The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, March 12, 2010 - 7
One day to hit
"Hey, wanna buy some death sticks?"
Not th e Fi estfilm
'Brooklyn's Finest' wants
to be 'The Wire' but ends
up a bloody mess
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
In an interview on "The Colbert Report"
last week, actor Don Cheadle said his new
film, "Brooklyn's Finest,"
was shot in a part of East
Brooklyn so cut off from
the glitz of New York City Brooklyn's
that he doubted the resi-
dents of that neighbor- fines
hood had ever seen a film At Qualityl6
crew before. and Showcase
Whether or not that's Overture
true, one thing's for cer-
tain: No matter how cut
off those folks may be, "Brooklyn's Finest"
is a film even they have seen countless times
Embodying one of three disparate sto-
rylines in the film, Cheadle ("Ocean's Thir-
teen") plays Tango, a trusted lieutenant of
drug kingpin Caz (Wesley Snipes, "Blade:
Trinity"). While Caz and his crew trust
Tango like a brother, he happens to be an
undercover cop, working to get Caz's drug
organization shut down.
Meanwhile, in another plotline, Ethan
Hawke ("Before the Devil Knows You're
Dead") plays a righteous cop forced to steal
from drug dealers to take care of his fam-
ily. Finally, Richard Gere ("Amelia") plays a
depressed, aging police officer who hasn't .
cared about the job in years, but suddenly
finds his emotions awakened as he works to
break up a prostitution ring.
While the film has plenty of guns, drugs
and sex, it's annoyingly clear from the very
first scene that it seeks to be something
greater. The deliberate, overwrought the-
atrical procession that unfolds across a
grueling 133 minutes seems to have been
intended as a film counterpart to "The
Wire." The several distinct storylines popu-
lated by the sprawl of intermittently inter-
esting characters show that the film sought
to be a gritty, enveloping character drama
that spans magnificently across genres and
endures in our memories as a transcendent
Needless to say, it falls well short of
accomplishing anything of that nature.
More surprisingly, it fails even as a con-
ventional police drama, perhaps owing to
its desperation to achieve more. While all
the performances are solid - Cheadle and
Snipes especially - the persistent bland-
ness of the writing and direction simply
cannot be overcome.
All three storylines are propelled by one
cliche after another - too many to even
count - before converging predictably into
a bloody final sequence that achieves new
levels of miscalculation and confusion.
There are surprises to be sure, but none
of the cathartic relevance and emotional
depth of similar scenes in better movies
like "The Departed" or anything by Sidney
What we get from "Finest" is a fuming
hot mess in which who lives and who dies
seems decided not by what makes thematic
sense, but rather by who would look the
coolest walking toward the camera in slow
motion as the credits roll.
By DAVID RIVA
Two years of preparation will be
crammed into 24 hours starting at 5 p.m.
tonight. "One Day Run-
way," the brainchild
of director and Art & One Day
Design senior Amy R
Plouff, will bring togeth-
er two of her favorite Tomorrow
things: Basement Arts's at11 p.m.
24 Hour Theatre, an Walgreen
annual challenge to cre- Drama Center
ate four original short Free
plays in one day's time,
and Lifetime's fashion
competition "Project Runway."
Plouff's initially far-fetched idea to
bring together seven Art & Design stu-
dents for a faux reality TV show wasn't
fully realized until a $400 grant from
Arts at Michigan provided some much-
needed, financial backing. Once the
money issue was solved, finding enthusi-
astic participants including film, design
and acting majors was no problem at all.
The action will begin when the seven
designers are given $50 and an undis-
closed challenge to fulfill as the sun goes
The concept may be similar to "Project
Runway," but according to Plouff it does
have its differences.
"Instead of going downtown in
New York to buy fabric, we're going to
JoAnn's," she said.
Contestants will bring their purchased
materials back to the Walgreen Drama
Center where they will be supplied with
sewing machines and cutting desks in the
"Costume Lab." The room will not only
contain frantic designers, but also their
previously selected models, already mea-
sured and set for fitting.
Meanwhile, cameras will be rolling to
capture the insanity and insomnia.
Participant and Art & Design junior
Yonit Olshan said that during this time,
she will be forced to think "about things
like zippers or hems or how my model
will get in and out of my garment easily
- things I'm not used to thinking about.
"Even just staying on target all along
with my friends around and a camera
crew - things might just get crazy," she
When the clock strikes 5 p.m. tomor-
row night, the contestants will have to
drop what they're doing and let their
stress subside until 11 p.m. During this
time the film will be edited and then pro-
jected as the first component of the show,
with the intention of presenting the "epi-
sode" before the live event.
Other components will include a judg-
ing by costume design and directing
professors, as well as the choosing of an
"audience favorite," decided by votes cast
Last but not least, the obligatory "con-
fessional" segment will take place live on
Plouff, for one, is looking forward to
the "shit-talking behind the confession-
"I've always wanted to be that produc-
er that probes them (and says), 'Oh yeah,
what do you think about that outfit,' " she
said, admitting that she's a sucker for the
"drama" of reality TV.
