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January 14, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-14

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Tuesday
January 14, 2003
michigandaiy.com/arts
mae@michigandaily.com

Ul F b e 1 Iic au a o g
RTS

5

"I'm pretty
sure that I was
actually in Joy
Division so I'm
only ripping off
myself."
Alex Wolsky/DAILY

"I

Interpol brings back the rock

Courtesy of Focus Featu
"Let's see now ... what are the chords for 'Heart and Soul' again?"
A SURVIVORS TALE
POLANKSI'S 'THE PIANIST' FINDS
HEART IN BRODY' S PERFORMANCE

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor

Unable to escape his own childhood memories of
the Holocaust, Roman Polanksi has long harbored a
desire to make a World War II survival film. The Pol-
ish director, famous for crafting the classics "Rose-
mary's Baby" and "Chinatown," never wanted to film
his own personal remembrance, instead opting for the
story of another, which he could then arrange to fit the
things he saw and the truths he knew from his own
experiences. Although an actual prisoner in a concen-
tration camp himself, Polanksi avoids the normal
Holocaust film story line, never showing those famil-
iar worksites in "The Pianist."
Based on an autobiography by Wladyslaw Szpilman,
Polanski found the story of a man who seems to survive
the German occupation more by luck than personal
ingenuity. Trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto for most of the

soundtrack mostly mute. This elevates the moments
where instruments actually sound, moments which are
few and far between.
Polanski looked long and hard for the perfect Euro-
pean to fill Szpilman's role but, in the end, found the
right actor in little known, American born Adrien
Brody. Brody's career has been marked by worthy but
small performances in credible films ("The Thin Red
Line") and wonderful, scene stealing turns in movies
far inferior to his work ("Summer of Sam"). With "The
Pianist," the choice of Brody embodies that rare occa-
sion of perfect casting. Already wire-thin, Brody visi-
bly grows more emaciated as his character eats less and
less and becomes sick while locked away in hiding
near the ghetto wall without visit from his supposed
caregivers. Brody never feels inauthentic; the accent is
flawless, and he continuously looks the part of a victim
who, mirroring the detached point of view of the Szpil-
man book, shows no hate for the German soldiers, just

By Alex Wolsky
For the Daily
Standing inside St. Andrews Hall in
Detroit, waiting for Interpol to come
onstage, it occurred to me that the
band that had been so recently cham-
pioned by every record store clerk and
rock fan in the U.S. had a tough feat to
overcome with their live show. They
didn't disappoint. Not only did they
release one of the best albums of 2002
in Turn on the Bright Lights (Mata-
dor), but they are one hell of a live act,
a rarity these days.
From the moment the band hit the
stage, they controlled every emotion
of the audience in stunning fashion.
Like hypnotists, the four members of
Interpol put everyone in a trance for
the entire set; nothing would shake me
from their grip.
As I stood there, absorbing the one-
two punch of "Obstacle 1" and
"NYC," I finally understood why the
record store clerks and die-hard rock
fans were giving these guys so much
praise. Projecting from their powerful
rhythm section were the dissonant
sounds of bass and percussion blended
to create an explosive wall of sound

that put me back in my seat as quickly
as I rose out of it. On top of that grew
vibrant melodies as Paul Banks and
Daniel Kessler created a blistering
overlay of fills and
vocals that cultivated a ,
unique aesthetic and
delicate sound. They
are a band that plays
as a whole and plays
for the joy it brings;
they're not individual-
ists who pine for the
spotlight. After it's all
said and done, this
becomes abundantly
clear and makes the
performance just that
much better.
After six songs, I
was in shock at what I
was seeing: four guys
making great music
and having fun togeth-
er on stage. Perhaps it Trim those ban
was because after a
period that produced some pitiful
releases within the genre, it's refresh-
ing to see great bands once again
emerging. And never fear, they're not
the only ones doing it this time

around. In fact, Interpol represents a
larger contingency of bands coming
out of New York City again. A North-
ern Renaissance of sorts is occurring
right before our eyes.
Along with the
Strokes and the Walk-
men, Interpol shows a
glimmer of chance in
the dead sea of rock
and roll. The music is
back at center stage
and the people behind
it are the returning
2 beacons of cool that
one can look up to
and not feel ashamed.
The boys from Inter-
pol are the denim-clad
messiahs that music is
waiting for.
And, that night,
walking out of the
Alex Wolsky/DAILY venue into the cold
bro. blast of fresh air, I
stared at the old build-
ings surrounding East Congress
Street. For a moment, it seemed like
Detroit Rock City was alive with spirit
once again. It felt like music had taken
in a blast of fresh air as well.

