The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - 7A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, November 3, 2010 - 7A
Big stimulus needed I
By PHILIP CONKLIN
Daily Arts Writerb
A laughable gallery
'What's So Funny'
The tagline for "Freakonomics,"
adapted from the best-selling book
of the same name, is "Six Rogue
Filmmakers Explore the Hidden
Side of Every-
film is split
into chapters, Freakonomics
each done by
a different AttheMichigan
director, but Magnolia
feels like a separate film rather
than part of a unified whole.
The film begins with the book's
authors, economist Steven Levitt
and journalist Stephen Dubner,
giving a side-by-side interview.
Their friendly banter, while
sometimes amusing, ultimately
doesn't add much to the movie.
However, they are both captivat-
ing people, especially Levitt, and
their presence is the only consis-
tency present in the film.
The first of four chapters, "A
Roshanda by Any Other Name,"
directed and narrated by Morgan
Spurlock ("Super Size Me"), ana-
lyzes the effect one's name has on
success. Chiefly, it examines the
divide between names white par-
ents give their children and the
names black parents give theirs.
Does a girl named Sarah have
an advantage over a girl named
Yolanda? The episode contains
some amusing anecdotes (the
divergent, unexpected paths of
two brothers named Winner and
Loser, among others) and is imag-
inatively done with man-on-the-
street interviews and creative
animation, but ultimately carries
little emotional weight.
it's clear from the opening
sequence that the filmmakers are
trying to make "Freakonomics"
accessible. The film is rife with
whimsical animation and fea-
tures a playful score during the
interview portions. The movie
does succeed in lucidly explain-
ing its points, and entertains you
along the way.
"Pure Corruption," an analysis
of cheating in traditional Japa-
nese Sumo Wrestling by director
COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA
ithin fruits are too unstable.
ibney ("Taxi to the Dark statistically supported theory is
is the most visually adven- that the legalization of abortion
segment, but it's cluttered led to the decline. This segment,
is to effectively convey its which is exceptionally animated,
ng. At one point it attempts fits into the theme of the film bet-
spare the fixing of Sumo ter than the others.
es to Bernie Madoff's giant The final chapter, "Can a Ninth
scheme, which ends up Grader Be Bribed to Succeed?,"
jumbled and not very rele- directed by Heidi Ewing ("Jesus
.nd, like the other chapters, Camp"), is about a high school
too caught up in its own that begins paying its students
nd loses its connection to for good grades. It follows two
t of the film; it digresses freshmen, one of whom succeeds
in raising his grades while the
other's grades decline. The film
deftly creates empathy for the
ur segments, two kids, and it almost seems
xdirectors, like a truncated full-length docu-
X mentary, but this short version
n clleaves the audience feeling short-
no clue. changed.
The chapters are connected
by awkward transitions featur-
critique of the Japanese ing Levitt and Dubner, which
system and a commen- don't unify the segments very
n the cultural differences well. And the ending, like the rest
n Japan and the United of the movie, doesn't make the
film's message clear. It seems to
ene Jarecki ("Why We be wrapping up some large idea,
directs the episode "It's but it's not clear what the idea is.
lways a Wonderful Life," "Freakonomics" is really a film by
analyzes the causes of the six rogue filmmakers who turned
sed crime rate in the early out to not be making the same
Levitt's controversial but film.
merges memes and
art in Ann Arbor
Mark Twain once said "Humor
is mankind's greatest blessing."
and Rocco DePi- W So
directors of The Funny
Gallery Project, Through
share this senti- Nog2
ing humor from Gallery Projet
many angles in
their latest exhibit, "What's So
The jokes told by each piece
in "What's So Funny" range
from simple wordplay, like Todd
Frahm's bowling pin structure
with a carved rabbit (titled Hare
Pin) and Tom McMillen-Oakley's
long metal line with multiple pro-
truding fists (Punchline), to heavi-
er commentaries on hot-button
topics like animal rights in Sue
Coe's Turnabout is Fair Play, a pic-
ture of a pig working in a human
"Sometimes people call us a
cutting-edge gallery, (but) I think
we never try to be cutting-edge or
not," said Pritschet, adding that
she firmly stands by the gallery's
commitment to acknowledging all
points of view on any given topic,
regardless of what visitors may
"There have been a couple of
times (when) people suggested that
we mightlosepatrons and it doesn't
matter, because we would totally
fail ourselves if we backed down
because there was something that
came into the gallery that had a
strong voice for the theme we chose
and we turned it down because we
were cowards," she said.
Many of the pieces, however,
tackle less controversial sub-
ject matter. Detroit-based artist
Teresa Petersen creates kitschy
assemblages and collages that
address the societal expectations
of women, among other topics.
Some of her collages play with the
idea of Mother Nature by depict-
ing housewives cooking for wood-
land creatures in the mountains or
"I start with a background from
the thrift store, like a bad begin-
ner's painting, and build a story on
'What's So Funny' embraces a controversial brand of humor.
top of it. They usually end up being
kind of funny," she explained.
