March 24, 2003
King's latest 'Dream' a nightmare
By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer
IN DEVASTATION, VIOLENCE
By Ryan Lewis
Daily Film Editor
First-time Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles' "City of
God" transports viewers to a decrepit, violent place that
most of us will never visit during a time of supreme insta-
bility that most of us could never imagine or ever hope to
witness. In every facet of the story and _______
its construction, Meirelles confronts a
harsh reality with an abrupt lens. City of God
Sometimes the imagery is so powerful At the Michigan
it prompts disgust and turns heads, but Theater
at all times, the omnipresent camera Miramax
captivates and sdmehow transforms
ugliness - inhumane and insufferable - into a picture as
profound as it is beautiful.
From the opening images of a knife sharpening and a
chicken chase that leads to guns ablaze, the situation
encompassing the wandering innocence of the hopeful
photographer Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) explodes
with the impending death and violence that he cannot
escape. Following one of the more overused recent cine-
matic trends, "City of God" explores temporal shifts and
non-linear storytelling; but it manages itself to the
In the 1960s, the city was less than a barrio; it served as
a home for transients and the poor, built to prevent con-
tamination in the tourist attraction of Rio de Janeiro.
Overwrought with scum and hoods, the city's kids take it
upon themselves to live via the gun. Rocket's brother'
Goose and two other boys form the Tender Trio, the gang
that supersedes all others in the shanty town. This band of
misfits soon breaks up and two end up dead, leaving the
power in the hands of a young Li'l Ze, who becomes a
star-crossed and feuding warmonger.
What becomes even more wondrous than the kids'
the kids in
the City of
God fall by
Courtesy of Mirarnax
I pull the trigger until it goes click!
lifestyles is the intrinsic violence and apathy amongst the
people. No matter how hard any individual tries, the
destruction prevents them from escaping. The 1960s
bleed into the 1970s, the dust-pit of life turns into a
neighborhood and the gangs become dealers with power
backed by firepower. The explosive personalities inside
the city, especially the gang leaders, darken the hopefuls
and kill off the innocent. Even those who try their hardest
to stay away from the trouble manage to get sucked into
the unholy war.
At first glance, "Cidade de Deus" - the Portuguese
translation of "City of God"- seems more a label rife
with irony and distaste. According to name, what should
be a beacon of light and joy, Cidade de Deus envelopes a
delineation more apt for hell than heaven. But the intrica-
cies of the movie, the sad but beautiful impossibilities in
the lives of these young men, implant a deeply significant,
almost divine meaning into its pain and unfathomable evil.
Some overly utilized and Hollywoodized editing and
camera tricks are employed in a fresh and elegant manner.
What would be construed as cliche and trite by American
standards only furthers the plot and fits in unobtrusively.
While at some points hard to watch, the shaky camera
lends itself to inspiring compositions and a fitting feeling.
Meirelles has a distinct power in his storytelling that
intertwines each of his characters in a unique and devas-
tating fashion. Watching each of these people who never
have a chance, who never even know something else
exists - those who do never realize it - is heartbreak-
ing, but the life that thrives underneath the grime is
impossible to turn away from and even harder to watch
fall. After all the killing is done, the hardest factto coin:
prehend, and possibly the most devastating, is that the
story is true. This place really exists. Only, it's so danger-
ous even still that the film had. to be shot on another city's
streets. Perhaps the effect of Meirelles' tone finds the
most meaning, even in light of "City of God's" amazing
qualities, after the story has already finished its telling.
Stephen King's novels are traditionally ideal for cinematic
adaptations, as seemingly every book he writes successfully
finds its way to theatres. However, "Dreamcatcher," his most
recently filmed horror tale, proves utterly unsuitable for the
screen and amounts to an incoherent alien thriller that certain-
ly will not please his most devoted horror fans.
Pete (Timothy Olyphant), Henry (Thomas Jane), Beaver
(Jason Lee) and Jonesy (Damien Lewis) lead independent
yet closely linked-lives, forever bonded by a shared child-
hood experience in their hometown of Derry, Maine. They
rescued a boy, known to them as Duddits (Donnie Wahlberg),
from local bullies. He joined their circle of friends and
bestowed upon them all a penchant for premonitions and
superhuman foresight. Arriving at the cabin where they com-
memorate their brotherhood with annu-
al hunting trips, the men are met by a
ferocious blizzard that essentially Dreamcatcher
detaches them from civilization. At Quality 16 and
Beaver and Jonesy come across a Showcase
beleaguered hunter and Henry and Pete Wamer Bros.
flip their car to avoid a stranded older
lady. Both the hunter and the lady are having brutal stomach
pains and are marked by red rashes on their faces. Aliens
emerge from both people's bodies, killing Beaver and injuring
the others rather seriously. The men discover that the area in
which they camp is quarantined by a renegade military offi-
cer,' Col. Abraham Kurtz (Morgan Freeman). The ensuing
action pits the men, Kurtz and his team against an alien force
Just like the drink, only not spelt the same.
that only they, with the help of Duddits, can vanquish.
"Dreamcatcher" builds very promising initial suspense, as
the vignettes from the characters' lives and the trek into the
mountains build an ominous foundation for the rest of the
film; however, this opening, well-crafted suspense is soon
left by the wayside.
