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April 14, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-14

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April 14, 03



By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer

Dark 'Spider' spins web of intrigue

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Writer

David Cronenberg's latest film "Spi-
der" is the kind of film that begs for
repeated viewings and endless discus-
sions on its thematic elements and its
tangled, yet exquisitely structured plot.

From Peter Segal, the director of "Tommy Boy,"
comes the new comedy "Anger Management." Open-
ing with an instance of childhood trauma where he is
"depanted" during his first kiss, Dave Buznik (Adam
Sandler) grows up unable to kiss his girlfriend Linda
(Marisa Tomei) in public. The least
of his problems, Buznik allows a
Keaton-esque world to walk all Anger
over him and never fights back ... Management
until he meets Dr. Buddy Rydell At the Quality 16,
(Jack Nicholson). Showcase and
After "assaulting" a flight atten- Madstone
dant on a plane, Dave is sentenced to Columbia
anger management, a self-help group
for people who can't seem to control their rage. Dave is
assigned an ally in the group, Chuck (John 'Iurturro),
who manages to get him into so much trouble that Buddy
has to shack up with him for more intensive therapy.
Having to adhere to Buddy's every command, Dave
finds his world turned upside down and inside out, help-
less against a man who is seemingly insane. In one
scene, Buddy has Dave stop his car in the middle of a
bridge on the way to work to sing "I Feel Pretty." It
would be later, when Buddy steals Linda from Dave, that
the stakes get raised and Dave becomes a man of action,
beginning his quest to save the one he loves.
The question that runs throughout the movie is
whether Buddy is actually trying to help Dave, or
whether he has other, more devious motives. With the
world already apparently conspiring against him and
Buddy at the helm of the great ship Dave, one wonders
when the pain ends and the healing begins.
The film itself isn't painful despite the fact that it
seems to take forever to get underway. If you can sustain
interest through the setup, the path leads to great laughs,
inherent in the sheer comedic acting potential, through-
out the rest of the picture.
Sandler and Nicholson are a decent duo onscreen,
and both actors are eager to upstage each other. San-
dler's signature Happy Madison-style is a great compli-
ment to the cool Nicholson, who can get by with
simply moving his eyebrows or nodding his head. The
cast list doesn't solely rely on the credentials of these

Cronenberg, the
Canadian director
who gave us
exploding heads in
"Scanners" and
one-upped "The
Matrix" with the

At the State Theater
Sony Pictures

inside-the-video-game thriller "eXis-
tenZ," might seem an odd choice to
adapt Patrick McGrath's 1990 novel
for the big screen, but within the first
few minutes of the brilliant film it
becomes abundantly clear he is the
perfect maestro to direct the twisted
tale of schizophrenia.
"Spider" is the story of Dennis Cleg
(Ralph Fiennes), a schizophrenic man
who has just been released from a
mental hospital. He walks slowly and
with a slouch, mumbling his way
toward a London halfway house for
people in his condition. Dennis, or Spi-
der, as his mother nicknamed him as a
boy, is disheveled to say the least -
wearing four layers of collared shirts, a
pair of mucky jackets and carrying a
briefcase that looks as if it had been
hiding in the corner of a flea market
for decades.
As fate would have it, his halfway
house is located in his old childhood
neighborhood and Dennis begins piec-
ing together moments of his past. In a
flashback we see Dennis as a young
boy living with his bar-hopping father
(Gabriel Byrne) and mild-mannered
mother (Miranda Richardson). Cro-
nenberg films the surroundings with a
sense of overwhelming claustrophobia
that sets the tone for his protagonist.
Cronenberg unfolds the story of Den-
nis' childhood from two vantage points
- one from Dennis the boy and the
other from Dennis the man. The talent-

This means something ... this is important!

ed director delicately navigates
between the past and the present to
reveal what becomes a schizophrenic
web of adultery and murder.
Fiennes is in top form as the para-
noid schizophrenic, effortlessly slip-
ping into the role that demands little in
terms of dialogue (he barely utters a
complete sentence throughout the
film), but insists on the slightest of
physical nuances and stringent facial
expressions. Fiennes skillfully delves
inside the troubled mind of his charac-
ter as if he was a great silent film star,
and the end result is his best perform-
ance since "Schindler's List."
Clocking in at 98 minutes, "Spider"
moves at a sluggish, but meticulous

pace that plays perfectly to Cronen-
berg's grand design. He sets up his
scenes cautiously and lets them satu-
rate into the storyline before he moves
on. It all builds up to a stunning
crescendo in the final minutes of the
film that forces viewers to re-evaluate
everything they have just seen.
"Spider" is arguably Cronenberg's
most accomplished and beautiful film
to date. Not since 1988's "Dead
Ringers" has the director crafted a dra-
matic film so wonderfully structured
and realized. He owes much of the
success of the film to his star Fiennes
and screenwriter McGrath, but, in the
end, "Spider" is indubitably a David
Cronenberg film.

