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September 18, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 5

When bad is
actually good

His grill could probably bankroll Liechtenstein.
qfla -Chamillionaire mixes street
cred with straight fare
By Andrew Kahn I Daily Arts Writer

Who was the last rapper
not named Will Smith
whose album you"
could unabashedly play in front
of your mother?
Chamillionaire, the Houston
rapper behind the summersmash
"Ridin,' " has sneakily become
the good guy of hip hop. On his
2005 debut,
The Sound
of Revenge, **** v
Cham didn't
useanyswear O millionaire
words other
than the n- Ultimate Victory
word. Ulti- Universal
mate Victory,
his latest, has
none, either. Still, whereas Will
Smith and similarly clean rap-
pers will always be viewed as
soft, Chamillionaire maintains a

street image. If you weren't told
about the lack of swearing, you
probably wouldn't notice it.
Cham's decision to keep his
album clean is far from the only
thing that distinguishes him
from other rappers. On Revenge,
he showed his ability to combine
mainstream hits with personal
reflections as well as to record
meaningful, oftentimes heavy,
subject matter over strong beats
with catchy hooks. And he can
sing, too - he's like a Southern
Nate Dogg.
Nothing on Victory is going to
get the airplay "Ridin' " did, but
the album as a whole has even
more of an aura of importance
and grandiosity than Revenge.
There are a lot of strings and,
combined with Cham's singing
and frequent rapid-fire delivery,

they make the songs more com-
plete than average cuts.
"Hip Hop Police" has Cham
rapping from his own perspec-
tive as well as from the view of
a "hip-hop policeman." In the
voice of the latter he cleverly
spits, "In the car we confiscated
The Chronic and The Clipse /
Diary that you had and all your
Blueprints / On the Death Row
booklet we found your two prints
/Your thumb and your index, the
judge will love this." This nostal-
gic sentiment is also echoed on
"Evening News."
Kane Beatz, who as recently
as a year ago was selling beats on
the Internet, produced the bulk of
the album, including the guitar-
heavy, quick-hitting "Standing
Ovation," providing an anthem-
like background for Cham to get

boastful. "Industry Groupies" is
worth a mention if only because
it samples Europe's "The Final
Cham shows his laid-back
side on "Pimp Mode" and the
smoother-than-velvet "The
Ultimate Vacation," which both
help change the pace through19
tracks that are not entirely with-
out redundancy.
Chamillionaire fans who've
impatiently awaited his sopho-
more project (especially since
Cham shouted "March 27" all
over his mixtapes) won't be dis-
appointed. It's still the Cham
they know and love, but he takes
on bigger issues while main-
taining the swag that made him
famous. So go ahead, play Victory
at your next house party. Even if
Mom's there.

The Daily's film staff is
On three separate
occasions last week, three dif-
ferent writers mentioned the
futility of reviewing movies like
"The Brothers Solomon" and
"Shoot 'Em Up" when they're
quite certain no one will ever
see the mov-
ies or read
their analy-
ses of them. I
One reviewerr
went so far
as to write an
entire article
the existen- PAUL
tial crisis he TASSI
had in a the-
ater watching a terrible movie,
alone, in the dark.
Ican't share his pain.
favorite movie is. The answer is
"Memento," but there's a ques-
tion no one ever asks: What's
the most fun I've ever had at the
In 2002, my friends and I
watched a movie called "Roll-
erball." It's about a futuristic
society whose main form of
entertainment is a sport involv-
ing motocross, skateboarding,
basketball, cage fighting and
death. It was without a doubt
the worst movie I've ever seen.
But what an experience.
There were glitches in this
movie that apparently no one
thought to correct in the edit-
ing process (or were left in after
the film was hacked up for a PG-
13 rating). In one scene, Chris
Klein (who I thought was Keanu
Reeves the entire time) begins
talking in slow motion - like
if you set iTunes to play some-
thing at half speed. I thought
something was wrong with the
theater's projector until I rented
the DVD, and sure enough, the
pervasive mishaps stood uncor-
Another scene involves a
plane crashing and sliding
through the desert. It screeches
and grumbles its way toward a
chain-link fence. When it hits
the fence, the sound cuts out
entirely, and the sound effect
"boing-oing-oing" is insert-
ed. It's the sound when Wile
E. Coyote steps on one of his
spring-loaded ACME traps. It's
the sound when the Microsoft
Word paperclip has some friend-
ly advice for you. And it was in a
full-length feature movie. It was
the first and only time I fell out
of my seat laughing in a theater.
How often can you say that?
This sparked a search among
my friends for the worst movie
ever made. We went from "Cool
as Ice" to "Red Dawn" to "Mur-
dercycle" to "My Giant." Noth-

