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November 08, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-08

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 8, 2005 - 9

Intimate, taut
family drama
stays modest
By Andrew Bielak
Daily Arts Writer
imREVIEW***
Within the first few moments of Noah Baumbach's semi-
autobiographical comedy-drama "The Squid and the Whale,"
a sharp familial divide is instantly laid
bare through a seemingly benign group
outing. Literary has-been Bernard The Squid
Berkman (Jeff Daniels) teams up with and the
his son Walt (Jesse Eisenberg, "Roger Whale
Dodger") against his wife Joan (Laura At the State
Linney) and burgeoning teenage son Theater
Frank (newcomer Owen Kline) in a USA
L disarmingly competitive game of ten-
nis. The muted anxiety of this first
scene becomes a undertone of human interaction through-
out Baumbach's newest film. For in the Berkman family, no
action is taken or comment spoken without an unmerciful
heaping of selfishness, anger and confusion.
In a cozy household in mid '80s Brooklyn, the Berkmans
are, superficially at least, an exercise in refined middle-class
intellectualism. Bernard and Joan are successful fiction writ-
ers and critics, while Walt yearns for future literary achieve-
ment underneath the tutelage of his father. After the separation
of Bernard and Joan that opens the film, the Berkmans reveal

Explosions in the
Sky revisits debut

Courtesy o USA

Grizzly Adams did have beard!
their true selves. And frankly, they're a mess.
Walt and Frank alternate days between their parents'
households, carrying loads of back-talk and acrimony. Aside
from exploring the emotional toll of a family breaking up,
"Squid and the Whale" is interested in the awkward pains of
boys' coming-of-age. Frank is a sexually confused, emotional
wreck, combining his inner turmoil and anger at Bernard with
a newfound penchant for masturbating in his school's library.
Walt, on the other hand, deals with his parents' separation in
a polarizing manner, admiring and mimicking his arrogant
father to a frightening degree while exhibiting continuous
spite toward his mother.
Although the boys' growing pains occupy a central place
in the film, they seem trivial next to the emotional havoc of
their father. Bernard is one-sided personification of preten-

By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Explosions in the Sky's career
has been for- _
ever marred .
by the events ExplosionS
Sep. 11, in the Sky
2001. Their How Strange,
first major innocence
label album, Temporary Residence
Those Who
Tell the
Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell
the Truth Shall Live Forever, was
released one week before the
tragic day.
Their second album, The
Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place,
is their rebuttal. With tracks
titled "First Breath After Coma"
and "Memorial." It is ironic then
that their first, self-recorded
album was always titled How
Strange, Innocence.
When the band was seven
months old, they hit the studio
creating a raw albeit promising
album of esoteric, instrumen-

tal rock. Only 300 CD-R cop-
ies of How Strange, Innocence
were released and sold out of the
group's van and at shows.
While many groups re-master
and rework early albums, Explo-
sions ii the Sky re-release theirs
in its original form. The airy, dry
percussion on "Snow and Lights"
is a sign of the group's immatu-
rity. The droning distortion of the
guitars on "Look Into the Air"
is again, a youthful indulgence.
How Strange, Innocence presents
these defects as stepping-stones
for a band's musical progression.
Despite these shortcomings,
the group is able to produce an
optimistic sound not present on
their later efforts. "Remember
me as a Time of Day" has their
signature military drum rolls and
hopeful guitar lines.
How Strange, Innocence
is not Explosion in the Sky's
masterpiece. It's a leap back in
time to when the group had no
pretenses: They were simply
four kids from Texas looking to
make music as massive as their
home state.

tious buffoonery, demanding adulation while displaying
complete ignorance about raising his kids. Daniels does his
best to instill Bernard with a sense of humanism, but the sheer
foolishness of the character makes gaining our sympathy a
pretty arduous task.
"The Squid and the Whale" is undoubtedly funny, cap-
turing those realistic moments of human interaction that
can be both painful and comedic. But its haphazard resolu-
tion and single-mindedly grating central character reveal a
partial failure.
Although it isn't the minor masterpiece it yearns to be,
"The Squid and Whale" is a funny, touching, yet ultimately
unsatisfying exploration of middle-class dysfunction. Just
don't be surprised when you walk out of the theater with your
own hopes for a happy working family slightly soured.

Go! Team
alive with
charm and
energy
By Caitlin Cowan
Daily Arts Writer

r

Not even the clattering, crashing
title of The Go! Team's U.S. release
can prepare you for the funky, blue-
sky scribble of Thunder, Light-
ning, Strike. ________
Re-releasedthere
in the states a The Go! Team
year after its Thunder,
U.K. debut, Lightning, Strike
Thunder, Light- Sony
ning, Strike is all
rowdy, rollick-
ing dance pop laced with every-
thing from harmonica to recorder.
The catchy and unabashedly cheery
album makes the Michigan Cheer-
leading halftime routine seem like a
half-hearted farce.
The six members of the band uti-
lize a wide assortment of instrumen-
tation and a variety of background
sounds. The feisty lady MC Ninja,
guitarist Ian Parton, bassist Jamie
Bell and banjo man Sam Dook all
hail from the U.K. Japanese-born
percussionist extraordinaire Chi
and German-born keyboardist Silke
flesh out the group's sound and give
the band an international credibility
not seen since Mark Cuban's Dallas
Mavericks.
Can't imagine what a band like this
would sound like? Think of a dance
squad tossed into a blender with Tito
Puente and the Jackson 5. Add to that
mix a drum machine, an air raid siren
and a whole lot of bells and whistles
and you've got The Go! Team.
Even on the darkest of days, this
album can easily coax a smile out
of the most skeptical listener. As
soon as strains of "Panther Dash"
come flying out of your stereo at top
speed, you'll be drawing the blinds
and starting a dance party.
A few harmonica squeals and
some retooled guitar riffs reminis-
cent of the California coast add to
the crash-bang charm of the first
few tunes. Silke and Chi have a reg-
ular percussion duel on the showy
"Ladyflash," and the whoop and
holler of "Air Raid GTR" has kinet-
ic charm.
"Bottle Rocket," arguably the
best and brightest of the album's 13
tracks, sounds like something The
Avalanches might have cooked up in
their own basement. The cheerlead-
er-esque voices chant, "Two, four,
six, eight, ten!" over and over again
on the four-minute rock out.
Annoying? Not in the least.
With Ninja's slick raps and blar-
ing, bursting brass infiltrating the
mix, "Bottle Rocket" makes the
album come alive all over again in
the second half.
Thunder, Lightning, Strike is
upbeat without being insincere
- retro without being outdated.
And at a time when damp-eyed emo
songwriters and enraged metalhead
idiots are dominating much of the
music on the charts, The Go! Team
makes hannines' artistic again.

0

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