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October 23, 2006 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-23

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8A - Monday, October 23, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

The good, the bad
and the live

"One time, I caught a fish. It was this big." "No way." "Way."

Do you believe in agc
NKaI HL C
NOLAN'S LATEST A TH ROWBACK TO CLASSIC HOL LYWOOD

By ANDREW SARGUS KLEIN
ManagingArts Editor
Whether you find them in your
own stuffy basement or your own
back porch, the live student band
has through the ages continued to
provide much-needed adrenaline
to the otherwise half-assed house
party.
While running amok one Hal-
loween weekend in Madison,
Wisc., through numerous par-
ties, it wasn't until my mates and
I stumbled into a living room to
find dozens of gyrating bodies and
a trio laying down the patient Cre-
dence Clearwater Revival groove,
"Suzy Q," that things really got
wild. Though not as big as some of
the other festivities we attended,
that party was memorable.
People need live music, whether
they know it or not.
House trance, top 40 and bub-
ble-gum rap can satisfy the short-
sighted for any length of time, but
no subwoofer can replicate the
rush of a 400-watt, all tube Ampeg
bass rig two feet from your face.
Few produced grooves can express
the cathartic rush of a tasteful
drum solo, the guitar chanking
on the upbeat and the bass walk-
ing a line. And nothing, to let my
personal bias seep in just a little,
can beat a live funk, blues or soul
sound.
As with any genre, real faces and
real instruments never cease to
captivate and ensnare us. Modern
musical production, despite all its
advancements, adds so many lay-
ers of compression -'the attenu-
ation of extreme frequencies for a
more "balanced" sound - that the
final recorded product struggles to
retain the raw elements of musi-
cianship.
Live music pounds our ears with
an unadulterated sound, and we
can only be the better for it (with
the exception of our aural health).
And we can see the instantaneous
and sometimes downright hilari-
ous expressions the musicians take
on as they thrash away. This is how
these instruments were meant to
be heard, experienced.
Combine that with the unex-
plainable catharsis a live act of
your peers generates and you have
a wonderful installment to your
weekend.
Ever seen those bumper stick-
ers that say "Support Your Local
Musician?" Yeah, you need to. And
it's not too difficult, either - and
the tools are all around you. Your
living room is a venue. You are the
manager. Add a keg and you've got
the Fillmore East, a bong, the Fill-
more West.
Maybe that dude a few porches
down with a spliff and a guitar
will be our next Phil Oaks, or Wes
Montgomery, or George Harrison.

Maybe your best friend has been
holding onto a few tunes, and only
needs a little of your support to
brave a live performance.
You get my point: Support your
local musician.
And your act doesn't have to be
a barn-burning, widow-shattering
affair. My housemate this summer
planned and executed severalwon-
derful acoustic folk shows com-
prised of local and touring talent
where hardly an instrument was
amplified.
The live student
act is crucial to
our music scene
and well-being.
The results were some of the
summer's most down-home, com-
fortable nights. Half the acts were
out on the front lawn, the audience
on the porch and roof.
Though banjos, steel-string
acoustic guitars and accordions are
charming, they don't quite bringto
the table the avalanche' of sound
that electric guitars, full drum kits
and dueling electric guitars can
unleash so easily. Which brings us
to the issue of sound control - i.e.,
not getting a noise violation.
The chats with "real" neighbors
- you know, those who have "fam-
ilies" or are in "graduate school"
- rarely keep the fuzz away. It's
almost a coin flip as to if the cops
will come. But they're not the
problem (though we'd like to blame
them). The issue lies in party con-
vention, specifically the notion
that parties don't get moving till
11:30 p.m. or later; bands can't start
their sets till midnight or so.
It takes a dedicated promoter
to convince any number of folks
to come to a house show before 11
o'clock.But evenifa party started as
"early" as 10 p.m., you'd have a few
hours of jam time before you enter
into the danger zone. Cut the music
off at midnight, and the neighbors
will be so glad for the respite that
you can slowly crank that soul mix
you spent all week cooking up. And
you'll have the pleasure of throw-
ing a great party - assuming, of
course, that the band is any good.
That's for you, and your guests, to
decide.
The weather is getting colder,
heads are drooping and there's
more than alittle feeling of despon-
dency creeping into this town. Pol-
ish that telecaster and get your amp
warmed up.
Nothing can cure the blues like
some live music.

