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January 14, 1997 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-14

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Fun with Origami!
Origami master Don Shall returns to Ann Arbor to get all you wild and
crazy paper-folders out of the house for an evening of thrills and paper
cuts. The fun begins at 7 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S.
Fifth Ave. Origami is fun for the entire family or fraternity. Best of all
if's free! For more information, call 994-2345.

January 14, 1997 1

cxlove nmake a uniq ue s x,
Coixibination in"C'ives bh f h

Bly Prashant Tamiaskar
Daily Arts Writer
"A~ story of love, sacrifice and faith,
Larsr von Trier's "Breaking the Waves"
is a unique film. It merges a
heuatwrenching plot with unconven-
tidfial direction and photography in pro-
ducing a thought- ®
fit cinematic expe-
rie, but it does-R
nt, uite live up to S
isillung as one of
6e, top films of
Wh~hen reticent
Bess (Emily Watson) weds a boisterous
outsider named Jan (Stellan Skarsgard),
it is obvious that they come from differ-
ent worlds.
Bess' deeply religious family views
life as a miserable liminal stage that is
not to be enjoyed and requires unwaver-
ing devotion to Jesus Christ. Taught to
stifle her emotions, Bess changes when
the spirited Jan unleashes her withheld
passion, allowing her to feel for the first
The marriage is full of unbridled love
and romance until Jan goes away to
work on an oil rig, leaving Bess alone
and despondent. Unable to function
without her beloved husband, she prays
for his immediate return, which tragi-
cally occurs when he is injured on the

Paralyzed from the accident, Jan is
no longer able to do the one thing that
brought the most meaning to his exis-
tence - make love to his wife. To feed
his own sexual appetite, he asks Bess to
sleep with other men and provide him

the Waves
At Michigan Theater
only to live, but

with details.
reluctant at first,
she complies with
Jan's wishes,
believing that her
deeds will give Jan
the strength not
also to recover. The

consequences of her actions are great
and are the focus of the rest of the film.
At the heart of "Breaking the Waves"
are themes regarding the limits of love.
Although Bess is willing to do anything
at any price for Jan, he selects for her
the ultimate test of devotion. Fueled by
the commitment to her husband that
even transcends her faith in God, she
makes an incredible sacrifice to please
The documentation of the impact that
these behaviors have on her being
proves to be the strength of the film.
Bess becomes an unforgettable heroine,
somehow clinging to love, when to let
go would be so easy.
Yet, instead of being presented as a

helplessly servile wife, she is shown to
be almost saintlike. However, her sole
devotion to Jan, which can be viewed
as selfish because of the way she acts
on it at all costs, is what keeps Bess
Emily Watson skillfully brings the
character alive on screen in a nearly
flawless performance. With hier inno-
cent face and wide, pale blue eyes that
tell a story in and of themselves,
Watson displays the childish naivete
and vulnerability that make Bess so
attractive to Jan, and yet so unfit for
life's cruelties. Although her speaking
part is not large, the actress masterfully
captures the essence of Bess in smooth-
ly being able to transform from hysteri-
cal to blissful in a matter of seconds.
However, without the exceptional
direction of Lars von Trier, Watson's
performance and the rest of the film
would not be as successful. Bringing a
sincere realism to "Breaking the
Waves" is von Trier's decision to shoot
in a format that resembles a home
The picture is grainy and out of
focus, the colors are dull, and there is
no musical score. Thus, viewers feel
like intruders, accidentally seeing
something that they were not meant to
see. But along with the uneasiness
comes curiosity and a sacred treatment

Bess (Emily Watson) has phone sex with her husband in "Breaking the Waves."

of the 'material, simply because it
appears so real. In fact, a large part of.
the film's power comes from the cine-
matography, which makes the movie
seem like an actual slice of life instead
of a fictional work of art.

Despite its strengths, "Breaking the
Waves" is not a great movie, but only a
very good one. The acting is wonderful,
the direction is superb and the plot is
intriguing. The characters are complex
and passionate.

However, when all of these elements
are brought together, the film ends up
lacking enough emotion to really' set
itself apart. Instead, we leave the movie
not feeling as much as we know we

Clooney, Pfeiffer make predictable 'One Fine Day' just OK.

