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July 26, 2004 - Image 11

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2004-07-26

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ARTS

MONDAY
JULY 26, 2004

michigandaily.com/arts

'BOURNE' REIGNS SUPREME

Furnaces lilrht a ire

*By Andrew M. Gaerig
Daily Arts Editor
E E
The much-discussed summer of
sequels has surprisingly produced more
worthwhile films than not: "Spiderman
2" and "Shrek 2"
have atoned for The Bourne
past summer disas- i i
ters, such as "Men Supremacy
in Black II," and At Quality 16
they've far out- Universal Pictures
paced the likes of
"The Chronicles of Riddick." "The
Bourne Supremacy" is the last block-
buster rehash to launch this summer,
attempting to capitalize on the success
of 2002's "The Bourne Identity," which
found protagonist Jason Bourne (Matt
Damon) traveling across Europe to find
his identity, realizing along the way that
he is an instinctual, resourceful killing
machine.
The initial challenge of "Supremacy,"
therefore, seems to be motivation: After
all, your lead character can only discover
that he is an brainwashed, military-
trained super-assassin once, right? The
success of "Supremacy," even more than
other sequels, hinges on the ability of
director Paul Greengrass ("Bloody Sun-
day") to build a believable story around
Bourne, who seemingly exorcised his
demons at the end of the first film.
The film begins with Bourne waking
in the middle of the night, next to Marie
(Franka Potente, "Run Lola Run"), his
confidant in "Identity." And so begin the
intrusive flashbacks that plagued
Bourne in the first film. Quick, grainy,
and loud, these flashbacks add to the
dark ambience of the film rather than
inform the audience of past events.
The film moves slowly at first, but
when an assassin accidentally kills
Marie and Bourne's prints show up at
the murder scene of two CIA agents,
things get rolling quickly. An angered
Bourne sets off across Europe, hell-bent
on finding Marie's killer.
The plot is revealed in pieces through-

.Courtesy of Universal
Hey, you've got the wrong guy - I'm not the one with the gambling problem.
out the rest of the film, and while it's not but he's flanked by a faceless cast:
nearly as driven as "Identity," it is capti- Pamela Landy (Joan Allen, "Pleas-
vating - and complicated - enough to antville") is a stereotypical Hollywood
carry the film. Throughout, it becomes strong female, and Nicky (Julia Stiles)
apparent that Greengrass isn't just returns for an unnecessary bit role. The
shooting for a typical sequel: Instead of Russian politicians/mobsters who
upping the explosion quotient and sup- Bourne eventually finds are cookie-
plying Bourne with an arch-nemesis of cutter European villains.
equal skill, he drowns the film in grays The film has minor problems as
and blacks and holds a shaky lens to well: The shaking camera adds to the
Bourne's quest to find a nameless feel of the film, but it's troublesome
enemy. In fact, the grainy textures and during high-action scenes. Late in the
bleak sets are one of the movie's movie, after myriad flashbacks and
strengths. "Supremacy" comes off as a much investigating, Bourne confronts
sort of art-house action flick, leering in the daughter of his first victims in the
the shadows and shying away from con- movie's weakest scene. It's tawdry,
ventional blockbuster wisdom emotional and completely ancillary to
The lack of a true nemesis is a the plot.
strength as well. It allows the film to In the end, though, "The Bourne
focus on Bourne, who has become more Supremacy" is a smart, engrossing film
clever and self-aware since the last that plays to its strengths, namely
movie. In fact, his ability to escape, cou- Damon's stoic; conflicted Bourne.
pled with his ingrained ability to strike Greengrass overcomes the lack of moti-
quickly and brutally lend him unlikely vation that could've buried this movie
superhero qualities: He seems untouch- before the opening credits rolled, and he
able, and by the end of the movie, he's paints Bourne into the shadows of a
more myth than action star. gray, unfeeling Europe. "Supremacy" is
The travails of those chasing Bourne a worthy, intriguing sequel that sets up
are less interesting. Brian Cox ("Adap- Bourne as the thinking man's action
tation") returns as Ward Abbot, a retir- star. "The Bourne Identity" introduced
ing CIA director who has one last Bourne, but "Supremacy" cements him
mess to clean up. Cox excels, as usual, as a franchise.

By Alex Woisky
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC REVIEW **
Though he quit music over 20
years ago, Captain Beefheart still
casts a long shadow over rock'n'roll's
avant-garde.
Though his
albums never The Fiery
sold well, their Furnaces
influence has Blueberry
been enormous, Boat
and his work has
been a touch- Sanctuary/Rough
stone for bands Trade
ranging from
Pere Ubu to the Clash. The brother
and sister duo of Matthew and
Eleanor Friedberger, AKA the Fiery
Furnaces, have taken heavy doses of
Beefheart as well, and it shows on
their sophomore LP Blueberry Boat.
Their debut, Gallowsbird Bark,
merely hinted at te experimental
boundaries the duo would push with
Blueberry Boat. It strays far from the
strangely jolly, vintage flair of their
debut and fully embraces their exu-
berant, whimsical ideas.
Their music is theatrical - part
Captain Beefheart ("Quay Cur"), part
Gilbert and Sullivan ("Mason City").
Eleanor's sultry vocals cascade over
Matthew's slinky guitar lines on the
start-stop rhythms of "Straight Street,"
creating an astonishing combination
of soulful conventionality and auda-
cious invention.
The other side of the Fiery Fur-
naces' coin is garage-rock - they
imitate their predecessors (the Velvet
Underground, Patti Smith), yet try to
distance their sound from others'.
"Straight Street" and "Chris
Michaels" both drive with heavy, dis-
torted guitars which guide Eleanor's
trigger-happy vocals. The duo's music
carries much more of the garage-rock
attitude than a sonic similarity. "I Lost
My Dog" is full of fuzz-tone guitar
coupled with the quick, sleazy vocals

of the garage-rock movement - they
create that charming kitchen-sink feel
with plenty of edge to keep you
engrossed.
Matthew's playing is engaging as
well, with a fluidity that grounds the
music in blues even while pulling it
away from garage-rock's predictabili-
ty. The most impressive trait of Blue-
berry Boat is its stylistic range, which
stretches from the doo-wop-derived
harmonies of "Spaniolated" to the
airy, ambient "Bird Brain" and the
piano ballad "Catamaran Man."
But Blueberry Boat can't quite
keep its focus. Individual songs fea-
ture more hooks, time changes and
melodies than whole albums may
contain. Throughout some of the
disc's longest tracks, it's nearly impos-
sible to tell when one song ends and
another begins; each track feels the
same way.
In the end, this weakens Blueberry
Boat because listeners are too busy
trying to figure out what just hap-
pened to realize what's happening
here and now. But in time, its quick,
odd movement becomes rational, and
while many of the transitions don't
work, those that do sound wonderful-
ly sequenced. Yet, like Captain Beef-
heart before them, the Fiery
Furnaces' music is often misunder-
stood even by their most cherished
suitors, who seem dazzled by its vir-
tuosic weirdness without understand-
ing any of its brilliantly laid,
underlying structure or intensely
focused stylistic discipline.

. :. .. . . ... . ..................... . ......

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