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March 12, 2013 - Image 5

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k The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - 5

Bowie returns from long
hiatus with 'Next Day'

FM COLUMN
Films are not
media-savvy
enough

Even 10 years later,
the English rocker
still captivates
By JOHN LYNCH
Senior Arts Editor
Since the release of his self-
titled debut in 1967, David Bowie
has (for the most part) consis-
tently pro-
duced intricate A-
and innova-
tive works of The Next
art with each Day
album. Like
any other work David Bowie
of art, a Bowie Coumbia
LP must be
approached
with a critical eye (detecting the
often symbolic nature of his cover
artwork) and an interpretive ear
- absorbing the record's sonic lay-
out and then gradually discerning
the characters and lyrical worlds
that Bowie constructs.
The Next Day, Bowie's 24th
studio album, adds yet another
salient opus to the artist's catalog.
The cover art - a reinterpretation
(rather, dismantling) of the art-
work for his critically acclaimed
1977 album, Heroes - signifies
Bowie's reinvigorated spirit and
disregard for repetition in his
work after a decade-long hiatus.
Rarely on this record does Bowie
sound anywhere near his 66 years
of age, and the album's musical
landscape is equally vigorous
throughout.
On the title track, Bowie imme-
diately sheds 10 years' worth
of dust with a roaring swirl of
guitars and an emphatic cho-

COLUMBIA

Technically, the movie "Labyrinth" should have been called "Maze."

rus - reintroducing himself to
the world of rock 'n' roll by pro-
claiming, "Here I am, not quite
dying." Powerful and ostensibly
self-referential, "The Next Day"
is an opener that seems to reflect
on his fans' unquenchable thirst
for new music via a narrative of
a man being hanged by his fellow
villagers.
The billowy "I'd Rather Be
High" finds Bowie channeling his
inner escapist, crafting a straight-
forward stoner's chorus that
would make Wiz Khalifa envious
if it weren't for its dark undertone.
Far from a love song, "Valentine's
Day" imparts the chilling tale of a
school shooter named Valentine
against contrastingly pleasant
instrumentation that recalls the
English rocker's heyday.

Though The Next Day rarely
misses, its centerpiece track, "If
You Can See Me," certainly does
- disrupting the album's flow and
concluding its compelling first
halfon a sour note. "IfYou Can See
Me" is a bewildering, structure-
less song that wanders frantically
about and should've either been
left as a bonus track or dropped on
the cutting-room floor.
"Where Are We Now?" -
the album's lead single - floats
steadily through various destina-
tions of Berlin on top of strings
and a melancholy guitar. Disori-
ented and despondent, Bowie
croons his way around Germa-
ny's capital city and hazily rumi-
nates on love and life's journeys.
Though it's an oddity among the
album's many assertive, guitar-

driven tracks, "Where Are We
Now?" is a beautiful ballad and
arguably The Next Day's finest
song.
Since suffering from a heart
attack in 2004, David Bowie and
his mythical persona have been
out of the public eye (at least in the
world of music) - his departure
representing a shockingly mortal
encroachment on the immortal
existence of Ziggy Stardust. Con-
trary to the 2011 Flaming Lips
and Neon Indian song, "Is David
Bowie Dying?" this legendary
artist is still breathing and creat-
ing classics. If Bowie were to die
tomorrow (God forbid!), The Next
Day would undeniably serve as a
perfect culmination of his many
talents and his captivating, sto-
ried career.

,m that person at the the-
ater: Slouched to the right,
encroaching on your arm-
rest territory. Maybe I've drooled
on your shoulder. Twice. Then,
back in the
parking lot,
you're wav-
ing your
hands and
mimicking
the sounds
of explosions
through BRIANNE
puckered lips JOHNSON
and spit as I
huff and puff
through the cold, pretending
that, yeah, I know that scene! Oh,
that one. That was a good scene!
Actually, I was asleep. Sorry.
Maybe I've inherited an
undiscovered, media-unfriendly
genetic disorder from which my
mother has been accused of suf-
fering for years. But keep in mind
that it's my father who's doing
the accusing here, resentful and
worn weary after two decades of
dates dragged to the latest Tom
Cruise premiere as mid-movie
smooches drift into snores. Mom,
is this really my future?
Or perhaps my $8 nap (half
price if I squeeze into the local
MJR before 4 p.m.!) is a deeply
rooted psychological issue.
Would Freud propose that it's a
regression to childhood habits;
have I been channeling dim mid-
dle-school classrooms and cool
desktops as "The Temptations"
drones from the projector speak-
ers and that Julie girl kicks an
origami-ed note across the floor?
"Jeez, just pick better mov-
ies," you complain. Excuse me,
my taste in film is paralleled
only by the Oscar-winning elite
- just referto my last column in
which I practically piss praise
over a movie that earned a solid
21-percent rating from Rotten-
Tomatoes. C'mon, it received
double digits; that must mean
something! (I should pick better
movies).
But, if so, what's my excuse for
snoozing through both halves of
Harry Potter's final adventure?
Watching zero minutes of "Zero
Dark Thirty"? Retreating into
sleep from the booms and boobs
of the third "Transformers"?
The ways in which audiences
engage with a media text are as
diverse as the audiences them-
selves: actively, passively and
interactively; creasing corners
and highlighting text; clicking,
typing, watching and surfing. But
unlike television, literature and
new media, film isn't flexible.
It is what it is, and you are
what you are: a viewer. And me
- well, I'm technically a viewer
until I fall asleep.
A movie requires your full
attention; shush the back row,
blacken the room and just watch.

