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January 21, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-21

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, January 21 2009 -5A


A.C. Newman's
By MATT EMERY Despite the low points, even a
DailyArts Writer poor album from A.C. Newman
beats the tar out of most other
"There are maybe 10 or 12 / so-called "bad" releases. Since he
Things I could teach you / After has such aplomb for cranking out
that, well, you're dizzyingly successful singles, Get
on your own / Guilty still contains a few tracks
And that wasn't that are on par with what he's
the opening capable of offering. Even with its
line / It was the A.C. Newman awkward opening lines, "There
10th or the 12th Get Guilty are Maybe Ten or Twelve" rattles
/ Make of that Matador out of the gate with a thundering
what you will." stampede of sound and settles
It wouldn't be down into a standard of self-reflec-
fair to make those opening lines tive, finger-plucking melodies.
the entire premise for Get Guilty, "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer"
A.C. Newman's first solo recording finds Newman at home, bopping
infiveyears.Butwhetherhe knows along with a catchy chorus and
it or not, those jumbled, confus- better-than-stock drum moments
ing lyrics, which kickoff album- that hint to a man who still has
opener "There are Maybe Ten some life in him after all.
or Twelve," are sadly fitting. Get But maybe the biggest ques-
Guilty, unlike its predecessor, the tion for Newman is: Why put out
oft-forgotten yet perfectly jovial another solo album now? Was he
and pop-centric The Slow Wonder, really hurting to get a lot of these
lacks just about everything that songs out on his own without The
made his previous solo effort such New Pornographers? Well, prob-
a memorable pop artifact. ably. It's fair to chalk the record
Instead, Get Guilty feels tossed up to the fact that most of the
together, featuring erratic musical New Pornos are too busy doing
pieces with qualities ranging from their own things. "Young Atlan-
stale to instantly lovable. It's not tis" needs Neko Case's dominating
surprising, since the same prob- voice, not Newman's high, lovable
lems have started to hound The fluctuations. And even "The Col-
New Pornographers (which New- lected Works" could be taken to
man fronts as Carl Newman). another place with Dan Bejar or
For what it's worth, The Slow John Collins.
Wonder never really felt like a If we're looking for test cases,
whole album. Instead, it was an there's no better place than 2007's
exquisite collection of instantly Challengers, on which Newman's
memorable, unforgettable singles. lackadaisical songs were rescued
Songs like "On the Table" and by the rest of the band. So when a
"Miracle Drug" had vibrant ener- song like "Submarines of Stock-
gy that showcased a talented song- holm" - not a terrible song by any
writer and musician in his natural means - shows up on Get Guilty, it's
element. Slower tracks like "Better not unrealistic to think it would've
than Most" got by on memorable been even better with a dose of
percussion and fluttering guitar Bejar singing the "la Ia las" or Case
lines. Get Guilty has some of those dueling Newman on vocals.

"Uh oh. This is going to be really bad for my hypersensitive nipples."
Reviv al] ii
Mickey Rourke attempts to
resurrect his career in a role
that mirrors his life

high points (the jangling, higher
energy "The Palace at 4 AM" for
one), butmostlythe albumremains
stagnant and stretched, revealing
a man who really doesn't know
where some lines should go and
possibly doesn't even care.
Get Guilty stands for the oppo-
site principles of The Slow Wonder
and proves that Newman might've
left his quick-hitting, spontaneous
self in the rear view mirror. Tracks
like"The Changeling(Get Guilty),"
with its dull waltz beat and "Get
guilty, kid" refrain are drowsy at
best. "Elemental," with its sooth-
ing guitar progression, yearns for
a shot of caffeine, a quicker pace
and at least some sense that New-
man wants to sing the damn song.
Aside from the entrance of the
faux-organ keyboards, the song
drags. "All of My Days and All of
My Days Off" trudges along in
three feet of snow; echoing pat-
terns of "All of my days" might
make the song catchy, but never
quite for the right reasons.

Lacking in gusto,
but marginally
Maybe Get Guilty would have
been better off as a New Pornog-
raphers's album, but either way,
A.C. Newman just seems a bit out
of his element here. Sure, a bunch
of worthy singles pop up, but that's
not what we should expect. It's
understandable that he doesn't
exude the same energy he did ear-
lier in his career, but it's a shame
because his best came with that
sort of gusto. Maybe his opening
lines aren't quite what they should
be, but that's the least of his prob-
lems now.

Barry Levinson's 1982 classic
"Diner" is an
ode to youth -
a reflection on
and inevitable The Wrestler
responsibility. Atthe State
Mickey Rourke Fox searchlight
stars as Boogie,
a delinquent
greaser who prefers Elvis to
Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis.
He's the bad boy who reluctantly
swallows his pride and achieves
redemption. While the movie fea-
tures a great cast of loveable goofs,
Rourke is Levinson's champion of
defiant juvenescence.
This young, ceaselessly charis-
matic leading man with an effem-
inate touch is definitely not the
same character that leads in Dar-
ren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler."
In the new film, Rourke plays
washed-up has-been Randy "The
Ram" Robinson. Robinson is old,

beaten, scarredi-and tired To sayt
the years haven't been kind to him
would be a gross understatement.
That old cliche doesn't even begin
to paint the picture of the pitiable
character Rourke inhabits.
If "Diner" is about holding onto
the past as a nostalgic reflection,
"The Wrestler" is a picture about
the inability to overcome the past.
Rourke's Randy is a professional
wrestler 20 years out of his hey-
day. The fans who once came in
droves to watch him are now far
-fewer in number, gathering in
hotel banquet halls and commu-
nity centers. He. remains intui-
tively in the guise of Randy "The
Ram" - his real name is Robin
- because he can hardly face the
real world.
One of the most intriguing
facets of Rourke's performance
is the undeniable and unsettling
parallel between the down-and-
out wrestler he plays and his own

