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February 20, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-02-20

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FEBRUARY 20, 2001



Down to Earth' might only
appeal to Rock's big fans

Stereotypical view
of homeless refuted


By Ma UWe aet
Daily !Arts Wrter
s Rock is at his best when he's performing
on age, which is probably the reason that the mak-
ersxf "Down to Earth" made his character, Lance, a
comedian. In fact, the writers of "Down to Earth"
(hock was one of many who updated 1978's
"Heaven Can Wait,") went to great lengths to put the
actor in situations where he
could showcase his wisecrack-
ing and comedic talents. The
role marks Rock's first shot at
Down To being the loading man in a
Earth movie and fqi the most part he
succeeds. "Dmwn to Earth" has
Grade: C its moments and that's more
At Showcase than can be said for the other
comedies cairrently playing in
theaters (yes that means you
"The Wedding Planner,"
>. \ "SavingSibverman" and "Head
Over Heelsr).
"Down t Earth" has hardly
started wln Lance gets run
*r by a truck --the result of his eyes moving from
the road to a beautiful girl, Suntee (Regina King).
Lance heads to Heaven where he's told by Keyes
(Eugene Levy) and Mr. King (Chazz Palminteri)
that they're not quite ready for'him.
Lance goes back to Earth aid takes over the body
of Charles Wellington, a weald1iy businessman who's
threatening to close down a public hospital that he
just purchased. And while Laince sees himself when
he looks in the mirror, everpjne else sees Lance as
weet Novem

Wellington, an overweight, balding whitetman.
Those behind the film use this discrepancy to fuir-
ther a few jokes - Rock singing along to Snoop
Dogg is funny, Rock singing along to Snoop Dogg
as a 53-year-old white man is priceless. The fact that
we see Lance more often than Lance in Wellington's
body is somewhat distracting and doesn't make
sense according to the logic that the characters pro-
vide us. After all, Lance is supposedly the only one
who can see his own body rather than Wellington's.
The move was done to keep the star of the movie
onscreen as much as possible, but it makes the spo-
radic moments where we actually see Wellington
somewhat jarring.
The majority of the movie consists of Lance get-
ting accustomed to living Wellington's life, which he
grows fond of right off the bat. Some of the best
scenes in the film come when Lance is in full fish-
out-of-water mode, exploring Wellington's house
and the different technological gadgets that he has in
it. Tle additional twist of Lance having to leave
Wellington, switch bodies again and the complica-
tions that arise doesn't really work and the story
would have been better served to concentrate solely
on the Wellington side of things.
Rock handles his part well and carries "Down to
Earth" both in story and humor. Much of the come-
dy here is either hit or miss, with Rock's fans being
much more likely to appreciate the film. Rock gets
little help from his supporting cast, with the one-two
punck of the uptight Levy and the not nearly as cool
as he thinks Palminteri killing any momentum that
the story has going for it whenever they appear
"Down to Earth" doesn't really have much to say

Singer's 'Dark Days

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
"I never wanted to be a filmmak-
er," "Dark Days" director Marc
Singer said. "I don't even think of
myself as a filmmaker right now. I
just made this film."
At the moment, the 27-year-old

courtesy of Paramount
Chris Rock is kinda curious as to why producers only
let him play a comedian and not anything else.
or offer viewers, outside of the occasional funny
scene. Its attempts to convey a deeper message
about the human spirit fall short and become some-
what ridiculous towards the end of the film. That
said, Rock's performance helps raise the picture
from mediocre to a somewhat successful comedy
that, if nothing else, should at least be good for a
few laughs. Rock would be well served to heed the
advice of a noted thespian and "keep rocking and
rolling and making better movies."

Londoner is "just
Directed by
Marc Singer
At the Michigan Theater
Through Wednesday at 9 m
Sundance Filmf

chillin' out," fol-
lowing a rousing
year with the
release of his
doe urm e n t a r v
"Dark Days," a
poignant look at
the lives of the
homeless who
live in an
Amtrack tunnel
near Penn
Station, under
New York City.
After drawing
much acclaim at
last year's
Festival (winner of

