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November 07, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, November 7, 2008 -5

Starpower
fails to shine
By BLAKE GOBLE a gorgeously pale palette like one
Daily Film Editor would expect from a somber,
thoughtful period piece. Jolie's Col-
Everyone involved in "Change- lins is nothing exciting, but that's
ling" has received praise from the how she's meant to be portrayed.
critics during Her confusion and hysteria caused
the past several j by the disappearance of her son
years. Angelina creates a painfully bewildering
Jolie received Changeling experience that plays the audience
high marks for like a piano. But then something
her work in last At Quality16 happens.
summer's "A and Showcase Collins ends up being sent to an
Mighty Heart." Universal asylum where she is labeled delu-
Clint Eastwood sional due to her protests over the
won multiple child. An investigation into a pos-
Oscars in 2004 for "Million Dollar sible string of child murders makes
Baby," only to be nominated again the movie feel almost like a horror
with"LettersFromIwo Jima."And movie. The morbid atmosphere
Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone") is supposed to hint at the awful
and John Malkovich ("Burn After things that could have happened
Reading") are awards-circle bait. to her son. However, the sudden
Judging by the cast list alone, the shockvalue ofthe asylummakes for
movie sounds like a high-quality heavy-handed exploitation mate-
melodrama, and that was the rial, and doesn't work or flow well
thought heading into this year's with to the subtle beginning of the
Cannes Film Festival. film. It's less like "One Flew Over
Yet amid all the excitement of the Cuckoo's Nest" and more like
Cannes, there's always an antici- "Women Behind Bars."
pated entry that few speak of after These scenes, mixed with East-
the dust- settles. "Changeling" is wood's shock-and-awe style, make
one of those films. it difficult for the film to recover. It
Based on the true story of almost does.
Christine Collins (Jolie), a tele- If we ignore the superstar bag-
phone operator in 1920s Los Ange- gage that follows Jolie, it's not hard
les whose son was kidnapped, to see what a great actress she can
"Changeling" is a complicated, be. Nuanced, doe-eyed and always
dramatic thriller about one wom- sincere, Jolie's depiction of Collins
an's investigative journey. is achingly real. She puts her all into
Coming back from work late
one afternoon, Collins discovers
her son has disappeared. Frantic, A dark, uneven
she seeks the aid of the L.A.P.D. to
find the boy, only to be swept into m elodrama.
a mass of corruption, false identity,
child murders and her own incar-
ceration. It's "Law & Order: SVU"
circa1928. the role, but unfortunately it's just
The movie sets out to portray ' a boring part. If only she had bet-
one woman's fight against incred- ter dialogue - or any good lines,
ible odds for what she knew was really.
right. The police clearly don't find For its incredibly moving story
the right child, and despite Col- and great performances, "Change-
ln' claims to the contrary, she is ling"'s characters are under-devel-
forced to take the child as her own. oped and the plot is inconsistent.
The moronic gender politics of the Eastwood directs the melodrama
period are well-displayed within as well as he directs his best work,
the dynamic between Collins and but legal and thriller elements
the patriarchal government. With don't suit his style. This ultimately
its powerful themes, the story has makes for both a good and bad film.
both great successes and dismal "Changeling" is worth seeing for its
failures. memorable, disturbing story, even
The film begins perfectly with if it's not particularly well-told.
ALrBUM RlEVIEW

Harmony in motion

Exploring India's
diverse cultures
through dance
By SARA SCHNEIDER
Daily Arts Writer
Sandhi is the Sanskrit word for
harmony, and this year's multicul-
tural show put
on by the Indian Sandhi
American Stu-
dent Association Friday, Nov.
(IASA) brings its 7 at7 p.m.
own interpreta- Hill Auditorium
tions of harmony
through dance,
costume and music. Celebrating
IASA's 25th anniversary, "Sandhi:
The Essence of Harmony" will
include unique performances dis-
playing the different cultures of
India.
The performance will be held
today at 7 p.m. in Hill Audito-
rium. Tickets are now available at
the Michigan Union Ticket Office
or through Ticketmaster.com.
All proceeds from the show go
to Manav Sadhna, a charity that
works with impoverished children
in India to help them become pro-
ductive members of society.
Year after year, spectators
return to this event because every
season the show offers something
new and exciting to captivate its
audience. Although there are many
groups that put on performances
on campus, LSA senior and IASA's
Cultural Show Coordinator, Dhruv
Menawat, believes this show is dif-
ferent.
"You see a lot of what you call
'cultural shows' in this day and
age, but one of the things that
happens is that they sometimes
become stereotypical," Menawat

