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January 05, 2012 - Image 10

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2B - Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *

Best Films of 2011

2. The Adventures of Tintin

3. Attack the Block

Tintin always moves (unless he's been knocked
out by some ruffian). Motion is his appeal and the
reason Steven Spielberg's representation rings
Every second conveys cartoonish energy: slip-
ping, sliding, tripping - the swashbuckling fun
never stops. It's vintage Spielberg - an animated
Indiana Jones.
Great movement requires great characters, and
luckily, "The Adventures of Tintin" has them. The
inebriated Captain Haddock (does Andy Serkis

ever do wrong?) is the perfect foil to the grounded Damn, it feels good to be an alien-thrashing gang-
Tintin, and Snowy (can dogs win Oscars?) may be ster. The teenage hoodlums of "Attack the Block"
the greatest dog in the history of dogs. realize every adolescent male's dream as they gang
"Tintin" testifies to the fact that you'll neser up and hop on BMX bikes to repel an extraterrestrial
find adventure sitting on your couch (or "locked" invasion. With the swagger of an old master, rookie
up, drunk, in a ship's cabin). If you keep searching writer-director Joe Cornish captures claustropho-
for life, you'll find it. As they say near the end of bic, frightening action as leader Moses guides his
the film, "How's your thirst for adventure, Cap- people against the "gorilla wolf motherfuckers" that
tain?" land in their South London housing project.
"Unquenchable, Tintin." And the action, gloriously gory without being gratu-
-MATTEASTON itous, is hilariously hair-raising. Cornish keeps raucous

humor alive throughout (aided by a superb extended
cameo by Nick Frost), yet nimbly avoids parody.
The film's American release suffered from unfor-
tunate timing - the miscreant heroes closely resem-
ble the instigators of the London riots - and the film
floundered,so it'lltake agroundswell ofsupportbefore
posters of this cult masterpiece become a dorm-room
staple. An exclamation by one of the valiant teenage
thugs properly sums up the "Attack the Block" experi-
ence - "I'mshitting myself but... this is sick."

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly
Hallows: Part 2

5. Midnight in Paris

When director David Yates joined the "Harry
Potter" franchise, he was under a lot of pressure.
The series was four movies and three directors in,
with notoriously expectant fans. But Yates rose to
the challenge, culminating in a dark finale more
rewardingthanthis year's alleged Oscar contenders.
"Harry Potter" is a fantasy bildungsroman: a
coming-of-age story for the characters, the film-
makers and us. "Deathly Hallows: Part 2" boasts
some of the best ensemble acting of the series, rely-
ing as much on the actors who grew up in London's
Leavesden Studios as it does on British veterans.

There are fantastic special effects, beautiful cin- After several poorly received films, many
ematography and a sweeping soundtrack by Alex- questioned whether Woody Allen still had it. But
andre Desplat. There are spells and broomsticks. recent films have reversed the tide.
But it's also a damn good film that broke box office This year's "Midnight in Paris" was one more.
records and made devoted fans cry buckets (Expec- Featuring beautiful scenery, Woody Allen's trade-
to Pa-tissues! ... anybody?). mark snappy dialogue, captivating characters
After a decade, history's most epic film series and the best Woody Allen surrogate since Woody
has ended. But as J.K. Rowling said at the world Allen himself, "Midnight" is one of his cleverest
premiere, "Whether you come by page or by the big films in years.
screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome A brilliantly neutoric Owen Wilson stars as Gil
you home." Pender, a jaded screenwriter vacationing in Paris
-PROMA KHOSLA with his beautiful but vapid fiancee Inez (Rachel

McAdams). Strollingthe Paris streets at midnight,
Gilis magically transported to the 1920s, where he
wanders into its famous community of expatriate
artists and meets historical icons such as Ernest
Hemingway, Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald and
countless others, all of whom are hilariously writ-
ten and portrayed.
The film, a contemplation of the futility of
romanticizing nostalgia, isn't one of Allen's deep-
er films, but it's still inventive and continually sur-

Best Albums of 2011

2. The Black Keys
- El Camino
The boys have done it again. El Camino, the lat-
est album from bluesy-rock duo The Black Keys,
sounds pretty much like the rest of their six
albums - and for that, you may thank them.
Hardly pausing to catch a breath after 2010's
bold and brazen Brothers, the band's El Camino is a
loud and crunchy riff-ridden album that continues
to satisfy.
El Camino revs up with the single "Lonely Boy,"
a tireless hymn about - what else is new - love
and loneliness. The album combines the noise and
grit of the boys with melodic chiming and a few
la's and whoa's of a chorus - few surprises, but
endless delights.
It's difficult to have too strong of a reaction to
El Camino. It isn't groundbreaking, but it is clas-
sic Black Keys. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney
have been at it for a decade now, and don't worry
- they know what they're doing.

3. Foster the
People - Torches
It's hard to believe Foster the People just
released Torches last spring. In just seven months,
the album has soared to the top of pop and rock
charts and the group has accumulated a variety of
music award nominations.
But there's a reason for all the hype - Torches
has enough electrifying synth lines and static-y
vocals to nourish the hippest Urban Outfitters
While it may be tempting to get caught up in
the hit single "Pumped Up Kicks," the rest of the
album is just as tantalizing. Each track stands out
from the others with its own catchy twist. It's live-
ly and unpredictable while still sounding polished
and cohesive: There is never a boring beat, yet
nothing sounds out of place. And to think - this
is only Foster the People's first shot at releasing an



4. The Roots -
Young men dealt an impossible hand in drug-
worn, forgotten neighborhoods aren't exactly few
and far between in hip hop. But The Roots manage
to bring an old theme back to life - a plaintively
melodic, literally backwards life - on Undun, the
group's second album since shacking up with Jimmy
Fallon's show. Nothing makes protagonist Redford
Stevens (musically related to Sufjan, whose song
"Redford" makes an appearance) unusual, which is
precisely what makes the album out of the ordinary.
Undun is the concept-album version of "The
Wire," a hard look at reality on the streets, as Red-
ford's story is traced from death to birth in the pres-
ent tense. The album highlights Roots ringleaders
"?uestlove" and Black Thought in equal parts: The
former funneling soul, classical and indie harmonies
into his gently rolling downtempo journey, the latter
poignantly recalling a narrative he grew up along-
side - a narrative that could have been his.

5. Cut Copy -
At times, dance records can be annoyingly
functional, made solely with the intent of being
played at a club or party.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, bands
like LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip have cre-
ated a whole new genre of ironic dance tracks
with snarky and sarcastic lyrics as easily enjoyed
on personal headphones as they are pumping
through loud speakers.
Cut Copy straddles this line as well as any band.
Neither planting its tongue too firmly in its cheek,
nor blindly escaping to a DJ booth, the Australian
quartet have been refining their craft for eight
years now, and Zonoscope - the band's third effort
- is hands down its finest to date.
Zonoscope is a truly versatile album with slight
hints of wit sprinkled across shameless dance
tracks, making it an appropriate selection for
many occasions.


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