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March 21, 2002 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-03-21

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The Michigan Daily - WeekeilMagazine -

2B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magzile - Thursday, March 21, 2002

FROM THE VAULT: OSCAR'S PAST

'Deer Hunter' holds up as
finest war film of all time

Neal Pals
Daily Arts Writer

Alternatingly gorgeous and heart-wrenching,
Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter" unquestionably
stands as one of the finest war movies in the Acade-
my's history. It is also perhaps the most haunting.
Ironically overlooked when held up to peers "Pla-
toon," "Apocalypse Now" and "Full Metal Jacket," the
1978 Vietnam epic arguably changed the way America
came to perceive the war in a way that others couldn't.
Juxtaposing the nightmares of Saigon with the sim-
plicity of a blue-collar mining town in Western Penn-
I,-

sylvania, Michael Cimino artfully presented not only
the traditionally explored theme of alienation, but also
a host of deeply personal consequences his characters
endure.
"The Deer Hunter" tracks the condition of a tight-
knit group of salt-of-the-earth steel workers through
their pre-war joys, tours of duty, tragic detainments
and eventual homecomings. The film's story is largely
centered around the intricate relationships between
Mike (Robert DeNiro), Nick, played by a stellar
Christopher Walken, who received the Best Support-
ing Actor Award for his performance and Linda
(Meryl Streep). The two embark on separate, tragical-
ly spirit-crushing odysseys after their holding at a
POW camp deep within the jungles of North Vietnam.
Cimino's 183-minute marvel begins and ends within
a quintessential industrial American town; its residents
toil at the mines, yet they are content if not happy
within their simple niche. Their lives are shaped by
Polish Catholicism and American patriotism. Once
Mike, Nick and Steve (John Savage) are planted in
sublimely foreign Viet Cong territory, they are forced
to confront their worst fears and rely on their strength
of their friendship in order to survive.
"The Deer Hunter" masterfully captures both the
mentality of blue-collar America and the horrors of
70s era South Asia. No one can forget the harrowing
Russian roulette sequences or the beauty of the deer
hunts. The cinematography is clinically detached, yet
somehow the film is emotionally richer. Moving me to
the brink of weeping, "The Deer Hunter" certainly
encapsulates the most traumatic aspects of our
nation's conflict better than any other work.

Orson Welles working for a living.
Forget thi
' Kane' is
greatest
By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Universal

DeNiro will kill you. He's not acting.

Daniel Day Lewis
shines i n 'Left Foot'

or

By Neal Pais
Daily Arts Writer
With his casting as Irish painter
Christy Brown in 1989's "My Left
Foot," Daniel Day-Lewis gained his
first entry into movie stardom. The
biopic follows Brown's combats
with cerebral palsy from his days as
a young boy to his rise to fame.
Although the film did not wind up
with the award for Best Picture,
Day-Lewis' performance was noth-
ing short of superb. Seen in other
quality roles in "In the Name of the
Father" and "The Last of the Mohi-
cans," his talent remains undisputed.
Indicative of his commitment to
personality immersion, Day-Lewis
remained in a wheelchair between
takes; the actor also insisted on
rolling his own cigarettes and using
Brown's vernacular for the duration
of shooting. Day-Lewis is ferocious
in his role as the poverty-born hero.
Paying homage to the resilience of
the human spirit, Director Jim
Sheridan beautifully portrays
Brown's fight against his own body,
as well as his low standing in Ire-
land's rigid class system.
The film is largely carried by
Brown's triumph over cerebral palsy
when he learns to make use of his
left foot. He quickly rises past his

physical setback, taking up painting
and becoming a celebrated figure
within the Irish art community. The
vivacity with which Brown goes on
to live his life is inspiring to say the
least. Day-Lewis shines in present-
ing Brown's optimistic treatment of
his affliction and a society unable to
grasp the enormity of his handicap.
Brenda Fricker also has
an excellent performance
as Brown's devoted moth-
er.
Perhaps the most sig-
nificant aspect of "My
Left Foot" is its laudable
lack of sugar-coating, an
element not even seen in
this year's "A Beautiful
Mind." Brown's impover-
ished beginnings is seen
fully, as is the painter's
subsequent bouts with
heaving drinking. "My
Left Foot" rises above all
other stories of wheel-
chair-ridden brilliance
because of its honesty;
where many other films
try an eschew portrayals
of characters' shortcom-
ings, Sheridan's gem
embraces them.
In retrospect, it Lewis, pr

remains a travesty that "My Left
Foot" did not receive the award for
Best Picture. Few films come close
to its poignancy or style; it is
refreshing, emotional, lovable and
intelligent. And it has given us one
of the finest actors of the last
decade.

"Citizen Kane" will invariably be
mentioned in every argument centered
around the theme "greatest movie of
all time." In intelligent circles, it will
always win. That said, of the nine
Academy Award nominations Orson
Welles' 1941 film (his first) received,
it. took home only one. The script by
Welles and Herman Mankiewicz took
home the gold, but it was more a affir-
mation of Hollywood vet Mankiewicz
(who had his first script published in
1926) than it was for upstart Welles.
The nominations for Best Picture,
Best Actor (Welles), Best Director
(Welles), Best Cinematography (Greg
Toland), Best Art Direction, Best Edit-
ing, Best Music and Best Sound all
went to mostly forgotten films that
were neither as important or interest-
ing as "Kane."
Charles Foster Kane is taken from
his childhood home (and his sled -
man, that's a cool sled) to take his for-
tune from the uptight-but-kind Mr.
Bernstein (Everett Sloane). He quickly
works his way up through study and
planning and becoming a powerful
newspaper man before his 30th birth-
day. His fall from grace involves
booze, broads and more broads.
The film begins with the death of
Kane, followed by a newsreel showing
his entire public life. After learning of
Kane the public man, a reporter is
determined to found out the truth of
the private one. What follows are three
stories that piece together the man's
life, slightly over-lapping, slightly
contradicting. Only in the film's
opening do you see the real Kane
without the gloss of flashback, clutch-
ing his snowglobe until he clutches his
chest.
While the film broke new ground
with both technical achievement and
storytelling (not to mention make-up
and method acting), the behind-the-

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etending to be Bono.

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