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September 03, 2008 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-03

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8A - Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

I

The war within

The unwelcome shift in
party music culture

Cheadle shines again
in complex thriller
about Sudanese
arms dealer
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
It's often said that great actors
disappear into the roles they
play. But it's always something
richer and more
authentic with *
Don Cheadle.
Cheadle Traitor
seems to own his
every role (rath- At Quality16
er than the other and Showcase
way around) to Overture Films
the point where
you'd swear
he's not "acting" at all. From his
Oscar-nominated turn in "Hotel
Rwanda" to the recent "Talk to
Me," Cheadle carries movies by
ensuring they feature a charac-
ter whose shadow reaches well
beyond the confines of the screen.
That powerful ability shines
spectacularly in "Traitor," a solid
action film made superb by a stir-
ring, ambitious and classic Chea-
dIe performance.
Cheadle plays Samir Horn, an
American national whose Suda-
nese roots link him closely to
Islam and possibly some terrorist
groups as well. I keep those two
concepts separate for reasons
you either already understand or
have chosen not to understand,
but it is important to note that the
film keeps them separated too.
Indeed, that oft-confused dual-
ity is a key part of the mystery of
Samir, a rogue arms dealer who
might be called a traitor at first
glance.
Arrested and beaten for alleg-
edly supplying detonators to a
terrorist bombing, Samir man-
ages to escape his captors and
continue on the complex path he
has chosen for himself. Plot-wise,
that path features Jeff Daniels
("The Squid and the Whale") and
at least one brilliant, jaw-drop-

"Dude, where's my car?"
ping twist. More abstractly, how-
ever, the film deserves even more
credit for such a deep portrayal of
a complex human being.
Words like "authentic" are as
useless as criticisms like "unpa-
triotic" when describing the
full effect of who Samir is and
what his story says of our coun-
try. Samir is shown as a devout,
conscience-driven Muslim, with
Cheadle often breaking into Ara-
bic quotes from the Quran. This is
by no means at odds with every-
thing else Samir is: black, Ameri-
can, compassionate and betrayed
(more might be said here of his
parallel loyalties, but that ven-
tures into spoiler territory).
His pursuers - two straight-
laced FBI agents played by Guy
Pearce ("Factory Girl") and Neal
McDonough ("88 Minutes") - are
also Godly, conscience-driven
men. Such an analogy has been
presented often since Sept. 11, but
never with so much purpose and
awareness. When Pearce's char-
acter compares suicide bombers'
place in Islam to the Ku Klux

Klan's place in Christianity, he's
reaching for more than just Kum
Ba Yah points in the blue states.
That the racist past of our coun-
try bred devils we couldn't con-
trol is well accepted: The film
wisely asks why we can't as eas-
ily accept that the devils of other
societies arise from similar strife,
rather than some inherent hatred
of freedom.
Perhaps the most shocking
thing about"Traitor"is how direct
and uncompromising it chooses to
be in decrying our ignorance. The
screenplay (co-written by come-
dian Steve Martin) is smart, dar-
ing and challenges the audience
to question their lazy, conven-
tional notions of right and wrong.
Perhaps because it's so brash -
but also because some battles can
never be won - not everyone will
be pleased with the sympathy the
film affords its antagonists.
Still, even those who deny the
considerable parable in the film
would have to at least call "Trai-
tor" a riveting drama with an
unforgettable lead performance.

"No, dude, seriously, where is my car?"
Party music culture is
shifting. There used to
be one guy at every dance
party that needed to suffer a
long, painful
death. He's the
one at a good
rager with
good music
who decides
that whatever
fun being had
needs to end MATT
immediately. EMERY
He plays his
garage sale-
discovered acoustic Gibson and
has a penchant for playing out
of tune, finger-plucking riffs
while trying to swoon any girl
wearing American Apparel with
his choppy rendition of "The
King of Carrot Flowers Pt. One."
He does it, and then the party
crawls to a halt and everyone
goes to bed.
This needed to change.
And it did when mash-up
artists arrived and were the
next step in the party music
phenomenon. Guitar hippie of
the '60s was replaced by DJing
and entry-level electronic music
and disco of the '70s and '80s,
which was followed by the live
house band stuff of the '90s and
the reemergence of DJs and then
that damn Guitar Guy. But then
all that was thrown out the win-
dow when the man behind the
Girl Talk moniker, Greg Gillis,
threw down an album like Night
Ripper, an effort that appealed
to hipsters because all of a sud-
den it was cool to like Elton
John and the lyric "face down,
ass up, that's the way we like
to fuck" in the same set. All of
this happened while appealing
to mainstream choices because
popular hip hop could be picked
out in tracks featuring some-
thing like LCD Soundsystem. It
was the perfect mix for every-
one.
Sure, there were others before

