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February 24, 2006 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-24

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February 24, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com

RThe Sirhiga Bilg


. . . .. ... .. ... .. .. - - - --------------- - --- --

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . f Ci nm LM.ibre
Courtesy of Cinema Libre
"Shit, I can't see the 3-D image yet."
'Through the Fire'
only for NBA fans


By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer

"What would Coney Island be like
without basketball?" a filmmaker asks
a young man, who
responds, "Without
basketball, there Through
wouldn't be noth- the Fire
ing." This is the sad At the Showcase
truth we must con- Cinema Libre
front and quickly
accept to under-
stand the plight of Sebastian Telfair, the
focus of ESPN's documentary "Through
the Fire." The film, which follows Telfair
through his senior year of high school,
plays out like "8 Mile" meets "Hoop
Dreams," the story of a man overcoming
all odds to achieve the impossible, but
with an unimaginative setup and story-
telling, the movie won't inspire anyone
except Telfair's biggest fans.
The 6-foot-tall Telfair is now a sec-
ond-year guard for the Portland Trail-
blazers, averaging a respectable nine
points and four assists per game. But
back in Coney Island, the proving
grounds for some of basketball's most
legendary talents - such as Telfair's
cousin, NBA superstar Stephon Mar-
bury - his aura transcends anything
NBA stardom could ever provide.
Mainstream viewers might be shocked
at the seemingly mindless tenacity with
which Telfair and others like him pursue
their basketball dreams, fighting through
serious injuries and dangerous neigh-
bors. After all, only a handful of them
at most have the talent to make it to the
NBA, and even then, nothing is guaran-
teed. But consider that there really is no

other way out. So-called public officials
may advocate a rise through education,
but this is hardly a possibility as long as
inner-city schools remain so desperately
inadequate. Telfair's brothers and his
mother both see that his pursuit of bas-
ketball stardom could end with one mis-
step or freak play, but what other choice
do they have? For Telfair, in order to
overcome his humble roots, basketball is
the only option.
But Telfair is an anomaly among his
fellow cagers because he has the attitude
along with the talent needed to make it.
Though he's always been the best among
his peers, he maintains a reserved out-
look and readily accepts advice. Telfair's
dream is to succeed and buy expensive
things not for himself, but for all who
helped him along the way. He recognizes
the sacrifices of his family and wants
nothing more than the ability to repay
them with an easier future.
With a running time of nearly two
hours, however, the documentary loses
the captivating aura of Telfair's odyssey
and the content and flow lag behind. There
are many scenes and accounts of Telfair's
attempt to lead his team to a third city
championship. These play out well for an
ESPN-TV special, but are probably a bit
of the long-winded side to compel theater
audiences in the same way.
Like most documentaries, then,
"Through the Fire" succeeds at wow-
ing only a subculture within the the-
ater audience. Its story of overcoming
life's obstacles is heartfelt and certainly
real, but the whole package lacks finer
elements to make it watchable for non-
basketball fans. Still, Telfair's quest is
something we can all keep an eye on; he
has many obstacles before, as he says, he
can truly "make it."


By Kimberly Chou
Daily Arts Writer
Musically overrated or not, Coldplay puts on a fuck-
ing good show. Not just "Sesame Street"-level flashing
light displays, but Kraftwerk-
inspired countdowns, prismatic Coldplay
beams of light shooting from all
corners, confetti-filled yellow bal- Wednesday
loons descending from the Palace Palace of Auburn Hills
of Auburn Hills' ceiling at musi-
cal climax - and that all was within the first 10 minutes
of their concert Wednesday night. Chris Martin better
have thanked the sound and lighting technicians.
Among the biggest bands in the world, Coldplay
commanded the crowd at the Palace, putting the
20,000-plus group under a soft-focus, piano-rock spell.
But given the inoffensive nature that's led to their
worldwide success, the ever-interesting Fiona Apple
- so alluring, so borderline unstable - seemed an odd
choice for opening act.
Though a throaty performance of "Criminal" had
Apple shaking and whirling like a repenting sinner pos-
sessed, she wasn't quite in tune with the rest of the con-
gregation. During Coldplay's lengthy set, the band took
over the pulpit but preached to the choir. The majority of
the Palace crowd was there for one reason alone: They
wanted to see the British quartet perform their multi-
platinum records live, augmented by flashy theatrics.
Though Apple's intimate songs and personal idiosyn-


crasies were lost in a venue accustomed to selling out
NBA playoff games, Coldplay was made for this kind
of thing. As each of their popular torch songs came up
in the set list, the band's audience swayed with arms
open like members of a religious revival and waved the
occasional lighter.
Besides weepers like "The Scientist" - when
the entire female contingent sighed audibly at the
opening chords - Coldplay lit up the Palace with
the dynamics of their kinetic, rhythm-heavy songs.
Their opener was a spectacle in and of itself: Cold-
play, backlit by a massive digital clock, launched into
their first song as the numbers dribbled down to zero.
The clock periodically re-started and counted down,
setting off waves of light in red, blue and green over
the captive audience. Frontman Martin leapt and
strutted through the spotlight; the devout shouted
along with the lyrics; 30-something drunk women
found it a good time to dance.
Coldplay is above all a pop band: They have a spe-
cific audience (the college co-eds, young couples and
sensitive yuppies were out in full force) and they know
how to satisfy them. Thus the band stuck with their
hits, including the ballads from their first two albums
and the up-tempo singles off X & Y, mixing music with
Cirque du Soleil-style aesthetics and athletics. Martin
was in constant cardiovascular action, even when on
the piano, shifting violently back and forth like a frantic
child. Guy Berryman and Jon Buckland snarked and
pulsed with their instruments, moving around the stage
between the' camera views broadcasting kaleidoscopic
versions of them on the giant background screen.

