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December 08, 2000 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-12-08

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Southern Ragin'
(Check out Att icus Finch, the only
lawyer worth knowing, in the production
,t Harper Lee's "To Kill ;i Mockinlbird"
it he Power Center thru Dec. 10.
mic higandaily.com /arts

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DECEMBER 8, 2000


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Russell Crowe bombards entertainment world on DVD, silver screen
Crowe, Ryan play DVD gives extensix


cat and mouse

benma-me-scenes 1o
at a bloody favorite

_ -

game in
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
After his intense and provocative
turns in "L.A. Confidential" and "The
Insider," Russell Crowe's performance
in "Gladiator" made him a legitimate
box-office star. His latest role, that of
a special agent/negotiator called in to
rescue kidnapping victims, further
confirms the actor's position as a lead-
ing man and a powerful performer.
The film kicks off with Terry
Thorne (Crowe) making his latest save

Proof of
Grade: B-
At Showcase
and Quality 16

by the closest of
margins and
retreating home
to England. On
the other side of
the world, in
Tecala, anti-gov-
ernment terror-
ists capture Peter
Bowman (David
Morse) on his
way to work after
a fight with his
wife Alice (Meg
Ryan). Thorne is
soon called in to

and twists throughout its narrative.
Writer Tony Gilroy keeps the final
outcome at least somewhat in doubt
and draws us into the lives of the
characters to the point that we actual-
ly care what happens to them. The
story does however have somewhat of
a lag in its beginning stages and takes
a little longer than it should to get us
into the throes of the hostage situa-
The film also benefits from the
stellar performances turned in by its
two kad actors. Crowe is at the top of
his gamec, giving us a smart, cunning
warrior who must find a balance
between his feelings for Alice and his
duty of rescuing her husband. Ryan
displays remarkable range with the
part, considering her track record, and
for the first time in career portrays a
character who couldn't be dubbed as
spunky. She does however slip into
her poor me routine on a few occa-
sions, something that the film could
have done well without.
Unlike many of today's films, par-
ticularly those about the military,
"Proof of Life" feels like it has some-
thing new to teach us. The scenes
with Thorne negotiating on a radio for
the hostage are fascinating to watch
as we get to see the cat and mouse
game evolve and learn about the
entire hostage holding process (the
film's title refers to a sign of proof
that the hostage is still alive, a bar-
gaining chip in the dealings between
the two sides).
On the whole this is an exciting
action movie thanks in large part to a
knockout performance by Crowe,
who seems able to play just about any
part in a convincing manner. Over the
course of only a few films, he has
established himself as one of the top
stars and actors in the business and
there are no signs of his rise stopping
anvtime Soon.

Empire stretches
Africa and when
the power instead
Grade: A
New On DVD

By Andy Taylor-Fabe
Daily Arts Wr iter
From the first incredible and
bloody engagement on a frozen, bat-
tle worn German landscape to the
last and ultimate showdown in the
Coliseum, "Gladiator" is a winner.
This DVD is what all releases should
be, for in addition to the movie itself,
this 2-disc set features hours of
bonus material that makes the film
an essential part of any collection.
The film takes place in the Second
Century A.D., when the Roman

from England to
the Caesars have
of the Senate. The
c u r r e n t
E m p e r o r,
Marcus Aurelius
( R i c h a r d
Harris), along
with his most
trusted General,
M a x i m u s
(Russell Crowe)
are at the end of
a long and ardu-
ous war against

attempt to get Peter back and it does-
n't take lone before he develops eyes
,for Alice.
The relationship between Thorne
Wand Alice is by far the most interesting
aspect of the film although it doesn't
quite offer us the onscreen sparks that
we would expect given Ryan and
Crowe's much publicized relationship
off-screen. In many ways their bond is
similar to that of the two main charac-
ters in "Witness," one man fighting
like hell to help out a woman who he's
falling in love with. while at the same
time knowing in his heart that their
relationship is doomed.
Although "Proof of Life" stomps on
pretty familiar territory. the film man-
ages to work in quite a few surprises

