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April 03, 2001 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-04-03

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Grand poetry slam...
The competition begins tonight
for the 2001 Grand Slam
champ. The Heidelberg Club.
215 N. Main. 8 pm.
michigandaily. com/arts

e Uclt u n Eau

APRIL 3, 2001



High-profile director
keeps indie roots

'Spy' a welcome return
to kiddie adventure

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Writer

By Christopher Cousino
Daily Arts Writer
"I keep adding jobs," laughed director
Robert Rodriguez with the dubious gig-
gle of an 8-year-old. "See they even for-
get what I do."
He's talking about the omission in the
press release of his credit as editor of
"Spy Kids," his latest action packed
adventure aimed at children. Rodriguez
also wrote, directed, shot and produced
the film. "I'm also the effects supervisor
and the sound mixer," Rodriguez said.
Without a hint of arrogance or Holly-
wood egotism, the shaggy haired
Rodriguez is still the same curious,
enthusiastic filmmaker he described in
"Rebel Without a Crew," an autobio-
graphical journal about the making of
his $7,000 Sundance-winning action
film "El M4riachi." The difference now
is that he knows a whole lot more about
making films - and he's unabashedly
willing to take chances to learn more.
"Usually when you do an effects
:movie, the first person you hire is the
effects supervisor. These are the guys
who help figure out how you're gonna
,do all these shots that are in the script
and how you're gonna do the effects,"
Rodriguez said. "I didn't hire that per-
son. I wanted to be them. I wanted to
}figure out how to create all these shots
so I could save more money, so I could
use more creative techniques and so I
could learn more effects."
The end result: "We did over 500
'effects for hardly anything," Rodriguez
smiled. "Spy Kids" uses a melting pot of
computers, miniatures, props and green
iscreens. "Once you know the principles,

you can tell them how you are going to
achieve the shot," Rodriguez said. "A lot
of the work is figuring out how you're
gonna do it because there is complicat-
ed, expensive ways to do it and there's
sometimes very simple and inexpensive
ways. Creative ways."
By making films this way, Rodriguez
continues to stick to his roots - his
budgets are cheap and he still works out-
side of Hollywood (he lives in Austin,
Texas). "We shot it ["Spy Kids"] in
Austin. I edited it in my garage and we
just work out of my garage. With TI
lines and Fed-Exing, you can just work
at home," Rodriguez said. "I could see
the effects guys in Canada and they
could see me. In my garage, I could
draw on a shot and as we're watching
we'll say, 'Oh, fix this, fix that.' And we
could play it in real time, so it's like
being there."
Maintaining a certain independence
from Hollywood seems to come easy for
Rodriguez. "A lot of it's just keeping the
budgets down. If you work hard to keep
your budget down, then they'll give you
complete freedom. That's what a lot of
other kids don't understand," Rodriguez
said. Though his highest yet,-"Spy
Kids"' $36 million budget far undercuts
many films made today.
"Keep the money down," Rodriguez
assured. "Or they're gonna freak out.
They're all over the movie, trying to
make sure that it's something that
they've seen before so they know it will
do well. You can kind of make any kind
of movie you want for less and then they
give you more freedom because they
know they'll make their money back
right away so they'll let you just do what

As a general rule, a film brandished
with the long-gone PG rating (aside
from cartoons) usually sucks. Finally,
director Robert Rodriguez, known for
his quick cutting and explosive vio-
lence in such films as "Desperado,"
"From Dusk 'Til Dawn" and "The
Faculty," dishes up a for-real family
film that single-handedly returns to the

Spy Kids
Grade: B
At Showcase
and Quality 16

core of the child
adventure films
of the '80s.
After all, kids
are people too,
and in "Spy
Kids," they kick
"Spy Kids" is
exactly what it
says it is: A
James Bond Jr.

