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March 15, 1999 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-15

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Phoebe Eng reads at Borders tonight. Eng, a social activist and
the founder of A. Magazine, reads from "Warrior Lessons," her
first book. 7 p.m.

mXAWbymFlltft
RTS

tomorrow In Daily Arts:
® Breaking Records returns with a review of No Limit's latest
release, "C- Murder."
Monday
March 15, 1999

A

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'Lock'
fies into
theaters
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
Cocked, locked and ready to rock-
the British import "Lock, Stock and
Two Smoking Barrels" fires its way
into theaters today. This comedy
about a few friends who resort to rob-
ry to pay off a gambling debt fea-
ures some inspired sequences but
ends up falling short as a story. The
film pans the underbelly of London's
East End and includes a cast of ragtag
characters all looking for an easy way
to make a buck.
Looking to
strike it rich,
Lock, Stock and Eddie (Nick
Moran) and three
TWO Smoking his friends
Barrels engage in a big-
*1 money card
At State game with
Hatchet Harry
(P.H. Moriarty).
i The stakes are
raised and Harry
ends up lending
Eddie some seri-
ous money for
heir last hand. Not surprisingly,
ings don't come up aces for Eddie
and, by the end of the night, he owes
the crime boss 500,000 pounds. The
incentive to pay him back promptly is
high - Harry plans to remove a fin-
ger from each of them for every day
that, the. payment is late. Wanting to
hang on to all of their digits, the
friends hatch a scheme to get the fin-
ger-saving funds.
As the plan goes into action many
the loose ends and characters from
t e wide scope of the first part of the
film begin to relate to each other,
mainly because they're all after the
money. To say that the friends are ini-
tially successful in acquiring the
needed funds gives little away, the
real issue is whether they'll have the

'Carrie 2' fails to muster fire

By Aaron Rich
Weekend, etc. Editor
The first and most important lesson to learn about "The
Rage: Carrie 2" is that it did not have to be made at all. It is,
for all intensive purposes, cinema sans soul. It is a film that
goes through the actions of movie making - especially the
actions of a slasher flick - but has nothing underneath to
back up it's superficial scenarios. Most actions are unex-
plained except that they need to exist to fit the mold of Brian
De Palma's 1976 original "Carrie."
Now, of course, blood-and-guts-laden horror movies rarely
have depth, so how does this previous point have any rele-
vance? Well, the answer lies in the fact that like its half-sister
predecessor, "The Rage" is not simply a slasher flick - it is
a serious and dramatic story of faith and fitting in that holds
most of the blood and shock for the climactic final two
scenes.
But that is exactly what "Carrie" is as well. "The Rage"
tackles the exact structure of "Carrie" nearly scene for scene,
yet adds nothing substantive to the original story.
Twenty years after Carrie White's prom night exercises,
Bates High School is still full of manipulative and deceitful
teens who like to pick on loner girls - this time it's Rachel
Lang (Emily Bergl), an equally telekinetic femme-fatale who
happens to be Carrie's half-sister, through their father.

Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures
Vinnie Jones takes charge in "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

dough and stay alive long enough to
make the payment. And no one seems
capable of hanging onto this gym bag
packed with pounds for more than a
few minutes.
Writer-director Guy Ritchie gives
a very scattershot effort in his direct-
ing debut - one moment he's dead
on and the next he doesn't even hit
the target. Ritchie's triumph in the
film is two virtuoso sequences, one
during a game of cards and the other
at a celebration, where he uses slow
motion, oblique camera angles and
jilted editing to capture the mood of
the moment. At different times, how-
ever, Ritchie seems a little too in
love with these techniques and his
use of them bogs the action down
considerably.
Along with the occasional errors in
editing, "Lock, Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels" is really hampered
by its screenplay. At several points
throughout the story, various attempts
at the over-the-top humor are made
with little success, and they detract
from the film as a whole. Towards the

end of the picture, there are a few
shoot-out scenes which, due to the
circumstances that lead up to them,
end up being fairly predictable.
There's also a subplot involving a
thief and his son which never seems
very interesting and is the basis for a
forced scene at the film's end. Also,
for a movie like this to work, we need
to embrace the losers and this doesn't
happen due to a lack of character
development. The characters seem
like entertaining goofballs that it
would be fun to kill an afternoon
with, but beyond that there is little
reason to connect with them.
Throughout "Lock, Stock and Two
Smoking Barrels," Ritchie teases the
audience - mixing moments of bril-
liance with minutes of mediocrity.
The two aforementioned sequences
show that he is a talented filmmaker,
but the movie itself shows that his
writing needs work and that he must
learn to pick his spots for over-the-top
directing. Ritchie has loaded the gun,
and hopefully on his next project,
he'll pull the trigger.

The Rag
At Showc
and Briarw
.

