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September 27, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 7

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - 7

The simplicity of sound

COURTESY OF COLUMA
This is the face that made Jonah Hill start working out.
'Mneyal scores

Baseball film
pitches sharp
dialogue, acting
By ANKUR SOHONI
Daily Arts Writer
Baseball isn't exactly our gener-
ation's game - the awkward but-
ton-up uniforms, the long breaks
in action and a
162-game Major
League Baseball
schedule are Moneyball
all rather unfit
for 21st century At Quality 16
. consumption and Showcase
Whereas profes-
sional football Columbia
is in-your-face
consistent action and basket-
ball is a fluid, patterned sport
with moment-to-moment excite-
ment, baseball is a sport that
exists somewhat under its own
tradition-laced surface. It's hard
to watch baseball without a solid
understanding of the sport itself
- namely, the acronyms, stats and
lingo that serve sports anoouno-,
ers in their nightly broadcasts and
give the sport an off-the-field ele-
ment of excitement.
"Moneyball" exposes anoth-
er side of the sport, looking at
America's pastime from behind
the scenes of a franchise trying to
rebuild itself: the 2002 Oakland
Athletics (the A's). Based on the
Michael Lewis book "Moneyball:
The Art of Winning an Unfair
Game," the film follows Athlet-
ics General Manager Billy Beane
(Brad Pitt, "Tree of Life") and his
efforts to create a team on par with
big-money teams like the Yankees
and Red Sox with less than a third
of their budget.
The film starts not a second
too early, profiling the A's Ameri-

can League Division Series loss to
the Yankees in 2001, followed by
the loss of three of their biggest
players - Johnny Damon, Jason
Giambi and Jason Ingringhau-
sen - to free agency and eventu-
ally to bigger market teams. Faced
with the insurmountable chal-
lenge of rebuilding the team with
meager funds, Beane encounters
Peter Brand (Jonah Hill, "Cyrus"),
a young baseball analyst who
encourages the GM to find under-
valued players and hire them
based purely on sabermetric stats
and numbers, with no consider-
ation for players' prestige or pre-
dictions of the old-boy in-house
analysts - a team of50-plus veter-
ans the A's organization employs
to assist the GM.
The journey of the A's 2002 sea-
son is an engrossing look at howa
few people revolutionize the game
- the drama of "Moneyball" is the
tough road to change a sport both
celebrated and maligned as Amer-
ica's oldest.
The film becomes Beane's fight
againstthe system. Bestowed with
$40 million of unilateral power, he
quickly starts picking up players
he and Brand identify as underval-
ued - cheap players who will pro-
duce on the field, and diamonds
in the rough who aren't even on
other teams' radars. The theoreti-
cal basis for the process seems so
fitting for agame already analyzed
so heavily in numbers, but when
the 2002 season starts, it quickly
unravels.
The film has a talky, docu-
mentary feel that rarely diverts
into actual gameplay. The script
was adapted by Steven Zaillian
("American Gangster") and re-
drafted by Aaron Sorkin ("The
Social Network"). The latter
writer's style is evident in the
natural, fluid dialogue throughout
the based-on-a-true-story film.

It appropriately lacks the stylism
of "The Social Network" but con-
tains many of the same charms as
that 2010 film - "Moneyball" lin-
gers on some moments longerthan
others, allowing the viewer to feel
his or her own distance from, the
onscreen characters, but also
offering a realistic glimpse into
the human drama surrounding
something that may appear decid-
edly non-human at first.
At the same time, the film may
be too slow for some. Don't expect
"Moneyball" to be a "sports
movie" in the vein of "The Natu-
ral" - in practice, the film is much
more about running a business
than playing a game, contextual-
izing the romanticism of baseball
within the non-romantic aspects
of salaries and player cuts.
Billy Beane is shown as a busi-
nessman firmly entrenched in the
back end of the sport, distancing
himself from the sport and his
players. He keeps himself emo-
tionally disconnected from a sport
that, when he was a player in the
1980s, left him out in the cold. Pitt
plays him pretty close to his own
wheelhouse - Beane is the most
confident man in the room. Pitt
takes him deeper, though, expos-
ing another side of the character,
who in private moments exhib-
its the same insecurities of some
of the players he brings into the
team.
"Moneyball," like Sorkin's other
writing efforts, connects back on
itself in textbook fashion.:It's not
bombastic or loud, but it leaves a
lasting impact on the sport it pro-
files while exposing the human
drama behind the numbers of
baseball. "Moneyball" is the 21st
century baseball story, one in
which talent and determination
can triumph over the tradition,
convention and money that have
become the game's foundation.

