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October 05, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, October 5, 2009 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycomMonday, October 5, 2009 - 5A

A little buzz

If you think this is creepy, wait until you see his balloon animals.

Brain-eating brilliance

Mixing humor with
horror, 'Zombieland' proves
its genre isn't dead
DailyArts Writer
A note to the weak of heart: You may think
that "Zombieland" is just
typical slasher material, but
rest assured that Hollywood
has finally made a zom- Zombieland
bie movie that reaches far
beyond its sadistic fan base At Quality16
by taking advantage of our and Showcase
society's love for the darker Columbia
side of humor. Most viewers
will inevitably love "Zom-
bieland" because it simultaneously stirs in
them the two emotions they most love to feel:
amusement and disgust.
The movie attempts sensory overload from
its inception, lambasting the unsuspecting
audience with images of zombie brutality to
give the false impression that the next two
hours will feature pervasive violence with
limited character development. The intro-

duction is a sort of informational montage
on zombie evasion: The hopelessly awkward
protagonist known only as Columbus (Jesse
Eisenberg, "The Squid and the Whale")
explains that, when the zombie infection
began to spread, "the first ones to go were the
Because of the inherent dangers in a zom-
bie-tainted society, one must now retain an
internal set of "rules" (a significant motif that
reappears throughout the movie) pertaining
to avoiding and, if necessary, exterminating
zombies. Columbus spends the remainder of
the film navigating the zombie-filled dystopia
armed with only these rules and his hopes of
finding his only remaining kin in central Ohio.
But this solitary, gun-slinging hero couldn't
properly entertain us without a support-
ing cast of equally eccentric acquaintances.
"Zombieland" also features Woody Harrelson
("Natural Born Killers") as Tallahassee, Emma
Stone ("The House Bunny") as Wichita, Abi-
gail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine") as Little
Rock, as well as a hilarious cameo. Oh, and if
you couldn't tell, the people in "Zombieland"
only refer to one another by destination to
avoid emotional attachment. How delightfully
The best part of the film is its ability to blend

conflicting ideas into a single, balanced com-
position. For example, "Zombieland" employs
significant character development that can
happily co-exist with the guilty pleasure of
witnessing (literally) gut-wrenching acts of
violence. It maintains the breakneck speed
reminiscent of a classic shoot-'em-up arcade
game without seeming confusing or poorly
consolidated. It even manages significance
without having to take itself seriously - this
should come as a breath of fresh air to critics
beleaguered by the steady stream of piss-poor
films that think they've earned a right to exist
just because they have a conscience. And it's
prudent to mention that this work of genius is
the directorial debut of Ruben Fleischer, who
has scarcely any previous directorial experi-
ence short of a few episodes of "Jimmy Kim-
mel Live!" Congratulations are most definitely
in order.
Needless to say, this movie is worth its
weight in U.S. currency - $25 million on its
opening weekend, to be exact. The only possi-
ble detractor from the fun is the inconsequen-
tial nature of the movie's content; it's nearly
impossible to make a masterpiece within the
confines of the zombie genre. But the rest of
the film is so fun that this minor problem is
easy to overlook. Oh, and fuck clowns.

A couple weeks ago, I got
robbed. Apparently the homeless
people here have "balls the size of
as the cop who
came to my K
house to inves-
tigate the scene (
so eloquently
phrased it. The
scene consisted JOSHUA
of the following: BYER
my Hi-Fi (an
extinct breed of high-fidelity iPod
deck) and my iPod (80 gigabytes,
lots of personality) were swiped
out of my living room window
while seven of my nine housemates
were home.
I really miss my Hi-Fi. It was a
tad dilapidated - at a party, some
rad-ass dudes decided to tamper
with my shrewdly concocted party
playlist and, in the process, anni-
hilated that little metal thingy on
the dock you jack your iPod into.
So I had to prop my iPod up with a
Balderdash box and sticky tack for
it to even play in there. (Yes, the
crookshanks swiped my Balder-
dash box, too - bummer, right?)
Regardless, that Hi-Fi had seri-
ous nostalgic value, and losing it
was not on my shortlist of things I
wanted to happen.
As far as my iPod, I shelled
out for a new one in less than 24
hours. I am umbilically attached to
my iPod. It's a little bit sickening.
Sometimes I get really anxious that
I care more about music than about
ButI digress. Since my iPod
got hijacked, I've been manically
downloading all the noteworthy
music that's come out this year.
I get incredibly OCD about mak-
ing my end-of-the-year list and
have been compulsively tryingto
listen to every 2009 album that
could possibly hit my buzzer. And
a clean-slate iPod was the perfect
excuse for me to force-feed myself
a stringent musical diet of only this
year's releases.
My witch-hunt for favorites has
taken me to Metacritic. I'll scroll
dog-mouthed down the screen,
searching for albums with little
white stars next to them (denoting
universal acclaim). Pitchfork has
also been a trusted source - I've
brownnosed around the Internet
for everything it brands as "Best
New Music." And, although these
methods have fished me a lot of
quality hours of music listening,
they feel a little bit formed to me
- molded by something outside of
my control.
How much control do we really
have over our own culture? For
the most part, we're all funneling
our knowledge of career-defining
albums and breakout bands
through these trusted sources
that manufacture "buzz" for us:
Metacritic; Pitchfork; Pandora. I
mean, there's always the endless
sea of blogs out there to ravage, but
I spend an ungodly amount of time
thinking about music as it is. And I,
an unthinking robot receptacle of
this bourgeoisie buzz, could make
a blog myself, simply spitting back
my own permutations of the com-
-For the first 20 enrolled

