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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday. September 30, 2009 - 5

'Fame' falls down flat

"Wait. I can see something ... I'm having a vision of myself in the right panel."

d-thnking

ABC uses chaos and
conundrum to build an
exceptional show
By JAMIE BLOCK
Senior Arts Editor
Chaos, when done right, can make for
some of the world's
most beautiful imag-
ery. And in the scenes
immediately following FlashForward
the miraculous, cata-T
strophic event that sets Thursdays
off ABC's new series at8 p.m.
"FlashForward," chaos ABC
is most certainly done
right. Where the chaos goes from there,
however, is not quite as perfect.
It all begins when the world is going
r about a normal day. People are driving,
flying, working and doing whatever else
the global population does - until, that
is, everyone passes out all at once. For 137
seconds, every human on this planet goes
unconscious. The added kick? Each person
gets to see a glimpse of his or her future at
the same specific point: April 29 at 10 p.m.,
Pacific Time - about six months into the
future from the momentary global sleep.
Some see their lives falling apart, oth-
ers see their lives revitalized. Many never

come out of these visions, as the death toll
from everyone on Earth passing out spon-
taneously is unimaginably high - there are
thousands upon thousands of crashes, not
to mention failed surgeries and falls from
fatal heights, tumbles on staircases and
many other unforeseen dangers.
This plot premise is undeniably unique
in a fall lineup full of shows in easy-to-
pin-down genres. It appears there may be
some credence to the hype that "Flash-
Forward" could be the next "Lost." With
epic music, big ideas and an accomplished
cast, ABC's new supernatural drama
stands apart from the rest. It stands
above most of them, too.
The star cast is led by Joseph Fiennes
(heartthrob star of "Shakespeare in Love")
who plays agent Mark Benford. Mark's
vision: He sees himself making a break-
through on his investigation of the event's
cause, only to be attacked by men in masks
with sniper rifles. "FlashForward" appears
to embrace time paradoxes, as Mark uses
what he saw in his vision to get his inves-
tigation started.
A lot of the cast members, however,
aren't so lucky with their visions. Mark's
wife Olivia (Sonya Walger, "Lost") sees
herself cheating on Mark with a man she
doesn't even know yet. And Mark's partner
Demetri Ndh(John Cho, Harold of"Harold
and Kumar" fame) saw nothing at all. The
cast is faced with the remarkable challenge

of playing characters who know where
they're going but not how they get there,
and every single actor steps up and meets
this challenge.
The show succeeds in creating a con-
stant sense of mystery. There are always
new questions arising, and Mark will hope-
fully be able to solve some of them: What
happened, what (or who) caused it and can
the future be changed? "FlashForward" is,
if nothing else, absolutely gripping. Every
moment is suspenseful and carries the
weight of beingtruly important.
But the true flaw of "FlashForward" is
its focus onthe investigation - notbecause
investigating the event is a move toward
the wrong plotline, but because the show
only follows this single team. The group
pass-out was a global event. The entire
planet plunged into calamity, chaos, panic
and turmoil. By having such a narrow
focus, "FlashForward" doesn't fully flesh
out its own premise; the show might have
set a bar too high for it to reach.
These problems could all be fixed soon,
though. A lengthy string of preview clips
from this season shows that the investiga-
tion will at least lead to a German theorist.
If "FlashForward" makes a theme of inter-
national interaction, it could manage to
meet the expectations it set up for itself. It
already has the whole epic thing down. If
it can put its immense coolness to use, only
time will tell.

By JASMINE ZHU
DailyArts Writer
Some movies will change your life.
"Fame" is notone of them. It's not an ambi-
tious movie. Instead of
inspiring, "Fame" merely
seeks to entertain. At
times it even succeeds - Fame
the music and sequences At Quality16
are, if not well choreo-
graphed, at least inter- and Showcase
esting to watch. MGM
The musical, a remake
of the 1980 Alan Parker-directed classic, is
a far cry from the gritty original. While the
original musical had characters question-
ing their religious affiliation, struggling
with their sexual identity and entertain-
ing thoughts of suicide, the new, watered-
down, PG version just has characters
sulking over their stern instructors and
parents.
The film follows a select group of stu-
dents through their four years at the
prestigious New York City High School
of Performing Arts, and reintroduces a
familiar set of typecasts: a bratty would-be
actress, a poet suffering from a heavy dose
of teen angst and a wide-eyed, naive song-
stress, to name afew.
To appease the preteen girl demo-
graphic, the film even includes a romance
between the haughty, aspiring actress
Jenny (relative newcomer Kay Panabaker)
and the more laid-back singer Marco (rela-
tive newcomer Asher Book). The idea is
that opposites attract. The acting, howev-
er, is wooden, and the banter between the
two is tiresome.
The dialogue falls painfully flat through-
out the film. There is no exchange of clever
repartee or meaningful conversation. In
the first few minutes of the film, a dance
instructor responding to a hopeful country
bumpkin from Iowa gives this sparkling
gem of advice: "Don't worry, you might
be back in Iowa sooner than you think."
Witty, right?
Other, not-so memorable lines:

