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January 21, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 -7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Tuesday, January 21, 2014 -7A

Too early to practice the Oscars speech, Meryl.
Over-the-top in
Osa e ount

"YOU'RE NOT DON CHEADLEH"
Bell shines in lukewarm
'House of Lies' premiere

Streep's heavyhanded
approach sinks star-
laden 'August'
By NATALIE GADBOIS
SeniorArts Editor
There is a moment (one of
many), when "August: Osage
County" goes completely over the
edge of sanity.
You haven't
lived until you
see Julia Rob- August:
erts scream- Osage County
ing at Meryl
Streep to, Michigan Theater
"Eat the fish, The Weinstein
bitch." Much
like the rest ompany
of "August,"
the moment is
fraught with aggression and sad-
ness; it is also hilariously over-
wrought and over-the-top. The
film, adapted from Tracy Letts'
award-winning play, is just too
much: too many famous actors,
too many weaving plot lines, too
many screaming confrontations.
The film doesn't boil over so much
as it intermittently explodes, cre-
ating a mess that in the end is just
too much to clean up.
Streep embodies Violet
Weston, the drug-addled, vindic-
tive matriarchofanold Oklahoma
family. Violet is not a person so
much as a force; Streep pulls out
every textbook acting technique,
with her warbled voice, exagger-

ated movements and faux inten-
sity. After her alcoholic husband
goes missing, her three daughters
and their significant others come
to Osage County to console her.
The stars shuffle in like cattle -
Roberts as her embittered daugh-
ter, Barb, Benedict Cumberbatch
as the milky cousin, Dermot Mul-
roney asa sleazyboyfriend, Ewan
Macgregor as Barb's dandyish
ex-husband. There is a lot of com-
mitment to the roles - assumed
accents, pronounced physical
ticks - but this exuberant over-
acting turns the characters into
caricatures, especially as the film
continues and the story become
stranger and sadder.
What works best are the small-
er moments: sweet conversations
between estranged sisters, or the
simple intimacies of two star-
crossed lovers. In adaptinganepic
play into a two-hour movie, Letts
tries to condense rather than cut,
which throws off the film's pac-
ing. The plot is overstuffed and
most of the meaning is swept
away in the theatrics of the acting.
Julianne Nicholson ("Masters
of Sex") is shyly resilient as Ivy,
the only sister who stayed behind
to take care of their unrelenting
mother. She poignantly performs
the everyday duties while every-
one else is too busy arguing to
remember; there is a powerful
scene in which she is alone in the
kitchen, washing dishes, while
her family gossips about her on
the porch. It's a shame that as the
story goes on, her character is sac-

rificed to the craziness, as Ivy was
the only real person grounding
the brazen story.
More than anything else, the
film succeeds in establishing
exactly what Osage County is. It
is only through the ugly desola-
tion of the Great Plains that we
can begin to understand why this
family is so warped, and direc-
tor John Wells ("The Company
Men") flawlessly cuts between
family fights and empty sun-
tinged fields.
And the house. Much like in an
old-fashioned English novel, the
house is everything: a once stately
home reduced to dilapidation. It's
where the family reunites, but is
haunted by a dense past. Violet
ensconces herself in the home for
years, and the way it is designed
ensures that you can nearly smell
the musty loneliness. In a sense,
the film acts like a play, plac-
ing extreme value in the setting.
The house also serves to isolate
this family even more than they
already have been, creating a
microenvironment separate from
much of the rest of the world.
What it may lack in organiza-
tion, "August: Osage County"
makes up for in pure earnestness.
The cast is intensely committed,
the screenplay lovingly adapted -
the film is a mess notbecause they
didn't try, but because they tried
too hard. Much like the Weston
family, "August" focuses so much
on painful introspection that it
forgets how to live. It forgets how
to be normal

By ALEC STERN
Senior Arts Editor
"House of Lies" is a smart
show - a comedy about consul-
tants as tactful and calculating
as consultants
themselves.
But there's
a lingering House of Lies
question in
the season Sundays at 10p.m.
three pre- Showtime
miere that's
challenging
the Showtime series' intelligent
history. How can "House of Lies"
ever be the same after its explo-
sive season two finale? There was
a finality to it that ensures a long
road to recovery for every one of
the characters. One has to won-
der: was it wise to make such an
impactful change to what has
been such a cleverly and care-
fully constructed show?
In the season two finale, all
hell breaks loose. There's no
other way to say it. Each mem-
ber of "House of Lies" 's irasci-
ble group of consultants, led by
Don Cheadle ("Iron Man 3") and
Kristen Bell ("Forgetting Sarah
Marshall"), goes their separate
way - Cheadle's Marty Kaan
opens up his own shop, Bell's
Jeannie, along with Doug (Josh
Lawson, "Romantically Chal-
lenged"), remain at Galweather &
Stearn and Clyde (Ben Schwartz,
"Parks and Recreation") turns
his back on his former partners
for a rival company.
It's a tricky thing to "break
up the band," so to speak. The
excitement is frontloaded: view-

ers get
ing ep
three
"The
Paper
they
When
ingly1
"Wee
(one
of an
captiv
litera
up ins
tic mo
both
differ
ing m
echoe
"Oh,]
afters

