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November 19, 2013 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-19

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 7
FINE ARTS COLUMN
Night on the Dnepr is
worth the search

CINEDIGM
There is no spoon.
Young actors shine
in 'Short Term 12'

Cretton captures It fills him and the audience with
trepidation - what goes on inside
long-term those doors?
The world within Short Term
suffering of youth 12 is filmed with incredible ten-
derness; warmth pervades the
By KAREN YUAN entire movie. The first look inside
Daily Arts Writer the building is a montage of chil-
dren, and it feels as if we're spy-
"Short Term 12" has a happy ing on something private, as if
ending. This isn't a spoiler: You we're rifling through a stranger's
can tell from the start. Set at childhood diary. Through door-
a foster care ways, we watch each room's
facility, the A inhabitants wake up: A girl sits
movie revolves at a bathtub, slowly shaving her
around Grace Short leg; a tall teen sprinkles food into
(Brie Larson, a fishbowl, watching it intently; a
"Don Jon"), tiny boy with red hair lies curled
the hardened At the up and facing the wall.
yet maternal Michigan Earlier, Grace finds out from
20-something her doctor that she's pregnant.
supervisor and Cinedigm This is not good news; she sched-
her relation- ules an abortion immediately,
ships with the even though her interactions
kids she cares for and her fellow with the kids tell the audience
supervisor and boyfriend Mason she should keep the baby.
(John Gallagher Jr., "Margaret"). Larson stands out in this con-
The film opens with new- flicted role, but the child actors
comer Nate (Rami Malek, "The are the film's silver lining. Jayden
Master") arriving for his first (Kaitlyn Dever, "The Spectacu-
day of work at the facility, Short lar Now") is at once caustic and
Term 12, named for the year-long vulnerable, and ultimately the
period the children officially one to reconcile Grace with her
stay for, though many stay much pregnancy. Marcus is all wound-
longer. Standing outside the up tension and dark brooding,
building with Grace and Mason, played by Keith Stanfield in his
Nate's told to lose his tie and to break-out role.
remember to say "no" to the kids. Stanfield is an unexpected

gem. In one scene, he expresses
his hurt to Mason through a
rap written by the actor him-
self, which makes it all the more
impressive and a unique contend-
er for Best Original Song at the
Oscars. It's raw, emotional and
expletive-heavy, with the camera
slowly edging toward his eyes.
It's also the first take shot for the
scene.
Director Destin Cretton ("I
Am Not a Hipster") adds montage
after montage of the characters
doing small, mundane activities
that never actually grow tire-
some. Time passes. The vignettes
are parentheses of quiet in the
terrible lives the characters have
endured. The cinematography,
with its washed-out primary col-
ors, is gorgeous.
Then, there are moments of
pure catharsis. Grace and Jayden
vandalize the car of the latter's
abusive father together. The red-
haired kid from earlier, Sammy
(newcomer Alex Calloway),
breaks out of the building again
and again to flee past its gate.
Each time, he hollers joyously,
and each time he lets himself get
tackled by the supervisors pursu-
ing him. The message is a little
cheesy: People heal each other.
But we embrace these movies
with bleeding hearts because it's
true.

he first time I saw
Kuindzhi's Night on the
Dnepr, I was 10 and had
just landed a few days prior in a
snowy St. Petersburg airport, a
week before
Christmas.
It was the
first time I W
had seen the
Russian city
under a blan-
ket of frost.
I had spent ANNA
summer SADOVSKAYA
after sum-
mer walk-
ing up and down the banks
of the Neva River, watching
tour groups ushered on and off
cruise liners, but I had never
seen the water so cold and
dark.
That day we were running
late as always, and while my
mother tried (to little avail)
stuffing my 5-year-old brother
into a snowsuit, my grandma
read us the history of St.
Petersburg's largest collection
of fine Russian art: The State
Russian Museum.
I was highly skeptical when
my grandmother promised me
it would be one of the most
exciting days of my life. Filled
with a decade's worth of angst,
I moped and pleaded to go back
to the circus instead. I had vis-
ited St. Petersburg three times
before, always for a couple
months at a time, yet, somehow,
I managed to evade the Russian
Museum until my 10th birth-
day, something my grandmoth-
er was astounded to learn.
Soon, we were climbing
from the depths of the bustling
metro station, battling a gust of
wind. Already exhausted from
the grueling 15-minute ride, I
began making up reasons why
the Russian Museum was a
huge mistake.
Seeing as I felt myself a con-
noisseur of the city and had
never visited the infamous arts

