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February 22, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-22

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Sucking it up ...
Jeff Daniels' latest film "Super Sucker" has
a gala screening Saturday at the Michigan
Theater, followed by, a VIP reception at
Zanziber with the cast. 6 p.m. $20 - 250.
michigandaily.com /arts

ART04v
S

FRIDAY
FEBRUARY 22, 2002

5

Louis-Dreyfus
hopes to avoid
Seineld curse
By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer
As NBC's new sitcom "Watching Ellie" begins, we see
Julia Louis-Dreyfus standing half-naked in her bedroom,
repeatedly yelling "Take it" at the mirror, each time with
increasing intensity. Inside the framework of the show,
this scene has multiple
meanings. On a literal sense,
it is a reference to a cue that
she will later give her band **
to start playing. Figuratively,
she is expressing her current WATCHING ELLIE
dissatisfaction with not only Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
her band, but also her life in
general. However, an argu- NBC
ment could be made for an
implication outside the context of the show. After the ill-
fated attempts made by her former colleagues in their
post-"Seinfeld" careers, Dreyfus could be urging view-
ers to accept her in her return to television.
While Michael Richards and Jason Alexander essen-
tially exported versions of Kramer and George to "The
Michael Richards Show" and "Bob Patterson," respec-
tively, Dreyfus attempts to distance herself from the
role of Elaine by playing a completely different charac-
ter in a completely different atmosphere. Dropping
many of the characteristics that became so familiar on
"Seinfeld," "Ellie" instead borrows from numerous
shows that premiered last fall to critical acclaim and
commercial success. Dropping the laugh track ("Unde-
clared"), this single-camera comedy ("Scrubs") takes a
real-time concept ("24") and examines the life of single
Los Angeles club singer, Ellie Riggs, in a weekly 22-
minute snapshot.
The pilot episode is somewhat uneven. It starts off
with a hilarious opening sequence where everything
seems to go wrong at once for Ellie. While hurrying to
get out of her apartment in time for a club date, Ellie has

Bassett over-acts as Parks in
emotionless CBS miniseries

By Melissa Gollob
Daily Arts Writer

The story of the woman who
began the civil rights movement by
refusing to give up her seat on a
Montgomery bus has come to the
small screen. "The Rosa Parks
Story" follows Mrs. Parks through-
out her life to that fateful night

books. All these events lead up to
Mrs. Parks' refusal to vacate her
seat to a white man because the
white section on the bus was full.
From the moment of her arrest, reli-
gious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. and the NAACP form ways
to fight back against their oppres-
sors. Mrs. Parks' involvement
tapers off during the bus boycott,

when she was arrested.
It also includes an
all-star cast and a
cameo appearance by
Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.'s son, Dexter
Scott King.
"The Rosa Parks
Story" begins as Rosa
(Angela Bassett,
"What's Love Got to
Do with It") enters a

**

THE ROSA PARKS
STORY
Sunday at 9 p.m.
CBS

but the movement was
just gaining momen-
tum.
Bassett as Rosa
Parks is convincing
except for her constant
over-acting in certain
scenes. Bassett contin-
uously cries, whines
and defends herself to
everyone Parks meets.
Peter Francis James as

to previous scenes. The .more pow-
erful bus scene came earlier when
the bus driver insisted Rosa re-enter
the bus from the back. When she
reluctantly went out the front door
in the rain the bus sped off and left
her to walk the five miles home.
Another drawback of the story
was the constant foreshadowing that
attempted to convey that Rosa Parks
was predisposed to start the Civil
Rights Movement. At times, the
supporting cast lectures no one in
particular about the conditions of
the South and Parks always insists
things will be different one day.
This emphasis takes away from the
actual action of Mrs. Parks.
One positive aspect of story is
that once the boycott begins, Rosa
reveals herself as a woman with
complicated feelings. This was a
new concept for the story at this
point. The refreshing look at Rosa
Parks as a person lends a new per-
spective to her character, Unfortu-
nately, the story ends abruptly at
this time so any more insight is left
up to the viewer.

