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November 27, 2007 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-27

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 -- 9

The best
infomercial ever

Those feet!

A f ilm to fit the man

magine those abstract paintings at con-
temporary art museums, canvases cov-
ered in a single colorcthatbafflethe casual
visitor as he wonders,
"Is this really art? How can *
you tell?" The Pollocks and
Picassos stare right back at I'm Not
you, daring you to be naive T
enough to ask such a ques- There
tion. Todd Haynes's "I'm Not At the
There" is such a work of art, Michigan
a movie truly inspired - in Theater
both plot and thematic spirit
- by its subject, Bob Dylan. Paramount
To give a synopsis is diffi- Vantage
cult. The movie is a melange
of different pieces that together evoke the life
of one of the 20th century's most provoca-
tive artists. The marketing hook is that each
portion of the film stars a different actor por-
traying a Dylan-esque character - someone
with a different name, age, skin color or even
gender, but whose spirit represents the artist.
Some of the sections are direct reenactments
of the singer's life, others are more abstruse,
"inspired" by the life and music of the subject.
Haynes and Oren Moverman's script tries to
capture the constantly changing artist, whose
persona didn't evolve over the last half-centu-
ry as much as it morphed from one incarnation
to another. The more you know of the legend's
biography, the better you'll understand the
movie's different plotlines and textured hom-
age to details of the singer's life. The prominent
feature of a black tarantula in a key scene is an

Haynes captures
the essence of
Dylan's life
By Mitchell Akselrad
Daily Arts Writer
allusion to Dylan's book of poems Tarantula; a
character named Woody Guthrie is a reference
to one of Dylan's idols. These sort of sugges-
tions pervade the film.
The performances range from strong to
fantastic to so good it's as if "I'm Not There"
-is a documentary and you're looking into the
face of Bob Dylan himself. Cate Blanchett,
the only woman to play the folk legend, is per-
fect in the role. She captures Dylan's look, his
mannerisms, his voice inflections, his essence.
Christian Bale is similarly inspired in his sister
performance.
Blanchett's and Bale's performances, among
the best, are also the easiest to understand.
Playing Jude Quinn and Jack Rollins, respec-
tively, the actors ostensibly portray Dylan at
different stages in his life. The significances of
other roles - Heath Ledger's portrayal of actor
Robbie, Richard Gere's downtrodden Billy and
the young Marcus Carl Franklin's ("Lackawa-

nna Blues") pre-adolescent, black Woody - are
harder to identify.
With all the intersecting storylines, it's hard
to empathize with any single version of Dylan.
The viewer might have to settle for sitting
back and watching the film objectively, like a
visitor to the MoMA might stare at that paint-
ing. From this standpoint, "I'm Not There" is
wonderful. The film splits into parts as Haynes
and his cinematographer Edward Lachman
establish a different lighting scheme and film
stock for each story. For the Jude Quinn por-
tion, it's grainy black and white, summoning
the contemporary documentaries of the 1960s.
For the Billy the Kid section, it's a beautiful
color scheme that accentuates the picturesque
nature of the landscape. And for Jack Rollins's
story, it's a washed-out image that mimics the
look of'70s film.
Fans of avant-garde will most appreci-
ate what Haynes has set out to accomplish.
With clear intent - to make a movie not about
Dylan's life, but about whatDylan represents -
the film is to audiences what the singer was to
his listeners. For those who want to take from
the film greater significance and attribute to
it the same messianic qualities forced on the
young Dylan, there's enough cryptic material
to inspire such a search. For those who thought
Dylan was just another singer and this is just
another movie, there's that possibility as well.
This much is clear: Haynes, seeing in Dylan
what so many other fans and disciples have
already recognized, had the guts to make a film
that destroys convention - just like its subject.

50 Cent's preferred mode of
transportation is a Segway.
Cornrows are a questionable
look when you're balding and have
grandchildren. Boxers get paid too
much.
These are just a few of the
invaluable nuggets I've picked
up over the
past year from -
watching HBO
Sports's box-
ing reality.
series "24/7."
Premiering
last spring dur-L
ing the weeks MICHAEL
running up to PASSMAN
the WBC title -
bout between
Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd May-
weather Jr., the debut season of
"24/7" thoroughly documented the
lives of the two fighters and their
families/entourages/rapper friends
as they prepared for boxing's big-
gest fight in years. Even though the
fight "24/7" previewed ended up
being a boring, glorified sparring
session between two dudes who
clearly didn't want to get punched
in the face for fear ofnot being able
to go out after the fight, the build-
up generated by the show made it
seem like much more than the lazy
contest it was.
So when "Curb Your Enthusi-
asm" ended its current run two
weeks ago with one of the better
season finales in recent memory,
I wasn't at all disappointed to see
one of my favorite shows go away
- possibly permanently - know-
ing a new season of "24/7" was
on deck. With Mayweather's first
fight since picking apart De La
Hoya coming up on Dec. 8against
Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton,
"24/7" is once again chronicling
the preparations of each fighter
and doing so in a way only HBO
could.
The firstthingthat strikes me
about "24/7" is its production
quality - though that's not really
a bombshell with HBO's stamp
on the credits. But the detail of
the production is surprising con-
sidering episodes air on Sunday
night and incorporate material
from deep into the previous week.
Each episode looks like it could
have taken months to polish
with artful shots, one of the best