- For the second 20 enroled
DAT Course Value: $1399
5019-1 Starts Jarso9th MoWed
501"4 Starts Jans 9th Tueth

modities I've been fed.
I know this all sounds a little
nihilistic and doomy - the furrow-
browed child of information age
angst - but, in reality, most of us
are getting our information from
mass amalgamators of the same
source: everyone.
How does buzz travel? Word
of mouth. And who has word of
mouth? Everyone. But then why do
I feel like my word of mouth is so
determined by these buzz bands
that have conveniently popped up
for me on the surface of the infor-
mation superhighway?
Now, I understand I'm whining
about my lack of ability to create
culture from the high and mighty
throne of music columnist. I can
mold your minds right now. I can
tell you what to listen to. And the
obvious place to start is with local
music. I may be relying on these
homogenizingbuzz-filters to be
my ears in the rest of the coun-
try, but the least I could do is go
out and comb the streets of Ann
Arbor for bands that deserve to
blow up.
And I probably should. But how
much power do I actually have?
I never really know these things.
Let's say I randomly go out to the
Bling Pig one night and see this
groundbreaking local krautrock
rock band nobody's ever heard of.
Is anybody
listening to me?
I can devote an entire column to
its consecration and balloon its
buzz quotient in the city of Ann
Arbor. But is the buzz fallout from
The Michigan Daily expansive
enough to set off the buzz detec-
tors on a national cultural icon like
Pitchfork? Is it mighty enough to
be absorbed into such a prominent
information body and shat out sub-
jectively for mass consumption?
No. And in all honesty, does that
even matter?
Whynot just embrace the infor-
mation overload that blog-buzz
culture has deluged us with? Sure,
we're all jacking into similar sourc-
es for upcoming album release
dates and "Best New Music." But
we've attached ourselves to these
sources for a reason: They give us a
lot of choices and they've shown as
a lot of good music. It's intimidat-
ing enough to rifle through all the
music that pops up on the coun-
try's infrastructural buzz meter.
And, truly, the gratification I get
from siftingthrough these break-
out bands in my head with my
biased, idiosyncratic rating system
is purely narcissistic. Why sit there
and worry about how much control
I have over my own taste when it's
so much more fun to converge with
my brother robots and warmly
accept the fact that Merriweather
Post Pavilion is objectively the best
album of the year?
Seven out of nine housemates
agree: Bayer's life sucks. Console
him at jrbayer@mich.edu.

NBC's new traumatic experience

For the Daily
Half a look at lives of medics and
half a glance at
fast-paced doc-
is unique among
medical dramas Irau
in that it's not set Mondays
in an emergency at 9 p.m.
room, hospital or NBC
operating room.
But aside from
its setting, "Trauma" holds no
other claim to originality and no
strengths that sufficiently combat
its shortcomings.
The show begins one year ago,
detailing the events of a helicop-
ter-rescue disaster and the lives
of the paramedics involved. From
there, the show moves forward to
the anniversary of the accident,
during which a collage of charac-
ters is introduced, with each one

experiencing various personal
problems including job pressure,
marital indiscretions, returning
from service overseas and coming
back to the job after involuntary
leave. Despite all this, most of the
characters lack presence, and as
such they're easily forgotten when
they're not shown performing
The opening catastrophe adds
a fair amount of complexity to
characters who already have mini-
dramas playing out in both their
jobs and daily lives. However, the
special effects are barely better
than a blast of orange and yellow
light and pieces of strange black
metal flailing about, all contained
in the outline of an atom bomb.
Better, to be sure - but only barely.
In some cases, low-budget special
effects wouldn't be a particular
concern. "Trauma" is rooted in
medicine and blood, as well as the
material expense of multiple heli-

