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March 17, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-17

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Monday
March 17, 2003
michigandaily.com
mae@michigandaily.com

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I

Creepy 'Willard' remakes a
cult classic Hitchcock style
By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer
MOVIE REVIEW ***I

Courtesy o Paramount

Lucy is an artist. Lucy paints pictures of Barbara Streisand.

ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE
JONEs, DEL TORO MATCH WITS IN 'THE HUNTED'

Fans of the "Back to the Future"
trilogy are surely familiar with
Crispin Glover, who adroitly played
the role of Marty's unassertive, meek
father George McFly. As McFly,
Glover exuded a natural, utter lack
of self-confidence and demonstrated
his knack for timidity. The makers of
"Willard" were obviously familiar
with his past projects and had little
hesitation when casting the sheepish
protagonist of their film.
A retelling of the story that
spawned a 1971 film of the same
name, "Willard" takes viewers
through the absolutely pathetic life
of Willard Stiles, a feeble middle-
aged man who works at his dead
father's company and lives with his
overbearing, slowly decaying mother.
Facing constant belittling from his
mother and his boss, Frank Martin,
- played fiercely but somewhat
humorously by
"Full Metal Jack-
et" Drill Sergeant Willard
R. Lee Ermey - At Showcase and
Willard has no Quality 16
sound personal New Line
relationships and
lives a life of despair and ever-
mounting angst, that is, until his
mother sends him to their basement
to investigate a potential rodent
problem.
Willard blankets the lower level of
their dilapidated house with mouse
traps, hoping to rid their home of the
vermin. Upon finally catching one
of the rats, however, Willard
becomes especially sympathetic
towards the basement dwellers. He
takes in the captured rat as a pet of
sorts and names him Socrates, with

By Josh Neidus
Daily Arts Writer
MOVIE REVIEW ***9
Tommy Lee Jones loves a good chase. He has hunted
down the likes of Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes and
Ashley Judd in past films, and now Benicio Del Toro
becomes his prey in "The Hunted." Exploding with
action, this movie is definitely not for the weak of heart.
Aaron Hallam (Del Toro) is introduced on a very
dangerous mission in the middle of
the war in Kosovo. Both Hallam
and the audience are witness to dis- The Hunted
gusting displays of genocide as the At Showcase and
Russians order everyone in town to Quality 16
be killed. These disturbing images Paramount
are enough to scar even the mind of
a professionally trained killer like Hallam. Permanently
damaged by these events, he now lives in the woods
turning predators into prey. Covered in camouflage, he
toys with a couple of deer hunters before "filleting
them like deer."
L.T. Bonham (Jones) is first seen following a trail of
blood through the woods. He finally finds what he's
looking for, a wolf that has stepped on a snare. After
helping the wolf free his leg and administer some
herbal remedy, Bonham then takes out his anger on the
owner of the snare. Hallam and Bonham, however, are
not all that different. Bonham trained Hallam to be
what he is. As he puts it, "I trained him to survive, I
trained him to kill." Since Bonham created Hallam,
only Bonham can stop Hallam.
This may be a familiar role for Jones, but it is defi-
nitely a different story. In "The Hunted," Bonham lives
deep in the wintry woods, works for a wildlife organi-

zation and his weapon of choice is a knife. Strangely
uncomfortable around civilization, he throws up after
getting off a helicopter and is unable to sit or stand still
when inside the police department. But the typical
Jones qualities are still there, demanding to work alone,
quick to respond and always having the last word.
Although it might not be apparent initially, Hallam is
the stereotypical target for Jones. Hallam claims many
victims throughout the movie, but who is to blame for
what he has become? Not only did Bonham create him,
but he also ignored Hallam's cries for help. The military
betrayed him by claiming that some of his victims dur-
ing the war were unarmed innocents, although Hallam
swears they had weapons. It is also hinted that the mili-
tary sent the deer hunters to try and bring down Hallam.
Although Hallam does commit these unholy murders
during the movie, one wonders if he would have just
vanished had he been left alone.
Director William Friedkin's sound techniques are
crucial in creating the uncivilized atmosphere of the
movie. The near silence in the woods allows for the
audience to hear every little noise, from bird calls to
the cracking of a twig. When Bonham and Hallam are
one on one, very little dialogue is used. Instead, grunt-
ing and yelling fill the spundtrck. And the choiceAf
music further distinguishes the movie as a hunt and
not just a chase.
"The Hunted" combines shear physical toughness,
supercharged fight sequences and a lucrative game of
cat and mouse to create a stellar movie. Bonham's
tracking intuition and Hallam's elusive animal instincts
pull you into the hunt. Each confrontation pitting the
two equally talented actors against each other provide
some great, high-powered tension. The duo of Jones
and Del Toro is quite a respectable follow-up to prede-
cessors like "Rambo."