Courtesy of Dimension Films
Director Robert Rodrigeuz (inset) kept the cast and production of "Spy Kids" at a
personal level with his creative energy and indie work ethic.

you want. That's the key"
Though far less violent than
Rodriguez's other films, "Spy Kids" car-
ries his genuine quality, unlike other
Hollywood films. "I think you can tell
the difference with the movie. It feels
like it's a home made movie. It's not like
a big studio movie," Rodriguez said. "It
gives it a little more personal touch to it.
It could easily be just like James Bond,
stamped out, cookie-cutter type stuff. I
really wanted it to be a little wild."
And it sure was, as "Spy Kids" took
the top spot at the box office this past
weekend, almost recouping its entire

budget. But Rodriguez isn't stopping
yet, with plans for a re-release as well as
"We're probably going to rerelease
the movie in the summer as a special
edition with some extra action scenes,"
Rodriguez said, excited to show off one
of his favorite scenes cut from the film
- the cave of sleeping sharks. "We
couldn't finish it in time. There's too
many effects. It looks totally real,"
Rodriguez said. "We're working on the
sequel. It's really cool because they're
already spies now, so they get to tell the
president what to do." -

Amsterdam's Concertgebouw returns to A2

By Jim Schiff
: ily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
Taking its name from one of the
inest concert halls in the world, the
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Ams-
terdam returns to
Ann Arbor for
its third visit
under the Uni-
Royal versity Musical
Concertgebouw Society. Along
Orchestra with the accom-
plished young
Hill Auditorium bass-baritone
Tomorrow at 8 p.m. M a t t h i a s
Goerne, the
orchestra will
perform an all-
Mahler program
that includes the
unfinished "Symphony No.10."
The Concertgebouw Orchestra was
inaugurated on November 3, 1888, and

since then has garnered lavish praise
for its clarity of sound
and spectacular leader-}
ship. In 1988, Riccardo
Chailly took over the
position of Principal
Conductor, and the
orchestra celebrated his
tenth anniversary with a
performance of Bruckn-
er's "Ninth Symphony." x
Its unique blend ofx
strings, brass, and the
"typically Dutch" sound
of the woodwind instru-
ments have carried the
orchestra all over the
world, including Lon-
don, Paris, Vienna, Brus-
sels, and the Far East.
Known for its inter- -
pretations of the late
Romantic repertoire, the Riccardo Chail
Concertgebouw Orchestra is particular-
ly recognized for performances of

Mahler's works. William Mengelberg,
the orchestra's conductor
from 1985 to 1945, col-
laborated with com-
posers such as Mahler,
and this relationship has
allowed Concertgebouw
an intimate bond with
his works. According to
current director Chailly,
Mahler "had a great
understanding of the
musicians during the
rehearsal. He set the
mood, and the mood sets
the future for the under-
standing of his notes."
German bass-baritone
Matthias Goerne will
accompany the orchestra
for the concert, adding
Courtesy of UMS to the top-notch musi-
y, conductor. cianship on stage. Born
in Weimar, Germany, Goerne began his
stage and singing career with the chil-

dren's choir of the town's Civic Opera.
After studying voice in Leipzig, he
went on to compete in international
competitions such as the Robert Schu-
mann and the Hugo Wolf. He is known
for his interpretation of German lieder,
and his performances of Schubert's
"Winterreise" and "Schwanengesang"
were critically hailed.
In 1996, he made his U.S. debut, per-
forming with the Philadelphia Orches-
tra in Bach's "St. John Passion.
Goerne's considerable interest in the
works of Mahler should add to the
authenticity of the performance.
"Symphony No. 10" is 75 minutes
long, includes five movements, and is
the last piece Mahler worked on before
his death in 1911. He completed the
entire first and third movements of the
piece before his death, and he left
many indications for the remaining
three movements. Hill Auditorium
should bode well for the incredible
variety in the piece, which varies from
massive, full orchestral sound to string
quartet intimacy. "I remember a very
attentive, cultivated audience in Ann
Arbor," said Chailly. "It is a public
which loves to be challenged, and I feel
that this program is a challenge from
the very first note."

