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January 31, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-31

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The Michigan Daily michigandaily.com

Monday, January 31, 2011 -- 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, January 31, 2011 - 7A

Drowning in waves of
quality television

"This worked with McAdams, goddamnit!"
A vapid'Vqalentine'

Well crafted film
tells stale story of
love gone wrong
Daily Arts Writer
it's that most familiar-seem-
ing of domestic dramas: the story
of a broken marriage unspooling
into crisis
before our
eyes. It boasts
two excel- Blue Valentine
lent perfor-
mances from At the State
two attrac- The Weinstein
tive people Companys
paid to give
excellent per-
formances. It crosscuts between
the couple's early courtship
and present-day derailment;
meanwhile, we're treated to an
adorable but personality-free
toddler, a vengeful ex-boyfriend
and several raw, nonerotic sex-
ual encounters (not even close
to NC-17 material unless your
blood curdles at the sight of a
man giving his wife 10-15 sec-
onds of otal pleasure).
In short, "Blue Valentine" is
exactly what it wants to be: an
ultra-low-budget cautionary tale
about the follies of love, a film
imminently disposable by its
very nature, with a shelf life only
as long as the gap until the next
prestige picture about a marital
struggle. It will prove illuminat-
ing for some viewers and unre-
markable for others; it will be no
one's favorite movie.
Yet the film boasts a note-

worthy visual style - the low
budget having freed writer-
director Derek Cianfrance
("Brother Tied") and cinema-
tographer Andrij Parekh ("It's
Kind of a Funny Story") to make
refreshing, effective choices.
Even when Dean (Ryan Gos-
ling, "Half Nelson") and Cindy
(the Oscar-nominated Michelle
Williams, "Brokeback Moun-
tain") occupy the same physi-
cal space, they rarely share the
same frame; we'll see soft-lens
close-ups of the sides of their
faces, one at a time in the blue-
tinged light of a love motel's
"future room," heightening the
sense of divide between the
two. When the film falls back
on digital video shaky-cam only
two scenes later, it's akin to a
concert where the singer fol-
lows up a rollicking new track
with his cheesy, overplayed hit
from the '90s.
The couple's two halves, Dean
and Cindy, merit our sympathy,
though not in equal measure.
We root for them throughout the
first two acts of the film on the
strength of their performances.
In the flashbacks, we see Cindy
driven to attend medical school,
while high school dropout Dean,
a lifter for a moving company
who meets her purely by chance,
is driven only to be with her. He
serenades her with a perfor-
mance of "You Always Hurt the
One You Love" that probably fits
the movie's theme a little too
closely, but nevertheless pos-
sesses mysterious heart-warm-
ing power.
Dean's certainly a hand-
ful, though. One could make

a strong argument that by the
end, he is much more at fault for
the couple's destruction than
Cindy. Consider: Dean is overly
emotional, childlike and brash
in his actions, selfish in the way
he drags Cindy to a sleazy love
motel the night before she's on
call because he can't get over the
death of their dog. Throughout
all of this, Cindy's chief crime
seems to be her inability to com-
municate her emotions prop-
erly - a problem to be sure, but
it doesn't manifest itself as a
breaking point the way Dean's
actions do.
It's difficult to say whether
this uneven distribution of flaws
was the Cianfrance's intention,
but it comes off as sloppy char-
acterization on his part. After
all, why root for Dean and Cindy
to work out their issues when we
agree with Dean's self-patroniz-
ing admission that he's not good
enough for her?
There is some material in
the script that holds promise -
mainly Cindy's conversations
with her frail grandmother,
which hints at the dark under-
current of loveless relationships
through America's generations.
But by the third act, when the
naturalistic, bubbling tension
between Dean and Cindy boils
over into soap-opera histrionics,
we no longer have that tie to a
larger thematic message. There
are only two ways this story can
end now: sadly or ambiguously.
And neither option will distin-
guish "Blue Valentine" from the
venerable domestic-struggle
stable of squids, whales and rev-
olutionary roads.