center,
the tim
how co
would I
to barri
of the g
storm o
and gra
hear m
well-fo
ued on1
brighty
distanc
I pre
away in
partake
um hau
the sec
welcom
I decid'
within
vased w
do
b
Thef
exactly
ings of
empero
graced
elry wi
light. T
the str
painter
all stoo
unimpr
Bidin
for a se
my way
adornec
scapes;
Already
nearlyn
Its p
ed only
rays, m,
and unl
colored

it was simply not worth pick out shapes within the still-
e. Also, considering ness of its night, but only cobbled
ld and snowy it was, we cabins and a glowing river took
probably end up having form. The light looked so soft.
icade ourselves in one It looked so dimly bright that I
alleries, waiting out the wanted to run to the next con-
vernight. My mother venience store and recreate the
andmother pretended to priceless work with a 15-ruble
e out as I presented my paint set.
unded case and contin- The painting, in all honesty,
their way toward the is not the most stirring use of
yellow building in the technique; it doesn't possess
e. intricate details or the whimsical
pared to sit the time imagination of its artist, yet it's
zthe lobby, refusing to still unlike any I've seen. Kuin-
e in the day-long muse- dzhi's paintbrush has created
:l. Somehow, though, something so masterful it ended
urity guards were less up ina world-renowned museum
wing than the cold, so and something simple enough to
ed to find a safer seat interest a cold and grumpy little
the confines of the can- kid.
Halls. It's surprising: As much as
the history of art interests me,
I rarely become attached to a
certain painter or his work. I
prefer to revel in the collective
)flt have to beauty of fine art, to experience
firsthand the hypnotic effect of a
e flashy to room hushed by the presence of
centuries worth of artists' lives.
inspire. Whenever I stumble upon
another piece of work that
careens me back in time, to the
December day in a nearly empty
first few rooms were Russian Museum, I know that
what I expected: Paint- I've found another painting
wealthy lords, haughty to add to my tiny collection of
rs and princesses favorites.
the walls, their jew- That day, I looked for Kunid-
nking in the drawn-on zhi's work in every room. My
heir faces harsh with grandmother saw my piqued
skes of an experienced interest and began plotting my
,the men and women full cultural immersion into
d, solemn, regal. I was Russian art immediately. But for
essed. me, it never was, and still isn't,
g my time and searching about technicality. It's not about
at to curl up in, I found finding the most talked-about
into a smalle- room, one painting, the most famous art-
d with beautiful land- ists. It will always be about me,
and grandiose still-lives. a small girl at heart, running
turning the corner, I around searching for a feeling
missed the dark canvas. she got from staring at a drawing
itch-black sky, highlight- of the moon. - j 1

by an eerie moon's green
ade the painting new
ike all the gaudy, richly
compositions. I tried to

Sadovskaya is painting.
To critique her, e-mail
asado@umich.edu.

