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January 22, 2013 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-01-22

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6A- Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Michigan Daily -- michigandaily.com

'Mama' twists, and.turns

Del Toro-produced
film thrills with
unpredictable plot
By ANDREW MCCLURE
Daily ArtsWriter
Any old cinephile or casual
moviegoer has a pretty solid idea
of what to expect when stroll-
ing into a film
like "Mama." B
And that's pre-
cisely why the M
theater was
25-percent full At Quality16
- mostly con- and Rave
sisting of ston-
ers and those Universal
who inces-
santly sniffle. Surprisingly, this
one manages to beguile, irk and
anger, all for its own emotionally
manipulative agenda. Without
a doubt, the script plagues itself
with throwback cliches, butinso-
far"Mama" doesn't die from said
plague..By the credits, the mis-
steps stand out like a sore thumb,
but the dense tale is very much
intact.
.- ookie director Andres Mus-
chietti takes an ambitious stab at
arthouse-y suspense. It follows
a newly fatherless pair of young
sisters, their incredible survival
in the wilderness and the abrupt
reacquainting with their uncle
(Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, "Head-
hunter'") and his girlfriend

(Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark
Thirty").
The girls' transition back into
residential life is far from, say,
Gary Busey returning to his ori-
gin in the catacombs. The elder
girl (first-timer Megan Char-
pentier)-sort of has the hang of
it, recalling most vocabulary
and being (barely) emotionally
responsive. The younger (rela-
tively unknown Isabelle Nalisse),
on the other hand, is freakishly
animalistic, from galloping on all
fours to eating from doggie dish-
es. But one thing keeps these girls
mysteriously in line: Mama.
We learn the girls, upon los-
ing their father in the sub-zero
winter years ago, created a
projection, an abstraction, of a
would-be mother. To be blunt,
Mama doesn't take kindly to the
cool uncle and his punk-rocker
girlfriend. Envy ensues.
Don't be afraid, you can laugh
in "Mama." That's normal. It's
OK to shake your head at Chas-
tain's The Misfits T-shirt and her
contrived black-licorice affinity.
Seriously. You may even question
why you're in the theater when
the onsereen lights flicker with
indecision every three scenes.
And please, for the love of God,
guffaw hard when the younger
sister unthinkably reminds you
of Gollum in every sense. The
point is that these moments are
indeed transient - a very brief
departure from the yellow brick

"

'Oh no, Olive Garden's closed!
road. The laughable stuff doesn't
bog down, but rather ups our
attention span for the real story.
Some hag librarian, who
probably was more important
than initially thought, tells the
investigating shrink, "Ghosts
are an emotion condemned to
right a wrong." This plot point
accredits Mama herself and her
fucked-up motive behind indoc-
trinating the girls. Propelled
by this, Chastain impressively
goes from indifferent Heineken-
guzzler to protective mother
figure. And it's great. Chastain
has proven herself in different
projects recently, so the stage
comfort remains strong.
Truth be told, audiences like
to identify with characters (or
even the camera for that mat-
ter). A big rub with "Mama" is

its failure to root for anyone in
particular until the final 30 min-
utes. Too many teams form and
their interrelatedness blurs. But
that's part of the fun.
Another fun piece is the lens-
ing: An ever-so-patient camera
allows objects to invade the
frame instead of the other way
around. Peerless pans and tanta-
lizing tilts make way for unpre-
dictability in every scene.
Given four days post-screen-
ing, when you're done joking
about Mama's need for a gua-
camole-looking facial, you'll
appreciate what you saw. It's
about nature and nurture, two
mutually exclusive castles, and
envy connecting them as the
moat. It doesn't matter who
wins because, in the end, the
script holds.

Either he could have farted or he could have farted.
Unorigi na
'Beta' falls flat,

In
able ai
the "d
duds
define
pellin,
least
ling (a
fore
album

Call: #734-
Email: dailyd

By JOHN LYNCH - will predictably result from
Senior Arts Editor the loss of a band member and a
subsequent, oftentimes drastic,
music, there is a quantifi- change in sound.
nd habitual science behind The Clash, for instance, pro-
ud." Most duced a dud in 1985 with Cut The
- which I Crap after dismissing guitar-
as a com- ist Mick Jones, and The Morn-
g band's Ra Ra Riot ing Benders defined the modern
compel- Beta Love dud in 2012 when they replaced
:nd there- their guitarist, changed their
shittiest) Barsuk name to POP ETC and released
release a truly dreadful self-titled album
that sounded as vapid as the new
moniker felt.
With its third album, Beta
Love, Ra Ra Riot has abandoned
its charming, orchestral sound
418-4115 (and its cellist, Alexandra Lawn)
lisplay@gmail.coM and followed POP ETC into the
depths of synth-driven vapidity.
For lead singer Wes Miles, this
album marks his second unsuc-
RTH CAMPUS 1-2 Bdrm. ! cessful foray into electro-pop,
rfront/Heat/Water/Parking. after the release of 2009's Dis-
w.H RPAA.com 996-4992!'
covery LP - a messy and incon-
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(734) 79752e Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij.
hdcm., modern, clean, quiet Whereas the Discovery album
5 min. walk. Free Wi-Fi. W h e
had a number of decent (at least
ICIENCY 1&2 BDRM. Pall
. $750-1500. Most include heat catchy) songs, however, Beta
er. Prkg extra cost where avail. Love has only one - its ecstatic
cappomanagement.com lead single and title track. "Beta
734-996-1991. Love," with its memorably exul-
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May to May of electronic maximalism that
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autiful house, great locatiin, the album unquestionably fails
shed, remodeled kitchen w/ 2 to live up to in its 10 other tracks.
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hELEASE DATE-Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

i I
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Too much
synth, not
enough riot in
latest release.
On "For Once," Miles's vocals
are grating and constrained
against obnoxiously loud, pop
instrumentation, resulting in
a track that would fit nicely
with the faux-doo-wop dreck
of Bruno Mars. When strings
appear in the song's second half,
they are completely out of place
and submerged under synths and
a drum-machine beat - symbolic
of the band's abandonment of its
once-signature sound.
Without a doubt the worst song
Ra Ra Riot has ever made, "What
I Do For U," is an atrocious,
one minute and 44 second-long
assault on the ears - containing
a nauseatingly basic and bass-
heavy beat and piercingly auto-
tuned, falsetto vocals. Tracks
like "Binary Mind" and "That
Much," on the other hand, are
reminiscent of the '80s vibe that
the band established in the dance
tracks of its first two albums, but
ultimately, they also succumb to
overwhelming synths and a lack
of noteworthy melody.
As a whole, the production
on Beta Love is incredibly lack-
luster. A novice beatsmith could
have easily produced songs like
"When I Dream" and "Wilder-
ness" on Fruity Loops, and over-
all, the sonic foundation of this
album is a far cry from the inno-
vative baroque pop of The Rhumb
Line and The Orchard.
Please understand that this
criticism of synths in the context
of Beta Love does not translate to
a blanket criticism of synth-pop
at large.
See RA RA RIOT, Page 7A

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By Jetstinman
(c)2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

01/22/13

A

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