Courtesy of NBC
This is the girl.
to deal with an overflowing toilet, her neighbor Ingvar
who knocks himself unconscious trying to help, and a
naked doctor who comes to the rescue. But after she gets
out the door, things slow down and the digital count-
down at the lower-left corner of the screen becomes
glaringly apparent.
Written and created by executive producer Brad Hall,
who also happens to be married to Dreyfus, the series
also stars Lauren Bowles as Ellie's younger sister, Steve
Carell as her ex-boyfriend, Don Lake as her veterinarian
neighbor and Darren Boyd as her guitarist/adulterer
boyfriend. Peter Stormare of "Fargo" is'also featured as
Ingvar, but his talents are wasted in a weak and ineffec-
tive role.
The bottom line is that "Ellie" could go either way.
The show could have been a disaster, and with the
apparent curse on Seinfeld alums, it's a surprise it isn't.
It's not great, but it shows a potential that can be devel-
oped over time. Its weakness is that it rushes along with-
out developing any of the characters and instead of
watching "Ellie," all we seem to be watching is part of
an incomplete movie.

school of

However,

young girls run by northern Quak-
ers. She learns the basic rules of the
South and how to behave as a lady.
As a young woman she meets her
husband Raymond Parks (Peter
James Francis, "As the World
Turns") who falls in love with her at
first sight. After they marry, the
couple lives with Rosa's mother and
goes about its life in Montgomery.
Rosa occasionally experiences
flashbacks to her childhood when
she witnessed racial discrimination
against her family and friends. One
day Rosa spots an old friend's pic-
ture in the paper. The friend has
become a leader in the local chapter
of the NAACP. The organization
encourages Rosa to join and make a
difference in the community.
She begins to take action against
the injustices of the South by

Raymond Parks is able to act as a
devil's advocate to Rosa when they
discuss their way of life in the
South without coming across as
cynical. The cameo appearance by
Dexter Scott King is powerful and
telling of his father in the early
days of the
movement. He
has captured
his father's tone
and oratory
skills that help
place Rosa
Parks in the
midst of the
birth of the
Civil Rights
Movement.
The climatic
scene when
Parks refused

N[resolving to pass the voters' regis- to leave her
al ul al L1e a D1'Ze- tration test and by accompanying a seat lacked
aipausgroup of children to the white emotion and
0_ ' branch of the library to check out looked similar
* w nning exploraton of isolation bahfhbatAnd on your right, you will see a terrible TV movie. curte
World champions dance it out
By Neal Pais Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad semblances of his native culture,

Daily Books Editor
V.S. Naipaul has long explored
themes of exile, isolation and the
effects of colonialism on the Indian
psyche in his literature. Following
brilliantly in this tradition, his
"Half A Life" juxtaposes the emo-
tional torments of one Willie Chan-
dran with the sweeping backdrops
of lands held in the grip of imperi-
alism. Without uncertainty, one can
clearly discern that the novel is lit-
erature in the truest sense; the art
is modernist, yet appeals somehow
as a deeply personal work.

Naipaul, ethnically Indian,
Trinidadian-born and Oxford edu-
cated - has been a literary force
to be reckoned with since he began

writing in England in
the 1950s. A master of
prose and a prominent
historical essayist,
Naipaul sharply dis-
sects the difficulties of
cultural displacement
within his novels;
most of his works deal
with the problems of
third world post-colo-
nialism and its effects on1

HALF A
By V.S.T
Alfred A

the com-

mon man. Lauded "for having
united perceptive narrative and
incorruptible scrutiny in works that
compel us to see the presence of
suppressed histories," Naipaul was
awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize for
Literature.
"Half A Life" begins simply
and continues throughout in that
manner. The story begins with
young Willie's plain question to his
father: "Why is my middle name
Somerset?" And so begins the
story of William Somerset Chan-
dran; commencing in pre-war
India, flowing languidly through
wartime London and finally set-
tling in post-war Portuguese
Africa. Briefly describing the trag-
ic family history of Chandran, the
novel's sad protagonist, Naipaul
quickly switches to the young half-
caste's exodus from a backward
homeland.
Lonely and isolated from all

Willie embarks on a odyssey of
self-discovery and ultimately, self-
loathing. Beginning his Western
life as a university student on
scholarship, he experi-
ences, with shame and
disappointment, sexu-
al awakening. He
attempts to break the
A LIFE ranks of English class
Naipaul structure, only to find
that he is scorned or
.Knopf ignored. He cannot
find a niche in any-
where - London
quickly becomes the land of disen-
chantment for Willie. Naipaul
illustrates this with precision; the
writing is self-aware, spare,
unadorned - reminiscent of Hem-
ingway.
After a time of great despair,
Willie finally finds love in the
arms of Ana, a fellow international
student hailing from an unnamed
Portuguese territory in Eastern
Africa. Turning his back on the
great metropolis, he follows her
back to her home - and stays for
18 years. His African experience is
different; comfort finally settles on
him, and his education furthers.
But in time, Willie discovers infi-
delity, racial oppression and conse-
quently, renewed unhappiness. The
disillusioning forces of colonial
life make Willie passive and idle.
Within the last third of the novel
that Naipaul emerges as a purveyor
of melancholy; "Half A Life" is
utterly without joy, fueling itself
with deeply penetrating forays into
the mind of an alienated Indian
man. In this regard, Naipaul nearly
emulates Conrad, presenting the
darker side of the imperial world.
With "Half A Life," V.S. Naipaul
has succeeds in furthering society's
consciousness of race, identity and
failure. Willie Chandran is not a
particularly interesting character,
but he is endearing and arguably
universal. In a way, his discoveries
are our own. And perhaps, like he,
we all waste half our lives search-
ing for the intangible.

