Monday, July 26, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
'U' in the spotlight
Michael Moore partners with
SAC students and faculty for
Traverse City Film Festival
By ANDREW LAPIN
Editor in Chief
In late July 2009, Screen Arts and Cultures pro-
fessor Jim Burnstein was at the annual Traverse
City Film Festival in northern Michigan with
students from his advanced film production class.
Burnstein, the coordinator of the Screenwriting
Department, had convinced the festival's founder,
Oscar-winning documentarian Michael Moore,
to screen the students' films alongside the event's
normal big-name theatrical fare.
Burnstein had also taught an introductory
course in screenwriting for festival patrons. His
involvement, along with that of his students, was
supposed to be a one-time thing. But Moore had
"He said to me, 'So we'll do this every year,
right?' " recalled Burnstein of his companion on
the Michigan Film Office Advisory Council. "And I
said, 'Sure, great.' I mean, that was our hope."
One year later, Burnstein and his students are
coming back - and then some. This year the Tra-
verse City Film Festival, which is being held from
July 27 through August 1, announced a special
partnership with the University that will dra-
matically increase the presence of students and
faculty at one of the biggest film festivals in the
"This is one of the great universities in the
world, and I think that the people there don't want
it to exist within a bubble," Moore said in an inter-
view with the Daily. "It needs to be part of the
greater community, at the very least in the state of
The "Fahrenheit 9/11" director noted he was
excited by the promise of the partnership.
"I think this is the beginning of a long-term rela-
tionship, and I say this as a Spartan fan," he joked.
Two student short films from last semester's
SAC 423 class ("Practicum for the Screenwriter")
will be screened at the festival: "Camp Chapel,"
written by recent LSA and Ross School of Busi-
ness graduate Michael Burke and directed by LSA
senior Bhanu Chundu, and "Margaret and Izzey,"
written by recent LSA graduate Erin Whittemore
and directed by LSA senior Ben Ellmann.
In addition, Burnstein will be bringing a group
of SAC faculty members to serve as judges, host
panels on topics like film literacy, teach classes and
moderate film screenings.
Though the student films received an auto-bid
into the festival, Moore, who watches every one of
the over 400 festival submissions himself, wasn't
as lenient on American independent films this year.
"Fewer ones are being made, fewer good ones
are being made," he said. "I think we need your
generation to make the next great batch of movies
and to take this art form into the 21st century."
That generation, as represented by SAC 423
screenwriters Burke and Whittemore, is ready if
nervous to take its hard work to Traverse City.
"We can't have (the films) be awful and not be
invited to Traverse City next year," Burke said. Yet
he and Whittemore amiably postulated what they
would like to walk away from the festival with.
"Best-case scenario, I think, is we both have
agents, managers and have sold our scripts for six,
seven figures," he said. "Realistically, I would love
"An e-mail," Whittemore finished, laughing.
But no matter the outcome of the festival, for a
few days this week by the shores of the Grand Tra-
verse Bay, the University of Michigan will step into
the film industry spotlight.
By BRIGID KILCOIN
Daily Arts Writer
"Oh I hate Katy Perry so much, you do not
represent California girls, bitch."
Golden State native Bethany Cosentino's
tweet about Perry's recent
chart-topper underscores **
the inspiration behind
Best Coast's Crazy for You. Best Coast
Instead of embracing the
"I Kissed A Girl" song- Crazy For You
stress's Barbiesque vision of Mexican Summer
1990s Californian summer
fun, Crazy for You harkens back to the more
demure 1960s. Think Annette Funicello in
"Beach Blanket Bingo," not Shannen Doherty
Crazy for You is a study in Brill Building
cliche: The album tirelessly replicates the
multitracked cooing, handclaps and jangly
tambourine of that label's girl groups. The
warm fuzzy drone is appealing in moderation
- opener "Boyfriend" is a standout. But while
lead singer and songwriter Cosentino (one
half of Best Coast, along with instrumentalist
Bobb Bruno) has a strong voice, her attempts
to emulate Connie Francis's blandly wistful
phrasing seem inorganic. As a whole, Crazyfor
You apes the warmth of 1960s pop a little too
faithfully, making the sound less a reference
than a direct ripoff.
The album's subject matter is similarly nar-
row: Crazyfor You provides a 35-minute rumi-
nation on boys with a few brief mentions of
weed and cats. While the sexism of the record's
reference points can be partly attributed to
1960s gender norms, Cosentino's unwaver-
ing, obsessive devotion to an unnamed male
seems uncomfortably dated in 2010. Each half-
formed song blends into the next, and simplis-
tic lyrics reminiscent of a mopey 17-year-old
("I can't get myself off the couch / I don't want
to talk to anyone else") don't make it any easi-
er to distinguish tracks. The affected childish-
ness quickly wears thin, invoking memories of
Kimya Dawson's "Juno" soundtrack.
Crazy for You is textbook beach pop - its
perma-sunny sound is a suitable soundtrack
for dog days of summer-induced ennui. The
album, however, seems like a disingenuous
attempt to maintain Best Coast's sloppy to-fi
aesthetic. As Cosentino's fame increases, the
"lovelorn nobody" conceit rings false: A recent
collaboration with the decidedly middle-of-
the-road rapper Kid Cudi for Converse and an
aggressively public relationship with fellow
beach enthusiast Nathan Williams (Wavves)
illustrate that she's far from anonymous.
'Crazy' is formulaic
beachy girl angst.
While Crazy for You isn't a radical depar-
ture from Best Coast's past work, it seems
possible that several of its singles could find
crossover success. While the repetitiveness
grows grating by album's end, Costenino has a
gift with a pop hook evident even when buried
under layers of reverb: Closing track "When
I'm With You" is agem. Crazyfor You isn't des-
tined for beach immorality like Surfin' USA or
All Summer Long, but it'll undoubtedly make
the August playlists of Urban Outfitters and
Starbucks locations from the east to the west
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