Archive for Monday, March 9, 2009


The Edge

March 9, 2009


‘No Line On The Horizon’ (music)

On the title track of U2’s latest album, “No Line On The Horizon,” frontman Bono sings, “Every night I have the same dream/I’m hatching some plot, scheming some scheme.”

The Irish rockers’ 12th studio album reflects some heavy scheming on the part of the band, and its longtime producers, to mine wider sonic territory that the band has explored since the 1990s.

The result is an album that feels more compelling in sound and less strident in message than U2’s previous two efforts this decade, which offered some bright spots but seemed crafted with a U2-by-the-numbers approach.

The achievement of “No Line” is due to the handiwork of U2’s recording studio midwives: Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Steve Lillywhite, who have had a hand in shaping nearly every U2 album.

On “No Line ...,” Eno and Lanois play a more hands-on role, meriting the duo co-songwriting credits with Bono and the rest of U2 — guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. — on all but four of the album’s 11 tracks.

“No Line ... “ falls short of the wholesale reinvention that U2 underwent on 1991’s “Achtung Baby,” but in its best moments showcases a refreshing return to musical exploration for a band that released its debut album 29 years ago.

‘The Writing on My Forehead’ (books)

Nafisa Haji’s deeply moving and beautifully written novel about different generations of an Indo-Pakistani family takes the reader on an emotional journey into how family and traditions define us and our choices in life.

It’s a fast read, but its deeper meaning resonates long after the last page.

Haji’s novel is set across countries — in the United States, Britain and Pakistan.

The reader sees the world through Saira Qader’s eyes during certain points from childhood in California until she is an adult traveling the world as a journalist. As a child she realizes that her grandfather left her Nanima, or grandmother Zahida, years ago for a younger, British woman. Casting Zahida aside, he and the woman have three children. Saira’s mother refuses to accept these people into her life or even speak about them.

So, the story unfolds as Saira — the only one in her immediate family — travels to Pakistan, to attend the wedding of her Indo-Pakistani cousin, who has invited the woman and her children. Her grandfather has died.

Haji captures the pain and suffering this man inflicted upon his family when he chose a new life and shrugged off the old one.

‘Hell on Wheels’ (DVD)

“Hell on Wheels” is a film about female roller derby — except, during the vast majority of its runtime, when it isn’t. The packaging might not tip any hands, but it’s apparent pretty quickly (without revealing spoilers) that “Wheels” isn’t the feel-good, without-a-care roller derby documentary one might have expected it to be. Rather, this is a story about the business of business — what happens when one person gets an idea, a few more share in the shaping of that idea, and dozens more donate their time, money and physical well-being in hopes of seeing that idea to completion. It’s also the story of what happens when things don’t go as planned and too many people with different ideas splinter that original vision. “Wheels” has all the ingredients it needs to inspire anyone who understands the entrepreneurial spirit that provides the story’s undercurrent, but getting there isn’t nearly as simple as an outside glance would imply. Red tape, as it turns out, isn’t just for suits.

Still, all that hardship only benefits the film, which emerges out of nowhere (and most likely accidentally) to become a must-see film about the price one pays to create something from nothing.

Extras: Three commentary tracks, deleted scenes, two music videos.


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