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January 28, 2002 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-28

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'Wild Strawberries'
See the Ingmar Bergman film
at the Michigan Theater.
Tonight at 7 p.m.

AWUYM Oak
ARTS

MONDAY
JANUARY 28, 2002

michigandaily.com /arts

Creepy 'Mothman Prophecies' allows
Gere to show off his acting chops

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer

Slowly and surely, the fading stars of the past are
re-emerging and making it a little bit harder to
make jokes about their last performances. Last

The
Mothman
Prophecies
Grade: B
At Showcase
and Quality 16

year, Kevin Costner lifted
himself a little out of the
joke-world with a good per-
formance in the underrated
"Thirteen Days." Recently,
Robert Redford proved that
he still has the skills that
made him a superstar even in
a mediocre action film like
"Spy Game," And on televi-
sion a former lesser star,
Kiefer Sutherland, is giving
the greatest performance of
his career in "24" after
everyone else thought that
they had seen the last of him.
Now, it is Richard Gere's
turn. Of late, Gere has turned

Soon, Klein learns of some bizarre sightings that
have been occurring in the not so peaceful town,
and they bear resemblance to the drawings of
Klein's wife. The figure people report appears to be
a combination of moth and man, with two glowing
red eyes. Soon, this presence is talking to residents
as well, starting with Gordon. He is even predicting
world disasters.
Klein, with the help of Connie, is doing his best
investigative work to discover what his really hap-
pening to the town's residents, hoping that some-
how it will help him figure out what happened to
his wife.
"The Mothman Prophecies" is based on a non-
fiction book by John Keel, and the film declares at
the beginning that it is based on real events. How
much of the story actually is real and what is just
theory and superstition is hard to estimate. But
either way, this film
works mostly
because of the over-
ly creepy mood cre-
ated by director
Mark Pellington,
director of "Arling-
ton Road" but justx
as famous for.
directing Pearl
Jam's "Jeremy"
video.
Canted close-

little bit of its freshness and comes close to losing
the attention of the Viewer. But after this sluggish
fraction, the film leaps into its incredibly well exe-
cuted climax. It is one of the best action sequences
of recent memory, terrifying and exhilarating at
once.
Gere is once again at his best working with
material that makes use of his ability to overreact
and erupt, while the camera loves staring into his
remarkably black eyes. Laura Linney is equally
first-rate, but she is such a fine actress that you
wish she was in it even more.
Films dealing with the unexplained have a hard
time leaving viewers satisfied at their conclusions,
but the joy of a film like "The Mothman Prophe-
cies" is not in finding answers to the supernatural
questions that surround us, it is in those strange,
mystifying events that initiate the investigations.

"American Flag in Brick Wall" is among the featured photos at. the exhibit.
'People and Paces'
h1 evoke
nostalgic images

By Janet Yang
Daily Arts Writer

to inferior films due to one of two desires - money
("Runaway Bride") or political beliefs ("Red Cor-
ner") - but it seems that finally, Mr. Gere has found
a film he actually cares about, turning in a perfor-
mance he can be proud of. And the role of John
Klein is perfect for him.
Klein, a Washington Post reporter, is happily
married to Mary (Debra Messing, "Will and
Grace"), until they excitedly drive after a new
home purchase and get into an accident that criti-
cally injures Mary. John is perplexed as to what
Mary refers when she says, "You didn't see it, did
you?"
Two years later, Klein, driving down to Virginia
for an interview, inexplicably gets lost and breaks
down in the West Virginian town of Point Pleasant.
Klein immediately experiences weird events when
he knocks on the door of Gordon (Will Patton,
"Remember the Titans") and is surprisingly told he
has knocked there the previous two nights as well.
Local cop Connie Parker (Laura Linney, "You Can
Count on Me") shows up and then helps Klein get
situated in his new surroundings.

Talented photographers can take
something ordinary, that you've

ups, dark music and
interesting transi-
tion graphics set the
tone for the film,
and while most of
the action cannot be
categorized as
scary, there is still
an overhanging ten-
sion and foreboding
over almost every
scene.
As the film
moves along into its
two hour plus run-
ning time, it loses a

People and
Places
Michigan
Museum of Art
Thru Feb. 10

seen many
times in your
life and still
manage to cap-
ture it on paper
in such a way
that astounds
you. For exam-
ple, artist
B e r n a r d
Descamps only
works with

z

An officer AND a gentleman. Get it, because Gere was in that movie!

'Count' a return to classic, brainless fun

By 4ndy Taylor-Fabe
Daily Film Editor
One of the most common acco-
lades that a movie can get is that "it

makes you think."
The Count
of Monte
Cristo
Grade: B-
At Showcase
and Quality 16

"The Count of
Monte Cristo"
is good precise-
ly because it
doesn't make
you think. This
is a film over-
flowing with
swashbuckling,
betrayal,
revenge, piracy,
hidden trea-
sure, knife
fights, prison
escapes and a
touch of
Napoleon, and
it works not in
spite of but

because of its simple, unpretentious
tone and its lack of .... Besides hav-
ing one of the most unintentionally
funny (or terrible) taglines in years
-- "Count on revenge ... " - the
film succeeds because of its sim-
plicity and entertainment value.

