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October 25, 2016 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Tuesday, October 25, 2016 — 5A

Does anyone want to hear

Drake, the rapper pop star whose
hit song, “One Dance,” is the most
streamed song ever on Spotify
and Apple Music, complain that
the rap game is “all lies” and “all
filthy?” Apparently so, because on
Sunday, October 23rd, on the eve
of Drake’s 30th birthday, he used
his OVOSoundRadio show to pre-
miere a new song on which he pro-
fesses those exact grievances, and
two hours later he was trending
on Twitter, enjoying five times the
number of mentions as any NFL

“Two Birds, One Stone” is one

of four songs that were released
during the broadcast and it fea-
tures one of those rare, reflective
monologue verses that spill out
of Drake every year or so (think
“5AM In Toronto,” “The Ride” or
“30 For 30”). Its beat is airy with
minimalist drums and Drake’s
tone is conversational, like he’s
merely clearing his head, help-
less to a natural rhyme scheme.
Some of the song’s three-minute
verse sounds sincere, such as
Drake’s acknowledgment that he’s
indebted to a higher being or his
reminiscing on his parents’ rela-
tionship, but other parts, particu-
larly his attacks on other rappers
and basking in his success, are
tacky and too familiar.

Still, “Two Birds, One Stone”

is an exciting song that features

Drake’s most technically impres-
sive rap verse of the year. The
other new songs — one of which is
a remix, not an original — are less
personal and more pop-aimed,
but equally solid. “Fake Love” is a
bouncy sing-song in obvious par-
allel to “Hotline Bling” and “Snea-
kin,” which features 21 Savage,
Atlanta’s most recent trap music
titan, is guaranteed to be a speak-
er-shaking, strip club anthem.
“Wanna Know (Remix)” lets
Drake exercise his softer style and
spotlights Dave, an emcee from
London who has already earned
attention from the endorsement.

There is no room to debate

Drake’s ability to make hits, but
his formula for going viral — an
exclusive contract with Apple
Music, partnerships with rela-
tively underground artists who
are about to explode and disses
directed at other celebrities to stir
up extra attention — is starting
to seem a little bit “extra.” Drake
employed the same strategy last
summer, using a string of singles
to distract from allegations that
he doesn’t write his own lyrics,
and his latest album, Views, is the
magnum opus of Apple Music’s
marketing schemes. I don’t need
another masterminded assault by
Drake on hip-hop’s Top 40. I want
innovation and progress from the
world’s best-selling artist.

On the hook for “Fake Love,”

Drake whines about fake people
who are showing fake love to
him, straight up to his face, and

on “Sneakin,” he boasts “I don’t
need love, I’m the G.O.A.T. / I just
hit the beat and float.” The lyrics
are ironically hollow for an emcee
of such high esteem, especially as
he attempts to regain some of hip-
hop’s respect after sinking into a
bubblegum pop vacuum. Drake
songs are typically the most excit-
ing releases in the rap sphere, but
he’s starting to get monotonous.
He makes me feel like a naive con-

Drake began the action-packed

episode of OVOSoundRadio by
announcing his new project, More
Life, which is due out this Decem-
ber and has been deemed a “play-
list” despite the fact that it will
feature original music. Some of the
songs that he played on-air will be
a part of the project, but it was also
described as having been made
“with the fam,” so it’s expected
to feature Drake’s friends, such
as Kanye West and Gucci Mane,
or label-mates like Majid Jordan,
dvsn and Roy Wood$.

More Life will surely shock

aux chords everywhere, prolong
Drake’s reign atop the charts and
inspire more Apple Music sub-
scriptions, but hopefully it does
more than stack sure-thing hits.
When Drake released “Marvin’s
Room” in 2011, or “Hold On, We’re
Going Home” in 2013, he was tak-
ing risks that left him vulnerable
and pushing creative boundaries.
Right now, it seems like he is mere-
ly repeating a proven recipe. That
tactic will only work for so long.


“I’m still a canine at heart”
Do we really need more Drake now?

