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November 02, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-11-02

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 2, 2009 - 5A

Fuck Buttons
get sporty

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y SHARON JACOBS would be no way of knowing
DailyArts Writer that Andrew Hung and Benja-
min John Power are behind the
just in: Ratatat and Ani- curtain. Effortless song transi-
ollective had a baby, and tions make for an uninterrupted
named it Fuck Buttons. rush of sound that powers Tarot
such a Sport through its tracks, from
ker, the the fluttery early-morning open-
h indie- *7NN er "Surf Solar" to the pulsating
pop finale of "Flight of the Feathered
seems Fuck Buttons Serpent."
id to Tarot Sport Despite its apparent lack of
ieadlong ATP a human touch, Tarot Sport is
contro- anything but artificial. Expres-
and has sive without being "moody," it
y doomed itself in terms of explores positive emotion from
tream media acceptance. all angles. "Surf Solar" radiates
, the Fuck Buttons' sound sunny-day exuberance with its
'risingly likeable and inof- shimmering glitches. Coolly
e. Ripe with harmonic calm, "The Lisbon Maru" exudes
e and emotional twists militaristic pride, supported by
rns, Tarot Sport marks a a strong drumbeat that slowly
ure from the Fuck But- becomes more complex.
sore grating debut, Street Even the downright bizarre
ing. It's a warm, inviting "Phantom Limb" has a posi-
-around fun listen. tive vibe - it sounds like a sci-fi
ugh there's no formal robot takeover at first, but about
ction, Fuck Buttons take three minutes, in the bundles
neaky structural progres- of noise suddenly peel off and a
rom fellow electronic duo simple "huh huh huh" (the clos-
t and are well-versed in est to "lyrics" that Tarot Sport
chly textured sound of provides) proves there is still
i Collective. The typical humanity in this postmodern
Buttons song lets gradu- world.
Beloved by hipster-spawning
music blogs, Fuck Buttons have
surprisingly been hailedby many as the "Next
Big Thing" ever since their first
)ffensive and single release in 2007. The group
has toured with Mogwai and
kable sound. performed at a few festivals, but
the rousing praise it has gotten
is a bit much for such an impres-
sionable young band. Tarot
yered samples fade in and Sport exceeds expectations -
derneath slow but beauti- although for a group called Fuck
ord changes. Fuck Buttons Buttons, expectations are not
ow make the simplest hard to exceed - but the album
ce sound fresh, even after is by no means revolutionary. It
ing it over and over again is a product of its noise-poppy
proof, just listen to "Olym- times, too easily compared to
" a triumphant exultation its contemporaries to be totally
witches between maybe original.
stinct chords in the span If Tarot Sport's only fault is
ost 11 minutes but never not beingmindblowinglyunique,
oring. thats hardly grounds for febuke.
ile Bristol, England com- Fuck Buttons have crafted an
is Portishead and Massive album that leaves listeners feel-
anchor their easy-on- ing energized and wanting more.
rs electronica with a This group certainly might be
emphasis on vocals, Fuck ready for the big time - perhaps
is leave no trace of human at this point, though, a name
ice on Tarot Sport. If it change is in order.

Soon, all Santa's reindeer will be dead.
A 'Serious' spectacle

The Coens get
biblical in their new
dark comedy
By ANDREW LAPIN
DailyFilm Editor
Along with the usual disclaim-
ers in the end
credits of "A
Serious Man"
comes this mes- A Serious
sage: "No Jews
were harmed in Man
the making of At the
this film." The Michigan
writing-directing Focs
superteam of JoelF
and Ethan Coen
has finally embraced its most Jew-
ish of last names, and in so doing
has crafted one of the most original,
unexpected and thought-provoking
films of the year. But take that dis-
claimer seriously: From a faith-
based perspective, there is some
serious harm being wrought upon
some serious Jews.
The Coen brothers uprooted an
ages-old Biblical parable and trans-
planted it to rural Minnesota circa
1967, making a film that is both
surreal and reflective of their own
childhoods. The movie revels in the
misfortune of its protagonist, Larry
Gopnik (theater veteran Michael
Stuhlbarg), and invites the audience
into his downward spiral. And yet it
maintains a delicate tone through-

out, never veering into overly sadis-
tic or condescending territory.
Larry is by all accounts a good
Jew. He sends his kids to Hebrew
school and always looks out for his
fellow man, eventaking in his down-
trodden brother Arthur (Richard
Kind,'TV's "Spin City"). But Larry's
life starts to unravel, first gradually,
then uncontrollably. His wife wants
a divorce so she can marry her new
lover, a beloved community figure;
his request for tenure at the commu-
nity college he teaches at is threat-
ened . by an anonymous dissenter;
he's kicked out of his own house and
becomes strapped for cash; and one
of his students attempts to bribe him
for a passing grade, then threatens
to sue for defamation. Through it all,
Larry maintains with wide-eyed dis-
belief that he hasn't done anything.
Fatalism has always been a com-
mon theme for the Coen brothers;
many of their protagonists, from
The Dude in "The Big Lebowski"
to Sheriff Bell in "No Country for
Old Men," are bounced powerlessly
through events outside of their own
control. But Larry may be their
first character who looks beyond
the immediate consequences of the
events themselves and tries to ask
what they all mean. He's looking
for answers in his life where there
don't seem to be any.
Larry visits three different rab-
bis in his quest to find meaning in
his misery,andtheygive himadvice
of about the same level of useful-
ness as Jefferson Airplane lyrics.

One of the biggest cosmic jokes in
the movie is an image that will be
very familiar to some Jews: the
exalted senior rabbi, sitting alone in
his ridiculously ornate palace of an
office adorned with assorted Juda-
ica, doing nothing and speaking to
nobody. "The rabbi is busy ... he's
thinking," says his assistant.
There's never a dull frame in a
Coen brothers picture. With the
help of director of photography
Roger Deakins, their long-time col-
laborator, they can make even the
most rudimentary images pop with
a kind of ethereal resonance. The
simple sequence of Larry climbing
up on his roof to fiddle with his TV
antennae carries resounding power:
The camera admires him frombelow
and above, and for a brief moment
he appears to be content as the ruler
of his household kingdom. As Lar-
ry's misfortunes pile up, we become
more and more vested in his plight;
the Coen's brilliant characterization
of him through shot frames and the
smartly focused script help give him
the kingly grandeur he constantly
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seeks. Under any lesser filmmaker,
Larry would have simply become a
sad sack, and the film would have
been unbearable to sit through.
But what does it all mean? On its.
surface "A Serious Man" is simply a
retelling ofthe story of Job, in which
God and Satan make a bargain over
how much they can push a good,
pious man before he renounces his
faith. Yet there seems to be more
going on here than mere biblical alle-
gory. As per usual, the Coens aren't
interested in spelling anything out:
without giving anything away, the
ending doesn't make deciphering the
rest of the film any easier. But unlike
the misjudged anticlimax that con-
cluded "No Country," this ending
feels more complete, somehow.
In a movie where one man is
being punished without rhyme or
reason, no one singular image is
going to wrap things up nice and
pretty. Instead, what is here further
cements the Coen's status as legends
of the screen, and guarantees that "A
Serious Man" will be seriously talked
about for years to come.

't for a few grunts on the
"Phantom Limb," there

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