Reviews

Because I Said So (2007)

(L to R) Milly (MANDY MOORE), Maggie (LAUREN GRAHAM), Daphne (DIANE KEATON) and Mae (PIPER PERABO) whip up some wedding drama.

Tacky and terminally bland, Because I Said So sets up one basic joke -- the interfering mother -- and runs it into the ground.


Because I Said So

Director: Michael Lehmann
Cast: Diane Keaton, Mandy Moore, Gabriel Macht, Tom Everett Scott, Lauren Graham, Piper Perabo, Stephen Collins
Distributor: Universal
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Universal Pictures
First date: 2007
UK Release Date: 2007-02-16
US Release Date: 2007-02-02 (General release)
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Trailer

Tacky and terminally bland, Because I Said So sets up one basic joke -- the interfering mother -- and runs it into the ground. Longtime single mother Daphne (Diane Keaton) is determined to marry off her three daughters, hoping they will avoid her own loneliness. The opening scenes show her ostensible success with Maggie (Lauren Graham) and Mae (Piper Perabo), as they appear with cakes, white dresses, and grooms. (And we won't even start considering what it means that a mother would name her first two daughters after a Rod Stewart song.) But she's not done yet. Her youngest girl, poor Milly (Mandy Moore), can't find the right guy. So mom is fixated on making that happen.

Because I Said So asserts that Milly's "failure" (this assumption would be her mother's, which the movie assumes because it's such a painfully conventional romantic comedy) is brought on by Daphne's lifelong tyranny. She makes Milly feel self-conscious, worrying out loud about her outfits, mannerisms, and snorty laugh when she gets nervous (which is every time her mother sends her forth to meet a new man). More than once, she's accompanied by covers of "Days Like This" (including Van Morrison's) and too often, she's caught up in some embarrassing situation, as when a big red balloon sticks to her bottom during a fit of static electricity or when a boyfriend calls to break up with her just before she's supposed to indulge in a massage alongside her mom and sisters: big tears and too many questions ensue.

But while Milly looks disheveled and Daphne thinks she's got it all together (her fondness for pert big-belted outfits and polka-dots is ostensibly a sign of her secure ego), the film makes clear that they are very much alike. Check the early, heavy-handed montage that shows them in parallel dinnertime moments: they're both caterers with special affection for cakes, both eat pasta and drink red wine alone, and both believe it's their own fault for being unmarried. Yet, Milly is not about to consider Daphne's status as related to her own, whether a model to emulate or reject. Instead, she's caught in a limbo, absorbing her mother's incessant judgments even as she knows Daphne's irrational and unfair. As far as you can see, Milly's a pleasant, not particularly bright young woman, an apt representative of her genre and so, deserving of the usual happy ending, a wedding. And still, her mother calls her "psychotic flypaper," for attracting the "wrong" men.

Daphne's scheme to end Milly's ordeal is appropriately horrific, that is, it is designed to show her meddling as excessive and set up for the big showdown. After some hokey "I can't manage my own computer" moments (wherein she comes onto a porn site and can't shut it off, embarrassing herself during her call to the helpline and inspiring her dog to hump a stool), Daphne uses a dating site to arrange a series of meetings with young men. Here again the movie resorts to an awkward montage: the loser "dates" range from guys wearing tattoos, a dress, or a turban (this last seems an especially unfunny marker of unsuitability) to guys who describe their medical conditions or gleefully declare their "woodies."

The ideal date shows up eventually, of course, at least Daphne's mind. He's architect Jason (Tom Everett Scott), who appears to be controlling and possessive ("I knew I had you the day I met you," he informs Milly during one totally uninteresting crisis). Much like Daphne, Jason is given to noting how impressive, influential, and right he is. Just as Daphne sets up the date for Milly, however, another suitor appears, the lounge guitarist and music teacher Johnny (Gabriel Macht). It's easy to see which man Milly prefers -- especially when Johnny reveals he has a colorful tattoo on his hand and that he is a doting single father of a cute, if obnoxious, little boy.

But still, she has to grind through repeated scenes where she goes out with Jason, argues with Daphne, and discusses all dates and anxieties with her sisters (these formulaic split screen phone calls pass for the sisters' character "development," especially as they reveal that Maggie is a psychologist, working out her own mom issues as she observes familial dysfunction in her patients). Milly's similarity to her mother pretty much breaks wide open when, caught in a lie, she starts parsing possibilities: "Where is the truth?" she asks, momentarily spinning off into the ether of egotism and relative morality that allows Daphne to treat her daughters as extensions of herself.

Mother and daughters share the sorts of moments that only occur in generic movie comedies: they spend time in a locker room showing their bottoms and discussing the "awful foreshortening aspect of the thong," all reach for their cell phones at the same time, sing as a group for husbands and boyfriends, argue clumsily over what's "best" for Milly (when one sister observes that Daphne is "being a helicopter," she feels compelled to translate, apparently for us: "You're hovering"). Their afternoon at a spa leaves them in the hands of Asian masseuses, whose subtitled commentary underlines but does not make funny the white ladies' bad behavior: "This old bag needs to loosen up," says the woman working on Daphne, proceeding to pound her while asserting, "She needs a stiff one."

Indeed, even Maggie, being the professional in such matters, comes to this conclusion, that mom is fussing over Milly because she needs her own boyfriend. Luckily, he will show up in the form of Joe (Stephen Collins), Johnny's infinitely patient dad, whose sole reason for being appears to be babysitting the hyperactive child. Within minutes of meeting Daphne, Joe is smitten, though the only reason the movie provides for this reaction is that they're sitting on a cozy sofa together watching Daphne's favorite actor, Gary Cooper. Their embrace is interrupted by the arrival of Milly and Johnny, appropriately bemused.

This seems a comfortable enough ending point, but the movie can't stop itself, pushing on for another long-seeming half hour's worth of inane mishaps and misunderstandings. Yet another blunder by director Michael Lehmann (whose Heathers now seems very long ago, in an especially faraway galaxy), Because I Said So includes so many clichés that it's hard to keep count. In lieu of plot, it's cluttered with bad driving scenes, dog reaction shots, falling-splat-with-cakes scenes, and watching old movies scenes. This last is especially egregious and self-defeating, as the Gary Cooper movies Daphne names or watches -- Love in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls Mr. Deeds Goes to Town -- make the one she's in seem that much worse by comparison.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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