A RTS The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 2, 2000-9A
Ti te trio: Driver, Field and Pepsi rl less an 'Beautiful'
By Wilhelmina Mauritz
For The Daily
What exactly is beautiful? This is the
question that "Beautiful" tries and fails
to answer. The movie revolves around
Mona Hibbard (Minnie Driver) who
has only one goal in life and that is to
win the Miss
Beautiful Miss America).
As a young girl,
Grade: C- Mona's world is
At Showcase solely focused on
and Quality 16 the next beauty
room is adorned.
with hundreds of
pictures of girls
in beauty con-
tests and even
her mirror has
inspirational quotes around it, saying
things like "you can do it" and "hang in
Mona comes from a broken home.
Her mother is an alcoholic and in place
of her real father is her mother's live-in
boyfriend (possibly husband we don't
ever know) who is a fat slob that is
more interested in spending his nights
in Mona's bed than her mother's. Not
surprisingly, Mona is a very unhappy
girl. She only has one friend, Ruby
(played by Joey Lauren Adams from
"Chasing Amy"), who is basically a
saint disguised as a human. She states
right oft to Mona that "whatever I got,
it's yours" and follows through with
that promise to the end.
Ruby is basically the mother that
Mona never had. She stands by her no
matter what happens and always' goes
above and beyond the call of duty. Early
on in the movie, Mona finds herself
pregnant and distressed since she
knows that she can't continue on with
her beauty pageants due to the fact that
contestants are not allowed to have chil-
dren. What does Ruby do? Well of
course she takes the child and raises lit-
tle Vanessa (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) as
if she were her own. Now you're won-
dering who would actually do this? So
was I. As is the case with many things
in this movie, it's all for the conve-
nience of the plot.
"Beautiful" seems to have one con-
trived incident after another that just
ends up being so blatafitly ridiculous
that you, as an audience member, feel
as though you're being pushed through
the movie's plot with one choppy scene
after another, instead of watching a
solid flow of action.
There is a total lack of connection
between any of the movie's characters
- this is mainly due to the fact that the
star of the film is very unlikable. She
uses everyone around her and finds the
value in peopre only in how much she
can get out of them. Basically you find
rises to the
yourself not really caring what happens
to her. Minnie Driver does a wonderful
job playing Mona and it is unfortunate
that the awful premise and story line of
"Beautiful" overshadow her terrific act-
A slight saving grace for this movie
is the young actress Hallie Kate Eisen-
berg who plays Vanessa, Mona's little
girl. You might recognize her from
those annoying Pepsi commercials but
don't hold those against her. Although
extremely irritating in the commercials,
she is surprisingly great in this Movie.
She was the most real thing about this
movie and by far the most percdptive
character in "Beautiful"
The main problem with thismovie
is that it tries too hard to seem so
deep and meaningful and like any
beauty pageant on the surface every-
thing appears great and surprisingly
flawless, but the deeper you logk into
the heart of the film, the more you
find that there's nothing there. It
lacks so much follow-through that in
the end, you really find yourself won-
dering what the movie was even
about. Is it trying to make some deep
meaningful commentary on the reali-
ties of true, inner-beauty ? Is -it trying
to make a statement about single-
mothers? Is it trying to reveal all the
deceptiveness and absurdity that sur-
rounds beauty pageants (shocking
though it may be)? Who knows
this movie certainly doesn't.
Courtesy of Destination Filrms
Hold me closer, Minnie Driver: The baby won't be the only one crying after viewing the schlockfest that is Sally Field's 'Beautiful.'
SNBC g-oes for the
By Lisa Rajt
For The Daily
The phoenix: A bird that, after a long and magnificent life,
impales itself upon a pyre and burns. The phoenix then rises
By Melissa Gollob
For The Daily
From the creator of "Law & Order"
comes a new smash hit about a Pulitzer
Prize winning journalist who goes
beyond his duties to investigate and
uncover the truth.
Tonight at 9 pim.
Like its predecessor,
from the head-
lines." It is a
into the world of
n e w s p a p e r
about New York
who writes about
mitted the horrendous crime in order to
alleviate his own conscious.
