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January 08, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-01-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

.

*It's out there, man...
Check out University Dance Dept. music
director Steve Rush as be leads an avant-
garde jazz ensemble at The Firefly Club
tonight at 8 p.m. $5

IS'I'S

michigandaily.com /arts

MONDAY
JANUARY 8, 2001

5

MONDAY MOVIE MAYHEM

Tangled plot leaves
.'Pretty Horses'
stranded in the dust

'Count' finds intimacy
through simplicity

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
In "All the Pretty Horses," direc-
tor Billy Bob Thornton tried going
for a little of the legendary western
auteur John Ford. Sure enough, a

Al the Pretty
Horses
Grade: C
At Showcaze
and Quality 16
3a

Ford is what he
ended up with,
only this one
lacks an accel-
erator and a
drive shaft and
has rust holes
large enough for
a cattle train to
fit through.
Based on the
a c c I a i m e d
C o r m a c
McCarthy novel
of the same
name, "All the
Pretty Horses"

may be the biggest disappointment
4f the year.
Boasting a rich cast (Matt
Damon, Henry Thomas, Penelope
Cruz, Sam Shepard), a promising
filmmaker in Thornton and afresh
revision of a past genre (the west-
ern), "All the Pretty Horses" has all
the spurs and then some.
The problem with the film lies in
the absence of many horses, let
alone pretty ones, and a story for
that matter. After the first 20 min-
intes of the film, in which Thornton
Wads us pounding off on horseback
into the rugged, untamed wilder-
ness south of the border, we soon
discover we are on a wagon trail
leading abruptly into a long, dusty
canyon of nothingness.
Damon plays John Grady Cole, a
distant, on-the-verge-of-manhood
Texan who carries a gift for taming
orses. When his mother sells his
ildhood ranch, he rides off for a
new rough 'n tumble life in
Mexico, his best bud Lacey
Rawlins (Thomas) in tow. As the
pair pass through the Rio Grande,
they cross paths with a rebellious,
ragtag boy Blevins (marvelously
played by Lucas Black of
'Slingblade").
Here, visually is where Thornton
and director of photography Barry
Markowitz deserve any accolades
"All the Pretty Horses" contains
all the lush aspects of a western:
Blue skies, hanging cliffs, rushing
]ivers, dust, blown out lighting, etc.
$hots seem plucked right out of a
ford or a Howard Hawks film,
especially a memorable one of a

cattle herd in which the camera is
placed right amidst the moving cat-
tle (see Hawks' "Red River").
The use of grainy stock and blue
gels during moments with Blevins
creates an anxious intensity, which
lacks throughout much of the rest
of the film.
This could partially be attributed
to Damon's rather wooden perfor-
mance of Cole, the same part of the
quiet, intense, understated rebel
that he has played since his role of
Will Hunting. Damon gets less and
less exciting and more mundane
each time he appears on screen.
-Cruz does not lend much of a
hand either, yet she noticeably
doesn't have much of a part to
begin with as the film's running
time was edited down from a three
hour cut to just under two.
The editing of "All the Pretty
Horses" is so choppy that the film
never lets us become fully invested
in any of its storylines and I'm not
sure if it even makes complete
sense.
Once the boys arrive in the heart-
land of Mexico and Blevins tries to
steal his horse back from a man
who found the steed after it ran off
in a rainstorm, the film slowly
starts to fall apart. Cole and
Rawlins become ranch hands for a
wealthy landowner where they
break in wild mustangs (the only
time in the entire film where we see
Cole actually "connect" with hors-
es).
The owner's daughter, Alejandra
(Cruz), spies Cole and the two
quickly become enraptured with
each other. A year of love scenes
and bitterness from both the father
and Rawlins passes by in mere sec-
onds in a montage of images over
Marty Stuart's twangy score.
Eventually, Blevins' horse steal-
ing affair comes back to haunt Cole
and Rawlins as the Mexican police
drag them back to the town where it
occurred and throw them in jail.
Where is this all going? And where
are the pretty horses?
"All the Pretty Horses" could
have been a sweeping film, a new
revisionist western along the lines
of say 1992's "The Unforgiven."
Instead, it's a tangled lasso, all
twisted and knotted. "All the Pretty
Horses" comes stocked for the trail
with love, friendship, honor and
death (all the qualities of a west-
ern), but the darn film just doesn't
know which one it's about. And
unfortunately, neither do 1.

