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April 15, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-04-15

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 15, 2002

ARTS

Kaufman strikes back
with funny 'Nature'

Sexy protagonists help save
relatively sexist 'Sweetest'

By Jenny Jeltes
Daily Arts Writer

If you've seen the mind-boggling
"Being John Malkovich," it's unlikely that
you'd expect anything but another bizarre
and intriguing story from writer Charlie
Kaufman. "Human Nature," directed by

Frenchman Michel
Gondry, is sharp humor
and wit at its finest. It is
truly original, and despite
minor flaws, it must be
commended for its ability
to constantly surprise the
audience and keep it
laughing. The way in

HUMAN I
At Qual
Fine Line1

which the film portrays the urges, inclina-
tions and dreams of each and every beau-
tiful, yet despicable, human being takes a
large leap into the world of irony and
insight, and as a result, one may just be
sitting there with a dumbfounded grin.
The plot is only a small part of what
makes this film succeed, as it leaves
some questionable connections at the
end. The story raises myriad questions,
but it doesn't use the plot to attempt to
answer them. Rather, it creates a philo-
sophical argument about human nature,
and it is up to the viewer to decide what
the best solution could be, if there is even
one at all.
The bizarre and quirky moments in
this weird film are far from being calcu-
lated laugh lines. They work because
they are embedded in the story and
appear to be more thought-out. This is
smart humor, not inane and stupid dia-
logue, which is common in so many of
the supposed "comedies" now in the film

industry.
To briefly summarize this film is near-
ly impossible, but it starts out at the end
of the story, when scientist Nathan (Tim
Robbins) has died and gone to heaven, or
purgatory (it's difficult to tell). His ex-
lover Lila (Patricia Arquette) is in prison
because she's taking the blame for killing
Nathan. Meanwhile, the
man/ape named Puff
(Rhys Ifans), the uncivi-
lized human being that
NATURE they had encountered in
the wilderness, is testify-
ity 16 ing before court.
Features After the premise is
laid out, the audience is
brought back to the beginning where
Lila was a little girl, one who unfortu-
nately had a severe hormone disorder
that caused her to have lots of hair -
hair everywhere, like an ape. Ashamed
of her body, she retreats to the wilder-
ness, where she lives in harmony with
nature, glorifying her naked hairy body
to the squirrels, rain, and deer. Can it
get any weirder? Absolutely. And that's
the joy of it.
The cuts from scene to scene are exe-
cuted very well, and the interesting time
scheme (telling the story from the per-
spective of the end) shows the creativity
and risk taking ability of Gondry. He also
picks a great selection of actors. Many of
them seem just right for their parts, espe-
cially Ifans, who must accurately portray
an ape-like man who quickly catches on
to human behavior. It sounds quite diffi-
cult, but Ifans definitely nails it.
When Lila makes her return to civi-
lization and undergoes electrolysis by her

Courtesy of Fine Une Features
Ifans, living large.
wonderful doctor Louise (Rosie Perez),
she gets paired up with Nathan. Lila,
with her naturalist background, makes a
tragic compromise by staying with him,
and when they find "Puff," they have
vastly different intentions as to what to
do with him. He must either be con-
formed to society or let free to be in the
forest as he was found.
The problem is that you can't really
have both. A totally civilized human can-
not throw feces and masturbate publicly
like apes do; neither can a carefree and
indigenous man of the wilderness absorb
himself in "Mody Dick" and Beethoven.
And that's the argument presented here.
"Human Nature" is about civilization
versus harmony, passion versus reason
and science versus the natural. On top of
all this, a complicated love triangle
develops between Lila, Puff and Nathan.
Throw love into this vortex of human
existence and you're doomed.
Gondry's hilarious and satirical depic-
tion of human beings is bizarre, freakish
and disconcerting: But he is 100% cor-
rect. This world really is messed up.