ber is

ll ofsweet nothing
By WIlbhtnina Maurltz
Dily Arts Wrter ___ __
'Sweet November"is «about as cliche a movie as you can get There are times when
its a little interesting ard enjoyable but for the most part "Sweet November" is filled
with sweet nothings wrapped up in a story we have all seen a million times before.
The film's characters were your typical one-dimensional characters that you only
see in the movies. First off you have Nelson Moss (Keanu
Reeves) the ad executive that does nothing else but work. He is
so into his job that he jumps out of bed in the morning after a
quick romp with his girlfriend chanting "Who's the best dog?
Sweet Um the best dog!" in hopes of coming up with a tagline for his
NOVember new client's hotdog business. Nelson is not a mean guy like
Grade: C- workaholics are often portrayed, he is Imply self-involved and
driven to succeed.
At showcase Then you have Sara Deever (Charie Theron) the mystery
and Quaty 16 girl who breaks into buildings to save helpless animals, walks
dogs for free because she enjoys it and is living a perfectly frol-
jcsome life with all the amenities (except a television, because
she turned it into a planter),yet she has no job.
Sara is very persuasive and always knows the perfect things
_ " to say, and yet at times I found myself wondering what exactly
was so moving about her. Perhaps Reeves says it best when
Sara explains to, him "You live in a box. I could lift the lid." He replies sarcastically
"Wow, that's deep." Indeed it is.
Sara and Nelson meet at the DMV where Nelson tries to cheat by asking Sara a
*estion on a dtriving test. She gets caught talking and is simply kicked out of the test-
ing room. Trying to seek a little revenge on Nelson, Sara lunts him down and harass-

Courtesy of Wamer Bros.

Keanu doing the love thang with Charlize Theron.

es him into driving her somewhere. At this point she proposes that they live together
for the month of November "no more, no less." Conveniently Nelson gets fired and
dumped by his girlfriend the very next day and suddenly has the whole month free.
Hmmm, was this meant to be? I think so.
Where "Sweet November" went way off track was not in the movie itself but, in its
choice of marketing. We are all supposed to go into this movie knowing nothing
about charismatic Sara except that she's a little kooky, quite gorgeous and wants to
help the workaholic Nelson by having him spend a month with her, no questions
asked. Of course anyone that has seen any of the commercials for this movie knows
that Sara is sick and dying so the surprise shocker towards the end of the movie is not
all that surprising. The only one that ends up clueless is poor Keanu.
Overall "Sweet November" is something that has been done before and, frankly,
done better. I have seen the "I love you and I'm dying" movie too many times and
except for the classic "Love Story" none have been too good. In fact most of them
have been downright wretched. I will have to give "Sweet November" snaps though
for being ten times better than this.

Cinematography, Freedom of
Expression and Audience Awards),
"Dark Days" makes a two-day stop
in Ann Arbor as part of a screening
tour across the country. The film,
which recounts the two years that
Singer spent living with the home-
less under the city, is an experience
not to be missed.
"The more time I'd been spending
on the street, the more I'd realized
that these people were nothing like
I'd thought they would be like. All
my ideas about homeless persons
were being shattered everyday,"
Singer said.
Yes, Singer spent two years of his
life underground, at the age of 21,
"by choice." "I had a lot of friends in
the street in my neighborhood,"
Singer said. "One of the guys I met
would talk about the tunnels and I
just got fascinated by that. So I start-
ed to explore."
His search led to the particular
tunnel near Penn Station where the
film is set. However, Singer entered
into the darkness with no plans what-
soever. "There was never any idea to
make the film when I started out,"
Singer said. "After about a month of
going into different tunnels, I found
this one tunnel. It just felt different.
I liked the people there and I started
hanging out there, making friends.
After about three months of being in
this tunnel, I'd made some really
good friends and didn't like seeing
them in the tunnels. I wanted to get
them out."
In searching for a solution to get
his friends out of the tunnels, the
idea for a film was born. "One
night," Singer said, "I was sort of sit-
ting around the fire, laughing about
something or other, and one of the
guys goes, 'Man, somebody should
be making a film about this shit.' So
I said, 'Well, why don't we do it?"'
So began the production of "Dark
Days." "What we figured is, we

