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June 06, 2011 - Image 7

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-06-06

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Monday, June 6, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

'X-Men: First Class' proves brilliant

Marvel distinguishes
itself with mutants
and Kevin Bacon
By PROMA KHOSLA
Senior Arts Editor
Holy X-Men, Batman.
Rejoice, fans, for after the horrif-
ic bloodbath of2006's "X-Men: The
Last Stand", and
the enjoyable ****
but utterly for- X-Men:
gectable "X-Men
Origins: Wol- First Cass
verine" in 2009,
the X-Men fran- At Quality16
chise is back and and Rave
restored to its Marvel
former glory.
Bryan Singer, who directed the
brilliant "X-Men" and "X2: X-Men
United," returns to his roots
behind the scenes by providing the
story and producing "X-Men: First
Class." The result is distinguished
enough to forgive Singer for his
time apart from the mutants and
hope that he never, ever, strays
again.
Director Matthew Vaughn
("Kick-Ass") breathes new life
into the script, giving just the
right amount of screen time to

character development, action and
even those obligatory nuggets of
romance. Like its predecessors, the
film doesn't pretend to be strictly
true to the comic books. Rather, it
continues crafting the genesis of
the mutant phenomenon in film
form.
The film's opening is identical
to that of the 2000s series-opener,
"X-Men," featuring a young Erik
Lehnsherr (newcomer Bill Milner)
bending metal gates in World War
II-era Poland as he is separated
from his parents by a concentra-
tion camp. This sequence is just as
effective as it was in the first film,
even if it does save screenwriters
the creative hassle of coming up
with another kick-ass introduction.
After that and a brief stint at
a certain Westchester mansion,
the story unfolds in 1963 as Erik
(Michael Fassbender, "Inglouri-
ous Basterds") and Charles Xavier
(James McAvoy, "Wanted") find a
host of other mutants to join forces
with the CIA in order to thwart a
powerful mutant bent on starting
war amongst humans.
Ah, yes. That ruthless antago-
nist, Sebastian Shaw, is none other
than the Nazi who incited Mag-
neto's initial bursts of mutant mad-
ness and is played by the rascally
Kevin Bacon. As utterly bizarre as

it is to see Bacon as the villain in
a superhero movie, he plays Shaw
with casual coolness - like a bratty
billionaire used to getting what he
wants - which makes the charac-
ter just terrible enough to keep an
audience invested in Eric's vendet-
ta against him.
This explains all of the once-
and-future Magneto's ingrained
ideas about human inferiority and
the brotherhood of mutants. Fass-
bender's Magneto is perfection -
and that's saying something for a
character only ever played by Sir
Ian McKellan. He speaks four lan-
guages, goes through subtle emo-
tions faster than most of us can
chew a kernel of popcorn and, like
his costars, he's pretty damn easy
on the eyes.
The supporting cast shines,
particularly Jennifer Lawrence
("Winter's Bone") as Mystique and
Nicholas Hoult (TV's "Skins" in
the UK) as Hank McCoy. January
Jones (TV's "Mad Men") and Lucas
Till ("Battle: Los Angeles") provide
some one-dimensional eye candy in
the background, which is probably
best.
It's tempting, after seeing the
power of this script and cast (pun
intended), to want a franchise from
our First Class mutants, since that's
the way successful superhero mov-

"Finger to your head, do you think I'm pretty?"

ies roll nowadays. But the best part
of "X-Men: First Class" is how per-
fectly it completes the movie set. It
stands alone while connecting Pro-
fessor X and Magneto to the first
three - I mean, two - films and
answering the burning questions
about their friendship, enmity and
the origins of the iconic wheelchair
and dorky-looking helmet.
After 11 years and countless
other superhero movies to con-
tend with, the X-Men franchise is
as popular and relevant as ever -
for at the heart of the movies and
comic books lies the fundamental

question of how humans treatcthose
who stand out. Differences in cul-
ture, language and habit aren't any
weirder than blue skin or telepathy
(though the latter two are undoubt-
edly much cooler).
Mutation, after all, is the key
to our evolution. Though jarring,
change can often be golden. "First
Class" proves that the X-Men fran-
chise is as adaptable as the charac-.
ters who inhabit it. The new movie
stands apart from its fellows in the
best possible way.
As the film itself declares,
"Mutant and proud."

