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May 16, 2011 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-16

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Monday, May 16, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Vampiric but dull 'Priest'

Okkervil successfully
grTows darkher in tone

DailyArts Writer
"Priest" seems to be a film that
promises one thing and gives
another. See, "Priest" is not about
priests, per se. It's actually more
about vampires, but those aren't the
vampires we know either. Instead
of their sparkly,
attractive, book- **'%
ie-that-must- Priest
not-be-named AtQuality16
cousins, these andtv
vampires are andRave
eyeless, incred- Screen Gems
ibly violent and
excrete some kind of slime with
which they build their dwellings.
While filled with disappointingly
unbloody thrills and lacking that
little bit of extra "oomph" from
practically nonexistent character
development and a weak back-
ground, the film commands atten-
tion and anchors audiences to their
Viewers will get sucked in quick-
ly by a violent openingscene includ-
ing the kidnapping of Lucy (Lily
Collins, "The Blind Side"). Spurred
into action by the kidnapping of his
niece, a former warrior priest (Paul
Bettany, "The Da Vinci Code") who
defeated the vampire menace of the
past is once again called into action,
not by the strange, futuristic other-
worldly adaptation of the Catholic
Church, but by the God he serves.
The film seems to take place on
another planet - which happens
to be beautifully represented - and
portrays the Church as a corrupt
hierarchy that is blind to the rise of

the vampires. It tries a little too hard
to make a statement about absolute
power corrupting absolutely and
how man-made institutions never
work in the long run, making some
of the lines describing the Church
and the situations redundant and
annoying. The Church is an exact
remake of the Church on Earth,
making viewers wonder why the
writers weren't more creative with
the script. But what the film lacks in
intelligence it makes up for in brute
strength and action.
The fast pace of the movie and
the obnoxious lines following
approximately the structure of
"If we do this, we'll achieve that
result," keep audiences staring at
the screen without needing to won-
der what's going on because it's so
clearly spelled out. Without the
pitfall of an action movie that lacks
a clear point, audiences are free to
jump when the vampire swoops in
from nowhere and to grip their seats
when the characters seem about
to die. These occurrences are deli-
ciously predictable so even the most
squeamish viewer will feel comfort-
able because of the ample warning
of ensuing violence.
It's relatively easy to diagram
the characters: Lily Collins plays a
damsel-in-distress with stale lines
asking what her captors want from
her. She's pretty convincing, but
it would have been nice to see her
character developed a little bit more.
Hicks (Cam Gigandet, "Burlesque"),
her heartthrob, plays - sexily but
dumbly - the role of Prince Charm-
ing with few acting chops. Or
maybe his problem lies in the lines
he's given. Whatever his problem,

his lines sound forced and, well,
scripted. Priest is the dark, brood-
ing one. Bettany plays this role well
and convincingly. His nemesis is
the black-hatted vampire/human in
charge of the whole vampire resur-
gence, someone who is appropri-
ately named Black Hat (Karl Urban,
"Star Trek"). He's probablythe least
important main character, but his
role is the best-played and therefore,
the most memorable. The other sup-
porting characters add a little bit of
extra action, but they mostly seem
to be placeholders.
All in all, this is a solid film. It's
not that smart, but it's well done
from a cinematography standpoint
and the effects are top-notch. With
a little bit more attention paid to the
script, this film could have emerged
as a good all-around experience
instead of a shoddily-scripted movie
about vampires and priests.

ManagingArts Editor
Okkervil River will pound on
its snare and will pound on your
soul. This is the brand of pound
that weighs
your heart ****
down into a
field of dan- OkkeIIl
delions bak- pj
ing under the
Tangelo sun- I Am Very Far
set or drops .
you into a tiaawar
basement full of neon lights and
beautiful faces - either way the
hammering oflove is relentless.
lAm VeryFar, Okkervil's sixth
full-length album, departs from
their previous records, as it is
less of a holistic statement and
more a collection of eleven dis-
tinguished, bloody, blossoming
tracks driven out of lead singer
and songwriter, Will Sheff.
The depth and tender, mys-
terious integrity that is obvi-
ous in Okkervil's latest work is
supported by the knowledge
that Sheff shared in an inter-
view with Pitchfork: "I went to
stay with my grandparents for a
while. They live out in the mid-
dle of nowhere and I would have
breakfast with them, then write
all day. At nightwe'd have dinner
and cocktails, my grandfather
would tell me his World War
II stories, and then I'd start the
process all over again."
The record is cracked open
into excellence (handclaps, syn-
copation and a gunshot) with
opening track "The Valley." A
hip hop semblance conquers this
song as Sheff throws down "We
were fallen on the border with
the rock and roll singed. Times
ten" - his rap-like-delivery
synchs up with the power-driven
"Rider," presently No. 1 on
Okkervil River's iTunes page,
propels the forceful energy of
I Am Very Far and masters the
slightly predictable but incred-
ibly satisfying catchy-rock of
Springsteen - lyrical repetition
mastering the pound.
"We Need a Myth" succeeds
as piano melodies, brief shreds
of electric guitar and strings

conjoin with vividly dark lyrics
like "Show me the world as it was
again/As it was in a myth /A red
ribbon to reconnect / The lady's
head to her neck / And to forget
that her throat / Was ever slit."
The punch of the majority of
tracks on their sixth LP is com-
plimented by the under-toned
"Mermaid" and "Show Your-
self," which share a sad and soft
instrumental environment.
"Show Yourself" orchestrates
itself into an eloquent and highly
dimensional song, minimalistic
drumming and vocals lofting
themselves into poignancy.
Within a 51-minute mix of
solemn shimmer, Sheff created
a singular slurred track, "Your
Past Life as a Blast,' that is lyri-
cally and atmospherically time-
The shortest and arguably
most galvanizing song that these
fine Texas natives offer on their
latest record, "Wake and Be
Fine," was Okkervil fans' sneak
peek to the new sound when
the band performed live on Late
Night with Jimmy Fallon, fierce-
ly accompanied by the New Por-
nographers' A.C. Newman and
The Roots.
I Am Very Far is not a grandi-
ose statement, but not shy either.
Although the latest record
isn't making an obnoxiously
rebellious statement against the
prior albums that have brought
Okkervil River indie-rock fame,
it is a more loosely held togeth-
er LP than The Stand Ins. The
consequence that bounces from
this great abandon is that Sheff
and his six bandmates display a
temerity set gorgeously ablaze
in these loosened gaps that could
be criticized for lack of being a
Inaninterview withPitchfork
about I Am Very Far, Sheff said:
"I think there's something about
art where it should threaten
people and scare them and make
them feel uncomfortable ... I like
art that makes you a little wor-
Sheff's perspective radiates
a sincerity of sharpened edges
that shows in Okkervil's 2011
album. What listeners might be
most worried about is when their
eager ears and ardent souls will
be re-fed with fresh pounds.

"Now how can I kill Edward Cullen?"

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