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October 03, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-03

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Friday, October 3, 2008 -5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Childlike indulgence

Daily Arts Writer
The saying 'goes "You can't
judge a book by its cover." But in
music the album
sleeves can say
a lot, and that's
certainly the Mercury Rev
case with Snow-
flake Midnight, Snowflake
the latest release Midnight
from Mercury V2
Rev. Supposedly
named after two
girls' ponies, its cover shows a dark
close-up of a wide-eyed bunny.
Even a casual listen shows how
appropriate this imagery is; the
album's lyrics and song-titles are
chock-full of butterflies, flowers
and a million other cutesy objects
set in a chilly sonic landscape.
This would all be fine if the band
recognized the ridiculousness of it
all. Instead, they come off as wholly
oblivious to it, treating the childish
backdrop as a launching pad for one
ofthe most ambitious efforts of their
career. The band's website describes
the album as "amirror in a mirror in
a mirror," and the songs as "com-
pletely unique." Since enjoyment of
this record is directly proportional
tohowseriouslythelistener cantake
the Rev, this pretentious and over-

again r
time as
The alb
is accer
and but
Rev add
times it
cially tr
sound i
there. T
word b
and the
Young G
these hi
gets int
Every ti

self-aggrandizing makes breakthrough, up comes something
g the albuma struggle. like "October Sunshine," where out-
it's not all bad. Snowflake dated synths make it sound like the
ht finds Mercury Rev once soundtrack to a Discovery Channel
e-inventing its sound, this special from the'80s.
something that could rea- Snowflake Midnight tries hard
be called tweetronica. to evoke a childlike appreciation
um's psychedelic ambience of natural beauty, but that's a hard
ntuated by electronic blips point to communicate over serious
bbling synths. It's hardly a musical missteps. The hilariously
breaking approach, but the bad bass on "Runaway Raindrop,"
Is its own touch to it, and at for example, begs to be compared
really works. This is espe- to a misplaced whoopee cushion.
rue for the dynamic "But- And how about "Snowflake in aHot
Wings," where the band World,"whereleadsingerJonathan
s to cram the best of its new Donahue belts out a roaring eulogy
to a melting snowflake. There's
probably a deep metaphysical mes-
ving up the sage buried somewhere in the lyr-
ics, but on the surface they're just
iculousness. embarrassing.
It's unfair to approach the album
as merely a hit-or-miss pop record
because it certainly doesn't lack
nto a four-minute blast of identity. It's supposed to be an
iendly pop. intricately crafted artistic state-
successes don't quite end ment, and the gushing descriptions
here's the repetitive glow of on the band's website confirm as
on Fire," the eerie spoken- much. But this is Mercury Rev, not
it on "October Sunshine" Pink Floyd. "Dream of a Young Girl
torrent of strings and syn- as a Flower" is no "Shine on You
's that closes "Dream of a Crazy Diamond (Parts I-V)." With
irl as a Flower." But despite a collection of songs that simply
ighlights, the record rarely aren't very good, Snowflake Mid-
to any consistent groove. nightlargely comes off as mawkish,
me it seems on the verge of a melodramatic and trite.

"We just had to see 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua didn't we.
Internal battles

Growing up different

By HANS YADAV and sexuality that drive the film.
For theDaily Currently in the transition to
womanhood, Jasira is in an awk-
"Towelhead" is shocking. And ward stage in her life. But her
it's . supposed to be. From the inability to explore her own sexu-
racial-slur-for- ality is not only manifested in the
a-title to the rigid control her father has over
blatantly pro- *** her, but also because Jasira is an
vocative themes outsider. The kids at school mock
entwined in TOWeihead her, the school janitor talks to her
its bizarre, yet AtShowcase in Spanish and the neighbor's son
seemingly famil- calls her all sorts of stereotypi-
iar . story, this j pendent cal names. Again, the movie does
film will make an amazing job of connecting the
you feel uneasy. audience with Jasira's plight.
The story revolves around a To complicate things further,
young, half-Lebanese, half-Cau- Jasira's next-door neighbor Trav-
casian girl named Jasira (relative is Vuoso (Aaron Eckhart, "Thank
newcomer Summer Bishil). She You for Smoking") is an army
moves into her Lebanese father's reservist. The movies takes place
house for the beginning of a during the initial stages of the war
new school year after spending in Iraq, so Travis is judgmental
time with her white mother. The about Jasira's father. Nonetheless,
change in households not only Jasira is intrigued by him. Tra-
reflects a physical change for Jesi- vis's own issues become apparent,
ra, but also a cultural one. Steeped so when he begins noticing Jasira
in Lebanese tradition, Jasira's as more than the babysitter for
father, Rifat (Peter Macdissi, "Six his son, the plot becomes compel-
Feet Under"), is very strict. Rifat's ling and vexed to the point where
pervasiveness in all facets of audience members will likely feel
Jasira's life is so well illustrated uncomfortable.
that you can't help but feel empa- Jasira is only 13 years old, a fact
thetic towards Jasira's miserable that's difficult to ignore. Other
life. While highly captivating, the peoples' lust for her, combined
father-daughter dynamic takes a with her own obsession with adult
backseat to the themes of racism magazines and her overactive sex-