A small clique of jocks has a mis-
sion to have sex with or rape all the
women at the school, when Rachel
and Jesse (Jason London), one of the
@: posse, fall in love. Jesse's fiends can't
2 stand the fact that he is dating such a
r* misfit and they craft a plan to make
ase her pay for the affair. Surprisingly,
ood the plan goes awry.
For awhile, the film appears just fine.
A nicely crafted pre-sex interchange
shows some unexpected good acting
from both Bergl and London. A few
clever devices appear that allude to the
first film: Carrie doused in pig's blood
in the first becomes Rachel wearing her

dog's blood in the second; an English class discussion of a
jock's poetry becomes an English class discussion of
Shakespeare; an unapproved-of trip to the senior prom
becomes an forbidden visit to the homecoming football
game.
But we should not be misled by this writing and start think-
ing that "The Rage" is well done. For it is deeply flawed and
fatally misled. It is as if director Katt Shea ("Poison Ivy") and
screenwriter Rafael Moreu ("Hackers") misunderstood
"Carrie" and crafted the sequel to go along with her miscon-
ceptions.
The greatest example of this is the inclusion of the charac-
ter Sue Snell (Amy Irving) who was one of the only survivors
of the prom night fire from the first film. Sue is the guidance
counselor of the contemporary Bates High who is still haunt-
ed by the images of Carrie that have been burned on her
brain.
Shea goes to great lengths to get us inside Sue's head by
cutting footage from the first film into sequences in "The
Rage." We see the infamous menstruation shower scene and
bits from the prom - although Shea forgets that the prom is
seen from Carrie's point of view, not Sue's.

F ?.,- MRCourtesy of United Artists
Emily Bergl redefines telekinesis In "The Rage: Carrie 2."
All this intercutting does, though, is remind us of the beau-
tiful and saturated yellow and red palate of De Palma's effort
- colors that are entirely non-existent in Shea's bland work,
disregarding the movie's poster.
Sue's character has not changed much since we last saw
her in bed the morning after the fateful dance. She still sees
Carrie as a monster who should be blamed for the deaths of
her classmates. She still makes efforts to reform the socially-
challenged, with a holier-than-thou, self-righteous tone to her
actions.
This is all fine, except it appears as if Shea and Moreu do
not understand that Sue is dead wrong. Carrie White cannot
be blamed for her actions. Her high school colleagues got
what they deserved - in De Palma's world at least.
Yet Sue explains to Rachel that she must "get help" for
herself and tame her telekinesis -- as if the power itself is
corruptive. Sue explains that she once tried to help a girl
in need, but her efforts "backfired." And Shea lets these
untruths fly unchecked - furthering the falsehood that
Carrie, or Rachel for that matter, is a horrific monster
whom we should fear.
Taken by itself, "The Rage," could work as a touching
story of a outsider who wants to be inside. But Shea does
not let us take this by itself. Nearly every scene alludes to
or reflects either the story or some technical aspect of
"Carrie." The moment we want to look at Rachel Lang as
an individual, she is once again inextricably bound to
Carrie White.
"The Rage: Carrie 2" is rather a paradox of film making. It
cannot be fully appreciated without having seen De Palma's
"Carrie," yet it cannot be entirely enjoyed in relation to the
depth and mastery of that first installment.

'Payne' reproduces Brit humr

By Jonah Victor
Daily Arts Writer
With the mass of mediocrity that
currently pervades prime time televi-
sion, the producers at CBS decided to

S ,
Payne
CBs
Tonight at 9:30

look to history
for new direc-
tion. The new
show "Payne,"
starring four-
time Emmy win-
ner John
Larroquette of
"Night Court," is
a remake of the
acclaimed
British sitcom
"Fawlty Towers."
"Fawlty Towers"
was a slapstick
comedy set in a
by John Cleese of

Larroquette plays Royal Payne, the
hotel's greedy and tactless owner.
JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist") plays
his co-conspiring wife, Constance.
Together they hold a continuous bat-
tle of wits between themselves and
their guests.
Comedian Rick Batalla gives a
fantastic performance as the immi-
grant bellboy, Mohammed.
Mohammed, or "Mo," is often at the
mercy of Payne and Constance's
lunacy.
"Payne" also includes a delightful
collection of minor characters includ-
ing a disgruntled Chinese delivery
man and a couple of stoned old ladies
who receive their shipments of mari-
juana in the hotel lobby.
The first episode provides a some-
what rough start to the series. To
make up for forgetting his anniver-
sary, Payne gives Constance a valu-
able pin left behind by a guest. He
then panics when the guest returns
looking for it.

The second episode, airing
Wednesday, improves over the first
when Payne buys an intercom system
which he and his wife use to eaves-
drop on their guests in their rooms. In
this way, they try to meet the needs of
the guests before they are called for,
and humorous results are inevitable.
"Payne" gives obvious recognition
of its Monty Python roots with its
fast, nonstop sarcasm and slapstick.
Most of the jokes are frivolous and
fall flat, but those that hit the mark
give quite a few laughs.
Larroquette seems more suited to
play a more real life comic character,
than the zaniness that is Royal Payne.
Batalla is the one actor that is con-
stantly successful, making him a
must see.
"Payne" is a mere shadow of the
incomparable "Fawlty Towers," and
yet its quality exceeds much of what
viewers are subjected to on television
today. If you need a few laughs, this
is not a bad place to turn.

"My secret spot
is the Park & Ride lot!"

hotel and created

Monty Python fame. "Payne" draws
upon "Fawlty Towers" both in situa-
tion and spirit.
Set in an upscale country hotel,
Write for
Daily Arts.
Call 763-0379
for more
information.

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