Chris Martin
performs at
the Palace
of Auburn
One of the earliest songs of their set, "Yellow" fea-
tured a fantastic display of simple sensory stimula-
tion and highlighted the Palace's arena atmosphere.
Midway through the song, as the chorus built and the
ringing guitar crescendoed, oversized yellow balloons
dropped from the ceiling and burst with gold confetti as
the crowd tossed them around the venue's floor. People
knocked the lemon-yellow orbs around like beach balls,
eventually batting them to the stage, popping, Martin
attacking some of them, glitter spilling everywhere in a
extravagant, beautiful mess.
Martin might be the best-known member of the
group, but no man is an island. Without support, such
as when he opens a song just playing acoustic guitar,
it's cute but it's a novelty. "God Put a Smile Upon Your
Face" might fare better fleshed out with guitar, drums
and bass; the introduction of just vocals and acoustic
guitar was an unnecessary change to the already fine-
tuned concert catalogue.
Throughout the night, Coldplay's aim was to please
- and their fans ate up everything they put out on the
stage. After their own songs and a brief, stripped-down
Johnny Cash tribute of sorts, Coldplay just wouldn't
stop playing. What was the end of the band's set seemed
weary, and the actual encore was just plain excessive to
the casual fan.
As Coldplay has already been on this Twisted
Logic tour for months, you have to wonder how
scripted it is. How many times can Martin attack glit-
tery balloons with glee before it gets old? Thankfully
for the Palace crowd on Wednesday, it came off fresh
and effervescent.

Destroyer's versatile
sound shines on LP

Wolf produces glossy, shallow take on law

By Ben Megargel
Daily Arts Writer

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
For some listeners, Destroyer's
notoriously difficult lyrics and mer-.
curial moods from

album to album
make their music
hard to like. For
others, that diffi-
culty presents an
enthralling chal-
lenge. Destroy-


er's Rubies is the latest move in the
battle of wits between lyrical mas-
termind Dan Bejar and an audience
who either loves or hates him for his
music's complexity.
It's also difficult to contextual-
ize Destroyer's Bejar without men-
tioning two of his closest musical
touchstones, Bob Dylan and David
Bowie. It's counterintuitive as well:
With the exception of his hunky-
dory vocal stylings, Bejar doesn't
really "sound" like them. The fact
that the artists who serve as his
most apt and apparent comparisons
are musical iconoclasts both boast-
ing a history of chameleonic shifts
in identity and tone throughout their
careers, speaks to the expansiveness
of Bejar's vision and the intricate,
enthralling music through which it's
carried out.
These days, when three-quali-
fier genre classifications are created
to suit new acts and the inevitable
scenes that spring up around them,
Destroyer's sprawling, lyrically
dense brand of bluesy folk rock
defies relation to even the most spe-
cific genre-slicing. Too pop-driven

tracks with twitchy howl-rockers
and fellow British Columbians Frog
Eyes to create Notorious Lightening
and Other Works. Though he sticks
with the JC/DC production team
from album to album, Bejar has
admitted he's quite susceptible to
the stylistic influences of whatever
musicians he plays with. Here, he's
working in the striding, poetic-rock
style more characteristic of his pre-
Blues period.
No doubt in part thanks to all
the Bowie parallels, Destroyer's
work has been awkwardly squeezed
into the "glam" category. But it's
not the genre's typical trappings
- like glitzy production or exces-
sive ego-stroking - that create the
tenuous connection to Bejar: It's the
unabashed scope of his lyrical ref-
erences, which pull from sources
as specific as his back catalogue
(numerous thematic references to
the Your Blues concept establish the
mood of the first half of Rubies) and
even previous tracks on the same
Lyrically, Bejar expresses the
same freakish bravado that could'
be implied with a rhinestone-stud-
ded bodysuit, all underscored with
far-off, clattering percussion and
heart-pounding acoustic strumming.
And on Rubies, Bejar maximizes
the potential of his pipes, spewing
conviction through crackling, lilt-
ing, nasal syllables. He leans hard
on parts of phrases in a way that
hasn't imbued such meaning to free,
proclamatory lyrics since a certain
wild-haired, painted-faced vision-
ary spewed secrets from the stage of
the Rolling Thunder Revue.
Musical references, imagined