1la thie ring
life. Randy is a commiserative total control and allowing the
soul who tries to make a profes- actors to bring his movie to life.
sional comeback while simultane- It's a mature film that suggests
ously forging important personal great things from Aronofsky in
connections with his estranged the future.
daughter (Evan Rachel Wood, Additional recognition must
"Across the Universe") and the be attributed to the hand-held
stripper for whom he has fallen camerawork from cinetatogra-
(a rharacteristically top-notch pher Maryse Alberti. The rough,
Marisa Tomei, "Before the Devil fractured feel of the film perfectly
Knows Your Dead"). Rourke -the ;suits Randy's story
actor was a star in the '80s who What prevents "The Wres-
made a series of poor personal tler" from being the year's best
and career choices that lead to film - though there's no question
his near disappearance from Hol- that it is great - is its inability
lywood. With "The Wrestler," to evoke the emotional response
Rourke attempts to overcome the it's capable of. Aronofsky and
years of adversity that now define Rourke work together to reveal
his career. It's hard to say whether the inner anguish of the human
he will ultimately prevail, but he spirit. It's heartbreaking, yes, but
will surely leave a mark with this the script from Robert Siegel has
incomparably powerful perfor- a few too many conventions and
mance. the film doesn't quite transcend
"The Wrestler" also marks an the screen. That said, "The Wres-
important moment in the career tier" is still a remarkable film with
of Aronofsky. The critical suc- touching performances.
cess of his 1998 "Pi" made him Rourke has come full circle
an indie wunderkind. His 2000 from "Diner," emblemizing both
film "Requiem for a Dream" has youth's reluctance to give way to
enjoyed cult status since its ini- responsibility and the sobering
tial release, while "The Foun- disappointments of wasted adult-
tain," an ambitious 2006 triptych hood. Whether "The Wrestler"
about immortality, alienated far is his true resurrection or not is
more fans than it attracted. With unclear. What is certain, however,
"The Wrestler," Aronofsky takes is the strength of this role and its
a half-step back, relinquishing fidelity to a broken man.

Even Swayze can't save 'The Beast'

For the Daily
Apparently, the people at A&E
thought that casting a big-name
actor and giv-
ing him a missile
launcher was all
it would take to TM Best
create a success-
ful high-action Thursdays
crime show. They at10 p.m.
were mistaken. A&E
A&E's new
action drama
"The Beast" fails miserably. Nei-
ther exciting nor clever, the show
is yet another indicator of Patrick
Swayze's ("Roadhouse") status as
a has-been.
Swayze plays Charles Barker,
an experienced undercover FBI
agent whose unorthodox investiga-
tion methods - yes, the shoot first,
ask later gag, again - are frowned
upon by his colleagues. For an
undisclosed reason, Barker selects
young Ellis Dove (Travis Fimmel,
"Restraint") to be his partner and
he trains him in his reckless tech-
niques. Despite Barker's harsh
treatment of his apprentice, Dove
comes to respect and even admire
him. But Dove's loyalty will be
tested this season as the FBI enlists
him to watch and report Barker for
illicit behavior.
In the premiere, Barker and Dove
go undercover to expose gangsters
accused of weapon smuggling. This

plot-line takes up a large portion
of the show, even though it's never
made clear who these gangsters
are, why they're smuggling weap-
ons or how the FBI knows about itL
"The Beast" tries relentlessly to
be suspenseful and shocking, but
it ends up vague, confusing and
not even remotely entertaining.
When Barker pulls out his gun in
the middle of a park and threat-
ens a woman, it's unclear who the
woman is, how she's involved in
the story and why he's threaten-
ing her. Similarly, when Dove has
to coerce a man into giving him
the launch codes for an oversized
rocket launcher, there are no clues
as to why he has the launch codes
or how the ordeal results in them
doing drugs together.
While it may be difficult for

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"I'm on my way tothe hospital. Mickey Rourke lost a nipple in a wrestling match.

tion is1
an houi
excuse l
would b
of une:
drug ab

rs to decide what informa- could actually follow.
vital enough to include in The absence of any background
r-long program, this is no story could've been mitigated
for the confusion that the by some bad-ass action scenes.
Sadly, the little action that does
appear is stale and comes at ran-
dom moments. The only notable
ig, drawn-out instance of action occurs when
Swayze shoots a missile at a parked
nd painful. car to demonstrate to the smug-
glers that he couldn't possibly be
an undercover FBI agent. But this
brief minute of epic weaponry is
rs of "Beast" allow. The surrounded and diluted by cheesy,
rs must've decided viewers macho dialogue and a sad attempt
e satisfied with long scenes to create a moral struggle. The
xplained gun-waving and excitement in these moments isn't
use rather than a plot they worth the pain of sitting through

the rest of the show.
"Beast" suffers from a serious
identity crisis. It's too over-the-top
and melodramatic to be considered
a serious action show - the sound
of squealing tires plays whenever a
car appears. Yet the drama justisn't
hard-edge enough for people to
overlook its unrealistic and poorly
developed plot.
It's unfortunate that Swayze
chose to involve himself in this
show given its complete lack of
promise. We can only hope that
the end of Patrick Swayze's career
will be quick and painless, unlike
the experience of watching "The


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