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March 14, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-14

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Tuesday
March 14, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

R TheSflictigan aig

*

8

- - - - - - -

DJ Paul for president!

I

uck Jon Stewart: I had When The
Smoke Clears Vol.] when it first
came out. I knew about "Stay Fly"
before you ever heard it at Skeepers. I've
had the intro to "Sippin' on Some Syrup"
-engrained in my heartsince high school.
In short, I love Three 6 Mafia, I'm from
Rhode Island and I'm white as fuck.
But how twisted is it that the rap
powers-that-be have decided Three
6 Mafia is categori-
cally insignificant and that
Memphis's finest sound
Wizards are some how not
a "real" hip-hop act.
The brunt of this igno-
rance comes not just from
old white people (who, as
Stewart wisely pointed
out, know absolutely noth-
ing about this new Ameri-
can art), but from anyone Ev4
who only wants rap one McGA
way: their way.
People love Common not cause of
his coffee-house uplift, but because he's
"conscious." That is. his "consciousness"
matches their presumed morality.
Of course, people usually want a
"consciousness" that's in line with their
own concept of reality. People who like
Common probably want their world to
be interpersonal niceties and all those
very Common-y, Roots-y things. Which
is fine. The problem is, some listeners
expect and demand that all their hip hop
sounds like that.
Don't get me wrong. I think that even
with the unfortunate and misleading label
of "conscious," the genre has produced
two astounding, almost perfect albums
- Mos Def's Black On Both Sides and
A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory
- that, sadly, also cast intense enough
shadows some artists have failed to
escape (Dear AZ and Black Thought, try
something new ... now).
Also, as a fairly educated white hip-
hop fan, I can say this with some author-
ity: White America, by and large, is about
seven years behind rap.
Our parents' generation is still getting
over the whole N.W.A thing, and even
now, "pop-rock" radio station billboards

A

on 1-94 testify "NO RAP" like it's a
huge upside.
First off, Three 6 Mafia, and they do fit
into this paradox, is guilty of nothing. For
those who deem them "ignorant" or (the
most dreaded of hip-hop assessments)
"un-real" I would ask: What is real?
Yes, Three 6 Mafia is foul, amoral
and, most likely, partly fictional. But what
about classics like Anthony Burgess's "A
Clockwork Orange"? Do we
penalize their creators for cre-
ating their own reality?
And I hate to break it
to fellow Three 6 fans, but
no matter how much weed
they smoke or coke they
toot, "Take A Bump" or
"Hit A Muthafucka" are
fictional songs. But that's
what makes so much of
N rap so interesting: the use
RVEY of persona. Most listen-
ers demand absolute truth
from their rappers. Jeezy sold coke; he
can rap about it. Common doesn't; he
shouldn't. You see the tension?
And the final question for today:
Would America (and our generation) have
been happier if Common/Cormega/The
Roots had won?
Does hip hop need a counterweight for
gangsters? Does America need the most
visible MCs to create art that's moral and
uplifting but frequently middle-brow?
Is rap today better for having Three 6
Mafia as Oscar winners? Would Common
be better? Could Common have won?
What this signals to me is that hip hop
is as incalculable as any other high art.
So for the white kids listening to
Three 6, Indian kids bumping 2Pac,
Asians, Blacks, Native Americans, men,
women, Christians, Jews, Muslims,
backpackers, mixtape assassins and
especially out-of-touch white people,
let's thank Three 6 Mafia for broadening
rap's spotlight and showing the patch-
worked American rap audience as per-
haps the true most known unknown.

This shit is way more gully than "Chocolat."

FRANCE, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE
POSTMODERN THRILLER CONFOUNDS AND DELIGHTS

By Kristin MacDonald
Daily Arts Writer

Leave it to foreign cinema to make a thriller geared
more toward quiet social criticism than upfront chills.
Though its poster boasts the
bloody slash of a Stephen King Cache
bestseller, "Cach6" picks up At the Michigan
momentum at a snail's pace, Theater
steadfastly refusing to indulge in
the standard tension-building of Sony Pictures Classics
suspense drama.
And the stakes at hand are greater than simple
life or death. The more the plot unwinds, the more
apparent it becomes that social tensions of race
and class make up "Cache's" true bread and but-
ter, though the film steers a far more understated
course in its exploration of these themes than, say,
recent Oscar champion "Crash." The issues are
skirted, dodged around and never fully addressed;