Rapper/pop star debuts new songs, but seems stuck in the same recipe

Let’s get one thing straight:

Technology isn’t all that bad.
Yes, in the age of reality televi-
sion, social media,
virtual reality and


has proven to be
taking control of

gadget and app
at a time. But for

many of the 21st
century’s techno-
logical innovations — the iPod,
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and
music streaming services — have
influenced our awareness of the
world, broadening our minds to
new realms and endless oppor-
tunities that were once believed
to be impossible. In a sense, tech-
nology has cultivated a paradox:
we are more connected than
we’ve ever been, and yet there
remains a visible disconnect
among society.


serves as the thematic core of
“Black Mirror,” the popular
British anthology series that
has been deemed by many crit-
ics and viewers a modern-day
“Twilight Zone.” Created by
English satirist Charlie Brooker
(“Dead Set”), “Black Mirror”
depicts different realities and
characters in each episode, but
every story connects to one
another through their thought-
provoking, somewhat cynical
perspectives on technology.

The first two seasons tackled

a variety of tech-based issues,
critiquing everything from the

and the porn industry (“Fifteen
Million Merits”) to the double-
edged sword of artificial intel-
ligence (“Be Right Back”). With
a third season comprising of six
episodes instead of the usual
three, “Black Mirror” returns
to the drawing board with more
ambitious ideas, even if not all of
them hit the target.

Though the first four episodes

struggle under the weight of
the binge-laden Netflix format,
“Black Mirror” ’s third season
remains a landmark in televi-

sion storytelling. It continues
to explore the dark depths of
technology, but also manages to
offer an optimistic message in
some episodes. In fact, the epi-

sodes with those

sages (the fascinat-
ing season opener

the unpredictably
poignant love story


than the grimmer,
more heavy-hand-
ed ones (the terri-

fying horror clip “Playtest” and
the meandering cyber-thriller
“Shut Up and Dance”).

Co-written by “Parks & Rec-

reation” ’s Michael Schur and
Rashida Jones (“Angie Tribe-
ca”), “Nosedive” triumphs as
a satire of instant gratification
and the constant yearning for
validation a la Instagram, even
if the episode feels somewhat
familiar and predictable. The
story is set in a reality akin to
the one in Spike Jonze’s “Her,”
matching the film’s utopian/
dystopian setting and aesthetic
styles with gorgeous pastel color
tones and a beautiful piano-lad-
en score.

The only real difference is

that in the world of “Nose-
dive,” people rate one another
on a five-star system and earn
a greater status in society with
the more stars they receive.

Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard,
“Jurassic World”) is determined
to reach a 4.8 in order to get a
discount on her dream house,
no matter if she has to pretend
to be nice to everyone she meets
or give them all five-star ratings.
Soon, however, Lacie finds that
perhaps it might be better to be
her more authentic self, even
if she’s ridiculed and alienated
for it. We see her undergo this
gradual realization during an
incredible final act that’s hilari-
ous, devastating and mesmeriz-
ing all in one.

“San Junipero” also man-

ages to be a highlight in season
three of “Black Mirror,” mixing
sci-fi, drama and romance with
remarkable performances from


and Mackenzie Davis (“Halt
and Catch Fire”). Without giv-
ing too much away, the story
of “San Junipero” is quite riv-
eting, tracking the relation-
ship between the timid Yorkie
(Davis) and the outgoing Kelly
(Mbatha-Raw) and how their
love literally transcends time,
space and technology.

On the downside, the main

problem with the third season of
“Black Mirror” is that its darker
episodes don’t have the same
balance of unpredictability and
intrigue as previous seasons.
Even with an increase in run-
ning time, episodes like “Play-
test” and “Shut Up and Dance”
could probably work better if a
sequence or two were cut, per-
haps in order to focus on the
payoff of both stories.

With the trippy “Playtest,”

technology plays a villainous
role, as free-spirited Cooper

Wants Some!!”) takes part in an

type video game in order to make
some quick cash. However, Coo-
per runs into some trouble when
he encounters some of his worst
repressed nightmares come to
life. The build-up is certainly
effective, as is Russell’s surpris-
ingly strong performance, but
the conclusion of “Playtest” falls
somewhat short, opting to make
one extremely dark joke instead
of trying to make a point.

Similarly, the extremely tense

“Shut Up and Dance” loses its
momentum right when it could
easily turn into something inter-

Kenny (Alex Lawther, “The Imi-
tation Game”) is forced to carry
orders from an anonymous tex-
ter in order to avoid getting a
nude video leaked online. The
episode keeps you on your toes,
but ends on a disappointing and
frustrating note.

