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January 06, 2011 - Image 14

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-01-06

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4B -- Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com

Looking forward to 2011in arts
Daily Arts editors share their takes on what to expect in the new year

By DAVID TAO
Daily Film Editor
Director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man"), who's helm-
ing the soon-to-be-released "Cowboys and Aliens,"
recently referred to 2011 as a box office "bloodbath,"
packed full of blockbuster competition. He's right
to be worried. While summer 2010 was dominated
by "Inception," 2011 is a different animal. Though
"Cowboys and Aliens" features Daniel Craig ("Casi-
no Royale") and Harrison Ford ("Raiders of the
Lost Ark") and is written by duo Alex Kurtzman
and Roberto Orci ("Star Trek"), it faces stiff compe-
tition from a year full of high-profile releases.
January brings us "The Green Hornet," a super-
hero film starring Seth Rogen ("Observe and
Report") and directedbyOscar winner Michel Gon-
dry ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). In
March, there's "Battle: Los Angeles" - an intense
alien invasion film starring Aaron Eckhart ("Rab-
bit Hole") that's been described as "Black Hawk
Down" with aliens - and "Sucker Punch," director
Zack Snyder's ("300") first original film. Judging
from the action-packed trailers, it earned every bit
of the praise it received following Comic-Con 2010.
April release "Source Code" - director Duncan
Jones's follow-up to the trippy, critically acclaimed
2009 indie "Moon" - brings us to an average of
one highly-anticipated wide release movie per
month, during a period when Hollywood tradition-
ally dumps its worst films. It's exciting, not to men-
tion unprecedented, to see this much mainstream
potential so early in the year. It will be followed
up between May and August by a mysterious J.J.
Abrams movie, "Super 8," and the exciting con-
clusion to the "Harry Potter" franchise. Wheth-
er you're ready for more or all tapped out by the
release of "Cowboys" in late July, there's no doubt
that 2011 will be an exceptional year.

By EMMA GASE
Daily Music Editor
2010 was undoubtedly a stellar year in terms of
musical releases, which means 2011 is certainly not
short on musical expectations. But fear not. With
exciting releases, an ever-growing festival scene
and national tours being announced, the coming
year issure to be as chock full of gems as the last.
Kanye protdge Lupe Fiasco is breaking out a
new album in March, titled Lasers. Hopefully, fel-
low Chicago old-school rappers The Cool Kids are
expecting to put out an album in 2011 (though it
may not land until 2012), and the group may take
the prize for best album title with When Fish Ride
Bicycles. Also look out for new Fleet Foxes, finally
coming on the heels of its 2008 hype-fest, and a
prospective new album from vets Radiohead.
On the touring circuit, 2011 is looking reliable
in the festival arena. Let the countdown begin for
the summer barrage of excellent festivals. Ring-
ing in the season is Coachella, occurring in the
outrageously inconvenient weekend of Apr. 15 to
17, directly (and tragically) preceding finals week.
No worries though, Midwesterners. The Pitchfork
Music Festival is here to save the day, or more spe-
cifically, July 16 through 18. Known for its emphasis
on "the music" rather than being a meeting ground
for drunk twenty-somethings in cargo shorts, this
Chicago festival offers a respite from the more
crowded and overwhelming atmospheres of Lolla-
palooza and Bonnaroo.
And don't worry, you aren't the only one obsessive-
ly checkingwhenKanye West's inevitable tour for My
Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy will happen, only to
find yourself panicking at the lack of tour dates. The
dates should be announced soon, and knowing Yeezy,
this tour will rival his famed "Glow in the Dark Tour,"
so stay tuned. 2011 is looking pretty good..