ual drive, are indicative of a highly
unrealistic and dramatized plot.
Toss in some racist overtones and.
it's not surprising to see moviego-
ers get up and leave their seats.
And this is precisely what
makes the movie so beautiful. The
film is simply hard to bear at times.
All the elements of the movie are
starkly prevalent in our lives - the
sexuality, the bigotry, the alien-
ation - and are issues that society
has worked to eliminate but which,
Shocking drama
explores youth
as an outsider.
as the film points out, have clearly
not disappeared. The movie does a
great job addressing and commen-
tating on these topics.
With superb acting from
Bishil and Macdissi, along with
an engaging, albeit controversial
storyline, "Towelhead" is a strong
film. Its insights into modern day
prejudice and sexuality make the
film one of the most powerful
social commentaries to come out
in a longtime.

"Lucky Ones"
explores the psyches
of Iraq War veterans
Daily Arts Writer
As Nov. 4 inches closer, the war
in Iraq is gaining more and more
attention in the media. With daily
reports of the
mess overseas, .
it's easy to con-
centrate on only The Lucky
the overlying ,e
aspects of the Ones
war, forgetting At Showcase
the individuals Roadside
who are affected. Attractions
Soldiers are con-
tinually wound-
ed and killed in the war. But those
of us who are not directly affected
tend to forget that.
It's not surprising thatthe enter-
tainment industry has found the
war to a compelling subject. Films
like "Stop-Loss" and "Rendition,"
while not exactly box-office hits,
have exposed a new side of the
fight - one that isn't just explo-
sions and yelling soldiers. "The
Lucky Ones" is the latest in these
Iraq War-themed films working to
expose the average citizen to the

emotional affects of war.
Where "The Lucky ones" differs ,
from the others is in how it repre-
sents its characters. The film fol-
lows three soldiers after they have
left Iraq, nursing physical injuries
they can't hide and emotional dam-
age they can't escape. Colee (Rachel
McAdams, "Wedding Crashers"),
Cheever (Tim Robbins, "War of the
Worlds") and TK (Michael Pena,
"World Trade Center") sitnear each
other on a plane. When a freak elec-
trical problem cancels allflights out
of New York City, forcing them to
hitch a ride together, the film turns
into an ideological road movie.
The rest of the movie follows the
characters as they attempt to use
their time back home to accomplish
what they couldn't overseas. As
they travel across the country, each
with a different reason to end up in
Las Vegas, the trio experiences the
kindness of strangers. The grati-
tude Americans have for these sol-
diers stays constant throughout the
film - Colee, TK and Cheever are
continuously thanked for their ser-
vice. It's a plot point that is hardly
noticeable, but when it's juxta-
posed with a scene where college
students make fun of Colee's injury,
mistreatment of the soldiers seems
even more unacceptable. You can
hate the war, but you should never
hate the soldiers, the film suggests.

The film's story is relatively
simple, making room for a stand-
out performance by McAdams.
Most widely known for playing the
one-dimensional character Regina
in "Mean Girls," McAdams fully
commits to her portrayal of Colee,
a girl intent on bringing a fallen
comrade's guitar back to his fam-
ily. McAdams does a wonderful
job alternating between loyalty for
her deceased friend and the inno-
cent shock and disappointment
she must deal with when it turns
out she may not have really known
her friend at all. As for Robbins
and Pena, while they are good
actors, they aren't given as much
to do with their characters. It's
clear McAdams easily outshines
the men.
The film's simplicity allows the
viewer to dig deep into the charac-
ters' mental states. Why did these
three individuals join the army?
What are the repercussions of
returning to battle? How do their
lives differ from those of civilians?
All of these questions are brought
up but only partially answered.
Feelings of unfinished business
linger awkwardly at the film's end.
Perhaps that is intentional - after
all it's not like the world is any-
where close to forming a definite
conclusion on the war on which the
film isbased.

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