they become unspoken social patterns, lying sub-
consciously beneath the everyday discourse.
"Cach6;" which translates to "hidden" in French,
therefore makes for an appropriate title, one equally
applicable to its leading man. Georges Laurent (Daniel
Auteil, "Le Placard") is the successful host of a tele-
vised literary discussion circle and the perfect picture
of middle-class respectability, until an anonymous
series of threatening surveillance tapes begin to appear
on his porch. The tapes themselves are none too menac-
ing - featuring hours of bland, unnarrated footage of
the front door of Laurent's home, but the implication of
being watched is undeniably creepy all the same.
Laurent is initially easy to sympathize with - Auteil,
the Tom Hanks of French cinema, practically radiates
affability. Laurent and his careerwoman wife (Juliette
Binoche, "Chocolat") take the proper steps, going to
the police and warning their teenage son. But when
Laurent clues in on a possible perpetrator, the film's
suspense begins to hinge upon what hides below the
surface of his everyman charm.
By the time "Cache" really warms up, it drifts

far from proper thriller territory, rendering the few
jolts it does deliver all the more surprising. The plot
meanders with slow, patient pacing, turning gradu-
ally to the other characters in Laurent's life and the
little secrets they quietly cover in their past. It's a film
where style and substance are refreshingly in sync.
Sparely and economically shot, its action unfolds
simply, only hinting at the darker themes at hand.
And in light of Paris' recent street riots, "Cache's"
particular emphasis on immigrant tensions makes
for pertinent subject matter, especially for a French
film. But while it's admirable for a suspense drama
to take on painful cultural issues, "Cache" pro-
vides no answers - in fact, it barely even clarifies
the exact nature of the problem. The film sidesteps
either a moral stance or plot conclusion, leaving
both fairly undetermined. The ambiguity of the end-
ing may be in keeping with the movie's larger theme
of unarticulated troubles, but it's frustrating all the
same. For a movie about questions, "Cach6" leaves
us wishing the filmmakers had posited at least some
of their own solutions.

I
4

- McGarvey wishes he was
from Memphis. E-mail him at
evanbmcg@umich.edu.

Case's 'Confessor' hits stunning peak

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Writer
Countrified chanteuse Neko Case has
wrought a conflicting mass of emotions
into a brooding, complex work of art that's
as heart-stoppingly beautiful as her bell-
clear soprano. Fox
Confessor Brings the Neko Case
Flood couples loneli-
ness with true love, Fox Confessor
glamour with sim- Brings the Flood
plicity, dark mythol- Anti
ogy with emotional
reality. These bundled contradictions are
synthesized into one vision through a
maturing artist's near-flawless execution.
Case's voice indelibly colors her music,
and it's still the most arresting element
here. But the album's production, for
which Case collaborated with Darryl
Neudorf, should cement Case's reputa-
tion as an artist in complete control - not
just of her still-shocking vocal talent, but
of the way we hear each caramel-smooth

dulcet syllable, each emotionally charged
lyrical image, every swirl of strings cym-
bals underneath.
The simple, slightly muted instrumen-
tals on Confessor spotlight Case's reverb-
tinged melodies in such a way that, under
a lesser vocalist, might sound boring. But
Case has created a sort of oil-on-water-
color soundscape, gently softening both
the featured attraction and her support-
ing cast into a glimmering sound palette.
While the vocals enthusiastically take
center stage, instrumental elements, such
as the lithe piano on "Margaret vs. Pau-
line,"the stinging guitar riff on "Hold On,
Hold On" and Joey Burns's deep, woody
cello on spectacular closer "The Needle
Has Landed," attract significant attention
when they emerge from the core sound.
Case avoids a diva-esque separation
from the instrumentalists and backup
vocalist - and they're not exactly light-
weights. Burns and John Convertino of
Calexico, Case's erstwhile bandmates
Dallas Good and Travis Good of the
Sadies, singer/songwriter Kelly Hogan

and The Band's stellar organist Garth
Hudson construct the forest-lined high-
ways, electrically charged pas de deux
and dark cityscapes that complete Case's
clear, velvety narration.
While A.C. Newman, Case's occa-
sional bandmate in the New Pornogra-
phers, has said that some of his lyrics are
chosen for their sound rather than their
meaning, the scenarios Case constructs
for her own voice to illustrate make the
most of the pristine instrument with
which they're delivered. She woos our
ears with joyfully belted lines like, "I'm
holding out for that teenage feeling" at
one moment and revealing desperation,
power and grace with bitter words: "I
leave the party at 3 a.m., alone, thank
God, with a valium... / It's the devil that I
love." Case's thematic forays into spiritu-
als sound more like parties than services,
and her arrangement of the traditional
"John Saw That Number," with its tam-
bourine jangles and church-basement
piano, provides a moment of twangy
levity amidst the artistically and emo-
tionally complex material that makes up
Confessor: It's okay to just revel in the
sound of her voice.
But it's the state of limbo between
sweetness and despair that inspires Case
to explore emotionally; the sublime "Star
Witness" describes a violent car crash that,

