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April 09, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-04-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, April 9, 2012 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, April 9, 2012 - 7A

Archer' on art

Stale'American Reunion'

may be the only person in the
world who takes life advice
from Sterling Archer.
If you aren't already watching
"Archer," FX's animated-comedy
jewel, you
should be.
Not because
the espionage
world's most
lovable ass-
hole should
even remotely
be considered
a role model, LAUREN
but because CASERTA
every once in
he offers a moment of clarity that
somehow counterbalances his
innumerable acts of stupidity.
In one such example of unin-
tentional insight, Archer and
a fellow escapee - who hap-
pens to be an anthropological
doctoral student - attempt to
evade an angry, AK-47-wielding
mob of Malaysian pirates, dur-
ing which time Archer finds
the time to tease him about his
limited anthropology-related job
prospects. Whenthe doctoral
candidate insists that he plans to
teach, Archer points out that he'll
still only be instructing future
anthropology majors, "thus con-
tinuing the circle of'why bother?'
As crude as his interpretation
may be, Archer taps into the pri-
mal fears of any and all who love
the arts, liberal or otherwise, and
preys on one of the art world's
greatest problems: accessibility.
How do we keep a knowledge
and enjoyment of the arts from
becoming trapped in a perpetual
loop of aficionados in a closed
community? How can we grab
the interest of those who would
not otherwise go searching for
the arts on their own? How can
we keep from becoming obsolete?
Part of this fear stems not
from a decline in the quality of
fine arts, but rather a rapidly
ballooning access to other types
of media that enjoy the benefits
of the Internet. You can view
seven-time Oscar nominee
"The Shawshank Redemption,"
IMDB's top user-voted movie,
without leaving your room. You
can download, watch and post a
review to your blog about "Game
of Thrones" without even putting
onyour pants.
But the fine arts often don't get
the chance to enjoy this explosion
of access to otherwise restricted
or alienated content. You can't
enjoy most fine arts from the
comfort of your room - expe-
riencing them means not only
putting on pants, but putting on
nice pants.
I'll be the first to admit I've
skipped more than one on-
campus performance to enjoy the
comforts of my room, but I've also
dragged myself out the door to a
performance, only to be amazed
that I might have missed it to
stay home or wander to a friend's
apartment party. The countless
people in and around the Univer-
sity that make it possible to rope

in artists from around the world
or coordinate the acquisition of
priceless works of art are making
the effort to bringthe fine arts to
us - and sometimes, we have to
meet them halfway.
Accessibility is somethingthat
the University has down pat, but
it continues to come up with new
ways of ensuringthateach of us
takes advantage of the time we
have in the midst of one of the
richest fine-arts hubs in the Unit-
ed States. UMS' monthly "Arts
& Eats" draws out the starving
college student in all of us while
giving us a window into song,
dance and theater from around
the world. And the number of
free performances offered to us,
from student and professional
groups alike, really is a steal - all
we have to do is look them up,
then show up.
The fine arts are
worth putting
on your pants.
We need to take advantage of
the accessibility we are fortunate
enough to havejust a few steps
outside our doors, not only to
enrich ourselves, but to learn how
we can bringthe arts to those
who aren't given the resources
we get to enjoy. Because once we
graduate and find ourselves back
in the real world, we won't be so
lucky. Unless we planto teach or
live next to a university with such
a strong emphasis on the liberal
arts, we may never again listen to
an international orchestra, watch
a country-hopping theater troupe
or come within inches of some of
the world's most famous works of
art. Schools everywhere are cut-
ting funding for the fine arts, and
I have a yearly miniature heart
attack every time public funding
for PBS comes under the budget-
ary microscope. What would my
childhood have been like without
"Great Performances at the Met"
or "Masterpiece Theater" - and
would I have ever thought to
apply to be a fine-arts columnist
without them?
With the year winding down
and the moving-out e-mails
pouring in, it seems as though
I have little time to enjoy a few
last-minute fine-arts perfor-
mances or gallery strolls. But
my view of the ominous cloud
hovering in the distance that is
my senior year has inspired me
to make a promise to myself.
I promise that I will make the
most of my last year amid the
arts at the 'U.' And I promise
that even after I have finished
this column, my last as our fine-
arts columnist, Itwill continue
to encourage new ideas that help
make the arts accessible to all.
Caserta is in the danger
zone. To join her and Archer,
e-mail caserta@umich.edu.

an ice
it's th
of eve
put o
in t
just b
into l
the f
do to
gest t
just a
a fran
its lea

ie' sequel proves real world. Now, 13 years after
graduating from East Great
ilf-baked humor Fails, the gang limps back home
for Fa high-school reunion with
n't go all the way wild expectations of reliving the
joy of the good old days.
ByAKSHAY SETH Jason Biggs ("American Wed-
Daily Arts Writer ding") is once again the clumsy
and sexually awkward Jim Lev-
e Stiffmeister, in all his enstein, a.k.a. Pie Rapist. Bogged
takinga vengeful dump in down by the weight of everyday
cooler: For a few seconds, life and fatherhood, Jim has
e epitome forgotten what it's like to enjoy
ery funny ** sex with his wife and hopes to
ever use the mini-vacation to rekin-
n screen, American dle their love life. Naturally,
c Stifler, questionable decision-making,
king kids Reunion drinking and partying some-
he face At Quality16 how manage to get in the way.
his shit and Rave The rest of the posse, including
ecause he Oz (Chris Klein, "Caught in the
Then, as Universal Crossfire"), Kevin (Thomas Ian
comically Nicholas, "The Hitman") and
n-out farting noises turn Finch (Eddie Kay Thomas, "A
ong, sloshy groans of relief, Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christ-
ull realization of what's mas") follow close behind.
ening in front of our eyes Perhaps the saddest part of
y hits - a grown man is this movie is Stifler (Seann Wil-
ating in an ice cooler. liam Scott, "Goon"). No longer
d there's nothing you can able to torment nerds and skate
unsee it. And that, in a by on his good looks alone, the
nce, summarizes the big- Stiffmeister's situation is pitiful.
akeaway from "American He's a temp at a large brokerage
ion," which boils down to firm and faces constant harass-
nother feeble attempt at ment from the type of guys he
lizing a dead franchise - spent his entire high-school
chise that imploded after career beating into submission.
ds left high school and got Stifler views the reunion week-
hed into submission by the end as a much-needed escape

