The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 -- 5
Justice is served on FX
New series 'Justified' is
everything a modern
western should be
By ANT MITCHELL
Daily Arts Writer
"Justified" offers a glimpse into what
a modern day western should look like
in a way "Walking
Tall" never even came
close to accomplish-
After a contro-
versial shooting, Sundays at
Miami-based Deputy 10 P.M.
U.S. Marshall Ray-
lan Givens (Timothy
Olyphant, "Damages") is transferred
to his hometown in eastern Kentucky,
where he's faced not only with anti-
Semitic terrorist cells run by his old
coal-mining buddy, but also - Gasp! -
All joking aside, the return home of a
long-gone son of a small southern town
is a perfect set-up for unpacking a shit-
load of fantastic storylines, character
histories and so on. Not only that, but
perhaps the best feature by far of "Jus-
tified" is the twangy, rough but beauti-
ful setting. With the "Jesus Saves" sign
on a country barn, the shady church
next to the liquor store and the over-
grown trees (that get blown up by the
"Don't look, but Will Smith and a giant metal spider are right behind you."
anti-Semitic mullet gator poacher),
those in charge of location and filming
deserve a major pat on the back in the
same way that the unrelated, but simi-
larly lush "True Blood" merit praise.
Gray area just melts away in the
western set-up of each standoff
between Raylan and his nemesis. Lit-
erally twice in one episode he sits at a
table with a gun and has a quick draw
confrontation. Yet standoffs such as
this, which overtly mirror a hypotheti-
cal scene out of "The Good, the Bad and
"I swear, if you touch my beans on a stick one more time!"
Ann Arbor Fili
By EMILY BOUDREAU
Daily Arts Writer
Nearly 50 years ago, according to
tNearly 50 years ago, according to the
Ann Arbor Film
Festival's website, Ann Arbor
"a casual group of
fascinated students, Film Festival
filmmakers and film .
enthusiasts crowded Tonight through
into the smoke-filled Sunday
Lorch Hall auditori- Michigan Theater
um" for the first Ann
Arbor Film Festival. Now, people come
from around the country to the Michi-
gan Theater to see films from all over
This year, at the 48th festival, the
focus is on fully international films -
films from other countries or about
other countries. Rather than a starkly
divided collection of film based on the
boundaries of nationality, the movies on
display at the AAFF promote dialogue
and work together.
"A lot of time goes into crafting the
lineup," said the festival's executive
director Donald Harrison. "It's like a
gallery curator selecting pieces for a
gallery. We put the films together so that
they speak in a bigger conversation."
But the cohesive-theme of the festival
does not limit the films.
"We don't really set out with a focus.
We look at what's coming in and we see
themes emerge - every year there are
adventures and surprises," Harrison
This year alone, filmmakers from 67
countries submitted 2,500 films. From
these, 170 films from 20 countries will
"It's an extensive process to narrow it
down," Harrison said. "It's hard to say
what criteria we're looking for. For the
most part, we look for filmmakers who
approach their work as an artist - we
look at craft, intention, purpose and
always for new voices, ideas, stories and
techniques. We look for exceptions."
Since its founding in the '60s, the fes-
tival has been dedicated to providing a
forum for daring and novel films of all
varieties and genres. This year's festival
promises to continue that tradition.
The opening night will feature a
broad collection pfshort films that
exemplify independent filmmsaking,
followed by a catered reception with
a DJ and an open bar. Following open-
ing night, the festival will also present,
among other programs, "This Animated
Life," a collection of animated films,
"The Kids are Alright," a showcase of
short films for children; and live perfor-
mances. As part of the series, an anima-
tor will be narrating his film's plot while
he does the film's animation in real-time
in the theater.
"It's an experience that will only hap-
pen once," Harrison said.
The festival fuses older cinematic
achievements with new voices and
ideas. The fresh and the old-fashioned
will be fused as audio-visual and hip-
hop artist Flying Lotus performs the
world premiere of a live score to Harry
Smith's 1962 animated film, "Heaven &
This year will also be remarkable
because the festival received a grant
from the Academy of Motion Pictures
This year's festival
will show 170 films
from 20 countries.
