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November 08, 2010 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 8, 2010 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday. November 8, 2010 - 7A

Tyler Perry gets serious

The Radio Dept. trip-hops
its way into the background

'For Colored Girls'
is melodramatic, yet
still poignant
DailyArts Writer
Rape, abortion, murder, child
abuse and incest - the sensitive
themes of "For
Colored Girls" are
all in a day's work
for Tyler Perry, For Colored
who (shock-
ingly) has chosen Girls
to make a film At Quality16
chronicling the and Rave
troublesof abused an ate
women instead of Liogale
another cross-
dressing Madea family fest.
For the past eight years, Perry
has churned out film after film
about the Brown family with the
regularity of a young Woody Allen
- films widely panned by critics,
yet often celebrated by black audi-
ences. So despite the film's largely
experimental nature, we shouldn't
expect Perry's latest, an adaptation
of Ntozake Shange's off-Broadway
poem-play "For Colored Girls Who
Have Considered Suicide / When
the Rainbow is Enuf," to be any
different from his previous works.
But it is. It's true that the gim-
micky color palette, with each
woman embodying a certain shade
of the spectrum, is so frustratingly
heavyhanded it makes you want
to throw something at the screen
every time a tear-stained char-
acter makes another reference to
a rainbow. And it's true that the
bizarre metaphysical monologues,
adapted from extracts from each
of Shange's 20 poems, can be rath-
er excruciating, especially as the
film whirls to a close. But it's also
true that there are moments in
"Girls" so poignant - so stagger-
ingly sad - that you might actually
find a tear unexpectedly slipping
out of your eye.
But this could just stem from the
content itself. Shots of a woman's
heartbroken face as her babies per-
ilously fall out of her eyesight, or
a shivering young girl hesitantly
bending her legs open to rid her-
self of an unwanted pregnancy
resonate with a rawness unseen in
much of modern cinema. At times,
the emotions on these women's
faces ring so genuine, they seem
positively Greek in nature, harken-
ing back to Sophocles's plays of pas-
sive heroines sheddingtears for the
deeds for which they were never
fully responsible.
or maybe the film's success
derives from the performances. As
the eight women slide in and out
of each other's lives - some only

DailyArts Writer
Though formed in 1995, Swedish
dream-pop band The Radio Dept.
has a sound that
feels like it has W
been around for-
ever. There's a Te Radio
timeless, genre-
transcending Dept.
quality to the Never
band's sound F
that's reflected Follow Suit
in its hazy atmo- Lahrador
sphere and wist-
fully melancholic lyrics. On the new
EP Never Follow Suit - a succinct
collection of five songs - palpable
nostalgia is evident through the
album's dreamy lo-fi production
and deliberately slow-paced and lei-
surely rhythm.
The Radio Dept.'s influences are
quite diverse, with band members
citing Joy Division, Frank Sinatra
ard Kraftwerk among the many
bands that have contributed to their
sound. The merging of those dispa-
rate influences gives the band an

inherently likeability - or, in other
words, the band sounds relatively
Consequently, The Radio Dept.
is very easy to listen to, but by no
means does it classify as an "easy-
listening" band mistakable for ele-
vator music. Still, there are no harsh
sounds or disjointed riffs. Lyrics are
incomprehensible but easy to guess
at. Half-formed murmurs imply
vague dissatisfaction and unrequit-
ed love. Trip-hop beats and shoe-
gaze influences meld seamlessly.
The album is cohesive, smooth and
The EP clocks in atjust under 20
minutes, and two of the five songs
are variations of "Never Follow
Suit," a track off their LP Clinging
to a Scheme. Sure, it's a pretty good
song (fun beat, cool British person
rapping, etc.) but probably unde-
serving of consisting of almost half
of an EP - especially as it's already
featured on a previous album. The
lack of song diversity in the EP
makes Never Follow Suit seem like
a lazy endeavor. The last track,
a remix of "Never Follow Suit"

entitled "Never Swallow Fruit," is
a lengthy eight minutes and 14 sec-
onds and isn't much different from
the original. Although the EP is
brimming with promise and poten-
tial, it falls short of expectations.
Never Follow Suit is perfect for
providing beautiful, ambient back-
ground noise, which isn't surpris-
ing for a band that's already been
A pleasing,
mellifluous disc.
featured on a soundtrack. On the
soundtrack to the 2006 film "Marie
Antoinette," The Radio Dept.
accompanies the young queen's
taciturn listlessness and the pic-
turesque scenes of Versailles.
Consequently, it's no surprise that
Never Follow Suit lacks the emo-
tional depth that would vault the
EP from being a passive backdrop
to providing an active listening

