The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 5
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 5
The endless chain of
reality TV losers
And then villainess Lola McStinkyfarts was finally brought to justice.
Horror gon insan
'The Crazies' covers all
the often-missed bases
with genuine tension
By NICK COSTON
Daily Arts Writer
Contemporary horror is a cesspool.
Its entrants are neither scary nor enter-
taining nor remotely
organized. So here's
something weird: "The
Crazies" is all of those The CrazieS
things. Yeah, it's deriva-
tive and, yeah, the sec- At Quality 16
and half is too reliant and Showcase
upon jack-in-the-box Overture
spooks, but let's not get
too greedy here. This is
a cohesive, plot-driven, well acted horror
film. A pitchfork through the chest has
never been such a pleasant surprise.
A remake of George Romero's 1973 film
of the same name, "The Crazies" takes
place in Ogden Marsh, Iowa, where David
Dutton (Timothy Olyphant, "Live Free or
Die Hard") is the town sheriff and his wife
Judy (Radha Mitchell, "Silent Hill") is the
town doctor and that crazy man on the
high school baseball field with the shot-
gun is - uh oh. Residents of the peaceful
little town begin behaving strangely and
violently, and David has to protect his
pregnant wife and stately sheriff mus-
tache from their growing lunacy.
The film works the farmers-gone-psy-
cho angle best in the beginning, when
neither David nor Judy has a clue what
the hell is going on with their neighbors.
Olyphant and Mitchell, veterans of the
crappy horror circuit, have mastered con-
fusion and determination, the two neces-
sary faces for actors working in the genre.
Joining them on their Corn Nuts survival
quest is David's deputy Russell, played
with an admirably uncertain state of san-
ity and a genuine hick accent by England's
Joe Anderson ("Amelia"). The trio sets
itself apart from standard horror pro-
tagonists: they're not young or hip or sexy
or hedonistic, and the audience's rooting
interest in their endurance is strength-
ened because of it.
But after a rough encounter with a big
steaming plate of plot device, both the
characters and the audience have a little
too much information to work with and
the film makes an unfortunate switch
from unease and tension to good old
shock value. Our ragtag group of plucky
survivors makes its way through a series
of gory set pieces in such a resolute state
that it's hard to fear for their survival
even when it's not hard to jump at the
And the jumps are great. "The Crazies"
deliberately avoids the cheeseball dream
sequences and instead uses dramatic
irony to full effect. The pitchfork through
the chest doesn't come out of nowhere;
you see it scraping along the floor, mov-
ing from body to body, and there's noth-
ing the characters or the audience can do
about it. Waiting for the killer blow is far
more intense and makes abetter film than
simply jamming a knife into someone's
head from off-screen just because no one
was expecting it.
Even those who haven't felt forced to
scour the international market for good
horror probably remember 2002's "28
Days Later." Like "The Crazies," "28 Days
Later" focuses on a small group of survi-
vors trying to make sense of the chaos
around them and struggling to retain
a semblance of humanity in a frothing
sea of zombie inhumanity. The film was
lauded for its examination of what it
means, exactly, to be human in the first
place. But audiences just looking for zom-
bie scares might have been bored by its
Filmmaker Kevin Smith has an anec-
dote that's now a YouTube mainstay
about his pitch meeting for a Superman
movie with wacky Hollywood produc-
er Jon Peters. Smith's script was good,
Peters told him, but it needed more action
beats, one every ten pages or so. Super-
man needs to fight some polar bears
here. He needs a gay robot sidekick here.
And he has to fight a giant spider in the
third act. "The Crazies" is a gutted ver-
sion of "28 Days Later" with a truckload
of leftover Jon Peters Action Beats. It's
the perfect film for anyone who doesn't
want morality sauce getting on his zom-
"The Crazies" is a treat for American
horror fans. Though it might be formu-
laic, redundant and rehashed, it's still a
far greater effort to compose a real film -
not just a sequence of teens getting mur-
dered - than most of the garbage that
floats through modern horror cinema.
