The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Wednesday, November 23, 2011- 5A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 5A
Fats Waller's 'Ain't
play through 2011
By JOE CADAGIN
Daily Fine Arts Editor
Before Beyonce ever busted a
move, there was Josephine Baker.
Before Kanye West ever dropped a
beat, there was
Duke Ellington. Ain't
And before Wiz Misbehavin'
the charts, Fats Weekends
Waller was through Jan.
writing some of 1,2012 at
the most impor- various times
tant hit songs of
the early 20th Performance
century. Network Theatre
Performance From $10
atre's production of "Ain't Misbe-
havin'," which features more than
30 of Waller's songs, captures the
spirit of the Harlem Renaissance,
a time when African-American
culture was beginning to gain
widespread appeal. "Ain't Mis-
behavin' " will be playing at the
theater on weekends through
"Ain't Misbehavin' " was the
1978 winner of three Tony awards
and was conceived by lyricists
Murray Horwitz and Richard
Maltby, Jr. as a kind of "love let-
ter" to Waller's music and the
Harlem Renaissance. The musi-
cal calls for two male and three
female performers who sing and
dance through a string of Waller's
best-known numbers, including
"A Handful of Keys," "Jitterbug
Waltz" and the beloved title song.
Though the songs in "Ain't
Misbehavin"' were written over a
span of 21 years from 1922 to 1943,
James Bowen, who plays one of
the two male roles, said PNT's
production is supposed to evoke
the late 1930s. Bowen said while
the songs aren't in chronological
order, there is a kind of emotional
"Some of them he wrote,
COURTESY OF SEAN CARTER
James Bowen stars in Performance Network Theatre's "Ain't Misbehavin'"
"I should probably have two hands on this gun 'cause it has a big recoil."
Tale of two modern shooters
some of them were simply made
famous by him," Bowen said.
"What they have in common is
their tremendous musicality and
the sometimes surprising emo-
tional depth or surprising comic
depth of the lyrics."
Devoid of any traditional plot,
the work is more akin to the musi-
cal revues performed at Harlem's
Cotton Club and Apollo Theater
during the jazz and swing eras.
There is no dialogue, no setting, no
character development - Waller's
music is the central "set piece."
In spite of the work's unortho-
dox structure and lack of plot,
Bowen said director Tim Rhoze
has worked to give PNT's pro-
duction some dramatic support
by providing each character with
a backstory: The characters meet
in a "basement club" after per-
forming at another venue. They
mingle with other musicians and
performers and sing their favor-
In order to make this scenario
more believable, Rhoze chose to
seat some audience members at
tables directly on the stage, recre-
ating the atmosphere of a Harlem
nightclub. Bowen said this sort
of faithfulness to the time period
makes "Ain't Misbehavin' " such
an engrossing work.
"I don't want to say it has
become a historical piece because
that makes it sound dead and dry,
which it is not," Bowen said. "But
it's almost become a historical
record of African-American song-
writing in that period of time in
The show's authenticity is
heightened by the fact that all the
songs were written by an African-
American composer. While only
a few works of musical theater
feature an all-black cast, most of
these are attempts by white art-
ists to imitate the music of black
America - George and Ira Ger-
shwin's "Porgy and Bess,", for
"Many people, when they see
the show, are surprised by how
many of the songs they know and
even more surprised that they
weren't written by Irving Berlin
or the Gershwins or Cole Porter,"
Bowen said. "Those are often the
people we think with that time
period of music."
While songs like "Honeysuck-
le Rose" and " 'Tain't Nobody's
Business" may sound generations
behind the works of contempo-
rary black musical artists, stu-
dents may be surprised to learn
that hits by Rihanna or Jay-Z are
rooted in the melodies and synco-
pations of the swing era. So while
our grandparents and great-
grandparents may have danced to
Waller's songs, his distinct style
still has influence on the music of
the 21st century.
By SHIN HIEFTJE
Daily Arts Writer
"Call of Duty: Modern War-
fare 3" and "Battlefield 3." Each
has a "3" in the title. Each cover
has a half-silhouetted soldier
holding a gun. Each is one of
the year's biggest multiplayer
games, set in a modern military
setting. Comparisons are going
to be made.
With all the buzz surround-
ing these two games, it would be
hard to blame anyone for think-
ing they play exactly the same.
'Electronic Arts's marketing of
"Battlefield 3" has probably hurt
more than it has helped this per-
ception with an aggressive push,
featuring overt jabs at the com-
petitor with taglines like "Above
and Beyond the Call."
But the marketing only
emphasizes that it's "better,"
not necessarily that it's "differ-
ent." And the decision to pull
the "Battlefield" toward "Call of
Duty" and not away from it is a
shame, because they differ wild-
ly in gameplay.
Instead of claiming it's the
superior product, "Battlefield 3"
should have emphasized its real-
ism. As trite as it might sound,
the game lives up to its title: It
actually feels like you're on a
battlefield. It looks and sounds
incredible: Gunfire is appro-
priately deafening and walls
crumble naturally with mortar
shots. Moreover, the guns act
and behave realistically com-
pared to most shooters on the
market. They feature some seri-
ous recoil and sniper bullets
will obey gravity realistically,
falling as they go farther out.