ing quite topped "Rollerball,"
but it was a magnificent journey
Since I started writing for
the Daily, I've always held fast
to strict editorial principle: bad
movies are much more fun to
write about than good ones. I'm
fairly certain nobody ever read
my three favorite reviews writ-
ten by me. I wrote them all as
film editor because no one else
would take them when they
were released.
Did you go see Steve Austin
and Vinnie Jones duke it out
in "The Condemned"? Did you
take the adrenaline-injected
ride that was "Redline"? Or did
you swoon at the epic were-
wolf love story that was "Blood
and Chocolate"? I didn't think
so. But I did, and I archived
it in reviews that never saw
the fluorescent lighting of the
MLB. They were all relegated to
"exclusive online .content," the
place from where reviews do
not return.
But that didn't make them
any less fun. I remember laugh-
ing along with the audience as
humans morphed like Power
Rangers into wolves. I had a
notepad on which I scribbled
down things like: "Werewolves
like: absinth ... jumping ... raves
... blood ... chocolate." The film
and the virtues
or atrocious
finished. I heard a collective
sigh of relief in the theater, and
one astute attendee summed
up the evening when he loudly
wondered "What the fuck?" We
all laughed. All seven of us.
For every "Knocked Up"
there will be a hundred "The
Brothers Solomon," just as for
every "Die Hard" there will be
a thousand like "Shoot 'Em Up."
To find agreatmovie is rare, but
to find one that can rank as one
of the worst ever made is no eas-
ier. The next time you want to
rent "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"
and your friend wants to watch
"Kazaam," you might need to
see a slam-dunking genie more
than you think.
- Tassi has clearly forgotten
that Hugh Dancy is in "Blood
and Chocolate." Oh, and
Olivier Martinez. Remind
him at tassi@umich.edu.

In New York, a
wayward vigilante

Daily Arts Writer
Erica Bain is, ostensibly, a
superheroine for our age. After a
group of stereotypical inner-city
thugs rob and beat her and leave
her husband-to-
be dead, she's
treated coldly
by the New York
Police Depart- The Brave
ment and choos-
es to illegally
procure a gun to At Qualityl6
seek an end of and Showcase
her own. We
sympathize, sort Warner Bros.
of, but her sub-
sequent actions
overextend our compassion.
She's in nearly every scene of
Neil Jordan's "The Brave One,"
the director's misguided dis-
course on personal vengeance
and the American justice system,
and we follow her downward
spiral until the end. Once Erica
(Jodie Foster, with a trim cut
and a persistent grimace) takes
matters into her own hands, the
entire city becomes obsessed
with its new justice-seeking vigi-
lante: press conferences, runaway
headlines and water-cooler chats
center on the same topic. Can one
person take justice into her own
hands? Does our society success-
fully deter crime with the current
system? And if not, what else can
we do?
The superhero paradigm, the
film attempts to create in this vein
is problematic because the hero-
ine lacks a Lex Luthor or Green
Goblin - she takes on every vari-
ety of crime New York has to offer.
A wise neighbor of Erica's tells
her, "Anyone can be a killer. Each
death leaves a hole waiting to be
filled." Erica is a glorified killer,
leaving some gaping holes in the
movie's message. What does kill-
ing criminals really do for our
society? True, the current sys-
tem is often frustrating and some
criminals slip through the cracks,
but the fact remains that crimi-
nals also have rights. We might
root for Erica because we under-
stand her pain and sympathize
with her situation, but in the end,
isn't she just another criminal?
Jordan ("The Crying Game")
isn't dense, and he raises this pos-
sibility through whispers among
New York City residents, some
of whom question the vigilante's
actions. There are also scenes in

which Erica is in obvious distress
over her actions, and her moral
struggle returns in several differ-
ent sequences. But the film's final
moments strike an altogether dif-
ferent tone, and the air of vindi-
cation - even more so, cathartic
justification - is unmistakable.
Foster is magnetic onscreen,
and her character is complex
enough to have many non-sensa-
tionalist levels we can relate to.
She's in her element in a role writ-
ten for her, and it shows. The sup-
porting characters and the actors
who embody them, though, don't
contribute much. Detectives Mer-
A thriller about
as corrupt as
the system it
cer (Terrence Howard, "Crash")
and Vitale (Nicky Katt, "Sin
City") and Mr. Murrow, the cor-
rupt and immoral mogul (whose
name coincidentally sounds like
"moral" whenever spoken in the
movie), only serve to offer black-
and-white portrayals of human
beings to buoy, Erica's moral
Jordan, who makes insistently
complex and entertaining mov-
ies, attempts to take on criminal
justice in America here, but oddly
for him, he executes it with all
the attention of a summer block-
It's just not believable as a seri-
ous social critique. Not only does
it fall short of addressing the root
causes of injustice, it glorifies a
warped sense of retaliation and
even falls into stereotypes. Simple
statistics from the U.S. Depart-
ment of Justice indicate that as of
June 2006, an estimated 4.8 per-
cent of black men were in prison
or jail, compared to 1.9 percent of
Hispanic men and 0.7 percent of
white men. "The Brave One" per-
petuates resulting stereotypes by
portraying the majority of New
York City's violent crime to be
black on white.
The ultimate moral message of
"The Brave One" is about as cor-
rupt as the system that it attempts
to critique.

Come to our last mass meeting of the semester.
Tonight at 8 p.m.
420 Maynard St., just northwest of the Michigan Union

Everyone looks good with a gun, right?

Screw the ladder. Climb a murntair-

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