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September 19, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-09-19

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, September 19, 200$ -5

Sparkless'Lightbulbs'

By SASHA RESENDE
Daily Arts Writer
The British electro-pop-
pin' quartet Fujiya & Miyagi
has recently made a name for
itself with its atmospheric
synth-beats
and lighter
pop ele-
ments. The .
band's 2006 Fujya &
sophomore Mjyagij
release,
Transpar- Lightbulbs
ent Things, 'Deaf Dumb& Blind
was well-
received
and placed
the band on the indie radar,
allowing its members to
license several of their catch-
ier cuts for advertisements.
After creating a reputation
for being Aphex Twin's light-
er, less abrasive cousin, the
band successfully toured the
United States and recorded
their third full-length album.
Adding a new drummer to
the threesome's lineup, the
band had every opportunity
to progress and reach newer,
more innovative styles of
electropop. But rather than
take a leap forward for the
sake of the art, the band's
newest release simply sounds
like a lackluster rehashing of
its previous record.
Lightbulbs, Fujiya & Miya-
gi's latest release, opens with
"Knickerbocker," a drum-
and-bass-guitar-directed
track complete with a play-

ful ly
words
"strav
sound
to th
of the
"Ankl
playft
Trans
tunat
the p
album
man I
his st
fers t
tion o
disc.
Br
ir
n
Bes
minut
aptly
excla
and
over
you."
ing th
bass a
these
tive
the
Best
nause
ing ar

'rical repetition of the footing around / With you."
s "knickerbocker" and While this style worked well
wberry." This reiteration on the previous album, it may
Is vaguely comparable be time for Mr. Miyagi to find
e redundant repetition a new lyrical style that doesn't
band's name heard on detract from the band's awe-
e Injuries," a similarly inspiringlushness.
ul track from 2006's In spite of these short-
parent .Things. Unfor- comings, Lightbulbs remains
ely, this vapid song sets an album brimming with
attern for the rest of the cutesy beats and plenty of
n. Fujiya & Miyagi front- synth-driven experimenta-
David Best - known by tion. It includes bass-heavy
age name Miyagi - pre- songs about numb limbs
o rely on blatant repeti- ("Sore Thumb"), quirky pro-
f vocals throughout the grammed beats to the tune
of snapping fingers ("Pick-
pocket"), quicker-paced cuts
loaded with illuminating gui-
sitish group tar riffs ("Hundreds & Thou-
sands") and sharper guitar
fails to strings to the tune of jovial
drumming ("Dishwasher").
inovate On In the end, it's the music at
hand that matters and Light-
ew album . bulbs is certainly chock-full
of unique, though repetitive,
tracks.
Lightbulbs was the ideal
opportunity for Fujiya &
st spans the four- Miyagi to take a creative
te-long course of the step forward. But because
titled "Pussyfooting" its members decided not to
iming - over and over take that initiative, the band's
over again - how he's latest release is somewhat
"pussyfooting with stale. Rather than build upon
Rather than highlight- its previous achievements,
he band's bubbly guitar, Lightbulbs simply sounds like
snd synth arrangements, a regurgitation of a previ-
boring and unimagina- ously used formula. Perhaps
lyrics take away from this simply proves the band's
music's quiet beauty. consistency, but it also sug-
continues to lament ad gests an unwillingness to
a "No more pussyfoot- delve further into new musi-
round / No more pussy- cal horizons.

"You lookin' at me?" "No, Bob, they're looking at me." "No, me ..."1

A nostalgic flop
Despite the pairing of legends DeNiro and Pacino,
new thriller fails to revive '70s cool
By Andrew Lapin I Daily Arts Writer

"Righteous Kill" is a movie that was
made with a specific audience in mind.
Specifically, the filmmakers are trying
to reel in the (mostly
male) fans of old-
school Robert DeNiro
or Al Pacino movies RWP-om
like "The Godfather
II" (1974) or "Scar- Kill
face" (1983). These are At Quality 16
the people who are and Showcase
going to be excited by
the prospect of the two Overture
screen legends finally
sharing more than one
scene together in a film about cops, guns
and other dirty, manly things.
The premise is attractive enough:
DeNiro and Pacino play two partners
working for the NYPD detective force.
They have seen too many guilty people
go free and, because of this, they've
developed a self-righteous sense of
vigilante justice. An inspired moment
comes early on when the two of them
. frame an acquitted child-murderer for
a separate crime he didn't commit just
to put him behind bars. This twisted
sense of right and wrong is intriguing to
explore, but is never fully developed like
it should in Russell Gewirtz's ("Inside
Man") script.

