12 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 14, 2006
Shouldnt miss -
By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer
In "Little Miss Sunshine," an only-slightly-contrived lit-
tle gem of bittersweet indie nirvana, the best moments are
the quiet ones.
Those are the moments when charac- L
ters hewn from the deepest bedrock of the Little Miss
American middle class sit with each other Sunshine
in a mercurial haze of love, hate, expec- At the Showcase
tation and impatience - a mix the film and Quality 16
comes to assign as the peculiar domain of Fox Searchlight
both family and life itself.
The family, in this case,is the Hoover clan fromAlbuquerque.
To enter ambitious budding beauty queen Olive (Abigail Breslin,
"Signs") in the titular junior pageant, the Hoovers embark on a
cross-country road trip to Los Angeles in their sunshine-yellow
VW bus. Somewhere along the long flat asphalt of the South-
west,the family,teetering on the edge of dysfunction and disinte-
gration, gets a few decided prods from bad luck - most notably
the breakdown of their archaic transport, forcing the family to
get out and push every time the bus stops.
But bad luck has a hard time destroying the Hoovers; it so hap-
pens that they're perfectly capable of doing it themselves. The
palpable tension between these characters, which actually lends
the film much of its dramatic conflict and command, emanates
directly from the eclectic mix of personalities brought so vividly
to awkward and imperfect life.
Here is the heroin-snorting, sex-mad grandfather benevo-
lently showering his doting granddaughter with loving words
and beaming smiles. Here is the recently suicidal Proust scholar
meditating on suffering and purchasing gas-station pornography.
The father is obsessed with winning, and quietly stifling his chil-
dren. The mother is constantly in battle while the children take
refuge in beauty pageants and the collected works of Friedrich
0 MUSIC NOTEBOOK
Reissue label digs
up righteous soul
The VW bus: more American than independent film.
As much as they might read like the calculatedly off-kilter
stereotypes of quirky modern dramedy, there's not a character in
this bus who doesn't feel authentic - and that's important since
we're asked to sit with them for the duration of the trip. For all
the brilliance "Little Miss Sunshine" mines with its wittily epi-
sodic screenplay and often-uproarious situational laughers, what
lingers far after the screen has dimmed is the nakedly tenuous
nature of the connections that bind these characters together.
That's thanks in no small part to an ensemble of actors both
exceptionally talented and delightfully well cast (funnyman
Steve Carrell as the suicidal academic stands out as a particularly
inspired choice). Understanding just how far life has pushed each
one, and how far they have pushed each other in turn, means
appreciating the wild devotion that keeps them all pushing their
bus toward California.
It should come as no surprise that the film is an independent,
boasting death, depression and 12-year-old contortionists on one
screen (not to mention a soundtrack as likely to drop Sufjan Ste-
vens as Rick James's "Superfreak").But quite apart from the plot
elements, independent film seems the only realm in which char-
acters are routinely given space to grow in flawed and occasion-
ally irritating realism. Perhaps it's a studio risk, but it's "Little
Miss Sunshine's" great accomplishment.
By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
There aren't too many record labels
around with quality control quite like
the Numero Group. Founded in 2003
by the trio of record-collecting cogno-
scenti Tom Lunt, Rob Sevier and Kevin
Shipley, the label releases rare gems for
music lovers, by music lovers. Numero
Group, only nine releases deep, with a
10th forthcoming Aug. 29, can pretty
much guarantee that while you may not
know any of the artists on their com-
pilations, each and every single one
is worth picking up on the strength of
their excellent taste alone.
On their website, www.numero-
group.com, the label explains "There
is no 'Numero' sound; instead, Numero
offers an aesthetic. A shelf of Numero
discs feels less like a 'record collection'
and more like a library. The library to
date is a mix of thrift-shop soul, skin-
ny tie pop, Belizean funk, and hillbilly
gospel. Numero makes records for
people who may have everything from
indigenous Central American drum-
ming to Canadian chanteuses stacked
next to their CD players."
Indeed, Numero Group has yet to
produce anything remotely approach-
ing a sub-standard release, with the
Eccentric Soul series proving to be a
particular treasure. Numero #001 (a
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profile of Ohio's Capsoul Label) and
Numero #003 (The Bandit Label) set a
high standard for the series that recent
releases Numero #007 (Miami's The
Deep City Label) and Numero #009
(Detroit's Big Mack Label) lived up to
Each compilation is a crate-digger's
wet dream - true excavations of the
highest order. The Big Mack release,
for example, collects highly coveted 45s
from a long-forgotten-by-most Detroit
label rescued from a flooded basement
- the record obsessives equivalent of
And the music truly does live up
to the beautiful packaging and the
in-depth liner notes lavished upon it.
Most of the songs from the Eccentric
Soul series were the respective art-
ists only recordings - and most of
them are scorchers. Each release is
further mind-blowing evidence of the
amount of forgotten soul music that
remains un-reissued, and the tremen-
dous service Numero Group provides
by doing so.
The next must-have comp the label
is foisting upon the public might be
the best yet. Titled Good God! A Gos-
pel Funk Hymnal, the album assem-
bles 18 burning praise-the-lord soul
cuts that will have non-believers on
their knees in no time. Every track
is killer, but songs like the Voices
of Conquest's "O Yes My Lord" and
the Modulations's "This Old World
is Going Down" really deliver on
the promise of a fire-and-brimstone
R&B union implied by the title. The
Voices of Conquest consist of a choir
and a Bernard Purdie meets John
Bonham drummer named Benjamin
Wilson, and their slice of soul per-
fectly epitomizes that marriage of
Pair high quality music like that
with gorgeous photographs and
informative linernotes that partner
each song with a story and you have
another great Numero Group release.
As an added bonus Numero #010 will
be the first issued on vinyl, in a gate-
fold the label promises will be per-
fect "for seperating your seeds and
stems on." The label isn't the only one
delivering great reissues these days.
it's just the best and most consistent.
The love Lunt, Sever and Shipley
have for the music they're releasing
is evidenced by the diligence with
which they research every record.
remaster every song and reimburse
every single artist.
Following Good God! A Gospel
Funk Hymnal is the next release in
the Eccentric Soul series, a profile
of an Arizona Soul producer/song-
writer Mike Lenaburg and his crew
of performers. Eccentric Soul: The
Mighty Label drops on September
26 and will undoubtedly be a sun-
soaked gift to fans of good music
and another big success for Nume-
ro Group. The label has yet to dis-
sapoint and has certainly reached