ast week, Joe Cadagin,
The Michigan Daily's
Fine Arts editor, wrote
about 1965's Getz/Gilberto, and
as I read his piece, all I could
think of was
Merzbow. In
referencing
shibumi, the
beauty and
complexity
to be found
in simple
things, Cada- JOE
gin effective- DIMUZIO
ly touched on
the aesthetic
pleasure of the album - how
pleasant it is, how loud it is in
its quietness, etc. But there in
my head asI finish Cadagin's
last paragraph is Merzbow,
the veritable Japanese God of
Noise. It seemed to me at the
time, that he's just as shibumi
as Stan Getz and Gilberto/
Jobim. There's a body-high,
sensory hypnotism to his cre-
ations that's so anti-aesthetic,
anti-melody and anti-music it
practically redefines shibumi.
Less is more versus more is less
... what, between silence and
noise, is left?
So much of the music I seek
out is music that achieves my
own set of personal aesthetic
criteria, my own personal
shibumi. This is the social the-
ory of uses and gratifications
at its basest level - we listen to
music that pleases, comforts or
moves us. We listen to a song
for a few seconds and if it hits
that high and personal water-
mark, we grant it 2011's most
valuable commodity: our per-
sonal time.
A lot of the popular indepen-
dent music being traded on the
Internet now is almost radically
innocuous. Coming out of dorm
rooms and laptops, so much of
it sounds adamantly intimate
and aesthetically pleasant. It
s9unds nice. And the backlash
cycle (now faster than ever -
instantaneous, even) has been
quick to accuse this music
(chillwave, coldwave, to-fi,
what have you) not of badness,
but of something even worse:

boredom. Some of it is right-
fully condemned, while much
of it is casually and unfairly
dismissed.
In this golden age of avail-
ability (how long can it last?),
we have the opportunity to
hear just about anything we
want. The ultimate insult to
any new artist or music would
be that it is "boring" - it isn't
worth our precious, dollar-on-
the-minute time.
But assessing boredom is
tough to do. It's the challenge I
go through in evaluating plenty
of films. Take Terrence Malick's
movies, for instance. On one
hand, they're monumentally
empty, dull and histrionic.
On the other, they're hugely
personal and possibly medium-
defying - we're uncomfortable
with how slowly they move and
how little they regard our per-
sonal sense of aesthetics. We
are forced to accept them on
our own terms - and maybe we
are rewarded for letting them
stretch our aesthetic limits.
I personally think there are
plenty of better directors we
can pick for this value, but my
question is this: Are we afraid
of boredom?
There is the need, I think, for
any artistic medium to be sub-
versive and foster subversive
content, to redefine priorities
and conceptions, to color them
in a new way. But there is just
as much a need for music that
is radically quiet - that pushes
the boundary of what popular
form is, while meeting it in the
void between what appeals to
us and what scares us.
Somewhere in us, there's a
borderline or a gap between
which our taste weighs music
on a Libra scale. Unfortunately,
that gap seems, for so many
people, to be thoroughly stuck in
that traditional Western scale. If
we are pushed to exist outside of
what comforts us, we may reject
it. This brings free jazz to mind,
with wholesale rejections of
musicians like Ornette Coleman
(whose Dancing in Your Head
proceeds to do exactly that) or
John Coltrane (whose music has

