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February 18, 2002 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-18

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 18, 2002



Bombshell Britney
busts in B-movie

'Hart's War' fails to be a winner

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor,
The recent trend of the songstress-
turned-actress has had mixed results.

Last year's nervous
Mariah Carey vehicle
"Glitter" fizzled long
before its September
opening weekend, "earn-
ing" a paltry four million
at the box office. A
month ago, Mandy
Moore had her first star-


At Show

ring role in the screen
adaptation of the best-selling novel "A
Walk to Remember." Moore also had a
supporting role in the Disney student-
turned-royalty family film, "The
Princess Diaries." Teen queen Britney
Spears continues the trend and attempts
to make the all-too-easy transition from
music to film in "Crossroads."
Spears starts off her Hollywood
career with a character similar to her
own life. Spears plays Lucy, a high
school senior with dreams of becoming
a singer. The film opens with a flash-
back of Lucy with her two best friends,
Mimi (Taryn Manning, "Crazy/Beauti-
ful") and Kit (Zoe Saldana, "Get Over
It"), burying a box full of trinkets that is
$4 e

to be opened on graduation night. Flash
forward to high school, where the three
have gone their separate ways. Lucy is
valedictorian of her class, but more
importantly, a virgin. Mimi is now pre-
ganant and living in a
trailer park, a sharp con-
trast from Kit, who is
high class and the most
ROADS popular girl in school.
The characters in
case and "Crossroads" are generic,
y 16 predictable and bland.
ount Neo-realism this is not.
The plot unfolds like a
broken air mattress, with
little logic to the procession of events.
In the span of a few minutes, the three
girls have reconciled and decide to fol-
low their dreams via a road trip to Cali-
fornia. They find a driver in the form of
Ben (Anson Mount, "Boiler Room"), a
rock guitarist with a convertible. Ignor-
ing the fact the girls don't even know
him, they leave Georgia with $486 in
A cracked radiator puts a brief halt to
their road shenanigans, just enough
time for the girls to win a karaoke con-
test inNew Orleans. The scene is one of
many not-so-sly ways director Tamra
Davis ("Half Baked," "Billy Madison")
utilizes the film as a commercial for
Britney's music.
"Crossroads" lacks variety. Half of
the 88-minute-long story is devoted to
scenes of the friends singing eardrum-
piercing tunes to the dismay of Ben
who just wants to rock. At one point
they even sing one of Britney's real life
boyfriend's tunes, N'SYNC's "Bye Bye
Bye." Britney fans will be content with
the repeated use of her song "Not a
Girl, Not Yet a Woman" throughout the
film. The song is played three times,
debuting in the form of a poem. Robert
Lowell she is not.
Aside from Miss Spears and her two
sidekicks, the supporting cast is an
eclectic mix of washed up has-beens.
Dan Aykroyd ("Ghostbusters") plays

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
The only real object Is the microphone.
Britney's overbearing father, having
gained close to 100 pounds since his
last major release. Kim Cattrall ("Big
Trouble in Little China," "Sex and the
City") has a small bit as Britney's nioth-
er, taking up fewer than five minutes of
screen time. The real gem in the casting
is Jesse Camp (sans the 8th Street Kidz)
as an extra. The former MTV VJ can be
seen in the background of the last scene
talking ... to nobody.
The big question is can Britney pull
off the acting gig? Survey says ... no.
"Crossroads" is not what fans of Brit-
ney might expect. The film is likely to
create a rift with its targeted younger
viewers' parents, as themes like teen
pregnancy, underage drinking and pre-
marital sex run rampant. Young males
obsessed with the pop princess will be
more than pleased to see Britney wear-
ing nothing but a bra and panties in two
scenes at the beginning of the film.
Sadly, when the clothes come back on
the momentary excitement comes to a
cataclysmic halt.
"Crossroads" is nothing more than an
extended music video, with an extended
metaphor of the road trip as the road to
womanhood for its three cliched
females. Clever? No. Idiotic? Yes. A
better title for the film would have been
"Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman and
Never an Actress."

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
Early on in "Hart's War," as Lieutenant Tommy Hart
(Colin Farrell, "Tigerland") is taken to a German POW
camp, a fellow soldier tells him to smile, "For you the
war is over." Little does Tommy know that his war has
just begun.
The year is 1944, and the territory is Belgium. Lt.
Hart is the son of an American senator
who is making sure his son never sees the
front and spends a lot of time at a desk.
Back home, Hart was a second year law
student at Yale. After capture, Hart is an
officer not given much respect due to HART
enduring only three days of interrogation
by the Nazis. At Sho
Stalag 6 is Hart's camp, and trying to Qual
maintain some sense of military honor in M
these horrible conditions is Colonel
William McNamara (Bruce Willis). McNamara leads
the rest of the imprisoned soldiers as they salute, throw
bread to the hungry, put on plays and salute again.
Whatever power they think they have is granted to
them by camp dictator and American admirer Colonel
Werner Visser (Romanian actor Marcel Lures).
Now that the setting has been established, the real
plot of the film comes into play. A couple of black Air
Corps pilots come to the camp and are housed in
Hart's bunk. The racism of Hart's bunkmates, especial-
ly that of Vic Bedford (Cole Hauser, "Good Will Hunt-
ing"), leads to the main plot, which gets one of the
black POWs killed. Then Bedford is found dead with
the other black POW, Lieutenant Lincoln Scott (Ter-
rence Howard), standing over him. The lawyer in Hart
comes out immediately, demanding a court martial
before they execute Scott. Visser thinks it will be fun,
and agrees.
It all seems quite ludicrous - another story Hol- A