gs

war, Szpilman stumbles from apartment to
local work camp to hideout to hideout to
abandoned hospital; the progression of the
Nazi invasion and the path Szpilman takes
to survival is completely unbelievable, and
that just might be Polanski's point.
Iinmediately shown playing the piano
for Polish radio, Szpilman's expert skill
- and popularity - at classical music
importantly plays a part in the young
pianist's outliving of his entire family.

*** *

THE PIANIST
At the State Theater
and Showcase
Focus Features

the hope for survival.
Around this central performance,
Polanski produces a setting so lifelike that
it must only come from someone Who-
lived it. With all the Holocaust films made
in the past, cinema has never witnessed
blocks and blocks of ruin that so power-
fully show the effects of the war while
simultaneously serving as Szpilman's
hunting ground for the necessities to sur-
vive. Shots of destroyed Warsaw build-

Narc' revives-ailing cop genre.

By Josh NeIdus
Daily Arts Writer

. I- t i

Moreover, it is also this passion and ability that makes
his years of silent, lonely survival all the more hollow.
His radio station playing is quickly interrupted in the
first scene when German bombs rock Warsaw; Polanski
gives the viewer just enough time to appreciate the tal-
ent Szpilman possesses before the blast to the studio.
Forced to sell his family's piano, Szpilman finds a job
playing simple atmosphere music at a Warsaw restau-
rant during the initial Nazi invasion. Unable to play in
his years of hiding, this early performance becomes a
memory Szpilman and the viewer share and hold on to
through all the years of the war. The subtle, yet brilliant,
use of music throughout "The Pianist" must be given its
proper due for creating the film's desolate tone during
this time. For a film where music is so integral to the
main character and what he goes through, Polanksi
avoids a dominating score, choosing instead to leave the

ings, bombed and vacated, surprise Szpilman as he
finally makes it out of his hiding place; the city he once
knew, like the life he once lived, no longer stands.
Moments of near-death and helpful aides along the
way, including a German captain (Thomas
Kretschmann), are surely memories and people a sur-
vivor can never forget. The real Szpilman died in 2000,
but with Polanski's breathtaking film, others can now
appreciate all the chances of fate it took for him to
make it out alive.
One of Polankski's most traditional films, and definite-
ly his most personal, "The Pianist" proves that he doesn't
have to break all the rules of moviemaking and use every
trick in the book to elicit emotional response; simple,
honest storytelling without the manipulation so often
found in stories of war and the Holocaust can affect a
viewer more than Hollywood sentimentalism.

4 Brooks' classic musical comes to DVD

On the surface, "Narc" might just
seem like another good cop/bad cop
movie. One cop uses whatever means
necessary to get answers, while the
other plays things, for the most part,
strictly by the book. But taking
another look, the line between the
two cops becomes increasingly
ambiguous, and it's a testament to the
talent of the filmmakers.
Nick Tellis (Jason Patric) is an under-
cover narcotics officer who has been
suspended for shooting an innocent
bystander while trying to chase down a
drug dealer. Henry Oak (Ray Liotta), a
rage-filled ex-partner of a murdered
cop, will do whatever it takes to get his
answers and his revenge. The investiga-
tive duo is formed when Tellis is,offered
the chance of being reinstated if he uses
his street connections to help find the
killers, and if he agrees to accept Oak
being reassigned to the
case with him. The race
is now on to see what
will be cracked first: the *1
case, or the mind of one
of these dramatically N
unstable cops. At Sho
Director Joe Carnahan, Qua
using multiple, shaky
camera shots, captivates Para
the audience, bringing
them into a starkly real viewing experi-
ence. The opening scene, when Tellis is
chasing down a drug dealer, is shot
using a handheld camera. The rapid
camera movement juxtaposed with a
pensive Tellis immediately relates the
audience to the intensity of his life and
job. Carnahan also makes use of flash-
backs to help piece the story together
and to depict Tellis struggling with his
inner anguish. Disturbing images con-