its own damn religion) as they
branched out of the established
tenets of jazz into something
wholly new, wholly undefined
and aesthetics-free.
Some called it crap, some a
revelation. Others called it dull.
But maybe it's time for us
to reassess boredom. There is
too much music now for us to
consume it all. We owe it to
ourselves to consider the limits
of our personal aesthetics and
abolish them with equal speed.
Crying "boredom" is an easy
out. Not of all of the world's
music is going to meet our prim
and trim standards, and plenty
of it doesn't merit our time. But
rejecting music without giving
it the time of day does our taste
no favors. It's only us, standing
in the face of all this noise and
refusing to listen.
Behind all
the 'wave'
genres, there's
substance, too.
Cadagin touched on Mark
Rothko's paintings as well,
which, to me, are emblematic
of this divide. Upon viewing
them, audiences surely declared
them tepid - their artistic stan-
dards collided with something
radically free and uncomfortably
shibumi. Within those chromatic
masses are borders, spaces and
shades of a spiritual depth the
casual eye could glance and
dismiss with a shrug. The first
time I listened to Merzbow, I
shrugged it off as noise. I listened,
closer. And after nine minutes of
teeth grinding, I began to hear
contours where boredom called
it quits. And I actually found
myself laughing, hypnotized ... as
my stubborn old defenses slowly
and surely eroded.
Dimuzio is watching "The Tree of
Life" for the third time. To ask why,
e-mail him at shonenjo@umich.edu

Wilco reinvents on 'Love'

Same Deschanel in 'New Girl'

By KELLY ETZ famous
Daily Arts Writer Putt
nor asid

Indie darling Zooey Descha-
nel is branching out to TV with
FOX's new comedy series "New
Girl." Descha-
nel plays the
"adorkable"
Jess, who has
just awkward- New Girl
ly discovered Pilot
her boyfriend
is cheating. Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Despairing, she FOX
responds to a
Craigslist ad, lets slip that she's
friends with models (really?) and
snap, she's moved in with three
guys. So, three guys who know
nothing about women have just
landed a heartbroken roommate
who spends all her time crying in
front of "Dirty Dancing." While
there are some obvious glitch-
es, the premise is workable and
there's real potential. This could
be great.
But as the pilot progresses, we
see that Jess is that quirky, love-
able, slightly annoying, I-don't-
know-how-gorgeous-I-am girl.
Sound familiar? Deschanel is
practically playing .herself. And
while she at least knows how to
pull it off by now, the series feels
way too focused on her. Sure, she
is a huge part of the show, but is
she "quirky" because she's Jess or
because that's what Deschanel is.

pull th
Nick (
Strings
bartend
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and Sc
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when t
ance he

for? genuinely funny moments, espe-
ing the "adorkabilty" fac- cially the scene in which the guys
de, the roommates really take Jess to the bar for a rebound.
ie pilot together. There's Deschanel pull off the humor
(Jake M. Johnson, "No adequately. It's a new aspect for
Attached") the affable her, as her previous roles haven't
der who just got dumped, really called for her to play the
(Damon Wayans Jr., comedienne. At least here, we see
y Endings"), the trainer her stretching her boundaries a
oesn't understand women little. And her trying to use, "Hey,
chmidt (Max Greenfield, sailor" asa pick-up line is great.
Betty") the requisite Suffice itto say "New Girl" has
bag. Schmidt is a definite good bones. It's got all the mak-
e - his over-the-top idiocy ings of a decently funny half-hour
ight be endearing. Coach comedy - it's just not there quite
spiring, but all is forgiven yet. There are some failings: not
h will be replaced by new- enoughreally funny moments, the
Lamorne Morris in future prominent cheese factor (at one
es. point there is actually a serenade)
three guys show a surpris- and it can easily get too wrapped
up in all things "quirky." And yes,
it's way too fixated on Deschanel.
But it's easy to forgive her. Admit
takes three it - she really is charming.
No, "New Girl" won't be hailed
.n to balance as innovative or leave a lasting
impression, but it's fun. For a pilot
ut Zooey's episode, the show sets up a lot of
potential. Now it's just a matter of
dorkability.' waitingto see if the series can fol-
low through. With a built-in audi-
ence of Deschanel fans, it's safe to
say "New Girl" will last a decent
ount of chemistryntogether, amount of episodes, at least.
asy to believe that they're If the series can keep its pep
'oommates. Even Descha- intact without overdosing, it
uirkiness goes well with could turn out to be a real bright
ole setup. It works better spot in the new fall lineup. All
here are three guys to bal- that perkiness is sure to leave you
:r out. And there are some smiling.

