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February 11, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-02-11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 5

Is Pussy Riot still rioting
for social change?

Better than 'The Dark Knight'
'Lego Movie' fun

regardless a
This movie should resonate with any Lego
fan, even those whose love comes
contains many mostly from nostalgia. A lego set's
instructions always tell how to
small parts build some amazing things, but
the most fun comes from ditching
By KARSTEN SMOLINSKI the rules and creating something
Daily Arts Writer unique. The movie smartly focuses
on the theme of creativity, featur-
Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt, ing frantic action sequences where'
"Parks and Recreation"), an ordi- the heroes construct and modify
nary construction mini-figure, their creations - submarines,
lives just like spaceships, and double-decker
everyone else couches - on the fly. These frenetic
in Lego City. battle scenes look like a laser light
Everyday, he The Lego show painted by a surrealist, with
watches the Movie a million different dazzling colors
same dumb flashing across the scene almost
television pro- Rave and too fast for the viewer to process.
gram, listens Quality 16 Pirate-robots, unicorn cats, and
to the same dragons duel tentacle-covered
"Everything Warner Bros. drones, sending Lego bricks
Is Awesome" careeningthrough the air.
song, per- Along with the non-stop action,
forms the same routine job, and "The Lego Movie" delivers a hys-
always, always follows the build- terical gag about every half-sec-
ing instructions. ond thanks to both the slapstick
However, when the master humor and ludicrous characters
builders, a group of Legos who backed by the voice talent such
believe that all Legos should as Elizabeth Banks ("The Hun-
build freely without following ger Games"), Morgan Freeman
the instructions, mistake Emmet ("March of the Penguins") and
for the savior of Lego-kind and Will Arnett ("Despicable Me"), the
the most important person in the latter of whom voices Lego Bat-
universe, the simple construction man. In fact, much of the film's
worker finds himself caught in a humor comes from its clever refer-
battle against the evil President ences to pop culture titans such as
Business (Will Ferrell, "Anchor- Star Wars and DC Comics. For one
man 2: The Legend Continues"), gag, Morgan Freeman's character
who forces everyone to follow confuses Dumbledore for Gandalf
the instructions and glues them and for another, the heroesborrow
together so they can't build any- the Millennium Falcon's hyper-
thing new. drive. With all these allusions to
This rather neat and fitting plot other major brands and insider

if age
references to old Lego sets, some
critics will certainly dismiss "The
Lego Movie" as a shallow mar-
keting scheme meant to reinforce
brand loyalty and sell merchan-
dise. Undoubtedly, those criticisms
carry some truth. However, such
critics overlook the witty satirical
character of President Business.
Evil lord, president and CEO all
rolled into one, this cunning super
villain wants all Lego people to
uniformly follow the same set of
instructions, talk about the same
stuff anduse the same product. He
serves as an obvious stand-in for
the heads of massive companies
such as Microsoft or Apple. How-
ever, "The Lego Movie" brilliantly
argues that the ordinary people
can enjoy these products without
conforming to every last instruc-
tion. Buying a Lego set doesn't
oblige anyone to follow the direc-
tions, and enjoying "The Lego
Movie" doesn't obligate anyone to
buy a Lego set.
Though critics will deride it as
an extended commercial, "The
Lego Movie" entertains with a
rocket-fueled pace, zany charac-
ters and some of the freshest look-
ing animation since Pixar came
out with its own film about living
toys. Then, it blows the audience
away by extending the creativity
of its own world to the creativity of
our world, delivering a thoroughly
appropriate message for a movie
about the world's greatest build-
ing blocks. Instead of relying on
Batman or Gandalf to save the day,
the task falls to an ordinary, yellow
construction worker.

Back when I first inherited
this column my junior year, I
followed up my inagural arti-
cle with a commentary on the
Russian band Pussy Riot after
two of its,
had been
of "hooli-
to make an
original ELLIOT
opinion on ALPERN,
a controver-
sial issue, I
took on the devil's advocate
to some degree, asking if per-
haps the band members were
entirely blameless. It was
naivete at its finest, and with
recent news of the band cou-
pled with the ongoing Sochi
Olympics, I wanted to revisit
the issue at this tail end of
my tenure as music columnist
for the Daily.
First and foremost: After
being released from prison in
December of last year, both
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and
Maria Alyokhina were essen-
tially kicked out of the band
this past week. I think the
standard reaction here would
be confusion or frustration.
Why, after gaining so much
traction as advocates against
various types of oppression,
would the other musicians
force out the two band-mem-
hers who represent strongest
their plight against persecu-
Once again, the issue is
more complex than headlines
would indicate. The decision
seems to have been solidi-
fied, in some part, from a
performance in New York
City on Feb. 5: the Amnesty
International Concert. Both
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina
took the stage after being
introduced by none other
than Madonna - is anyone
really surprised that the
<em>Amnesty International
Concert</em> would feature
two of the most prominent
human rights activists in the
music world?
Yes - according to the
rest of Pussy Riot, this is the
antithesis of their movement.
"Our performances are

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est is t
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"A nyt
sa id w
"I was

