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January 30, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-30

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The Michigan Daily -michigandaily.com

Friday, January 30, 2009 -- 5

Seeger star
a olk Fest
By MIKE KUNTZ now; after an initial- stint with
DailyArts Writer pioneering country barnstorm-
ers Uncle Tupelo, he has since
The 32nd Annual Ann Arbor released nine albums with Wilco
Folk Festival begins tonight at (including a collaboration with
Hill Auditori- Billy Bragg that produced two
um. Spread over collaborative albums containing
a two-night AnnAr bOr reworked Woody Guthrie songs).
span, the event Folk Festival Tweedy is known for his deep-
flaunts over a ly pensive and often downright
dozen acts, both At Hill depressing lyrics. Morbid rumi-
old and new. Tonightand nations like, "Maybe all I need
Each year, the tomorrow, is a shot in the arm," and, "Tall
festival books 6:30 p.m. buildings shake / voices escape
a lineup with Tickets / singing sad, sad songs" are
an even blend starting at $45 common ground for the song-
of traditional writer. But despite his somber
roots musicians lyrical material, he unfailingly
and contemporary folk songwrit- elicits cheerful assistance from
ers. This year's big names suit this the voices of his audiences.
dynamic perfectly. The festival is While older festival attend-
headlined by Jeff Tweedy, Kris ees may wonder how such dark
Kristofferson and an appear- themes found their way into the
ance by Pete Seeger. Their per- balmy world of folk songwriting,
formances are sure to bridge the they'll surely recognize that the
gap between generations, each orthodox intentioss of folk music
performer having carved his own are kept intact at Hill Auditori-
niche in American folk music um. The varied lineup promises a
over the years. cheerful gathering with copious

"Really? I can save 15 percent or more on my car insurance? Holy fuck."
A wolf with o bite

The third installment of
the 'Underworld' series
would've been better off
going straight to DVD
Daily Arts Writer
Somebody get Michael Sheen a better agent.
Sheen ("Blood Diamond") is a talented and
likable actor capable of hold-
ing a stage and starring on
the screen. But here's the
thing: He's not quite the star U .de wod:
he deserves to be. He held his
own against Helen Mirren ISe of the
("The Queen") and Frank Lan- LyCans
gella ("Frost/Nixon"), but yet
he keeps coming back to the At Qualityl6
"Underworld" franchise. and Showcase
After a soft snub from the Screen Gems
Academy for "Frost/Nixon,"
Sheen's back in the B-movie
ghetto, doing what he has been doing since
2003: anchoring this goth movie franchise.
"Underworld: Rise of the Lycans" is the third

film in the modestly successful werewolf-ver-
sus-vampire series.
"Rise of the Lycans" is a prequel to the other
"Underworld" movies. Sheen reprises the role of
an enigmatic Lycan (werewolf) named Lucian.
The back story is relatively simple: A long time
ago, in some dark, underground vampire castle,
Lycans were slaves to vampires. Originally, the
Lycans were beings unable to turn into humans.
Lucian was the first of his kind to be able to shift
into human form.
Because of this unusual ability, Lucian is
exploited to show how vampires can control
their Lycan enemies. Add some hot wolf-on-
vamp sex, the reappearance of a character or
two from the first movie and some medieval vio-
lence, and you've got yourself another "Under-
world" movie.
Does this third installation offer closure or
justify the existence of the "Underworld" tril-
ogy? Whatever. The people seeing "Rise of the
Lycans" are likely action/gore junkies, and the
film won't disappoint.
For all its obvious faults - cheap effects, real-
ly bad editing and the gnawing sense that the
film almost went straight to DVD - "Rise of the
Lycans" isn't all that bad. Scenes like a prison
break and the final battle are predictable but
consuming, enjoyable in a guilty pleasure sort of

way. And Sheen works his ass off to make sure
his audience can still believe in the chintzy mov-
ies he has been headlining. Given the sheer ludi-
crousness of the "Underworld" franchise, Sheen
maintains a commendable sense of seriousness.
Bill Nighy ("Love, Actually") is fantastic as
Viktor, the ruthless king of the vampires. He's
nearly 60 and, with his bloodthirsty gusto, you
can barely tell he has a stuntman for all of his
action scenes. Roger Moore wasn't even this
active in his later James Bond flicks.
Still, this is a gory action-fantasy for nincom-
poops, and not much more. It'll make the money
it's expected to make.'But "Rise of the Lycans"
is unlikely to amuse beyond its initial run and a
couple of late-night cable screenings. You'll for-
get it fast.
Michael Sheen can (and should) do much bet-
ter. He's got the chops. But why is he stuck in
this strange limbo between B-lister and A-lister,
making himself into something akin to a B-plus-
lister? He's brilliant in everything he does and
deserves to act with George Clooney or under
Martin Scorsese. He can do it. And dammit, if
he can make people care about a werewolf - er,
Lycan - for 90 minutes, then what's stopping
him from filling a great leading role? For now,
well just have to wait until 2011's inevitable
"Underworld: Live Free or Die Lycan."