It's an immersive experience
that makes the player feel part
of a military team. Organized,
coordinated efforts with other battlefield to the objective with-
players are encouraged, and out getting shot is a challenge in
movements have to be careful its own right, so staying alive is
and deliberate - bullet damage as equally exciting as gunning
will drop you in no time. people down.
"Modern Warfare 3," in com- Since the maps are so large,
parison, is an arcade game. It "Battlefield 3" includes tanks,
would be easy to call it overrated jeeps, helicopters and even
due to its incredible popularity, fighter jets that players can pilot.
but as it turns out, it's good at Keeping with the theme of real-
what it does. ism, these vehicles take some
time to control properly. This
makes sense, but it's frustrat-
ing for new players, considering
how awesome the vehicles are.
Still, it's spectacular to experi-
ence the role of a foot soldier
bloody wood running to an enemy objective
as helicopters crash dangerously
close by and player-controlled
jets: fight each other overhead.
Nothing about "Modern The map size and vehicles pro-
Warfare 3" feels entrenched in vide an epic scope to the bat-
realism, but it doesn't have to. ties, giving an actual feeling of
It focuses on the moment-to- immersion in war.
moment action, tapping into Public perception has pit-
people's twitch reflexes better ted these two games against
than almost any form of enter- each other in a popularity con-
tainment. The split second in test, only focused on which one
which both opponents see each will be bigger or better. This is
other and try to pull the trig- a shame, because despite their
ger first is always an adrenaline similar setting and genre, they
rush, which is why the "Call of differ in gameplay and target
Duty" series still remains com- audience. Plain and simple,
pelling. Maps are small and "Modern Warfare 3" is a twitch-
condensed, forcing players to based-shooter, and "Battlefield
constantly be engaged in com- 3" is a realistic tactical shooter.
bat, always making matches Pinning them as one and the
tense and competitive. same does a disservice to both
Comparatively, the maps in and doesn't let buyers know
"Battlefield 3" are wide and they're totally divergent experi-
expansive, which creates an ences.
entirely different dynamic. Some people may want the
Game types are predominantly same adrenaline-fueled action
focused on pushing up to a point of "Call of Duty," and that's
and taking objectives, which fine, but for those looking for a
involves scenarios like storm- change of pace, the remarkably
ing beaches or buildings with realistic yet accessible mul-
a squad of teammates, while tiplayer of "Battlefield" is an
the other team tries to gun you immersive experience unlike
down. Getting across the open anything else.
"We're here for your soul."
By AKSHAY SETH
In "Happy Feet Two," the
sequel to the 2006 animated
feature, there's no problem that
can't be solved
with a few tap- **
flippers. Who Happy
cares if global
warming is Feet Two
slowly chip- At Quality16
ping away at and Rave
the only place
the penguins Warner Bros.
can call home?
As long as the director (George
Miller, "Mad Max") can squeeze
in a few panoramic shots featur-
ing hundreds of the flightless
black-and-white birds shaking
their tail feathers, everything
will be OK.
To a certain extent, there's
nothing wrong with that.
. Nowhere is it written in stone
that every movie must have the
perfect combination of story,
acting and composition in order
to be deemed entertaining.
There are multiple instances
in "Happy Feet Two" in which
the silly, slightly unoriginal dia-
logue will have audiences chuck-
ling. And there's no denying the
animation is as eye-popping as a
$135 million budget can buy.
get a I
place where this second This time around, Miller
ment lags is its ability to throws two somehow-inter-
point across. Though the twined storylines about krill and
al and the sequel are tied penguins at his audience. Though
er by their anti-pollution the first half of the movie explores
ty, the first movie did a the uneasy relationship between
better job of conveying Mumble and his son Erik (Ava
hos to its audience. Acres, "Weeds"), it all boils down
plot developments in the to saving the entire penguin tribe
lm were strongly rooted from glaciers collapsing due to
exploitation of the Ant- global warming.
region by human beings. In the meantime, the audience
Nay the script chose to also watches a completely unre-
his was by separating the lated story about two krill, Will
haracter, Mumble (Elijah (Brad Pitt, "Moneyball") and Bill
"The Lord of the Rings"), (Matt Damon, "Contagion"), who
is loved ones and putting set out to discover why they are
a zoo. "one in a krillion" and climb high-
er up the food chain.
The choice to link two entirely
t and Damon different stories that present mor-
ally isolated messages forces the
re krillin' it. audience to choose which one
we care about more, ultimately
detracting from the overall qual-
ity of this movie. It dilutes the
he terror of human captiv- film's point aboutglobal warming.
e lovable penguin eventu- At the end of the day, it's easy
arts losing his mind until to see that this franchise is a clear
cessant dancing makes step up from the animated ani-
tmous and convinces the mals usually found preying on
s to release him back little kids' developing imagina-
te wild. Small details like tions. Despite this, the film never
Williams's ("Night at the manages to pack the punch that
im") character entangling would have made it a good movie.
if n plastic six-pack rings The message is clear - it's just
d the direct consequences not presented in as hard-hitting a
pollution. manner as in the first one.
o .1 2
Vi.&it UA at hWersog
and Qo~t~ow u,a setefrtto Peorn moine