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October 22, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-22

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The thrill of the Hunt...
Author Laird Hunt reads from
his book "Impossibly," tonight
at 8 p.m. Shaman Drum
Bookshop. Free.
michigandaily.com/arts

iRTS

MONDAY
OCTOBER 22, 2001

Gruesome 'From
Hell' horrifies, lags

'Riding,' an honest
potrayal of young
teenage pregnancy

Andy Taylotfabe
Daily Film Editor
Crossing the boundaries of precon-
ceived genres has become a popular
practice, for a movie that ignores con-

From
Hell
Grade: B-
At Quality 16

ventional demo-
graphics and
categories gener-
ates buzz. Such
is the truth for
"From Hell," the
Hughes Broth-
ers' ("Menace II
Society") dark,
gruesome and
visually captivat-
ing account of
Jack the Ripper's
killing spree in
1888. The film
bridges the gap

sciousness. In fact, he is so fond of his
trips to the opium parlor that he must
be fetched from time to time by
Sergeant Peter Godley (Robbie
Coltrane, "Nuns on the Run," "Gold-
eneye"), the Watson to Abberline's
Holmes. The two men, with the help
of Mary Kelly (Heather Graham), a
prostitute who may become Jack's next
victim at any time and Sir William
Gull (Ian Holm), a brilliant physician,
attempt to predict the killer's next
move while appeasing their superiors,
who are anxious to control the investi-
gation and prevent any embarrassing
facts from surfacing.
Based on Alan Moore and Eddie
Campbell's graphic novel series (a.k.a.
comic book) of the same name, "From
Hell" is rich in its imagery, showing us
the dark skyline of London set against
the smog filled, fiery sunset that hangs
over the city as well as the dank and
dangerous cobblestone alleys of
Whitechapel, filled with knife-wield-
ing street gangs. We almost feel like
we are in Hell as the eerie green
lanterns of Jack's carriage, driven by a
squirrely and timid Jason Flemyng
("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Bar-
rels"), creeps down the street.
Depp basically gives us a reprisal of
his portrayal of Ichabod Crane from
Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," but
honestly, that's just fine. He plays the
insightful but disobedient public ser-
41tion Fi

Penny Marshall, director of "A
League of Their Own," has adapt-
ed Beverly D'Onofrio's autobio-

By Tricia Donelan
Daily Arts Writer

between a Sherlock Holmes film and a
slasher flick against the dark and dingy
setting of London, and with a few
exceptions, the bridge holds.
Johnny Depp plays Inspector Fred-
erick Abberline of Scotland Yard, who
is given the task of tracking down this
serial killer who not only murders but
meticulously and surgically mutilates
prostitutes in London's Whitechapel
district. Abberline, aside from being
an inspector, is a clairvoyant opium
addict, who has visions of future
events during drug-induced uncon-
SvecialF

Depp and Coltrane wonder what, exactly,I
vant with the same commanding pres-
ence, and although the self-deprecat-
ing humor is not as prevalent, he is
still fun to watch. Coltrane provides
most of the comic relief in the film,
who along with Holm, play believable
characters that hold the movie togeth-
er. Although Heather Graham makes a
valiant and surprisingly successful
effort, it's just too hard to accept that
she is the only physically attractive,
well groomed prostitute who has all of
her teeth.
The violence and gore of the film is
considerable, with an up-close and
personal look at every tear of the knife
and every stomach-turning squelch
noise of guts being torn or a throat
being cut. To clarify, "From Hell" is to
stabbings as "High Fidelity" is to pop
culture references. The ugliness of the
murders and the viciousness of Jack as
well as the street gangs are illustrated
in painstaking detail, and it captures

Courtesy of Twenteith century Fox
has been ripped.
the cover-your-eyes-and-hide feel of a
good horror movie.
However, the plot drags throughout
much of the middle of the film, and it
feels as though the movie is just drift-
ing along, hoping to catch the current
of excitement. The Hughes Brothers
get stuck tying the different elements
of the plot together and forget to keep
it moving forward, resulting in some
loss of interest. Like so many visually
stunning films, "From Hell" doesn't
deliver an equal share of creativity and
subtlety when it comes to other
aspects.
Despite these shortcomings, this
detective-horror hybrid has a unique
feel to it, and it is a testament to the
range of the Hughes Brothers, who
have successfully branched out from
their earlier work to tackle this tale of
the precursor to the modern serial
killer, who "gave birth to the 20th cen-
turv."