By Ryan Blay
Daily TV/New Media Editor
In 1968, Mel Brooks created a
terrific film based on the idea of
"creative accounting" and two pro-
ducers creating the worst musical
available. Fast-forward 35 years
later and "The Producers" is one of

at last. Using a very non-PC work titled
"Springtime For Hitler," penned by an
ex-Nazi named Franz Liebkind, they go
to work on their failure.
To play Hitler, they luckily snare
Lorenzo St. Dubois - LSD to his
friends. Lorenzo (played by the fine-
ly cast Dick Shawn), a stereotypical
hippie, soon is explaining to his Nazi
associates why he can't invade Ger-
many because that's where his
friends are, man!

Your facial hair is upstaging mine. Fix it or I walk and do "No Escape 2."

the most memorable
Broadway of the last
How's that for irony?
Only Brooks could
have taken Zero Mos-
tel, a three-time Tony
winner blacklisted
throughout the 1950s,
and envisioned him as
Max Bialystock. Bialy-
stock is a down-on-his-
luck producer who
woos old ladies just to
stay in business. One
day, the accountant Leo
Bloom (Gene Wilder)

works on
10 years..

thing on the Tony winner - on the
otherwise solid 64-minute "Making
of 'The Producers"' documentary
that highlights the extras. Had he
had more time and prompting -
say, on a commentary - he may
have at least given it a passing com-
ment. Sadly, we'll never know.
If the extras aren't spectacular -
although it's fascinating to learn that
Dustin Hoffman and Peter Sellers
almost took roles in the film - the
sound and picture are extraordinary.
The Dolby Digital sound is splendid
and the picture as sharp as can be.
For a film worth purchasing even
with no extras at all, it's refreshing to
see that MGM devoted enough effort
to make the film itself stand out.

A
lit
'am

stantly haunting him, along with the
whirlwind of new information and
stress from the case, maintain a consis-
tent state of turmoil. But coupled with
the voyeuristic scenes of
Tellis arguing with his
wife at home, or trashing
7kM his office after letting his
frustration get the best of
RC him, the question of how
case and much longer he can han-
ty 16 dle the case without
snapping becomes more
ount predominant.
The camera also
makes Oak seem a little crazier and
much bigger than he actually is. The
close-ups on his piercing gaze stay tight
when he starts yelling, and it's a rare

occasion in the movie when he's not
yelling. Flashbacks and scene cuts show
Oak taking the law into his own hands
by severely beating perps, thus demon-
strating his lack of control. Extra
padding under his clothes help an older
Liotta turn into a menacing, ruthless
bear of cop.
Together, Tellis and Oak take matters
into their own hands to uncover the
truth. Occasionally, they partially bend
the rules; other times, they completely
break them. By the end, numerous sto-
ries about the death of Oak's partner
begin to weigh heavily on Tellis' sanity.
While Carnahan leaves it up to the
viewer to decide what really happened,
maybe solving the case wasn't the real
point of the movie.

THE PRODUCERS
DVD
Picture/Sound: *****
Movie: ****I
Features: ***
MGM

The mortified look
on the faces in the
crowd is the only thing
more priceless than the
image of dancing
women playing Nazi
storm troopers, as the
cast unites for the
show-stopping "Spring-
time for Hitler."
The scheme and gag

Unow

ZzZ's~

Chant
Lanco
n - I

shows up.

Bloom may be prone to hysterics,
but he comes up with a scheme that
could net them millions: Take in as
much money as possible to produce
a show, then ensure it is a sure-fire
opening night bust.
Reluctant to go through with the
highly risky scheme at first, Leo agrees

are pure Brooks. The
acting is what carries it over the top.
Wilder, of course, had a successful
career in comedies like "Blazing
Saddles." Mostel, however, was a
real steal.
Max and Leo were later played by
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broder-
ick on Broadway. Yet Brooks never
mentions this - or much of any-

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