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April 07, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-07

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, April 7, 2014 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, April 1, 2014 - 5A

Why do we love
the work of Wes

T his column contains out of a fairy tale, but why does
spoilers to various that nostalgia breathe through
Wes Anderson films. every turn of the scene? All the
Please listen to track 04 from costumes and set-pieces scream
"The Grand Budapest Hotel OST" their resemblance to a bygone
as you begin era, whichever one Anderson
reading this has decided to island-hop to
column. next, and yet, our endearment
Every- comes from a deeper place,
one eventu- latching itself onto the charac-
ally comes ters and plot lines so often for-
face-to-face gotten behind layers of carefully
with that crafted sarcasm.
one asshole AKSHAy Wes Anderson is a sloppy
who likes to SETH story-teller. He frequently intro-
pepper the duces plot devices too deep into
"why"s into his narratives, there are often
casual conversation. "Why is the too many different storylines
world such a shitty place?" "Why stuffed into films that aren't too
isn't God helping us?" "Why is long, and regularly, he takes too
there a picture of Ryan Gosling little time to develop characters
so close to where you sleep?" too important to examine for
"Why do you like putting Fun- just a few minutes and then for-
yuns on everything?" get. In the past, and indeed, even
When faced with the first two in the case of "The Grand Buda-
questions, which, surprisingly, pest Hotel," critics have been
come up more often, I have an quick to call out Anderson's sup-
off-the-rack answer already flit- posedly ingratiating tendency to
tering around in my head - an skirt around the important top-
arm perpetually cocked in prep- ics - choosing instead to focus
aration of its next reaching jab. on the dream-like frivolity of
On most occasions, the punch the atmosphere he painstakingly
lands with the thwapping, eva- engineers.
sive sound of an "I don't know" At this point, please wait for
or "Leave me alone," but I can't the previous track to end and
stand sitting in silence when switch to track 05.
some asshole questions my love But in many ways, darkness
of Ryan Gosling just for the sake is the most important smudge
of asking "why." on Anderson's paint tray. At the
At this point, please wait for center of every one of his films,
the previous track to end and an undercurrent of violence
switch to track 11. guides the story through the
But this isn't a column about director's hodge-podge of sto-
Ryan Gosling - this is a col- rybook themes. In "The Royal
umn about Wes Anderson, so I'll Tenenbaums," Anderson con-
talk about last week, when one structs a lovingly caricatured
of those assholes kept digging monument to family dysfunc-
me for some sort of rationale tion. The filim hums through the
explaining why I watched "The script, chiding its audience to
Grand Budapest Hotel" three chuckle along as a pathetic col-
times in three days. lection of squabbling characters
My readymade response was nudge each other aside for the
something along the lines of camera's attention.
"nostalgia, man. It's all about Until, finally, Anderson tugs
that nostalgia." Time slowed us into crescendo. Richie Tenen-
as his eyes began their slow- baum stares into a mirror, look-
motion, clockwise journey from ing at our eyes and his own at
the left side of his head to the the same time. As Elliott Smith's
right. "Yeah, well, everyone "Needle in the Hay" plays in the
says that. Tell me something background, Richie cuts his hair,
original, FILM COLUMNIST his beard and his wrists before
- YOU HACK." I stood there. watching little rivulets of blood
Gagging, my throat dried in its stream into the sink. He collaps-
vain attempts to string together es to his side, and suddenly, the
a blithering, hyperventilating nudging comes to a jarring halt.
response. "It's just all so damn At this point, please wait for
quirky," I screamed finally, the previous track to end and
too desperately. His stupid switch to track 06.
smirk framed his stupid little In many of his other works,
moustache as it curled around a Anderson similarly waits until
pair of flaring nostrils. He knew the last few chapters to yank the
he'd won. covers away and reveal, behind
Because the truth of the mat- the lens of distanced reality,
ter is, I really hadn't spent any just how twisted his subjects
time thinking about why Ander- really are. In "Bottle Rocket,"
son's lively palate and plani- the writer-director's debut and a
metric style draws me in like proud member of Akshay's Five
a five-year-old to his favorite Fave Flicks (AFFFT"), the audi-
coloring book. Sure, it all looks ences snaps its fingers in unison
and feels like something plucked as Anderson rhythmically leads

us through Dignan and Anthony
Adams's 75-year plan to conduct
several heists after leaving a vol-
untary psychiatric unit. Things
inevitably go wrong. The audi-
ence continues snapping. And
then, in his last line, Dignan
looks at Anthony and says, "Isn't
it funny that you used to be in the
nuthouse and now I'm in jail."
If not sad, it's a surprisingly
touching moment, a little bit
reminiscent of those instants in
childhood of being jerked back
to reality as your parents called
for dinner while you played
outside. Except, of course, the
consequences here were much
more real. In the words of Mar-
tin Scorsese, "The central ideasof
the film is so delicate, so human:
Agroup ofyoungguys think that
their lives have to be filled with
risk and danger in order to be
real. They don't know that it's
okay simply to be who they are."
It's those brief, crippling sec-
onds of gloom that add dimen-
sion and perspective to what can
be called Anderson's otherwise
repetitive work. In "The Grand
Budapest Hotel," he spends
nearly two hours distancing us
from the hostile racial politics
of mid-20th century Europe. It's
a story within a story within a
story set in the snow-globe-like
exclusion of an old hotel in a
country that doesn't exist. The
main character is flamboyant,
unhinged from reality - almost
aloof to the chaos, dressed in
Nazi-suggestive uniforms,
encircling his beloved hotel.
The central plot is complete-
ly detached from these poli-
tics, choosing instead to focus
on Europe's cultured, well-
groomed tendencies. It isn't
until the last few minutes of the
film do we see M. Gustave take
a stand, stare fascism in the face
and spit. He pays for it with his
life. He becomes "a glimmer
of civilization in the barbaric
slaughterhouse we know as
I'm still not completely sure
why I love Wes Anderson. But I
know it's more than just dream-
like nostalgia - it's the tiny
little minute before I wake up
from that dream and float back
to reality. It's the warm blan-
ket of detachment. It's a pil-
low of promised escapism. In
the words of my predecessor,
"it's something that clings to us
throughout adulthood." A glim-
mer of civilization in the bar-
baric slaughterhouse we know
as humanity.effects have already
started manifesting in beautiful
character work.
And that matters a lot more
than just a shocking twist.
Seth is busy being the opposite
of a hack. To show your support,
e-mail akse@umich.edu.