In addition to being a vibrant
exhibition of roots music, the fes-
tival is a fund-raiser for The Ark,
a nonprofit Main Street music
club and fixture of the Ann Arbor
folk scene since its inception 44
years ago. Tickets have been on
sale for a couple of months, and
an earlier discounted run was
offered exclusively to University
students. Though folk music may
not carry the same pop-culture
relevance for younger crowds
as it did in the '60s, many stu-
dents eagerly snagged tickets to
see Tweedy, the lead singer and
songwriter for Chicago-based
band Wilco.
The Arkhas made extra efforts
over the years to create as var-
ied a lineup as possible, making
it a point to consistently book a
strong selection of up-and-com-
ers. Other scheduled acts include
Old Crow Medicine Show, Caro-
lina Chocolate Drops, the Rag-
birds, Joe Pug and Katie Herzig.
Jeff Tweedy headlines tonight
and he will undoubtedly attract
the most attention from stu-
dents. Tweedy's live shows are
known for their somewhat com-
munal atmosphere that prompts
members of the audience to
sing along to his deeply poetic
- though somewhat cryptic -
ballads. Tweedy has been cut-
ting his folk chops for a while

America's best
folk for 32 years.
sing-alongs in the tradition of
elder folk artists like the legend-
ary Pete Seeger.
Seeger, Saturday's headliner,
really needs no introduection.
A working man's leftist (to the
point of being investigated for
Communist activities by HUAC
and Sen. Joseph McCarthy in
the late 1950s), his storied career
as a singer-songwriter includes
countless pro-union and pro-
test songs. He's equally known
for crafting musical children's
stories, such as "Turn! Turn!
Turn! (To Everything There is
a Season)" and "Puff the Magic
Dragon." His influence on the
folk movement of the 1960s is
incomparably vast, and his leg-
acy surely lives on through each
performer at the Festival.
With both the traditional and
experimental fringes of folk
joined under one roof, it's clear
that the ever-expanding canon of
American folk music is alive and
well in Ann Arbor.

'Lie to Me' truthfully forgettable

For theDaily
In "Lie to Me," FOX's answer
to every other crime series on
television, Dr.
Cal Lightman ~
(Tim Roth,
"The Incredible Lie to Me
Hulk") is Wash-
ington, D.C. law Wednesdays
enforcement's at9 p.m.
on-call , super- Fox
hero, part mar-
ginally less angry
House and part branier Batman.
He's also a variable human lie detec-
tor - Lightman can sense dishon-
esty before a suspect even begins to
speak - and he's just as smug and
self-satisfied about it as expected.
In a show that purports to look
deeper into things and eschew the
obvious, the characters and plot are
disappointingly one-dimensional.
All of the usual detective show reg-
ulars are here working side-by-side
the skeptical superior (Josh Stam-
berg, "Fracture"), Gillian, the beau-
coworker (Kelli Williams, "The
Practice"), Ria, the tough-as-nails
newbie (Monica Raymund, "Law
and Order"), and Eli, the goofy but
lovable young assistant with the

inevitable crush on the unavailable in the pilot when he watches psy-
coworker (Brendan Hines, "The chologist Gillian, the aforemen-
Sarah Connor Chronicles"). Despite tioned unavailable coworker and
the prototypical orbiting cast, Roth the heart to Lightman's brains and
makes leading man Lightman a brawn, being deceived by her hus-
pretty well-rounded character. band. He doesn't say a word. Yet on
Initally, little is revealed about the job, Lightman sheds his Bruce
Lightman except that he's divorced, Wayne persona and becomes com-
smarmyandhas aprecociousdaugh- pletely unpredictable and unortho-
ter well versed in "Juno" speak. But dox. In order to eke a confession out
throughout the show, brief glimpses of a shaky high school student, he
into his psyche pop up to deepen tells her that the falsely apprehend-
our understanding of him. Though ed suspect has hung himself in his
his examinations of facial and body jail cell and that it was all her fault.
language are entirely scientific (and Even after her sobbing confession,
based on real-life deception expert Lightman doesn't bother to tell her
Dr. Paul Ekman), Lightman is the the whole thing was a setup.
typical comic book superhero. He's Much of "Lie To Me" fits snugly
inwardly tortured by his ability. inside the mold of a typical crime
series, though it does attempt to
break it on some occasions. Flashy
camera techniques are read-
Crime dram a ily employed -quick zoom-ins on
the deceitful facial expressions
meets super and gestures of the suspects, and
heroes in this occasional real-life footage of
some infamous truth dodgers (O.J.
unoriginal show. Simpson and Dick Cheney includ-
ed). This fancy filming, however,
rarely trusts the viewers to make
connections for themselves.
Though he generally uses his pow- There's also some fairly snappy
ers of truth-detection for good, they dialogue - Lightman dryly asks
hinder him from existing content- his daughter's new boyfriend,
edly in a world full of liars. "You going to try.to sleep with my
His unusual moral code emerges daughter tonight?" - but it ends

up feeling a bit contrived. And as
Gillian eats pudding and drinks
Slurpees at 9 a.m. to the chagrin of
Lightman, it's obvious the writers
want viewers to believe she's quirky
and child-like, but its not convinc-
ingly executed.
"Lie To Me" wants audiences to
believethatthey can'tpredictits plot
twists and character developments,
and it begs them to think Light-
man can predict human deception.
But until the show separates itself
from its innumerable predecessors,
audiences will be no less jaded than

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy headlines tonight at the Ann Arbor Folk Festiva

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