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April 08, 2002 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-08

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'Heavenly Creatures' ...
See what landed heretofore cult
director Peter Jackson his cush
job with "The Lord of the Rings."
At Michigan Theater. 7 p.m.
michigandaily.com /arts

S

MONDAY
APRIL 8, 2002

Denvative 'High gi {

Crimes'
By Jenny ltes
Daily Arts Writer
"High Crimes" is far from impr
strangely, it is difficult to poin
makes it feel so awkward. The film
essarily predictable because the scr
esting enough to keep you hooked
about what will happen next, but
what dry and lacks energy. Any po
film may have seems to come fron
tor's sense of timing and scene tra
from the dialogue or even the actio
that director Carl Franklin can pt
somewhat baffling - and one can'
the film survives because it has de
ing or just good manipulation of
characters, which can then hope-
fully turn a typical thriller/drama
into an engaging story. Neverthe-
less, the overall feel of the film is
pure mediocrity.
The story is about Claire Kubick
(Ashley Judd), a defense attorney
who is married to former Marine
Tom Kubick (James Caviezel).
When Tom is tracked down by the
military and put in prison because
of a first-degree murder charge, Cla
the case in defense of her husband
learns, however, that her husband
Marine duties are a mystery, and sh
with her doubt and confusion over
story that Tom had killed nine innoci
in El Salvador. Although Claire fee
she believes he didn't do it. With the
that she is in over her head trying
the unfamiliar territory of military
seeks out expert attorney Charles Gr
gan Freeman). Grimes, however, is n

sputters
expected- he's a
recovering alcoholic
teetering on the brink
ressive, but of relapse, and Claire n
t out what finds his seeminglyF
is not nec- lackadaisical outlook s
ipt is inter- distracting. Neverthe-
and curious less, they work well
it is some- together, and they
wer that the continue fighting for
n the direc- her husband's free-
nsition, not dom.
n. The fact Judd and Freeman"
ull it off is do excellent jobs when
't be sure if looked at individually; Azeem, trying to get Naom
cent direct- but, the chemistry
between their characters and the
development of their relationship
seems forced and unnatural. On
that note, any chemistry between
any of the characters in the film
HIGH CRIMES fails. This is due to some poor act-
ing on Caviezel's part. He, lacks
At Showcase and energy and believability, and his
Quality 16 constant stoic attitude is annoy-
Paramount ing,and completely ineffective. For
Judd and Freeman, however, the
awkwardness with their roles lies
ire takes on in the fact that the script paid little attention to
d. She soon character development and too much attention
's past and to plot. The plot feels overworked, while the
e must deal characters and their motivations are ignored.
the alleged For example, there is no mention as to why
ent civilians Grimes even decided to help Claire with the
Is doubtful, case, and Tom is surprisingly complacent while
e realization in prison. Although further developments of the
the case, in story explain a lot more about Tom's past and
court, she why he acts the way he does, this is not
rimes (Mor- explained through his words or emotion. It has
lot what she to be assumed through flashback scenes and

Ben Marcus pens
life less ordinary,
not really his own

By Katie Cloud
Daily Arts Writer

Imagine having a distant mother con-
ditioned in the extreme ideology of a
silent cult. Imagine having a father
buried alive in order to instrument a

ing of 'fiction'.
In a recent interview, Marcus dis-
closed his inspirations for writing the
text as well as his views toward the
paradoxes in canonization. He admitted
that his childhood was very pleasant
and his family was very loving. It was

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
i's sister to remake "Kiss the Girls."
side references. For being such a central charac-
ter, Caviezel is hidden in the shadows. Rather,
Grimes' alcohol habits are constantly alluded to
as if this is just as big of a problem. However,
simply showing Grimes as a worn-out man, bur-
dened by age, is insufficient, and it does little to
strengthen his relationship with Claire and their
work on the case.
"High Crimes" is cooked up to be something
intriguing, but it is really just arranged in a way
that merely appears interesting. It is almost as if
you are tricked into thinking that you are seeing
a great story develop. Similar to a mystery
novel, the film can be enjoyed because of its
entertainment and not necessarily its substantive
worth. All the ingredients of a great film are
there, however, so it's a shame that the filmmak-
ers couldn't try harder to fully develop the film
as a whole. With a deeper exploration of the
characters and dialogue, which are necessary to
delivering the story just as much as the plot is,
"'High Crimes" would be much more success-
ful. The makers just seemed to lose sight of
what was important.