really clamors to life at the end of
what would be the final couplet of
its first full stanza, commanded
in Bejar's most prophetic tone: "I
wave to them in a modern way / And
increase my stay at the dock of the
bay." On the last word, the gorgeous-
ly hopeful ascending scale that's the
melodic basis for the song strikes in
the form of thick, fuzzy guitar.
Throughout the album, there
are shifts to quieter, cooler moods
("Painter in Your Pocket") and even
a stylistic exercise in Pavement-
esque one-offs (the joyful, slightly
crazy "3,000 Flowers"). Some songs
stretch a little long in the connect-
ing material between sections, but
the album's building blocks are
chiefly like scenes in a play, show-
ing thematic and sonic progression
throughout the whole.
After sprinkling the album with
references both remote and a little
solipsistic, Bejar announces, over
the pounding piano of the "Idiot
Wind"-esque "A Dangerous Woman
Up to a Point," "Those who love
Zeppelin will soon betray Floyd / I
cast off these couplets in honor of
the void." After a decade of albums,
Destroyer's Rubies sounds like a
culmination of some of the best of
Bejar's experimentations.
So far, Bejar's trajectory has been
steadily rising, and, if what he says
about his influences is true, he'll be
working with more foreign-sound-

In a bid to extend his monopoly on law dramas, producer
Dick Wolf offers his latest cut-and-paste contraption, "Con-
viction," the glossy tale of seven young
lawyers in Manhattan. More akin to Conviction
"Grey's Anatomy" than Wolf's "Law
& Order" franchise, the character-ori- Fridays at 10 p.m.
ented drama engrosses the viewer in the NBC
wild antics of these young profession-
als. Though highly realistic, frenetic and cast along familiar
lines, the crisply edited and fast-paced show successfully
taps into the growing market for primetime soap operas.
"Conviction" centers on the personal lives of a conven-
tionally attractive group of assistant district attorneys,
focusing heavily on romantic trysts and one-night stands.
Far more concerned with salacious escapades rather than
actual law, the debut episode features two sex scenes, one
shooting and frequent references to alcohol, cocaine and
condoms. The high-profile cases are used only as backdrop
to highlight the runway-ready cast's personal dilemmas
and daily stresses.
The show is essentially a collection of hollow network-TV
archetypes. All the characters play one-sided, uncomplicat-

ed roles; there are the uneasy, awkward new hirees (Jordan
Bridges, "CSI: NY" and (Julianne Nicholson, "ER"), the
hard-hitting blonde with black-rimmed glasses (Stephanie
March, "Law and Order: SVU"). And of course, the stan-
dard issue playboy and alpha male, portrayed by Eric Bal-
four ("The O.C.") and Anson Mount ("Lost"), respectively.
With such a large cast, the show jumps around quickly,
making it practically impossible for the camera to settle on a
moment or capture any true emotion. All of the stereotypical
characters are dealt with on a purely surface level, never dig-
ging into the complexities of their individuals personas.
The two things the cast has in common are high cheek-
bones and great hair. Even though these people are sup-
posedly just starting at one of the most time-intensive jobs
there is, they still possess an uncanny ability to wake up
every morning without bags under their eyes. Their curious
good looks paired with a swinger lifestyle inspire a distinct,
markedly artificial, Hollywood feel not suited for an appar-
ently serious New York law firm.
But despite its flaws, it has to be said: The show is still
very entertaining. It doesn't try to be intellectual or, you
know, plot driven at all, instead shamelessly basking in the
fabulous lives and good looks of its stars. Dick Wolf may be
getting old, but at least he still knows what sells.
- The pilot, which premieres March 3, is also
currently available as a free download on iTunes.

Classic show finds new

By Michael Passman
Daily Arts Writer

"Hill Street Blues" is just one of those
shows. The title
sounds familiar,
you remember your Hill Street
uncle raving about Blues: The
it - but you don't Complete
recall ever seeing First Season
it. Now, 25 years
after its debut, the 20th Century Fox
show that redefined
police drama has been restored on DVD
with "Hill Street Blues: The Complete
First Season" for the "Law & Order"
generation to discover.

Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel).
Before "Hill Street Blues," most police
dramas had a skewed perspective. They
portrayed the officers as ultimate, Cold
War-powered champions of the law, most
pivoting around these super-cops tri-
umphing over the bad guys. "Blues" took
a different approach altogether. Instead
of making all cops out to be flawless
individuals, "Blues" rendered each mem-
ber of the ensemble their own character,
morally and emotionally complex.
"Blues" also ventured away from most
TV dramas of its time by making the
show a continuous reality in which each
subsequent episode dealt with the after-
math of the previous show.
The show's signature character flaws
manifested themselves over the course

vative, when viewed next to modern dra-
mas, it doesn't seem so unique. Though
it's well written, generations who haven't
seen the show prior to this release may
be reluctant to gravitate toward. it. The
character-centered plot lines that made
"Blues" so special have been copied by
nearly all of contemporary television and
though today's shows aren't necessar-
ily better, they detract the shock value
"Blues" originally carried.
The special features are limited and
don't have much to offer. Only a few of
the episodes have audio commentaries,
and those that do are tiresome and dry.
There is a lengthy featurette highlighting
a reunion with many of the cast members
discussing old times. Unfortunately, that's
basically all this featurete is: old friends
rmin, cni nan .l'nu t the na-m t.nd not rnff~r-.

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