8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 28, 2006
'Burials' a taut, modern western.
By Andrew Bielak
Daily Arts Writer
For a while now, the rough, craggy
territory straddling the porous border
between Texas and
Mexico has seemed
like no place for The Three
kindness. When Burials of
the controversial Melquiades
director Sam Peck- Estrada
inpah ("The Wild
Bunch") destroyed At the State
Hollywood's long- Theater
standing love affair Sony Pictures Classics
Western idealism, it was as if the ter-
rain itself had acquired a whole new
meaning - suddenly, behind every
sun-baked panorama and rugged moun-
tainside, there lurked a dark underbelly
of flawed masculinity, social conflict
and unflinching violence.
So what comes as a surprise in
Tommy Lee Jones's gorgeous directorial
debut, "The Three Burials of Melquia-
des Estrada," is not the moral weakness
and callousness of the characters that
occupy this harsh landscape, but the
underlying sense of love and devotion
that brings out its true beauty.
The story centers on Pete Perkins
(Jones), a righteous, solitary ranch-
herder who learns of the murder of
his best friend, fellow cowboy and
illegal Mexican immigrant Melquia-
des (Julio Cedillo, "The Life of David
Gale"). Realizing the unwillingness
of the local authorities to investi-
gate the case, Perkins conducts some
amateur detective work, leading him
to border patrol officer Mike Norton
(Barry Pepper, "25th Hour"). Upon
confirming Norton's guilt, Perkins
kidnaps the officer at gunpoint, forc-
es him to dig up his victim's grave
and makes him haul the rotting body
to Mexico on horseback. The justifi-
cation for this act - as a set of flash-
backs gradually begin to illuminate
- stems from a request Melquiades
made that if he should die in the
United States, his body must be bur-
ied in his home village.
Calling to mind a slightly less unsa-
vory version of Clint Eastwood's char-
acter in "Unforgiven," Perkins exudes
an aura of tough, leathery sadness,
bound by an unwavering notion of
vigilante justice in a morally ambigu-
ous setting. One of the most subtly
penetrating aspects of the film is its
representation of conflicting senses of
masculinity. Countering Perkins's tra-
ditionally independent, Western-cow-
boy archetype, Norton is a modern
embodiment of Southwest American
heroism - a hardworking border
patroller, struggling tirelessly to pro-
tect his country from illegal aliens.
While "Three Burials" reaches
quite deep in its pointed critique of
these ideals, it's the quiet, fractured
portrayal of human compassion that
largely carries the film. Despite his
obvious naivete and moral complexi-
ties, Perkins is admirable simply for
his devotion to the wishes of his best
Courtesy of Atlantic
King of the South and bedroom eyes ... That's hot.
LIFTING THE CRON
T.I. RISES TO RAP'S HIGHEST TIER ON 'KING'
Courtesy or Sony Pictures Classics
"Yes, I did room with Al Gore."
friend. Norton, who suffers countless
indignities during the pair's journey,
finds himself continually rescued by
the people whom he has devoted his
life to capturing. Even the connec-
tion that is fostered between these
two men, fragmented by moments of
emotional and physical violence, is
ultimately tempered with a sense of
Jones's unabashed love. for the
landscape is evident throughout
"Three Burials," and his potential
for exploring the American West in
future films seems boundless. But
more importantly, one must hope
that the man has found that director's
chair nice and comfortable - he
simply possesses too much talent not
to continue sitting in it.
By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer
Ever since Jay-Z retired as "the best rapper alive," the hip-
hop community has been lying in wait to see who will assume
the vacant position. The West Coast has been
preoccupied with hyphy and crumping, the T.I.
East Coast is still in Jigga's shadow and the King
biggest star of the Midwest is too busy calling
himself Jesus. But this battle has been hotly GraAtlandHstle/
contested in the South. And the leading can-
didate is effervescent Atlanta rap star T.I.
The cocksure star's new album, King, is the finished
product of a long transformation from rookie to rap royalty.
He's progressed from songs like "Motivation" and "Get Ya
Stuff Together" - blue-collar anthems directed at rivals
- to newer songs like "What You Know" and "I'm Talkin'
To You," which fixate on his rise to power. Even the intro-
duction, "King Back," is a speech about a boy conquering
the slums and becoming king. The song has the sound of
regal importance with an inescapable flourish of trumpet
trills and high notes that drop into a boisterous cacophony
of bells and bass drum.
In his campaign for king of the South, T.I. has taken on
some memorable foes. In 2004, he had a brief squabble
with Ludacris over Southern dominance before he became
embroiled in a confrontation with Lil' Flip (the first feud was
considered a draw, while the second was a resounding vic-
tory for T.I.). Even when he had to do jail time for parole
violation, he released mix-tapes telling everyone to get ready
for his next project, Urban Legend.
The bout for No. 1 contender has broiled down to T.I. and
the golden boy of New Orleans, Lil Wayne. Going for the
gusto, Wayne proclaims himself to be the new best rapper
alive on his last album, Tha Carter, Vol. IL
Not to be outdone, T.I.'s King is a proud, orderly album
that announces his arrival into the top tier of MCs. With a
flexible voice that effortlessly glides from quick punchlines
to serious meditations on life and death, T.l. commands
power in almost any situation.
Tagged as potentially the best rap album of the year and of
his young career, King has a lot going for it. At a time when
the South has basically taken over contemporary rap with
unmitigated radio and video play and an Oscar, T.I. is taking
advantage of a perfect storm.
The album features aesthetically pleasing production
from some of the best producers the game has to offer. T.I.
keeps it at the bottom of the map, working with Southern
producers Mannie Fresh and DJ Drama, but he also avoids
complacency by working with big-name East Coast produc-
ers Just Blaze and Swizz Beats. Many of the tracks juxtapose
majestic horns next to the heavy percussion and up-tempo
beats the South is famous for.