I
aq

'The Shaggy Dog' full
of fleas, insipid storyline

By Christina Choi
Daily Arts Writer

ANN

"

If the Baha Men happened to
stumble into a black hole, every day
would be Christmas.
The inclusion of their ear-perforat-

metaphorically or literally, has claimed
the singer's love. "Don't let him die," she
murmurs, before launching into the song's
hook - "Oh, how I forgot" - to close
the episode.
But the album's most affecting piece
is "Maybe Sparrow' an allegorical warn-
ing to the characters Case has inhabited
on the rest of the album. "You'll never
pass / Beyond the gate," she sings, not in
warning, but in mourning; she's already
told us what happens to those who fly too
high, too soon.
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is
more than we could have expected; it's
more than we deserve. Case's signature
aptitude could catapult her to the front
of the lineup of a dozen great bands
or even to the top of the pop charts.
But she's given us an album's worth of
bewitching musical exultations that's so
much more than just the sum of her con-
siderable talents.

ing anthem "Who
Let the Dogs
Out" near the end
of "The Shaggy
Dog" enables the
film to reach a
spectacularly new
level of banality.

The Shaggy'
Dog
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Disney

I

For better and worse, only the pre-
pubescent will appreciate the film's
weak and often flat-out peculiar
sense of humor.
The updated version of the film
revolves around the evil Dr. Kozak's
(Robert Downey Jr., "Good Night,
and Good Luck") quest to discover
what allows Shaggy, a lovable canine,
to live so long, but Shaggy's escape
from the research lab quickly finds
him with the family of attorney Dave
Douglas (Tim Allen). When Dave is
bitten by Shaggy, it triggers a canine
transformation that, in true Disney
fashion, ultimately provides him with
a new perspective on life and love.
While a man acting like a dog
isn't particularly difficult to imag-
ine, the miniscule amount of distress
the transformed Dave expresses is
unsettling. In fact, the only major
revelation he has concerning his
new body consists of his utterance "I
can lick my own eye!" While Allen
delivers these lines with sufficient
comic timing, his actions cripple

him; it's hard to tell if kids will find
his constant head-scratching funny
or a sign of lice. The film is also
hellbent on disproving the idea that
watching a grown man chase after a
stick eventually gets old.
Then, Shaggy becomes a type
of new-age mystic who practices
meditation with Tibetan monks and
enjoys catching the occasional wave
on vacation. And yes, he's a dog.
Surprisingly enough, he's one of
the most complex characters in the
film, as computer generated as he
may occasionally appear. And as for
Dave's beautiful wife and daddy-
deprived children, their performanc-
es carry zero emotional weight.
The film's increasingly strange
and pointless story continues with
unsuccessful attempts at testing the
Shaggy-derived anti-aging serum at
a research lab.
Creatures such as a toad with the
head of a pug and barking rabbits are
kept under the public radar. They're
intended to be silly, but there's
something undeniably creepy about
a hissing python with a furry tail.
In short, "The Shaggy Dog" is a
film for children who are just old
enough to use the word "poopie" in
a correct sentence. While a clear-cut
plot and a sweetly satisfying ending
manage to leave the film at a level of
solid mediocrity, all the big laughs
occur at the wrong moments. There
are no esoteric adult references
imbedded in the film to entertain
parents, yet the bizarre humor that
arises when Dave, as a dog, attempts
to bark "I love you" to his wife just
might make up for it. Why? She
actually understands him.

9

4
9

at Dance Gallery Studio, 815 Wildt Street, Ann Arbor, MI
Busch Gardens of Tampa, Florida is now hiring performers of many
talents for a variety of live show productions including an all new
show to open in May of 2006. We are particularly interested in:
comedic actors that can sing and/or sing and dance: Billy Crystal/
Nathan Lane/Martin Short type. We are also seeking: dancers that
can sing and act (comedy), vocalists that can act (comedy) and
dancers with strong jazz technique. We are also seeking kit
drummers and keyboard players. You should have an outgoing
personality. singing ability is a plus. No appointment necessary.
Brine prepared audition and a current non-returnable resume and

University of Michigan Central Campus
March 24, 2006
MBEC brings together students & professionals in Biomedical
Engineering and the Life Sciences for panel discussions, technical
sessions and informal exchange of ideas important to the future of BME

I

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