ver winter break, I was
making my list of the top
five television shows of
2010 for the Daily when it hit me
- there's an obnoxious amountof
quality tele-
vision cur-
rently on air.
in the sense
that it drives r
me bonkers to
think about
how many
excellent KAVI
shows I need PANDEY
to regularly
watch, both
as a TV columnist and a devotee
of the medium, all while balanc-
ing studies, work and this thing
called a social life.
As I perused my final tally -
"Justified," "Parks & Recreation,"
"Boardwalk Empire," "HowI
Met Your Mother" and "Terriers"
- I was appalled by the number
of awesome shows I had left off.
There was the unrelentingly
clever "30 Rock," the endlessly
genius "Community," the slight-
"Lost," the understated "How to
Make It in America" and the rest
of HBO's programming arsenal,
among a bevy of others.
And those are just some of the
shows I regularly keep up with
- I'm always one season behind
on AMC's acclaimed alliterative
duo of "Mad Men" and "Break-
ing Bad" and have yet to sample
loads of other critically beloved
shows, like "Fringe," "The Good
Wife" and "Doctor Who." Late-
night TV-wise, it's a total clus-
tercuss - I sob at the number
of ?uestlove's epic "Remix the
Clips" I've missed on "Late Night
with Jimmy Fallon" because
I was watching the repeatof
Conan interviewing Donald
Glover or some other jabroni,
which I missed at its regular
time because I was watching Jon
Stewart eviscerate Glenn Beck
on "The Daily Show."
But the party don't stop
there, no. Whoah-ooh oh oh oh
oh. More intriguingshows are
constantly premiering on all
networks, like "Lights Out" on
FX, "Episodes" on Showtime and
"The Chicago Code" on FOX.

Now th
ping ou
the upc
I mean
just thi
I try
"The Si
and lea
I'll nev
good T
to watc
cise as4
ity star
on DVI
part of
how ut
on "Tr

sere's even Starz, the new spending less time doing home-
ble player that is whip- work.
at much-admired original But unless they are maniacs
t like "Party Down" and like me, there's a limit to how
coming, splendid-looking much television people will
lot." watch during a week. They'll be
et baby Ganesh. See what resistant to immediately adopting
about obnoxious? I'm newshows, no matter how good
annoyed with myself they may be - especially since
nking about all the must- there is so much good TV they
shows I just named. have to watch anyway. The Next
valiantly to keep up, Great Show will likely struggle
ng in DVR recordings of to attract viewers and be axed
impsons" between classes before it has found an audience.
ving "Glee" on in the back- Let's take the example of "Ter-
as I do homework. But it riers." The critically adored show
as if no matter what I do, was densely plotted, beautifully
er be able to follow all the acted and allthat, but it averaged
V I feel like I'm supposed about a million viewers and was
h - it's as futile an exer- promptly canceled after its first
expecting to see a minor- season. As I spread the gospel
in a CBS sitcom (BOOM, about how great "Terriers" was,
I). And catching up later around the airing of its third
Ds doesn't count - it's an episode, I noticed a common
y differentexperience to be response - "I'll get around to
the cultural conversation, it after I've caught up on 'Mad
ng episodes as they air, dis- Men' and finished the rest of'The
g events with friends and Wire,' "and yadda yadda yadda.
g real-time tweets about There's no doubt in my mind that
terly mental that last death those people would have loved
ue Blood" was. "Terriers," but they were already
too busy watching agamutof
other essential shows. And even
hank God though I hope they'll catch "Ter-
riers" on DVD, the show's fate
for CBS. has already been sealed.
*o ' The demise of "Terriers" defi-
nitely involved other factors, but
the thoughtthat its doom was at
feel like an idiot for leastcpartially dueto the excess
ining aboutthis surplus of qualitytelevision will always
t-see TV - it's like a kid pervade. Nowadays, whenever I
whining because he has hear that an awesome-sounding
ny Christmas presents and show has been greenlit, I actually
gure out which one to open become worried - will people
but consider the impli- have time to watch and appreci-
of this oversaturation. ate this show? Will it find enough
f this abundance of quality viewers to fulfill its creative
on is actually suffocating potential?
ity? In this sense, I'm grateful for
s take a look at the situa- brainless television like "Dancing
alytically: Our lives are with the Stars" and "$'!#* My Dad
ained by the unchanging Says." I needthese crap shows to
e of time. We have only so exist, forthe very purpose that
tours to fill with eating, I dnlt have to watch them. If all
g, goingto class, studying, reality shows andthird-rate sit-
zing and so forth. Watch- coms were replaced with cutting-
fits in there somewhere, edge dramas and quick-witted
ling on your priorities. comedies, I'd probably flee to a
n the Next Great Show monastery in Dharmshala.