Hey you, get your damn hands off her!
respect to his intelligence.
Intrigued by his first rodent com-
panion, Willard returns to the base-
ment where he finds hundreds of
Socrates' cohorts, all with which he
has an especially good rapport.
Upon discovering his personal con-
nection with the rats, Willard begins
to train them, developing minions
for his own personal acts of
vengeance, the first of which is an
attack on Martin's house.
Willard's acts progress from petty
vandalism, and upon his mother's
death - which was because of a
heart attack caused by an encounter
with the rats - and his subsequent
findings that his boss is in fact try-
ing to swindle his money and the
family home, Willard targets Martin.
Screenwriter Glen Morgan, an
alleged Hitchcock fanatic, seeks to
recreate a tense, classic thriller and
Glover is certainly the appropriate
man for the lead. His grudgingly

feeble persona is ideal for this role.
His character is rather sympathetic,
a product of others' restraints and
subjugation. The self-indulgent,
unforgiving nature of his mother
and boss only increase sympathy
for him.
Glover's tense character and
"Willard's" typically somber enyi-
rons are complemented and bal-
anced well by almost farcical
humor at times. Whether it be his
alien appearance juxtaposed with
normal people at a supermarket or
his mother's admonishing about
masturbation, the film employs
Willard's overwrought character as
a comic relief to the mood that it
otherwise creates. On the whole,
though, Glover creates the perfect
for this tempestuous role; further-
more, the frenzied rats become
refreshing mechanisms-for thrill
and horror, certainly getting under
your skin.

Safety of Objects' hard to let go

By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer

Festival winners span the globe

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor
For the last week, Ann Arbor once
again served as a meeting place for
independent and experimental film-
makers from all over the globe. The
41st Ann Arbor Film Festival took
over the Michigan Theater and every-
thing from 16mm animated short
films to feature length documentaries
to Japanese experiments in video
inhabited the theater's two screens.
This year's fest was easily labeled a
transition year with new festival
director Chrisstina Hamilton taking
over for 15-year veteran director
Vickey Honeymoon. Hamilton also
prompted the festival to accept 35mm
films into its competition for the first
time. Yet, in a year steeped in change,
the Ken Burns Best of the Festival
award went to "Nebel (Mist)," from
German filmmaker Matthias Muller,
a previous winner at the festival.
Muller's experimental film visual-
ized words and themes from the series
of poems "Gedichte an die Kindheit"

by Ernst Jandl. Filmed in the 35mm
format, "Nebel (Mist)'s" win honored
Hamilton's decision to include the
more commercial format; film experi-
mentation has greatly evolved from its
8mm and 16mm roots, and the inclu-
sion of 35mm makes a great case for
the future acceptance of video as well,
where some of the best experimental
work is being done today (as proven
by Saturday Night's "Spotlight on
Japan" program in the theater's
Screening Room).
Even with filmmakers from all
over the world presenting their films,
the festival still managed to honor
even the most local of filmmakers.
University film and video student
Zach Evans took home the Detroit
Filmmakers Coalition award for his
animation "June 7, 1948 - August 4,
1998." This is the second-straight
year that the festival has honored a
student from the program after
awarding graduate Jessica Weinberg's
"Attempt?" last year.
Ann Arbor filmmaker Travis Wilk-
erson also took home two awards