"(When people say) 'Women's nat-
ural role is to cook' it's like, OK, if
it's so natural there's a stove in the
woods and ladies run around in
the woods cooking."
Ryan Standfest, another Detroit
artist, uses gag comic strips
expressing humor as a defense
mechanism and, he says, "the con-
cept of the absurd or folly, some-
thing that's doomed to fail."
"It's not the subject that usually
screams out humor, but I think a
lot of humor actually comes from
failure and people's attempt to
deal with that failure by making a
joke out of it," he explained.
While Standfest thinks some-
one with a darker sense of humor
will most appreciate his work, he
said "everyone can relate to fail-
ure, and everybody can relate to
this absurd idea that we make
jokes in order to get through the
day and to get through difficult
Some of Pritschet's work is also
featured in the exhibit, including
a photograph titled Ursus Ther-
mometerus globus calafacio, in
which a thermometer is placed
on a white wall that she believes
uncannily resembles the face of a
polar bear, similar to likenesses of
Jesus found on toast.
"I was just taking other photo-
graphs looking at different angles
of things, (and I said) 'Oh my God,
I've seen a polar bear in my ther-
mometer. This is a sign of global
warming!'," she said. Her goal is to
make a statement without causing
too many waves.
"I'm making a point, butI would
never argue with anyone about
global warming because I'm not
up for that kind of argument," she
Another contribution from
Pritschet, DePietro and Mike
Sivak is the collection of photo-
graphs titled Sad Keanu Meme
Visits Ann Arbor, in which a pic-
ture of a sad Keanu Reeves is
worked into various Ann Arbor
backgrounds. These photos, along
with Anthony Fontana's piece
Sculpture Fail - a heap of broken
pencils - deal with online cultural
phenomena known as memes.
To extend the range of humor
in the exhibit, Pritschet and DePi-
etro also include interactive piec-
es, like Automatic Bachelor Pad,
a tiny nook decorated with tiny
pianos, flashing lights and a self-
emptying ashtray, among other
eclectic items. High Five 4000
doles out high fives when a foot
pedal is pressed. These and other
interactive works open a door for
the public to connect with art that
is more accessible.
"We always try, besides getting
a real geographic range and a real
range of artistic level, to have a
whole range of media," Pritschet
said. "Rocco and I interact with
people (who visit the gallery), and
we also encourage people to bring
their children. We're committed
to kids being in the gallery."
Pritschet hopes that when yisi-
tors leave the exhibit, "they found
something funny here, a kindred
spirit who has the same sense of
humor they do, (and) that maybe
there's something that makes
them stop and think."
"You can break a barrier with
humor, and I think that's just very
exciting and powerful," she added.
'Friday' reaches the endzone
By JACOB AXELRAD
It'sgoodto beback ineDillon. For
those who are new to the fictional
Texas town where high school
football is a way of life, welcome.
fans of the criti-
drama "Friday Friday Night
welcome back. Lghts
The eagerly Wednesdays
awaited fifth at9 p.m.
and final season NO .
season marked an important
transition for the series. Coach
Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) was
forced to leave his job as coach
for the Dillon Panthers and take a
position as head coach for the tal-
ented but misguided East Dillon
Lions, due to a redistricting plan
in the town.
The season five premiere,
"Expectations," has us back in
Dillon with the characters we
know. But it's a distinctly differ-
ent Dillon from when the series
began, and better off for it. The
Panthers are becoming a thing of
the past and the Lions are now a
force to be reckoned with. New
characters dominate the story-
lines and older ones bid us fare-
well. The departure of Landry
Clark (Jesse Plemons), former
Panther and East Dillon Lion and
Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden),
the coach's daughter, are appro-
priate and well executed. Though
we'll miss them, it's understood
that it's time for them to leave.
Characters introduced in the last
season have now taken center
stage. Vince Howard (Michael B.
Jordan, "Hard Ball"), the Lions'
quarterback, is leading his team
with teammate Luke Cafferty
(Matt Lauria, "Lipstick Jungle").
It appears that their former rival-
ry has blossomed into a strong
Fittingly, the only character
who seems oddly out of place
is Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch,
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine"),
Robot elevator music
If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
the former Dillon Panther run- large fan base, "FNL" is on par
ning back. In prison after taking with the top fare currently on
the fall for his brother's crimes, network television. Developed
he seems worn and tired. He by Peter Berg in 2006 as a spinoff
tells his brother Billy in one short from the book and film of the
scene not to visit him as much. same title, the show has taken
It's tough to tell, but this may on a life of its own. It's a credit to
mark the end for Riggins, Dillon's the writers that they've managed
beloved bad boy. to take a powerful story, adapt it
The storylines are as fresh as superbly for television and hold
ever, imbued with genuine emo- a fanbase for five seasons. While
tion without ever being overly football is the thread that ties
sentimental. There are no heav- the storylines together, "FNL" is
ily dramatized scenes or cliff- more of a character study of the
hangers. Rather, it's the subtler inhabitants of the town. Nothing
moments that are celebrated: the is better than watching Chan-
dler and Connie Britton ("24")
- who plays his wife, Tami Tay-
t lor - discuss everyday life with a
Out with the old, 'nuanced chemistry. It's a lesson
. .in acting from two masters of the
in with the new craft.