The restrictions posed by the clock
and purse strings will certainly provide
an intriguing challenge, no matter how
experienced contestants are.
"I have made a wide variety of cos-
tumes and different garments through-
out my life, but I'm not sure how I will
react to designing and constructing
under such time and budget constraints,"
Another contestant, Art & Design
junior Corey Davis, agreed with this sen-
timent, and plans to prepare accordingly.
"I'm pretty sure I'll be sleeping all of
Thursday and Friday so I don't pass out
in the middle of the challenge," he said.
For Plouff, this limited time span is
sure to test her stamina and will certainly
spark some memorable moments.
"I don't think I've experienced the
most enjoyable part," she said of her
approximately 730-day journey. "I think
that's going to be probably like the eigh-
teenth hour of being on energy drinks
and really excited and watching the
meets 24 Hour
Theatre at Walgreen.
Art & Design senior and participant
June Saito isn't too phased by the con-
cept, saying that some days feel very sim-
ilar to "One Day Runway."
"Honestly, this is normal for us," she
explained. "Twenty-four hours in the
costume lab is like a normal night. We're
always in there working on projects,
though typically a full camera crew isn't
Regardless, Saito plans on brushing up
on some technical aspects as well as cre-
ating a new iPod playlist.
"I'm trying to mentally prepare myself
for the chaos, so I think I might review
some sewing skills before Friday just to
be prepared," she said. "I also think (the
designers) are preparing to amp things up
a little for the camera so it's not just anoth-
er normal night singing along to Disney
soundtracks and Broadway musicals."
And rightfully so. Although the contest
is friendly in nature, there are prizes at
stake. Win or lose, the ultimate goal for
Plouff and the contestants is to put on an
entertaining and spontaneous live show
that is sure to contain some of Basement
Arts's well-known improvisation and
present a remarkably unique concept.
Indie but not innovative
By EMMA GASE
Daily Arts Writer
I remember the first time I heard Fleet
Foxes. I was in Austin, Texas, fresh from a
trip to the Mecca of all music stores, Water-
loo Records. Basking in the glow of my
purchases (Dr. Dog and Deerhunter among
them), I was especially excited about this
new band from Seattle that all my in-the-
know friends were raving about. I quickly
unwrapped the case (ignoring the lame
medieval-looking cover), slipped the CD
into the car stereo and waited.
The first song ("Sun It Rises") was kind
of nice. Good harmonies, cool atmospheric
vocals ... but wait. Something was off. I kept
listening. The second track ("White Winter
Hymnal") was a little more pop-oriented,
but this nagging thought was bursting to
escape my mind and Iecould hold it in no
Um, doesn't this guy's voice sound exact-
ly like Jim James of My Morning Jacket? Or
am I crazy? Wait, doesn't it also sound like
that guy from Band of Horses? And don't
these harmonies kind of (exactly) sound
like Crosby, Stills & Nash with a dash of
Fleetwood Mac? Haven't I heard this some-
I listened to the rest of the album, only
to be treated with the same medicine over
and over. Every dose was easy-to-swallow,
inoffensive Sunday morning music. Noth-
ing gripped me. -
Hearing Fleet Foxes and subsequently
witnessing the massive praise heaped on
their debut - the album gained extreme-
ly favorably reviews from Rolling Stone,
Entertainment Weekly, Pitchfork, Paste
Magazine and The Onion's A.V. Club - was
the final straw in a trend that has been irk-
ing me for some time. Recently a number
of bands have cropped up that are building
their careers on the established folk-rock/
Americana laorels of their reoeoessors.
These bands (e.g. Fleet Foxes, Band of
Horses, My Morning Jacket, Midlake) are
being lauded for a style they didn't actually
Let me get something out of the way:
Copying others is natural. It's inevitable.
Musicians are influenced by other musi-
cians, and they attempt to create some-
thing that is part their own, part a nod to
their heroes. I have nothing against bands
that copy someone else's sound; my favorite
bands are all guilty of this. I only become
irritated when I hear people praising bands
like Fleet Foxes as "innovators" when
everything they do has been done before.
To me it's all about the songs, and I hear no
quirky personal touch, no innovation, noth-
ing to make me check this band out instead
of pulling Crosby, Stills & Nash or Rumours
back out of their well-worn sleeves.
Folk has been
Sure, Fleet Foxes's Robin Pecknold has
great pipes beneath his bushy beard. But
play "White Winter Hymnal" or "Quiet
Houses" and then listen to CSN's "49 Bye-
Byes" or "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," and tell me
which ones give you goose bumps. The CSN
songs are dripping with melody, charisma
and complexity; each song seems to contain.
half a dozen different songs. Fleet Foxes,
on the other hand, accumulate elements
of their predecessors and strategically mix
them with a tired nature theme for a calcu-
lated and recycled sound.