By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
If one movie could restore Hollywood with
the wonder and fanaticism that was once the
industry's hallmark, it
might be Christopher **** .
Nolan's "The Prestige."
In its last half century, The
film has lost the ability to Prestige
thrill and awe (now hard-
er to inspire in a modern At the Showcase
audience) and is attempt- and Quality 16
ing to reverse the process Warner Bros.
with technical tinkering.
Though far from perfect, and complex enough
to be decried as jumbled, "The Prestige" is an
ambitious attempt to intrigue in a way the mov-
ies haven't for some time.
And if that's not enough, it pits Batman
against Wolverine. Even Thomas Edison gets in
on the villainy.
The film centers on Alfred Borden (Chris-
tian Bale, "Batman Begins") and Rupert Ang-
ier (Hugh Jackman, "X-Men"), two aspiring
magicians in early-24th-century London. An
accident resulting in the death of Angier's wife
(possiblyYBorden's fault) divides the two friends,
and their fight for domination of their art swells
to murderous bounds. When Borden succeeds
at his ultimate trick, "The Transported Man,"
Angier scours the world to discover his rival's

secrets. But Borden's shocking secret is just the
beginning, for, like any good magician, Angier
has something up his sleeve too.
With such a rich plotline, "The Prestige" is a
satisfying experience, both casually and intel-
lectually. It's engaging, but not just for Nolan's
top-notch direction. Though the screenplay occa-
sionally drags, the film never allows the audience
to relax. It builds layers of mystical intrigue and
ensnares viewers into peeling back each layer
on their own. As such, there are few grand rev-
elations; the profound secrets are only implicitly
explained - surely to perplex passive viewers
and leave some specifics forever up for debate.
And outstanding acting never hurt a film.
Bale, Jackman and Michael Caine ("Batman
Begins") are superb, their presence only an
enticing whisper within the film's fragile fanta-
sy world. The epitome of understatement, Bale's
sly, elusive turn as Borden is nearly flawless,
even if, as usual, he tends to mumble too much.
Much like the grim humility he brought to the
usually flashy Batian role, gale's "signature
is all over this role, complete with the arcane
stubbornness that first won him raves at age 12
in Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun."
Jackman's Angier is Borden's opposite
- a showman, forever beaming and bowing at
ceaseless applause. Even so, Jackman keeps the
character grounded, radiating the somber real-
ity ofhuman fallacy even as anotherbroad smile
envelops his face. And what can you say about

MUSICIANS AS ACTORS
David Bowie shows up in "The Prestige." The brief
best of a dubious tradition:
Art Garfunkel, "Carnal Knowledge" -The best name in
folky classic rock respectably holds hisown againstiJack
Nicholson in Mike Nichols'1971 study in romance.
Courtney Love, "The People Vs. Larry Flynt" - Perhaps
playing a crazybitch just comes naturally.
Alice Cooper, "Wayne's World" - When Alice schools
Wayne and Garth as tothe correct pronunciation of Mil-
waukee"Meet-ee-walk-eh"), he manages a straight face.
Surely that can be classified as acting feat.
the esteemed Caine, who insists upon stealing
every scene in every one of his films? Perhaps
just that he's very successful here.
"The Prestige" unites fine performances and
inspired direction with the vital ingredient that
is oftenoverlooked - athrillingstoryline.Andto-
think that this was called a side project between
bigger things for Nolan, Bale, Caine (now work-
ing on the sequel to "Batman Begins") and Jack-
man (who stars in the much-anticipated "The
Fountain" opening later this year). Steeped in
suspense and splendor, "The Prestige" is unique
among films of our era because it presents the
impossible as a unbelievable contingency.

