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February 17, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Tuesday, February U7, 2009 -5

Ward's test of time

Love not actually

'Hold Time' is perfectly in
step with M. Ward's recent
standard of excellence
By JEFF SANFORD
Daily Arts Writer
M. Ward could be one of the best pure song-
writers under 40 in the business today. When
he hasn't been teaming up
with the disgustingly cute ***
actress-turned-songstress
Zooey Deschanel under the M. Ward
moniker She & Him (and sub-
sequently crafting an endless- Hold Time
ly charming album heralded Merge
by Paste as the Best Album
of 2008), the Oregonian has been delivering
his own brand of indie-minded folk music with
unprecedented consistency.
Staking his reputation on his ability to
fashion songs that are built to stand
by themselves - complete with
structures, lyrics, progressions
and melodies that are brilliant-
ly effective with nary a hint of
studio refinement - the man
is a songwriter's songwriter.
In an age of mind-boggling
digital effects and note-by-
note timing and pitch correc-
tions, he's part of a rare breed that
gives priority to the song, not the
producer. Fortunately for all those music
purists out there, his newest effort, Hold Time,
doesn't deviate in quality or philosophy.

Somebody alert Wes Anderson to album
opener "For Beginners." A kickback to the
Kinks at their folkiest, it's a song best described
as a ditty. But what a ditty; beautiful in its sim-
plicity and yet extremely communicative, it's a
perfect introduction to an album full of moving
economy.
Considering Ward's success with
Deschanel, it's hardly surprising
that the pair once again joins
forces on "Never Had Nobody
Like You." Over gritty dis-
tortion and the occasional
well-placed blues lick, they
harmonize like they've been
working together for decades.
Apart from being a demonstra-
tion of M. Ward's melody-crafting
chops, the track is proof that the
duo's chemistry goes well beyond the
She & Him name.
As far as guest stars go, though, Lucinda Wil-
liams has to be the highlight. She lends her
countrified rasp to M. Ward's cover of
the Don Gibson classic "Oh Lone-
some Me." Their treatment of
the tune is more haunting than
the 1958 original, with pas-
sion spilling from each gentle,
creaking strain. Plus, Wil-
liams just plain owns with
her emotionally stirring vocal
performance.
The choice to update the
OF MRGE Sonny West-penned, Buddy Holly-
performed "Rave On" reveals Ward's
soft spot for pre-Beatles pop music. Between
his selection of '50s covers and apparent lack

of modern influences, it makes you wonder if
this guy has even heard of Rubber Soul. Still, the
facade contributes to his casual aura of timeless-
ness, which, among other things, keeps his work
honest and resonant - just the way he likes it.
Lyrically, M. Ward runs the entire gamut of
love: heartbreak, the puppyvariety and even
the I-haven't-been-the-same-since-
I-first-laid-eyes-on-you type. But
the most represented is the more
specific and spiritual sort. That
is, of course, pure unadulter-
ated Christian love.
"Epistemology" details
Ward's own religious enlight-
enment and reveals his strug-
gles growing up in Catholic
School. In "Fisher of Men,"
besides uttering a mildly puzzling
simile ("as wise as a prizefighter"?),
Ward pays homage to Jesus and his ability to
convert the misguided. When he pleads "save
me from sailing over the edge" in "To Save Me,"
it's pretty obvious he's not calling out to Batman.
Still, it's this palpable honesty that helps break
down the conventional listener-artist barrier
and establishes a more intimate connection.
As the beautiful and vaguely Caribbean
instrumental "Outro" draws to a close, the con-
cept of time may feel a little disorienting. M.
Ward's fascinating Hold Time puts the trends
and attitudes of a particular era aside and deliv-
ers a collection of impassioned, ageless tunes.
For some, it imay take a couple spins to really
appreciate, but dedicated listeners will be more
than rewarded for their patience. Oh, and like
the records in grandma's basement, don't forget
to blow the dust off beforehand.