The alien attacks, while technically sound, are unfulfilling
and deflate any existent tension and suspense within audi-
ence members. Furthermore, Freeman's role as a deranged
alien hunter extraordinaire comes across as more comic than
threatening. Generally, all that follows the initial complica-
tion is anticlimactic.
Whether this failed plot resolution and lack of desired sus-
pense and terror is the fault of King as storyteller or of the
filmmakers is ambiguous. Regardless, "Dreamcatcher" fails
to capitalize on the potential it initially boasts.
'Dragon' ballet breaks from convention
By Lynn Hasselbarth
Daily Arts Writer
FIN£E AR R SP EW
We live in world where political dif-
ferences are played out on the battle-
field and lessons are learned after
tragedy passes. However, for centuries,
artists have stepped
in when dialogue
has turned to vio-
lence and created
an alternative out-
let. Fred Ho has
done just this
career as a musi-
Voice of the
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
At the Power Center
fable from the Ching Dynasty, "Voice
of the Dragon" revolves around the
fate of the Shaolin Temple and the
ancient scripts hidden within its walls.
The deceitful nun, Gar Man Jang,
allies herself with the Manchu imperi-
al forces in an attempt to destroy the
temple. As the temple walls catch
fire, the stage transforms into a spec-
tacle of flames and chaos. During this
time, Gar Man Jang confiscates the
treasured scrolls of the temple, whose
contents reveal the age-old tradition
of martial arts.
Though Ho's production defies all
categories of performance art, "Voice
of the Dragon" can best be described
as a martial arts ballet. Ho's vision
incorporates dramatic theater, humor-
ous narrative as well as intricate cho-
reography'and' awe-inspiring martial
arts. Within this cross-disciplinary
performance lays what Ho calls
"political.art:" art that evokes a con-
sciousness of the present and inspira-
tions for social change.
"Art that doesn't have social impact
is simply frivolous, decedent and ulti-
mately meaningless," says Ho. A self-
identified cultural activist, Ho declares
that most mainstream art is simply
backdrop, entertainment and appeals to
audiences on a superficial level.
With "Voice of the Dragon," Ho
urges audiences to question our per-
ceptions of the prevalent multi-cultur-
al images of mainstream art. He
critiques the use of "fly-by-the-night
multi-cultural fakery" and insists on
deeper knowledge, sensibility and
respect for differences among cul-
tures. Ho strives for a. "revolutionary
internationalism" where people recog-
nize the innate complexity of cross-
cultural images and ideas.
As an Asian American, Ho refuses
to give up any aspect of his identity
for a clearly defined nationality. He
is° a "genre-buster" in all areas df'his
life and "Voice of the Dragon" is no
exception. Ho describes his work as
"fresh, explosive, and satiricalawhile
being martial and music driven, a
fantasy but political, very sophisti-
cated, sensitive, soulful and tremen-
writer and activist. His latest production
is a martial ait'ballethat will be per-
formed Tuesday night at the Power Cen-
ter. "Voice of the Dragon: Once Upon a
Time In Chinese America" i a full-
scale epic fantasy and martial arts ballet
that evokes social consciousness and
Based on a 17th century Chinese
Minus the Bear maul Detroit
By Laura Haber
Daily Arts Writer
For those who like labels with their
rock, Minus the Bear, originally a side
project of members from three of Seat-
tle's most prominent indie bands, is
often ghettoized as math rock, a less
than glamorous subset of indie rock. The
debate over what exactly constitutes
math rock and if Minus qualifies is just
as exciting and productive as arguing
over whether or not Weezer or Jimmy
Eat World should be considered emo.
Labels aside, Minus the Bear is cur-
rently touring in support of their debut
LP Highly Refined Pirates. Friday night
at the Majestic they proved that though
many eyes may be on the Detroit, Seat-
tle remains a breeding ground for cre-
ative and promising acts.
Opening for Michigan's Small
Brown Bike and Cursive, Minus the
Bear faced a half-full house of jaded
Detroit scenesters anxious for enter-
tainment. Entertain they did with a,
sampling of tracks drawn mostly from
Highly Refined Pirates that showcased
their penchant for pop hooks, tapped
guitar leads and unrecognizable time
signatures. Due to time constraints, the
set was decisively, but suitably, rock in
nature, leaving out many of the ambient
'math' instrumentals that characterize
Highly Refined Pirates.
Singer and guitarist Jake Snider's
vocals, delivered in a pleasantly relaxed
manner on record, came to life in a
raspier, more urgent incarnation live. On
"Thanks for the Killer Game of Crisco
Twister" guitarist David Knudson's
terse, frenetic tapped guitar leads call
into the question the necessity of any-
thing existing below the neck of his gui-
tar. Their ode to Paris, "Absinthe Party
at the Fly Honey Warehouse" provided
the sing-along moment of the evening.
As Snider crooned of park benches
older than his country and the dilemma
of choosing between Rodan and the
Orsay, it was impossible not to be swept
up in the moment. One could practically
see the audience mentally plan trips to
the city of lights as the song ended.
Minus the Bear filled its role Friday
with dignity, hopefully wining over
new fans in the process. Their infec-
tious songs and strong stage presence
add up to a great live band with a
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