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November 12, 1999 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-12

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See Dick sing.da Monday in Daily Arts:
The Dicks and Janes perform in their first fall concert. Thee Check out a review of this weekend's Melissa Etheridge
a cappella group sings at Rackham Auditorium tonight at 8. concert at Hill Auditorium.
2 Friday
November 12, 1999

shows '

Besson's glorious
'Messenger' saves
Joan from Hell

By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Film Editor
Put aside all of the controversy sur-
rounding "Dogma," with the Catholic
League threatening that the world will
come to an end if people see this film.
Put aside your love of writer/director
Kevin Smith's college classics "Clerks"
and "Chasing Amy." Put all of this aside
and see "Dogma" for what it is: An
overwritten, poorly directed piece of
Starting with a mocking disclaimer,
"Dogma" tells audiences that the film is
a "comic fantasy," not a religious satire.
The disclaimer is the funniest and
smartest part of the movie, poking fun
at the fact that the
filmmakers even
had to attach a
disclaimer to the
film, a la "The
Dogma Last Temptation
of Christ." It's all
down hill after the
At the State,5Showcase d i s c I a i me r,
Quality 16 though.
Smith has bitten
off more than he
can chew in trv-
ing to tell a comic
Christian fable
about two fallen angels, Loki (Matt
Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck),
attempting re-entry into heaven. It
seems that a Cardinal (a very off
George Carlin) in New Jersey (it is a
Kevin Smith film, you know) has
opened up a loop hole in his attempt to
modernize Catholicism. Via an anony-
mous tip, Loki and Bartleby learn of

Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith star as the prophets Jay and Silent Bob in Smith's "Dogma."

this opportunity and set out to escape
their exile in Wisconsin and get into
Heaven via the Garden State.
God dispatches the 13th and
unknown apostle Rufus (Chris Rock)
and Metatron, the voice of God (Alan
Rickman). They have to convince abor-
tion doctor and lapsed Catholic
Bethany (a horrid Linda Fiorentino) to
hook up with two prophets, Jay and
Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Smith,
respectively), and stop Loki and
Bartleby. It seems that if they enter
Heaven they will contravene God's
orders and that will cause the end of the
world, which seems infinitely better
than ever sitting through this movie
Smith is so over the top, as if he's try-
ing to one up his other movies, that lse
loses sight of the story he's trying to
tell. At it's heart, "Dogma" has the mak-
ings of a very interesting movie. Smith
examines his faith, the Catholic Church
and God from a uniquely humorous
position, but fails at telling the story
because he forces it along. "Dogma" is
held back by inane dialogue and situa-
tions, something Smith has proved he
can handle in "Clerks" and "Chasing
Amy." He resorts, though, to the lower

than low brow humor that drove and
ultimately destroyed "Mallrats"
This is out of place in "Dogma:" and
Smith does better when he restrains
himself. It's here that the clever dia-
logue that Smith is known for shines
through, whether it be Jay and Silent
Bob arguing over John Hughes movies
or Rufus telling Jay that he masturbates
more than anyone else on the planet.
These moments get overshadowed by
the times when Smith introduces a shit
monster or when he has Metatron
appear in flames only to have Bethany
spray him with a fire extinguisher.
All of the problems with Smith's
script pale in comparison to his inepti-
tude behind the camera. Never known
as a visual director, Smith tries too
many tricks that end up making the film
hard to watch. You'll spend nore time
trying to figure out what you're looking
at than following Smith's story telling.
Smith is no good when he tries to get
fancy and fares much better when he
puts the camera down and lets the
action unfold before it.
Smith behind the camera is equally
as painful as Smith in front of it. In his
first three films Smith used Jay and
Silent Bob effectively in cameo appear-

ances. They are suited better to one or
two scenes, but in "Dogma," they have
more screen time than any other charac-
ters. Though it might be fun when the
pair enters the film, by the time they've
been on screen for a half an hour they
get tiresome. By having Silent Bob on
screen for so long it's hard to keep him
quiet and the humor of the character is
Smith is not the only actor who does-
n't live up to expectations, though. With
the exception of Rickman the cast is
uniformly bad, particularly Selma
Havek as Serendipity the muse.
Normally reliable actors like Fiorentino,
Jason Lee (as the demon Azrael) and
Affleck really stink up the screen. For a
movie that seems so near Smith's heart,
you'd expect more than phoned in per-
formances from the ensemble.
Despite all of the heart that Smith
pours into "Dogma," he should have
spent more time pouring over the script
and maybe more time considering turn-
ing over the script to a better director.
So much goes wrong here that you'll
wonder if Smith will have the inverse
problem of the "Star Trek" film series,
which has the curse of the odds, and
have the curse of the evens.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Writer
Massacres become the French; they
are their heritage and blood-sport. It
certainly didn't start with Joan of Arc,
and it certainly didn't end with
Napolean or the Bastille.
But is another telling of the Joan of
Arc story really necessary.
Director Luc Besson returns to is
French roots with this, possibly, the
most Romantic and influential tale of
all French mythology. In "The
Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc,"
the French characters speak perfect
20th Century English with outrageous
French accents. Unfortunately, "The
Messenger" wasn't filmed in French
with French-speaking actors, which, of
course, wouldn't have been profitable,
but would've been artistic, given
American cinematic standards.
In terms of realism, "The Messenger"
is undecided. At some moments, the
perfectly assembled costumes and real-
istic scene design
make one believe
this is a costume
The Messenger: drama of the
The Story of Joan highest artistic
of A merit, but an audi-
ence is reminded
* * of 20th Century
At 5'aawood, showcase reality every time
and wa y is it hears the unnec-
essary curse of
the fornicative
variety, that which
rhymes with
" i u c k ."
Andrew Birkin, who worked with
Besson, gives the Britons most of the
cursing duties, and while it's humorous
and entertaining to hear people swear in
British accents, the use of modem slang
in a Medieval setting is irksome. The
grooves St.
forays into the harmonica world during
"Doublewide" to Moore's spiffy new
drum kit and loop sampler.
A spirited run-through of "Baker's
Dozen" with guest sousaphonist Kirk
Joseph from opening act Anders
Osbourne's band proved to be an early
The hard soul of "Thrill" brought
vocalist Theryl "The Houseman" de
Clouet to the stage for the first time,
much to the delight of the crowd.
Looking very Dolemite-esque in a
bright red suit, de Clouet provided a
spark to the band's largely subdued
vibe with a solid rendition of "Action."
When the grizzled yet lovable singer
left the stage after the new crowd
pleaser "Villified," though, the band
finally began cooking in its trademark
sizzling acid-funk style. A jazz-tinged
"My Little Humidor" kept building
and building until it burst into an out-
right rocker that would have made Joe
Strummer pump his fist in adulation.
The band kept expanding upon this
newfound energy over the next four
songs, including a rousing version
"Black-Eyed Pea," When the