I

4

The tale of a girl and her horse, flat as ever

By TED CHEN
Daily Arts Writer
Give the latest horse-teaches-
nondescript-teen-to-grow-up
flick "Flicka"
some credit
for attempting
to spin a new Flicka
variation on
the timeless At the Showcase
love affair, but and Quality16
the film's take 20th Century
on love aban-
dons all else - common sense, for
one.
Predictable plot aside, the film
fails in its every essence. The love
at first sight between a young girl,
Katie (Alison Lohman, "BigFish"),
and her mustang is unconvincing,
unbelievable and virtually crip-
ples all the good in the rest of the
movie.
After a year in private school,
Katie returns to her home ranch
in Wyoming. A pretentious rebel
teenager, she sneaks out in the
early hours and stumbles upon a
black mustang that unbelievably
saves her from a mountain lion.
The relationship is questionable

not because of cynicism toward
animal love, but skepticism that
such fervent love can emerge from
a wholly ridiculous and and unbe-
lievable premise.
The mustang named Flicka is
taken captive, but Katie's parents
expectedly forbid her from adopt-
.ing the wild mustang for her own,
on the grounds that mustangs don't
get along with the quarter horses.
At first, Katie begins the dread-
ed courting ritual, offering Flicka
apples and attempting to ride her
in the middle of the night. Then
comes the inevitable breakup
as Flicka is deported to a rodeo
farm.
All this transpires with Katie
breaking down in tears, but Flic-
ka never once reciprocates her
owner's deep affection. This is
supposed to be some great love?
Katie's love for Flicka is a fantasy
that's poorly justified in the film.
Perhaps children will take in the
idealistic foolishness of it all, but
older viewers will be left feeling
short-changed.
With Katie's obsession taking
the reins, her important issues
seem to fade into the wilderness.

The script doesn't care to flesh
out the consequences of a previ-
ous scene before moving on to the
next. There is simply little to no
contiunuity. Her brother How-
ard's (Ryan Kwanten, "Summer-
The only hope for
the half-baked
'Flicka' lies in the
children.
land") desire to leave the ranch
for college is hardly more than
conversational material, and her
father Rob's (Tim McGraw, "Fri-
day Night Lights") decision to sell
the ranch is completely forgotten
by the end of the film.
Ignoring the conspicuous plot
holes, there's a little salvation to
be gained from Lohman's portray-
al of a teenage girl madly in love.
Playing a bluntly opinionated
and stubborn cowgirl, Lohman

resembles (at least in looks) a
young Kirsten Dunst in "The Vir-
gin Suicides," full of self-assured
charm that can only be good for
future prospects. McGraw might
be more famous in a recording
studio, but he boasts versatility in
both stoic and sensitive character-
izations in different scenes.
Any other positive aspects of
the film could only come from the
romantic depiction of true coun-
try life with lush fields, majestic
mountains and red skylines. Add
in a soundtrack full of catchy
country tunes and it feels like one
is living the American Dream,
horses and wlderness and all.
Beautiful scenery or not, noth-
ing can save this wild horse from
running off the narrative cliff. By
the halfway point, Katie's childish
whining becomes tiring, as does
the lack of any lasting emotional
impact of the characters. They
talk about love, but other 'than
the close family bond, Katie's and
Flicka's relationship is painfully
superficial.
And like all relationships with
poor chemistry, the movie simply
falls apart.

I

(It's just so hard not to make a "Brokeback" joke.)

SI ! ' i

Political and Economic N(
October 25, 2006
4:00 pm
Joan and Sanford Weill Hall www r
Annenberg Auditorium
735 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI
Reception to follow
This lecture is made possible by a generous gift from the Citigroup Foundation

Yost Arena & Fantasy Attie Costumes
)ST Present YOST
Halloween Scary Skate
Featuring pumpkin curling & costume contest!

L

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/

Thursday October 26th
8:00PM @ Yost Arena
Yost Ice Arena Fantasy Attic Costumes
1000 s. state St. Prizes including hockey tickets, 3010 Packard Rd.
www.umich.edu/yost gift certificates, candy, & more! www.fantasyattic.com

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