traumatic experience in
your life. Imagine exist-
ing as an experiment, as a
"plan", for an emotion
removal operation. Imag-
ine Ben Marcus.
"Indeed, I herewith ask
all readers, once they
have absorbed and stud-
ied my remarks, and then

1" v I 1' w I

BEN MARCUS
At Shaman Drum
Bookshop
Tonight at 7 p.m.

this precise picture of
family unity that drove
Marcus to develop such a
dark, satirical piece of lit-
erature. He said, "I want-
ed to write the opposite
of my life."
Marcus admits that his
use of a rather "tepid"
title was indispensable to

_

LL_, ,,,,, ... m ,:. _ _ _ w,.

'Monsoon' rains sorrow, delight on viewers

Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
An unusual fact that most movie-
goers are not aware of is that India
has the largest film
industry in the world.
India sometimes puts
out 1000 films a year.
But despite their
incredible production, Mor
as foreigners, we do not WEI
often have a large num-
ber of Indian films At Michi
playing in American Film Co
theaters. The term for- o
eign film has an all-
too-negative connotation to many
Americans who dread subtitles and
foreign cultures. "Monsoon Wed-
ding" is most likely the easiest for-
eign film in recent memory for
foreign-movie haters to enjoy. More
than a highly enjoyable, romantic
film, it's mixture of Indian and
American cultures, most obvious in
its use of both Hindi and English,
make the film much more accessible
to American viewers.
"Monsoon Wedding" is, of
course, about a wedding. And yes, it
will rain during it as well. Their
respective parents have arranged a
marriage for Aditi Verma (Vasund-
hara Das) to Hemant Rai (Parvin
Dabas), an Indian-American who
lives in Houston. It is engineered for
the two to meet one day and be mar-
ried only a few days later. Hemant is
nervous and excited. Aditi does not
want to go through with it; this feel-
ing is mostly based on her ongoing
affair with a married Indian TV per-
sonality (Sameer Arya).

The wedding and the events lead-
ing up to it are the background for a
whole lot of family quarrels and
much romance as well. Aditi's
father, Lalit (Naseeruddin Shah)

NSOON
L)DING

has a lot on his mind.
Not only must he
make sure the wedding
is perfectly laid out,
but he also worries
about the kick in his
wallet this wedding is
giving him. His wor-
ries grow when a niece
of his starts throwing
accusations at a well-
respected uncle.

transcribed them as an exemplary cau-
tion against the treason of children, to
forgo whatever follows in this book, all
of it certainly folly, I assure you, and
burn the thing to cinders with the great-
est haste. Bring a hard fire upon it,
please, and see it all as an aberration
prosecuted by a disease called 'Ben
Marcus"', so says Michael Marcus,
father of Ben Marcus.
Ben Marcus' "Notable American
Women" is not real. It is not a history
commemorating the progressions and
achievements of known, and/or perhaps
unknown, American women. It is fic-
tion in the most ironic sense of the
word. It is the imagined history of
author Ben Marcus and what his life
would have been like had he been
despised and resented by his father
,while used as a testing animal by his
mother and other various women in an
erratic cult under Jane Dark. Marcus
collects the happy memories of his true
childhood and creates their antitheses.
In turn, one cannot read "Notable
American Women" expecting a trans-
gression from introductory beginning to
a crowning end.
The text does not unfold, suspend,
climax and culminate. It simply invites
its readers to embody an imagined
world as a reality. Therefore, one must
inject him/herself into "Notable Ameri-
can Women" and oppose the natural
tendencies to separate the real and the
imagined.
The novel begins with the reproach
of Ben Marcus by his father. Readers
are shocked, possibly repulsed, con-
fused and yet instantly captivated. The
novel then proceeds to unravel the
bizarre and inhumane elements of an
Ohio women's cult, the Silentists, that
focused on experiments ranging from
emotion-removal operations, person-
blocking strategies (p.b.s.) and the Ohio
Lovemaking Stratagem to the Thomp-
son Food Scheme and the Female Head
Liberation System (FLUSH). Evidently,
the novel is not without humor.
Marcus describes what books would
consist of in a perfect world. "Good
books would offer characters with
sparse, tear-away clothing and touch-
able bodies, sweet faces ... just the
most perfect kinds of people." More-
over are his descriptions of the
"Women's Pantomime". "More and
more women, during moments of doubt
and confusion, will be pausing in their
daily affairs to mime a personalized
moment of intercourse, however strenu-
ous and interruptive ... and thus recover
their courage to move about in the
world." The novel is an original innova-
tion of parody that redefines the meqg-

