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March 04, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-04

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Luis Bunuel final film
"That Obscure Object of
Desire" plays at the Michigan
Theater. 7 p.m.
michigandaily.com /arts

ARTS

MONDAY
MARCH 4, 2002

'Soldiers'

not a

The wings of this 'Fly'
should be clipped

typical war flick

By Andy TaylorFabe
Daily Film Editor
War movies have changed. We have gone
from the flood of quasi-propaganda World
War II films released in the '40s to critical,
psychological studies of Vietnam like
"Apocalypse Now" and "Platoon" to comi-
cally cynical films like "Three Kings."
However, many have wondered what Sept.
S11 will do to war movies and Hollywood
violence in general. Although "We Were
Soldiers" is a true story and was written and
produced before Sept. 11, it gives us a taste
of what we can expect: Movies that focus on
the honor and bravery of the soldiers instead
of the war itself. With "Saving Private
Ryan"-level graphic violence, the film
brings us on to the battlefield and into the
line of fire. Certain aspects of
the film are progressive, but
there are definitely parts of the
movie that smack the audience
* with patriotism. WE
"We Were Soldiers," based
on Hal Moore's and Joseph SOL
Galloway's book "We Were A
Soldiers Once ... and Young," At Sho
is the tale of the first major
battle of the Vietnam War in Para
late 1965, in which Lt. Col. Hal
Moore (Mel Gibson) led 400 American sol-
diers of the first battalion of the seventh
cavalry (which also happened to be Custer's
regiment) via helicopter to the la Drang Val-
ley, which soon came to be known as Death
Valley. Their regiment number proved to be
more than a coincidence, for upon their
arrival, they found themselves surrounded
by over 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers,
facing slaughter.
This battle was one of the first times that
it became clear that the American soldiers,
despite their superior training and equip-
ment, were unprepared for the style of com-
bat they would face, or for the motivation
and sheer numbers of the Viet Cong sol-
diers.
Like many war movies, "Soldiers" intro-
duces the few major characters, mostly
stars, and follows their actions in battle and
their reactions to the chaos around them.
Despite the ensemble cast, Moore is the
center of the action. He is a family man and
a Harvard educated intellectual. He studies
war academically, carefully looking at the
massacre of the French in Vietnam in the

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer

'50s and trying to learn from
their mistakes. Unfortunate-
ly, Gibson's major acting
technique, which he also
employed in "The Patriot," is
pulling a sad face and look-
ing contemplative.
Moore is backed up by his
right hand man, Sgt. Maj.
Plumley (Sam Elliot), a sea-
soned veteran, who is hard as
nails and uncompromising in
his decisions and his opin-
ions. When Moore ponders
their situation, asking, "I
wonder what Custer was
thinking when he realized he
had moved his men into
slaughter." Plumley replies,

Kevin Costner should have retired years
ago after the disappointing "Wyatt Earp." It
was a sign of bad, actually awful, things to
come. It's very difficult to remember any A-
list star hitting a cold streak as blistering
chilly as the one that Kevin has gotten him-
self into. "The Postman," a flurry. "3000
Miles to Graceland," some

snow, some frost. "Dragonfly,"
full out blizzard. "Waterworld"
and "Wyatt Earp" were the
meteorologist's warnings of bad
weather to come, but we didn't
listen, and most importantly,
Mr. Costner did not watch his
Weather Channel either.

*
DRAG(
At Showc
Qualit
Unive

WERE
DIERS

"Sir, Custer was I.::: g *. |
a pussy."
This epito-
mizes the dif- Proving once ag
ferent between
Moore and Plumley and the
different approaches toward
war that they take. Moore is a
compassionate leader who
understands the horrors of war
from the perspective of a sol-
dier and a father. On the other
Moore advises Plumley to get