Arts and Sciences to bring world-
renowned experimental filmmaker
Kenneth Anger to Ann Arbor for a
screening of a selection of his restored
films, followed by a conversation
between Anger and film critic Dennis
This year, the film festival's organiz-
ers are trying to make it a more inter-
active experience, promoting more
conversations to connect people.
-"The more we create interactions
and dialogue, the more (the festival)
becomes something you don't want to
miss," Harrison said. "It's important to
engage the audience in the art of film, to
have them connect with the artists and
celebrate the art's form and challenge
"It's been a lot of work," he added,
"but it's rewarding and we have a great
the Ugly," are surprisingly likable to
the point where it's impossible to imag-
ine the writers doing it any other way.
It's even possible that a contin-
ued, even repetitious, use of standard
western gun fight scenes in episodes
to come (a seemingly likely choice on
the writer's part), will manage to go by
without becoming stale or obnoxious.
The character of Raylan himself is
at times a bit exasperating, especially
because the dialogue (though suitably
so) tends toward well worn one-liners
about getting "out of town before time
is up." He may in fact be the worst-
developed, least-fascinating character
in the pilot episode, with daddy issues
so blatant they didn't even need to be
mentioned (two or three times). Yet
Olyphant is suitable for the role as his
somewhat slimy, yet gentlemanly way
became more bearable, and then final-
ly likable, as the episode progressed.
Especially after seeing his character
deal with the damsel in distress of the
episode, who was, refreshingly, a sexy,
blonde, cigarette-smoking housewife
who shot her abusive husband over
his dinner. It's nice when the good guy
doesn't have a quick five-minute sex
scene slipped in for the masses who
insist on that sort of thing.
All in all, "Justified" is without ques-
tion worth a watch. Put on some cow-
boy boots and a hat, grab some canned
beans and a stick and prepare for some-
thing between moderate and great
enjoyment to ensue.
community. There re lots of individu-
als, local and regional, who want to see
this grow. Afterwards, people have told
me how it affected, inspired or motivat-
ed them. It's rewardingto know that the
festival has that strong value of art - to
inspire people to create."
Other than providing a place to view
cutting-edge films, the festival will also
create an "electric atmosphere," Har-
rison said. With filmmakers like Matt
McCormick coming from his premiere
at South by Southwest to show his film
"Some Days are Better than Others,"
featuring James Mercer of The Shins
and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-
Kinney, many of the showings will be
"In one of the most beautiful theaters
in the country you can expand your
palate and your ability to see culture,"
Harrison said. "Just being packed in the
theater is something you don't forget.
It's like goingto see your first concert or
your favorite band play live."
With 170 films showing, the festival
offers something for everyone this year.
This year, the films range from a 16mm
film that explores the structure of the
haiku through a portrait of a farm to a
documentary about Jerusalem's only
"It's just as much an opportunity for
scientists as it is for artists," Harrison
said. "I hear people talking after the
films, and it's really about meeting art-
ists, challenging each other and sharing
in the experience."
The AAFF also gives the University
an outlet for expression. Zeynep Grsel
("Coffee Futures"), Chris McNamara
("The Use of Movement") and Alexis
Bravos ("A Deep Well") are all faculty
members who are presenting films in
"This year we have a lot more films
from members of the University com-
munity," Harrison said. "There are a
lot of talented people there and it just
worked out well that so many of them
had films ready to submit this year."
The 48th Ann Arbor Film Festival
continues to dedicate itself to finding
distinctive and challenging films to
unite all members of the community.
The festival will run from March 23 to
28 at the Michigan Theater.
