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February 05, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-02-05

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, February 5, 2007 - 5A

Little life
down the
Daily Arts Writer
Bloc Party is not a complex band. Its debut,
Silent Alarm, was an exceptionally unoriginal
work of post-punk rock with
few unnecessary frills. It
was also one of 2005's best
albums, evidence that Sim- Bloc Party
plicity, technical skill and
keen melodic prowess can A Weekend
sometimes be more power- intheCity
ful than innovation. Vice
Now, two years later, the
British four-piece has returned with its sopho-
more effort,A Weekend in the City. Conceptually,
it delves into darker territory, musing on life in
London in the 21st century. The album draws
on such themes as the 2005 London bombings,
homosexuality and youth subculture.
The band retains its trademark angular son-
ics, yet the edges have been dulled by the som-
ber conceptual content. The kinetics that made
SilentAlarm such a fun dance machine have since
become sluggish, in part because of the thematic
Immediately, album opener "Song For Clay

UM Dance presents
dose of avant-garde

Courtesy of V
You can't blame Bloc Party for going at it a little different on A Weekend in the City - at least they're trying.

(Disappear Here)" marks an obvious deviation
from the band's previous style. Kele Okereke's
guttural shouts and moans are replacedby maud-
lin croons, accompanied only by Russell Lissack
gently strumming his guitar. The song is unchar-
acteristically lackadaisical, suspended in space
until the snare forces its way in and lays down a
Meanwhile, the band experiments by add-
ing questionable flourishes to its style. U.K. lead
single "The Prayer," supposedly inspired by
Busta Rhymes's "Touch It," features stuttering
bass thumps and tribal humming (not unlike a
Timbaland production or even a TV on the Radio
record). Yet other than its chorus, the song fails
to stir up any excitement above the incessant
vocal buzzing.
Nonetheless, Bloc Party's experimenta-
tion occasionally succeeds, as in "Hunting for
Witches." The track begins with a Steve Reich-
like hodgepodge of chaotic sound bites played
repetitively. The pandemonium forms the base
on which the drums establish a dizzyingly syn-

copated and rhythmic sound. From there, the
song soars.
But the moments at which Bloc Party excels
- their energetic hooks with loud, spiky guitars,
breakneck virtuosic drums and propulsive bass
lines - are conspicuously few and far between.
The talent is still here (especially in drummer
Matt Tong, whose skills are as impressive as
ever), but it remains largely dormant under the
grim songwriting.
What's most frustrating is that Bloc Party is
one of those bands that really doesn't need to
deviate from the sound they perfected. Their
debut was in many ways the prototypical post-
punk record, a smartly constructed album built
upon the band's innumerable influences and
obvious talent.
Instead of trying to eclipse their celebrated
debut, Bloc Party decided to create a more sub-
dued work. The result is a faulty album of tedium,
melancholy and, ultimately, boredom - a disap-
pointing follow-up for a band that had seemingly
limitless potential.

Daily Arts Writer
This was not a performance of
tutu-clad dancers in neatly stag-
gered lines.
Instead of set- Rituals and
tling for famil- Reveries
iar aesthetics,
the dancers Friday and
and choreog- Saturday
raphers fea- At the Power
tured in the Center
Dance Depart-
ment's "Rituals and Reveries"
delved deeper into the intricate
business of storytelling through
dance, making for impressively
distinct and bold performances.
A company of more than 60
dancers took on six ambitious
pieces. The first of these was cho-
reographed in 1931 by the legend-
ary Martha Graham. A three-part
piece evoking the American South-
west, "Primitive Mysteries" fea-
tured a dozen women dancing with
extreme precision and sustained
tension around Dance junior Lind-
say Kline, beautifully costumed
in stark white. The piece was not
concerned with overtly showcas-
ing the dancers' skills, but rather
with bringing to life the story of
the Madonna's coming-of-age and
ascent to heaven. Talk about eso-
teric symbolism.
While audience members unfa-
miliar with Graham's avant-garde
choreography probably found
"Primitive Mysteries" somewhat
inaccessible, Graham's innovative
technique and lasting impact on
modern dance cannot be under-
stated. The students actually
learned the choreography through
Martha Graham Dance Company
principal dancer Diane Gray.
After the Martha Graham piece,
the show's pace picked up consid-
erably. Dance Prof Robin Wilson's
piece "Blank Spaces" used dream-
like lighting and projected images
and videos to delve into the pain-
ful state of memory loss. Dancers
teetered on the edge of carefully
constructed light pools, grasping
toward the darkness and yelling