the Hollywood court drama done in every way possi-
ble, and then someone suggests a German POW camp
during World War II. These must be the thoughts of
someone entering "Hart's War," but miraculously, even
as the cliches come flying in from all angles, it
remains suspenseful. It appears as if director Gregory
Hoblit, the man responsible for the excellent "Frequen-
cy," has done the impossible.
However, in the end, the overly melodramatic, sappy
delivery that was expected throughout the
film - and wonderfully absent - rushes
in like a tsunami on high tide. "Hart's
War" was filmed long before Sept. 11, but
it is hard to tell, as each soldier fights to
WAR be the sacrificial hero for the good of the
country and the men who fight for it. It
case and isn't inspiring; it's annoying, and you can't
y 16 wait for the Germans to take one of them
M down so we can go home and try to
remember the finer points of Hoblit's film.
Alar Kivilo's cinematography is outstanding, which
isn't surprising because he is also the man responsible
for shooting "A Simple Plan," which is another film
that takes full advantage of its snowy surroundings. The
set design is equally impressive, as it supplies realism
to the POW camp twhile also giving reason for the pris-
oner's depressed state of mind.
Farrell and Howard are each given the challenge of
playing characters we have seen on screen numerous
times before. Yet, each pulls it off and they are most
likely the reason "Hart's War" keeps our interest for so
long. Howard gives a trial speech that bleeds of "Men
of Honor"-like melodrama, but instead, Howard com-
mands the screen and turns it into the finest scene of
the film.
Despite Willis' presence, the young Farrell has the
film placed squarely on his shoulders. This is Hart's
journey, and he becomes an intelligent,
conflicted and passionate man in this
performance. Farrell is being bred to
be the next Tom Cruise or Matt
Damon, and he proves that he can
handle the spotlight. Willis gives
a good supporting perform-
ance as the Colonel who
will not let his war end
merely because he is
so far from the front.
With all its beauty
and the excellent
cast, this war still
does not come out
a winner in the

Courtesy of MGM
Farrell and
Willis check
out the

Courtesy of Jive Records

No Comment.

Cohen waxes poetic in dynamic 'Inspired Sleep'

Robe~rt Cohen * *,

By Mayukh Raychaudhuri
For the Daily
The premise of Robert Cohen's
"Inspired Sleep," which was pub-
lished last year and recently released
in paperback, calls to mind Don
Delillo's highly successful 1991.
novel "White Noise," the now clas-
sic meditation on postmodern anxi-
eties that addressed the increasingly
socially prevalent issue of chemical
"cures" for the deepest of human
paranoias. Yet this is only a surface-
level association. Cohen's book is

far more down to earth and at the
same time more personal and poetic.
While Delillo's hero
struggled with a crip-
pling fear of death, the
heroine of "Inspired **
Sleep" simply cannot
seem to get enough INSPIRE
sleep. Cohen's novel By Robe
is rare and beautiful Houghton,
because of the origi-
nality of its strategy, not its concept.
While many writers use people to
make statements about culturally
relevant phenomena, Cohen dares to

use such

phenomena to talk about


Bonnie Saks is an
overeducated, divorced
mother of two boys
whose husband left her
SLEEP to enjoy a successful
career, as..aplaywright..
Cohen in Chile. She is plagued
McMillan by an unfinished doc-
toratethesis on Thore-
au. Her preschool-aged son is a
chronic bed-wetter and the 11 year
old is on Prozac. The adults she
encounters invariably hide behind

Hey, Freshmen
and Sophomores...

facades and self-delusion. In the
equally hilarious and heartbreaking
opening scene, Bonnie drives to an
evening meeting of parents of chil-
dren in her son's cooperative pre-'
The school is run by the parents,
.giostly University faculty in Cam-
bridge, Mass., and the meeting's
topics of discussion range as widely
as environmentally safe coffee cups
and paternity leaves for the schools
predominantly gay male teachers.
When Bonnie's sarcastic reaction to
a comment of one of the more ide-
alistic (and pretentious) parents
unintentionally leaves her lips, she
leaves the room crying, only to be
followed by another parent, a
lawyer who tries to convince her to
smoke opiated hash with him in his
car. The abundant humor and
pathos of Cohen's writing is bril-
liantly displayed as Bonnie decides
to oblige simply because she does-
n't want to hurt his feelings: "But
she was lonely and tired and felt
vaguely inclined to please, if not
herself, then someone else; and too,
she was almost forty, and for all her
previous experience in minor drug
use had never in fact seen opiated
hash with her name on it before."
The novel follows Bonnie's con-
vergence with Dr. Ian Ogelvie, a

y o u n g
researcher Meerii IsV !
who is in the
process of
testing a drug
that may put
an end to Bon-
nie's insomnia.
Despite the
convenience of
this relation-
ship as a plot
device, it ulti-
m a t e l y
becomes clear
that the pur-
pose of their
meeting has
most to do
with compar-
ing them as
human beings.
Ian, whose
goal in a literal
sense is to
help people
sleep, is actu-
ally an over-
over-ambitious workaholic to whom
sleep is trivial and the plight of peo-
ple like Bonnie the object of some
The title of the work is somewhat
misleading; "Inspired Sleep" is not


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about dreams or any sort of uncon-
scious inspiration for that matter. It is
instead a study of human life, of life
that is far from perfect but neverthe-
less always dynamic and real. The
story is compelling throughout the
398 pages, up to and beyond the
unexpected and very "inspired" end-
ing. With its elegant and sometimes
elegaic prose, "Inspired Sleep" is in a
way appropriately titled, a sweeping
lullabye of a novel for a generation of
A look at the
underside of U of M

...is yoUrb
simply not c


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