You know that slew of reality pro-
gramming that comes from the
incredibly specific and narrow
source of other reality programming? I'm
talking about televi-
sion in the vein "Flavor
of Love," "I Love New
York" and "Real Chance
of Love." There are tons
of reality shows like
this that regurgitate4
their loudest, most
whom you love to hate CAROLYN
and hate to love and KLARECKI
put them in their own
series, rinse and repeat.
And it's pretty widely agreed upon that
these shows are crap.
With the advent of reality TV, we were
introduced to the idea that anyone could
be a star. What has really come to pass,
though, is that anyone can be a star if that
person is loud, aggressive, willing to fall
instantly and madly in love with an ex-
rapper, can't handle rejection and is willing
to display all of that crazy on national tele-
vision. And if everyone's expectations of
crazy are exceeded, then these people can
make their stardom last longer than a sea-
son when they get a whole new show just to
highlight the madness.
And this brings us to the realization to
which we all came after the premiere of"I
Love New York": Justbecause anyone can
have a TV show doesn't mean everyone
Still, people watch these shows. This
programming must be in high demand
considering the way these melodramatic
pseudo-divas are handed TV shows left
and right. And despite the sermons from
my higher-brow friends stating otherwise,
I don't think there's much wrong with
watching these shows.
Following the trajectory of this new
brand of celebrity is really quite fascinat-
ing. It doesn't even require watching the
show every week. All you need to do is see
one episode partway through the season
and keep up with the episode promos and
you'll know that Bret Michaels is picking
between Jes and Heather.
The phenomenon of former reality con-
testants getting their own show on which
more contestants can compete not only for
some grandiose prize, but also the chance
to also get their own show, is fairly recent
in the history of TV. We can see the pro-
gression of television before our eyes in a
shorter time span than ever before. The
path to fame of these types of reality show
stars displays a little slice of modern Ameri-
can culture, albeit a rather tacky slice.
These shows have their own special gene-
alogy - a family tree linking Megan Haus-
erman to her dysfunctional family members
"Beauty and the Geek," "Rock of Love,"
"Rock of Love: Charm School" and the
short-lived "Megan Wants a Millionaire."
Just to demonstrate how fascinating
this style of TV is, I'll illustrate the prime
example, courtesy of only the highest qual-
ity of VHl programming. You might want
to make a flowchart to follow this one.
If you know who Flava Flav is, then you
probably know he brought about the fame
of Tiffany Pollard, better known as "New
York." You might not have known that the
rapper fell back into the spotlight with an
appearance on "The Surreal Life" where
he met and dated Brigitte Nielsen. They
received their own show "Strange Love,"
where she dumped him at the end of the
season. So he got his own show "Flavor
of Love." And that's just where the mess
The loud and boisterous Tiffany "New
York" Pollard was the first runner-up on
the first season of "Flavor of Love." Though
she didn't'take her rejection well, she also
mended her broken heart with a mess of
her own shows including multiple seasons
of "I Love New York," "New York Goes to
Hollywood" and "New York Goes to Work."
"I Love New York" gave birth to the
So lowbrow you
can't help but watch.
fame-monster Kamal Givens. Givens
(dubbed "Chance" by Pollard) competed
for her love and followed the rejection
trend after his loss with an appearance on
"I Love Money" and by starting his own
love-seekingshow ("Real Chance of Love")
with his brother and fellow competitor for
Pollard's affections, "Real."
So in summary, Flava Flav was turned
down, got his own show, turned down
"New York," who then got her own show so
she could turn down "Chance"'and "Real"
who then got their own show.
Yes, this is a ridiculous and probably
unwarranted way to achieve fame, but it's
also fascinating and just as entertaining
(if not more entertaining) than the shows
themselves. Maybe I'm still attached to the
fascination that anyone - including myself
- could become famous through reality TV.