'illegal,' " an open The reason that this
posted on the band's becomes an even more criti-
id. "Staged only in cal juncture for action comes
dictable locations and with an analysis of the Rus-
places not designed sian population as a whole.
ditional entertain- Back when Tolokonnikova
. Unfortunately for and Alyokhina were sen-
lokonnikova and tenced to the absurd punish-
nina) are being so car- ment of two years in jail, even
ray with the problems Prime Minister Dmitry Med-
sian prisons, that they vedev said he thought the
etely forgot about the band members didn't deserve
tions and ideals of our prison time. But public opin-
- feminism, separat- ion told a different story
stance, fight against - despite Western condem-
itarianism and person- nation, about two-thirds of
ult..." the Russian populace thought
ill be interesting, to that the sentence was either
least, to watch what appropriate or not heavy
ns with Pussy Riot as enough.
ve forward. The two It's not difficult to see the
ex-bandmates seem in reason why - the percent
ready to stop as they of Orthodox Christians has
nore toward exposing risen from around 15-20% of
man rights abuses of the overall population in 1989
ssian jails - but more to near 70% in 2013. Com-
ning are the possibili- bine that with Pussy Riot's
th the rest of the band staunch criticism of the Rus-
ands now. sian Orthodox Church, and
it's not difficult to see why
the group has fallen out of
favor even among their own
:hi Olympics pol
put global It's important, here, to
clarify - there's obviously
otlight on nothing wrong with being
religious. We're taught that
'ussy Riot. tolerance and acceptance of
cultural differences is our
best public policy. The com-
plexity of the issue comes
ecially with the Sochi with the fact that the recent
ics now underway, anti-gay laws aren't, at least,
has spent an uncom- as unpopular in the populace
ly long time in the of Russia as it is here in the
.ht for its human rights US. The blame can be pointed
(like the recent, anywhere, but a growing
,condemned anti- conservatism born from an
opaganda laws) and increasingly religious popula-
pread corruption. And tion must at least be consid-
e Pussy Riot's penchant ered.
derground resistance Yet even in St. Petersburg
sents, this is the type and Moscow, LGBT com-
e to send a message, munities are still alive and
er "illegal" or disrup- flourishing - and those are
needs to be. The inter- the battlegrounds where
here - just last week, awareness can not only be
n snowboarder Alexey spread, but maybe even dif-
v was reported to have fused into the more conserva-
hic of a "female fig- tive communities from there.
a balaclava wielding And it will take local activ-
" on his snowboard, ists, like Pussy Riot, to really
nic image of the band. spark that social revolution.

hing is possible," he
hen asked if it was a
allusion to the band -
n't the designer."

Alpern has Pussy on his
mind. To distract him, e-mail

'Outsider' brings us in

DailyArts Writer
As a label tack for The Outsid-
ers, "experimental" would be an
understatement. Eric Church's
palette holds
more colors
than any other
country artist The
on the current Outsiders
market, and
this time the Eric Church
painting is grit-
tier, grimier and EMI Nashville
poised for con-
troversy. This
dark-rock fourth studio album is
a follow-up to the singer's career-
hiking record Chief - most nota-
ble for its critically-acclaimed
single, "Springsteen." Church
is a wise fellow: Practice musi-
cal divergence while the going is
good, the venues are full and the
fans are alongside, blazing a hot
The country artist's musi-
cal reappearance is a head-first
plunge into rock-y waters with
its lead single "The Outsiders."
A looming electric guitar intro
ushers in a garage-rock chorus as
stadium chants endorse Church's
opposition to his airy "Springs-
teen" days. The introductory talk-
sing, however, falls short of the
intimidation factor that the style
was reaching for.
A stormy introduction from
"The Outsiders" turns the rest
of the album's tracks into after-
shock pieces. "Broke Record" and


Who th
same b
title ev
try ro
a chop
two ton
track "
is a sw

e fuck is this guy?
rcoaster Ride" smack the singing reiterates its question-
ass notes on a poorly-tuned able effectiveness, but the bulky
piano, offering a bit more female backing vocals - practi-
y flavor to the record's rock cally worthy of being labeled lead
The literal take on the track vocals - give the track its fighter-
'en gives "Broken Record" form. Classically rebellious.
pop-esque wordplay when on an album that seeks to
h belts "you got my heart, probe many off-the-beaten-path
skip, skip, skippin' abeat." production styles and modes,
the appearance of "Talladega"
doesn't fit the record's mold (or
:hurch gets lack thereof). The chord progres-
sions are elementary, and the
.perim ental. fun-yet-reflective country styl-
ing doesn't belong on a Church
record - let alone this Church
record. In its overall risk-taking
all of its irony, "Like a nature, however, it's not outland-
ing Ball" softens the coun- ish to place a one-size-fits-all
ck singer's attitude with country music track to keep some
, lightly phased vocals and balance.
pped-apart electric guitar Ditching many of the acoustics
y. The song doesn't swing in will harvest mixed reactions in
ns of force, but its following the country realm - potentially
That's Damn Rock & Roll" even among Church's fans - but
ift reminder of what we're that's what being an outsider is all
g with. The continued talk- about.


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