the story. He wanted to write a satire on
the extremities of cult and philosophy,
mostly that of Pantheism, Stoicism and
Quietism, while at the same time con-
tradicting the traditional subjects of
American notoriety and acknowledge-
ment.
He described the various annals of
"notable" women as a "scholarship
based on bias that, in retrospect, is
laughable" since they are mostly written
from the authoritative perspectives of
men. In this regard, it is evident why
"Notable American Women" is some-
what of a disparity in traditional literary
canons. The text illustrates that reality is
only fully present in immediate action,
and every subsequent moment, thus,
contains an element of fiction. There-
fore, the only truth in the novel is emo-
tion and this is magnified by the novel's
focus of emotion removal.
Ben Marcus, the author, studied phi-
losophy as an undergraduate at New
York University. He received his M.FA.
at Brown University and is currently an
assistant professor in the graduate writ
ing program at Columbia University.
His achievements include, but are not
limited to, a published book of stories,
"The Age of Wire and String", the
Whiting Writers Award, a NEA in fic-
tion and two Pushcart Prizes. He is an
editor of fiction for "Fence" magazine
and has reviewed books and essays for
"Time", "Feed", "The Village Voice"
and "Solan". He began writing
"Notable American Women" nearly six
years ago and finally introduced the
addictive myth to public audiences with
its publication in March 2002.
Ben Marcus will be visiting Ann
Arbor tonight at Shaman Drum. His
reading from "Notable American
Women" will begin at 7 p.m. and will
involve an "emotion removal opera-
tion".
The evening promises to be an ener-
gized, humorous and greatly surprising.

gan Theater
mpany Here

The romance, which will give
every audience member a little
glow in his or her heart, is spread
all around. The love between Lalit
and his wife is deep, complex and
long lasting; the budding love of
Aditi and Hemant is innocent, bud-
ding and full of passion. Many
other prospective couples surround
this world, but the most entertaining
and humorous is that of the wed-
ding planner, Dube (Vijay Raaz)
and the beautiful Alice (Tilotama
Shome). Dube is first portrayed as a
helpless, flower-eating joke. But
with his love, the audience sees
Dube as a real person and probably
wishes good things upon him more
than the main character Aditi (no
offense to her romantic courting).
With this movie, Mira Nair
became the first woman director to
win the Golden Lion at the Venice
Film Festival, and it is well
deserved. Despite the vast cast of
characters, they never seem strange
or out of place. Also, the musical

Courtesy of USA Films
Surprise! We arranged your wedding! It is just what you always wanted.

sequences, while not the usual Bol-
lywood musical set pieces, are well
placed and become significant and
charming given their place in the
structure of the story. One of Nair's
best uses of music is the playing of
a Mohammad Rafi song early on in
the film. Rafi, whose music was
featured in the opening credits of
Terry Zwigoff's "Ghost World," has
a voice than can communicate so
much without knowledge of his
actual diction. Nair does not pro-
vide subtitles to his song, but the
mood is set in a subtle, rhythmic
way.
The drama in "Monsoon Wed-
ding" sometimes turns into melo-
drama, and the frequent comedy

makes it a little difficult to endure
the draining, emotional conversa-
tions that take place. However, in
the end, the beautiful wedding hap-
pens and the good time being
enjoyed by the characters on the
screen takes over the world of each
viewer.
If you walk out of the theater
without a smile on your face, then
yo# must have a secret fear of water
that needs to be treated immediate-
ly. The monsoon rush of emotion at
the end of "Monsoon Wedding" is
one of joy and love for life, and the
love life holds.

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