When he's not yelling at the copy boy
(better known as the "news coordina-
tor") getting wired from all the coffee
(or whiskey) he drinks or begging his
teaching assistant Beth (Christina
Chang) to give him a ride, Benton is
out trying to find the answers he wants.
He utilizes his journalism class that acts
more like his research assistants.
This ethnically diverse group
sheds new light on several topics.
especially race, and is used inter-
changeably as sidekicks to Benton.
lie also uses them for experiments in
re-creating the scene of the crime.
They detect flaws in testimony and
eyewitness accounts which fuel Ben-
ton's doubt. The show tries to convey
both sides of the episode's main
point so that we can think and create
our own opinions about the crime.
Oliver Platt is clever and witty in
his portrayal of the investigative
journalist. His dry humor lightens up
the serious drama and adds personal-
ity to the arrogant character. Bebe
Neuwirth ("Cheers") stars as Ben-
ton's hard-nosed editor.
Her acting abilities shine as she
shows she's more than just a support-
ing actress. She and Platt connect
with onscreen chemistry and their
repartee makes the writing come
alive. Other well-known celebrities
that work on the newspaper staff
include Lili Taylor ("The Haunting")
from the ashes to begin anew. For this
reason, the fiery bird is used to repre-
sent immortality, hope and rebirth.
Such is the theme of J.D. Dolan's
moving first novel. "Phoenix: A Broth-
er's Life." As the title implies, the life
of Dolan's brother John parallels that of
the phoenix, representing hope and new
beginnings. This story is about many
themes: Family relationships, dealings
with death and the circularity of life. It
is written with grace, honesty and pas-
The story. which is a memoir, begins
with Dolan as a young boy and gradu-
ally unfolds from there. Dolan moves
resembles that of a journal. Always honest and heartfelt and
never pretentious or overly literary, this book is a joy to read.
The story begins with a sense of impending doom on the
part of Dolan, who as a child idolizes his seemingly blessed
older brother, John. This sense of doom, as well as th' fcel-
ings of love that Dolan had for his brother, drives the story. To
illustrate, Dolan writes in the opening pages, "My brother was
lucky. And I knew that soon, very soon, his number would
come up." Indeed it does and the tragically short life John
lived is where the allusion to the phoenix initially comes
As one reads the book, one is taken through some dcfining.
moments in Dolan's life, many of which include his beloved
older brother. From just hanging out in their neighborhood to
motorcycle racing in the desert, the brothers form a bond that
unfortunately breaks with apparently little provocation "lien
they become adults. The reader is also made privy toiche
events that break up the bond and cement the lack of comtimu-
nication that will define the relationship in the last years of
Dolan's older brother John is a "phoenix," figuratively speak-
ing. John leads a short life. punctuated by pain and sorrowle
is a quiet. angry man. Coincidentally. Phoenix is also the
See PHOENIX, Page 10A
crimes all over Manhattan.
His column's name, "Nothing But
The Truth," signifies his unending
journey to find out what really hap-
pened. In the first episode, Benton
becomes weary about the stance he
took on his Pulitzer Prize winning
story concerning a fast food shooting
After a much-publicized public out-
cry, Benton is now confronted with a
possible copycat murder. He must dis-
cover whether or not the two men he
helped put on death row actually com-
Cou esy ofNC
Actor Oliver Platt is on 'Deadline.'
as the resident gossip columnist and
Hope Davis ("'Mumford') as Platt's
"bitchy" estranged wife and fellow
Separatin, )"Deadline' frum other
network dramas is the shrewd use of
the camera, w\\hich allows us to read
the newspaper headlines first hand
and places us in the direct action of
the story. Pan shots and quotes pop-
ping out of the newspaper at us,
helps the show continue to move
without the plot being forced upon
us.The innovative flashbulbs that
begin most scenes are a nice touch of
detail to the show and makes transi-
tions smooth and coherent.
"Deadline" is definitely a must-
see show for NBC. It has star quality
that makes each episode appear more
like a mini-movie rather than a
The humor balances well with the
conflict each week to make the
show one of the new seasons best,
and that's nothing but the truth.
back and forth in time to tell his story in a way that is fi-ag-
mented yet complete: the reader gains bits and Pieces of the
story as he goes along, and the nowel is written in a style that
-D" n't Pa "11C lo q
ou think you're pregnant...
cal us-e listen, we care.
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