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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Reviews

    “”Brick Lane,”” a new film set in the Muslim community in London, raised a surprising amount of controversy when it came out, to the point where Prince Charles himself pulled out of attending the premiere.

    But “”Brick Lane”” isn’t a brash or abrasive film at all. Sarah Gavron’s film is a quiet character study, one which almost seems to stumble across its political theme while attending to its human drama.

    The protagonist is Nazneen (played with grace by Tannishtha Chatterjee, who has few lines to speak in the movie’s first half), a young woman from Bangladesh living in an arranged marriage with a man 20 years older than her. Twenty years after her marriage, Nazneen has two daughters, one quiet, one rebellious,ÿand lives in a council flat in London.

    Her husband, Chanu (Satish Kaushik), at first seems like a fat, obnoxious slob who treats his family with patriarchal condescension. He borrows money to buy things he can’t afford and leaves Nazneen to face the usurer. “”Did you ever love him?”” one of her daughters asks her. “”Maybe before he got fat?””

    So it’s no surprise when Nazneen begins an affair with the delivery man, Karim (Christopher Simpson). He falls in love with her, but it gradually becomes clear that for her, the affair is mainly a welcome distraction from the dullness of her life.

    Then Sept. 11 happens (up until this point, we have no idea that the film isn’t taking place in the present), and anti-Muslim sentiment spreads across the West, turning the characters’ world upside down. Karim becomes a militant, grows a beard and begins begging Nazneen to run away with him.

    The initially unappealing Chanu turns out to be the film’s most surprising character. When he stands up at a community meeting, surrounded by his angry, radicalized neighbors, and passionately denounces their extremism, we see his courage and integrity – the flip side of the qualities that make him a chore to live with. “”My faith is in here,”” he stammers, jabbing his chest with his finger, as the rest of the room jeers.

    Despite the fact that he seems more at home in London than Nazneen, Chanu clings as firmly as she does to their mutual, long-cherished dream of returning “”home.”” Only when the dream is finally within their reach does Nazneen realize that “”home”” is not easily defined for an expatriate who has learned to love her new country, flaws and all.

    “”Brick Lane”” reminds us that our lives are not predictable, and that the unlikeliest events can change the way we see someone we’ve known for years.

    “”Brick Lane”” is playing at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., at 3 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. through Thursday.

    – Justyn Dillingham


    At last, The Faint have broken away from Saddle Creek records and established their own label, on which they’ve just released their anxiously awaited album, Fasciinatiion.

    By the title of the first track, “”Get Seduced,”” one worries this long-established dance-punk outfit has not yet moved past its tiresome intrigue with birth, death and sexuality. To the delight of the hitherto unimpressed, however, Fasciinatiion is more well-rounded than the sex-obsessed Blank-wave Arcade, the dark and morbid Danse Macabre and the body-fluid-heavy Wet From Birth.

    Meaning to say, of course, that it incorporates all those qualities in moderation, with a heavy dose of Nintendo-happy flourishes.

    Fasciinatiion retreats from the usual fictitious social commentary to bring us something more subjective and demanding, all while staying true to the band’s signature style.

    The album’s single, “”The Geeks Were Right,”” sounds alarmingly like Franz Ferdinand but is otherwise everything one would expect from a Faint song: “”predator skills, chemical wars, plastic islands at sea/watch what the humans ruin with machines.””

    “”Mirror Error”” is another high point, showcasing Todd Fink’s smooth vocals (“”We’re like magicians when we dream/ when we wake up, nothing’s different””). The lyrics aren’t necessarily the focal point in these 10 songs, however. For the most part they’re under various degrees of distortion, complementing electro hooks with an ongoing parade of well-put phrases.

    Other times they fall flat, as in “”Psycho”” (“”I was just mad at you at the time/ I never really thought you were psycho””), a worthy apology that doesn’t transfer gracefully to song form. Maybe all the generality is to blame, but the other ode to strained relationships, “”I Treat You Wrong,”” also comes off as forced and superficial.

    Fortunately, these arguable failures are about as egocentric as the album gets, and are sufficiently atoned for by tracks like “”Forever Growing Centipedes,”” replete with chimes and Cure-like guitar grinds (if the Cure did uppers).

    The album’s closer, “”Battle Hymn for Children,”” might be the band’s most unusual, aurally varied to date, with a spattering of atonality and bending pitches galore.

    It is perhaps at this point that one begins to appreciate what The Faint does best: craft catchy, cynical dance numbers illustrating their concern for humankind. Sure it’s formulaic, but nine years later the formula still works.

    – Laura Hawkins

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