him, pr
Gillis r
showin
engine
sportir
bucket
night c
his day
Nev
ogy pl:
genre:
it's eve
it's a g
who si
his iPo
might
on one
music?
origins
combit
ways. I
here; jL
infants
DJin
ent bea
ing son
and ob
more sl

robably hundreds, but mash-ups for you. Programs like
evolutionized the model, Ableton - one of the more popu-
ag that this everyday lar forms of software to make
er could be the tracksuit- mashes - have made things
ng baller that sweated easy for anyone with a torrent
s and took off his shirt at site, a library of music and some
lubs while still working free time to put together their
yjob. own disc of mash-ups featuring
er before has technol- their own ironic selections. But
ayed such a large role in a the real problem comes when
of music. So much so that these simple programs make it
n difficult to say whether so easy that very little effort or
enre at all. Is someone thought is required to crank out
ts around tinkering on something, no matter the qual-
rd thinking, "Hey, these ity. Even if someone tells you it
work when overlapped sucks, you just make a new one
another," really making on your lunch break.
He's not really making Gillis breaks the mold in so
al music, but rather just many ways. Sure, he's a self-
sing things in creative made man so to speak, and uses
Nothing new is birthed most of the same software pro-
ust a combination of two grams that any other beginner
s. could use - though AudioMulch
ng was an entirely differ- and Adobe products do give him
ast all together. Rework- more cred right off the bat - but
gs required a lot of effort most people don't realize why
vious energy from the his albums are so throbbingly
killed, dedicated individ- kinetic: there's talent and an
unbeatable ear for layering and
blending rhythms.
Ableton and other programs
echnology is are creating a new version of
the guitar-playing guy at parties
t a substitute who now uses his laptop instead
of his pawnshop purchase.
for true Technology has made the DIY
mentality easier than ever, but
usical talent.- in doing so, it's becoming more
and more obvious that no matter
how good technology gets, the
showmanship, musical ear and
nd it also felt like real live overall talent level will never
There was exuberant per- leave the genre. Girl Talk should
.g and a certain talent that be viewed as the exception, not
omeone either god-awful the norm.
thy of instant praise. And So go ahead and let the drunk
think many people spend guitarist continue to play on
ying to make DJing into for now. If nothing else, he's at
n genre. least trying to do something new
technology made it all with his talents and not tryingto
ple. You didn't need to sleep with girls only through his
ndreds of records and a laptop - at least not all the time.

NO

T(
not
ml

uals, a:
music.
formin
made s
or wore
I don't
time tr
it's ow
Butt
so sims
buy hu

4

turntable and spend weeks or
months learning the intricacies
of needles and scratching tech-
niques - your MacBook does

Emery's just pissed he can't
pirate a copy of Ableton. E-mail
him at mbemery@umich.edu.

ARTS IN BRIEF

Film
Latest in 'Movie'
series satisfies poor
reputation
"Disaster Movie"
Lionsgate
"Disaster Movie," an astute
title, is actually a polite under-
statement. But that's onlybecause
a more apt title, like "Worst Movie
Ever Made," wouldbe a tough sell
at Showcase.
The storyline hinges on a
mash-up of the most well-known
moments of summer's biggest
hits (and, for some reason, "Alvin
and the Chipmunks"), but also
contains a sliver of unoriginal
plot - mainly the world is end-

ing, and Will (Matt Lanter) and
his friends must try to stop the
inevitable.
Yes, this film is a horrendous
failure on many levels. But real-
ly, was there ever any doubt of
that? Not a single laugh can be
found here - not one. Some may
argue this is not meant to be an
award-winning film, but "Disas-
ter Movie" is an insult to stupid
comedies everywhere. It's a film
made not only for the brainless,
but by the brainless.
Spoof movies have become the
lowest form of comedy available
today, beginningwith the spectac-
ularly bad "Date Movie" and only
sliding downhill
from there.
"Disaster
Movie" may
just be the
worst of the
bunch and hope-

fully the last. The real disaster
here would be actually contribut-
ing any money toward this piece
of junk.
Like the elephant at the end of
the parade of what was arguably.a
great summer for film, this movie
is loud, ungainly and, of course, it
stinks.
SHERIJANKELOVITZ

I
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