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March 16, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thumbing through media

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 7
Celebrity family trees get
needlessly explored on NBC

here is a flipbook on the
pages of queer filmmaker
Barbara Hammer's mem-
oir, "Hammer!" The images are
all shot in black
and white and
the bodies in
the pictures
move ever so ,
slightly with
the turn of the
page - the
minute shifting
of hands, heav- WHITNEY
ily shadowed, POW
over thighs
and breasts.
The movement is almost imper-
ceptible when crawling through
the book, page by page. When the
page edges quickly flip past one
another beneath the release of a
fingernail, however, the image
comes to life - the book becomes
a five-second film filled with sen-
sual, continuous movement.
This mixing and mingling of the
ideas of the viewing experience
in film with the sensual, visceral
experience of books peeks into the
idea of inter-medial art - looking
at the ways in which film trans-
gresses the film cell and leaks into
Hammer is an experimental
queer feminist filmmaker who
began producing ground-breaking
films in the 1970s, and her works
have been presented in the Muse-
um of Modern Art, the Whitney
Museum of American Art Biennial
and the Berlin International Film
Festival. Her book "Hammer!"
was released only a few weeks
ago on March 1, and she arrived
last Thursday in Ann Arbor's C.C.
Little building, zipper-sweatered
and with silver, spiky buzzed hair.
I sat in an awkward, uncomfort-
able swivel-seat that made hor-
rible, screeching cat-in-a-bathtub
sounds when I moved just a tiny
bit to adjust my spine, and then
she read from her book, walking
up and down the aisle with grand
cadences in her speaking voice, long
and loud.
Hammer herself is a down-to-
earth woman of 70 years old, and
her book is composed of works

as a film
the 197
was in l
tics" on
in a fiel
in a poc
in some
and inc
that mt
with as
detail i
can aln
under t
shot of
hairs o
ly uses,
in creat
In "I
from oi
and she
scene a
across s
keys H,
At th
that nil
book cc
ties asa
that "b
use moi
of shor
shots, o
that sta

during the span of her life ingful entities. She brought this
nmaker, with pieces from idea to the idea of the page. The
Os to the present. In 1974 she book itself contains short sections
her 30s filming "Dyketac- of text that could stand on their
16mm film, walking naked own stylistically and thematically
d, hair short, shaggy and all mixed and mingled with photo-
scent of The Velvet Under- graphic images and film stills.
's androgynous drummer And while each section of the
ucker. Other pieces include book is montage-like as a collec-
"A Horse is Nota Metaphor," tion of different ideas that are
was recorded in digital self-contained and stand-alone like
In this film, she presents a sequence of shots, these book sec-
as a cancer survivor wading tions are similarly united through
ol of water, similarly naked, Hammer's filmic sensibilities,
shots head peach-fuzzy as one film still is placed on each
others slick and shiny from page of the memoir. This flipbook
herapy. format brings together this idea of
amer's films are sometimes film and book, with the book itself
mental, non-narrative pieces becoming a tiny movie projector,
ave from image to image the flicking of pages becoming the
striking attention to sensory film reel moved quickly over the
n what she calls an "active lens - the lens being the human
," or one in which viewers eye, perceiving the motion of hands
ost feel the bristles of hair over bodies.
heir palms when watching a Even in her written pieces, Ham-
mer brings filmic vision to the way
she writes, providing immense
' visual detail to scenes written for
ing the visual the page. In Hammer's "After Ger-
1 1 - 1 ~~trudeStiapeewrtewth
d thevisceral no punctuation, one can imagine
f bthe camera extending over images
hand-chosen and illuminated by
Hammer: "she was a flower a pink
and ebullientlytender petalled wild
a hand moving over the gray berkley rose that hung from the
f a horse. Hammer frequent- fences on may day."
this visceral quality of film Hammer's works are united
ting montage in her works. through visual and written lan-
Dyketactics," the shots move guage as combined through the
ne to another with many cuts memoir, which also unites various
art takes, presenting naked knots in her life line, tying herself
rolling in the grass in one as the shaggy-haired woman of the
nd salamanders crawling '70s to the silver-haired woman of
skin in another. All of this present.
with the sound of moog To be honest, I was smitten
sizers - the odd, dissonant, when I met her. I bought a book
mes atonal plunking ofsynth from Common Language book-
ammer had recorded herself. store and sheepishly asked if she
ie end of the film screening would sign it - a kind of awkward
ght in C.C. Little, I asked "Will You Sign My Yearbook?" act
er about how she felt her that I haven't done for years. Either
ammuned with her sensibili- way, it was worth it. And I've
a filmmaker. She responded been flipping through the memoir,
oth the book and my films watching the moving image that
ntage." In creating her book, flickers beneath my thumbnail.

