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November 08, 2011 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-08

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6 - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Older isn't wiser in film

Nostalgia is inextri-
cable from culture.
The remembering of
art is almost as important as the
art itself. And among all this
ing is the
feeling that
the art from
eras past is
better than
today's art.
This issue PHIL
was distilled CONKLIN
in Woody
delightful "Midnight in Paris,"
that seemingly ubiquitous sum-
mer release: When you realize
the people from the eras you
romanticize were nostalgic
for earlier eras, your nostalgia
seems fatuous.
With all the detritus coming
out of Hollywood now, it's easy
to say movies are worse than
they've ever been. But this posi-
tion loses credibility considering
that, throughout the history of
movies, critics have thought the
films coming out during their
time have also been the worst
ever. To take one example, in
1980 the famed and contentious
critic Pauline Kael wrote an
essay entitled, "Why Are Mov-
ies So Bad? Or, The Numbers."
This was the year that produced
such classics as "Raging Bull,"
"The Shining" and "Star Wars:
Episode V - The Empire Strikes
The simple answer is that
Hollywood has always, and
almost exclusively, made bad
movies. With rare exceptions,
Hollywood has always trafficked
in the banal, the derivative and
the conventional. For years,
the film industry was saturated
with formulaic Westerns with
the same plots and archetypal
characters. From this quagmire
of filmic chaff, only the cream of
the Western crop has survived
and been canonized, which,
skews our perception of the
actual quality of the majority of

these f
gia for
vent an
of then
of thec
made s
a brilli
ring W
Loy, w,
seen as
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they ar
ics (my
and "T
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lms and fuels our nostal- ity in Hollywood movies, the
them. The '30s screwball sequels and the remakes, are
ies of which I am a fer- part of the definition of the film
ad unashamed fan largely industry. The reason the past
the same formula - most always seems richer in artistic
were mediocre. quality is that only the great
recent abundance of movies are remembered. The
s is often cited as a sign trick is to find those great mov-
decreasing quality of ies in our own time. Just as
. However, while more Pauline Kael overlooked "The
on now, sequels have been Shining" and "Raging Bull," we
ince the early days of may be overlooking some great
vood. "The Thin Man," films in getting bogged down
ant film from 1934 star- with nostalgia.
illiam Powell and Myrna That's because there are great
as followed by five for- movies being made now, movies
e and increasingly tepid that can measure up to the can-
s. Film franchises are onized classics, and will become
unimaginative and cyni- canonized classics. Among the
ign of the film industry's miasma of mainstream movies
sing avariciousness, but are brilliant films like "A Serious
'e not a recent invention. Man" by the Coen Brothers or
Pixar's "Wall-E" - movies that
will be remembered alongside
s wrong to the greats. Also under-appreci-
ated are Mike Leigh's "Another
Sall nmovies Year," Sofia Coppola's "Some-
Y lwhere" and Noah Baumbach's
ada s suck "Greenberg," three beautiful
W yfilms that didn't get their due
attention but are just about as
good as movies get, in any era.
h has been made by crit- This is not to mention films
'self included) about the being made overseas - in Korea,
rash of remakes in Holly- the wealth of cinematic creativ-
"Footloose," "The Thing" ity is flourishing unlike any-
he Three Musketeers" where else. Directors like Park
ut in the same two-week Chan-wook ("Thirst"), Bong
. But again, Hollywood Joon-ho ("The Host") and Kim
en remaking movies for Ki-Duk ("3 Iron") are making
"Scarface" (1983) is a films of unsurpassable original-
e of a 1932 film by Howard ity and vigor. The imagination
, director Leo McCarey of these filmmakers pushes film
e his own 1939 film "Love to its limits, and their movies
'in 1957 as "An Affair to represent the present standard
nber," "The Magnificent in the world of cinema.
(1960) is a remake of the These are the films that will
Japanese film "Seven be regarded as classics in the
ai" (1954) by Akira Kuro- future. Romanticizing a past
nd "A Fistful of Dollars" era, or disparaging the current
is a remake of another one, distracts from the great art.
:wa film, "Yojimbo" of the present. If we appreciate
Though the number of the great films of our own time,
es has increased in recent we won't have to be nostalgic for
his is mostly due to the them in the future.



Atlas sounding deep


in co
Cox -
tive o
and t
of th
But C

arallax' expands thing makes sense when you look ing bells and shiny rings, but it's
at it from another way." Consider, clear the former is elevated to
Cox's prior work then, that the term "parallax" a level far above these tangible
refers to the difference in visual comparisons.
with aplomb perception depending on one's Not all tracks on Parallax have
viewpoint. Continuing the idea such an abstract sound. Tra-
By KATIE STEEN introduced in Logos into Paral- ditional acoustic instruments
Daily Arts Writer lax seems to be a comment on the like guitar and piano guide
subjective nature of practically "Terra Incognita" and "Mona
hat does Atlas Sound have anything in life: Take what you Lisa" (which happens to feature
:mmon with "Star Trek?" think you know, question it and the magic fingers of MGMT's
ce fiction, apparently. you'll have Parallax. Andrew VanWyngarden).
is is the Opening track "The Shakes" In the closing track, "Light-
Bradford sounds simple and appealing, an works," Bradford pulls out his
- the man energetic rhythm of drums and trusty harmonica, telling the
ad Atlas Atlas Sound guitars churning throughout New York Times he included it
d and the the song. The lyrics reminisce at the last minute because the
r of Deer- Parallax on friendships and fame, but the instrument happened to be in
r - has track's cheery tone turns out to his pocket. The song describes
to his 4AD be a musical illustration of par- a mysterious fate-like light that
st album. allax. The friends are material guides human actions, much like
lax, his third LP, delivers objects, and the song essential- Cox's spur-of-the-moment deci-
'of the same bizarre instru- ly delivers an age-old lecture: sion to use his coincidentally in-
als and sound effects evoca- Money can't buy you happi- tune harmonica.
f noises one would imagine ness. "The Shakes" ends with "Lightworks" has a slowed-
t be created somewhere a smooth and dreamy blend of down rockabilly feel to it, which
een Jupiter and Saturn. saxophone, drums, guitars and offers some sort of an explana-
at said, there's a more Cox's falsetto croon, mirroring tion for the slicked-back hairdo
lured, concrete feel to Par- the void of material pleasures and vintage microphone Cox
than in his past albums. into which the wealthy may fall, has on the cover of Parallax. The
melodies are well defined giving it a particularly "science picture;is fittingfor the ,album
he lyrics are relatable. And fiction" sound. - an image reminiscent of the
singing involves more Contrast this with "Modern simpler times of the '50s, but
'rehensible words and less Aquatic Nightsongs," a bubbly, cast in an ambiguous light that
e pleasant mumble preva- fantastical little ditty ruminat- shows how not everything is as
in his first album, Let the ing on love. Cox makes even it appears. Such is the complex
Lead Those Who Can See nausea sound beautiful as he mind of Bradford Cox, remind- I
'annot Feel. wonders if the risks and physical ing all - whether when judging
his sophomore effort, Logos, discomforts of a relationship are his music or the world around -
lyrically reasoned, "Every-. worth it. He relates love to ring- to keep an open mind.

ing wealth of material to
e, rather than any declina-
Hollywood's principles.
he current lack of qual-

Conklin was taken in an old car
to '20s Paris. To return him to the
present, e-mail conklin@umich.edu

Visit michigandaily.com/blogs/
The Filter for updates on new
film and album releases and
reviews of local shows.


RELEASE DATE- Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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