By PROMA KHOSLA
Daily TV/New Media Editor
There are plenty of things to look forward to in
TV and new media in2011, but what I'm most eagerly
anticipating isn't necessarily everyone's cup of small-
screen tea. It's not the spring finales and sweeps that
usually bring out the best in our favorite shows. It's
not the innumerable new shows that will premiere
throughout the year - not even new dramas that
could fill that island-shaped hole in my heart. And
it's not new video games, because I'm a menace to
anything involving hand-eye coordination.
Nope, what I'm looking forward to most in the
new year is the awards show season.
There, I said it. My name is Proma and I am an
awards show addict.
I think it started when I was ten and my father
moved the dining table into the living roomso that we
could see if."Lagaan" would become the first Indian
movie ever to win an Oscar (it didn't). By the time
"Lost" won its first (and only) "Outstanding Drama
Series" Emmy, I was hooked. Emmys, Golden Globes,
SAG, People's Choice Awards, BAFTA, Oscar!
The reason I'm so devoted is because; in terms
of pure entertainment, awards shows never disap-
point. There's always a dress so ugly that you feel
superior to the star wearing it. There's the ill-timed
political commentary; there's that someone at the
Globes who's too drunk to give a coherent speech;
there's anything Ricky Gervais says or does; there's
the mystery of who invited Miley. And if we're lucky,
there's a musical number by Neil Patrick Harris.
And of course, if you're into this sort of thing,
there are the awards themselves. In the end,
though, it doesn't matter if I love the nominees or
hate the winner or have not (to date) watched an
HBO biopic: They've got me watching. They've
already won.

By JOE CADAGIN
Daily Fine Arts Editor
There will be much in store for the fine arts lover
this semester. The University Musical Society's sea-
son continues in 2011 with American soprano Renee
Fleming, whose highly anticipated Jan.16 recital will
include works by Puccini, Korngold, Schoenberg and
Richard Strauss. On Feb. 1, UMS will present the cel-
ebrated Cleveland Orchestra under the baton ofFranz
Welser-Mast. The program will include a perfor-
mance of Schumann's Piano Concerto in a minor, per-
formed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Finally, mystery
and uncertainty surround the Mar. 19 performance
of Mahler's Symphony No. 8. The massive work, sub-
titled "The Symphony of a Thousand," is scheduled to
include eight soloists, five choirs and the Detroit Sym-
phony Orchestra, all under the directionofconductor
Leonard Slatkin.
The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has an excit-
ing season this semester that includes a performance
of "The Crucible," written by Pulitzer Prize-winning
'U' alum Arthur Miller. The production will be per-
formed over two weekends - Mar. 31 to Apr. 3 and
Apr. 7 to Apr. 10. From Mar. 24 to 27, The University
Opera Theatre will present composer and librettist
Mark Adamo's 1988 opera "Little Women," which will
offer an accessible introduction for thoseinterested in
modern music or opera ingeneral.
Finally, next semester will bring productions of
two well known musical comedies. From Mar. 25to
27, MUSKET will perform "The 25th Annual Put-
nam County Spelling Bee" - a hilarious work of
contemporary musical theater that pokes fun at the
world of competitive spelling. From Apr. 7 to 10, the
University of Michigan Gilbert & Sullivan Society
will present the dynamic duo's 1885 operetta "The
Mikado," which is a spoof of Victorian England set
in imperial Japan.

BEST ALBUMS
From Page 1B

is a compilation of American blues
rock at its finest. With a soul sound
and rich guitar riffs, The Black Keys
create a sound unique to the times.
Vocalist Dan Auerbach brings the
sultry and soulful vocals with a
rusty, raspy tone that goes well
with the rest of the album. Tracks
like "Tighten Up" and "Everlast-
ing Light" showcase the exacting
uniqueness and bluesy-ness with
tambourine-sprinkled backgrounds
and a captivating drumbeat. Each
track has an exceptional sound that
makes it stand out from the others,
but still connects the album as a
whole. The Black Keys take listen-
ers on a modern Motown ride with
Brothers - and frankly, we don't
exactly want toget off.
-ARIELLE SPECINER

