The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 5A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - 5A
A love affair
Placidly observing our civil rights getting dragged out the door.
Director Gavin Hood deftly relates a true story
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
Like any airport, Dulles International
Airport is a busy place. Located just out-
side of Washington,
D.C., the namesake of
President Eisenhow- *
er's infamous sec-
retary of state, John Rendition
Foster Dulles, hosts At Quality16
about 25 million pas- and Showcase
sengers every year. New Line
These people are
in a rush, hopping off
one plane and onto another, squeezing
in a few cell phone calls in between. In
this chaos, Homeland Security officials
could abduct a man from the midst of the
crowd - without the hundreds of people
around him noticing his disappearance.
Thus is the slight exaggeration of true
events that sets the stage in "Rendition,"
a superb political thriller from the direc-
tor Gavin Hood, who also helmed "Tsot-
si," which won the Academy Award for
best foreign language film in 2006.
The film's focus is Anwar El-Ibrahimi
(Omar Metwally, "Munich"), an Egyp-
tian-American chemical engineer who
vanishes without a trace after boarding a
plane from South Africa to Washington,
D.C. His pregnant wife Isabella (Reese
Witherspoon, "Walk the Line") travels
to the capital to look for him but is told he
never boarded the plane to Washington,
With convincing evidence Anwar actu-
ally was on the plane, Isabella begins
to suspect the worst and turns to Alan
Smith (Peter Sarsgaard, "Flightplan"),
an old friend who works in the office of a MORE TO COME
powerful US senator, for help.
Meanwhile, upon orders from Cor- As Hollywood moves into an obsession with U.S.
rine Whitman (Meryl Streep, "The Devil governmental policy, "Rendition" follows "In the
Wears Prada"), the head of the CIA's anti- Valley of Elah"and "The Kingdom" as thefirst of
terrorism division, Anwar is transported a packed slate due this fall. Also ahead:
no real evidence is found linking him to "Lions for Lambs" (Nov.9)- Starring Meryl
any terrorist activity. Douglas Freeman Streep and Tom Cruise, "Lions of Lambs" promises to
(Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Moun- bea plainly stated look atithe personal and political
tain") is the young CIA agent in charge in the years following the Sept.11 attacks.
of observing the "interrogation" carried "Redacted" (Nov.16) - From director Brian De
out by Egyptian officials. With growing Palma, the first war epic about the current war in Iraq
unease, Douglas is pushed into a decision will focus on several stories of individual soldiers.
so many secret police agents before him "Charlie Wilson's War" (Dec. 25)- From cel-
have faced - continue following orders ebrated writer Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing"),
or do what he knows is right. "Charlie Wilson's War" is based on the true story of
For a film about something as hotly U.S. Rep. Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and the role he
topical as extraordinary rendition - the played in Afghanistan's war against the Soviet Union.
secret transfer of a person from U.S. soil-.. ...........................
to a country with laws more conducive governmental wolves who have deceived
to torture - "Rendition" is surprisingly and been exposed in the past six years
unassuming. It avoids caricature, espe- - there's nothing she says or does that is
cially of its heroes. Douglas, the only very different from what you might hear
one in position to help Anwar, is hardly in a White House press conference.
righteous, or an idealist. Alan and the "Rendition" is uncomfortable to
senator, though sympathetic to Isabella's watch, but it is so for reasons beyond
situation, are worried foremost for their watching an innocent man being tor-
employment. And Isabella herself, in tured. It's uncomfortable because it
a convincing performance by Wither- realizes the horror of the headlines that
spoon, is a typical victim, with no super- inspired it (Google the tragedy of Maher
human Hollywood delusions to save her. Arar). It's uncomfortable because it por-
Whitman is the exception, played by trays betrayals of trust by our govern-
Streep with all the callous calculation ment, where the only way an official can
and cold imperceptions we have come serve justice is by disobeyingorders.
to associate'with the CIA and govern- More than anything, it's uncomfort-
ment officials. Her evil may be over the able because it's a reminder of the many
top, but only because it's concentrated in people who have disappeared from with-
one person. The performance is actually in our midst in recent years, and the fact
perfect as an embodiment of the various that we have scarcely noticed. .
This is not a column about my
new favorite movie, "The
Darjeeling Limited." This is
not a column about the soundtrack
to that film, which is also excellent.