musical scores ontelevision and
solid narration from Liev Sch-
reiber ("Scream"), who has oddly
morphed into the Pavarotti of pre-
mium-cable-sports-doc narration,
as unsettling as that is to admit.
Each half-hour episode is made in
just a week's time.
But like basically all HBO pro-
gramming, the real draw to "24/7"
is its characters. In "De La Hoya/
Mayweather 24/7," Mayweather
emerged as one of the least likeable
pro-athletes at work and one of the
most insecure people on the plan-
et. What kind of person goes to the
gym after 2 a.m. just so he can say
he's training while his opponents
are sleeping? He's also frequently
documented counting money,
staring directly into the camera
while training and yelling "this is
America" during nonsensical rants
because he's probably seen the
"American Gangster" trailer one
too many times.
It's clear Mayweather wants
to be boxing's villain, but it's
A$55 TV show?
Not too shabby,
considering.
even clearer that he flaunts his
wealth and constantly runs his
mouth because he's got serious
daddy issues. (For the record,
Mayweather's father, Floyd May-
weather Sr., is certifiably insane
- we're talking bat-shit-fucking
crazy. He even offered to train De
La Hoya in the fight against his son
for the right price.) In the debut of
"Mayweather/Hatton 24/7" two
weeks ago, a shaken Mayweather
Jr. discussed how his dad beat
him as a child, interspersed with
shots of a cackling Mayweather Sr.,
rambling about god-knows-what in
some diner.
And while De La Hoya was the
reluctant option to get behind in
the debut season of "24/7" because
he's a boring has-been, Ricky
Hatton offers a far more likeable
alternative and is the perfect foil
to Mayweather's obscene garish-
ness. Hatton, who splits his time
between the small, public gym
See PASSMAN, Page 10

The 'I' in
Colossus'
By DAVID WATNICK
Daily Arts Writer
While its name indicates a self-declared
massiveness, there's really nothing that
big about I, Colossus, the eponymous debut
from Minneapolis-based
wunderkind Matthew
Sandstedt and his band. **
A quick glance at the
liner notes reveals the I, COIOSSUS
undemocratic nature of 1,Colossus
Sandstedt's ensemble
(he writes, produces and Afternoon
plays just about every-
thing), and that creative control allows
for a focused, singular sound with none
of the musical attributes the word "colos-
sus" might connote - no thrashing guitars,
thunderous drums, earthshaking bass or
walls of harmony.
Instead, I, Colossus relies heavily on
electronic effects, meaning the traditional
guitars and drums of Sandstedt's "band-
mates" routinely sit in second-chair defer-
ence to his synths and drum machine. The
guitars do contribute the occasional arpeg-
gio or rhythm part, but they are texture,
not backbone, preserving the streamlined
electronica attitude. The hallmark of I,
Colossus's sound is Sandstedt's uber-weird
voice. It's uncommonly high for a man,but it
isn't falsetto; it sounds strangely synthetic,
but seemingly without the use of vocoders.
Imagine the bionic love child of a three-
way between Grandaddy's Jason Lytle, the
Pixies' Kim Deal and a computer.
The disembodied voice and effects give
the music an altogether robotic ambi-
ence, albeit with enough direction to still
bear resemblance to rock structure. At
their most up-tempo moments, the tunes
beam forward, propelled by their own
digital compression. Like voltage shoot-
ing through a conduit, they might be called
one-dimensional, a label that would fit
comfortably if their electronic bursts and
swirls didn't render them so tailor-made

Will, or can, 'Frank'
survive on one shtick?

