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January 10, 2000 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-10

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 10, 2000 - 9A

End of the Affair
illuminates details of
love, loss and longing

'Quest' makes Trek
fun for everyone

D n Podoisky
Da Arts Writer
"This is a diary of hate," Maurice
Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) deliberately,
furiously punches out on his old type-
writer in Neil. Jordan's noir-soaked
"The End of the Affair." Every key
sings with suffering, every letter con-
tains'a manifesto on the dangers of mis-
begotten love. Jordan evokes an era of
movie history where the play of the
shadows was much more important
th the play of the light, where rela-
tionships were both simply complicated
and complicatedly simple. "The End of

The End of
the Affair
At Showcase

the Affair" takes
these elements
and molds them
into a seductive
musing on the
nature of love and
A thinly
veiled fictional
surrogate for
famed author
Graham Greene,
from whose
novel Jordan
adapted the
film, Bendrix

Bendrix isn't passive at all, so he
hires a private investigator, Parkis
(Ian Hart) to tail Sarah. He also sees
Sarah for the first time since she left
him one death-defying day in the
midst of World War II, and they
embark on a tentative resumption of
their former relationship. But
Bendrix is haunted by her desertion
of both he and her husband, as well
as failing to see why she left him.
That secret is revealed in due time,
and suddenly "The End of the
Affair" becomes a strangely reli-
gious story rather than just one of
jilted lovers.
The invention of the movie is not
a typical love triangle - Henry is
such a non-entity ("He hasn't
noticed me for years," Sarah says
simply when Bendrix expresses
worry about him early on in their
relationship) that he is not part of
the equation. The lover with whom
Bendrix finds himself vying for
Sarah's affections turns out to be
none other than God himself. It
would be .wrong for me to reveal
exactly why Sarah leaves her
beloved for benediction, but suffice
it to say that when Bendrix, and we,
learn the truth, it makes sense. The
choices that Sarah subsequently
makes also make sense, although
they have perilous consequences.
Bendrix is a staunch atheist, but
even he begins to waiver as events
unfold out of control and Sarah slips
further and further out of his grasp.
Fiennes plays him with the fiery
contempt that characterizes his work
in other films, yet it seems to be a
new skin he is wearing. It may have
something to do with the look of the
film, which seems straight out of the
1940s in both sound and feel. Or
perhaps it is merely that Bendrix is
every period character Fiennes has
inhabited scraped bare, left only
with a core of seething passion and
hate. That core powers the film from
start to finish, wasting and withering
everything in its path. He is breath-
taking in his emotion and frighten-
ing in his intensity.

At Showcase

By David Victor
For The Daily
I never really liked the original "Star
Trek" television series and the seven
movies that followed it. However, I have
a friend that worships Captain Kirk and
his adventures, debating technical
details of phasers and arguing who was
the best crew member with other
Trekkies. Surprisingly enough, we both
laughed out loud at "Galaxy Quest,' a
very clever parody of the sci-fi fran-
chise. The humor in this film is drawn
from the fans' obsession with the show,
which allows for a great deal of inside
jokes while simultaneously allowing the
"Trek" outsider to laugh at the general
dorkiness that ensues.
The film opens at a "Galaxy Quest"

convention, a nod
to similar "Trek"
affairs, where fans
have a chance to
pay homage to the
sci-fi world they
love so much. We
are introduced to
the intrepid crew
of the N.S.E.A.
Protector of the
campy '70s televi-
sion show
"Galaxy Quest."
18 years after the
show's cancella-