"Sandhi" combines dance, costumes and music

said. "The shows end up being the
same thing every year, creating
a stagnant view of their culture
instead of expanding the public's
knowledge."
Even though IASA has lim-
ited its show to mainly dance and
music, its organizers try to make
the show fresh every year.
"Through different themes, we
try to change and explore new
ideas while maintaining the same
tradition," Menawat said.
To address this year's theme of
harmony, each act will display a
specific traditional Indian instru-
ment that the performers have
previously created a performance
around. Through the unique act
design, the show attempts to
encapsulate the coming together of
unique traits of Indian culture.
"When all these sounds come
together, they have a melody that

resonates among all of us," Mena-
wat said. "So even Indians who
were not born in India and people
who are not part of the culture at
all feel the melody that goes on
through all of us."
Although IASA runs the show
entirely on its own, the participants
come from a variety of campus
organizations. Anyone can partici-
pate. "This gives people a chance to
step outside of their own organiza-
tions and come together to join in
something great," Menawat said.
The cultural show is the biggest
event hosted by IASA, but it's not
the only event. The group annually
holds several other community-
oriented cultural activities such as
Gandhi Day. "The experience is not
just Nov. 7, it is all year," Menawat
said. "We are continuously trying
to educate our community about
the different aspects of the Indian

culture and heritage through other
events."
Menawat's personal experi-
ences within IASA have kept him
involved on campus throughout
his college career.
"It's not because I am Indian
that I love being a partof IASA. It is
just amazing the amount of things
I get to do and see," Menawat said.
"After helping 300 students do ser-
vice projects on Gandhi Day, you
really feel like you are doing some-
thing real and making a change."
With a steady flow of about
4,000 spectators annually,. the
IASA cultural show continues to
wow its audiences with loud and
bright productions. But, according
to Menawat, this is more than just
a performance.
"What it really is, is a chance
for the whole community to come
together and experience 'sandhi.'"

'Crash' adaptation bombs

By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
Watching the first two episodes of the new
Starz series "Crash" was a sad, defeating expe-
rience for me. As a (vastly
outnumbered) defender of
the controversial, Oscar-
winning film upon which Crash
the series is based, it would
seem as though I would be Fridaysat
tasked with defending this 10 p.m.
chaotic, misguided and sim- Starz
ply obscene TV production.
Yes, the show parades as an
expansion on the themes explored by the film
of the same title, but that's a poor defense for a
TV trainwreck that just can't be defended.
The series is set in Los Angeles and features
a racially diverse cast that spews plenty of pro-
fanity, but that's where any similarities to the
film end. The characters may come from differ-
ent cultural backgrounds, but it simply doesn't
matter; rather than exploring complex racial
identities and the fierce, confrontational inter-
actions that occur because of these identities,
the show is just a litany of stereotypes, stand-
offs and empty, deadening dialogue.
The apparent main character is Ben Cendars

(Dennis Hopper, "Swing Vote"), a music pro-
ducer who is practically insane. When he's not
whipping out his knife (among other things) in
the backseat of his limousine, he's smoking pot
with his black chauffeur and espousing faux
profundities. From him grows a web of dispa-
rate characters with their own burdens and
misconceptions, which lead them to constant
conflict and strife.
Critics might argue that such nonsensical,
miserable exaggerations are precisely what
was wrong with the film. In the face of the
show, the film becomes increasingly harder to
defend because the show borrows and perverts
so many of the film's original themes.
Initial evaluation said that the film embraced
the worst ofhuman nature without ever pausing
to make sense of it. Critics argued that it played
sophistication but was really. a sophomoric
hack-job given way too much credit. Those
arguments aren'ttrue;the filmwas aningenious
creation because it managed to depict racial
strifeincontemporaryAmericawhilestillkeep-
ing everythingrcontrolled and coherent enough
to allow for understanding. That's where the
show fails. It's a
pointless, sprawl-
ing mess - one
that will probably

get bigger with each episode.
Part of the problem is the trend in TV writ-
ing that encourages ever-growing, purpose-
less plots ("Heroes," "Lost," etc.). But a much
bigger problem in "Crash" rests with how the
writers and directors of the show (all differ-
ent from the movie) don't seem to understand
why the film was so well-received in many
Oscar-winner won't
pick up any Emmys.
circles. It wasn't aimless violence and cheesy
theatrics that won the film acclaim. Rather, it
was the complex, yet coherent and accessible,
message behind the madness. None of that is
present in the TV show.
"Crash" has already been named among
the worst Best Picture winners of all time
by some critics, and this show certainly isn't
going to help overcome those sentiments.