New historical
reality series offers
no insight, just facts
DailyArts Writer
"Who Do You Think You Are?,"
NBC's new
version of the
British geneal-
ogy show, has Who Do
an important You Think
request for the
celebrities it You Are?
features. No, it's
not challenging Fridays at
them to a fight, 8 p.m.
as the mislead- NBC
ingly confron-
tational title might have viewers
believe. Rather, the documentary-
style reality show asks its celebrity
participants to take journeys back
through time, exploring their fam-
ily histories. While more sincerely
heartfelt than most trips into the
personal lives of celebrities, "Who
Do You Think You Are?" doesn't
offer enough historical depth to
consistently entertain.
The pilot episode depicts Sarah
Jessica Parker ("Sex and the City")
searching for traces of deceased
relatives across the country. She
discovers that her ancestors were
involved in the California gold
rush of 1849, as well as the 17th-
century Salem witch trials. On
one hand, SJP's interest in these
chapters of American history and
her familial ties to them is surpris-
ingly genuine. She even remarks
that her discoveries have made
her feel more defined as a person.
On the other hand, why does SJP,
an already famous and successful
person, need NBC's help to find
It would have been more worth-
while for "Who Do You Think You
Are?" to feature regular people and
investigate their roots. In doing

"I could've sworn i descended from strong, independent New York alcoholics.

so, the show could emphasize
how seemingly ordinary men and
women have descended from peo-
ple with amazing stories - stories
that were an important part of his-
tory. Doing this for celebrities only
makes them seem more narcissistic
rather than historically curious.
And even when the celebs
appear enthusiastic, like Emmitt
Smith in the series's second epi-
sode, the show doesn't give the
viewer enough context to share
in the excitement. The historical
events surrounding the lives of the
ancestors - even the ancestors'
lives themselves - aren't dealt with
in a meaningful, substantive way.
Viewers don't learn anything new
about the 1849 gold rush or Salem
witch trials from the pilot, other
than that SJP is related to someone
who was there.

The show also suffers from not
having a host. While certain feel-
good reality shows like "The Big-
gest Loser" and "Extreme Home
Makeover" are enhanced by reli-
able, enthusiastic hosts, "Who Do
You Think You Are?" has no one to
anchor it, as the featured celebrity
is different each week. Throw in
the constant, sappy music and it's
easy to feel suffocated by the lack
of a familiar face.
Despite its shortcomings, "Who
Do You Think You Are" would
have something to offer if its par-
ticipants' ancestries received more
than cursory glances. But until it
can teach viewers somethingthey
haven't already learned in third-
grade history classes, this gene-
alogy documentary will remain
only slightly more essential than
any other celebreality show.

er took the film-based idea
t vignette-like collections of
r sequences and montages
nd by themselves as mean-

Pow needs a nude model for
her new flipbook. To volunteer,
e-mail poww@umich.edu.

. Cops with scrunchies on 'Police
Women of Maricopa County'

Several nights at
the museum

DailyArts Writer
"You do one thing wrong and I'm com-
ing after you" - this may sound like your
mom, but it's in fact the tagline for the
police women who patrol
the streets in Maricopa to
"protect" its citizens.
TLC's twist on "Cops" Police
follows detectives Deb
Moyer and Lindsey Smith Women of
along with deputies Kelly Mancopa
Bocardo and Amie Duong
as they cruise around Ari- CoU Ny
zona's Maricopa County Thursdays
fighting crime. Each cop is a 9P.M.
followed individually as she TL
hunts down drug criminals, TLC
cars withoverly tinted win-
dows and old women who avoid pulling over
when being stopped for speeding.
Unfortunately, none of the offenses to
which the women respond really seem like
that big of a deal. It's young kids dealing
drugs and illegal immigrants crossing the
border and small domestic disputes that
are so anti-climatic it seems like they must
have been faked for lack of more interesting
crimes going on in Maricopa.
Besides combating the evils of drugs

and illegal immigration, "Police Women"
focuses on the motherly duties of all its
main ladies. After their long and hard days
at work, the mothers go home to their kids
and families. Without exception, every time
an officer finishes a call, she emphasizes
that she must get home to her kids at night.
While they should be applauded for balanc-
ing both duties, it's not necessary to explain
it in depth after every crime is solved.
What's even more annoying is that the
ladies feel the need to define their feminin-
ity with their giant hair, ugly scrunchies
and consistent reminders of their children
at home. Every one of them talks like a
broken record about their kids and family
- just in case you missed it the first seven
times. Everyone gets that you love your
kids - and that's great - but the insistence
on the home/work dynamic tries to create
a remarkable story where there is none. In
case TLC was unaware, it's common for
women to work and have a family, so the
idea of a mom being a cop isn't exactly an
original concept.
Needless to say, all these women could
kick the shit out of anyone, and you
wouldn't want to run into them if you are
in trouble with the law. From start to fin-
ish, each cop is so intense it's like they
were chasing down America's Most Want-

ed, but really it's just another kid running
a stop sign.
The only entertaining part of the hour-
long bore is when one of the ladies checks
on an old woman who hasn't been in contact
with her family for the last few days. What
they find is a feisty and nutty old woman
who laughs at the camera and continues to
tell the crew about how she just went and
Busting heads and
taking names, all
before dinner.
had her hair done. Other than that, the
criminals are all scummy old men who rock
their mullets with pride.
The worst part is that Maricopa County,
in many ways an innocent bystander here, is
clearly not getting positive press from this
wonder of a program. "Police Women" por-
trays the city like it's full of boring crime
and cops who don't really do anything pro-
ductive to help the city, but rather care more
about their TV personaof "busting some ass"
while being soccer moms.