wcase and
dity 16
mount
hand, when

an M-16 instead of his usual pistol, Moore
grimly replies "By the time I need one,
there'll be plenty of them lying around."
Some of the other soldiers include ace
helicopter pilot Maj. Bruce "Snake-shit"
Crandall, played by Greg Kinnear (he flies
lower than snake shit), a brave soldier and
new father named Jack Geoghegan (Chris
Klein) and Joe Galloway (Barry Pepper), a
photographer who comes to the battlefield
to show the world what is happening but is
forced to take up arms and help the soldiers.
The movie also shows the perspective of
the wives of the soldiers, including
Madeleine Stowe and Keri Russell, who
must deal with the rush of "We regret to
inform you ... " telegrams.
One of the major problems that this movie
faces is a common problem for films with
large casts. It doesn't spend enough time on
each character, and the lackluster dialogue,
written by Randall Wallace (who also
penned "Pearl Harbor" and "Braveheart")

Courtesy of Paramount
ain that Mel's post-mullet projects don't measure up.
that when some them die, you're barely even
upset. The focus on the characters is lop-
sided, for one of the best actors in the
movie, Greg Kinnear, is given barely any
screen time at all, whereas Pepper is given
more than he deserves.
"We Were Soldiers" also deviates from
previous Vietnam movies in several ways,
some innovative, some disturbing. When the
cavalry first goes into battle, the Viet Cong
soldiers appear as a faceless mass, but as the
story continues, we see the underground
command center, and we see the command-
er, Ahn (Don Duong), strategizing, inter-cut
with scenes of Moore's anticipation of Ahn's
strategies.
We also see a Viet Cong soldier looking at
a picture of a woman shortly before going
into battle, and it is one of the first times in
a Vietnam film that we see a Vietnamese
soldier as anything more than a shadowy
creeping figure with branches covering his
helmet.
On the flip side of that coin, we seldom
get any sense that maybe, just maybe, we
shouldn't have been there in the first place.
There is a sense of futility regarding war in
general, when, after killing hundreds of Viet
Cong, the Americans just pick up and leave,
making you wonder what the point of the
battle was other than just a high body count.
However, except for the details of the battle,
this movie could have been about any war.

Normally, a film like "Drag-
onfly" would not deserve such a harsh exami-
nation, but given Costner's track record, it is
hard, actually impossible, to walk into an
empty theater screening his latest bomb with
anything but low expectations. This would
explain the "ka-boom" heard last fall with
Costner's "Thirteen Days." Even when Cost-
ner makes a superior film, like that one, no
one goes anymore because the faith audi-
ences once had in the star of "Field of
Dreams" and "Dances with Wolves" is gone.
Now, here comes the saddest part. The
unpleasantness of "Dragonfly" can not be
totally placed on Kevin's shoulders. Yes, he
made the mistake of signing onto this mun-
dane, nonsensical piece of spiritual hokum
made by the director of "Ace Ventura: Pet
Detective" and "The Nutty Professor," but we
have to give him a break, for it appears that
there was probably no screenplay when he
signed the contract or even when they pro-
duced the film.
Costner was, in all likelihood, informed of
the plot and not told that all the hackneyed
dialogue and supporting characters still had
to be ironed out on the set. Yet, he still will
shoulder the blame, because this is his vehi-
cle and he is the star. It's sad, but "Dragon-
fly" almost makes you yearn for the good old
days when Costner was one of the filmmak-
ers, even if that means sitting through the
three-week duration of "The Postman" or the
real-time biography of "Wyatt Earp." At least
Costner aimed at the stars, and you could
laugh or snore when he crashed into Earth.
In this reality, Costner plays Dr. Joe Dar-
row, whose doctor wife Emily (Susanna
Thompson, of TV's "Once and Again") was

