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January 14, 1999 - Image 15

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-01-14

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1m -- The Michigan Daily Weekentbgazine - Thursday, January14, 1999

0

0

The Michigan ify Weekend Maga:

El Weekend, Etc. Column

The year in film looks young, racy 7

BLINDSIDED BY THE FIN-DE-SIECLE

Well, it's 1999, and the countdown has
begun: We're now less than a year away
from the end of civilization as we know it.
Now, before you go leaping to any unwar-
ranted conclusions, such as "The author
of this column is a pure maniac," allow me
to explain myself. I'm not merely some
vagrant drug-addled doomsayer, but
rather, if you'll permit ine to style myself
so, a voice of reason in an age of wanton

irrationality. Though it may make a martyr
of me, I refuse to capitulate and reverse
my assertion that ruin is unavoidable. And
why, you ask, do I so confidently predict
destruction and mass hysteria? The
answer, my obtuse friends, is quite simple
and can be described in an annoying buzz-
phrase three characters in length: Y2K.
No doubt you, my reading public, felt a
chill pass through your body as your gaze

SONET CHRHCFEOS
presents
Skyi os Afro
~DCK Blue

fell upon those characters, a gripping chill
that disappeared at once when you real-
ized that you hadn't the faintest idea what
the hell "Y2K" means. By virtue of your
ignorance, you prove one of the many
points I'll be making in this column: The
latent destructive power of Y2K is
increased manifold through its obscurity.
Though I remain in general a pessimist, I
have decided - contrary to my instinct
- to attempt to reduce the strength of evil
Mr. Y2K by revealing to you all
the best manner in which to
combat it.
Before we go any further, I
think it's best that we all have a
working knowledge of what,,
exactly, Y2K is. Let's begin
with the mysterious acronym
itself: "Y" as in, "Y arewe
here?", has several possible
meanings, none ofwhich seems
remotely related with another.
The largest group of those in MOR
the know, maintain that the "Y" BIG
means "year." Recently, howev- (DON
er, opponents to this viewpoint
have arisen around the globe,
including a small but stubborn group of
theorists who claim that the Y stands for
"Yoo-hoo," the enigmatic and mildly dis-
turbing chocolate-flavored beverage seen
in bewildering advertisements on TV, but
never witnessed in the real world.<(This
same group concludes that Y2K is noth-
ing more than an elaborate marketing
ploy. Rest assured that come the hour of
judgment on December, 31 1999, these
folks will roast in the flames of a shatter-

ing society.)
The 2, contrary to logic, means "2."
The K is something of a mystery. Some
say that, like the S in Ulysses S. Grant's
name, it has no significance whatsoever,
but the best information we have at pre-
sent indicates that the K likely alludes to
the low-quality fish-based dish Krab,
commonly served in higher education
cafeterias when the occasion warrants a
touch of class.
Regardless of the meaning of
S.the individual characters, the
meaning of the acronym as a
whole is that when the date
shifts from the year 1999 to the
year 2000, the computers of the
world, who were apparently
programmed by morons, will
assume the date is not 2000, but
1900. What does this mean? To
put it simply, because comput-
DREW ers now oversee all essential
ENSEN functions of modern society
IDM S and therefore virtually control
T GET reality, we'll have to live
ANX) through this entire wretched
century once more.

and
the Mellow Musical Musings of WUOM's
BOB SKON

N
'T
JF

:-

I

speak slowly and clearly into the mic,
repeating, "Next year is the year 2000.
Only an idiot would think it was 1900!"
until the computer signals you that it has
understood. Possible signals include vio-
lent system crashes and alarming grinding
sounds from the hard drive.
Unfortunately, this method of preparing
your personal computer forY2K has a rel-
atively low rate of success. Should your
computer turn a deaf ear to your attempts
to divert it from the path of doom on
which it walks, you may wish to try the
Schoenheim-Limburger Percussive
Method. This method, developed in the
darkest reaches of theoretical Germany,
requires that you own a hammer of some
sort, preferably of the ball-peen or sledge
variety.
After making sure that you meet the
aforementioned requirement, carefully lay
your computer on a sheet of plyiwod.
Next, grip the hammer firmly in your
hands; gloves are optional. Assume a
comfortable stance, and lovingly beat
your computer into submission. When at
last it begs for mercy, sprinkle it liberally
with lighter fluid and set it aflame. Dance
in the flickering light until the once-proud
computer is reduced to smoking lumps of
carbon.
While the above method is cer-
tainly satisfying over the short term,
many people find its effects unsatis-
factory for the long term. This last
and ultimately most ridiculous
method was developed specifically
with those folk in mind. Preparatory
to anything else, divorce yourself
from contact with all things comput-
erized. But before you run for the
hills, be sure to stockpile food and
water and most especially weapons
and ammunition.
Remember, in the meantime, that you
do have nearly a year to enjoy life as we
know it, so go wild. Try skydiving; try
drugs; or try skydiving while on drugs.
Or, if you really feel like living on the
edge, buy a new computer.
-Andrew Mortensen may be
reached via e-mailat
adrnorten@umich.edu