could make the film, sell it and the
money would get them out," Singer
said. "At the same time, they would
have to be a full film crew. That way,
they'd be helping themselves."
The tunnel's inhabitants - includ-
ing Dee, Tommy, Julio, Tito, Ronnie,
Greg, Henry, Ralph and Clarence -
comprised the cast and crew of
"Dark Days," which Singer also pro-
duced and co-edited without any pro-
vious film experience. This led to
many trials and tribulations during
the two-year production. "We'd just
fuck up a lot. We made a lot of mis-
takes," Singer said.
What makes the 16 mm film such
a success lies in the attitude and'
minds of the characters. "Everyone I
met chose to fight," Singer said.
"They hadn't given up"
Making a film without any finar-.
cial backing, though, is not an easy
task. "Initially, I got a lot of credit
cards. You know, you can get loads of
credit cards in America really easi-
ly," Singer said. "So I did." He also
credits his two roommates for giving
much support, not to mention many
other contributors "-loads and
loads and loads of people.'
"I went to a camera shop
[Cinevision] and basically, they gave
me a camera for two years. Kodak
gave us film," Singer said. "I got
really, really lucky."
Singer took three years to edit the
film, which ultimately led to the
pairing of techno artist. DJ Shadow.
After he finished "Dark Days" and
screened it to close friends, "A
friend of a friend saw the film and
said, Who you gonna use for
music?' And I said, 'I don't know.
And he said, 'DJ Shadow."'
Shadow's hypnotic, ethereal score
lends a mesmerizing sound to the
stark black and white imagery and
vivid stories of "Dark Days.''
Whether the tunnel's inhabitants
will eventually move out of their life
underground remains to be seen.
"When you live that life for a long
time, your adrenaline is runnimg
quite high," Singer said. "Once yo
get out and everything's okay, that's
when everything crashes."
During the production of "Dark
Days," one of Singer's best friends
died from AIDS. "He had AIDS i
the tunnel and he was fine. He never
got sick or anything," Singer said
"He crashed at the point when he got
into an apartment. He died very
One of Singer's main hopes for the
film is that it shatters audiences!
stereotypes about homeless people
"Dark Days" shows them for who
they are - people that are "really
funny and have the same fears as you
and I," Singer said.
Singer, who is "trying to get his
life back on track," has no exaet
plans for what to do next, film or
otherwise. "I thought I'd just follow
my heart and whatever that tells mre
to do." Singer said. "I'm still wait

Combined musicians present emotional feel

ByMelIssa Golob
Daily Arts Writer
Once every year the School of Music
presents1 a combined concert featuring
the Uriversity Orchestra, Chamber
Choir and University Choir. This

Hil Auditorium
Wednesday at 8

Professor Jerry
Blackstone will
conduct this
dynamic and
inspiring program
at Hill
.Auditorium. This
is Professor
Blackstone's 13th
year at the
University and he
is the co-director
of choirs at the
School of Music.
The two choirs

life of the mining town of Butte,
Montana. Thi twenty-five minute piece
presents a "colorful and evocative" sen-
sory experience, according to Professor
Blackstone. The heavy use of percus-
sion featured throughout the song is
meant to represent the hard labored life
of the miners working in the dark
treacherous mines.
The symphony describes the history
of Butte from its humble beginnings as
a small mining town to an economic
superpower. Santos compares this town
to a young girl with an undiscovered tal-
ent. He says that Butte was discovered
and "a superstar was born who electri-
fied the wor.ld. But alas, natural talent is
not a bottomless incorruptible well, and
what happens when the voice is gone?
Butte did lose its voice and returned to
mediocrity All of this emotion is
embodied ih the piece."
The first movement, "Beauty,' sets up
the town's rough attractiveness. Since it
is not a beautiful town, the magnetism
comes frcm the inside search for wealth
and glory. As the search for their fortune
takes the miners underground, the sec-
ond movement begins. "Rumble" is the
most exhiarating portion of the piece
that symbolizes the beginning of the
colonization and mining of the town.
Moving into the third movement,

"Interlude (Whispers in the Dark)," the
choir softly whispers words from the
previous movements at varying speeds.
The University Orchestra will skillfully
reproduce blasting sounds with their
instruments to accompany the choir.
This segment brings together the earth
with the inhabitants of Butte into a clash
of wills. "Eruption (Bacchanal)" fol-
lows and presents an aural picture of
night life of Butte after the miners fin-
ished their work. This movement is the
most brutal and vicious within the sym-
phony. To conclude the work, Santos
provides a five-minute finale titled,
"Arrival." He says it is meant to "convey

a sense of resignation and acceptance"
of the past.
After intermission the groups will
perform "Dona Nobis Pacem," by R.
Vaughan Williams. The name literally
means, "give us peace." Blackstone
explains that this "was written as a
warning and plea for peace during
1936." The piece contains numerous
Walt Whitman poems and scripture
from the Bible. It is also meant to give
uplifting hope to a war torn country.
The two soloists, soprano Loren
Allardyce and baritone Tyler Oliphant
will provide inspiring and moving per-


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,performing have members ranging from
underclassmen to masters candidates.
he Chamber Choir consists of 55
embers while the University Choir has
These combined groups will perform
a symphony composed by composition
professor Erik Santos during the first
half of the concert. The work titled, "...
in the Mines of Desire," chronicles the

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