Jarrod Gorbel breathes acoustic soul into the Ark

By JULIA SMITH-
EPPSTEINER
ManagingArtsEditor
Jarrod Gorbel, lead vocalist and
guitarist of the disbanded group
The Honorary Title, is now on
summer tour
with his first Jarrod
* full-length solo
album Devil's Goe
Made a New Friday at 8 p.m.
Friend as the The Ark
folk- Ameri- $15
cana classic
soul opener for
S the critically acclaimed Irish rock
band, Bell Xl (best known for the
song "Eve, the Apple of My Eye"
that musically backed the notori-
ous lesbian kiss scene in season
two of "The D.C.").
In an interview with The Michi-
gan Daily, Gorbel explained: "It

was a pretty smooth transition
(from band to solo artist) but it's
an upward battle because people
know my band name. But they
don't know my name yet so it's a lit-
tle bit like starting over ... it's hard
work butI knew that going into it."
The Ark of Ann Arbor is stop
number five for Gorbel to promote
his solo acoustic voice. What Mich-
iganders have the opportunity to
hear live is his powerful vocals on
an arrangement of his 11 tracks
from Devil's Made a New Friend,
which Gorbel's pitch manages to
ascend over with a gritty texture.
His lyrics add a weightiness to
the sound with ideas about basic
desire, aging, God, replaced inno-
cence, breath, anticipation, love
and defeat.
Gorbel didn't hesitate when
asked where his songs are best con-
ceived.

"When I'm driving alone I come
up with a lot of stuff. Or probably
before I fall asleep in bed, an idea
will pop up. Those are the two
spots," Gorbel said.
To saturate his touring experi-
ence in a certain grounded raw-
ness, 33-year-old Gorbel added a
June "living room" concert series
to the tour where he will play small
intimate shows at the homes of
strangers who submit an applica-
tion.
He mentioned a somewhat sar-
castic concern with the living room
venues: "As long as there's no psy-
chopaths I think I'll be alright."
But Gorbel continued to say that
the living room intimate perfor-
mance always sets (itself) apart
from your average show. This type
of venue would not be easy or even
doable for some musicians but it is
for Gorbel.

"I just can just walk in a room
and play acoustically and it works
and its easy and it makes people
happy, so why not?" Gorbel said.
No reason I can think of (besides
the possible psychopaths offering
up their tainted abodes).
Besides Devil's Made a New
Friend, Gorbel released an EP titled
Bruises From Your Bad Dreams in
mid-February. This features a duet
with Nicole Atkins, "Miserable
Without You," a definite hit radio
song and I mean that in the best
way possible (an unbeatable, pack-
ing, feel-good, nostalgic, driving
tune all at once).
He explained how this striking
collaboration came together.
"I just did a bunch of live videos
of all the songs from my full-length
record, and I had her sing on one
of those videos," Gorbel said. "And
that's kind of how we met. But she

lives in my neighborhood, friends
of friends.
"I felt like our voices blended
well together, so when it came time
to record another song written as
a duet I thought she'd be perfect.
I just reached out to her and that
was it."
As lyrics in this Brooklyn-hit of
a song are "I'm miserable without
you/ So much so I have to/ Let go
of my hometown/ Brooklyn I was
so proud/ I'm leaving New York for
California," I asked the tattooed,
angel-faced artist if those lyrics
were coming from a real place and-.
if he had really made the move.
Gorbel responded, "No, but I
might."
I would recommend getting a fill
of Jarrod Gorbel live before he runs
away with his guitar to the West
Coast and meets the salty Atlantic-'.
Ocean with his soaring timbre.

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