By Julia Shib
Daily Arts Writer
Yes, George Clooney has proven to the world that he is
charming, sexy, good looking, can melt the hearts of millions
of women and of course, sexy ... but can he act? Going by his
first big-screen comedy, "One Fine Day," we still have yet to
find out.
This adorable little romantic comedy stars Clooney and
Michelle Pfeiffer as two working parents living hectic lives.
Clooney plays Jack
Taylor, a New York
R EV I EW newspaper colum-
nist with a 5-year-
One Fine Dlay old daughter,
Maggie, and a mil-
lion-dollar smile.
At Briarwood and Showcase Pfeiffer is Melanie
Parker, an architect
who is working her way up the corporate ladder with her 5-
year-old son Sam in tow.
The four are thrown together when both parents miss
putting their kids on the boat for the school field trip, and
with no child care and demanding work schedules, must work
together to survive the day.
Predictably, they hate each other at first sight. Jack is the
kid who never grew up, suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome.
Melanie is the bitter woman who distrusts all men. She
finds Jack to be irresponsible, as he is late bringing his child
to school and can only offer his daughter a Tic Tac when she
is hungry. Jack thinks Melanie is much too uptight and hos-
tile for his taste (though this doesn't stop him from looking
tenderly at her whenever she speaks). This hatred, of course,
serves as classic Hollywood foreshadowing of a future
The formula to "One Fine Day" is nothing new. If shown
on a Venn diagram, it would be right smack center, created by
the intersection of past romantic comedies. It's got the cute
kid component of "Sleepless In Seattle" the hatred-spawned
romance of "When Harry Met Sally" 'and the charming and

good looks would carry the nmovie. While watching "One
Fine Day," you can almost hear the director behind the cam-
era saying, "Okay George, now stand there and tilt your
head a little to the right while smiling sensitively at the cam-
era ... a little more tenderly ... attaboy, Dr. Ross!" Because
that same Let's-Get-The-Women-In-The-Audience- Excited
shot of Clooney shows up about 65 times throughout the
All in all, this focus on Clooney's looks greatly dgtr#
from the rest of the movie and doesn't at all help him estjtb-
lish himself as an actor as opposed to a poster boy. His per-
formance in this film is likable but fair at most, with a
noticeable lack of depth. He could easily have been replaced
by any of Hollywood's other handsome leading men (or per-
haps even a cardboard cutout of one) without the quality of
the film suffering. If Clooney wants to show the world that
he can act as well as he can pose, then he will have to do
much more than what he did in this movie. The batsuit that
he will don for the upcoming "Batman" sequel may provide
enough inspiration.0
On the other hand, an excellent performance by Michelle
Pfeiffer makes this film an enjoyable one to watch. Pfciffer
proves that she is just as good at comedy as she is at drama,
giving an amusing portrayal of a frustrated mother trying to
balance work with her parenting duties. Not exactly chopped
liver herself, Pfeiffer shows that at least she has acting skills
to back up the good looks.
The two children (Mae Whitman and Alex D. Linz) are, as
expected, extremely adorable and charming. You haven't lived
until you've heard a 5-year-old ask innocently, "'What's
LSD?" or look up at you with big puppydog eyes and a lax,
red marble lodged up his nose.
"One Fine Day" is one fine movie, but definitely a bit of a
disappointment after all the hype that surrounded it. However,
if you take away the expectations, "One Fine Day" is a witty
and entertaining look at parenthood and romance that most
adults can either relate to or sympathize with. Or if nothing
else, it just gives women another excuse to drool over George

From left: Whitman, Glooney, Pfeiffer and Linz star in the romantic comedy "One Fine Day."
witty dialogue of "While You Were Sleeping.' In short, it. his shrink speaking in code so his daughter won't under-
feels like just about every other cute man-meets-woman com- stand.
edy that the movie industry spits out. Director Michael Hoffman ("Restoration," "Soapdish")
But "One Fine Day" does have some good scenes that and screenwriters Ellen Simon ("Moonlight and Valentino')
are worth watching, such as when the two adults acciden- and Terrel Seltzer ("Chan Is Missing") do a fine job with
tally switch cellular phones and are forced to take mes- this motion picture. Unfortunately, for some reason they
sages for each other, or when Jack spends a session with seemed to all believe that if all else failed, George Clooney's


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