Watch at a theater, watch in your
roommate's beanbag chair, watch
in the passenger seat or between
blankets, but watch. Just watch.
Some may argue that most
entertainment media offer aspas-
sive experience; after all, televi-
sion is responsible for crops of
couch potatoes, the epitome of
a lazy Saturday (or every day)
night. But, asaviewers, tweet-
ers and readers, we're allowed a
degree of circumscribed agency
in how we use and engage with
media; but it's a spectrum on
which film is, dare I say it, at the
bottom.
The Internet lures users into
communities, offers forums for
multilogue, encourages creation
and continually weaves webs of
associations and hypertext that
we directly and actively navigate.
Books and magazines demand
that we turn their pages, marking
recipes or jotting notes. Even the
television industry has revived
the text-user relationship,
drawing viewers to shows, and
fandoms together, through live
Twitter hashtags. So, film, where
you at? Why hasn't - or can't
- film adapt to our fast-paced,
multi-tasking, social network-
needy culture?
Catching
some z's at the
movies.
Film, you are my high-
maintenance significant other
in this way. You provide me
with no commercial breaks, no
fully efficient come-back-later
format without missing plot
points or disrupting the escapist
experience. I have no say in our
relationship: I passively sacrifice
hours and attention as you pres-
ent a distinct, carefully molded
and unmalleable product.
Maybe this makes you more
pure, closer to your artsy ances-
tors, untaintedby the demands
of short attention spans and wifi
connections. I can appreciate
that. I just don't always have the
time (or the energy) to keep up. I
hope you understand.
So, my theory? Film is one
of the few art forms and media
industries that has yet to conform
to, or adapt to, the very strategies
- from real-time fan interaction
to the Plato's Closet commercials
that serve as opportunities to
race to the nearest fridge - that
keep me awake.
But, then again, maybe it's just
in my genes. Thanks, Mom!
Johnson is sleeping through
"Spring Breakers." To wake her
up, e-mail briannen@mich.edu.

Visual effects overpower talented
cast in unfulfillin Z origin film

By NATALIE GADBOIS
Daily Arts Writer
Audiences seem to love a good
origin story: What made Volde-
mort so heartless? Who really is
Darth Vader?
Why is Indi- B
ana Jones
solely afraid of OZ the
snakes? "Oz the Great and
Great and Pow-
erful," a prequel Powerful
to "The Wizard At Quality16
of Oz" directed and Rave
by Sam Raimi
("Drag Me to Disney
Hell") attempts
to feed on our
need to explain evil, cashing in
on the ageless story of the wicked
green witch and the elusive, great
Oz. The twist is that we don't yet
know which witch will be bested
by Dorothy's house and which
by her bucket of water. However,
while this tale of betrayal and
redemption has the potential to
contribute to the original, these
greater themes are lost amongthe
bright colors and fresh faces that
fill Raimi's "Oz."
James Franco ("Spring Break-
ers") stars as Oscar, known as Oz,
a small-time Kansas conman pos-
ing as a charming circus magician.
He's swept up by a rogue tornado
as he flees two of his woman-
ized victims in a stolen hot-air
balloon, which plops him down
into a fantastical land, where he
encounters (and quickly seduces)
innocent witch Theodora (Mila

Kunis, "Ted"). She believes he is
the great wizard of Oz lore, sent to
deliver the land from the clutches
of a mysterious, evil witch. But the
selfish hero decides not to fill her
in on his unimpressive true self.
Theodora leads her new love to
the gleaming Emerald City, where
her fellow witch sister Evanora
(played with wicked aplomb by
Rachel Weisz, "The Bourne Lega-
cy") mandates that Oz must travel
to the dark forest in order to kill
the evil witch before he can claim
his throne and the enticing riches
that come with it. There he finds
Glinda (Michelle Williams, "My
Week with Marilyn,") the kindest
and most self-satisfied sister, who
helps Oz raise an army of munch-
kins to conquer the witch.

"Spring Breakers" on 'shrooms.

rec
the
Des
the re
itself a
create
filled
tures,
beautif
effects
often
the act
showir
Newa

on Oz's familiar journey along the
yellow brick road - Zach Braff
("Tar") plays Oz's semi-witty fly-
i iAJ Wvas ing monkey sidekick, and feisty
little China Girl (Joey King,
"Crazy, Stupid, Love.") is intro-
w vhole time. duced, perhaps to replicate the
perennially annoying Dorothy.
But these new characters fall flat
and bloat an already packed sto-
pite the high-wattage cast, ryline. Raimi focuses too much
al star is the land of Oz on creating a world distinct from
nd the visual effects that that of the original Oz but in doing
it. It's a fantastical escape, so often forgoes the characters we
with life-like new crea- have been invested in for nearly 75
massive' neon flowers and years.
ful flowing landscapes. The Raimi, who has worked with
are stunning, but the plot Franco on multiple occasions,
sacrificed; you want to tell tries to create an epic, touching
tors, "your green screen is tale of greed and heartbreak, but
ng." his fanfare overwhelms the tal-
characters are introduced ented actors. "Oz" is a film best

viewed using half a brain - the
part that fawns over the visu-
als, enjoys the twists the story
takes to reach its inevitable end,
but ignores the plot holes and
disappointing predictability in
its telling of Oz and his harem
of witches. Because we already
know that there is no place like
Oz.

WE ARE THE YELLOW
BRICK ROAD.
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