"Wait, it has been nine years and you still haven't figured out who the motheris?!"

from life, and unsurprisingly,
he's the one facilitating much of
the alcohol-induced mayhem.
All of the partying is lazily
strung together with desperate
ploys by the directors (Jon Hur-
witz and Hayden Schlossberg,
"A Very Harold & Kumar 3D
Christmas") to sell token feel-
ings of nostalgia, and it's just
too goddamn phony to count
for anything. And to a certain
degree, there's no point blam-
ing the directors - by the time
one rolls on down to the fourth
film in a franchise, the mate-
rial is beaten to the point where
it would take nothing short of
a miracle to make a line sound

In response, the writers and
directors are left with small bits
of material that do nothing more
than pay homage to the previ-
ous films. It's a cop-out, but one
that makes money. And there's
no point doubting "American
Reunion" will bring in ticket
sales - even if those tickets are
only bought by the graduating
senior class of 1999, who can
remember first-hand the joy of
watching Jim stripping down in
front of a webcam.
As for everyone else, let us
pray to the heavenly being that
is Stifler's Mom that they don't
make another one.

Unsubtie 'Salmon' doesn't bite

Daily Arts Writer
In the middle of the first scene
of"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,"
somewhere amid the lyrical cam-

era moves,
light orchestral
score and sym-
metrical faces,
it starts to feel
pretty obvious
what the rest of
the movie has in
store. Though it
has some funny
and origi-
nal moments,
there's a sort

Fishing in
the Yemen
At the
CBS Films

of gravitational force that drags
the movie relentlessly down into
broad sentimentality. Despite
a promising premise, "Salmon
Fishing" seems determined to
be just another sappy romantic
The story, basically, is that
a Yemeni sheikh (Amr Waked,
"Syriana") wants to bring salm-
on from Britain to his country's
deserts. But behind this are lots
of characters and moving parts.
There's Patricia Maxwell (Kris-
tin Scott Thomas, "Sarah's Key")
the prime minister's press secre-
tary, who's determined to chase
a good story out of the Middle
East among all the bad press.
There's Harriet Chetwode-Talbot
(Emily Blunt, "The Adjustment
Bureau"), the sheikh's sensitive
but strong financial consultant.
There's Dr. Alfred "Fred" Jones

(Ewan McGregor, "Beginners")
a by-the-book fisheries expert
who's brought in to head up the
project. And, of course, there's the
sheikh, a philosophizing mystic
who speaks almost exclusively in
pearls of wisdom. It's a lot to keep
track of, but the movie's brisk,
sure pacing keeps up a nice energy
through the lengthy exposition.
For the first 30 minutes, the
movie seems unsure what tone
to take, so it throws everything
it has at the audience. There
are quirky visual touches (split-
screen, on-screen text), an inte- I just blue myself.
rior monologue, some broad
physical comedy and romantic- them. And it in
comedy tropes. It feels as if the ing everything
filmmakers are desperate to keep worry," the film
the audience's attention. But this ing throughout,'
early portion provides some of the
film's best moments. The confron-
tational rapport of Harriet and Just a
Fred, for example, is engaging, J
and their chemistry as they argue fish in
about the feasibility ofthe project
has shades of Katharine Hepburn
and Cary Grant in "Bringing Up
Baby." For a film abo
Unfortunately, about halfway very little of it
through, the director (Lasse Hall- ing." It's so adar
strom, "Dear John") abandons as-fishing meta
the comedy and goes straight for itself seems to
the cheese. And the more it moves abstract, as a de
toward maudlin drama, the less plot forward an:
compelling "Salmon Fishing" these character
becomes. The film teeters on the is saturated wit
edge of some larger issues - the swimming-upst
"great British class system," and metaphors. The
Mideast conflicts, for instance - allytells you wh
but never gets deep enough to say be about. Aton
anythingthoughtful or new about says "I expected


nsists on explain- stand. To understand that it was
to you. "Don't never about fishing." The "it"
seems to be say- there could just as easily be the
"you're safe." movie itself, and the filmmak-
ers are intent that you get what
they're saying without having to
nother think for yourself.
"Salmon Fishing" puts all the
the sea. right pieces in place for a good
story: Harriet's boyfriend is a sol-
dier who's deployed to Afghani-
stan, Fred is stuck in a tepid
out fishing, there's marriage, and both their romance
in "Salmon Fish- and their goal of introducing
mant about a life- salmon to Yemen seem impos-
phor that fishing sible. But whenever the tension
exist only in the reaches a peak, the movie nicely
evice to drive the dissipates it for you, making for a
d give meaning to hollow cinematic experience. Yet
s' lives. The film for a film that so insists that, hey,
th condescending we could all learn a thing or two
ream images and from salmon, some hollowness
e movie continu- is to be expected. Like so many
at it's supposed to films of its kind, "Salmon Fishing
e point the sheikh in the Yemen" is pleasant, but not
I people to under- much more than that.


- r -r

E-mail kaylau@umich.edu for an

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