Despite some of its drawbacks

this season, “Black Mirror” is
still worth watching, either for
entertainment or insight. And
whether or not “Black Mirror” is
anti- or pro-technology, its third
season confirms that it remains
one of television’s greatest hid-
den gems.


Daily Arts Writer

Ambitious third season debuts after being picked up by Netflix


“Black Mirror”

Season 3 (4

episodes watched)


Technology leads to hope,
danger in ‘Black Mirror’


Art meets science through an

inquisitive look at the theory of
multiverse in “Constellations”
by Nick Payne — a


story that explores
questions of fate
and choice.

This Thursday,

School of Music,
Theatre & Dance

Runtung will pres-
ent Payne’s piece as
her senior thesis.

In January 2012,

earned immense praise when
it premiered at the Royal Court
Theatre. It later appeared on
Broadway at the Samuel J. Fried-
man Theatre in January 2015. In
London, the cast was led by Rafe
Spall and Sally Hawkins and later,
in New York, by Jake Gyllenhaal
and Ruth Wilson.

“ ‘Constellations’ is about a boy

meets girl and then a boy meets
girl again and again,” Runtung
said. “With all the decisions they
make when they meet each other,
which one progresses to the next

The set and lights for the show

are minimalistic, as these sim-
plistic elements leave room for a
thorough look into the inner com-
plexities of science. Exchanges
between both characters leave a
myriad of possibilities to unfold,
with their relationship growing
stronger as space and time prog-

“You’ll be peeking at a very

personal world of these two char-
acters — how their relationship

develops, how it breaks, how they
first met each other, how they first
break up, how they first hurt each
other,” Runtung said.



between Marianne
and Roland. Mari-
anne, a physicist,
explores how the
theories of physics
apply to her own
life. Roland, a bee-
keeper, shares his
passions alongside
Marianne, as their

complement their
evolving relation-
ship and each new


different multiverses leads them
both on an entirely different path.

“It’s kind of like a laboratory.

One person does this and one per-
son does that and you kind of get
to play around with those things,”
Runtung said.

Marianne and Roland both


in their differences, they are
brought closer together. Rutung
describes the script as written
with language that is simple, but
effective in communicating the
dimensions of this relationship.

“I want the audience to leave

the room thinking about what
‘meant to be’ really is,” Runtung
said. “There are so many pos-
sibilities and I would like them
to see that they have to be in the
moment, because every possibil-
ity can happen.”

The cast considers how time

and space intersect, as well as the
power of free will. Do we have
it? Where is its place in our lives?
“Constellations” offers guidance

to answering these questions.

Runtung’s project is particu-

larly exciting for her because of
the play’s focus on science and art
illuminates her own interests and

“I have always been really

interested in connecting art and
science,” Runtung said. “I do
theatre because I really want
to explore what a human being
really is and I feel like there’s no
better way to explore that than
putting it onstage.”

While planning what her thesis

would look like, Runtung’s advi-
sor suggested she choose some-
thing that she liked and to just
go crazy with it. This play offers
the challenge of representing
complexities of theory, while also
connecting these ideas with the
beauty and familiarity of a love

“I don’t want to say it’s realis-

tic, because sometimes when you
say that, it just seems like you’re
watching two people talking to
each other,” Runtung said. “It’s
not that.”

“Constellations” is composed

of a team of four: Runtung direct-
ing, SMTD Senior Anastasia

SMTD Junior Peter Donahue
playing Roland and SMTD Fresh-
men stage managing. The intima-
cy of the group, Runtung said, has
allowed for deep thinking about
what ideas this play is exploring
and what the actors are ultimate-
ly trying to communicate through
their story.

“This play has been a beauti-

ful journey for every single one
of us in the room and all of us are
exploring the beauty of the space.”
Runtung said. “It’s the first time I
have had an experience like this.”


Daily Arts Writer

Boy meets girl again and again and


Oct. 27 at 7:30 pm,
Oct. 28 at 7:30 &
11 pm, Oct. 29th at

7:30 pm

Walgreen Drama
Center Studio One



The documentary “Songs from

the North” is a fascinating experi-
mental film contrasting scenes
from North Korean

state media and

paint a more vivid


nation. The film
doesn’t have a nar-
rative of any kind;
it’s essentially a
distilled hour-long
collection of footage the South
Korean director Soon-Mi Yoo shot
on three different trips she took
took to North Korea. And yet the
way she weaves in selections from
movies and live performances illu-
minates the psyche of a country so
blocked off from the world.

