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January 29, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-01-29

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Cinema Slam ...
Independent directors
presenting their work in the
Michigan Theater's screening
room. $4. 7 p.m.


JANUARY 29, 2002


Se s 'I Am


one special movie

'The Laramie Project'
focuses on death of
Matthew Shepard

By Jenny Jeltes
Daily Arts Writer

When Sam Dawson (Sean Penn), a grown
man with the mental capacity of a seven-year-
old, witnesses the birth of his baby daughter,
he can't believe his eyes. The mistake he

made of having
1 Am Sam
Grade: B+
At Showcase
and Quality 16

taken in a homeless woman
and getting her pregnant
had resulted in the most
beautiful thing in his life,
Lucy Diamond Dawson
(Dakota Fanning) -
named after 'the Beatles'
song. "I am Sam," direct-
ed by Jessie Nelson,
draws an ambiguous line
between one's mental
ability and the ability to
raise a child. At the same
time, it touchingly reveals
the endless love that
someone can have for
another, and how it is
love, and only
love, that

cially one's child. Fanning's debut as Sam's
daughter strongly hints at future success, as
she is extremely adorable and very talented.
With such a painfully difficult issue being
explored, comic relief is not only helpful, but
also necessary. Although the story is about
Sam's efforts to get Lucy back when she is
taken away at the age of seven, the resulting
pain and frustration is balanced by such
moments as when Sam's friends (each of
whom are also mentally handicapped in some
way) come over for movie night, and one gets
to see how all of the men interact with each
other, which is often hilarious. Also, Sam's
job at the local Starbucks, along with his
devotion to the Beatles, help give his charac-
ter some personality quirks which assist in
making him interesting.
Penn definitely nails this challenging role,
and his run-in with Rita Harrison (Michelle
Pfeifer), his new lawyer who finally decides
to take his case pro bono simply to prove to
her colleagues that she's not as cold and
insensitive as they may think, results in a
wonderful development of Sam's determina-
tion to get Lucy back. Some of the best
scenes involve Rita and Sam in the court-
room, and Pfeifer seems perfect for this role
- playing the preoccupied and eccentric
lawyer who eventually begins to learn some
valuable lessons herself. One of the best
scenes consists of Rita actually expressing her
fears with Sam, instead of the other way
around, which shows how she needs him just
as much as he needs her.
The only problem in "I am Sam" is the
doubt over the reality of it all. You may want
to know if the film is based on a true story -
it seems quite likely. Because it is not, howev-
er, some situations seem very unrealistic, and
they raise a lot of doubt. First of all, could a
mentally handicapped man even be allowed to
raise a child, especially when it was based on

tional characters or1
Arena Theatre
Jan. 31-Feb. 2, 7 p.m.
Feb.1,11 p.m.

By Jenni Glenn
Daily Arts Writer
When the curtain rises on a play, it
typically reveals actors portraying fic-

historical person-
But when the
lights go down
at the Arena
Theatre this
Thursday, the
actors in the
spotlight will be
speaking the
words of 66 liv-
ing people as
they perform
"The Laramie
Moises Kauf-
man and the

moment a passerby found Shepard
beaten and tied to a fence, to his death
and the trial of his accused murderers.
"The actors are coming to tell a
story to the audience," Pisetsky said.
"It's very intimate and involved."
Portraying a real person on stage
presents challenges, though, said the-
ater sophomore Jo Anna Spanos, who
plays six roles in "The Laramie Pro-
ject." The script provides an outline of
each personality with names, gender,
age and profession, but the actors are
left to fill in the rest of the individual's
character from their words. Spanos
said it is a priority to portray the voic-
es in the play accurately.
"You're not portraying a character
where you're creating and inferring a
past," she said. "They're real people
who you could contact if you wanted

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
Let's go to the movies Becca!
an accident? The question seems harsh, but it
seems that today's legal system would have
stepped in sooner to explore the issue.
Also, it seems there are a few slight incon-
sistencies in Sam's behavior. His limited capa-
bilities are obvious, yet there are times when
these capacities are contradicted by an obvious
advancement in his abilities. For example, he
is not able to read the word "definitely" when
he is reading with his daughter, yet he is able
to remember a speech verbatim, which he
attempts to use on the witness stand. These
inconsistencies result from the effort to make
his scenes more poignant, but at the same
time, they raise confusion over just how likely
his chances are of regaining custody of Lucy.
Nevertheless, "I am Sam" effectively tran-
scends some of this doubt by bringing up an
even larger and more complicated issue. Just
how much can love overshadow all of these
worldly concerns such as the law and the gov-
ernment's intervention? The ending of "I am
Sam" reminds us that the concern is not just
over who will raise Lucy; it is over the ques-
tion of who will realize that all you need is,

Loretta Devine stars In "I am Sam."