Gorillaz,
Plastic Beach
Plastic Beach is superficially a
critique of the artificial. However,
as it progresses, it smoothly tran-
scends into a celebration of synthe-
sis through the creation of its own
genre. It begins with an orchestral
intro, and never fails to surprise as
it rises into bouts of rap and then
ebbs into ballads. Where else can
Snoop Dogg be found tracks away
from Lou Reed? How else would
Mos Def share a song with R&B
singer Bobby Womack? Plastic
Beach effectually describes itself
by deftly blending various styles of
music together into a single har-
monic polymer.
-ELLIOT ALPERN

2010 through*
the consoles
The video games that made us
want to stay inside and play

The National,
High Violet
There's something to be said
about the eternal listenability of
High Violet. There are no obvious,
catchy hooks, no gut-busting gui-
tar solos, no sing-along hit singles.
Here, The National revels in its
finesse for understatement - these
guys are experts on subtlety, mas-
ters of raw emotion without sound-
ing overwrought, connoisseurs of
tasteful expression. Aided by Matt
Berninger's arresting baritone, The
National has produced some of the
most finely layered instrumenta-
tion of the last few years. From the
apprehensive guitars on "Afraid of
Everyone" to the closest thing The

Big Boi,
Sir Lucious Left Foot
ListeningtoSirLuciousLeftFoot,
it's easy to forget it was due three
years ago. Label battles, delayed
release dates and the removal of a
certain Three Stacks kept it behind
the gates. But Left Foot doesn't
sound old. In fact, it sounds so far
ahead of hip-pop's better charting
acts that it could drop next year
and still sound fresh. Taking the
best aspects of OutKast's influences
and crystallizing them to a funky,
charming and nasty set of jams, Big
Boi's solo debut proves that Chico
Dusty's son can do just fine all on
his lonesome.
-JOE DIMUZIO

"StarCraft II:
Wings of Liberty"
Twelve years was a long time
to wait for a sequel to "StarCraft,"
but after the first few minutes
of "StarCraft II," it's clear the
series aged very well. Blizzard
Entertainment has managed to
develop some of the most impres-
sive video games ever made, and
there is no question that "Wings
of Liberty" falls in rank with the
rest of its releases.
The gameplay is extremely
complex and the graphics are
absolutely gorgeous - beauti-
ful sprawling landscapes and
a nuanced design of each unit
and building make staring at the
game as much fun as playing it.
And as impressive as its looks are,
the revamped gameplay is really
what makes "Starcraft II" so
much fun. Rather than clinging
to the dynamics of the original,
Blizzard expanded and altered
the three races, fleshing out dis-
tinct idiosyncrasies for each.
The world of real-time strat-
egy now has another sharp and
carefully crafted title to add
to its ranks. It will keep com-
petitive gamers happy for a long
time, and in all likelihood, it will

sacrificing streamlined action.
Though the game had enough
depth that it could have eas-
ily made a satisfying and slow-
paced RPG or an exciting action
game, it is a nearly perfect amal-
gamation of the two.
In true BioWare fashion, the
story was one of the most com-
pelling of any game to date, and
it shows that well written scripts
are not reserved for Hollywood.
And while these benefits are ren-
dered close to inexhaustible by
the huge quantity of content in
the game, the ability to continue a
character fromthe original"Mass
Effect" is the most remarkable
feature, not only for the series,
but for video gaming as a whole.
With it, the worlds in each install-
ment are connected throughout
the series and allows the games to
grow with the player.
By completely raising the
expectations and capabilities
of an open-ended RPG, "Mass
Effect 2" can only make us won-
der what "Mass Effect 3" has in
store.
-TEDDY PAPES
"Red Dead
Redemption"