By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Film Editor
Since Hollywood often works in
trends, it's not surprising that one can
define any given year in film by a trend.
But this year's trend, is a little harder to
pin down.
1998 might come down to two descrip-
tions: the year of the masturbation movie
or the year of the first time director.
People touched themselves in movies
more than ever this year. In at least eight
movies released in 1998 one of the char-
acters masturbated onscreen.
And this wasn't limited to guys touch-
ing themselves, the women got in on the
act this year. Films prominently featuring
masturbation this year, in no particular
order, were "Happiness,' "The Slums of
Beverly Hills," "Psycho,'"Pleasantville,"
"Your Friends and Neighbors," "Velvet
Goldmine," "There's Something About
M'ary" and "Hurlyburly."
Self-gratification alone should not
define a year, however, because there's
more substance to film than touching
oneself. No, 1998 is better summed up by
the first time directors who shined.
In 1998 16 first-time directors showed
Hollywood and moviegoers that the first
time doesn't have to be a disaster.
These first-timers directors produced
work that far exceeded that of several old
vets. Of these rookies, some are old film-
industry pros - though they worked in
other areas of the industry - but most
came from out of nowhere.
What all have in common, though, is
they produced a diverse body of work that
resulted in a breath of cinematic fresh air.
Jake Kasdan wrote and directed one of
the year's finest films with his debut,
"Zero Effect." This quirky and enchanting
comedy/romance/mystery/thriller
demonstrated that film genius might just
be genetic (Jake is the son of director

Lawrence Kasdan).
Much different, but no less amazing,
was Gary Ross' directorial debut, the
deceptively simple "Pleasantville." This is
one of the year's best and a very original,
lovable look at TV and the 1950s.
Also on the somewhat lighter side were
Peter Howitt's "Sliding Doors" and Kirk
Jones' "Waking Ned
Devine." The for- Best of MOv
mer, an utterly origi- 1. Happiness
nal and charming 2. Life is Beautif
romantic comedy, 3. ie Got Game
showcased not only 4. Saving Privat
Gwyneth Paltrow's 5. Out of Sight
convincing English 6. Shakespeare
accent, but proved it 7. A Simple Plai
doesn't have to be a 8. The Truman S
tired genre. In the 9. Zero Effect
latter, Jones brought 10. The Thin Re(
to life a small Irish - Compiled byt
village with the
problem of what to do with a winning lot-
tery ticket and a dead winner.
In between light and dark were Richard
Kwietniowski's sleeper "Love and Death
on Long Island"; Chris Eyre's "Smoke
Signals"; Richard LaGravenese's female
bonding comedy "Living Out Loud";
David Dobkin's serial comedy "Clay
Pigeons"; and Lance Mungia's action-
comedy "Six-String Samurai."
Though all but "Clay Pigeons" and
"Six-String Samurai" attempted to pre-
sent human relations in ways not often
explored in film, none of these had the
edge that this year's darker films had. This
is not to say that these films weren't seri-
ous - "Smoke Signals" is perhaps the
year's most important film - but that
they took different approaches than the
next set of films.
That next group is made up of films
that bite back. "Clay Pigeons" comes
close to being included in this category,
but misses due to its whimsical nature.

iu
s in
Ss

Instead this category includes Darren
Aranovsky's haunting "Pi"; Gary
Oldman's chilling "Nil By Mouth"; Peter
Berg's love-it-or-hate-it black comedy
"Very Bad Things"; Vincent Gallo's
slightly sexist "Buffalo '66"; the drug
parables "Permanent Midnight" and
"High Art" from Dave Veloz and Lisa
Cholodenko, respec-
es 1998 tively; and Don
Roos' acidic comedy
l "The Opposite of
Sex."
Ryan Even within this
group, there are
n Love varying levels of
seriousness. Take
ow Oldman's semi-aut
bigraphical look at
Line working class
e Daily Film Staff Londoners and the
drugs and violence
that keeps them the strets versus Berg's
no-holds-barred effort at one upsman-
ship. They are both fantastic in their own
way. No one will ever mistake "Very Bad
Things" for an incisive sociological look
at drugs and violence, despite the fact that
both are present in the film.
Even though these first time efforts
shamed established directors, there were
some rookies who only shamed them-
selves. Dean Parisot's supposedly dark
comedy "Home Fries," Mark
Christopher's glossy "54," Jamie Blanks'
derivative "Urban Legend" all proved that
not every school boy with Hollywood
dreams or every commercial director
should direct a feature film.

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This is a dreadful prospect by anyone's
measure. What can we do to avoid such a
horrible fate? My first impulse is to say,
there is nothing we may do to prevent
Armageddon. As soon as the year
becomes 2000, planes will plummet from
the skies like so many human-filled mete-
ors; global stock markets will crash, and
no one save a few overdressed weenies
will care; missiles will erupt from their
silos at the command of disoriented com-
puters; and thousands upon thousands of
crucial forwarded e-mails will be lost for
all time in the dark recesses of cyberspace.
But to give in so easily is to indulge in
cowardice. With that in mind, I've pre-
pared a short list of things you can do to
withstand successfully the onslaught of
Y2K. First of all you may try to reason
with your computer.
To attempt this, you must have a micro-
phone for your PC. Make sure the com-
puter is on and that the microphone is
plugged into the correct input. Then, fix-
ing the monitor with a confident gaze,

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