copter flights, so it's almost par-
donable that the fire and fury look
cut and pasted. Unfortunately, a
good chunk of the plot that follows
is built around the resulting per-
sonal baggage this single dramatic
event creates, and the five minutes
of unconvincing screaming used to
depict it just doesn't do it justice.
Further detracting from a show
that might still have pulled a mea-
Worse than 'a
hospital visit.
ger audience is the dialogue - at
times far beyond corny and often
uncomfortable to hear. From "He'll
die, Joe" (dramatic music cue) right
before a commercial break to sun-
set-silhouetted confessions made
next to ambulances, poor dialogue
has "Trauma" cross-dressing from

drama to soap and back in all-too-
quick succession.
One redeeming aspect of the
show, though, is Reuben "Rabbit"
Palchuck(CliffCurtis, "Push"),who
was simultaneously entertaining
and unconvincing. He is undoubt-
edly the most eccentric character,
seemingly a jerk one moment, but
saving a child the next. And after
cuttingoff someone's finger by driv-
ing recklessly, he apologizes pro-
fusely, ranting about his inability
to die. Finally, he humbly serves as
the counseling friend. Though his
character is inherently not believ-
able, he is just bipolar enough to
claim curiosity among the general
Basically, find something else
productive to do on a Monday
night. If that fails, channel flick,
remaining on "Trauma" for no
longer than five minutes. With any
luck, no words will be spoken dur-
ing that brief interval.

'My One and Only' matures into a terrible movie



DailyArts Writer
"My One and Only" is an improbably strange
attempt to tell the story of a boy named George
(Logan Lerman, "3:10 to
Yuma") who comes of age
while on a road trip with
his mildly deranged mother My Onel
(Renee Zellweger, "New in
Town"). George spends most
of his time pouring through At the State
the pages of J.D. Salinger's Herrick
"Catcher in the Rye," while
director Richard Lon-
craine ("Firewall") attempts to draw parallels
between the boy and Holden Caulfield. But
Locraine's extended comparisons are about as
restrained as a beating over the head with the
book itself.
The movie tries to establish a balance
between a story about growing up and a story
about a dysfunctional family. However, the
. coming-of-age story never really goes any-
where and instead just subserves itself to
the plotline of the film. There's a tiny blip of
romance in George's life, but that's about it.
"My One and Only" is stuck in the awkward
phase of adolescence despite the fact that it

strives for a more mature form of artiness.
The only particularly amusing charac-
ters are the polygamist Bill Massey (David
Koechner, "Get Smart") and Robbie (Mark
Rendall, "The Exploding Girl"), George's
flamboyant brother who loves acting and
wearing his mother's jewelry and clothes.
Though they're empty caricatures, they pro-
vide a few laughs on the hellish road trip. Bill
Massey is particularly good when he talks to
George about women - he tells him that they
are either too hot or too cold, literally refer-
ring to temperature rather than making some
sort of innuendo.
While the cast includes names like Kevin
Bacon ("Frost/ Nixon"), Chris North ("Sex
and the City: The Movie") and Eric McCor-
mack ("Will and Grace"), these stars don't
get a chance to stand out, instead falling into
boring stereotypes. Bacon is particularly dull
as father Dan Deveraux, who fails to be more
than a womanizer who undergoes a miracu-
lous and artificial change of heart. Zellweger
isn't at her best either as she tries to portray
a terrible mother attempting to be clever, ele-
gant and vivacious. Instead, she comes across
as washed-out and desperate.
Zellweger's character might also insult
some women. She tries to get married to

just about any wealthy man she meets and
exploits her wannabe suitors shamelessly.
She supposedly learns she can get along
without a man in her life, but doesn't realize
it soon enough. It seems like she comes to this
conclusion merely because she either gives up
trying or because she gets too old to attract
anyone wealthy enough.
Worst of all, the ending is a contrived,
everyone-lives-happily-ever-after affair. The
problem here is that it's impossible to like any
of the characters enough to really care wheth-
er or not they end up happy. In fact, Robbie,
A complete waste of
a talented cast.
the only character really worth caring about
(if only for his snide remarks) gets written off
as a side note. For the most part, the charac-
ters don't grow or change. The only difference
is that George decides his mom is tolerable,
and she decides she doesn't need a husband.
Of course, these conclusions make their time
spent on the road meeting polygamists and
grumpy aunts a complete waste of time.

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