DailyArts Writer
When most people walk into a muse-
um, they see only the work on display
rather than the
labor and prepara- A Day at the
tion behind exhib- Museum
its. In accordance
with the current lecture series
theme semes- Thursdays at
ter, "Meaningful 230 p tm
Objects: Museums 2.30 p.m.
in the Academy," Kelsey Museum
the "A Day at the
Museum" lecture series, presented by
the school of Literature, Science and
the Arts, is intended to associate the
bland titles and broad institutions of
the museum world with individual
faces and colorful personalities who
work behind the scenes of University
The lecture series will include
speakers from nearly all the museums
on campus, ranging from Sindecuse
torical Library to the University Her-
barium. It was launched this January
due to the efforts ofsKaren O'Brien, Col-
lections Manager at the Kelsey Museum
of Archaeology, and Carla Sinopoli, pro-
fessor of Anthropology and director of
the Museum of Anthropology.
O'Brien and Sinopoli originally want-
ed to organize their idea into a class
with readings on the different positions
found in museums. However, O'Brien
said that after its rejection by the Uni-
versity, they transformed the class into
a lecture series.
"A Day at the Museum" will feature
speakers from a variety of professions in
museum work, including conservators,
collection staff and curators.
O'Brien described the series as infor-
mal. The museum staff speakers will
speak for only 10 or 15 minutes before
the floor is opened up for questions,
maximizing the amount of the presen-
tation that can be devoted to where stu-
dent interest really lies.
Last Thursday, exhibit preparators
John Klausmeyer of the Exhibit Muse-
um of Natural History and Scott Meier
of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeol-
ogy discussed their backgrounds and
Both Klausmeyer and Meier empha-
sized the diversity of studies that led
them to their career in museums.
"Onething I do want to discuss is that

there is no set career path," Meier said.
"Get experience everywhere because
you never quite know where it will lead
With abackground in art, Klausmey-
er has worked in medical illustration
and moved on to exhibit preparation at
natural history museums.
In additiontotheir personal accounts,
both exhibitpreparatorsdiscussed their
everyday work.
"Our jobs are sort of the interface
between curators and researchers and
the public,"Klausmeyer said.
As a whole, "A Day at the Museum"
lecture series aims to give students a
realistic view of museum work.
O'Brien said that a major focus will
be "the impact museums have on com-
munities, and understanding more
about the concepts of museums,"
O'Brien also hopes that the series will
give any studentswith aspirations in the
museum career field a realistic look at
what the work will actually be like.
Like Klausmeyer and Meier, O'Brien
A look into the
museum life.
emphasizes the various disciplines that
can be applied to a profession in muse-
She said there was a considerable
"cross platform of degrees that students
might be getting here at the University
that can translate then into museum
work," O'Brien said.
This interdisciplinary nature of
the museum field has been conveyed
through the diversity of lectures in the
series. Previous lecturers have includ-
ed Natsu Oyobe, curator of UMMA,
and Amy Harris, museum director of
the Exhibit Museum of Natural His-
Klausmeyer's and Meier's lecture
aims to exemplify the type of museum
work that can be overlooked and will
give attendees a different perspective of
the complex world of museums.
This Thursday, the series will fea-
ture speakers involved in conserva-
tion, including Ann Flowers of the
Bentley Historical Library, Cathy
Baker of Hatcher Graduate Library and
Suzanne Davis of the Kelsey Museum
of Archaeology.

Fine film,
terrible ending
Remember Me
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Coen Brothers fatalism, meet
5 the new James Dean. "Remem-
ber Me" is a poetic tragedy that
revolves around NYU student
Tyler Hawkins (Robert Pat-
tinson, "Twilight"), his new-
found love Ally Craig (Emilie de
Ravin, "Lost") and the tangled
web of broken relationships that
binds them to their turbulent
There's not much to say that
hasn't been hashed out in depth
all over the mediascape: The end-
ing is offensive and has no perti-

nence to the story - it ruins an
excellent movie by attempting to
capitalizeoffaverysensitive time
in our national history. Further-
more, it almost entirely negates
the familial bonds that are devel-
oped as the story progresses and
adds yet another death to a lam-
entable body count.
However, Pattinson doesn't
squander his ample screen time.
Sulking has never looked so
stylish, and prototypical male
chauvinism is forgone in lieu of
a chivalrous masculinity that
endears his character to the
utmost. Pattinson's photogenic
face would alone be sufficient to
carry his career, but many crit-
ics fail to give him the benefit of
the doubt as an inexperienced
actor. The roles he's choosing
for future work are increasingly
sophisticated and will undoubt-
edly effect the positive evolu-
tion of his acting abilities.

Robert Pattinson: heartthrob by night, heartthrob with manuscripts by day.

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