(though not
unlike the ani-
mated cartoon)
flick so to speak,
filled with wonderful gadgetry, wild
mutant villains and classic kiddie
kookiness. Sure, it's a little ridiculous,
but the script (penned by Rodriguez,
who also edited the film) knows this
and laughs at itself enough along the
way that we can't help but want to
hang on for the fun ride.
Carmen (Alexa Vega) and Juni
(Daryl Sabara) live your typical ten-
years-old and under life; while Car-
men skips school to add a little
adventure in her life, Juni spends his
time watching a "Teletubbies" inspired
show called "Floop's FoOglies" and
dealing with a school bully. Their par-
ents, Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez
(Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino),
keep their pasts a secret from their
VH1 game"
'R&R Jeopa
Melissa Gollob
Daily Arts Writer
"Can you name that video in one sec-
ond?" If you can, then you should audi-
tion for VH l's new game show. "Name
that Video" is a
new half-hour
program aspiring
to become as big
Name That a hit as its prede-
Video cessor "Rock'n
Roll Jeopardy."
Borrowing its
Weeknights at 7:30 name and
and 11 premise from the
famous game
. show "Name that
Tune," "Name
that Video"
attempts to reel in
an audience of
more veteran video watchers and cash
in on the increasing game show market.

kids - both are former spies now
retired and living the yuppie life of
home and family
After several agent friends turn upe
missing, the Cortezes decide to head
back into the fiel, to solve the mys-
tery. Sure enough, being out of the ser-
vice and out of practice for nine years
takes its toll, and they end up in the
clutches of a wacky, mad maestro
Fegan Floop (Alan Cumming) - a-
Willy Wonka-like television personals
ty who mutates secret agents and uses'
them as freaks (known as "foOglies")9
on his children's show.
When the red alert siren rings at the
Cortez mansion, Carmen and Juni get'
a crash course on their parents' history
from Uncle Felix (Cheech Main) and -
get thrust forward into the life of being
a spy. Through quick submarine chas,
es, hyper jetpack flights and a skim-
ming of "How to Be a Spy," Carmen
and Juni set out to save their parents
-- and the whole wide world.
What makes "Spy Kids" such a suc-*
cess might be the exciting perfor-
mances of Vega and Sabara. Both are
funny, endearing and utterly worth
rooting for as they improvise, tease,
bicker and team up to take on the adult
world. Rodriguez clearly has a knack,
for the way a child sees the world and
he peppers the film with that fine line
humor that works for both adults and
children alike.
Yes, "Spy Kids" is a children's*
movie and is at times a tad goofy. Yes,
it's about family and kids beating
adults at their own game. But it's a
whole lot of fun, not to mention
Rodriguez's best film since his stun-
ning gem debut "El Mariachi." Seri-
ously, who hasn't been pining away for
"Goonies II," a "Flight of the. Naviga-
tor: Special Edition" or a remake of
"Cloak and Dagger?"
S .
rdy,' l"e
The opening of a game show would
be incomplete without a small chat with
each of the contestants to get to know
them better. Host Karyn Bryant sports
snazzy clothing that make her look
intelligent but her small talk skills lack
a certain flair. Her questions are random*-
and delivered to the three players with a
plastered smile across her face. The one
bright side of Bryant is that she is not
Carson Daly.
Then the game begins with the first
round consisting of three categories:
Spoken Words, Say It Again and Finish
the Phrase. Each category has a singer
or band associated with it so the clue'
coincides with that particular artist.
After each question the chosen category
returns with a new artist. These cate-f
gories are not bottomless so the contes-
tants have to tackle all three to move on.
The scoring is one hundred dollars for a -
correct answer and a deduction of one
hundred for a wrong one.
Spoken Words have Bryant reciting
lyrics to a song like a poet so the play
ers can identify the song and artist. Say
It Again is a bit trickier. They showa
clip from a music video of the artist
singing a line that is difficult at best to
understand. The second time they play
it, three options appear to choose from.
The last of the three categories is Finish
the Phrase. The key to this category is
knowing the song because without the
words you can't sing the line. Yes, the
contestants must sing the next line in
order to earn their money. This part of
the game lets everyone live out their
fantasy of singing their favorite song on

national television ... well, maybe not.
On to round two where the lowest
contestant gets the axe along with some
nice parting gifts. This is the most chal-
lenging round in the game and is all
about strategy. Based on the cryptic
clue and category name each contestant
must evaluate how many seconds they
need to name that video and artist pre4
cisely. Bid-to-bid the players continue
to go lower with poker face bluffs until
they reach one second or one decides
the other is too incompetent to answer
correctly. The first with three right
answers moves on to the final round to
win a brand new Toyota 4Runner.



- --i


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