There's something strange happen-
ing in the land of television. It's
phenomenon that has been preva-
lent overseas for a while, and has slowly and
covertly crept its way
into American program-
ming. But the winds are
picking up and a storm is
a'brewing. It's the wind of
TV voyeurism and a storm
of live online streaming,
and together they just
make me pretty ill at ease. "
When I say "TV voyeur- CAROLYN
ism," I don't mean any KLARECKI
of the typical reality TV
shows. There's nothing
wrong with watching ordinary people doing
extraordinary or unusual things. To me, it
isn't creepy watching people compete for
love, money or fame by enduring bizarre chal-
lenges because these aren't experiences we're
likely to have ourselves. I know the closest I'll
get to outwitting, outplaying and outlasting
castaways on a deserted island is on TV, and
so I'm perfectly content to tune in to "Survi-
vor" for that experience.
What is a tad unsettling are shows like
"Real World" and "Jersey Shore." The casts of
these shows don't do anything other than live
their lives, but with all of America watching.
Don't get me wrong, I'm among those millions
of viewers, but part of me always wonders
why, exactly, I tune in. Why am I watching
people do what I could be doing if I weren't
glued to the TV? TV in this vein makes me a
little uneasy; the advent of live online stream-
ing and Hulu's latest project "IfI Can Dream"
make me outright uncomfortable.
Here's the premise: Five'20-somethings
with aspirations of fame move into a house
in Hollywood with half-hour episodes airing
on Hulu each week. And here's the innova-
tion: The "Dream House" (cute, right?) is
equipped with 56 cameras that stream live
footage online 24 hours a day, seven days a
week. Anytime you want, you can log on and
see what Amanda, Ben, Giglianne, Justin and
Kara are up to. They may be lounging by the
pool, cooking in the kitchen or even (as Ben
is doing as I write this) sleeping. And let's be
honest - this is hella-creepy!
These kids aren't doing anything other
than attending the occasional acting lesson
and yet, people want to watch them do their
laundry, make meals and other completely
ordinary things they could be doing them-
selves. The gimmick of wannabe stars isn't
enough to save the show from its disturbing
atmosphere. If you really want to observe
some aspiring artists, hop on a bus to North
Campus and befriend some Music, Theatre &
What's even stranger to me is that televi-
sion abroad has been doing this for years.
One of the most extreme cases of TV voy-
eurism took place on one of Japan's many
insane game shows. A Japanese comedian
Nasubi was stripped naked and locked in an
apartment with absolutely nothing but large
stacks of magazines, envelopes and stamps.
He would be released after winning V1 mil-
lion (about $10,000) from mail-in sweep-
stakes. If he wanted clothes, he had to win
them; if he wanted food that wasn't rice, he
had to win it. He was unaware that the foot-
age from the cameras was beingstreamed live
online and that a team of editors were always
on call to keep a cartoon eggplant over his
And crazy enough, it was a hit sensation.
People all over Japan logged on to watch Nasu-
bi. It was so successful thatonce he reached
his goal, the producers took him to South
Korea, threw him into another room and made
him win enough money to make it back home.
It sounds incredibly cruel, but people loved it.
The diaries he kept from his 15-month journey
became best-sellers. Hebecame a national
celebrity and had no idea. And most of the
time, he did nothing but fill out sweepstakes
forms. Still, the gimmick was pretty insane: At
least he was doing something extraordinary
instead of just going to class.
Maybe I'm justbehind the times or resis-
tant to change and should justget used to the
way things are goingto be. After all, foreign
versions of "Big Brother" have live feeds into
the house. The United Kingdom and Ger-
man versions even broadcast sex between
the housemates on national TV, so pretty
much everything goes in Europe. Maybe
TV voyeurism is
across the pond.
this phenomenon is an inevitable result of
cultural differences and the ongoing cultural
globalization. We took "Monty Python's Fly-
ing Circus" and "The Office" from the United
Kingdom, so it was only a matter of time
before one of the online streaming shows fell
into the mix. Maybe in 10 years we'll all be
carefree and uninhibited like the Europeans.