By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writr
Kenneth Lonergan's "You Can
Count on Me" is a breath of fresh air.
There are no explosions, car chases,
asteroids or astonishing beards. It is a
simple no frills film about the adult
relationship between a brother and sis-
ter who still struggle with the reper-

Jj
You Can
Count on Me
Grade: B+
At State
'/ '.,

cussions of a car
accident that
killed their par-
ents many years
ago. Sammy
(Laura Linney) is
the rock of the
pair, still living in
her parents'
house and doing
her best to protect
her young son,
Rudy (Rory
Culkin), from the
pain of her past
and the harsh

realities of the outside world. Terry
(Mark Ruffalo) has floundered around
from the majority of his life - he's
spent time in jail and worked a variety
of odd jobs around the country.
The story begins when Terry returns
home for a quick visit with Sammy,
which soon becomes an extended stay.
Terry cramps his sister's style, does
whatever he pleases and openly dis-
agrees with her parenting of Rudy.
And, much to Sammy's chagrin, Terry
becomes more and more of a hero to
Rudy everyday.
Despite this, Sammy loves Terry to
death and is willing to forgive almost
anything he does just so that he'll
spend more time with them.
The other prominent male in
Sammy's life is Brian Everett
(Matthew Broderick), her new boss at
work. Brian rubs Sammy the wrong
way from the moment they meet - the
chafing comes from his uptight
demeanor and desire to micromanage

every last detail at the office.
Lonergan has 'placed Sammy
between two very different men, one
she attempts to mother and another
who treats her little more than a child
working under him. One who seems to
come off as if he couldn't care less
about anything, and the other who crit-
icizes his employees for the color
palettes that they chose for the screens
on their desktop computers. Sammy's
relationships with the two drives the
story and along the way she makes
choices which seem to surprise her-
self, other characters and best of all,
us.
"You Can Count on Me" has a very
intimate feel to it, and much of this
comes from the stellar performances
turned in by the cast. Every single per-
formance is on the mark with Linney
leading the way in a role that has
drawn well-deserved raves.
However, the real revelation here is
Mark Ruffalo, who seemingly came
out ofnowhere (he had done unnoticed
work in films before) to steal the show
with his brooding portrayal of Terry.
Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan also
appears in a small role as a priest that
Sammy brings in to counsel Terry.
One of the strengths of the film is
how much it makes us care about its
characters. When Terry starts to make
decisions that hurt his relationship
with Sammy, we wish there was some-
thing we could do to help steer him
back in the right direction, but we are
helpless and frustrated to watch him to
revert to his old ways.
Lonergan also doesn't sell the story
short by having the characters make
dramatic changes in the end. The plot
works so well because it's about char-
acters who can't change or don't even
want to and how despite this, they can
still come to terms with each other.
By going for something simple,
"You Can Count on Me" achieves
something universal, which all should
be able to relate to in some way.

courtesy of Miramax flims
ABOVE: Damon and Cruz fall in love across the border in "All the Pretty Horses."
BELOW: Henry Thomas looks back on his "E.T." days.

Courtesy of Paramount
Terry (Mark Ruffalo) becomes a father figure for nephew Rudy (Rory Culkin).

Jude, where's my horrible
movie? It's right here, dude

r

By Andy TaylorFabe
Daly: Arts Writer

There's nothing wrong with dumb farces about common-
sense-deficient, thoroughly confused stoners trying in vain to
make sense of their lives. However, even when one is open and
cepting of the absurd, there has to be some originality and
mor backing up the, well, stupidity. Unfortunately, "Dude
Where's My Car?" fails to deliver anything satisfying.
The trouble begins when Jesse (Ashton Kitcher) and
Chester (Seann William Scott) wake tip one morning to find
that they have no idea what they did the night before. When
they step outside, they also realize that'they have somehow lost
Jesse's car. As they try to retrace their steps, they discover that
they have trashed their girlfriends' house, stolen 5200.000 from

from a high school talent show than a movie.
Okay, there are a few scenes that are memorable. There's a
flashback/fantasy scene of Jesse and Chester dressed in Run
DMC type clothes (complete with gold chains) at a pool party
that's funny if only for its absurdity. Other than this scene and
a bizarre but funny cameo by Andy Dick on an ostrich farm,
things are pretty bleak.
The main problem with the film is that it seems as if the
filmmakers could never decide who the movie is meant for.
The slapstick antics were definitely aimed at ten year old boys
(who were actually the only other people in the theater besides
me, and they were laughing their Pokemon-watching asses
off). The film also seems like it would go in a Cheech and
Chong direction in terms of drug discussions and use, but
because it was squeezed into a PG-13 rating, the only individ-
ual in the movie that partakes is a happy but unmotivated dog.
The ironic thing about the film is that you eventually begin
to identify with the hopelessly confused protagonists. How,
you ask? Due to all of the unbelievably strange "plot" twists
and the ridiculous dialogue, "Dude Where's My Car?" leaves
you with one resounding thought: Huh?

DID YOU

IN I

IT?

r 6
Dude, Where's
My Car?
Grade: D-
At Quality 16

a transsexual stripper, leased a new
Mercedes, and somehow managed to
make contact with two groups of aliens
and a bubble wrap wearing, barn
dwelling cult. And these are the most
logical parts of the film.
The plot runs like that of a porno
movie, but this fact alone isn't what
dooms the movie, because there are

I

AM

tiri x n4 f fines fh Tr~ntr',

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