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September 12, 2001 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-09-12

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12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

ARTS

'Band of Brothers' a literal
tour de force in war drama

By Ryan Blay
Daily Arts Writer
The good news for those who are sick of the hype over
HBO's latest acclaimed miniseries,
"Band of Brothers:" It will all be
over in just two months. The good
news for fans of the show, which
Band of debuted with two episodes last Sun-
Brothers day: There will be another new
Grade: B+ episode every Sunday night for the
HBO next two months!
Sundays at 9 p.m. By now, probably everybody with
cable or "People" magazine knows
that Tom Hanks and Steven Spiel-
berg, the driving forces behind
"Saving Private Ryan," are cxecutive
producers. But few know about the
actual hardships of the Army upon
arriving in Europe.
Based on the book of the same name by World War II
author du jour Stephen Ambrose, the ten episode series
follows the exploits of Easy Company, in the 101st Air-
borne Division. The company is but one that cleared the
way for the immortal invasion of France.
The first two episodes, "Currahee" and "Day of
Days," followed the training and deployment of Easy
Company over Normandy.
David Schwimmer showed he could act outside of
"Friends" (although probably too late to resuscitate a

film career) when he took on the role of brutal Lieu-
tenant Sobel, a man intent on making Easy Company the
finest band of men in the Army.
As he nags and drills and makes them run, they band
together, but use Sobel as their common enemy. Lieu-
tenant Winters (Damian Lewis) emerges as a bona fide
leader, and when the men mutiny against Sobel, Winters
steps up to the challenge. That's all for Mr. Schwimmer.
Perhaps Jimmy Fallon will have better luck in episode
five.
On what is supposed to be "the day of days" for Easy
Company, late June 4, 1944, the men, already in camou-
flage, learn that the drop is cancelled due to weather.
The next day, they begin their airborne arrival in
advance of the full-scale attack only a few hours away.
The smoothly efficient Lieutenant Winters, now in
charge, executes a textbook attack on German artillery
(so well, in fact, that the attack is still analyzed at West
Point to teach proper execution), but loses his first man.
This will no doubt haunt him for the rest of the series,
but he will surely go on to glory (he did, according to
the epilogue to episode two, received the Distinguished
Service Cross). The talented Lewis is well cast as the
soft-spoken Winters.
With stunning imagery surpassed only by the first 20
minutes of "Private Ryan," viewers watch with horror as
a number of planes are lost to German fire and a large
proportion of Easy Company fails to make it onto the
beachheads. Watching the remains of the company storm
the fortified German position (and not have to worry

a

AP Photo
Producer Spielberg and Schwimmer head up an allstar line-up in "Band of Brothers

about finding Matt Damon in the process) is awe-inspir-
ing.
Coupled with recent works such as Torn Brokaw's
"The Greatest Generation" and awful movies ("Pearl
Harbor" anyone?) this series may seem like World War
II overkill. But assuming this denies the opportunity for
Hanks and company to prove themselves capable of hon-
oring the heroes of World War II, and it further prevents
the men of the 10 1st from telling their stories on the air.

It is understandable if some people didn't think this
series, with few stars (unless you include Donnie
Wahlberg or Ron Livingston from "Office Space") could
not make it off the ground. But Lewis, as well as the
other grunts, quietly fulfill their acting duties. With the
firepower of Hanks (who will direct an upcoming
episode) and Spielberg, the next eight episodes (tracking
the men through France and into Germany) should con-
tinue to be things of beauty.

Jazz Fest
plays at
Commons

a
a

By Denis Naranjo
For the Daily

Thursday afternoon at the stroke of
noon, the sound of jazz will swing bet-
ter than ever on North Campus. It's fes-
tival time, as in the second annual
Pierpont Commons Jazz Festival.
Thank student organizer Tal Kopstein
and his diehard crew of 30 student vol-
unteers for packaging an appealing
program of musicians and sure-fire
soloing.
Kopstein, Pierpont Commons Pro-
gram Board student chair, promises
high-charged improvisations, begin-
ning at noon and lasting until early
evening. "Two stages, should transform
the indoor Leonardo's and the outdoor
Pierpont Commons patio into some-
thing distinctive," said Kopstein.
Performing faculty headliners
include music school professors Don-
ald Walden (saxophone) and pianists
Stephen Rush and Ellen Rowe. Contest
giveaways will precede a closing head-
line performance by Sex Mob.
"The festival is entirely student-run;"
said Kopstein, a senior jazz studies
major and trumpeter at the Music
School. "Dan Friedman (program
board vice-president) and I have been
working since February booking bands,
finding sponsors. We've put something
special together in only our second
year."
For one thing, Kopstein raves about
this year's expanded scope. Compared
to last October's inaugural bash, this
time there's more bands, two stages and
a much anticipated arrival of New
York-based jazz-rockers Sex Mob.
They're touring behind a new CD, Sex
Mob Does Bond, which invokes an
interpretive soundtrack feel to an imag-
inary James Bond movie. "They rock,"
said Kopstein effusively.
Last year's festival met misfortune in
early October with heavy, rainy weath-
er. With an earlier seasonal booking,
Kopstein aims to deliver substantive
jazz grooves amidst fall term color.
Festival founder Ben Yonas, Kop-
stein's predecessor on the Pierpont
Commons Program Board as student
chair, launched the festival to strength-
en North Campus ties with the local
community. Ultimately, it also draws
welcome attention to the prized School
of Music, besides showcasing a healthy
mix of acoustic and electric jazz tex-
tures.
"Attendence was lower than we
hoped last year. But this year, we've
had more time to fundraise and adver-
tise. So we expect 2,500-5,000 students
to attend the festival," Kopstein said.
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