After all, Tiffany Pollard and Kamal Giv-
ens were regular people at one time before
their transformation into "New York" and
"Chance." It's harmless to follow reality
spin-offs - to smirk at their absurdity and
to treat them as the novelties they are.
They're admittedly lowbrow, but that's all
they're supposed tobe.
Klarecki is loud, aggressive and
willing to fall instantly and madly in love.
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parental disapproval The Avett Brothers' ascension
By JAMIE BLOCK
The label "family show" is used nowa-
days to tell the audience ashow is friend-
ly for all audiences,
but NBC's new series
to turn family into Parenthood
a standalone genre.
With as many parts Tuesdays
drama as comedy, none at 10 p.m.
of which are particu- NBC
larly original, "Parent-
hood" sinks into pure
family schmaltz as all the other emo-
tional stimuli cancel each other out.
"Parenthood" is obvious if nothing
else, both for the writers and the audi-
ence. After the first few staple plotlines
of the family saga are revealed, the rest
fall neatly into line. A rebellious teen
daughter dating a shirtless rocker seg-
ues seamlessly into a heartfelt utterance
of "It wasn't my weed." A dating mother
predictably gets caught in a compromis-
ing position by her wayward son, who
then runs off. The men are macho and
the family formula
want the children to excel at sports. The
women are gossipy, mock the men and
claim emotional high ground.
But then there's Max, the youngest
male of the Braverman clan. At only 12
years old, actor Max Burkholder ("Fam-
ily Guy") brings something pure and real
to the Max Braverman character. He has
an awkward air about him; he is always
slightly aloof, somewhat confused but
motivated by the best of intentions. The
subtly just-over-the-line abnormali-
ties Burkholder puts into the character
are all the more impressive when it is
revealed that Max has Asperger syn-
drome. It's just a shame that the show
also used several less subtle hints, ruin-
ing the moment.
Max's parents also shine as the best
adult actors in the cast. Peter Krause
("Six Feet Under") and Monica Potter
("Boston Legal") serve as beacons of
realism among caricatures. Not moti-
vated by finding a man or being the
favorite parent, Krause and Potter focus
solely on the fate of Max. They work
through his problems, trying to find a
way to make him happy when it seems
like nothing is working. Their struggle
with making a good life for their son
and coming to terms with his condition
is the only plotline among the barrage of
subplots begun in the pilot that stands
above pettiness. And it stands extremely
And this isn't just because of the
serious subject or the strong acting; it's
because it epitomizes what a show called
"Parenthood" should be about. Before
we can delve into the perils of dating
with kids or struggles among adult sib-
lings giving each other unwanted love
and parenting advice, we need to really
see the pure love of a parent.
In one scene, the four Braverman sib-
lings are standing around, joking about
the sexploits of the ever-annoying Sarah
Braverman (Lauren Graham, "Gilm-
ore Girls") while Sarah's son is missing.
Yeah, your son could be anywhere right
now, but let's take a moment to joke about
a fling you had with an ex-boyfriend
while your sister talks about how good
of a lawyer she is. Nobody even seems
concerned that her son has disappeared
until they all receive a phone call saying
where he is. Were they even planning on
A show aboutcparenting does not work
if all the focus is put on the adults, and
only Max, both as an actor and a char-
acter, is strong enough to save the show.
As "Parenthood" progresses, everyone
should take some time to remember that
in the lives of parents, and in the lives of
shows about parents, one thing should
matter above all else: making a good life
for your children.