As,
ing st
and or
song
Whole
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By DAVID RIVA tasite (
Daily Arts Writer One
to succ
glitchy synths and swell- ing of I
rings create a brooding talent,
minous mood on the first co's li
of The the ba
Love, contini
thoughts contrib
to mind: Wilco rate to
,ePS no on the
this is TheWhole 0" and
- some- Love face-mi
ust have instead
eled dlpm unnece
zip file" breakd
'Is this ... Radiohead?" efforts
a minute of bleeps and duces
, though, lead singer Jeff the all
dy's creaking croon cracks thoseN
quells anypreviously pon- it seem
mistakes. With its aggres- found 1
pproach - full-on with a Ano
iinute breakdown as sear- pure
anything the band's ever Tweed
- "Art of Almost" effec- es con
ends the Chicago sextet's most
lbum bout of soft melodies many
afe, sometimes contrived year-o
ianship. in his'
nittedly, the majority of Whole.
Ibum showcases Wilco interes
:ing previously tread dies ar
d, but luckily the rem- lyrics.

owns, Cline focuses his Lines like "Something sad keeps
a bit more, which pro- moving / So I wandered around
some great results for / I fell in love with the burden
bum on the whole. For / Holding me down" prove his
who doubted him before, lyrical expertise is back in full
is like Cline has officially force. However, it's not fair to
his place in the band. give Tweedy all the credit. The
ther strength is in the supporting cast contributes
songwriting ability of with tasteful xylophone plinks,
y. Wilco's last two releas- tender piano injections, and the
tained some of Tweedy's soothing sounds of brushes on
uninspiring work, and the snare drum. The song hardly
believed the now-44 builds, but rather treads along -
Id didn't have any gas left for a full 12 minutes. But like all
creative tank. But on The great songs, it feels about half as
Love, time and time again long. And with its gently fading
ting-yet-accessible melo- away outro, a few more minutes
e paired with compelling could have been included with
hardly a notice.
With an album title as bla-
tantly sappy as The Whole Love,
he love, 'The it seems like Wilco is clearly
trying to tell its fanbase some-
Vhole Love' thing. The name can be read
like a call to arms to all listen-
I nothing but ers. Similar to the line, "A sonic
shoulder for you to cry on ...
the love. Wilco will love you baby" from
"Wilco (The Song)," the album
title directly addresses its
audience. This time, it seems
rt of Almost" proves that to invite fans to fully embrace
can still be daring and its music, despite its minor mis-
line experimental, then steps in. its last couple albums.
unday Morning (Song for And if you give all your love and
miley's Boyfriend)" illus- attention to the album, it's sure
that Tweedy has all but to throw some back your way in
'ed the acoustic ballad. return.

Outta Mind)."
of The Whole Love's keys WILC
ess lies in the guitar play-
Nels Cline. An undeniable
Cline has enhanced Wil-NU
ve show since he joined
:nd in 2004, but many
ually question his studio
utions. It'd be inaccu-
say Cline "holds back"
-album - as "Standing
I "S Might" contain some
elting guitar work. But
I of noodling around for
essarily long bridges and

THE WH LE LIVE

nants of the band's best work
are visible throughout. After all,
with such prolific and revered
past material, back catalogue
comparisons are inevitable. The
title track replicates the throb-
bing acoustic guitar part on Yan-
kee Hotel Foxtrot's "Kamera";
"Capitol City" recalls the crispy
springtime feel of "When You
Wake Up Feeling Old" off of
Summerteeth; the existentially
themed "Born Alone" connects
to the melancholy yet cheery
sounds and subject matter of A
Ghost Is Born's "Theologians";
"Dawned on Me" grinds and
churns with almost as much
ambition as Being There's "Out-

Ti
v
an
If "A
Wilco
border
"One S
Jane S
trates
master

0

--_

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