Riding in
Cars With
Boys
Grade: B+
At Showcase and
Quality 16
the tender age of
to embark on an

graphical work
"Riding in
Cars With
Boys" and
train s form e d
the story into a
spirited and
heartfelt com-
ing of age
film. Drew
Barrymore is
cast in the star-
ring role of
Beverly, an
ambitious girl
of the '60s
who finds her-
self pregnant at
15 and is forced
odyssey of self

nal Fantasy' DVD

raises the bar for technical achlevment

By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
Once a film is transferred to DVD, horrible

movies can take on
a good transfer
Final Fantasy:
Special
Edition DVD
Columiarinstar

the glean of a masterpiece with
and a few choice extras.
Colombia/Tristar has made the
"Final Fantasy: The Spirits
Within" Special Edition DVD
double disk set is a master-
work of craft on par with the.
movie that it showcases. The
film is-nothing more-than sci-
fi fare that, had actual humans

in an anamorphic widescreen presentation, and the
flawless look and sound may be the disc's sole (out-
side of the silly story) drawback. When the charac-
ters speak, their lips move in conjunction with what
they're saying, but the actor's voice does not always
match the setting. This is especially a problem with
Baldwin's Captain Gray Edwards and Steve Busce-
mi's Neil, the two actors who look least like like ani-
mated counterparts.
The film is set in 2065, as Earth is Ever-run by
aliens with a ghostly, phantom-like quality. Dr. Aki
Ross (Ming Na) attempts to scientifically destroy
the invaders;--who have-the ability to-infect and kill-
humans. Ross herself is sick and fighting to save
herself as well as Earth (how harrowing!). With
mentor Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) in tow, Ross
teams up with Edwards and his crew (Buscemi,
Ving Rhames, others) to fight both the spirits and
the gung-ho General Hein (James Woods, playing
evil). Hein will stop at nothing, the obliteration of
Earth included, to stop the "menace." Guess what
happens at the end.
The first disc has the film as well as two commen-
tary tracks, the first by co-director Moto Sakakibara
and a handful of other animation wizards. The sec-
ond is by the animation director, the editor and the

staging director. Both are informative, but will be of
more interest to those with an understanding of
computer animation. Also of interest is the isolated
score track with running commentary by Composer
Elliot Goldenthal. Add to this trailers, production
notes and storyboards and this would have made for
a fine DVD in itself.
The second disc is what makes "Final Fantasy" so
impressive. The incredibly intricate documentary
discusses, in layman's terms, exactly how the film
made it to the big screen. If a particular aspect inter-
ests the viewer more that it's covered, a click of the
remte-links -to a more indepth feature on topics
ranging from matte art explorations to music videos.
Don't miss the feature on face wraps, showing how
Dr. Sid goes from a handful of lines to a man real
enough to be your grandfather. A new feature even
allows the viewer to re-edit a major scene from the
film, so the armchair critic can prove or disprove his
cinematic prowess.
With luck, this is the future of DVDs. Regardless
of the film (and this one is not half-bad), this special
edition takes the viewer inside the film-making
process of a technical landmark. On top of that, the
entertaining, original features are longer and possi-
bly more entertaining than the film itself.

discovery and unattainable
dreams.
Soon after Beverly realizes that
her life as she knows it is forever
altered, her best friend, Fay (Brit-
ney Murphy), discovers herself to
be in the same predicament.
Together, they learn to cope with
the cards they have been dealt and
bid farewell to their youthful days
of naivete.
The cast includes Steve Zahn
("Reality Bites" and "Suburbia"),
who embodies the character of Ray-
mond, Beverly's husband and the
father of her child. Raymond has an
interesting protagonist/antagonist
role in the film, what with the star-
tling contrast between his gentle
persona and his heroin addiction,
which inevitably prompts familial
degradation. James Woods ("Vir-
gin Suicides") performs the role of
Beverly's father and is the
absolute epitome of a parental fig-
ure distraught with the notion of
how innocent their child will never
be again.
This film is an honest portrayal