!a tremendously exhilarat- And after the wonderful, wild
episode -. "Glee" 's season climax in last winter's finale,
graduation extravaganza, the emotional catapult came to
Office" 's Michael Scott a thud in the season three pre-
Company foray - until miere. The aftermath: Cheadle
are left with the aftermath. and Bell joined together for only
Nancy Botwin heartbreak- two very brief scenes that book-
burns her house down in end the so-so premiere. It isn't
ds" 's season three finale the ashes of a burning house but
of the very best episodes ' the remnants of Doug's smashed
up-and-down series), the wedding cake and Jeannie's lin-
vating fire that burns quite gering, unrequited "I love you"
Ily leaves ashes to be picked that are haunting "House of
season four. There are dras- Lies" 's opener.
ments in television that test If not solely for Bell's feisty
writers and viewers. It's the performance, the episode is
ence between maintain- saved by surprisingly striking
nomentum and widespread direction at the hands of execu-
's of negative sentiment - tive producer, Stephen Hopkins.
I stopped watching 'Weeds' In many ways, "House of Lies"
season three." has always been innovative in
its production, but this pre-
miere stands out. From its open-
ing dream sequence to amazing
attered story camerawork during an equally
great Cheadle monologue, what
undercuts the premiere lacks in story it
makes up for in assembly.
strong cast Even without enough over-
lapping screen time among the
leads, there are good moments
here - and Don Cheadle was
e dissolution of "House of born to play Marty Kaan. But we
's consulting "pod" feels need more excitement, more fun
like the Michael Scott from what is quite possibly the
Company than "Glee" or most engaging ensemble on tele-
ds" - it's inevitable that vision. With the group scattered,
one will come together this dark comedy is just a bit too
at some point. But the dark, too disjointed than it has
time comedy is still left been. But that's what happens
a harrowing vacancy. Chea- when you make a drastic change.
tell, Schwartz and Lawson You're eventually left with the
something special: a unique pieces.
istry that made "House of At the end of the day, the DNA
the most underappreciated of"House of Lies" is the group. So
hour for two straight years. ... let's get the band back together.

Sc

I

Th
Lies"
more
Paper
"Wee
every
again
Show
with,
dle, B
share
chem
Lies"
half-h

Mature 'Girls' surprises

Underrated albums: 2:013

By ERIKA HARWOOD
Senior Arts Editor

By MADDIE THOMAS
TV/New Media Editor
The camaraderie among sitcom
friends is one that is sought after
by many a television viewer. The
fun in watch-
ing shows like
"Friends" or
"How I Met Girls
Your Mother"
is the inside Sundays at10 p.m.
jokes and HB0
familiar ban-
ter that give
viewers the feeling of really being
with their favorite characters,
gossiping at Central Perk or high-
fiving at the bar. There are some
TV friend groups that everyone
wishes they were a part of; the
"Girls" gang is the group every-
one wishes they weren't. In season
three of "Girls," Lena Dunham
is intent on letting us know that
she knows we don't like her char-
acters, and that that's kind of the
whole point.
"Females Only," picks up a cou-
ple of months after season two's
whirlwind finale to find Adam and
Hannah in the throes of a serious,
long-term relationship, Marnie
sleeping in Rainbow Brite sheets
on her mother's couch, Shoshanna
waking up from a one-night stand
on a bunk bed in a college dorm
room and Jessa washing dishes in
rehab. If everything seemed a lit-
tle bit too perfect at the end of last
season, don't worry. Now we're
back to square one.
In an interesting turn of events,
Hannah is the most "together"
of all four girls. She's taking her
meds regularly (administered

to her
guardi:
success
lisher
four ch
nah's t
only a
to her]
tion -;
the sho
feels li
down,:
her. Go
illness
and an
lowing
a Broo
"Femal
Dare"
mental
V
SE
That
first tw
aren't f
actuall
ing to u
as a ca
from th
bly, in
Jenni I
nah, an
to pick
pairing
a matcl
from S
his fav