By MIKE KUNTZ topped many year-end music
Daily Music Editor lists, winning over fans and
critics with its organic yet con-
The Avett Brothers are con- temporary take on Southern
ventional folk musicians like bluegrass and folk. The band
Jackson Pole now counts among its many
lack was a TheAv accolades Album of the Year
conventional (2009) from Paste Magazine, a
painter. The Brothers Best New Artist tag from Roll-
band, like Pol-T h ing Stone and a feature on the
lack, turns Tonghtat famed music institution "Austin
tradition on its 7:30 p.m. City Limits."
head, choosing Michigan Theater After a well deserved break,
bits and pieces Tickets from $26 the band was all too eager to get
for themselves back on the road and greet the
before moving hype by performing - a return
forward into the wild unknown. to how the Avetts secured their
The Avetts' brand of folk loyal following throughout the
music - a genre-defying hodge- U.S. over the past few years.
podge of punk, bluegrass and "It's all exciting right now,
rock'n'roll influences - is the because this is our first day of
kind that breaks 32 strings in the tour," Kwon said. "But I'm
a night and leaves blood on the sure you could ask me in a cou-
banjo. They attack their songs ple weeks and I'll be like, 'Get
with a passion and fury more me off of this road!"'
akin to a punk show at CBGB Despite its glorification in
circa 1978 than a hippie-dippy rock'n'roll lore, the road, as
gathering of picnic blanketers. any touring musician will tell
In light of the band's stop at you, isn't without its share of
the Michigan Theater, the Daily gaffes and grease stains. Driv-
recently spoke with the Avetts' ing through Appalachian Ohio
cellist, Joe Kwon, about the through the night, before their
band's tour, its growing fanbase first show, the Avetts had a pret-
and the role of college students ty close call themselves.
within the music industry. Hav- "As soon as we pulled out
ing just soundchecked for its set of the mountainous area we
at Ohio University's Templeton- got onto a straightaway and
Blackburn Alumni Memorial blew one of our tires," Kwon
Auditorium, the first stop on explained. Having just missed
their spring and summer tour, beingstranded in the mountains
the band was admittedly shak- - avoiding what might have
ing off some rust. been one of the worst possible
"We were working on some omens to start a tour - Kwon
songs and just making sure was ready to see the bright side.
we remembered them," Kwon Chalk it up to beginning-of-the-
said, speaking from the Athens, tour optimism, he said.
Ohio auditorium. Kwon joined "It's like a total blessing
brothers Seth and Scott Avett because if we had blown the tire
to record 2007's Emotionalism, in the middle of the mountains
and has been with the group it would have been deadly,"
ever since. Kwon said, referencingthe hair-
The band's acclaimed 2009 pin turns and carved-out roads
release I And Love And You skirting the Appalachian moun-
e. But even with all the new-
tting the band's image found hype, Kwon and the band
o-guts-no-glory gang of are ever conscious of the role
rn folk rebels, Kwon college students play in devel-
dwell on the mishap, oping momentum for newer
d looking forward to the acts - the Avetts' upcoming
the tour, tour includes stops in Minne-
really excited about apolis, Minn. and Boulder, Col.
Europe dates, because in addition to Athens, Ga. and
ever been there before," Ann Arbor. The band will also
said. "I'm also really be playing Coachella and Bonn-
d about going to Australia, aroo, summer festivals known
e I've never been there for attracting large crowds of
either!" younger listeners.
h international dates "I remember what it was like
ip as far as Oslo, Norway in college, tryingto find the next
new band - you seek it out,"
Kwon said. "That's the age kids
really seek out different music,
Bringing a new music.
With help from the Internet
hype machine and endless praise
f folk to the from critics worldwide, Kwon
contends college-aged students
M ichigan. are crucial in bringing attention
to artists that fall left of the dial.
"And they're gonna know
about small bands from North
rdney, Australia, it's easy Carolina like us," he added,
why Kwon is so enthu- laughing.
In just a few years, The Presented by The Ark, The
Brothers went from whis- Avett Brothers will be perform-
about critics' darlings ing at the Michigan Theater
tull-fledged international tonight at 7:30 p.m., with The
g machine. Low Anthem supporting.
to a f
The Avett Brothers' /AndLove And You topped many year-end lists.