I do:
of mus
too ma
can't fi;
first -
What i
tion an
many h
ing TV
So whe
to watc
adjust t

res, in order to be able
h it, people will haveto
heir weekly schedules -
g an hour less, perhaps, or

Pandey is a couch perderder,
To whip him into french fry shape,
e-mail kspandey@umich.edu.

Aids be ld Ri
Kids break old 'Rules'

Palestinian doctor touts
peace in his recent book

DailyArts Writer
those who grew up with
it Up Kids as a key player,
r adolescent angst, There

the Ge
in thei

For the Daily
Minutes after an Israeli tank
shell killed three of his daugh-
ters and his niece in Janu-
ary 2009 in a
Gaza refugee
camp, Izzeldin Dr. Izzeldin
Abuelaish called Abuelaish
Shlomi Eldar,
the anchorman Wednesday
of an Israeli TV at7 p.m.
station, to report Michigan
the story to Isra- Theater
el and the world. Free
Abuelaish, a
doctor and life-
long proponent of peaceful rec-
onciliation between Israel and
Palestine, continues this story
in his book "I Shall Not Hate,"
which he will discuss at the
Michigan Theater on Wednes-
day at 7 p.m.
"I wrote the book at a time
when I (thought) there (was) a
complete need for a human mes-
sage for people who are disap-
pointed about what is happening
in this world," Abuelaish said
in an interview with the Daily.
"There is something I can tell
people to aspire to."
Since his childhood, when
he treated his books "same as
a mother cat would hold on to
her newborn kittens," Abuelaish
writes in "I Shall Not Hate," he
has been able to "find the good
chapter of the bad story."

an asse
ied pu
ther w]
of acut
he saw
"I fa
don't w
rage w
ing. W
at t]
with f
His hu

trait, he said, has been in the words of his daughter.
et in his life, as he stud- "We think as enemies; we
blic health at Harvard, live on opposite sides and never
d with the World Health meet," Bessan said in her docu-
ization in Kabul and com- mentary. " But I feel we are all the
his obstetrics and gyne- same. We are all human beings."
residency in Israel. Bessan, who was prepared to
outlook was tested fur- graduate with a degree in busi-
'hen his wife Nadia died ness from the Islamic University
te leukemia in September in Gaza at the end of the 2009
Three months later, he lost academic year and who had
of his daughters, in whom assumed a maternal role with
abrighterfuture for Gaza. her siblings after the death of
sced a lot of suffering as a her mother, was killed during
nian child," he said. "We the January attack.
vant to see any child going Through his medical work,
y, we don't want to see a Abuelaish continues trying to
without school. I feel out- bridge the gap in the warring
hen I see children suffer- area.
e need to share all of the "All of my adult life I have had
ity we have." one leg in Palestine and the other
in Israel, an unusual stance in
this region," Abuelaish writes.
uthor of'J "I have long felt that medicine
can bridge the divide between
all Not Hate' people and that doctors can be
messengers of peace."
riing to speak Abuelaish now lives with
his three surviving daughters
he M\sichigan. and two sons in Toronto, where
he teaches at the University of
Toronto School of Public Health.
There, he said his family has had
his book, Abuelaish the opportunity to heal. He con-
bes a 2006 documentary, tinues his advocacy for peace in
Mr. President," that his Gaza.
daughter Bessan made "I find the impact of my book
our young women from everywhere," Abuelaish said.
and Palestine while they "People are responding; most
ipped across America. people in Gaza understand. It
mane philosophy echoes strengthens my hope."