recently killed in a tragic bus accident in
Venezuela. Darrow is not able to let go of his
wife, partially because her body was never
found. Now, Emily's old love of dragonflies
is haunting Joe everywhere he goes, and
Emily may be sending posthumous messages
to Joe through her near-death young patients
back at the Oncology ward in Chicago.
Joe pretends to not want any help with his
grief, but he then searches everywhere for
the answers to these "Sixth
Sense"-like questions. He turns
to his widowed, lesbian law pro-
fessor of a neighbor (Kathy
)NFLY Bates, "Misery") and to a
diminutive nun (Linda Hunt,
:ase and "The Year of Living Dangerous-
y 16 ly") who collects stories from
rsal the beyond. While they help Joe
on his journey, they do not pro-
vide proof, so he must make the all-too-pre-
dictable journey to Venezuela, full of
half-naked, outsider-hating tribesmen. Then,
"Dragonfly" completes its supernatural genre
requirements by providing a not-so-shocking
shocker of an ending.
The message coming through all of this is
something about faith and never giving up, or
that no matter how many people call you
"crazy" and tell you stop your foolish quests,
you will always find your answers some-
where in the beautiful jungles of Central
America. Either way, Joe is happy in the end,
and the audience learns a lesson it has
already known from countless other films
and books.
Be smart; do not chase this "Dragonfly,"
for you will be sorry - not as sorry as Kevin
Costner is for constantly disappointing his
ever-decreasing amount of fans, but sorry
enough to long for the days of the understood
brilliance of "The Bodvyuard."

doesn't help us to connect
thin characters. This effect

to the already
is so profound

courts.y of -C u 0rsP.tures
"I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone..."

\ \
II
Courtesy of UMMA
Cavafy In Alexandria.
Cav s hidden world

Mindless Self Indulgence brings antics
and offensive lyrics to the State Theater

By Sonya Sutherland
Daily Arts Writer

Rock 'n' roll is music meant to piss off your
parents. From Elvis' gyrating hips to KISS'
alleged service to Satan, rock has sustained itself
simply by getting people up in arms. Rock is
rebellion. Every generation redefines it, pushing
one step forward and challenging the mainstream.
With a skip, jump and leap into limelight come
Mindless Self Indulgence, the next act guaranteed
to piss off anyone that catches the smallest dose of
them.
Elektra, a label notorious for dropping success-

By Jim Schiff
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
The aptly titled, "Cavafy's World: Hid-
den Things," takes us to Alexandria,
Egypt, in the opening decades of the 20th
century. Alexandria was a
city divided into two dis-
tinct halves, one marked CAX
by upper-class sophistica-
tion and the other by low- WORLD:
S rent bars and shops. TH
Greek poet Constantine
P. Cavafy wrote about the At Michi
latter half, a place where ot
he took pains to hide his Thru
homosexuality. His F:
poems discuss secret, UN
fleeting sexual encounters
with numerous men, as
well as his ongoing struggle to suppress
his inner desires. British artist David
Hockney, an avid enthusiast of Cavafy's,
composed a series of 13 sketches based
on his poems, all of which are featured in
this exhibit.
Hockney's drawings are an ambitious
interpretation of Cavafy's poetry - one
that effectively conveys his sensual, emo-
tional language. The artist's style is
remarkably simple, using only black ink
to draw the rough outlines of his figures.
Hockney does, however, give consider-
able detail to certain aspects of his sub-

JA
Frei
MIS

them betrays what kind of bed they've
just been laying on."In the accompanying
sketch, the blank stares on Hockney's
men show their feelings of regret for hav-
ing committed a homosexual act.
At the time, homosexuality was largely
condemned in Egypt and
the sorrow in Cavafy's
characters reflects his own
FY'S personal struggles with it.
HIDDEN Cavafy lives vicariously
4GS through his subjects, gen-
erally choosing young,
n Museum attractive men to act out
'rt his stories. It's unclear
Aay 5 whether Cavafy experi-
e enced some of the anec-
OA dotes himself, but each
tale seems authentic and
intimate. One particular
poem, titled "He Asked About the Quali-
ty," describes a meeting between a shop-
keeper and a man in a handkerchief store.
They pretend to be appraising the differ-
ent cloths, but it is only a disguise for a
subtle flirtation between them.
Hockney provides us with two portraits
of Cavafy, one of him as a young man
and the other near the end of his life. In
both drawings, Cavafy appears as an out-
sider, with the Alexandrian skyline in the
background. These representations con-
vey the poet's feelings of being unwanted
and unwelcome by this city that served as

bound signees (try Destiny's Child,
Moby, Prodigy), and the coed quartet
from New York have already parted
ways due to the group's refusal to
compromise quality of their less than
pop friendly presentation for quanti-
ty of records sold.
Although their last trip to Detroit,
opening for Korn and Soulfly, landed
frontman Urine (known to his closer