Bronson
Is Bugg the new Bob? yJOSH FRAZI
DailyArts Writer

By HANNAH WEINER
Daily Arts Writer
Jake Bugg is 19. At 19, he has
released two albums, neither tee-
ny-hopper stuff or acoustic songs
drenched in
sappy love say- [3
ings. At 19, he's
had two mature, Shangri La
distinguished
albums resign- JakeBugg
ing themselves Island
to a corner of
rock 'n' roll. At
19, Bugg has already been com-

Bugg finds his wings.

pared to Bob Dylan by critics. easily be the soundtrack for girls
But let's not get ahead of our- in colorful dresses, smoking ciga-
selves. rettes on shag carpet. Which isn't
Jake Bugg's self-titled first to say its only appeal is nostalgia;
album was released in late 2012 Bugg's musical talent is utterly
and, sincethen, theEnglishsinger- undeniable, especially considering
songwriter has received incredible his age.
critical acclaim. Jake Bugg sky- Yet, as an album, the tracks feel
rocketed to No. 1 in the UK charts. less than cohesive. Bugg's sound
So, where did that leave Bugg? constantly jumps from decade to
Thirteen months later, for the decade. Most startling is his tran-
release of Shangri La, Bugg teams sition from angsty pop-punk in
up with Rick Rubin, the master- "What Doesn't KillYou"to a sound
ful music producer who produced that channels gentle 1970s singer-
Kanye's Yeezus and Eminem's The songwriters in "Me and You."
Marshall Mathers LP 2 this year. Bugg somehow goes from, "What
Funnily enough, Rubin's sound doesn't hurt / Sometimes you feel
doesn't quite mesh with Bugg's you're up against the world," to
original sound on his debut album, "We can wait so patiently /'Cause
on which he sang profound and they won't catch you and me." It's
insightful lines like, "Something's hard to tell what he's feeling or
changing, changing, changing" what message he wanted to send.
(sound familiar?). But Bugg's indecision seems to
convey something deeper about
being misunderstood. His frus-
is tration comes in all shapes and
Shangri L a s forms on Shangri La: lyrically in
tim eless, the sophisticated love songs, soni-
cally in his abrasive moments of
punk-rock and even transition-
ally when he just can't decide what
Shangri La has a spunk and story he wants his album to tell.
liveliness that his debut album Bugg's aggravation in being mis-
lacked. It's rooted in a sound from understood slaps listeners in the
the 1960s; the first track, "There's face, as if he's completely rejecting
a Beast and We All Feed It," could the label of "East Midland's Bob

So far, this has been a stellar yet
problematic year for hip-hop fans.
The rap landscape features artists
as diverse and varied as ever.Aging,
creative talents like Pusha T and
Danny Brown dropped their major
label debut albums. Southern rap
and auto-tuned crooning converge
in artists like Future and Rich
Homie Quan to create an exciting
subgenre. From the polarizingly
JAKE creative Yeezus to the resurgent
BUGG comeback of Marshall Mathers,
IS LAND long-time music industry heavy-
weights have returned with trium-
phant comeback albums.
Dylan." Despite this surge of creativity,
Even despite his refusal of the tone of mainstream rap music
the Dylan label, Bugg speaks to remains unfortunately similar to
a generation of frustration and years past. What all of these artists
misunderstandings - a genera- have in common is extremely dark,
tion that has been denied their sometimes violent, often misogy-
own. He's more than just Dylan; nistic content. The glorification of
he's all of the Brit-rock musicians money and violence coupled with
who spoke truisms to an exasper- the degradation of women has been
ated youth. Among electrically a familiar trope in rap music for far
charged songs, Bugg's sage words too long. Rap music has ceased to
seem to delve into the poetry that be fun.
inundated the songs from the Enter: Action Bronson, the most
1960s. enjoyable rapper making music
A song about youthful love? today.
Check. A song about lower-class Casual rap fans might recognize
desperation? Check. A song about the Queens-based emcee from his
the insincerity of society? Check. verse on "1 Train," the A$AP Rocky
In a single album, Bugg creates an posse cut that features Bronson
encyclopedia for this generation's rapping about fixing college foot-
problems - even though they've ballgamesandcomparingawoman
been paralleled from generation to a Chilean horse. This nonsensi-
to generation. cal, off-the-cuff style is an uncon-
This revival of the idea of "gen- ventional staple for Bronson, as his
eration to generation" came at the stream of consciousness lyrics are
right time for Bugg. And even if absurdly detailed, and often, quite
he's not exploiting it, he's just a frankly, absurd. His recent col-
talented, young dude with a gui- laboration mixtape with producer
tar singing really graceful and Party Supplies, Blue Chips 2, is one
poignant lyrics about growing up. ofthe mostengaging rap releases of
That might just be enough for all the year.
of us who are "one 'n' the same," Bronson is not your typical rap-
feeding "a beast eating every bit of per. The son of Albanian immi-
beauty." grants, the bearded, overweight
And Jake Bugg, he's the one emcee is a former chef with apas-
who "better speak it." sion for food and humorous anec-

