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March 25, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-03-25

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March 25, 2003



Toned-down Oscars
rife with surprises

Courtesy of Nintendo

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer
There were no glitzy pre-awards
festivities, no extravagant red-carpet
arrivals or superfluous fashion evalua-
tions. Instead, the stars rolled into the
Kodak Theatre Sunday night through
a less-glamorous parking garage
entrance on the other side of the the-
ater. In their place, right in front of
Oscar's new home, hundreds of pro-
and anti-war demonstrators rallied on
Hollywood Blvd. to express their
opinions. This, unfortunately, did not
mean less of the E!'s Joan and Melis-
sa Rivers, but did signify that this
year's Academy Awards would be a
much more subdued affair.
That it was, with the 75th annual
Oscars being only slightly more
entertaining than the TV Guide
Awards. Steve Martin clearly proved
himself a capable host for the second
year in a row, capturing the frivolity
of the awards with a perfect balance
of irreverence and class. However,
Martin was not enough to save the
awards from their usual tedium.
Despite ending on time, at three-
and-a-half hours, the ABC telecast
still ran longer than "Gangs of New
Though it was a toned-down
event, politics didn't take center
stage as many predicted it would.
Most artists at the podium either
avoided the subject of war altogeth-
er or gracefully wished for a quick
and peaceful resolution. The excep-
tion was Flint native Michael
Moore, who, when picking up his
Best Documentary award for "Bowl-
ing for Columbine," launched into
an inappropriate and distasteful
tirade, attacking the Bush adminis-
tration, its "fictitious president" and
the "fictitious war" being waged
against Iraq. He was met with both
applause and boos from the crowd.
Afterward, Martin tried to settle the

riled crowd, joking that "the Team-
sters are helping Michael Moore
into the trunk of his limo."
The rest of the night went off
without a hitch, with "Chicago" col-
lecting the Best Picture trophy along
with five others. Other winners
included Nicole Kidman for her por-
trayal of Virginia Woolf in "The
Hours," Chris Cooper for his sup-
porting work in "Adaptation" and
no-show Eminem, who took Best
Song honors for "Lose Yourself"
from the 8 Mile Soundtrack.
The biggest surprises of the night,
however, came thanks to the Holo-
caust drama "The Pianist." After
winning for Best Adapted Screen-
play, Roman Polanski took home the
Best Director prize, upsetting the
heavily-favored Martin Scorsese.
Polanski, of course, wasn't there to
accept the award, because he fled
the country more than 25 years ago
to avoid sentencing on a statutory
rape conviction.
But perhaps the biggest shock of
them all came when the winner for
Best Actor was announced. Beating
out four past-winners, including
favorites Jack Nicholson and Daniel
Day-Lewis, was Adrien Brody for his
tour-de-force performance as Wla-
dyslaw Szpilman, the film's titular
character. Accepting the award,
Brody gave the night's most affecting
and emotional speech, receiving a
standing ovation for his touchingly
expressed appreciation of Polanski,
Szpilman and American soldiers
In a way, Brody embodied the sen-
timent of this year's Oscars perfectly.
Winning for a role that illustrates the
atrocities of war, his humorous, ten-
der and poignant acceptance remind-
ed us all that in a time when there
are far more important things going
on in the world, it is important to
ease the mind a little, without forget-
ting completely.

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Writer

Nintendo's Game Boy, the best-selling video
game system of all-time, is sleeker, sexier, smaller
than ever and somehow, even more convenient.
Called the Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo has
upgraded its portable system
with an array of new features Game Boy
that address complaints of
Game Boy owners. The tech- Advance SP
nical power of the SP is identi- Nintendo
cal to its predecessor, but the
big difference in this fifth incarnation of the sys-
tem is the new illumination feature.
For years, the biggest qualm in the gaming com-
munity has been the difficulty in seeing the screen
on the Game Boy, and despite all the criticisms,
Nintendo never felt rushed to add a backlight to its
system. Other companies offered backlit systems
- Sega's Game Gear and NEC's Turbo Express to
name a few - but the feature drained batteries

quickly and left gamers switching their Energizers
every few hours. Nintendo's lack of light didn't
deter people from buying the Game Boy, as the
system has dominated the portable gaming market
since its debut in 1989.
Nintendo has solved the battery problem by
powering the Game Boy Advance SP with a
rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Gameplay lasts
around 10 hours with the light feature enabled and
up to 18 hours when the light is not in use. Ninten-
do claims the rechargeable battery will last several
years, but has said nothing on how much replace-
ment batteries might cost. Finally, gamers can
enjoy hours upon hours of backlit, portable gam-
ing without having to spend a fortune on batteries.
Holding the SP takes some getting used to as
the system is about half the size of the regular
Game Boy Advance. The flip-screen design resem-
bles most cell phones and is a smart way of reduc-
ing the overall system size. An added bonus of the
flip-screen is the protection it provides for the
screen itself. The compact design of the SP might
be misleading, however, the size of the screen has
not gotten any smaller. When the Game Boy

Advance SP is folded down, the casing prevents
the screen from getting nicked, dinged or
scratched. The shoulder L and R buttons are sig-
nificantly smaller and could be difficult to use for
people with large hands. While not as comfortable
as the previous Game Boy, the SP model still feels
fine after hours of gameplay.
One glaring omission from the SP version of
Nintendo's popular portable system is the head-
phone jack, which was apparently not included in
an effort to keep the system size at a minimum.
Most people probably will never notice the lack of
the jack, but for those who can't play their Game
Boy without headphones a jack adapter is avail-
able (sold separately of course).
Priced at $100, the Game Boy Advance SP is a
great deal for people looking to buy a portable
game system for the first time. The system plays
all current and past Game Boy games (hundreds of
titles), making compatibility a non-issue. For those
who already own a Game Boy Advance, the cost
of buying the SP solely for the backlight feature
and flip-screen design may not be worth it, but
once you see the light it's hard to resist the urge.