The story is your basic "man
wrongfully imprisoned, man
escapes from prison, man gets rich
and takes his revenge on afl his ene-
mies" adventure. "The Count of
Monte Cristo," based on the book
by Alexandre Dumas, begins with a
French sailor, Edmund Dantes
(James Caviezel, "Frequency"), and
his friend and son of a Count, Fer-
nand Mondego (Guy Pearce), who,
while attempting to save Dantes'
captain, find themselves on the
island of Elba, where Napoleon has
been made a permanent guest.
Upon their return, Dantes is given
command of a ship for his bravery
and is reunited with his fiancee
Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk).
Things are looking up, that is, until
he is arrested for treason and
thrown in the dreaded Chateau d'If
prison. It turns out that his friend
Mondego has betrayed Dantes to the
French authorities for accepting a
letter from Napoleon, and to add
insult to injury, Mondego is aggres-
sively pursuing Mercedes.
In prison, Dantes has nothing to
look forward to but a bowl full of
gruel and an annual beating from
the sadistic warden, Dorleac (the
raspy voiced Michael Wincott, who,
surprise, surprise, plays a bad guy).
As he loses faith, a man named
Faria (Richard Harris) breaks
through Dantes' floor. Faria, who
has been digging a tunnel for years,
has apparently miscalculated. .
As they become friends, Faria
teaches Dantes everything he
knows, including swordplay and
fighting. Think of him as a
Napoleonic-era Obi-Wan Kenobi ...
OK, maybe more like Mr. Miyagi.
After Dantes makes a daring escape
from the prison, he and his loyal
servant Jacobo (Luis Guzman,
"Boogie Nights," "Traffic") find the
treasure of Sparta, and Dantes
begins a campaign of revenge, mas-
querading as the Count of Monte
Cristo. (If any of this sounds famil-
iar and you haven't read the book, it
is probably because "The Mask of
Zorro" (1998) borrowed liberally

trees and pools
of water in his
work featured
in the Michi-
gan Museum of Art. But although
his photographs are nostalgic and
familiar, they are at the same time
new. When was the last time you
looked up toward the sky in a for-
est and admired the way the sun
shown through the tangled bare
branches? Or looked into a murky
pond to see what was on the other
side?
Paul J. Woof, Joe Deal and Ernst
Haas have created the same magic
with their photos of the Rockefeller
Center, California landscapes and
color photographs, respectively.
Their works, as well as those of
Descamps and several others, are
featured in the museum for the next
couple weeks in the exhibit, "Peo-
ple and Places: The Baker Gift of
20th Century Photography."
All of the photographs featured
in the Works on Paper gallery,
located in the basement of the
museum, are in black and white,
except for Ernst Haas' works, an
artist who uses a vivid green to
depict birds in front of a Kenyan
backdrop. Haas's "Lake Hunting-
ton, Kenya," captures one instant of
time when a flock of birds have

Courtesy o Buena Vista Pictures
Jaobo and Dantes keep look out for Deacon from Reynolds' crapfest "Waterworld."

from the story.)
Most of the characters in the film
are excellent, with the eternal com-
petence of Dantes and the unending
treachery of Mondego providing a
deliciously easy moral choice for
the audience.
Pearce redefines the word "sneer"
with his over the top performance
as the snotty, deceitful Mondego.
He overuses the snaggletooth grin
that he uses to express disgust,
anger, fear, etc., but his intensity is
unending, and he plays a perfect
despicable character.
Caviezel gives one of his best
performances, changing from, a
brave but naive sailor to a calm and
vengeful man with a powerfully
cold stare. He gives a convincing
performance, but his dialogue is
sometimes less than brilliant, and
his character seems surprisingly two
dimensional considering the transi-
tion that he goes through.

Guzman, a knife-fighting smug-
gler turned loyal servant, is the
main source of comic relief in the
movie. When swearing his alle-
giance to Dantes, he spouts lines
like "I swear on all my dead rela-
tives and even the ones who aren't
feeling well, I am your man forev-
er." Despite a bad wig and some
cheesy dialogue, Guzman is thor-
oughly likable and manages to fit
the role fairly well.
This film, directed by Kevin
Reynolds ("Robin Hood: Prince of
Thieves," "Waterworld") feels clos-
er to an old. Douglas Fairbanks
movie than to other recent action
movies of this type that try to be too
modern. It is not a film that you see
to explore the human spirit or the
deep psychological processes of the
characters. You watch it to see
sword-fighting, treasure chests in
hidden grottos and sweet, sweet
revenge.

just taken flight. His one other
photograph also uses dye transfer
print to show the contrast of pearly
tones that can be found in nature
among the black and the brown.
Most of the portraits in the
exhibit are from a donation by
Arnold Newman, from his series of
photographs that he had taken of
famous artists. The five portraits
each depict an artist with his works
in the background. The five por-
traits within this gallery were of
Piet Mondrian, Max Ernst, Milton
Avery, Georges Roualt and I.M.
Pei. They are not the most flashy or
exciting photographs, but they give
insight into the person within it and
how their lives are affected by their
work, or vice versa.
The photo, "American Flag in
Brick Wall," by Robert Frank, also
raises up emotions of familiarity
with its image of men walking by a
wall with an American flag painted
on it, with cars driving next to
them. Particularly in these times,
the image of the American flag
reminds us of another time when
patriotic Americans rallied for their
country, more than half a century
ago. Frank also has a few other
photographs within this gallery that
also raise clearly American images.
This exhibit was given to the
Michigan Museum of Art as a gift
from The Morris and Beverly
Baker Foundation in memory of
Morris D. Baker, who was a gradu-
ate of the University of Michigan
School of Architecture. Morris and
Beverly Baker graduated from the
University in 1952 and 1955 and
collected many paintings and pho-
tographs, a portion of which they
donated to the Museum. Besides
the works of the photographers
mentioned earlier, there are also
photographs by Alfred Stieglitz,
Aaron Siskind and Edward Ste-
ichen. This exhibit is at the Univer-
sity until Feb. 10.

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One of Guy's three non teeth-bearing shots.

..

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