This is a column about how "The
Darjeeling Limited" reignited my,
love affair with the best British band
not named the Beatles: The Kinks.
People have said all sorts of nasty
things about Wes
dency to get a bit
ed ad nauseum
and in this _ ..
particular movie, TOYDIL
the easiest exam- CARGO
ples of that are
the three scenes that feature slow-
motion tracking shots accompanied
by Kinks songs.
Yeah, it might be predictable, but
damn if it's not beautiful. The songs
used this time around, "This Time
Tomorrow," "Strangers" and "Pow-
erman," are all from their near-per-
fect 1970 LP Lola vs. The Powerman
£t The Money-Go-Round, Pt 1. The
album is funny, smart and chock
full of hits ("Lola" and "Apeman"),
and songs that certainly could have
been. From start to finish it's a force-
ful indictment of the record indus-
try. For all its period-quirkiness, the
album holds up remarkably well.
And it's probably only the band's
fifth or sixth greatest album.
At The Kinks's core were brother
guitarists Ray and Dave Davies. Ray.
wrote most of the songs, but Dave
was no slouch, usually contribut-
ing two or three gorgeous songs per
album. The tension between the two
seemed to fuel the band's breakneck
creative pace, but it also threatened
to tear the band apart on numerous
occasions - think the Gallagher
brothers if Oasis didn't suck or John
and Paul if they were related. But
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.
Like most of the bands lumped in
with the British Invasion, The Kinks
started off as something of an R&B
group. Early hits like "You Really
Got Me" were trademarked by a
unique distortion that lead guitarist
Dave Davies achieved by shredding
the speaker cone of his amp with a
razor blade. In addition to an espe-
cially keen sense for melodies, the
band balanced heady songwriting
with power chords and two-chord
riffs that put them firmly in the
league of contemporaries The Roll-
ing Stones, Animals and Thpe Who.
For all the glory of those early years
and their fuzzy fury, what makes
The Kinks so important was the
band's transformation from an R&B
outfit that worshipped whatever
came out of Chess Studios to being
the most quintessentially British
band toland on the Top 40 on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Its maturation began with 1965's
The Kink Kontroversy, but its new
direction wasn't fully realized until
1966's Face to Face. By that time, the
band was incorporating music hall,
English folk and even more diverse
influences - Hawaiian guitars and
Indian instruments - for a sound
that could only be called English
pop. Along with expanded musical
horizons came newfound lyrical
depth that included stunning char-
acter portraits, sly social commen-
tary and lilting laments about all
From there it was onward and
upward for a run of five-star, indis-
putably awesome records that were
hugely influential and popular:
1967's Something Else by The Kinks,
1968's The Village Green Preserva-
tion Society (my favorite), 1969's
Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of
the British Empire), 1970's Lola and
1971's Muswell Hillbillies.
Why don't The
Kinks have a
Not too many bands have runs
like that, so why is The Kinks's
legacy not considered on the same
level of rock bands like The Rolling
Stones, The Who or even the Bea-
tles? For one, the group's exposure
in America took a major hit when a
touring ban stopped it from exploit-
ing the world's largest pop market
from '65 to '69, the band's prime
years. After that came an ill-advised
"theater incarnation," and though
they recovered a bit in the '80s, the
band's refusal to reunite now and
play early hits to arenas damages its
reputation in the digital age.
So thank God for Anderson's
beautiful slow-motion shots of
Adrien Brody, because as cliched
as some people might believe them
to be, they will inspire people and
maybe get The Kinks's music into
the hands of a few new listeners.
- Cargo no longer has a mohawk
but refuses to take another picture.
Tell him he's made a terrible
mistake at Ihcargo@umich.edu.
FILM IN BRIEF
Still the same old Jimmy Eat World
'Sarah Landon' and
"Sarah Landon and the
At Quality 16 and Showcase
With awkward pauses and dia-
logue out of a CW show, "Sarah
Landon and the Paranormal
Hour" is a trap for tweens who
aren't old enough to drive and
so can't leave. until their parents
come to pick them up.
The film follows Sarah Landon
(newcomer Rissa Walters), who
finds herselfin Pine Valley, a town
filled with people who, apparent-
ly, have nothing better to do than
tell the same ghost story over and
There she meets up with David
Baker (Jason Wahler doppel-
ganger Brian Comrie), a strapping
fellow convinced a ghost will
murder him on his 21st birthday.