By John Laughlin
For the Daily
"The Sweetest Thing." which boasts
one of the writers of "South Park" and
the director of "Cruel Intentions," uses
elements you might expect from either
source: Beautiful women, a quasi-les-
bian scene, gag humor, foul language,
etc. The film also packs a powerful
comedic punch, and it delivers, leaving
the impression that Cameron Diaz

brought with her a little
something from Mary.
The movie takes place
in San Francisco, center-
ing on two women in
their late 20s: Christina
(Diaz) and Courtney
(Christina Applegate).
Both successful and sin-
gle women, they are good
at their careers but even
better on the dance floor.
themselves on always only1

THE SWEETEST
THING
At Showcase and
Quality 16
Columbia Tristar

receiving oral sex, causing a biker to get
into an accident.
It is no surprise, however, that the
girls find out that the wedding in Som-
erset is not for Peter's brother, but for
Peter himself. The two interrupt the
wedding and get away claiming to be in
search of a Bar Mitzvah. However, Peter
notices that one of the girls is Christina,
"the girl from the club." The bride and
groom then proceed to both feel that
they love each other, but are not "in-

love" and mutually call
off the wedding with no
ill will towards either -
how convenient!
Flash forward three
weeks. It seems that Peter
never even attempted to
find Christina after his
wedding, but miraculous-
ly stumbles upon a reg-
istry that Courtney signed
ir trip to Somerset. Peter

femininity, but in essence the girls are
still chasing the boys. The films boasts
strong, independent modern women, but
in the end; the girl needs a man and has
to get married in order to be happy.
But the movie is funny. The comedy
definitely works despite the fact that
the plot is a bit stringy. It is great see-
ing Christina Applegate on the screen
again. I could not help but flashback to
"Don't Tell Mom the Babysitters
Dead." Applegate proves she still has
talent left in her despite the failed TV
program "Jesse." Cameron Diaz is
once again the beautiful, funny girl she
can be, and she lives up to her potential
on screen. If anyone saw her on "Satur-
day Night Live" two weeks ago, you
know that she definitely gives acting
her all and loves it. Also, Thomas Jane
is able to create a decent male romantic
lead through a combination of the
charisma he had in "61*" as Mickey
Mantle with a pinch of the attitude he
had in "Deep Blue Sea" as Carter.
The sweetest thing about this film is
that it is fun for the women in the audi-
ence due to the main protagonists
being members of the same sex and
fun for the men because they will want
to have sex with the protagonists when
they see it.

They pride
looking for

during

"Mr. Right Now" and playing the game
of love so as to not be hurt. But as
"love" would have it, Christina bumps
into Peter Donahue (Thomas Jane) one
night at the club when trying to set up
her recently broken-up friend Jane
(Selma Blair) with him for some "get-
tin' it on." The two argue, but after
another meeting later that night, they
hit it off.
Christina decides not to meet up with
Peter at his brother's (played by Jason
Bateman) after-hours bachelor party.
However, after a dream sequence, she
calls the next morning, but he has
already checked out. Thus begins the
road trip element in the film when Court-
ney decides that the two must go to the
wedding and see Peter. Various comedic
events happen during the course of their
trip, including Christina getting a penis
in the eye and Courtney simulating

decides he must go and see Christina -
bring on the romantic roller coaster with
its ups, downs, twists and turns.
The film seems to tread ground that
Diaz has walked before in her role as
"Mary" in "There's Something About
Mary." Remember the zipper scene?
Well there is a similar situation here, but
this time it involves a girl's mouth (Jane)
and her boyfriend's penis. All peoples are
represented: police, firemen, orthodox
Jews, and all eventually break out into
Aerosmith's "I Don't Want To Miss a
Thing."Yikes.
Nancy Pimental's writing definitely
adds some flavor to the film with some
good old-fashioned R-rated humor. How-
ever, what is interesting is that this film is
written by a woman, starring women and
about women, but directed by a man,
Roger Kumble, whose body of work con-
sists of "Cruel Intentions." This may
account for the film's strong sense of

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