What you know about the Boom Clap Bachelors?
Sampling or theft?:
Hip hop's conundrum

To what extent great effect. 9th Wonder, Just
Blaze, RZA, DJ Premier and
does the genre's J Dilla all helped to push the
sampling frontier. Over the
borrowing cross past two decades, certain art-
ists and songs have become
the line? fashionable to sample. Curtis
Mayfield, James Brown and
By NICK BOYD the Isley Brothers are cer-
Daily Arts Writer tainly among the most popu-

The links connecting rap,
soul, blues and funk form
are enormously important to
hip-hop culture. By sampling
their forefathers, rappers pay
homage to the genre's musical
roots, and in the process, put
a modern spin on recogniz-
able classics. The practice of
"sampling" is not unique to
hip hop, or even contempo-
rary music. It's a long-stand-
ing tradition that has always
lived in the shadows, but was
launched into the limelight
when rap exploded in the late
Kanye West was correct
when he said, "Rap is the new
rock 'n' roll. We the rock-
stars." Modern rap is less
about mastering an instru-
ment than it is about hon-
ing one's musical knowledge
across genres, and recycling
the old to make something
new. Despite sampling's lon-
gevity, the practice is not
really well known. Given its
increasingly central role in
modern music, it's time to
reach a consensus on when
sampling is acceptable, and
when it's not. Doing so is dif-
ficult and raises important
creative and ethical questions
- who deserves credit for
what, and in what form? Does
sampling promote creativity
or does it impede innovation?
When sampling is done
well, it uses a musical frag-
ment as a point of departure
to build something original.
Kanye West may be the con-
temporary master of sam-
pling in hip hop, but he's far
from the first to use it to

The majority of rappers
aren't simply reusing old
songs as their own, they are
transforming them rhyth-
mically, melodically and
lyrically to fit a modern para-
digm. In such circumstances,
old artists benefit from the
revival of their material and
new artists are able to chan-
nel their influences for inno-
vative purposes. All music is
part of a complicated evolu-
tionary tree - sampling helps
maintain ancestral roots.
Sometimes, a sample can be
used to convey two messages
within one song. In Kanye's
"Jesus Walks," "Niggaz!" is
yelled out at the end of sev-
eral verses. Although this
exclamation is fairly com-
monplace in Kanye's work,
it's actually a sample from
Curtis Mayfield's "If There's
a Hell Below." By employ-
ing this subtle sample, West
creates a clever parallel that
both enhances his song and
pays tribute to an influential
figure, placing their works
along a cultural continuum.
Sometimes a sample is not
iconic or old enough to be con-
sidered a tribute. How much
manipulation is required to
transform a little known con-
temporary song into a rap
original? It's a slippery slope
in terms of context. Kendrick
Lamar's "Bitch Don't Kill My
Vibe," is almost identical to
"Tiden Flyver," a 2008 track
by a contemporary group of
Danish producers called the
Boom Clap Bachelors. They
received credit as compos-
ers on good kid, m.A.A.d. city,

but sampling an entire con-
temporary melody is differ-
ent than taking a few lines
from a classic rock, soul or
blues song. Kendrick layers
their music with new lyr-
ics and effects to make it his
own. These circumstances are
common - producers create
beats and sell them to rap-
pers. However, oftentimes it
takes a significant amount of
research on the part of the lis-
tener to discern what is sam-
pled, and where the sample
comes from. Although Lamar
cites "Tiden Flyver" as the
source for the sample, it is not
done in a highly visible way
- Most people assume that
rap songs like "Bitch Don't
Kill My Vibe" are entirely
original productions. What's
the difference between sam-
pling a less well-known peer
like the Boom Clap Bachelors
and a dead legend like James
Brown? It's simple - Who the
fuck has heard of the Boom
Clap Bachelors? In cases like
these, rappers get most of the
credit while nameless artists
do most of the heavy lifting.
Sampling is a catalyst for
musical progress - It pro-
motes collaboration, innova-
tion and historical awareness.
By bridging the past and
present, sampling can repur-
pose old voices to enhance
the creative efforts of mod-
ern musicians. At the same
time, aspects of this practice
can have unintended conse-
quences. Is appropriation the
same as theft, or is it a form of
flattery? In an age of globally-
shared music, co-opting the
creative efforts of promising,
undiscovered artists in order
to craft hip-hop instrumen-
tals with dissociated messages
will cause musical evolution
to change course, for better
or worse. The question is,
when you discover that your
favorite rap song was made
in Copenhagen, not Compton,
does that kill your vibe?

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