Mindful Metropolis June 2011 : Page 31

art & soul | reviews BOOKS Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Joshua Foer (Penguin Press) You walk into your home and see a salmon riding a unicycle and eating pie. Standing in the kitchen is your third grade teacher wearing an elephant suit and tap dancing. Have you gone insane? Not if you’re preparing for the USA National Memory Championship. In that case, you’re just practicing. As Joshua Foer explores in his book, Moonwalking with Einstein: Th e Art and Science of Remember-ing Everything, building your memory takes time, failure and imagination. An ideal blend of participatory journalism, research and insight into the human memory, Foer’s book is engaging and, pun intended, memorable. Using personal experience, case studies of modern day savants and ancient techniques, the author successfully conveys the importance of utilizing one’s memory de-spite technological advances that have all but eradicated the need for it. Th e book’s greatest weakness lies in its brevity. Neither a how-to nor a scientifi c study of memory, it is rather an intriguing introduction toward an often dis-carded but relevant subject. —MARGARET PRETKELIS MUSIC See-I See-I (Fort Knox Recordings) boy’s troubled subconscious. His erratic be-havior—porn addiction, torching cars, physi-cal violence—shakes the family out of their collective mourning. But when TJ develops feelings for a down-on-her-luck supermarket checker (Natalie Portman) and Hesher steals her aff ections, the fi lm loses any poignancy it might have had due to the relentless focus on Hesher’s obnoxious, distancing antics. As the picture winds down, director Spencer Susser trots out a hokey climax all but undo-ing the fi lm’s prior anarchist, anti-heroic tone. Gordon-Levitt is typically fi ne, looking like a tattooed, shirtless Jesus while engaging in all manner of absurdity. But the fi lm—a too-pre-cious indie experiment—is a remote turn-off . —LEE SHOQUIST Incendies Sony Pictures Classics (Director: Denis Villeneuve) Shattering family se-crets drive Canadian director Denis Ville-neuve’s Incendies, the story of adult siblings who unravel the mys-teries of their lineage after the death of their mother. After Nar-wal’s (Lubna Azabal) will sends Jeanne (Me-lissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) on a dangerous, Middle Eastern od-yssey in search of their lost father and brother, their mother’s past life as a disgraced teen revolutionary and political prisoner comes into focus. Set amidst the backdrop of an un-specifi ed (likely Lebanon) civil war between Christians and Muslims and based on Wajdi Mouawad’s play “Scorched,” Incendies hasn’t a hint of staginess as it metes out themes of ha-tred, love, commitment and barbarism. A cli-mactic revelation—which strains credulity— catapults Incendies into the realm of Greek tragedy, forcing us to personal meditations on how well we really know the lives and sacri-fi ces of our parents. Incendies is primal, dis-turbing and imperfect—the present-day char-acters are defi ned strictly by the plot and lack dimensionality—but the narrative packs an —LS undeniable punch. Years ago a friend passed along a four-song EP by two Rastas best known as the bouncing hype men of Th ievery Corporation. And that’s exactly what it sounded like: the Th ievery guys breaking out. It was thin, relied on a gratuitous sitar and mostly forgettable. Eight years taught Arthur “Rootz” and Archie “Zeebo” Steele an important lesson: stick to what you know. Th at meant fl owing their patois above thick, bottom-heavy beats with epic horn stabs and ambient soundscapes. In some ways, the duo’s self-titled debut is perhaps Th ievery’s most focused album to date, even though it’s not a Th ievery record. Th ere are plenty of sonic parallels to their forebears, yet beyond associations this is simply one damn fi ne album. Th e hype songs—“Haterz 24/7,” “Soul Hit Man,” “Blow Up”—are tempered by a trio of eff ortlessly mellow closing tracks. After two decades in training, these brothers are working it out. —DEREK BERES Lobi Traore Bwati Kono (KSK Records) If Jimi Hendrix was to walk into a Bamako club last decade and hear guitarist Lobi Traoré ripping through the ten-minute “Ya Time,” he could only shake his head and say, “Well, damn.” You can pretty much say that about the entirety of this re-release, Bwati Kono, or “In the Club.” Traoré’s club features elite Malian bluesman—featured, as the six-stringer passed away at age 49 last June. Th e man lived richly. Ali Farka Touré produced some of his albums, which explains the Nia-funke feeling to Traoré passionate sound. He was also featured on Damon Albarn’s cross-pollination of British pop and African blues, Mali Music. As owner of a few Traoré records, Bwati Kono quickly ascended to the top position in my iTunes folder. Of the two I’ve owned, his rich folk style entranced me, but nothing led me to believe the man could play guitar like this. Proven wrong, I happily admit. Sadly, all I have left is this incredible album in this talented man’s catalog, and a —DB few more to purchase. MInDFuLMeTROPOLIS.COM FILM Hesher Newmarket Films (Director: Spencer Susser) A grieving family is set-upon by a raucous troublemaker in Hes-her, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular burnout who befriends an adoles-cent boy mourning his mother’s death. As catatonic dad (Rainn Wilson) and daff y grandma (Piper Laurie) make do in the wake of tragedy, thirteen-year-old TJ (Devin Bro-chu) longs to buy back the car in which mom died (really?). When Hesher enters the picture, he initially seems to be a manifestation of the 31