The whole album progresses like a small masterpiece, from
the alluring organ sounds of "Front Back" and "Ride With
Me" to the electric keyboard patterns of "Why You Wanna."
There's glowing use of blaring horns on tracks like "Get it"
and "Top Back," a backdrop that empowers his verses of gang-
sterism and street splendor.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,T.I.must be turn-
ing longtime hero Jay-Z bright red. T.I. is seen as the Southern
version of Jay-Z; both have the same style, posing as clean-
cut, well dressed gangsters. On Urban Legend, T.I.'s "Bring
'Em Out" contained a sample from Jay-Z's "What More Can I
Say." Tellingly, the album cover for King looks conspicuously
like the album cover from Jay-Z's The Black Album. With
his swagger and five or six guaranteed-hit singles, TJL.'s reign
ought to commence as soon as King drops into the stereo.
Juvenile out of touch with 'Reality'
By Chris Gaerig
Associate Magazine Editor
Now I'm an advocate for personal improvement as
much as the next guy. It's an amazing thing when some-
one can go from a criminal to a legiti-
mate preacher or corrupt businessman
to a full-time soup-kitchen volunteer. Juvenile
But at some point, it just becomes Reality Check
unbelievable. Such is the case on Atlantic
Juvenile's painfully contrived Reality A
Check. Everything the rapper says just
seems like a marketing ploy to get back on his feet after
a stint of anonymity and mediocrity.
Everything about this album screams, "I've changed"
in signature, John Cusack-lovelorn form (see: "High
Fidelity," among others). The contradictions begin in
1998, when the budding Cash Money star released 400
Degrees, a Southern rap anthem for the ages.
As your middle school dance chaperons certainly
remember, Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" tore through
clubs and 20-inch subwoofers across the nation. If the
name doesn't suggest it enough, it wasn't a point of
empowerment or praise - aside from Juvenile really lik-
ing asses - for women.
So then his current portrayal of women seems a little
insincere. Juve, it's really nice that you want to sympa-
thize with these women, but everyone knows you're not
interested in them for their intellect. That aside, "Rodeo"
is a great single for Reality Check. Its smooth chorus and
seat-leaned-back flows are some of the tightest and well
written on the album.
Juvenile also seems to use tragedy as a selling point for
the album. "Get Ya Hustle On" confronts the government
on their response to Hurricane Katrina in his hometown of
New Orleans: "Fuck Fox News! I don't listen to y'all ass /
Couldn't get a nigga off the roof with a star pass." Besides
this outcry and a two-page dedication to the city in the
album's booklet, the disaster itself goes unnoted.
For an album that claims to be near to reality, that's
On the rest of Reality Check, Juvenile runs the gamut of
misogynistic, stereotypical rapper cliches. He frequently
refers to women as "bitches" and "hoes" and talks at length
about having sex with numerous females. "Loose Booty"
once again shows his inability to focus on anything but sex
(and argues against his pseudo-compassionate attitude).
But many of the tracks on Reality Check are solid club
bangers full of voracious flows. "Way I Be Leanin' " has
another tight guest appearance from Paul Wall and medi-
ocre verse from the overrated Mike Jones. Luckily, the
Southern chirps and keyboards make the track unstop-
pable. And "Sets Go Up" boasts an infectious chorus and
an electronic-staccato beat full of processed clicks and
We're told to think this album is a turn in his attitude,
but boasting it just stinks of fake earnestness. Here's a
reality check for Juvenile: He'll need to try a little bit
harder to convince us on his next release. This one cer-
tainly isn't doing it.
Get ready for life after Michigan with Real Life 101.
This annual series of free, entertaining seminars is designed just for U-M students
and will help you get ready for some of the big issues you face
as you get ready to graduate. These fun and informative
seminars will get you thinking and get you ready!
March 14,6-7:30 p.m.: Money Management 101
"Good Credit, Bad Debt"
Robert Pavlik, Vice President, MBNA Marketing Systems
This session was so popular last year that we're bringing it back. Designed
specifically for students and recent graduates, "Good Credit, Bad Debt" provides
answers to all of your money management questions and helps you avoid the
financial traps that new grads often face.
March 21, 6-7:30 p.m.: Relocation 101 "The ABCs of No Hassle Moving"
Jeff Abraham, Lindsay Stevens and Geri Rudolph of Stevens Van Lines
What do you mean I needed to reserve the elevator in order to move furniture
into my new apartment? Moving can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to
be in this session tailored to those moving to a new city after graduation. Let
the professionals at Stevens Van Lines show you how to make moving a snap.
March 28,6-7:30 p.m.: Personal Branding 101
"How to Stand Out in a Crowded Market"
William Ward, Adjunct Professor, Ross School of Business
As the work place becomes more and more competitive, how are you going
to get yourself noticed and rise above the clutter? Come to this personal
branding session to find out. Even with a University of Michigan degree, you
still need to be all that you can be in order to achieve the career (and life)
success you're looking for.
YOU DESERVE CREDIT
FOR SPENDING THE
SUMMER IN NEW YORK.
GET IT AT BARUCH.
Whether you are picking up extra credits toward your degree or mak-
ing up credits, or you just have time to kill this summer, Baruch offers
transferable credits at very affordable prices, taught by a faculty
that's second to none. After all, how much beach can you take?
* $250/credit for New York State residents
* $530/credit for out-of-state residents
*June - July6
* July 0o-MAugust 17
Housing assistance is available. For more information, call
Educational Housing Services at 1-800-297-4694 or go to wwwstudenthousing.org/
TO VIEW THE SUMMER SESSIN SC EDULE AND OBTAIN
AN APPKATION, VISIT WWW.BARUCVH.CUNYEDU/SUMMERI