By Marie Bernard
Daily Arts Writer
Unbeknownst to most of this country, ballroom
dancing has become a sport. In fact, it will quite pos-
sibly join beach volleyball as a recently inducted non-
traditional competition in the Summer
Olympic Games. Previously considered to
be an outmoded art form or something
taught to small children before Bar Mitz- BALLRO
vahs, the skill - now known as "Dances- LATIN
port" - has become something of a COMPS
national phenomenon, attracting college
clubs from all over the country, including Intermu
schools such as the University of Wiscon- Bui
sin and University of Illinois. Also unbe- All day ton
knownst to most of this country - finalsa
Michigan's team is pretty damn good. University Ba
In October of 2001, the Michigan Ball-
room Dance Team won the collegiate
national championship at the Ohio Star Ball. "As non-
athletic as ballroom dancing may
seem to many," said Sonali Rajan, the publicity
director for the team, "opinions change after just five
minutes of dancing a fast cha-cha in high-heeled
shoes - and yes, guys have heels too."
Tomorrow, the aforementioned men in heels and the

O
ET
ra
ild
at1
alln

with highly competitive nature

rest of the team will be hosting their second annual
ballroom and Latin dance competition in the Intramur-
al Sports Building. This is an all-day event, from 8
a.m. until 10:30 p.m. It will begin with competitions
for medals and end with a fun showcase of the less-
traditional dances, such as the meringue and west-
coast swing. Last year the event drew. in
over 200 dancers. "The competition is
run very much like a track and field
3M AND event - except in ties and tails and
DANCE sequined dresses," Rajan said.
CITION The "American Smooth" and "Interna-
tional Style Standard" events - the
d Sports waltz,
ing tango, foxtrot, quickstep and Viennese
rrow with waltz - will begin early in the morning.
6 p.m. The afternoon features American
mDancing rhythms, including the mambo, bolero,
m__ cha-cha, rumba and swing, as well as
International Latin events, featuring the
cha-cha, rumba, samba, jive and paso doble.
The final rounds of the competition, which begin at
6 p.m., will feature the best dancers in the competi-
tion. "The U of M spirit will come on full force in the
evening," said Rajan. "This won't be like any demure
ballroom you can watch on PBS - this, is screaming,
high-energy, wolverine spirit."

Voices on the Verge at The Ark

By Gina Pensiero
Daily Arts Staff

Chick musicians arej
these days.
We see'them in every
shade and variety after
the "woman can be suc-
cessful artists too" move-
ment of the mid-'90s. As
a result of this, many tal-
ented and not-so-talented
women gained national
recognition in all fields
of music.

not a rarity
VOICES
VER
The,
Sunday 7:3C

songwriters. However, there are a
few things that differentiate them
from the norm.
The idea behind Voices On The
Verge is it is a touring group that
performs altered ver-
sions of solo songs of
the women in it. Each
ON THE member of the group
IGE backs the others up
on stage.
Ark The group released
0 p.m. $11. Live In Philadelphia in
October of 2001 and
will be playing a show
in its support at The Ark on Sunday,
Feb. 24.
The album stays fresh and diverse
by constantly alternating between the
songs of the four different women but

remaining unified in harmonies and
arrangement style.
One might say that the songwriting
of Erin McKeown is what buoys the
album. Additional voices and instru-
ments on her songs like "Blackbirds"
and "Didn't They" defiantly change
and possibly enhance the original solo
recordings. Some other highlights on
the album include Polenzani's "Heaven
Release Us" and "You Don't Know" as
well as Amsel's "Louise."
As a group, the styles of each indi-
vidual artist are blended extremely
well in Live In Philadelphia. Addition-
ally, the album captures a natural and
organic onstage presence of the proj-
ect. Any fan of folk will surely not be
disappointed by the efforts, live and
recorded live, of Voices On The Verge.

Many would pigeonhole the four
women, Erin McKeown, Jess Klein,
Rose Polenzani and Beth Amsel,
who make up the group Voices On
The Verge, as typical chick singer-

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