Are Rules will
come as quite **
a shock. These
aren't the spir- The Get
ited and play-
ful Get Up Up Kids
Kids anymore; There Are Rules
they're the
middle-aged Quality Hill
and slightly
pretentious Chill Out Men. Too
old for pop punk and too cool
to concede to straightforward
dad rock, the Kansas quintet
has traded in its three-chord
progressions and shamelessly
singable choruses about long
distance relationships for more
textured and often experimen-
tal arrangements whose subject
matter tends to be as abstract as
the songs themselves.
Coming seven years after the
band's last full-length release,
Rules has inevitably been tagged
with the dubious label of being
a "comeback album." However,
after listening to the heav-
ily distorted voiceover intro-
duction and disorderly guitar
tones of opener "Tithe," it's clear
the Get Up Kids no longer feel
comfortable treading old musi-
cal ground. Instead, they forge
ahead with warped, contorted
instrumentation and cryptic
messages, marking a strange
departure from their conta-
giously accessible past material.
The subtle pulse and pitter-
pattering of "Rally 'Round The
Fool" provides the best example
of the band's exploration of more

innovative sounds and song
structures. An ominous feel is
established with a barely con-
scious bassline, followed by the
howling high notes of a synthe-
sizer and a decidedly unemo-
tional vocal performance from
lead singer Matt Pryor.
Known for his patented
nasally yelping, Pryor's distinct
voice takes a backseat on Rules,
as the focus moves from point-

ed me
this tr
and h


that th
tar lin
the so
and Ir
push f
ner un
rupt, o:
and br
on the
the alb

lodies to general atmo- ""'T"' " "
s. "Keith Case" continues Rules is to mend old wounds.
'end as the in-your-face Guitarist Jim Suptic is given
tion and unreasonably frontman duty on lead single
ed bass calls to mind a "Automatic" and frantic rocker
cape similar to the hard "Birmingham." Despite fronting
heavy Radiohead song his own band, Blackpool Lights,
snatchers." Suptic was rarely more than a
backup vocalist for the Get Up
Kids. After their breakup, it's
ds likely his bandmates decided to
et Up Kids give Suptic a chance to take cen-
pt tbe ter stage for the more well known
OW up to bof his two bands. His aggressive
Lill Out m en approach to singing is evident on
both songs as he holds his own,
even when the music doesn't.
Suptic's randomly injected
isn't the only evidence tracks don't do much for album
e Get Up Kids have been cohesion, but much like the
ng up on some of indie album as a whole, they show the
most highly regarded band's musical versatility. From
during their time off. critiques of technology addic-
"Regent's Court" and tion to random Tennyson shou-
morable" open with gui- touts placed over anything from
es ripped straight from dub-step beats to industrial rock
ngbooks of The Strokes distortion, it seems like the Get
nterpol. The two tracks Up Kids tried to do everything
orward in a linear man- possible to break away from
stil brief choruses inter- pop-punk conventions on There
nly to fade in an unusually Are Rules. Though they've suc-
g fashion. This desire to ceeded in leaving their old style
p more substantial verses behind them, some songs come
idges, with less emphasis across as too heavily influenced
hook, appears to be one of by recent musical trends and
um's main goals. will leave some fans aching for
saps another objective of the band's former blissful sound.

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