Older characters make their
for F cast. departures and new ones step up
to fill their shoes, but the specific
tone of the series is always pre-
final ping-pong match between served. After all, what is a high
Taylor and his daughter before school football team if not a con-
she leaves home for college, a stantly changing group of indi-
stressed out teenager strug- viduals committed to a common
gling to parent her little brother goal?
now that dad is out of the pic- Before departing for college,
ture. These are the true-to-life Landry remarks to Julie "I'm
details that have been the defin- gonna miss this place." We'll miss
ing characteristic of "FNL" over him too but the truth is, the town,
the years. This is a show that the team and the show will go on
embraces the silences. At times, without him. By the season's end,
just a look or a shift in body pos- we'll all have to leave Dillon too,
ture conveys the feeling of the but for a little while longer we can
moment. still root for Eric Taylor and the
Although never garnering a East Dillon Lions.
By EMMA GASE bleeps puncture the song, adding
DailyArts Writer to its futuristic space-age sound.
"2 Forms of Anger" begins with
Bald, British big-wig producer a beatboxing drum loop and smat-
Brian Eno is back with a new solo terings of bongos underneath a
album. Having served a short ten- white-noise soundscape. As the
ure as the keyboardist and mas- bongos speed up, a distorted elec-
ter of all things tric guitar is introduced for the
synthesizer in first rocking sound on the record.
the exalted Roxy With uncharacteristically tradi-
Music, Eno's Brian Eno tional electric guitars and drums,
street cred in the Eno tempts listeners into thinking
music biz is pret- Small Craft on a melody will emerge somewhere
ty much as gold- the Milk Sea amidst the chaos. But alas, once it
en as you can get. Warp all culminates in the most tradi-
He has curated a tionally rock'n'roll sound on the
festival in Aus- album, it abruptly ends.
tralia, scored films ("The Lovely The album has clear shifts in
Bones") and produced for some of emotional direction; the anxious
the most titanic names in music and choppy tone of the first half
(Coldplay, U2). mellows out considerably to a
Eno pioneered electronic art- sweeping, relatively serene (but
pop in the 1970s with albums like still eerie) second half.
Here Come the Warm Jets and Tak- "Bone Jump" sounds like the
ing Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) score to a robotic version of "Law
that were highly influential and & Order." The clean bass line cuts
stylistically ahead of their time. through the rudimentary drum
But Eno is also known for a lin- track while the old-school synth
gering interest in constructing and creepy ascending notes add an
what he calls "sonic landscapes." element of suspense to the song.
He has put out several "ambience" By the time the track comes to a
albums, minimalist in instrumen- close, it sounds less "Law & Order"
tation but complex in atmosphere and more like the score to the orig-
and 100 percent lyric-free. His lat- inal "A Nightmare on Elm Street."
est, Small Craft on a Milk Sea, is a Milk Sea is unlike anything in
spare, spacey and emotive array popular music today; it requires
of tracks that are most effective patience and a high level of tol-
when listened to in their collective erance. Let's just say you're not
Don't expect the glam melodic
punch of a "Prairie Rose" or the
grandiose pop of a "Life is Long"
on this album. However, if you
have ever wondered what a robot's
thoughts sounded like, Small Craft
on a Milk Sea would be a good
"Flint March" sounds perfectly
suited for the backdrop of a "Bat-
tlestar Galactica" chase scene. The
looping synth provides the founda-
tional backbeat, as the percussion
and screeching who-knows-what
slowly climb to a tense, frantic
crescendo. Spaceship industrial "This is where I go to cry."
going to blast it in your car stereo
while cruisin' the strip anytime
soon, unless you live on Jupiter.
There are no singles, no standout
pop-oriented tracks, no booming
choruses or jangly guitars. The
peculiar space sonics are finely
Perfect for when
you're stuck on a
'Small Craft on a
crafted and pristinely layered
(thanks to two collaborators Jon
Hopkins and Leo Abrahams), but
they aren't something you can
whistle on your way to class.
Though there isn't the instant
gratification of easy-to-love tunes,
Small Craft on a Milk Sea lends
poignancy to the most ordinary of
activities. Listen to it while walk-
ing down the street; suddenly the
tedious scenes of everyday life are
given movement, the most mun-
dane activities are ennobled. That
is the key to an ambience album:
It allows you to see and feel from
a different perspective. Brian Eno
can do that better than almost