Is it really creepy to be a voyeur if you're
watching an exhibitionist? At least on "If
I Can Dream," everyone is aware they're
being watched online atall times unlike poor
Nasubi. It's not something I understand - you
certainly won't find live footage online of
me anytime soon, nor will I be signing on to
watch others. But who am I to deny you the
pleasure of watching people in their everyday
lives? I'd rather you watch the cast of "If I Can
Dream" as they sleep than stand outside my
window at night.
Klarecki has been staring suspiciously
out her window for days: To soothe
her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
From Russia with love;
Chekov's 'Uncle Vanya'
By EMMA JESZKE
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Anton Chekhov is among the most per-
formed playwright in the entire world - right
up there with William Shake-
speare himself. Luckily for
University students, a rare Unde Vanya
opportunity to experience Tomorrow
a bona fide production of a through
landmark work in Russian Saturday at 8
theater is here. The Maly p.m.,Sunday
Drama Theater of St. Peters-a
burg, a world-renowned at2 p.m.
theater, is bringing its rendi- Power Center
tion of "Uncle Vanya" to Ann Ticketsfrom $18
Arbor in honor of the 150th
anniversary of Chekhov's birth.
Dina Dodina, assistant director and dra-
maturg for "Uncle Vanya" and vice artistic
director and international tour manager of the
Maly Drama Theater, said director Lev Dodin
has wanted to share his theater's version of
"Uncle Vanya" with American audiences for
quite some time. She explained that Chekhov
wouldn't be so popular if he hadn't been a uni-
versal genius and a master of capturing the
essence of "the human condition."
"The main concept of 'Uncle Vanya' is at
some point al-l of us, as humans, realize that
we've been living life not the way that we
wanted to live it," Dodina said. "What's hap-
pening tous now is not what we dreamt about
when we were young, not what we aimed for.
But, normally when you realize your life is not
the life you wanted for yourself, it's usually
way too late to try and change it.
"And this is the crux of being human, this is
what the human condition is - usually when
you know you're living wrong it's too late to
start living right," she said.
"This is why 'Uncle Vanya' might be the
most universal play that Chekov ever wrote,"
she added. "Dissatisfaction with life, if I'm
not mistaken, is pretty international. It's not
something only Russians encounter."
The Maly Drama Theater production will
be performed in Russian with English sur-
titles. Dodina said the scenic and costume
choices have been internationally hailed as a
work of art and are "imbricative of Chekhov's
era, but not necessarily rooted in it."
"For a production of a classic, our produc-
tion is surprisingly alive and surprisingly
sexy," she said.
The Center for Russian, Eastern European
and Eurasian Studies, in partnership with the
University Musical Society, has planned events
around Maly Drama Theater's visit in order to
enhance the cultural experience for the Uni-
versity and greater Ann Arbor community.
Today from 3 to 5 p.m., there will be a Rus-
sian Language Tea in the Power Center's
green room for the Maly Drama Theater and
the local Russian-speaking community, host-
ed by the Department for Slavic Languages
and Literature. There will be an interview
with Dodin at 6:30 p.m. before Friday's per-
formance in the Founders Room of the Alumni
Center. Both events are free and open to the
Tomorrow night at 8 p.m., there will be a
special performance planned exclusively for
students with reduced ticket prices - $15 for
center seats and $10 for the sides.
UMS, as a part of its lobby event, will also be
holding "roundtable discussions" for students
to participate in after each performance. After
the special Wednesday student performance,
smalligroups willgo as a part of this lobby event
to Silvio's. Tickets are free and can be obtained
The Maly Drama
Theater presents a
after the performances from any UMS repre-
sentative wearing a green shirt.
"The whole idea (with the roundtable dis-
cussions) is to just kind of connect people to
the performance after it's done, to keep people
talking about it and to draw interest. Make it
a place for conversation," said Rachel Lum, an
LSA sophomore and UMS marketingintern.
"I think it's a real cultural experience and I
think it's something we need to take advantage
of," she added. "UMS brings a lot of really cool
things, but the Maly Drama Theater is one of
the greatest in the world. And they are doing
somethingthat is very much reminiscent of the
"And I mean, Lev Dodin? Come on! That's
just something that is once in a lifetime."