subverts rap tropes
dotes. He draws comparisons to subject matter;his lyrics are full of
Ghostface Killah for his similar chauvinistic statements, conspicu-
voice, delivery and storytelling ous consumption and criminal
abilities, but his ability to transport activity. The difference between
listeners into his bizarre world is many mainstream rappers and
unparalleled. Bronsolino, as he calls himself, is
In one verse on "Flip Ya," Bron- the lighthearted nature of his lyr-
son's references drift fromAladdin, ics. Bronson injects humor into
to Vanna White, to "Saved by the stereotypical rap content, and his
Bell," demonstrating his spontane- combination of storytelling abil-
ous delivery and eccentric subject ity and his entertaining delivery
matter.ActionBronson'sbeatselec- allows otherwise played-out sce-
tion also setshim apart fromhis rap narios to become hilariously vivid.
peers. Calling his instrumentals Bronson makes no attempt to be
unusual is a dramatic understate- taken seriously by his audience, yet
ment: They are downright weird. his abilities demand that hip-hop
Blue Chips2 sees him sample sourc- fans respect his talent.
es as diverse as John Mellencamp, Other rappers are paying atten-
Allen Iverson's infamous "practice" tion. LL Cool J, Lloyd Banks and
rant and aPhil Mickelson commer- Styles P are some prominent New
cial, among other unlikely inspira- Yorkers who have been featured
tions. Bronson's charm comes from on Bronson tracks within the last
his creativity and unpredictability. year. Blue Chips 2 features guest
verses from contemporary stars like
Ab-Soul and Mac Miller, further
Chef turned solidifying Bronson's credibility as
a rapper. One guest verse on the lat-
est mixtape stands out more than
any other. "Rolling Thunder" prom-
ised to feature a "legendary special
guest," and when a Cam'ron appear-
There is a certain cult of per- ance fell through, Bronson found a
sonality that surrounds Action worthy replacement: himself. That's
Bronson's larger-than-life persona. right, there is a track onBlue Chips2
His lyrics are so over the top, so by ActionBronson, featuringAction
detached from everyday life that Bronson. The average rapper can't
they create an entertaining distrac- get away with such a bold yet inane
tion from the mundane. Bronson's proclamation oftalent.
exaggerated storytelling is clearly His commitment to his well-
embellished, yet its intense detail crafted persona is full of bragga-
allows the listener to visualize docio, yet Bronson has the natural
his world, creating a reality truer ability and the originality to back
than the gritty portrayal of street up his boasts of greatness. Talent-
life found on so many other rap ed rappers are a dime a dozen, but
records. Bronson soundslike he has where Bronson shines as an artist
fun in the studio, and his easygo- is in his role as an entertainer full
ing demeanor and gripping stories of imagination. Action Bronson's
demand the listener's attention. talent persists despite his comedic
Rhymes about excessive spend- tone and constant punchlines; he
ing, drug dealing and exotic women is too good tobe a joke. Anyone can
are extremely common in rap vers- rap about success and women, but
es today, a typical point of criticism only one man can have credibility
about rap's lack of thoughtful con- while rapping about having a past
tent. Bronson makes no attempt to life as a rabbi and teaching a dol-
stray away from this stereotypical phin how to shoot a gun.

d

t

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