Boy: "I have talent."
Principal: "And who on Earth told you
that?"
Boy: "You did."
The structure of the film is just as for-
mulaic as its characters, and similarly rife
with cliches. The urban dance genre heav-
ily influences the film, and much of the
musical consists of dance montages and
close-ups of students artistically perspir-
ing, with furrowed brows and looks of
heavy concentration.
Fans of "Step Up" be warned, this isn't
a movie for you - it's not seductive in any
sense and it lacks a brooding Channing
Tatum-like character. It lacks the humor
and bubbliness of "High School Musical."
And unlike "America's Got Talent" contes-
tants, the movie lacks actors with raw, real
talent.
The movie, basically, is lacking.
This is all unfortunate, because the
premise, although contrived and redun-
dant, seemspromising enough tobe at least
A film lacking in
everything.
somewhat entertaining. A group of kids
from different walks of life, connected only
through their aspirations of rising above
the masses, attempt to fulfill their dreams
of fame. The classic underdog story.
But after over an hour and a half of clich6
piled on cliche, it's apparent that the movie,
unlike its tagline, will definitely not "live
forever." Although at times mildly amusing,
the film is still utterly forgettable. Clearly,
director Kevin Tancharoen hopes to appeal
to a wide audience with his family-friendly
musical. But by simultaneously trying to
cater to the "High School Musical" crowd,
the MTV audience and reality TV enthusi-
asts, his ambitions, like his movie, fall flat.
By trying to appeal to everyone, the movie
will end up appealing to no one.

a

bstract
an iventive
By JOSH BAYER of tracks. The name of the game
Daily Music Editor here is improvisation. The album
pumps out the jazzy current
Capitalism's a bitch. When a that always ran beneath Tribe's
rapper as omnipotent as Q-Tip tunes and lets it loose in all of the
(member of music's non-linear glory.
recently reunit- While the results of this experi-
ed hip-hop mentation may not vary in terms of
iconoclast A Q' quality (all the music here sounds
Tribe Called delicious), they do vary in immedi-
Quest) has a Kamaal the acy. "Abstractionisms" is a round-
record shelved Abstract house kick in the chest, building to
for seven years Battery a fittingly abstract two-minute cli-
due to its lack max with Kenny Garrett spewing
of commer- his guts via saxophone over a hot-
cial appeal, the whole situation bed of guitar shredding and tense,
makes you want to put a stick up off-the-cuff piano fills.
the ass of the studio bureaucracy "Do You Dig U?" starts off
and either twist it in or shove it strong as a spacey lounge shuffle
up further. but drifts in orbit. After a false
But the truth is, after giving ending, the track waves its ten-
Kamaal a spin, it's to easy figure tacles for four more minutes,
out why Big Brother gave the "anchored" by Thomas's ethe-
album a time out. Q-Tip isn't even real flute wanderings. Going
rapping on half of the thing. And both nowhere and everywhere,
the floaty, vocal-less free jazz "Do You Dig U?" wades non-
interludes that comprise a good chalantly in tight improvisa-
percentage of the record would tion without ever truly evolving
certainly serve as sleep medica- structurally. The track is both
tion for those who have cut their one of the album's highlights and
teeth on Weezy and Jay-Z. a perfect example of its occasion-
Kamaal the Abstract is a bit of a al failure to congeal.
mess, but it's a mess that's whole- And while the music works
heartedly self-conscious, and independently of Q-Tip's mag-

By ERIC CHIU
Daily Arts Writer
The "quirkily dysfunctional fam-
ily" sitcom sub-genre has carved
out a comfortable
niche for itself
in recent years,
with shows like MOdem
"Arrested Devel-
opment" and Family
"Malcolm in the W
Middle" milking Wednesdays
generous come-
dic mileage from ABC
the unique com-
bination of disdain and affection
that most people have toward their
families. There's a similar vein of
thought at work in ABC's "Modern
Family," which deftly takes after the
genre's best shows while simultane-
ously bringing something new to
the usual formula.
"ModernFamily"revolvesaround
the Pritchetts and their extended
familyincluding father Jay (Ed
O'Neill, "Married...with Children"),
the family of daughter Claire (Julie
Bowen, "Boston Legal") and gay