The documentary has several

moments that are incredibly raw
and must be seen to be believed.
In one scene, Yoo records a Kore-
an War veteran speaking to chil-
dren at the Shinchon Museum of
American Atrocities, describing
incredibly inhumane conditions he
endured as a prisoner of war under
American control. He concludes
by unapologetically defending his
absolute hatred towards Ameri-
cans to children. No amount of sat-
ire like “The Interview” would be
able get at the root of North Kore-
an aggression towards the United
States like this. The North Koreans
interviewed in the documentary
are unflinching when describ-
ing their complete loyalty to their
country. Having only heard the
stories of grateful defectors, seeing
the faces of those who maintain
North Korea’s tense position in
world affairs is shocking.

And yet the humanity of indi-

vidual North Koreans is vividly
captured here as well. Such small
moments as schoolchildren smil-
ing and waving to the camera as
they walk past, or a restaurant
owner getting flustered after Yoo

tells her she’s pretty, makes North
Korea feel like any other place in
the world, despite how closed-off it
is. The fact that Yoo is South Kore-
an noticeably helps the dialogue



less like an intrusive
window into their
mysterious culture.

The public opin-

ion expressed by
North Koreans is

scenes of daily life
in film, live perfor-
mances and state

propaganda that explicitly play out
the hostile attitudes the DPRK’s
government holds to this day. How-
ever, it quickly becomes apparent
that every aspect of North Korean
life ties back to propaganda. It’s
incredibly nauseating – there’s not
a single orderly school building or
pristine yet barren temple without
pictures of former supreme leaders
Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il front
and center. The way North Korean
art is juxtaposed with interviews
with North Koreans brilliantly
illustrates the cause-and-effect
relationship between the deeply
nationalistic messages conveyed in
the media and the loyalty the citi-
zens express to the perceived well-
being of their country.

The most vivid patriot in the

documentary is a middle school
boy who passionately sobs as he
speaks to an assembly after being
selected as a representative for his
school at a government function
in Pyongyang. As if it wasn’t eerie
enough watching North Koreans
tear up just looking at imagery of
Kim Il-sung, the little boy goes
on to declare Kim Jong-il his real
“father and mother” who loves
and protects him when his parents
do not after he was informed the
President bestowed love onto him

To be sure, this was the most

hysterical display of devotion to
the ruling family in the film. But
the spooky domination the DPRK

has over the collective North Kore-
an psyche is made tangible after
watching the country’s art extol
the same values the boy expresses.

“Songs from the North” is not

only chock-full of information
on North Korean art, but its cin-
ematography is lovely as well. The
traditional architecture of North
Korea is consistently framed by
the lush, green nature abundant
around Pyongyang, making the
country look like somewhere you
could actually call home in spite
of the known harsh standards of

The subjects are always placed

in such a way that brings the view-
er’s eyes across their surround-
ings, setting them off-center or
enveloped within their location
to artfully capture the context of
their scenes. There are no “talking
heads” here, just a taste of North
Korean public opinion straight
from the source. And the crisp,
vivid coloring breathes life into
the people and their daily jobs.
This keeps the indifferent nature
of some people interviewed, saying
things like “Why film me clean-
ing?” or “You are filming too long!”
from feeling unconducive to the
film’s topic. With Kim Jong-un
dominating headlines regularly, it
is jarringly humanizing to see the
faces and hear some of the voices
of countless regular people who
make up the country. The fact that
such normal people can have their
worldview so radically controlled
by their government is thought-
provoking in the highest.

The documentary does a fantas-

tic job getting as close as possible
to North Korea to see the country
on its own terms. In spite of its
experimental form, the film logi-
cally charges through almost the
entirety of North Korean history
with raw emotion from all direc-
tions – by actual citizens and art-
ists’ interpretations of them. Yoo’s
contribution to the limited amount
of footage capturing North Korea
from an outsider’s perspective is
one to be treasured.

Authentic North Korea in ‘Songs’



For the Daily

Daily Arts Writer


“Songs from the


Kino Lorber

Michigan Theater


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