So much time has passed since artists
like CSN, The Band and Neil Young that
many of today's listeners don't remember
or even know about them. Let's face reality:
The modern hipster teen will read Pitch-
- I I .
fork, see that Fleet Foxes received a 9.0, buy
the album, find nothing wrong with it and
subsequently will consider it the bench-
mark of that style. They don't know any
better because they were never exposed to
the real innovators. Most people just don't
have the pedigree to see past these trendy
indie bands and appreciate the longevity of
albums like Music From Big Pink or After
the Gold Rush.
The same goes for bands like My Morn-
ing Jacket and Band of Horses. Both use the
same reverb-soaked high-pitched vocals
and loud Crazy Horse-esque guitars at
plodding rhythms to establish their sound.
Sometimes it seems as if these bands were
founded entirely on one edifying listen to
"Down by the River."
Nevertheless, Jim James owes it big to
Neil Young. I'm not saying every MMJ song
is sub-par to Young and Crazy Horse, but
even the best track on 2003's It Still Moves
(which is "Mahgeetah") could never cap-
ture the same stoner-rock perfection of Neil
Young's Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.
Band of Horses also does the whole dual-
guitar, mid-tempo rock, nasally vocal thing
very well, but it doesn't impress me. I see
what they're trying to do and I'll "admit at
times they serve up a semi-enjoyable tune,
but that's not enough. For the amount of
praise and hype that Band of Horses and
MMJ receive, it doesn't compel me to
shelve my Neil Young records. I've heard it
all before, and they just don't offer compa-
rable talent or personality.
So all of you musicians out there who
want instant cred in the folk-revivalist rock
world? Simply follow this recipe: One part
Whiny Falsetto Vocal, three parts Reverb
or Massive Echo Chamber, three parts Har-
mony, one part Sensitive Nature-themed
Band Name, one part Crazy Horse Gui-
tar Attack and three parts Scraggly Neck
And we'll see you at Bonnaroo!
A gleeful gather ing
of men's ensembles
By MOLLY MCGUIRE
Daily Arts Writer
It's a big year for Glee, and a memorable
time for three of the oldest collegiate men's
choruses in the coun-
try. This year marks Celebrating
the 150th anniversary 440 Years
of the University of
Michigan Men's Glee of Song
Club, as well as the Tomorrow
150th anniversary of
Harvard University's at 8 p.m.
Glee Club. This Satur- St.Thomas
day, the two will join the Apostle
together along with the ctohc
University of Virginia Ticketsfram $5
Glee Club in their pen-
ultimate concert of the semester.
The three choirs will perform a variety
of music, emphasizing different eras and
styles. American contemporary, Renais-
sance and folk songs are listed on the pro-
gram planned for Saturday. Performing
a wide selection of classical to popular
music, with an array of different languag-
es, the choirs plan to show off their ranges.
"I know firsthand that the UM Men's
Glee Club performs with extra energy and
excitement when there are peer groups
listening," said Paul Rardin, the director
of the Michigan Men's Glee Club. "I'm
quite sure that the other groups are the
same way, and we all will give peak per-
formances that evening."
A time for celebration, this year marks
several important milestones for these
esteemed choirs. The oldest continually
run student organization at the Univer-
sity, the Men's Glee Club is celebrating
150 years of history and fraternity. At the
same time that the Harvard Glee Club is
marking its 150th anniversary, it's also
honoring Jameson Marvin's final year as
conductor. Marvin is retiring after serv-
ing as director of choral activities at Har-
vard for 32 years.
"Jameson Marvin has built one of the
best Men's Glee Clubs in the country
across his 32 years," Rardin said. "His will
be giant shoes to fill."
The title of the event is "Celebrating 440
Years of Song," as Virginia's Glee Club is
also one of the oldest choruses in the coun-
try and the oldest musical organization at
the University of Virginia, founded nearly
140 years ago. But the main reason the Uni-
versity of Virginia Glee Club is making the
trip to Ann Arbor is to welcome its new
president: The University of Michigan's
current provost, Teresa Sullivan.
"For them it's a concert of meeting and
welcoming Dr. Sullivan to their students
and sound," Rardin said.
The University of Michigan Men's Glee
Club only has one performance left this
year after the March 13 event: the official
A meeting of men's
glee clubs to
150th anniversary celebration on April 10.
This weekend's quadruple celebration is
one of the last opportunities of the semes-
ter to hear them, along with the added
bonus of hearing other illustrious colle-
"It's very rare for three men's choirs
to converge on the same city on the same
day," Rardin said. "It's a wonderful oppor-
tunity for allof us to see, hear and learn
from three different ensembles."
Fuck battle of the bands. This is battle of the beard,