of teenage pregnancy and the
experience of it all. While the
topic is quite solemn, there is ade-
quate comic relief to bring the
film to a state of equilibrium with-
in the genre of dramatic comedy.
Your eyes may tear up during
intense scenes, but you also may
be unable to contain your laughter
while witnessing the quirkiness of
Barrymore.
In addition, the character devel-
opment of Beverly is extremely
well done. The complexity of Bar-
rymore's character causes you to
sympathize with her, yet continue
to curse her at the very same
instant. Her paradoxical personali-
ty is relatable to all.
What I found most astonishing
during my viewing experience of
"Riding in Cars With Boys" was
the performance of Britney Mur-
phy as Fay. In the film, Murphy
performs with the same sort of
panache that shone through in her
role as Daisy in "Girl, Interrupt-
ed." The characters differ greatly
(so there does not seem to be any
evidence of type casting) seeing as
Daisy is a patient at a mental insti-
tution who happens to have a
fetish for chickens and Fay is a
carefree, extroverted teen who is
obliged to grow up with rapidity.
Nonetheless, both portrayals are
absolutely brilliant.
However, the brilliance of Fay
does not have a remedial effect
towards every portion of the film
that happens to be sub par. Indeed,
there are tedious moments in this
two hour escape from reality. OK,
so it seems that the movie drags a
bit at times.
Many may feel that "Riding in
Cars With Boys" is lacking in cin-
ematic value and is better off as a
rental. This may be true, but
something must be said for the
fact that the film has substance
and is acknowledging teenage
pregnancies upon an honest plat-
form and is not just another ordi-
nary after-school special.

acted in it, may have ended up as a syndicated pilot
rife for the Sunday afternoon crowd. Yet the first
film to attempt photo-realistic animation is so visu-
ally impressive that the viewer constantly looses the
simple plot in order to gaze reality of the characters
and settings.
So do the animated players actually look like
humans? Sometimes. On occasion, usually an unim-
portant one, someone walking, turning their head,
sighing, the pixels become real and you wonder why
Alec Baldwin's voice is coming out of a 27-year-old
Ben Affleck-ringer. The DVD is digitally mastered

Redford, Gandolfini shine as opposing
'1. ' ~ -

military commanders m

i Te Last C~astie

By Wilhelmina Mauritz
Daily Arts Writer
The tagline for "The Last Castle" is
"no castle can have two kings." As

* ;
The Last
Castle
Grade: A-
At Showcase and
Quality 16

cheesy and usual-
ly off-track as
these lines can be
for movies, this
one seems sur-
prisingly appro-
priate. The movie
is about power
and respect and
how two very dif-
ferent men go
about earning or
getting it in a dys-
functional prison
system. One of
these men is the

want him to help take down Winter,
whose cruelty over the past few years
has not gone unnoticed by anyone, and
the number of "accidental" deaths keeps
rising. So the power struggle ensues as
well as a fight to see who the last man
standing will be.
"The Last Castle" is a war movie. It
may appear to be a rip-off of "Shaw-
shank Redemption" and yet, even though
there are a number of similarities, "Cas-
tle" resembles "Saving Private Ryan" in
many ways more than any prison movie
out there. All the ingredients of a good
war movie are included, and with as
much talk about rank, honor and the
inner-soldier in every man, you might
find yourself waiting for the big battle

scene on the frontline, so to speak. Well,
if you are that person, you won't be dis-
appointed because sure enough there is
one!
It almost seems redundant to say that
Redford was absolutely wonderful as
General Irwin in this movie. His cool,
calm manner that just oozes admiration
was ever-present. However, none of this
will really be new to anyone who has
ever seen Redford in action before. The
more surprising performance came from
Gandolfini. With his success in "The
Sopranos" and the praise he got for his
work in "The Mexican," it should not
really be astonishing to anyone that he
was amazing.
With so many actors these days taking

the easy way out by always signing up
for the same role movie after movie, it is
refreshing to see someone push himself
to his limit. Gandolfin is a very talented
man to watch, and it is exciting to see
him in such vastly different roles all the
time and so brilliant in all of them. One
could even go so far as to say that he cer-
tainly was the king in this "Castle."

courtesy of columbia Pictues
Barrymore doesn't know what's worse, a kid that looks like Zahn or one that
looks like Tom Green.

- I

warden; the other a prisoner.
Colonel Winter (James Gandolfini) is
the warden of a military prison. He
believes obsessively in order and control.
Winter, although he would never openly
admit it, is ashamed of his rank and feels
as though his superiors in the army are
always looking down on him. Therefore,
he gets a power trip off his rule over the
prisoners. During a break in the prison
yard, Winter puts out only one basket-
ball, thus instigating a fight. During this
time he says to one of his officers, "men
are so easy to manipulate."
General Irwin (Robert Redford) is a
., 11 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . rn.. to - i eh r 11n

Neither terrorism or war can achieve justice or security.
By working to redress the global injustices which give rise to violence,
we can strive to take away the occasion for war.
As Quakers have done for three hundered years,
we affirm this historic message:
"We utterly deny all outward wars and strife
and fightings with outward weapons,
for any end
or under any pretense whatsoever.
This is our testimony to the whole world."

Ixnaifini +rvin to stnn Redford from hitting him with a flag.

I

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