Kung Pow' spoof is martial arts mishap

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor
An auteur is a filmmaker who show-
cases artistic control over a film and
stamps it with an unmistakable finger-
print of their style. Names like Orson
Welles, Stanley Kubrick and David

Kung Pow
Grade: D-
At Quality 16

Lynch come to
mind when list-
ing some of the
more well-known
auteurs in the his-
tory of motion
pictures. Often an
auteur not only
directs a film, but
writes the screen-
play and, in some
instances, may
even star in their
own film (Welles
in "Citizen
Kane"). Modern

standoff between the poorly animated
CGI baby and Master Pain, complete
with bathroom humor and physical
comedy. From here the "comedy" fol-
lows Oederkerk as he encounters a one
breasted woman, a fighting cow, a
bowflex, french aliens and a legion of
asian fighters.
The film incorporates footage from
the 1976 Jimmy Wang Yu picture
"Tiger & Crane Fists" and digitally
inserts Oederkerk as the ass-kicking
protagonist. The special effects are
pulled off well considering the minis-
cule budget of "Kung Pow."
Inane spoofs of recent films
"Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and
"The Matrix" compose a fair share of
the unfunny material presented. "Kung
Pow" is audacious enough to rip off a

joke from the classic British comedy
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
Oederkerk is best known for direct-
ing and writing the lackluster "Ace
Ventura" sequel "When Nature Calls."
Other writing credits include the Martin
Lawrence comedy "Nothing to Lose"
and the recently released "Jimmy Neu-
tron." While Oederkerk's filmography is
laden with sub-par movies, perhaps
none is more disastrous than his screen-
play for the 1998 Robin Williams tripe
"Patch Adams."
In terms of martial arts comedies,
"Kung Pow" fails to attain the level of
hilarity achieved by the "Enter the
Dragon" spoof "A Fistful of Yen." The
coinsures of spoof, the Zucker brothers
David and Jerry, created "A Fistful of

Yen" as the centerpiece of their 1977
debut "The Kentucky Fried Movie"
At a mere 81 minutes, "Kung Pow"
seems like a war epic. The viewing can
be most aptly associated with watching
a nursing home resident attempt to run
the 110 meter hurdles. Yes, director
Steve Oederkerk can be officially
labeled an auteur. And as an auteur, he
is the sole individual to blame for the
poo poo platter that is "Kung Pow:
Enter the Fit."

members of the Tectonic Thea
ject created the play to sh
impact of the 1998 murder of
dent Matthew Shepard in L
Wyo. The show combines int
with the residents of Larar
journal entries written by the
company's members during a
the city to form a picture of t
tions behind this hate crime.
"There aren't that many pla
ten in this form," said theater
more Chad Pisetsky, one
production's directors. "Actua
said this as opposed to a pla
writing about fictional or real p
As a result, Pisetsky said he
co-director, theater sophomore
ca Guitar, emphasized the imp
of the play's words. The word
the voice of the witnesses
tragedy as the script follo
course of the crime. The cha
monologues and interactions ,
another take the audience fr
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
A free sneak preview of 1
comedy "Super Troopers"
given tonight for Universi
dents. The presentation is p
countrywide tour of colleg
puses by some of the people
the film.
The screening will be at 9
the State Theater. The w
actors, director and produce
film will be there to particip
question and answer sessio
the screening.
"Super Troopers" is the
four slacking, adventurous V
State Troopers stationed n
Canadian border. They q
learn that their relatively cri
area may face budget cuts,:
work together to try and sa
jobs but have as much fun a
ble doing it. The action truly
when they discover a possib
smuggling operation in their

tre Pro- In addition to maintaining truth,
ow the Spanos said the actors must create
gay stu- separate depictions of several different
aramie, individuals. Each of the show's 10
erviews actors are portraying multiple charac-
nie and ters and making them distinct can be
theater difficult. For example, two actors are
visit to portraying different 19-year-old col-
he emo- lege students commenting on Shep-
ard's tragic death. Actors use small
ys writ- props and clothing changes to help the
sopho- audience distinguish between the per-
of the sonalities they are depicting.
I people Spanos said her parts "need to be
ywright six-different characters with different
people." histories, physicalities, vocal tones,
and his reactions to the incident and back-
Veroni- grounds."
portance By depicting the residents of
s supply Laramie as accurately as possible,
to this Guitar believes the play will have a
ws the significant impact on the audience.
iracters' "I hope that this gives a better
with one insight into how this type of hate
rom the affects a whole community," she said.
preview tonight
The creative team behind the film
is the five-man comedy team, Bro-
ken Lizard. They are composed of
the new Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffer-
will be nan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and
ity stu- Eric Stolhanske. This is the group's
art of a second film, as they continue the
;e cam- legacy of another great comedy
behind troupe, Monty Python, in bringing
their hilarious hijinks to bigger
p.m. at audiences on the big screen.
writers, The five guys met in college,
r of the started a sketch comedy group in
ate in a New York City, and slowly got into
on after film. "Super Troopers" was a hit at
the 2001 Sundance festival, where it
tale of was quickly acquired by Fox
Vermont Searchlight pictures.
ear the Even though impersonating an
quickly officer is illegal, the whole cast had
me free a great time on and off the set in
so they their authoritative uniforms. Chan-
ve their drasekhar, the film's director and
s possi- one its stars, says of the production,
begins "Shooting a movie when you're
)le drug dressed as a cop is great. People are
r neigh- used to following orders from peo-
ple dressed like me."

day auteur. Steve Oedekerk,
director/writer/producer/star of "Kung
Pow: Enter the Fist," attempts in his
third feature film to create a martial arts
spoof of extraordinary magnitude.
"Kung Pow" follows the adventures
of The Chosen One (Oederkerk), a
martial arts master who seeks revenge
on the man who killed his parents. The
film begins in a flashback with The
Chosen One as an infant. After the arch
villain Master Pain murders his parents
with his deadly "iron claw," The Cho-
sen One is abandon but not before a
Please join
Dr. Ellen Zimmermann
Assistant Professor of
U of M
For an informal
discussion of
topics including:

Shut up and listen to my order!

I *""


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