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March 10, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 5

Now is the time to
import Bollywood

Royalty, unglorified

Congratulations are in order for
"Slumdog Millionaire."
After strong reviews, mirac-
ulous word-of-mouth buzz, a snappy
soundtrack and eight
Academy Awards,
it's refreshing to
see a film receive
such unanimous "
acclaim. A fairy tale
in every sense, the
film's transcendent
power was perfectly BLAKE
summed up in a GOBLE
recent Time Maga-
zine cartoon by Drew Dernavich that
depicts an analyst explaining to a client
that the end to all their worries is see-
And for the nay-sayers who have
been complaining about this film for
the last month ("Slumdog-mania,"
"poverty porn!"), take it easy for a sec-
ond. Know this: Danny Boyle said that
this film was supposed to be a cultural
drama, not a documentary. And accord-
ing to Entertainment Weekly, this film
was a hair's breadth away from being a
throwaway DVD until Fox decided to
foot the bill.
But for all the film's achievements, it
left me wanting more. "Slumdog" made
me want to go Bollywood. I want to
see how Anil Kapoor (the "Millionaire"
host) has over 100 movies on his resu-
me. I want to see Boyle's visual influ-
ences. And I don't think I'm alone.
"Slumdog" has given audiences a
taste of a cultural genre that feels too
ignored and under-explored by Ameri-
can audiences. American distribution
of Bollywood films accumulates some-
thing like an extra $100 million a year
for the industry, but that pales in com-
parison to a worldwide billion grossed
by the "Pirates of the Caribbean" tril-
ogy alone. Show us these movies. Now!
For the completely unaware, here
are the basics on Bollywood: Bolly-
wood is the Mumbai-based industry
for Hindi language films in India. It's
a $1.5-billion dollar industry that pro-
duces about 200 movies per year. Gen-
erally, the films have musical elements
and a taste for romance and comedy.
Bollywood seems to make films in
every genre, which is the same as Hol-
lywood. So why can't we see these
Bollywood films?
In honor of Boyle's crossover master-
work, I've decided to go looking for Bol-
lywood. But I need some help. I guess
this is a column about me admitting I'm
ignorant about this stuff. That's why I
have two pleas.

My first goes out to the big guys.
Paramount, Columbia, Universal and
all the rest, I hope someone passes
this along. I know I'm not the only one
yearning for this, but please, please
distribute some Bollywood movies in
the U.S. And I'm not talking special
film prints for theme nights or rinky-
dink joints in L.A. I want Bollywood to
come to Midwestern multiplexes and
drive-in theaters. Don't just cop out
and try to rehash "Slumdog," which
isn't actually a true Bollywood film,
and don't put Hugh Jackman and Julia
Roberts in an Indian-themed romance
this fall. Just bring unadulterated Bol-
lywood to the U.S.
It can't be that expensive to pick up
the rights to some of these movies. Not
sure what to buy? Simply look at an
amazon.com list. Ever heard of "Veer
Zara" or "Lagaan - Once Upon a Time
in India"? Me neither. But I want to see
them. These films are generally posi-
Selling India's
Hollywood here.
tive and upbeat, vibes that have been
rewarded at box offices everywhere
recently. Look how happy "Paul Blart:
Mall Cop" and the "Madea" films were
and how much they earned.
Please bring Bollywood to the
Showcase Cinemas. If you market it,
we will come.
As for my other demand, I have a
favor to ask to anyone that reads this
column. It seems that there's only one
course I could find in the LSA guide
on Indian film. And I'm not currently
enrolled in it. It's a bummer, too, seeing
as I really want to watch these movies
and I have no idea where to start.
With that, I'd like to ask if I can
borrow Bollywood movies from some-
one. Well, let me rephrase that - does
anyone have any movie suggestions?
A good friend recommended that I
should watch films like "Mr. and Mrs.
Iyer," "Phoonk" and "Mitr, My Friend."
Awesome start, butthere's so much
more to see. Are these films any good? I
don't know. But I intend to find out. I've
alreadyhad my horror, 70's, musical,
gansgster, noir and screwball comedy
phases. Now is the time to go Bollywood.
- Goble really wants to get into your
movie collection. E-mail him at bgoblue@
umich.edu if you have films to lend.

Prolific folkie Will Oldham
delivers another average
but intriguing album
Daily Arts Writer
Sneaking suspicions abound: Will Oldham
could be a machine - some sort of emotive,
scraggly-bearded, hipster-
built robot assembled to
write songs with maximum *
Since reinventing his Bonnie
musical career under the "Prince"
name Bonnie "Prince" B
Billy in 1999, Oldham has
been able to outdo even Beware
the likes of Ryan Adams Drag City/Palace
in terms of sheer output
with over 11 albums in the
last eight years. He has become (more or
less) the Lil Wayne of Kentuckian folk-rock.
Even more impressively, he's maintained a
hardy resistance to any of the half-assed-
ness that always besets the hyper-prolific.
Sometimes, it's more comfortable to label
Oldham-type anomalies "inhuman" and
wait for a crash.
Even still, the emotional power and musi-
cal nuance in any "Prince" Billy album is evi-
dence thathe's allhuman.Unsurprisingly,his
newest effort Beware is full of lyrical proof.
Oldham's broad, thoughtful observations
affirm he's more aware than most - on "You
Can't Hurt Me Now," he remarks "I know
everyone has the happiness I have / That's