Courtesy of Columbia
I don't want to hurt you. I just want to bash your brains In!
two stars either: Woody Harrelson, Heather Graham,
former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and college
basketball coach Bobby Knight all make appearances,
just to name a few.
Moving from films like "Billy Madison" and
"Happy Gilmore," to "Punch-Drunk Love" and now
"Anger Management," it's safe to say that Sandler has
grown as an actor. While he does retain some of his
earlier flavor, Sandler's career has taken him to new
comedic and dramatic heights that allow his creativity
as an actor to shine through.

Cnt y d a guE N ta special aE sCeiEg
Invite you and a guest to a special advance screening

'Intervention' brings humor, sheds light on confict

By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer

Writer/producer/director Elia
Suleiman's "Divine Intervention" is a
remarkably strong debut that lends
itself to a nostalgic style foreign to
many viewers. Extremely economical

make so much of seemingly so little.
Scenes at the hospital and with his
lover at theguard station are striking-
ly funny and witty in their approach.
For example, as Suleiman's character
is silent throughout, the extended
scenes of him and his lover are exe-
cuted without conversation. This is no
easy feat, but Suleiman conquers it
deftly. The couple does nothing more
than hold hands while together, but
with the camera focusing entirely on
their paired hands and an oddly
melodic jazz beat playing in the back-
ground, the scene becomes hilarious
and uniquely engrossing.
His surrealist techniques are even
more commendable. In a scene with
his lover, Suleiman blows up a red
balloon with Yasser Arafat's face on it

in his verbiage
(giving himself
an entirely silent
role), wry in his
comedy and at
times surreal with
his imagery,
Suleiman endows

and releases it into the sky. The cam-
era then tracks the balloon throughout
the city's environs, and the effect of
this scene is simply indescribable. As
mentioned with the handholding
shots, it becomes a captivating pseu-
do-reality and removes you from the
uneasiness of the situation.
These clips of comedy and surreal-
ism comprise much of the film, but
ultimately, they are just icing on the
cake. "Intervention" is a lucid take on
the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, and it should be commended
as such. Suleiman is able to capture
the psychology of the conflict in his
techniques, which is in itself is
All things said, Suleiman brings a
comically innovative perspective to a

Courtesy of Avatar Films


it's a sweater!

At the Michigan
Avatar Films

seemingly endless struggle, and in
doing so, he establishes a unique style
that pays homage to the laconic flicks
of yore yet innovates like few others.
"Divine Intervention" may initially
seem foreign, but given time, its sub-
tle genius and skillful craftsmanship
are fully revealed.

This film is not yet rated.
The first 100 people to stop by The Michigan Daily office
will receive a complimentary ticket for two.
Limile.4 N H AEMtH:es as:h smsfya ' i, ID A YY jaea 3j ie . "be ? aw wodet

a quirky comedy with strong Israeli-
Palestinian underpinnings.
Suleiman's unique approach takes
some getting used to at first, though,
as his methods are certainly unortho-
dox. "Intervention" commences with
random vignettes of hostile neigh-
bors in and around the city of
Nazareth. Supposedly a humorous
microcosm of the larger conflict that
plagues the region, these scenes are
simply comedic in their ability to
showcase the common idiocy of par-
ticular people, the irrationality that
allows such trivial skirmishes to
escalate eventually to mutual hatred.
Soon hereafter, Elia introduces his
character. Visiting his ailing father,
he establishes a residence in
Nazareth. He frequents the hospital
there and ultimately meets a woman.
They begin to see each other, but for
security reasons, they are only able
to meet at a guard station that divides
their two locales, as she resides in
the West Bank.
This apparently basic plotline is
essentially what the entire film
evolves from, which is a testament to
Suleiman's talent as a filmmaker - to
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The new Primetime version of the landmark talent show
University of Michigan
The Michigan League
911 N. University
Monday, April 14th
8 am- 6 pm

For more info, call 1-800-553-3811 or go to CBS.com

Come enjoy a free night of entertainment!'
Audience members wanted: Comedy Showcase, April 14th
Seating begins 7:30 pm, show 8 pm
University Club, 530 S. Main St.


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