numbers out of order to further
convey the jumbled state of mental
deterioration. Live music - flute,
clarinet and an eerily manipulated
piano - drove the piece. Metal
parts had been attached to the pia-
no's strings, reverberating as the
keys were pressed with the kind of
sound usually achieved through a
The highlight of the show was
easily Peter Sparling's 1990 piece
"Witness," a chilling tribute to
men whose lives were taken by
AIDS. The piece begins with three
breathtakingly talented male danc-
ers - one shirtless, one casually
dressed and the third wearing a
shirt and tie - signifyingthe range
of men affected by the disease.
A dozen men join them, and the
stage is suddenly transformed into
A package of
six ambitious
a kind of battleground, with men
falling into one another, grasping
for each other and dragging each
other to safety. At the piece's end,
the stage is littered with bodies,
leaving one man standing alone
in ray of light. Sparling's piece is
startlingly powerful to say the
least, and showcases the brimming
talent of the Dance Department's
male dancers.
The evening's final piece fea-
tured dancers in brightly colored
raincoats strutting their stuff to
an upbeat techno beat. After two
hours of symbolism-saturated
dance, this fun piece was a wel-
come closer.
The only negative aspect of the
concert was the apparent lack of
student attendance. On Saturday
night the Power Center was bare-
ly half full - an embarrassingly
sparse attendance that doesn't cor-
relate with the professionalism of
the department's performance.

MTV mocks reality with rich-kid paradise

DailyArts Writer
A reality show built off the model
of MTV's popular "Laguna Beach"
must involve
sun, beaches ***
and rich, stupid
people. MTV Maui Fever
hits all three in Wednesdays
"Maui Fever," Wedn:sday
the network's t3
latest glimpse MTV
into the life of
those privileged few with nothing
better to do but complain about their
love lives. "Fever" follows seven col-
lege kids as they waste their parents'
We say no.
DailyArts Writer
In her middle age, Diane Keaton
("The Family Stone") has uncan-
nily embraced
the role of
the liberated
single female Because I
with grace Said So
and dignity.
In casting the AtQuality16
conventional and Showcase
role of wacki- Universal
ly overbear-
ing mother
Daphne Wilder, Keaton makes
for a natural choice. She seems to
understand the struggle of loneli-
ness, taking her emotional frustra-
tion out on others.
But her influence here isn't
much of a help. Outside of moth-
ers in the 55-to-65-year-old range
with an affinity for cooking and
a flair for the melodramatic, few
may understand or appreciate a
film like "Because I Said So," an
exploration of the connection
between a mother and her three
daughters. Youngest child Milly-

money, hook up with each other and
lie on the beach. It's not much of a
premise, but the real draw of shows
like this isn't setting or plot - it's the
drama of real-life characters.
Well, as real-life as other stock
MTV "reality" casts. There's
Chaunte, a diminutive blonde, who
spends her days manipulating dumb
boys. Or, Corbin, the laid-back surfer
who plans to continue his lifestyle of
casual sex and surf-instructing well
into middle age.
But "Fever" does make some
subtle changes to its genre, particu-
larly with its casting. The show's
males - unlike their counterparts
on "Laguna Beach" - are hilariously

awkward and, best of all, not even
handsome. Main character Cheyne
looks like a young Ron Howard, if
Ron Howard were a surfer, and his
geeky friend Sean hits on tourists
with a pathetic neediness that would
shame "Laguna Beach's" Jason
Wahler (see season 2). The show
benefits a surprising amount from
using college-age characters; unlike
the immature "Laguna" cast, the
"Fever" crew seems to have left its
petty grudges and childish drunken
antics back in high school.
The group is alsonotably,100per-
cent Caucasian, an interesting social
note considering that whites make
up only 38 percent of Maui County.

But though this fact has drawn com-
plaints from native Maui Hawai-
ians, "Fever" defends itself with the
reminder that it isn't about mixing
people of different backgrounds -
it's about the uncomfortable delight
of watching seven privileged people
make messes of each other's lives..
Another pop-culture escape into
triviality, "Fever" reminds us that
TV can't always take itself seriously.
Some have criticized "Fever," like
"Laguna," for scenes and conversa-
tions which sometimes seem script-
ed, but this is fun of MTV "reality"
- its focus is on events so trivial that
no sane screenwriter would ever
revolve a show around them.

Why would you want to see Mandy Moore when you could see living dioramas'

(Mandy Moore, "How To Deal")
has a particularly antagonistic
relationship with matriarch Daph-
ne, being single, promiscuous and
capable of cooking a rad souffl6. As
the only remaining bachelorette of
the sisters, Milly is also the object
of the her dedicated mother's
many un-asked-for matchmaking
In other words, Daphne is a
meddlesome and obnoxious carica-
ture of middle-aged women at their
worst. She whsines over the use of
the word "cheese" during photos,
is resolutely ignorant about new
technology and liberally sips wine
after spending preparing overly
elaborate meals. Daphne even
interrupts her daughters' musical
performance to correct their tone,
only to end up - obviously - in a
Really, Daphne's just annoy-
ing, rather than an addition to the
crop of endearingly neurotic char-
acters Keaton has played in films

like "Something's Gotta Give" and
"Father of the Bride." Her poten-
tially smart characterization gets
lost in a lazily conceived movie.
No convention or exercise in
Dry family
comedy just
bitches and moans.
bad taste is too taboo for this film,
but director Michael Lehmann
("Heathers"), not Keaton, is to
blame. Such feminine subject mat-
ter may have been in better hands
with the likes of Nancy Meyers or
Jane Campion instead of the dude
responsible for that flick where
Josh Hartnett couldn't dick around
for 40 days. This attempt at family
comedic drama should have been
the business of serious women.

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