Reviews Books

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Joshua Foer (Penguin Press)<br /> <br /> You walk into your home and see a salmon riding a unicycle and eating pie. Standing in the kitchen is your third grade teacher wearing an elephant suit and tap dancing. Have you gone insane? Not if you’re preparing for the USA National Memory Championship. In that case, you’re just practicing. As Joshua Foer explores in his book, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, building your memory takes time, failure and imagination.<br /> <br /> An ideal blend of participatory journalism, research and insight into the human memory, Foer’s book is engaging and, pun intended, memorable. Using personal experience, case studies of modern day savants and ancient techniques, the author successfully conveys the importance of utilizing one’s memory despite technological advances that have all but eradicated the need for it. The book’s greatest weakness lies in its brevity. Neither a how-to nor a scientific study of memory, it is rather an intriguing introduction toward an often discarded but relevant subject.<br /> <br /> —MARGARET PRETKELIS<br /> <br /> Film<br /> <br /> Hesher <br /> Newmarket Films (Director: Spencer Susser)<br /> <br /> A grieving family is set-upon by a raucous troublemaker in Hesher, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the titular burnout who befriends an adolescent boy mourning his mother’s death. As catatonic dad (Rainn Wilson) and daff y grandma (Piper Laurie) make do in the wake of tragedy, thirteen-year-old TJ (Devin Brochu) longs to buy back the car in which mom died (really?). When Hesher enters the picture, he initially seems to be a manifestation of the boy’s troubled subconscious. His erratic behavior— porn addiction, torching cars, physical violence—shakes the family out of their collective mourning. But when TJ develops feelings for a down-on-her-luck supermarket checker (Natalie Portman) and Hesher steals her aff ections, the film loses any poignancy it might have had due to the relentless focus on Hesher’s obnoxious, distancing antics. As the picture winds down, director Spencer Susser trots out a hokey climax all but undoing the film’s prior anarchist, anti-heroic tone. Gordon-Levitt is typically fine, looking like a tattooed, shirtless Jesus while engaging in all manner of absurdity. But the film—a too-precious indie experiment—is a remote turn-off .<br /> <br /> —LEE SHOQUIST<br /> <br /> Incendies<br /> Sony Pictures Classics (Director:<br /> Denis Villeneuve)<br /> <br /> Shattering family secrets drive Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, the story of adult siblings who unravel the mysteries of their lineage after the death of their mother. After Narwal’s (Lubna Azabal) will sends Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) on a dangerous, Middle Eastern odyssey in search of their lost father and brother, their mother’s past life as a disgraced teen revolutionary and political prisoner comes into focus. Set amidst the backdrop of an unspecifi ed (likely Lebanon) civil war between Christians and Muslims and based on Wajdi Mouawad’s play “Scorched,” Incendies hasn’t a hint of staginess as it metes out themes of hatred, love, commitment and barbarism. A climactic revelation—which strains credulity— catapults Incendies into the realm of Greek tragedy, forcing us to personal meditations on how well we really know the lives and sacrifices of our parents. Incendies is primal, disturbing and imperfect—the present-day characters are defined strictly by the plot and lack dimensionality—but the narrative packs an undeniable punch.<br /> <br /> —LS<br /> <br /> See-I See-I (Fort Knox Recordings)<br /> <br /> Years ago a friend passed along a foursong EP by two Rastas best known as the bouncing hype men of Th ievery Corporation. And that’s exactly what it sounded like: the Th ievery guys breaking out. It was thin, relied on a gratuitous sitar and mostly forgettable. Eight years taught Arthur “Rootz” and Archie “Zeebo” Steele an important lesson: stick to what you know. That meant flowing their patois above thick, bottomheavy beats with epic horn stabs and ambient soundscapes. In some ways, the duo’s selftitled debut is perhaps Thievery’s most focused album to date, even though it’s not a Th ievery record. There are plenty of sonic parallels to their forebears, yet beyond associations this is simply one damn fine album. The hype songs—“Haterz 24/7,” “Soul Hit Man,” “Blow Up”—are tempered by a trio of eff ortlessly mellow closing tracks. After two decades in training, these brothers are working it out.<br /> <br /> - Derek Beres<br /> <br /> Lobi Traore<br /> Bwati Kono (KSK Records)<br /> <br /> If Jimi Hendrix was to walk into a Bamako club last decade and hear guitarist Lobi Traoré ripping through the ten-minute “Ya Time,” he could only shake his head and say, “Well, damn.” You can pretty much say that about the entirety of this re-release, Bwati Kono, or “In the Club.” Traoré’s club features elite Malian bluesman—featured, as the sixstringer passed away at age 49 last June. Th e man lived richly. Ali Farka Touré produced some of his albums, which explains the Niafunke feeling to Traoré passionate sound. <br /> <br /> He was also featured on Damon Albarn’s cross-pollination of British pop and African blues, Mali Music. As owner of a few Traoré records, Bwati Kono quickly ascended to the top position in my iTunes folder. Of the two I’ve owned, his rich folk style entranced me, but nothing led me to believe the man could play guitar like this. Proven wrong, I happily admit. Sadly, all I have left is this incredible album in this talented man’s catalog, and a few more to purchase.<br /> <br /> —DB

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