Uninspired plot keeps
'. 'View' from taking off

'Futurama' DVD does FOX castoff proud

By Tara Billik
Daily Arts Writer

Perhaps the fact that this film about
"flying the friendly skies" was in the
can pre-9/lI has something to do with
its choppy route. However, the reason
"View From the Top" never really

takes off has more
to do with first
time screenwriter
Eric Wald's stale
script and director
Bruno Barreto's
half-baked film-
making than any

View from
the Top
At Quality 16 and

delays or other cop-out reasoning.
The movie focuses on a small town
girl, Donna Jensen (Gwyneth Pal-
trow), restlessly stuck in her small
town world. An appearance on a talk
show by the queen of flight atten-
dants, Sally Weston (Candace
Bergen), inspires Donna to indulge in
her own fantasy of becoming a stew-
ardess. Her ambitions snag her a
position at Sierra Airlines, boasting
the motto, "big hair, short skirts, and
service with a smile." Enough said.
A budding relationship is clipped
between her and former law student
Ted (Mark Ruffalo, "You Can Count
on Me") as she teams up with two
fellow flight attendants (including
Christina Applegate) to seek out a job
with a more "professional" airline.
Under the cross-eyed watch of their
flight school instructor (Mike
Myers), Donna and Christina join
Royalty Airlines. Due to some myste-
rious scandal, Donna is stripped of

her dream of serving caviar to first
class passengers. Nevertheless,
Donna's professional setback allows
her to pursue a romantic relationship
with Ted. As Sally Weston intervenes
to unravel the scandal, Donna is now
faced with a new dilemma: A perfect-
ly cliched conflict of love versus her
professional dream.
"View's" brief 87 minutes of screen
time is lengthened by cinematic turbu-
lence. It is disheartening to see our
beauties, Applegate and Paltrow, con-
stantly bathed in garish light. The
soundtrack disrupts the narrative with
overbearing bouts of pop songs. Also,
Barreto presents a rather schizo-
phrenic temporality that, intentional or
not, is simply confusing. The gaudy
decor suggests a '70s setting, whereas
the soundtrack boasts an '80s aura, yet
modern elements, like a remark
regarding Dr. Phil, also suggest the
present time. Indeed, the pervading
catalyst of the story, Donna's dream of
becoming a stewardess, is hardly a
contemporary ideal.
As far as acting goes, Barreto is
blessed with a fine cast. Paltrow
keeps the film aflight by smoothing
Donna's strange transition from
dimwitted bimbo to French speaking
sophisticate with her natural charm.
She shows off her sculpted stems to
make up for any shortcomings in her
character's substance. Applegate mas-
terfully rejuvenates her appropriately
Bundy-esque role. Bergen shines as
Donna's mentor and directs passen-
gers to the exits with perfect form.
Ruffalo grounds the film as the only
reasonably real-life character. Unfor-
tunately, a connection with Paltrow is

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer
"The Simpsons" brought about a
renaissance of primetime animation,
most notably on the FOX network.
However, series creator Matt Groening

did not offer a fol-
low-up until 1999,
when he brought
"Futurama" to the
masses. While on
the air, FOX treat-
ed the show as the

Season One
FOX Home

in case of emergency, your stewardess
can be used as a floatation device.
non-existent as is evident in their
awkward embraces.
As faulty advertising has led peo-
ple astray, Myers' role is far from a
starring one. His flight instructor act,
based on physical comedy, deserves a
laugh at first. However, the audience
can be thankful for his minimal
appearance after painstakingly strain-
ing to focus on his wayward eye.
"View From the Top" hovers over
comedy land and romantic melodra-
ma, yet never makes a complete stop
in either. If the warm peanut jokes are
enough to hold your attention until
the end, stick around for the closing
credit sequence where all the hilari-
ous outtakes, that would have served
the movie quite well, have ended up.

bastard child of Groening instead of
the comic gem it truly was. With the
release of the Season One DVD set,
"Futurama" can further separate from
"The Simpsons" by seeing the growth
and ingenuity of the characters and
situations proving why it should be
able to stand on its own merits.
The sci-fi element of "Futurama"
plays an integral part in crafting the
characters and stories. "Futurama"
takes place in the year 3000 and fea-
tures a broad and distinctive cast of
characters ranging from a foul-
mouthed robot, Bender, to a lobster-
like alien, the bizarre Dr. Zoidberg.
Even though it is set in the future, the
show manages to lampoon current
pop culture trends and celebrities by
incorporating a 20th century man as
the centralcharacter, the accidentally
cryogenically frozen Fry.
The picture is crisp and clear,
noticeably better than an episode that

airs on TV and also does not have to
deal with the compression issues of
other DVD sets by only putting four
or five episodes per disc. The sound
also is a strength, utilizing a Dolby-
digital soundtrack with three lan-
guage options and a high quality full
length commentary track. Most tele-
vision DVD sets are lacking on the

extras, but "Futurama" follows in the
footsteps of "The Simpsons" by offer-
ing a large amount of features. There
is a commentary track on every
episode, storyboards and animatics
for "Space Pilot 3000" and a few
deleted scenes. The packaging is also
impressive with mini DVD sleeves
instead of the standard fold out.
While "Futurama" consistently
struggled to garner the ratings FOX
wanted, the DVD set proves FOX
dropped the ball by canceling such a
compelling and comical show. With a
small group of strongly-defined char-
acters and incredible animation,
"Futurama" is one of the best small
screen cartoons of the past decade.
The DVD set of the first season is the
perfect way to enjoy the wit and
humor of Matt Groening's second-
best creation.

Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: ****

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