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December 10, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 10, 1999 - 9

By Aaron Rich
tDaily Arts Editor
It is a clever trick of
writer/director/actor Don McKellar to
trick us into thinking that "Last Night" is
a somber film by having his first scene
lok so funeral, because, in the end, his
film is one of the
most up-beat
apocalypse films
ever created (that's
Last Night oxymoronic).
But this film
is anything
At the other than what
Michigan Theater we might
expect. As the
film opens, we
find ourselves
six hours away
from the end of
the world. This
is not a violent,
hellfire-and-brimstone kind of
finale. In fact we are never told how
r why exactly it is happening -
ust simply that everybody knows
he end is nigh and they all have had

Continued from Page 8
killed those little girls, and it's pretty obvi-
ous who did. Therefore the sense of poten-
tial danger that Coffey is supposed to
emanate is lacking. At the same time, this
criticism is balanced by the fact that you
can believe the guards can feel Coffey
killed the girls.
This ties into the biggest flaw in "The
Green Mile,"its occasional heavy-handed-
ness. Darabont is both a skilled writer and
director, but tries way too hard to make his
point at times. It is as if he is desperate for
us to realize Coffey's power and humanity,
which is easy to get right off the bat.
Darabont's portrayal of Coffey also
seems a little dishonest. We're dealing with
the Depression-era South, and race is hard-
ly ever a factor. History tells us that Coffey
would be treated more aggressively by all
white Southern guards, but he receives an
extraordinary amount of respect.

being a truly great film by its present day
framing device. Hanks should have told
Darabont that it didn't work with "Saving
Private Ryan" and it's not going to work
here. Unfortunately there is an important
nugget of the story at the end, which
Darabont should have found some better
way to incorporate.
All of this aside, however, "The Green
Mile"is still a gem ofa film. Hanks portrays
a character we've seen him do many a time,
but there is, punning aside, an edge to
Edgecomb. He is not the saintly characters
that Hanks has portrayed in "Forrest
Gump," "Apollo 13" and "Saving Private
Ryan'" Hanks is good in the role, but his
Southem accent slips quite often, and so
does his performance. When Hanks is
adding depth to the character he is fine, but
when he is handling the mundane stuff his
performance is as hit and miss as his accent.

The supporting cast led by Duncan,
though, is for the most part flawless, with
the notable exception of James Cromwell
(as Warden Hal Moores) who has to carry
the most ill-conceived subplot. Standing
out from the pack are David More (as
guard "Brutal" Howell), Bonnie Hunt (as
Paul's wifeJan), Hutchinson, Barry Pepper
(as guard Dean Stanton) and Jeffrey
DeMunn (as guard Harry Terwilliger).
Butthe real story is Duncan. Though he'
had small roles in big movies
("Armageddon," "Bulworth"), he has never
really had the chance to prove himself as an
actor, and here he has The only real ques-
tion is whether or not Duncan will win the
Oscar he'll surly be nominated for.
After a five year break from directing,
it's good to see Darabont again. While
"The Green Mile" is no "Shawshank
Redemption," how many movies are?

Don McKellar and Sandra Oh make fireworks before the end of the world.

time to prepare for it.
Each in his or her own way gets
ready for the end by doing his or her
own special preparations. One man
decides to fulfill each and every sex-
ual desire he has ever had. Another
couple decide that they do not want
the powers that be to take their lives,
so they end it themselves just before
the big one comes.
McKellar is a Canadian and proud of
it. This might seem unimportant, but
there is something in "Last Night" that
is definitely not American. Perhaps its
a bit of what can only be called
"Toronto camp," which makes us feel
both sheltered by the quaint environ-
ment but definitely still in a metropo-
lis. Perhaps it's just that McKellar casts
the best and brightest in Canadian cin-
ematic talent, Sarah Polley, Sandra Oh
and David Cronenberg.


McKellar, whose career until this
point includes several stellar writing


.r i ww n ws wano win s ®.ww.ww e

Continued from Page 8
cast with his water bottle. The
rehearsal read through the prologue,
featuring the famous thunderstorm,
and underwent a metamorphosis as
the laser light show began, allowing
the crew to roll out the astonishingly
listic set of a rocky beach.
P rof. Rob Murphy's fantastic light-
ing and set designs placed special
emphasis on the supernatural aspects
of Shakespeare's story. In combina-
tjon with whirling blue and red spot-
lights, green lasers brought treacher-
dus thunderstorms to life. Black
lights and strobe lights heightened the
impact of the sound effects used to
tunctuate magical spells as well as
t nderstorms.
he sprite Ariel, played by sopho-
more Margaret Smith, benefits the
most from these sequences. As the

androgynous sprite berates its mas-
ter's enemies, wearing pointed gauze
wings, the scene's intensity increased
to a breaking point due to the red
strobe lights and screeching sound
The show also incorporates other
art forms, including modern dance
and chorale singing by the three god-
desses, which didn't match the level
of excellence found in the acting.
Prof. Peter Sparling choreographed a
strong sequence for the three spirit
dancers portraying Prospero, Miranda
and Ferdinand, but the resulting per-
formance lacked unity between the
performers, though each danced well.
Prof. Joan Morris, Kerrytown
Concert House founder and local res-
ident Deanna Relyea and senior Dara
Seitzman sang together as the three
goddesses but here, too, the final
product lacked cohesion. Each sang
in a different style, with Seitzman dis-

credits ("Thirty-two Short Films Darabont's play on the idea of prejudice
About Glenn Gould" and "The Red against blacks by making an African
Violin") and a few film shorts, proves American a miracle is a wonderful idea.
himself a formidable budding talent. He just should have developed it more.
His idea is crisp and new - not to "TheGreenMile"isalsohinderedffrom
mention especially wry and simple.
His aesthetic touch is evident in all
shots as a mix of 1970s kitsch with
ultra-mod Canadian cosmopolitan. * * * * U U U
Everything has a certain vacant quali- * * * U U U
ty, but in the middle of a bustling city.
The acting, even in the "small" roles U
is tight. Sarah Polley, as usual, is end-
lessly convincing, and Cronenberg adds
that strange, foreboding touch that
"Last Night" is one of the best films
of the year, but in the end, that does not
matter much, as none of us will be here PRINTING
soon to talk about it. PRINTING *
playing, by far, the most talent. * FASTESTSERVICE!
In spite of this, "The Tempest" * 1002 PONTIAC TR. U
finds an overall unity in the profes- 994-1367
sional quality of the performance.
Kerr's brilliant interpretation of "The U U U U U
Tempest" transformed a simple the- U U U U m
ater and cast of actors into a magical
world isolated from reality in just the
way Shakespeare would have wished
for his last great work,
Pike Anne Pennwrig
Spokescritic" Casting Couch E
grade y
UofM lssors

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