easy framing of doorjamb
foregrounds, the soft curlicues of cigarette smoke that billow
gently from scene to scene.
There is a danger, however, in sticking so 'close to formula
- even when it works. "2046" frequently implements devices
that "Mood" already masterfully executed, becoming deriva-
tive of the older film instead of breaking new ground. Though
it does reach a level of graphic eroticism that "In the Mood
for Love" only chastely hinted at, "2046" otherwise remains
too loyal to the earlier film's pangs of love either disappointed
or unconvinced. Chow's fantasy future may have given the
filmmaker fresh visual planes to investigate and play with, but
what his leading man ultimately needs most is new emotional
territory to explore. One can only pine for so long before get-
ting in the mood for something different.
You work hard,
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Grow your talents at Thomson.
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