MINDLE
INDUL(
At State'
Detroit,
Saturday Feb.

less Self Indulgence's set as "time that we waste
trying to postpone when we get off the stage"
arrived for the occasion formally dressed in a
black wrap skirt, black trenchcoat (the back read-
ing "Full of Shit" in stenciled white letters) and a
half of a tie. The time that Mindless Self Indul-
gence fritter mixing garage rock with an "urban
jungle pussy beat" is certainly wasted, if not enter-
taining the audience, then entertaining itself.
Without so much as a strand of his red
mohawkesque hair style out of place and not giv-
ing the confused audience a second to absorb his
unusual (at best) visual appearance, Urine imme-
diately started the show rhyming offensive words.
Putting together verses in a fashion
that challenges only the best of MCs,
SS SELF Urine made his own case as the
GENCE poster-child for Ritalin, certainly not
harming his reputation as one of the
Theater most intense up-and-coming front
Mich. men as he paced, hopped and danced
about the stage.
23 at 8 p.m. The rest of the band, who also
appeared as if they took the Franken-
stein fork on the Candyland road, seemed limited
by the presence of their instruments. But they
exerted an enthusiasm that matched little jimmy
urine, who preoccupied himself shoving paparazzi
out of the way of his direct verbal assault on the
audience. Unable to settle down or stand in one
position for more than a single syllable, the singer
weaved his way around stage while Lyn and Steve
convincingly demonstrated that guitars have a
greater entertainment value when played with an
intense and amusing approach rather than the sim-

ple stand, strum and pick technique favoured by
the more boring bands of TRL land. As for Kitty,
with the help of her simpler, downsized kit, she
proved that a girl drummer plays more than a min-
imal role in being "eye-candy."
After a half an hour of offending just about
everyone with his onstage antics, reciting lyrics
like "I hate Jimmy Page/Get that faggot off the
stage," ripping off his shirt while requesting "all
the 15 year-old girls in the crowd scream 'ike they
are watching N'SYNC" and launching small
stuffed animals into the audience, Urine decided
he had enough of performing and in turn launched
himself into the crowd.
Surfing away from the security guards, and des-
perately trying to avoid the girls attempting to rip
out locks of the MC with the "punk rawk good
looks" hair, Urine made his way to the back of the
State Theater and exited via a side door. Following
lil' jimmy's lead, Lyn dove into the pit behind him.
Unfortunately not getting as much air as her band
mate, she met the barricade headfirst. Seeing the
error of their playmates' ways and the potential for
danger, Kitty and Steve Righ abandoned their
positions in the more traditional, safer method of
exit stage left.
The audience, still gawking at the blur of lyrics
and rock that had transpired from such an odd
source, took a minute to gather their wits, and
attempted to absorb the rock show that had just
occurred. As the confused looks diminished and
focus returned to their faces, Clutch and in turn
System of a Down received the name chanting and
moshing the temporarily distracted crowd had
came to Detroit to give.

comrades as little jimmy) in jail for indecent expo-
sure, the weekend spent behind bars did not damp-
en his or the rest of the band's attitude toward
Michigan. Urine, Steve Righ, Kitty and Lyn
braved the date in the state with the highest per-
formance-to-arrestation ratio to bring their offen-
sive and interactive performance to a sold-out
crowd of unsuspecting System of a Down fans at
the State Theater in Detroit.
Leading the spectacle that is known as their
stage show, frontman Urine, who describes Mind-

;.
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