by Adam, her now live-in banter on an impromptu hike. In
an) and she's having some another great gag from Konner
s with her book (her pub- that pretty much epitomizes the
wants to preview the first tone of "Girls," Hannah decides
apters online). While Han- to "live her truth" and lie on the
ogetherness is relative - forest floor, ass exposed, listen-
ipparent when compared ingto "This American Life" on her
friends' total lack of direc- iPhone instead of joining Adam
she still assumes the role of and Shosh on their hike.
nw's stable center. It almost The writers of "Girls" seem to
ike as Hannah is settling be finding a groove, which might
the show settles down with be a sad thing for those who loved
:ne are the days of a mental the spontaneity of last season's
popping up out of nowhere antics, but is probably a positive
entire episode spent fol- thing for the maturation of the
Hannah into the depths of show as a whole. In the first two
klyn brownstone. In both episodes ofseasonthree, we spend
es Only" and "Truth or most of our time with the char-
there's a new, less experi- acters, watching them interact
feel to the writing. with each other. They are just as
annoying, selfish and vain as ever,
but the characters in "Girls" are
starting to become a real ensem-
Vriters find ble, and now that Jessa is finally
coming back to New York, maybe
groove in this feeling will stick as the season
progresses.
Eason three "Girls" is a show everyone loves
to hate and hates to love. While
there remain a few persisting
issues that turn many people off
:s not to say that these to the show entirely (and some-
'o episodes of season three what rightfully), "Girls" is still
unny - quite the opposite, just a half-hour comedy about
y. The show is simply start- millennials written by a millen-
se typical sitcom scenarios nial - not necessarily a generation
talyst for hilarious scenes defining work. As the characters
ie main players. Most nota- come back together and the writ-
"Truth or Dare," writer ing becomes slightly less abstract,
Konner sends Adam, Han- "Girls" is gearing up for a fruit-
:d Shoshanna on a road trip ful third season. Hopefully Lena
up Jessa from rehab. The Dunham will find a way tobalance
of Adam and Shoshanna is this newfound "stability" with her
h made in comedy heaven, trademark weirdness that drew us
ihosh asking Adam what to these terrible people in the first
vorite utensil is to their place.

i

Reflecting on the reflections
that were the best albums of 2013,
there are some obvious standouts:
Yeezus, Haim's Days Are Gone
and others I won't nam because
they've alreadybeen listed athou-
sand times within the last month.
My relationship with year-end
lists is a love-hate one - love
when I agree with them and hate
when I don't. Suffice it to say, the
balance typically favors the latter.
To be fair, 2013 was a great
year for music - and attempting
to remember all of the influen-
tial albums then proceed to rank
them is a daunting task. That said,
is it too late to be discussing my
grievances with the now finite Toro Y WTF
Best of 2013 lists? Probably, but
three of the year's best albums it's my setr
were neglected from a majority repeatedlyl
of top 10 lists, and I feel a need to on blogs an;
avenge their absence. Internet, bu
Cupid Deluxe - Blood Orange vation to a;
Dev Hynes' second album
under his Blood Orange moniker
fortunately made the cut on a TT
few top 10 lists, but not enough to Und
keep me from writing this blurb.
Cupid Deluxe transcends typical MUflU
auditory experiences, creating
the imagery of New York through
seductive vocals, sexy sax styl-
ings and disco inspired funk. until the m
Even with his homage to retro months aft;
sound, the album plays as fresh After hear
and innovative, making it more synth-laced
than deserving of a spot on all the By Play," Is
"best of" lists. my descent
Anxiety - Autre Ne Veut insanity. TI
I will talk to anyone who will in a way I'm
listen, or at least will remain with- again, whilE
in earshot, about this album as if bursts witl

110

ANYTfHING IN RETURN
wARwAw

n
u
t
,c
l
y
n
:E
r
v
d
r
l
t'

mon on the mount. I'd gives me chills. This is the sexiest
heard of Autre Ne Veut album I've heard all year/forever.
id in other nooks of the Anything In Return - Toro Y
it never had the moti- Moi
ctually check him out The only reason I can conjure
up as to why Toro Y Moi's Any-
thing In Return didn't crack any
. red lists would be its early release
iscov e date of January 16, potentially
ic of 2013 causing it to get lost under the
masses of all (literally all) albums
that proceeded it. Despite the
logistical flaw, the album itself.
has remained on my personal
iddle of last summer, rotation for the entire year. As
:er the album's release. monotonous as the chillwave
ing the shimmering, genre has become, Toro Y Moi
opening track "Play continues to give it a fresh take
was hooked, and began with billowing intros, thumping
t into Autre Ne Veut bass and seductive samples. Chaz
he album fuses genres Bundick keeps experimenting
not sure I'll ever hear with near flawless results, making
e Arthur Ashin's voice AnythingIn Return his best album
h emotion that still to date.

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