C0,ey of we o r Ea-os.
(Above) Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan run from Dennis Quaid in "Proof of Life."
(Below) Crowe contemplates the disappearance of his accent.

the barbarians of Germania. As
Marcus grows closer to his death, he
confides in Maximus that he does
not want his son Commodus
(Joaquin Phoenix) to succeed him, as
he is "not a moral man." Although
Maximus is determined to return to
his simple farm life, Marcus insists
that Maximus serve as protector of
Rome (a la Cincinnatus) until the
corruption can be purged from the
empire and the Senate can be given
back its power, returning Rome to its
true self.
When Commodus hears of this
plan from his father, he takes it pret-
ty well. And by that I mean that he
kills Marcus, orders the execution of
Maximus and his family and begins
to plan his ascent to the throne.
After Maximus makes a daring
.escape in which he is wounded, he
wanders the land, finally reaching.
his home, where he finds that he is
too late to save his family. He is soon
kidnapped and sold as a slave to a
trader who runs small time gladiator
games in Morocco.
Known only as "Spaniard," he
begins the life of a gladiator. His
previous training as a general and his
innate skill make him an instant leg-
end, and when he realizes that he
may get to the Coliseum in Rome
and come face to face with
Commodus, he sets his mind on
revenge and plots his encounter with
the new Emperor.
Russell Crowe is really what
makes this movie. In a single scene,
he is able to be both ferocious and
soft. In a single moment, lie can look
as cold, hard and chiseled as the mar-

Counesy of Oreamworks
Crowe stars as Maximus in "Gladiator."
ble of the Coliseum and as plauful
and amused as a child. He is also
supported by an amazing cast.
Richard Harris plays the dy'
emperor with a constant but sub
look of painful remorse and sadness.
His high caliber performance in this
film is almost enough to make up for
the fact that he wrote the song
"Macarthur Park." Almost.
Joaquin Phoenix is extraordinary
as the creepy and disturbng
Commodus, and he gives the chara-
ter real depth. He is a frustrated,
immature and very confused man
who is evil (and he is definitely
because of real human flaws.
"Gladiator" is Ridley Scott's best
film since "Bladerunner," and he has
definitely done it justice with this
new DVD. The exceptional cine-
matography is complemented by
crisp colors and excellent picture
quality, and the sound is irniessive
as well. Every clink of a sword and
cheer of the crowd makes a d
The second disc of the fiim, which
contains all the bonus material, is
In addition to the deleted scenes,
trailers and production photos that
are fairly standard for DVD's, it con-
tains a behind the scenes "making
of" documentary that shows a lot of
interviews as well. There are hun-
dreds of storyboards of the battle
scenes, and in addition to all of this,
there is a one hour document@
about the history of the Gladiator
games in Rome.
Being the first major gladiator
movie since "Spartacus,"
"Gladiator" has giant shoes to fill.
But this film transcends the typical
battle/action movie thanks to its
magnificent director, cast, musical
score ... and that really cool scene
where Maximus has to fight V
tigers all around him.

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Crowe a 'Burning'
sensation down under

Dramatized by Christopher Sergel
Adapted from the novel by Harper Lee
Directedby Kathryn Long

By Christopher Cousin
Dailv Arts Writer
Before his striking breakthrough role
as detective Bud White in Curtis
Hanson's 1997 film "L.A. Confidential,"
the wise, worn face of Russell Crowe
appeared in a small, little known
Austrailian action thriller- a tiny gem
called "Heaven's Burning."
While this film, recently released on
DVD by Trimark, works as a standard



,r1 1


at 8pxT

Grade: B+
New on DVD

action film, direc-
tor Craig Lahiff
reworks the venre
in small ways,
blending cultures,
landscapes and

Coutesy of TThmark

she doesn't love, while he's fleeing the
wrath of the relatives of the robber that




I *

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