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February 10, 2000 - Image 18

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-10

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend, etc. Magazine - Thursday, February 10, 2000

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Ignored "Splendor" offers crafty romance worth a look

By David Victor
Daily Arts Writer
Most of you have never heard of
"Splendor," a recent film written and
directed by Gregg Araki (best known
for "The Doom Generation"). It
toured the film festival circuit in
1999, garnering acclaim, but it was
never picked up for theatrical distrib-
ution. However, the stubborn sur-
vivor "Splendor" has recently made

it to video and DVD, and this is one
independent film that should not be
missed.
"Splendor" is essentially about
Veronica (Kathleen Robertson), a
young college
grad trying to
make a living
acting in Los
Angeles. She i
left a sheltered Splendor
yet troubled.(1939)
home life in Grade: B+
Iowa and is
Iowa nd is On Videocasette
enjoying the and DVD
possibilities of
being by herself
and single. The
problem is, at
first she can't
get a date.
However, one
Halloween night, she runs into Abel
(Jonathan Schacch) and Zed (Matt
Keeslar), two guys she finds irre-
sistible. She starts dating both, and
inevitably, they find out about each
other.
Veronica can't decide between the'
two of them, and neither guy is will-
ing to give her up. Abel, a writer and
music critic, has that "irresistible
tortured artist thing" going, while
Zed, a drummer in a punk band, is a

muscleheaded animal of carnal pas-
sion. In a unique compromise, the
three enter into a sort of perpetual
menage a trois where they all live
together. Veronica is enjoying her
life of "splendor" in ignorant bliss
until unforeseen complications arise,
forcing her and her lovers to make
some challenging decisions.
The characters of "Splendor" are
an engaging, believable and varied
bunch. Robertson ("Beverly Hills
90210") gives a strong and sexy per-
formance as Veronica. Whether
doing a mischievous striptease for
her two lovers or being frightened
and in tears over her uncertain
future, Robertson evokes emotion
and truth in her acting. It doesn't hurt
that she's damn hot, too (calm down,
ladies, you have your chance to ogle
Matt Keeslar's ripped physique.).
Her two men, Abel and Zed (A to
Z, get it?), also give fine perfor-
mances. Keesiar (appearing now in
"Scream 3") plays Zed with equal
parts blank stares, nonchalance and
melodrama rather perfectly - he's
the kind of comic character that
makes you laugh at just his mere
being who he is.
Schaech ("That Thing You Do")
plays a cynical-vet-charming, chain-
smoking beatnik type. Of the three,
however, he's the most muddled, and
fails to compare with Robertson and
Keeslar. Nevertheless, the men's
characters make for very good com-
petition (their mutual jealousy is
understandably natural given the sit-
uation), as they each have their own

L ,
From left, Matt Keeslar, Kathleen Robertson and Jonathan Schaech cozy esp.

Courtesy of MIV
Don't blink or you'll miss Adam
Carolla's supporting turn in "Splendor."

I

strengths and weaknesses. Down the
stretch, it boils down to Abel's brains
over Zed's brawn, and in this sex-
charged comedy, Keeslar comes out
with a definite edge over Schaech -
in the audience's minds, at least.
As director, Araki has crafted a
truly breathtaking world in
"Splendor" for his characters. The
rainbow-inspired landscape of colors
floods the screen, with cool blues

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and warm reds evoking just as much
emotion as the characters. The
vibrant color schemes create a lush
environment that represents the epit-
onie of visual "splendor." \which ties
in wonderfully with the theme of the
movie. Unique settings, from a video
camera filled bar to a shimmering
poolside in Maui, bring an indul-
gence and orieinality to what may
have been ordinary romance-movie
set pieces. Araki's cinematography
charges the screen with an energy
seldom seen in the Gen-X romance
genre.
Dually complementing the excel-
lent visual appearance of the film is
a near-perfect soundtrack. Subtle,.
ambient electronica suffuses the
movie with a dreamlike quality. The
occasional foray into hardcore punk
punctuates the film with a visceral
wallop.
The supporting characters in
"Splendor" are relativelv few, but
they do their job ably. As Veronica's
lesbian friend, Mike, Kelly
MacDonald ("Trainspotting") is the
assertive, opinionated \oice of rea-
son in Veronica's splendiferous
lifestyle. Mike also has a dog.
Wesley, who just might be the tiniest.
cutest little thing you ever did see.
Eric Mabius plays Ernest. Veronica's
lovelorn director with some serious
self-esteem problems. Also look out
for Adam Carolla (TV's "Loveline")
in one of the shortest cameos in the
history of film.
Overall, "Splendor" offers a
unique take on relationships and love
in our modern age. While it initially
seems to encourage an all-out hedo-
nistic stance on life, Araki ultimately
reveals the pitfalls of living without
responsibility or growing up.
Bolstered by well-written characters,
engaging visuals and music, the
neglected "Splendor" begs to be
rented and enjoyed. You'd do yourself
a true favor to share in the
"Splendor."

:sah
<E>

Thursday, March 16 7:30 pm
Hill Auditorium
Tickets at the Michigan Union Ticket Office
Charge by phone 763-TKTS

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