entomology of "the word" goes back fqr
centuries, but its use here is contrived
and out of place.
"The Messenger" is a gruesome tale
that examines the religious influence on
"Jean," including the voices she heats
in her head. At times, the God dreams
are often surreal and fantastical, but tie
well with the story. Visions of Jesus cull
a viewer's belief to support Jean's cla'
to divine commandments, she being
messenger sent by God.
Milla Jovovich, as Jean, is perfect.
There could be no better actress des-
tined to play her, on screen or stage.
Her determined righteousness is inspi-
rational and will secure her a place in
Hollywood's hall of triumph. In scenes
of depravity and glor, she shines aboye
the rest of the somewhat mediocre sup-
porting cast.
In an ambiguous role, Dus
Hoffman combines grave omnipotence
with serious acting, a commanding tsk
with which he succeeds. His ro js
small, but he is a perfect choice to p-
form the dark, daunting tasks of a spir-
itual being.
Faye Dunaway, as Yolamide
D'Aragon, serves up another mother
role in this, her second Joan film. As
mother-it-law to King Charles VII, she
steals most of her scenes away fr
Malkovich. While Dunaway is no Joan
Crawford, the demands for this role are
more compassionate than those of
"Mommie Dearest:' Fortunately, wire
hangers weren't invented for another
few hundred years.
Amid the great acting and realistic
portrayals of 15th Century French mili-
tia, "The Messenger" suffers from one
large flaw, that being the impossible
script, carelessly crafted by Bresson
Birkin. While the two are no Gee's
Bernard Shaw, "The Messenger"' wll
never compare to "Saint Joan"
Houseman returned to the stage for ie
oft-performed yet always fun
"Something's Wrong With Tp
Picture," the crowd inside St. Andrews
was jumping. -
The band closed its long singlet
with a surprisingly jammed-out-vmt-
sion of "Love on the Run" that fe-
tured de Clouet dancing arod
onstage to the ridiculously syncoa-
ed beats of Moore. The final en #e
of "Two Clowns" offered up an e*,
avant garde noise jam that perfehy
climaxed into a bouncing secondTi
groove that simply reeked of h
Orleans' proud funk tradition - a
heritage in which Galactic is quic.k}!y
making a larger and larger nicheAor
Fellow Big Easy native Osboune
opened up the show with a 40 migte
set of slide guitar-driven Southern
boogie blues. Backed by the bs-
heavy, driving rhythm section ;of
Joseph on sousaphone and K
O'Day on drums, Osbourne dem
strated the unique ability to play sr-
ing guitar licks in a gritty manner et
with great attention to melody. J

Funk band 'Galactic'

Awake at 4 a.m.?
See the news before
anyone else!

By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Writer
Galactic knows how to groove, and
for nearly two steamy hours at St.
Andrew's on Wednesday night, groove
they did.
After packing
the Blind Pig on
iV several different
occasions over
Galactic the last year, the
New Orleans-
St. Andrew's Hall based funk band
Nov. 55, 1999 moved up a notch
in the food chain
of live music
venues. And with
good reason, too,
as the band's
quickly rising
popularity drew a

crowd of more than 400.
The band - drummer Stanton
Moore, bassist Rob Mercurio, key-
boardist Rich Vogel, guitarist Jeff
Raines and saxophonist Ben Ellman
- eased into its 17 song set in some-
what of a tentative manner, feeling out
the crowd, with a number of songs
from their yet untitled upcoming
album on Capricorn Records, which is
slated for a springtime release.
Throughout the night, these newer
grooves were more hard-edged than
earlier songs, making it apparent that
the band is continuously evolving its
sound into fresher. more distinct
realms of the funk.
Older tunes like "Go Go" featured
slightly reworked arrangements, and
the musicians themselves had some
new tricks to show off, from Ellman's

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A Journey in Dance: India to Spain
Sunday, November 14, 1:30 PM r. Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor
Classical & Folk Indian Dance Troupe
$15 general admission
$10 student
Maria del Carmen
Grupo Espana
Flamenco Dance Troupe and Musicians
Hijazi & Bering, ArAic Classical Music
Tickets at the door or Michigan Union Ticket Office and all TicketMaster outlets. Call 734 763-TKTS or 248 645-6666

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