couple Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Fergu-
son, CBS's "The Class") and Cam-
eron (Eric Stonestreet, "CSI. Crime
Scene Investigation"). The show is
presented in a mockumentary for-
mat similar to "The Office," hopping
between the three families with fre-
quent talking-head interstitials.
It's rare to see a pilot effectively
establish everything it needs, but
already "Modern Family" has a
strongsense ofwhatkind of a show it
wants to be. Comedically, it's firmly
in the mold of shows like "30 Rock"
and "The Office."Uponbeingroman-
tically turned down by a female
employee at the mall, 11-year-old
Manny (Rico Rodriguez II, "Cory in
the House") laments: "I gave her my
heart and she gave me a picture of
myself as an old-time sheriff."
The structure of "Modern Fam-
ily" helps this deliberate comedic
pace considerably. The show offers
character-centric humor with a shift
toward farce: A highlight of the pilot
has Claire's husband Phil (Ty Bur-
rell, "Back To You"), while teaching
his son about the danger of BB guns,
accidentally shoot his son, his daugh-

ter's boyfriend and himself: The.
mockumentary format lets the show
d ole out-its jokes at a-relayed pace.
Compared to any typical multi-
camera sitcom, the show is comfort-
able enough in its sensibilities that it
doesn't feel the need to beat viewers
over the head with its jokes, which
helps the show carry its comedic
load immensely.
Likewise, its writing and ensem-
ble cast help bring all these facets
together. The show avoids making
Milking mileage
from disdain.
the Pritchetts into just an assem-
bled bundle of quirks and neuro-
ses, fleshing out their characters to
varying degrees.
Burrell is a particular standout,
playing Phil - the "cool" dad in all
the wrong ways - with the right
touches ofobliviousness and desper-
ation. (On his hipness, Phil remarks:

"I surf the Web, I text - LOL, laugh
out loud, OMG, oh my god, WTF,
why the face.")
Elsewhere, the character devel-
opment's a bit rougher: Jay and
second wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara,
"The Knights of Prosperity") feel
more broadly drawn than the rest
of the cast, with Vergara playing the
opposing "fiery Latina" stereotype
to O'Neill's sad-sack grandfather.
For the most part though, whether
it's Mitchell's continued exaspera-
tion with his family's disapproval or
Claire worrying about her daughter
retracing her own steps as a wild
teenager, the writing more than
supports the show's ambitions.
In a fall season marked more
by tired retreadding over famil-
iar themes than anything else, it's
encouraging to find in "Modern
Family" a show that wants to do
more than just meet expectations.
Its variations on the genre aren't
necessarily revelatory, but the
show's hearty premise, excellent
writing and solid ensemble cast eas-
ily make it one of the best freshman
outings this season.

Domestic dysfunction done right on ABC

I

Michigan Animal Rights Society

listening to it is an absolute plea-
sure. With the album more about
experimentation than crystalli-
zation, Q-Tip is in peak chame-
leonic form here, jumping from
Nutella-smooth R&B hoo-hooing
("Blue Girl") to straight-up Stevie
Wonder-styled pop ("Barely In
Love"). He even sneaks in "Car-
ing," an earnest two-minute lul-
laby that wouldn't feel out of
place at the epilogue of a Disney
musical. And most of this works
because the man can sing, a god-
send that rescues the album from
overindulgence.
The only real clunker is
"Heels," a hard-pounding rhinoc-
eros stomp about girls who look
1 good "closed or open toe." While
packing its fair share of clever
rhymes, its eye-rolling refrain
of "Real heel / High heel" feels
like a dead joke against the blunt,
bottom-heavy acoustics, which
clash clumsily with the rest of the
album's cosmic arrangements.
Kamaal takes Tribe's flirta-
tions with jazz to a new level,
even borrowing field virtuosos
Kenny Garett, Gary Thomas and
Kurt Rosenwinkel to flesh out
the jazzy aesthetic on a couple

Q-Tip shows his
jazzier side.
netic flow, his rapping is still
sorely missed. Lyrics like, "Did
you write the hit? / Did you hit
the bong? / Even if you did it with
your friend under covers / it's
you," are cryptic, even for The
Abstract (the rapper's alter-ego).
And while rapping is the perfect
outlet for Q-Tip's free associa-
tions, his frequent R&B vibing on
Kamaal leaves his abstractions
feeling a little, erm, abstract.
And the lyrics on "Barely In
Love" are surprisingly vapid:
"$500 in the bank / things are
looking bad / Imagine if we gotta
eat / well things are looking sad."
Warts and all, Kamaal the
Abstract is certainly one of the
most intriguing hip-hop releases
of the year. And with music this
tastefully adventurous, it's hard
not to write these critiques off as
pseudo-critiques and simply let
Q-Tip swab your jaded ears.
t.I

S
t sa 0 d fYureSk
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year, be sure to visit the LSA website. You can
self-report your illness and simultaneously inform your
instructors and advisor as well as read up on University
efforts to curtail the spread of H1N1 and other
potential campus outbreaks.
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