Over the weekend, I
skimmed something like
150 lists about movies and
Valentine's Day. Beingsingle on the
Hallmark holi-
day, I figured it
would be a nice
pick-me-up. The
Onion's A.V.'Club
had a great list
about romance
flicks "minus the
schmaltz." Total- BLAKE
Film compiled GOBLE
a list of the "20-
Worst Screen Couples." FamilyEdu-
cation.com made a list of movies for
the lovelorn. There were literally
tons of other bullet points pertain-
ing to love and cinema.
How are there are so many lists?
Maybe it's a humblingnotion:
There are tons of lonely geeks writ-
ing lists to make us feel better. But
no matter how lonely you may be,
there's always a box of chocolates to
buy and eat while watchingthat old
DVD of "High Fidelity." It's OK to
be single, you know?
Maybe it has been one too many
Martin Scorsese flicks or books
about the "cinema of isolation," but
I've been wonderinglately whether
or not modern love movies have
been ruining my ability to take
romance seriously. Besides, the
original idea for this column was to
ask out a series of actresses (Golden
Girls included).
But it drives me crazy. When
you're alone and looking at hack-
neyed films each February, you
begin to ponder these things. I don't
mean to play myself up as some
huge romantic, but I've been think-
ing about "love" lately. A lot. What
the hell does itrmean?
Nothing will ever pass upa good
"Romeo & Juliet" or "Pride & Prej-
udice." There are good romantic
films that can still touch hearts. "It
Happened One Night" and "In the
Bedroom" are landmarks that seem
to get it, without the scoffs and
snickers that often come with the
genre. It's the surplus of sappy, triv-
ial romps that pain the heart. And
they all follow the same unwritten
formula. There's a reason critics are
regarded as cynics - they see this
junk a lot and it starts to hurt.
It's like when you see an elected
official dancing to the Pointer Sis-

ters while everyone else happily
finds their soulmate by the conclu-
sion. You can't help but scream:
"Love Actually" is bullshit!It's
always a kiss before the end credits.
The relationship is always gonna
last even after the film's over. Or
the movie ends with the question of
what the leads' peers will think of
the relationship, but who cares?
In these movies, the female leads
work in fashion or bigbusiness
while the men are single fathers.
The perfect guy's right in front of
the lead actress's face, even though
she doesn't know it. The schlub gets
the girl, and the protagonist wan-
ders alone in montage for the first
act. There's a sprintto true love in
the last act. I'm sorry for grocery-
listing this, but maybe that's why
there were so many of those lists
online. It's a problem when themes
and stories become cliches and pre-
dictabilities.
Granted, I'm still young. You
can brush this off as puerile whin-
ing that should only go in a Twit-
ter account, but it's been getting
to me. Now, I'm not saying "The
Break-Up" was an acute depiction
of relationship troubles. It was
Hollywood's
misguided take
on love.
miserable. And I'm not saying that
there's anything wrong with sweet,
predictable old love. I'm just saying
that I don't get it yet. I'm 22, and I
already feel jaded.
I don't know. I guess if there's one
universal truth of love to be learned
from movies without needing to
really experiencing it - and it still
applies today - it would be this gem
from "Taxi Driver": No good can
come from takingsomeone to a porn
theater. This I can be certain of.
Still, I do hope everyone had a
good holiday. And hopefully some-
where, somebody watched "The
Age of Innocence" while I did.
Goble is lonely and he likes movies.
if you want to be his girlfriend, e-mail
him at bgoblue@umich.edu.