including one for Best Michigan
Filmmaker for his documentary on
the murder of union organizer Frank
Little, "An Injury to One."
While the focus of the festival cer-
tainly remained the daily screenings
of films in competition, the juror's
presentations of their own work and
the supplemental programs in the
Screening Room provided some of
the highlights of the week. Sam
Green's documentary "The Weather
Underground" chronicling the titular
'60s militant offshoot of the Students
for Democratic Society with archival
footage and interviews was so popu-
lar that audience demand forced the
addition of not one, but two addition-
al screenings over the weekend.
A transition year for the festival
never appeared anything but an ordi-
nary, smooth production thanks to
the hardwork of all the projection-
ists, volunteers and workers
involved, a compliment to the new
directors and the future of the inde-
pendent and experimental film
showcase in Ann Arbor.

"The Safety of Objects" is an
emotionally-charged film that
explores the relationships within
and surrounding four different fami-
lies. When Esther Gold's (Glenn
Close, "Fatal Attraction") son Paul
(Joshua Jackson,
"The Skulls") is The Safety
left brain dead
and on life sup- Of Objects
port after a tragic At Madstone
accident, time IFC Films
seems to stop for
the film's characters, only to start
again when he is finally able to be
put to rest.
Each of the four families is dys-
functional in their own way, whether
by divorce, injury or neglect. As
their lives begin to unravel, all of
the main characters are forced to
face their own shortcomings and
choose whether to move forward or
remain, to release their inner
demons or hold on to them.
The film's title stems from this
fact that there is a sort of comfort in
holding onto certain objects. These
physical crutches that can jade one's

view of reality and give the illusion
of safety seem to range from a plas-
tic doll, to a guitar, to even another
human being. With Esther being the
ultimate symbol for this idea, enter-
ing a contest to win a car where she
must remain touching the car for the
longest without letting go, we are
able to see her total breakdown as
representative of the world existing
around her.
"The Safety of Objects" has its
moments visually, but the film is
mostly enriched by its many great
performances. While some of the
players may have more screen time
than others, each actor's part is
essential and performed with the
utmost sincerity.
Along with Close's Esther, Der-
mot Mulroney's ("My Best Friend's
Wedding") portrayal of Jim Train
breathes new life into the otherwise
stereotypical neglectful husband
who has been consumed by his job.
His search for meaning leads him to
and binds him with Esther, allowing
for his rediscovery of the love and
importance of his own family.
From its haunting, yet evocative
title sequence to the way in which
director Rose Troche chooses to
weave portions of Paul's accident
throughout the film - never reveal-

I took a Vicodin.

ing the entire sequence until the end
- "The Safety of Objects" is a film
that brings with it an emphasis on
acting and not editing. Not to say
that the film is shot with many long
takes (despite the fact that it does
drag at a few moments), but the lens
of Troche's camera does act as a
type of capturing device that merely
records what becomes a deeply spe-
cific reality in suburbia.

I

4--

'Alliance' tops 'Mortal Kombat' franchise

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By Daniel Yowell
Daily Arts Writer

IREVIEW
The original "Mortal Kombat,"
with its unprecedented level of over-
the-top blood,
gore and ingen- Mortal
ious fatalities,
opened the gate Kombat:
.a4 P ely~u

"Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance" is
hands down the most sophisticated
and best game in the series so far.
The gore is still outrageous and the
fatalities still ridiculous, but the
gameplay in "Deadly Alliance" is
surprisingly complex. Kombat now
takes place in fully 3-D environ-
ments, where sidestepping, blocking
and reversals play a major role in
fighting strategy. Remarkably, each
raf the ) ehrn.- hs th.eeA;t.n.

installment involve fewer movements,
and are therefore easier to perform
than ever before. To make learning
the ropes easier, Midway has even
incorporated a tutorial system into
"DA," which makes mastering tech-
niques more of a challenge than a
guessing game.
"Deadly Alliance" looks great too,
even if it's not eye-popping.
"Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance"
r-nara -nC. a n n, awhnt.r for i h

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