Quest." Having intercepted the show's-
broadcasts from space, the Thermians
believe the characters from the program
can save them from an evil, genocidal
race of war-mongering aliens. Thinking
it another paid gig, the crew find them-
selves responsible for saving the
Thermians from extinction, with a fMlly
functional N.S.E.A. Protector at their
The three headlining stars of the film,
(Allen, Weaver and Rickman) deliver
adequate, but unexceptional perfor-
mances. Allen is simply a star to carry
the film, redoing his Buzz Lightyear act
with initial bluster and arrogance evolv-
ing into sappy charm. Weaver is merely
a sidekick that plays off of Allen-
Rickman is every other character he
plays ("Die Hard," "Robin Hood: Prince
of Thieves" and "Dogma"), droll and
sarcastic in heavy doses.
But the supporting cast shines, gener-
ating most of the laughs. Shalhoub's
spacey character takes everything i,
stride to humorous consequences. Guy
Fleegman (played by indie star Sar;
Rockwell) is a panicky "Galaxy Quest"
extra who was killed off "to prove the sit-
uation was really serious." His paranoia
in being the first to go in their adventures
provides many a laugh.
The cast of Thermians, who have'-
adapted their squid-like form to appear
human, seem to have trouble adopting
terrestrial mannerisms and speech, and
their misunderstandings make for some
good chuckles.
Overall, the large cast works together
well, delivering a strong group perfor-
mance. Well-done special effects, espe-
cially those of the computer-generated
aliens, provide a suitable variety of space
monsters and enemies to contend with.
The most disappointing part of the
film was its attempts to stray from the
parody genre. Late in the movie, there.
are some serious scenes that functioned
as reminders to the crew of the deadly
reality of their situation. These seemed
out of place, dragging down the levity of
the film. The canned Hollywood ending,
full of romance and redemption for all,
fits within the show's theme, but lacks
the humor found earlier in the picture..
Within lies the hokey message that.if
you believe in yourself, you can be any-
one. However, this disappointing third
act does not compromise the humor and
strong characterization prevalent
throughout the majority of the film. A
must-see for Trekkies, and a good laugh
for those of us who can't tell a Klingon
from a Romulan.

Courtesy of Miramax Films
Julianne Moore plays Sarah Miles in "The End of the Affair," a Neil Jordan film.

relays his affair with Sarah Miles
(Julianne Moore) with equal parts
hatred and sorrow. She is the wife of
an cquaintance of his, Henry
(S en Rea), who works at the
ministry doing whatever it is people
do there.
At the outset, Bendrix has a
chance encounter with Henry one
cold and rainy London evening. It is
a good two years after the end of his
dalliance with Sarah. The movie
skips back and forth in time, offer-
ing us a glimpse of Bendrix and
Sa* in flagrante delecto as Henry
mounts the stairs, seconds away
from catching them, and then show-
ing Bendrix's rampant insecurity and
raging jealousy regarding Sarah's
illicit love for him. And in the pre-
sent, Bendrix discovers that Sarah is
once again stepping out on Henry,
who is too passive to do anything
about it.

Unfortunately, this slightly mars
Moore's performance, particularly
because her character so closely
resembles that of Kristin Scott
Thomas in the Fiennes-film "The
English Patient." But only slightly.
Her chemistry with Fiennes leaves
something to be desired, but her
relationship with the holy one is
without flaw.
After the disastrously bad "In
Dreams," Jordan returns to his qual-
ity output of days gone by. The inex-
plicable moments in his script
become possible in his able story-
telling hands. The drab color scheme
allows for all sorts of shadowplay,
and Roger Pratt's rich photography
nicely complements Jordan's style.
He mines territory that he has not
touched before, sharing very little
with his earlier work, and it's excit-
ing to see him branch out in this
warmly new-yet-familiar genre.

The half-defeated snarl on
Bendrix's face 'is replaced by sad
acceptance as the film draws to a
close, but his loathing for his com-
petitor never falters. His composure
has been forever shattered by his
inability to reconcile what happens
to Sarah with his disbelief, and for
that he begins to do more than
believe: he begins to mercilessly
hate. "The End of the Affair" is a
diary of hate, yes, but it's also a
diary of love, terrible and grand,
gorgeous and frightful. It is utterly
human in its supernaturalness and
eerily divine in its ardor. The snap-
shot of simpler times that it provides
shows that simplicity is deceptive.
We all have secrets, we all have
beliefs. Sometimes they help us to
soar above banality. Sometimes they
kill us. In "The End of the Affair,"
they do both.

tion, these terminally typecast actors
have no recourse but to capitalize on
their small but rabid fan base.
Faithfully personifying the aging
Captain Kirk role to the hilt (minus the
gut) is Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith. His
fellow cast members, Gwen DeMarco
(Sigourney Weaver), Alexander Dane
(Alan Rickman), Fred Kwan (Tony
Shalhoub, best known as that wacky cab
driver on "Wings"), and Tommy Weber
(Daryl Mitchell) all loathe Nesmith for
his arrogance and scene-stealing.
They are also all, to some degree or
another, bitter for having been reduced to
mere stereotypes by their fans. Dane, a
stuffy British actor playing a Spock-like
character, is constantly hounded to say
his alien catchphrase, "By Grapthnar's
hammer!" Weaver is the crew's buxom
communications officer known better for
her cleavage . than anything else.
Shalhoub plays the chief engineer, and
Mitchell is the child star at the ship's
helm who's aged beyond his role.
Once we meet these has-beens, the
story begins to unfold as the Thermians,
a peace loving race of aliens, come to
Earth seeking the stars of "Galaxy


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