Instead, what drives the plot is a
serial killer within the force who's tak-
ing down the bad guys that go free and
leaving behind corny, egotistical poems
as a calling card. Apparently, the One-
Stop Movie Villain Shop was all out of
Joker cards. While it's impossible to
get into details without revealing a big
switcheroo at the end, it must be said
that this film's "twist" is particularly
mediocre. In fact, it cheats the audi-
ence by working against its own logic
just so it can pull the wool over our eyes
later. Good twist endings should never
feel cheap because they're supposed to
respect the rules laid out by the rest of
the story. They should be surprising but
still consistent with the logic of what's
come before them. The twist here, once
revealed, makes the character's actions
and reactions to previous events seem
nonsensical.
Not helping matters are most of the
film's supporting players. Carla Gugi-
no ("American Gangster") is certainly
pretty and suitably intimidating as a
police officer, but when she's playing
DeNiro's much younger lover the only
accurate description is "icky." Curtis
"50 Cent" Jackson ("Get Rich or Die
Tryin"') is also here portraying a drug
dealer, but his tenacity is undercut by

the fact that he has difficulty pronounc-
ing his lines. Odd, for someone whose
day job involves precisely articulating
massive quantities of words in a short
amount of time.
To a certain extent, "Righteous Kill"
lives up to its promise. There are plenty
ofguns andviolence,alongwith f-bombs,
awkwardly staged sex scenes and
enough growling by the leads to make
the screen fog up with testosterone.
Most importantly, DeNiro and Pacino
share plenty of scenes together, and they
have an incredibly commanding screen
presence despite the fact that they're
both pushing 70. The problem is that the
actual movie they've wandered into isn't
very cohesive or particularly effective as
a thriller. Plus, there's not much going
for it once the initial excitement of see-
ing the two together wears off.
This is certainly a step up for director
Jon Avnet, whose previous film was the
abominable "88 Minutes" (also starring
Pacino). And for some, the star appeal
and promise of a '70s-style hard-boiled
"man movie" will be enough to sustain
"Righteous Kill." However, there are
those of us who know that these two
actors, and this genre, are capable of so
much more. Someday, perhaps, they will
get the return to form they deserve.
WRITE
FOR
DAILY
ARTS
E-mail us at:
orts@michigondoily.com

New'Women,' Old problems

Dance that matters

By JESSICA VOSGERCHIAN
DailyArts Writer
A curly-headed blond and her three
friends juggle love, kids and careers in New
York City.
No, it's not "Sex and the City."
It's "The Women," a remake of the 1939
George Cukor ("My Fair Lady") romantic
comedy of the same name.
But 1939 was a different
time, and Cukor's portray-
al of women is too overtly The Women
sexist for modern audienc-
es. The remake by Diane At Qualityl6
English (TV's "Murphy and Showcase
Brown") is a self-conscious Picturehouse
correction of the original -
but, sadly, one devoid of all
the wit and novelty that made Cukor's film
worthwhile.
Featuring an all-women cast as Cukor's
did, "The Women" assembles an impressive
list of has-beens and never-really-weres.
Debra Messing (TV's "Will and Grace") is
mother-of-five Edie Cohen. Jada Pinkett
Smith . ("Madagascar") is lesbian author
Alex Fisher. And Annette Bening ("Running
with Scissors") is catty magazine editor Syl-
"The Women" is a
dull, pointless retread.
vie Fowler. Leading this pack of cheesy
archetypes is Meg Ryan ("You've Got
Mail") as Mary Haines, the do-it-all
wife of a Wall Street mogul.
The film primarily centers on Mary,
who gets fired as a fashion design-
er and then discovers her hus-
band is cheating on her with a
perfume counter "spritzer girl"
(Eva Mendes, "Ghost Rider").
The film keeps Cukor's
COURTESY OF PICTUREHOUSE