Think they're going for a red thing?
for the 2D world of the iTunes visualizer.
Sandstedt is a formally trained musician,
and it shows all over the record. He under-
stands how to use his voice (including
tracking his own background vocals) and
is an obvious whiz on whatever instrument
he picks up. Impressive for his first LP, his
They have the
science down, but
where's the heart?
synthesizers and programmed beats con-
vey a scientific professionalism that notice-
ably sets them apart from your high school
friend's MIDI experiments.
It's his songwriting, however, that most
reflects his schooled background. When a
composer knows the rules of music theory,
it can be difficult to forget them, mean-
ing he must adhere to them or intention-

By MARK SCHULTZ
Daily Arts Writer
Any casual viewer of this year's
baseball playoffs on TBS will instantly
recognize the swollen head of Frank
Caliendo ("Mad TV"). The funnyman
and impressionist transformed into
Terry Bradshaw,
Al Pacino and oth-
ers to promote his
new sketch-comedy F
show "Frank TV" FrankTV
through an estimat- Tuesdays
ed 145 promos aired at 11p.m.
throughout playoff TBS
season. But those
same viewers have
already seen "Frank TV," for the show
is nothing but a chance for Caliendo to
show off his impressive but tiring range
of vocal impressions.
COURTESY OF AFTERNOON The opening scene of "Frank TV,"
where a Rod Roddy-esque announcer
played by Caliendo introduces - you
ally break them. Sandstedt encounters guessed it - Caliendo, sets the tone
this pitfall. If he sings like a robot, then he for the show. If he isn't your style,.it's
writes like one, too, delivering a purpose- going to get old quickly. Fortunately,
fully unorthodox, over-calculated product the real Caliendo, whose self-deprecat-
with no hint of muse-chasing humanity. ing frat-boy (or fat-boy) shtick seems
Too often, his songs are overwrought with borrowed from Jimmy Kimmel, soon
forced chord changes that disorient and delves into the most interesting part
shatter continuity. Their contrived nature of himself: his impressions. In the first
repels; they can be heard with distance but episode, Caliendo spends ample time
never absorbed. on his go-to imitation, an exaggerated
From a scientific standpoint, I, Colossus John Madden, complete with tangen-
is an unequivocal triumph. The instru- tial ramblings, voracious appetite and,
mentation is technically impressive and in this episode, an inscrutable obses-
succinct and the compositions themselves sion with "turducken." Caliendo has an
would make for compelling theoretical undeniable talent for echoing the vocal
analyses. timbre of celebrities, and his blustery
But music's greatest asset is that it is at baritone matches Madden's to a T.
once both a science and an art. And with But the real test of "Frank TV" is
that in mind, this disc is merely a half-suc- whether Caliendo can bring sharp,
cess. Though it fits perfectly alongside the incisive wit to his impressions, or
rest of I, Colossus's robotic qualities, the whether they will ultimately turn into
lack of depth and emotion on the album obnoxious caricatures. The man of a
is disappointing. Technology can emulate thousand voices does show comedic
brains, but, as I, Colossus demonstrates, wisdom in spots. "Seinfeld 2027," a
not heart. sketch featuring Caliendo playing all

four Seinfeld members in the future
- including a fat, graying Elaine - pro-
vides a smart, all-too-possible window
into a future where the gang obsesses
over stem cells and global warming
instead of no-fat yogurt and shrink-
age. A movie-review show hosted by
Caliendo's De Niro and Pacino humor-
ously portrays the respected actors
as bickering Siskel-and-Ebert-type
partners who dump movies over petty
concerns like showing time or name.
"That's a pretty long name right there,
Mr. Whatever's Whatchamacall," De
Niro complains.
But some of Caliendo's impressions
are unoriginal and leave the viewer
stranded in stereotypes. His Bush and
Clinton imitations are nothing but
recycled talk-show jokes repackaged
as kitschy sketches. Oh, Bill Clinton is
a fan of womanizing? And Dubya isn't
exactly the best public speaker? These
jokes have been driven into the ground
- plus, Caliendo's Bush is no better
than Will Ferrell's, and at least Ferrell
looked like him.
That's the other problem with
"Frank TV" - it asks for a suspension
of disbelief viewers might not be able
to concede. Caliendo looks nothing like
most of the celebrities he portrays, and
it often seems as though he isn't even
attempting to match appearance with
sound. His Charles Barkley, for exam-
ple, looks like he spent three days at a
tanning salon and bought a fake goatee
in a costume shop for $3.
Caliendo's imitations are funny in
small doses: his pompous Madden on
"Sunday NFL Countdown," his fleet-
ing impersonations on "Mad TV." But
watching a whole show of this is kind
of like spending a day with that kid
in grade school who did a great Eric
Cartman - you're likely to be disap-
pointed and irritated when you realize
the impression is the joke, and neither
Caliendo nor the kid provides any sort
of real comedic insight.

I

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