By JEFF SANFORD
Daily Arts Writer
Don't call it a comeback. It's
true, Coolio has been around for
years, but his musical career has
been more or less dead since his hit
single "Gangsta's
Paradise"earned
him a Grammy
in 1995. Steal
Hear should be COOI10
thought of as a Steal Hear
pathetic attempt
to reinvigorate Super Cool
a rap career that
has been irrel-
evant for more than a decade. It
sounds like even Coolio himself
realizes the inevitable failure of his
effort, spending the entire album
spitting half-assed lyrics with a
tired, nursery-rhyme flow.
Steal Hear oozes contradic-
tion and finds Coolio in the midst
of a major identity crisis. On the
majority of the record, he boasts
incessantly of his gangster status.
He even goes so far as to demand
both coasts to "keep it gang-
sta" on the aptly named "Keep
It Gangsta." But he's not fooling
anyone. About 15 years removed
from Compton, he has recently
immersed himself in a number
of utterly wholesome endeavors,
includingthe online cooking show
"Cookin' With Coolio" (serving
up dishes like Coolio's Caprese
Salad). Needless to say, when he
spits "I talk the talk and walk the
walk," it's entirely unconvincing.
His lack of self-awareness
doesn't end with'his delusions of
"gangsta-ness." On "Boyfriend,"
Coolio raps "If I was your boy-
friend / I'll show you how to get
buck / I'll show you how to get
sprung" - a decidedly creepy sen-
timent from a 45-year-old man
with six children.
Curiously, the album's two
club songs, "Keep On Dancing"
and "Dip It," appear back-to-back

on the album. The former is stu-
pidly repetitive, with a madden-
ing sped-up voice sample acting,
as the sole hook. The latter fares
a bit better, with a mildly catchy
chorus and some spitfire verses
where Coolio shows rare vitality.
Even a self-ascribed gangster
(delusional or not) needs to get
sensitive sometimes. On "One
More Night," Coolio waxes reflec-
tive. After opening with a short
prayer, he attempts to deal with
regret and contemplates what he
would do with "one more chance."
While sincere, it comes off more
daytime-drama than anything
else.
The production doesn't help
much, either. Musically,StealHear
is a bland mishmash of various
hip-hop formulas. "Cruise Off"
is a humdrum chop-and-screw
exercise that sounds completely at
odds with Coolio's typical West-
Coolio: A jack
of no trades.
Coast smooth. The majority of the
beats employ conventional bump-
and-snap and faked California
funk, giving the impression that
the producers were stealing from
Dr. Dre's reject pile.
Even at his peak, Coolio seemed
to garner more attention for his
Medusa-like hair than his talent.
Nowadays, it's obvious that his
newfound penchant for reality
television and gimmicky celeb-
rity-stunts has turned his music
into an afterthought. In all like-
lihood, Steal Hear was produced
solely to give his new reality show
some much-needed context. But
being an occasionally laughable
and altogether mindless album, it
might have failed to do even that.

chikosy
a wNw T NT
An opera about
unrequited love set to a
rich, passionate score
Sung in Russian with projected
English translations
University Opera Theatre
University Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Martin Katz
Directed by Joshua Major
November 13 at 7:30 PM
November 14 & 15 at 8 PM
November 16 at 2 PM
POWER CENTER
Tickets $24 and $18,
Students $9 with ID
League Ticket Office
734-764-2538
f; U,iveyf sichigan&O :xcc N -
SMusic:,TMe are & Dance W RtI

AJU3 WI-ILVN FIL M
SER\ENxJTN
TOMORROW @ MIDNIGHT
FOR MORE INFO VISIT MYSPACE.COM/STATETHEATREA2
H--,

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