Titus Andronicus, LCD Soundsystem
rJLCD A--ndsyse ,

a ne monitor

National has ever cot
with "Lemonworld'
reprise of penultimo
land," The National
itself (a feat many
be impossible after
Boxer). Once again,'T
proved not only itsi
in the studio, but als
songs that crawl intc
stay there.
The Blac
Broth
The bluesy duo h.
The Black Keys' sixt
Brothers, has breac
and our Best of 2010

ame to a pop song Like Conor Oberst fronting the E
to the rousing Street Band, Patrick Stickles' love-
ate track "Eng- lorn tales of drunken revelry and
has outcrafted wasted youth were as epic as they
feared would were affecting. Shot through with
2007's superb a loose storyline surrounding the
the National has Civil War, each of The Monitor's ten
impeccable skill tracks - many containing multiple
so for writing 11 movements of their own - sounds
o your brain and on the verge of total collapse. When
a track does collapse, a well placed
-EMMA GASE spoken-word excerpt from Abraham
Lincoln or Walt Whitman (voiced by
The Hold Steady's Craig Finn) was
k Keys, there to pick up the pieces. As dra-
matic as the band is on tape, festi-
ers valgoers were treated to a new mess
altogether - live Titus provided a
as done it again. noisier alternative to the chillwavers
:h studio album, and solidified a war-torn rallying cry:
hed the charts Titus Andronicus Forever!
list. This album -MIKE KUNTZ

This is Happening
LCD Soundsystem helped define
2010's sound with the atmospher-
ic, deliciously synthy This is Hap-
pening. Aging hipster frontman
James Murphy crafted an expan-
sive, often painfully self-conscious
album that sounds simultaneously
vintage and modern. The album
has a frenetic pace and features
Murphy's neurotic, often melan-
choly lyrics over dancy electro.
The rambly opener "Dance Yrself
Clean" starts out slow, but as Mur-
phy wistfully looks back on old
friendships, the synth explodes
into a full-blown dance track that
sets the pace for the rest of the
record. Nostalgic and dynamic, the
album is a finely tuned piece of art
with plenty of soul.
-CASSIE BALFOUR

The Roots,
How l Got Over
The Roots made one of the most
surprising albums of the year. How
I Got Over features characteristi-
cally clever lyrics grappling with
heavy issues like politics and reli-
gion but also dabbles in funk on
tracks like "Right On" and rein-
vents indie rock group Monsters
of Folk's song "Dear God 2.0" with
shocking success. The title track
is one of the highlights and may
very well contain this album's
thesis statement. Black Thought
raps over a tight beat, "First thing
they teach us / Not to give a fuck /
That type of thinking can't get you
nowhere / Someone has to care."
The Roots engage the listener and
resonate long after the beats have
faded.
-CASSIE BALFOUR

be the bar for
games of its kir
quite a feat for
pass it.
"Mass E
BioWare brok
aries of thet
Effect" with t
expanded on ev
right and trimm
and unnecessar
character class
oughly fleshed
The new Li
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all subsequent "Red Dead Redemption" cap-
nd. It would be tures everything a Wild West
another to sur- game should be. The Western
setting truly feels like a fron-
-TEDDYPAPES tier - the landscape is vast and
beautiful, and wild animals can
be seen roaming the land con-
Nfect 2" stantly. Outlaw John Marston's
story as he makes up for the
e all the bound- evils of his past is extremely well
original "Mass done. Marston runs into a range
his sequel. It of flawed characters that end up
verything it did helping (and sometimes betray-
red down baggy ing) him, and, in typical form
y features. The for developer Rockstar, the dia-
es were thor- logue and voice acting for every
out without character is excellent. The music
stands out even more - a rivet-
ing and era-appropriate score
that sounds like no other game.
ne As far as gameplay goes, "Red
ine Dead Redemption" impressively
manages to make old guns feel
n Specializing satisfying - the gunplay is fluid
and exciting. There's a tremen-
in Hong Kon dous amount of variety in the
Hunan & missions, from robbing trains in
Mexico to shooting grizzly bears
Szechuan in wooded territories.
Style. Many It's the little things that
make "Red Dead Redemption"
vegetaian great. Running into a man being
d dishes chased by wolves on the prairie
or the realistic way the horses
d. Mon-Thor 1l are animated really bring the
game to life. It'sjust an enjoyable
Fri& Sat 1111 world to be in - the Wild West
Sun 12-10 depicted perfectly.
-SHIN HIEFTJE

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