the thing about happiness you can hold."
A large part of Beware's success lies in
Oldham's ability to engage listeners from all
angles, like when he moves effortlessly from
a couplet-dropping sage in "You Can't Hurt
Me Now" to a jocular, self-revealing buddy in
the ultimately sad "You Don't Love Me." In
the latter, he playfully vents about a loveless
relationship: "You say you like my eyes only
or just the way I giggle / Sometimes you like
the smell of me or how my belly jiggles / But
you don't love me." The delivery changes but
the sincerity is constant.
Musically, there's nothing too flashy about
Beware - but with "Prince" Billy releases,
there never has to be. The organic produc-
tion techniques and stripped-down arrange-
ments act on their own to enhance the
poignant heart-on-sleeve aesthetic. "There
Is Something I Have to Say" gets down to
the bare essentials with just Oldham's sig-
nature croon and a lone guitar. Despite the
lack of frills, it's hard not to get caught up in
the track's affecting relationship elegy. Even
when strings, lap-steel guitar or percussion
pop up in the mix (as they often do), the gen-
eral musical ambiance remains subdued.
In Beware, restraint is a powerful and oft-
employed tool.
The country ballad "My Life's Work"
allows Oldham to reveal that his usually
understated voice has an almost diva-like
vigor. The track is slow to build, but when
the song bursts from laid-back verse to ach-
ing chorus, any doubts about Oldham's vocal
strength are erased.
Still, truly transcendent moments like that
are alltoo rare. There are several spots where
some pizazz is sorely needed. The heart-

felt yet monotonous "Heart's Arms" evokes
the pace and frustration of wading through
quicksand. "I Don't Belong to Anyone" is
a plain bore that mainly rests on a melody
lifted from "Que Sera, Sera." If not for the
overall lyrical eloquence, listening to a lot of
Beware would be a trying experience.
Maybe coming a bit too late, the finale
"Afraid Ain't Me" is arguably the album's
strongest track. With exotic woodwinds and
Latin-esque percussion, it's a pleasantly sur-
prising turn for the largely country-western
album. The change of pace is seamless and
effective, and it's a little confusing why Old-
ham didn't venture off thebeaten path a little
more on his newest effort. He's clearly gifted
enough to do so.
Beware is a solid release but generally
lacks the creative spark to compete with the
best of "Prince" Billy's catalog. It's not quite
a misstep, but certainly a slight malfunction.
Oldham might be in need of a recharge.

TV Review
Monkeying around
"Dark Days In Monkey City"
Tuesdays at 10 p.m.
Animal Planet
Wisely focusing on a member
of the simian kingdom that is not
the overly-studied chimpanzee,
"Dark Days in Monkey City" is
a 13-part miniseries telling the
story of two warring monkey
tribes and their struggles to
claim power and land. The plot,
presented in the style of a grand
epic, explores tales of romance,
abandonment, hatred and
betrayal among primate com-
moners and royals alike.
"Dark Days" is a drastic depar-
ture from a typical animal-cen-
tered program - its extensive
storyline is composed by comic

writers Joe Kelley ("Justice
League of America") and Joe
Casey ("Uncanny X-Men") and
it spotlights several characters,
which creates a format more
like an hour-long drama than a
nature documentary.
The material presented is also
far darker than most of Animal
Planet's offerings. Opening and
closing credits adorned with
droplets of blood show illustrate
violence is a major component of
the show.The menacingvoiceover
of John Rhys-Davies ("Raiders
of the Lost Ark") adds an almost
absurd amount of drama to a
show about, well, monkeys.
While the premise is prom-
ising and the visuals are
breathtaking, the storyline
is pedestrian. Elements
rehashed from all sorts of
television dramas are vis-
ible all over "Dark Days."
The plot is overplayed,

as it focuses primarily on illicit
romances and long-held grudges
between warring monkey fami-
lies. The large number of char-
acters means just a single trait
is assigned to each - Portia is an
outsider and Hector is a young
upstart looking to overthrow
the king. This one-dimensional-
ity means that each character is
static and unmemorable.
While not without its flaws,
"Dark Days" is a compelling
experiment that attempts to
redefine animal-centered real-
ity programming. Once it hits
its stride, it could serve as the
bridge to scripted shows that
Animal Planet needs.

Second Annual
of Student Work
4:00 - 6:oo PM
Joan and Sanford Weill Hall, Is and 2"d floors, 735 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109.
Poster Session. Free and open to the public. Refreshments served.
Join us as we highlight and celebrate the intellectual achievements of graduate and undergraduate students
at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Ford School faculty have nominated students for inclusion from among the best work produced at the
school this year. The posters on display will represent a wide range of student work: from local issues to
foreign policy, from social welfare policy to health care reform, from undergraduate work to dissertation
research. Students will be on hand to describe their projects and answer questions.
This annual event is named for long-time U-M faculty member and former Federal Reserve Board Governor
Ned Gramlich, as a tribute to his belief in and commitment to the value of a public policy education.
s c7
Details: www.fordschool.umich.edu or 734-615-3893. h,,

Wednesday, March 11th
International Center, Rm 9
Congrats Michigan! A top Peace Corps college
800.424.8580 1www.peacecorps.gov

I of Public Policy

Trade in your CARHART and NORTH FACE for
and...mOre classes?
In response to increased student demand,
2009 spring/summer course offerings.
Sign-up for these new classes when registration begins in March.A
Read more, including the list of new options, at www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/newcourses.

The Economics and Psychology
of Inequality and Human Development

James J. Heckman
Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics,
University of Chicago, and recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize
in Economics

Sponsors: National Poverty Center, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy;
Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago;
The Panel Study of Income Dynamics

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