"No, I will not be in 'Sister Act and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.' Go away"

playing peripheral roles to other's
storylines - they have little time
to be memorable. But memorable,
they are. Standouts include a feral1
Thandie Newton ("The Pursuit ofI
Happyness") ravenously assert-
ing her right to sex for pleasure,
a richly comedic Loretta Devine,
("Crash") as a condom-doling
nurse and a sunken-eyed Kerry
Washington ("Ray") asa child ser-
vices worker who just wants a baby1
of her own. But really, there's not
a misstep from the entire cast,
featuring Anna Wintour-like
magazine editor Janet Jackson
("Why Did I Get Married?"), bro-
ken housewife Kimberly Elise
("Diary of a Mad Black Woman"),
cult initiate Whoopi Goldberg
("Ghost"), dance teacher Anika
Noni Rose ("The Princess and the
Frog") and young hopeful Tessa
Thompson ("When a Stranger
Calls"). Together, these actresses
push past the overdramatic dia-
logue in order to portray women
truly afflicted with sorrows and
But maybe, just maybe, a large
part of the film's effectiveness
comes from Perry himself. Say
what you want about the man's
lack of directorial subtlety, but he
manages to avoid many of the pit-
falls that could have arisen from
such a venture by letting the mate-
rial speak for itself. "For Colored
Girls" might be soapy or melodra-
matic - in fact, it's almost over-
whelmingly so - but Perry's vision
manages to cohere the unwind-
ing narratives. He doesn't hold
back from what he has to say, and
because of it, he shows his will-
ingness to experiment with the
medium, to varied - but mostly
successful - results.
"For Colored Girls" may forever
hold the stigma of an "Oprah's
Book Club" choice and, of course,
the stigma of being a Tyler Perry
movie (from which it will never
recover, unfortunately). But to
classify the work as another sad,

racially driven Perry film seems
unfair. Effective films are never
wholly defined by the director
behind the camera or the race of
the actresses onscreen, and despite
its unapologetic melodrama and
occasional disconnect from the
modern world, "For Colored Girls"
is an effectivefilm. Itmightnotwin
an Oscar because of it, but at least it
can go to sleep knowing it's better
than "The Blind Side."

n ,



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the best gifts need the best network.

From Page 6A
makes the scene memorable.
on a different level, Martin
Scorsese's "Goodfellas" has
numerous montages to classic
rock songs, including a masterful
extended Ray Liotta voiceover
montage under the piano exit of
"Layla" by Derek and the Domi-
nos. The song's lamentful, nos-
talgic and yet accepting decline
to a romantic affair perfectly
reflects its point in the film, as
the crime family culture of the
first two acts falls in bloody and
disastrous fashion, allowing nar-
rator and protagonist Henry Hill
(Liotta) to walk on (relatively)
unscathed but yearning for his
younger days.
Whenever I hear the piano exit
to "Layla," it's not that I see the
entire montage from Goodfellas;
the importance of the combina-
tion is that each form informs and
changes the other. For me, just as

much as "Layla" is an essential
part of "Goodfellas," the film has
become an essential part of my
experience of the song.
The same way that people
relive their memories to music,
my experience of music often
returns me to a film. That said,
music in film is more than math-
ematical and the combination is
far more than the sum of its parts.
Music combined with a visual
medium can change the way we
move, the way we respond to real
situations and most importantly,
the way we remember.
The human memory is enor-
mously complex; we can remem-
ber songs lyric-for-lyric that we
haven't thought of in years, and
in the same way, we can always
remember the essential combina-
tion between aural and visual
- whether that comes from our
own experience or through wit-
nessing another's in film.
Sohoni wants to ride in a bus with
you, singing "Tik Tok." To accept,
e-mail him at asohoni@umich.edu.

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