Talk about a buzzkill. That, cou-
pled with another boy's death on
his 21st, makes you wonder if the
writer and director Lisa Comrie
thought she was filming a pub-
lic-service announcement on the
dangers of drinking. The film's
z-grade production certainly
Aside from the horrific acting,
this is a softhorror movie without
anything remotely frightening.
You've seen one haunted house,
you've seen them all. Besides, the
way those kids run around and
break into said house, they kind
of deserve what they get.
The scariest part of the move?
Comrie leaves it open for a
Spoofs find a small
At Quality 16 and Showcase
"The Comebacks" is a crass and
overactive attempt to cash in on
the fall sports rush - that much is
expected. The surprise is that it's
actually pretty funny, a poor but
appreciative man's "Airplane!" or
Self-consciously aware of more
than 30 years of sports films
- be it "Rocky" or "Friday Night
Lights" - "Comebacks" is the
struggle of a small college football
team led by new coach Lambeau
Fields (David Koechner, who
you'll recall from "Anchorman").
"He's on fire!" takes a literal
turn as a player runs into the
end zone - on fire. A blue-clad
lacrosse team cheers over strip-
pers at a party only to be found in
jail in the next scene (too soon?).
Fields is outraged none of his ath-
letes are failing their classes and
demonstrates the proper drunk-
en, drugged athlete behavior.
Generic plot points and stabs
at other flicks ensue. The reason
to watch is the movie's swiftness
and its willingness to take cheap
shots. This tries very hard to
make us laugh, and when it suc-
ceeds, it really does.
By SASHA RESENDE
For the Daily
Fewer than two minutes into
Chase This Light, Jimmy Eat
a New Jersey
bred band isn't
State, but its
success story is
and me, there's nowhere left to
hide / Except you and me, there's
no one else alive."
As with previous albums, near-
ly the entire record deals with
issues involving failed relation-
ships and an inability to connect.
While it sometimes alternates
between fast-paced rock ("Elect-
able (Give It Up)") and more mel-
low songs ("Carry You," "Dizzy"),
most of the tracks follow the same
formula that made the band, and
plenty of others, an MTV-hit
"Gotta Be Somebody's Blues,"
placed awkwardly between two
loud, emo-pop packed jams, could
be the album's designated "sad
song." Over a miniature orches-
tra comprised of a string section
and consistent bass line, singer
Adkins lowers his high-pitched
voice to a somber whisper, befit-
ting the song's serious tone. This
combination creates an eerie
space for Adkins to work. True,
the lyrics aren't any more intel-
ligent ("Where you gonna look?
outfit attracted a small fan base
early in its career, releasing two
experimental "new-punk" albums
before finding huge mainstream
success with its third album,
Bleed American. The LP displayed
a drastic change in style for the
band, which began to sound more
like fellow emo contemporaries
Saves the Day and less like the
Fugazi-inspired work of previous
efforts. The video for the widely
successful single "The Middle"
became a fan favorite for 14-year-
old girls and underwear fetishists
alike. On its most recent release,
Chase This Light, the band contin-
ues to embrace the power-chord
riffs that made it an emo power-
house, but it fails to develop its
sound beyond the expected.
Chase This Light plays from
start to finish like your standard
power-pop album with little devi-
ation between tracks. The songs
are largely chorus-driven, which
offers such insights as "For you
What's ina paycheck? Reason to keep making boilerplate pap.
Less Fugazi, Much of Chase This Light can't
be immediately pigeonholed as
a little more emo, which is a good thing, but
it's clear the album's creators had
M TV and that fan base in mind, which is
to say most of the lyrics appeal
Saves the Day. to the confused stage of adoles-
cence. Rather than experiment
with more advanced song struc-
tures, the band stagnates.
/ When they come for you / Will Although it's true Jimmy Eat
there be someone / Left to sing World's sound has influenced a
your blues?"), but at least the song slew of knock-offs in recent years,
fits Adkins's lyrics more so than the band shouldn't fall into the
unglamorous trend of knocking-
Most Jimmy Eat World fans
who have followed the band since
its Bleed American days will not
be disappointed by Chase This
Light. The band comes off as
slightly more mature, considering
its band members are about to be
pushing 30. Unfortunately, those
eager for either a return to their
more experimental days or for an
entirely new direction shouldn't
get their hopes up. MTV, on the
other hand, is feeling just fine.