original plot but gives it a modern spin. Eng-
lish was right to do away with some of the
aspects of the original; she hints heavily
about the overhaul, having characters ask
things like "What is this, a 1930s movie?" and
"What's the modern thing to do?" Ultimate-
ly,Mary's decision to stay in her marriage is
justified with "It's the 21st century; it's OK
for people to fight for their relationships."
But the problem with English's revision is
the length it goes to apologize for its almost-
forgotten predecessor.
Inthe originalSylvie is deliciously conniv-
ing. She stops at nothing for gossip and rev-
els in the ruin of the Haines's marriage: The
result is biting wit and a captivating villain.
English's Sylvie is a somewhat brash career
woman who really has a heart of gold.
The only entertaining roles are periphery
characters such as a gossip manicurist who
spills to all of Manhattan that her friend
"the spritzer girl" is diddling Mr. Haines.
She exemplifies the mistake English made in
reimagining a film driven by archetypes: By
trying to humanize characters like the harpy
Sylvie Fowler, English leaves the character
dull and toothless. But the manicurist needs
no point, and that's alright.
The irony is that for all Eng-
lish's corrections for sexism,
audiences 70 years from now
will (hopefully) find her
portrayal of women just
as questionable. One need
only compare the films'
opening credits.
Cukor's version
identifies each
character as an
animal, which
is quite liter-
ally dehuman-
izing. English
introduces the
women by shots
of just their legs and
shoe choices, which
is not only lackluster,
but sexist in its own
right.

By BEN VANWAGONER
Daily Arts Writer
The Mark Morris Dance Group
will perform in the Power Center
this Friday and Saturday night,
but, honestly, does anyone care? By
most definitions,
dance is aluxury. Mark Morris
It's an art that's
entertaining but Dance Group
seemingly aim- Sept.19 and
less. At a time 20 at 8 p.m.
when America is At the Power Center
in such conflict,
dance might
seem almost
irrelevant, and you could certainly
argue that it is.
Then again, maybe it's not.
Danceis oneofthe mostfundamen-
tally collaborative arts. The focus
is on movement and fluency in a
lingua franca composed entirely
of nonverbal communication. At a
time like this - race-charged, gen-
der-charged, with a whole nation
in fear of insolvency - collabora-
tion and understanding are more
important than ever.
The Mark Morris Dance Group,
led by artistic director Mark Mor-
ris, might serve as a model. The
company, formed in 1980, seems to
have done nothing but collect acco-
lades. Once regarded as an "Ameri-
can upstart," Morris rapidly moved
* to the forefront of modern dance,
earning a Guggenheim Fellowship
and no less than eight honorary
doctorates, including one from Jul-
Hard.
The Mark Morris Dance Group
* is world renowned for seamless
integration with the music that
drives their performances. The
company works only with live
music for every dance. In the past,
they've performed with orches-

tras, opera companies, and even
cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Morris seems to
find the calm center of the music
and charge itintomotion: even still
photos of his dancers look electric.
The Los Angeles Times called him
"intensely musical, deceptively
cerebral, (and) insinuatingly sex-
ual."
Morris, once pronounced "our
Mozart of modern dance" by the,
Washington Post, will be present-
ing no Mozart this weekend. The
program will include artists rang-
ing from Brahms to Lou Harrison.
Impressively, the two performanc-
es are composed from entirely dif-
ferent works, with one (fortupate)
exception, a dance called "Grand
Duo." It is one of his most famous.
Other works include "Love Song
Waltzes," set to Brahms, and "Can-
dleflowerdance," to Stravinsky's
"Serenade in A."
In tumultuous
times, look to
the art of dance.
Dance faces a serious challenge
in the ambition-fueled American
culture of the 21st century. What
Mark Morris and others like him
must do is not remain relevant, but
help the public (college students
included) to understand that dance
has always been and continues to
be relevant. The more the world
seems to crumble around our ears,
'the more the grace and unity of
dance matters - important not in
spite of the tumult, but critical pre-
cisely because of it.

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