Not the stimulus Hollywood needed

By EMILY BOUDREAU
Daily Arts Writer
Forget the stimulus plan.
Rebecca Bloomwood's (Ilsa Fisch-
er, "Definite-
ly, Maybe")
spending hab-
its alone are
enough to get essions
the economy a ShopaholiC
back on its feet.
"Confessions At Showcase
of a Shopahol- and Quality 16
ic" is ill-timed, Touchstone
as most Ameri-
cans aren't about to drop $120 on
a scarf. Of course, maybe a fluffy
movie laden with brand names is
just the thing people need to for-
get about recent financial troubles.
Unfortunately, this particular
movie won't do the trick.
Bloomwood parades around
New York City in a pair of Loubou-
tin stilettos, swinging her Gucci
bag while eyeing mannequins ir
Bendel's. She works as a journalist
who has landed a job at "Success-
ful Savings" and she has had a mild
amount of success thanks to a col-
umn she writes under the pseud-
onym "The Girl in the Green Scarf."
Her boss Luke Brandon (Hugh
Dancy, "The Jane Austen Book
Club") just might be falling for her,
and all she needs now is the perfect
Yves Saint Laurent dress, but she's

thousands of dollars in debt thanks
to her 12 credit cards and penchant
for designer clothes.
Director P.J. Hogan, who was
responsible for chick flicks "Muri-
el's Wedding" and"MyBest Friend's
Wedding," is also at the helm here.
"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is
another one of those silly, super-
ficial romantic comedies released
around Valentine's Day for female
audiences. Actually, it's mildly
insulting. The sugary plot seems
to insinuate that most women have
nothing better to do than shop and
that women actually believe a new
outfit will make their lives much
better. And the clothes shown in
the movie aren't even particularly
nice; the film features mountains of
pink shoes and frilly bows that not
even a Barbie doll would go near.
In need of an
intervention.
The characters in the film only
serve to perpetuate the stereotype
of the ditzy airhead. For example,
why doesn't Bloomwood even
make some sort of attempt to pay
the credit card bills she has stashed
under her bed? Really, how stupid
is she? It's too bad, because Fis-

Cher could do much better. Even
as Rebecca Bloomwood, she is cer-
tainly a driving comedic force as
she performs a bizarre sort of tango
with a fan and gets in a catfight over
a pair of ugly Pucci boots. Dancy is
passable as Luke Brandon - mainly
because the part requires little act-
ing. He's just there to flash his blue
eyes at the camera and deliver lines
in a British accent.
of course, the movie tries to con-
vey the idea that fiscal responsibility
is a good thing, but it does so half-

hearty dly. It just makes shopping
and lying to debt collectors, parents
and friends look like way too much
fun. Even Rebecca's parents (Joan
Cusack, "War Inc." and John Good-
man, "Bee Movie"), who usually
save their money, end up spending
everything they've saved on an RV.
Cusack and Goodman are both tal-
ented actors, and it's a shame that
both have underwritten roles.
In the end, it would've been
wiser to invest the time and money
entont~ smi else h ere.

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The University of Michigan College of Literature,
Science, and the Arts presents a public
lecture and reception

- UARTS 250 -
"CREATIVE PROCES
AN INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIO-LECTURE COURSE
residency at the Abbey of Pontlevoy,
FRANCE
May 18-June 12,2009
Four Weeks/Four Credits
Sat us the LSA Creative Expression Requirement
INFORMATION SESSIONS:
Tuesday, Febr ry 17,5:00pm,Art & Architecture Bldg. Room
Wednes y, Feb 18, 7:00pm, Michigan Union Pond Room
Making creativity an integral part of students' lives and work.
Learn more now: www.artsonearth.org/students
This course is supported by the University of Michigan's Multidisciplinary Learning and Team Teaching Initiative
THE FR. GABRIEL RICHARD LECTURES
Calling us to examine current issues in light of ourfaith
Is BJOETHICS STUPID?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Myles Sheehan, S.J., M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Loyola University Health System
4:00 p.m., Auditorium
Biomedical Science Research Bldg. 109
Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor
(on the curve where Washtenaw becomes Huron)
Co-Sponsored by:
St. Mary Student Parish
Centerfor Ethics in Public Life
r

I

Richard P. Mitchell
Collegiate
r Professor of History
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Rackham Amphitheater
4:10pm

I SA

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