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September 05, 2002 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-05

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September 5, 2002
michigandaily.comiarts
mae@michigandaily.com

ARTS

9

LOCAL THEATERS HOST SULTRY CINEMA

French import 'Read My Lips'
depicts strange romance, love

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor

This new French import from director Jacques Audiard
arrives with the tagline, "She teaches him good habits; he
teaches her bad ones." Like all movie taglines the poster's quote
oversimplifies a much more complex relationship into a couple
lines that is supposed to gain the ordinary view-
er's $8. In a Hollywood film this plot would
most likely include a montage where Carla, the
quiet, good-natured secretary teaches Paul, the
young parolee how to sit with good posture and READb
put a tie on. This would then be followed by
Paul showing Carla how to jimmy a lock and At Michi1
shoot a gun. However, "Read My Lips" is not so
formulaic. Neither character is really inclined to Magnoli
learn and practice their new habits, be they good
or bad, Paul and Carla just strain to keep the other happy in a
suspenseful relationship in which neither is bold enough to
openly admit his or her feelings.
Carla (Emmanuelle Devos), a 35-year-old secretary deeply
ignored and ridiculed at work, seems to work harder than any-
one else at her longtime workplace, a property development
company. However, while others take bribes and try to take
credit for work she has done, Carla continues to answer phones

M
gat
lia ]

and throw away coffee. Hampering Carla along the way is a
serious hearing problem rendering her almost completely deaf,
but she hides this condition from her co-workers for obvious
emotional protection.
Sick of being alone at work and in life, Carla uses a local hir-
ing agency as a dating service, asking for a 25-year old man
who is well groomed. The scene plays out quite comically and
to Carla's surprise a man seemingly meeting her
criteria arrives shortly after. But Paul (Vincent
Cassel), just out on parole, has no experience as
a secretarial assistant. Carla doesn't mind, she is
4Y LIPS instantly attracted and begins to help him, first
at work and then finding a place to stay.
n Theater Cassel was seen in last year's French were-
wolf adventure "Brotherhood of the Wolf" and
Pictures also provided a voice for the animated hit
"Shrek." Cassel and Devos have astounding
chemisty and the script works perfectly for their ticking time-
bomb relationship. While the entire audience knows the two
characters belong together romantically, and even Paul and
Carla subtlety reveal their own knowledge of this fact, the
script takes its sweet time (actually the time is agonizing) get-
ting them together.
Their mutual admiration leads to Carla bringing crime back
into Paul's life through file-stealing at the office and, as pay-
back, Carla's talent of reading lips becomes useful for Paul's
planned theft of a club owner he already owes money. The once
cute, opposites attract relationship they share takes a turn much
more dangerous than Carla ever imagined but it is one she
never seriously considers departing because attention is finally
on her. She cares too much about Paul to let him carry out his
plan alone.
Bouncy, close-up camera work may bother some viewers but
this reviewer found it exceptional and constantly inspired by
action onscreen and not just a cinematographer's ego. Danger-
ously sexy and only hampered by an awkward subplot revolv-
ing around Paul's parole office, "Read My Lips" is the best
French film to hit the states this year.

'Sex' and Vega steam up screen

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor

Paz Vega is this year's Audrey
Tautou.
Tautou, the star of last year's French
hit "Amelie," invaded movie screens all
across the country last year and, for
those who saw the film, thusly invaded
the fantasies of men and
women everywhere. Not
only was she a great
actress (who was robbed
of an Academy Award
nomination) but she also SEX AN
radiated cute and sexy
better than almost any At State
actress before her. Palm P
Now Vega, starring in
a film about as unlike
"Amelie" as you can get, arrives in
"Sex and Lucia," a film from Spanish
director Julio Medem which earned
11 Goya Awards last year (the equiva-
lent of the Oscar to Spain). Vega, as
Lucia, does not exude the kind of
cuteness Tautou did in her perform-
ance; instead, Vega makes you think
sex and nothing else. The relatively
new actress has a fantastic body and
isn't afraid to show it, all of it. Also,
possessing no inhibitions is her male
counterpart Lorenzo (Tristan Ulloa)
and almost everyone else in the cast.
"Sex and Lucia" plays out mostly
in the flashbacks of Lucia's dis-
traught mind. Early on, she receives a
phone call informing her that her
longtime lover Lorenzo has been
killed in an accident. For comfort and
escape, Lucia heads to a remote
island in the Mediterranean that

Lorenzo had visited years before.
Lucia finds a place to stay at a
guest house run by Elena (Najwa
Nimri), a woman the audience knows
once met Lorenzo in the waters off
the island and later had his child. The
only other guest at the house is Car-
los (Daniel Freire), a mysterious
scuba diver with a special endowment

D LUCIA
e Theater
Pictures

that makes him more
than proficient in the
bedroom (or the sands,
whatever your pleasure).
The film's first half
plays out rather simply,
deceptively simple as it
may be because the sec-
ond half becomes intri-
cately complex as the
line between fiction and

reality becomes just as thin as that
line between night and day. Said
rather bluntly, the relationship
between Lucia, a Madridian waitress,
and Lorenzo, an author, plays out in
porn-like ways, They fulfill each
other's fantasies, utilizing blindfolds,
stripteases and all your favorite "sex
can be fun" amusements. Shot with-
out a blink of the eye, the viewer
becomes an intimate member of the
best sex of these characters' lives.
But "Sex and Lucia," for all its
pornographic material, never feels
amateurish or insincere; Lorenzo and
Lucia really do love each other and
we see the passion real love can
exude. Their relationship takes a turn
for the worse when Lorenzo starts
encountering difficulties with his sec-
ond novel. Not getting the reassur-
ances from Lucia (his biggest fan) he

desires, Lorenzo turns to fantasies
with another woman and another
story revolving his trying to take
responsibility for his daughter with
Elena... or does he?
Many events unfold involving fan-
tastical chances of fate and circum-
stance making the viewer wonder if
the events are simply part of Loren-
zo's book or if they're actually hap-
pening.
If you're dreaming of a trip to
Europe right now, "Sex and Lucia"
might just be the film that makes you
buy that ticket. The island getaway is
beautifully shot with all its dark
waters and skies full of symbolic
suns and moons. And the setting is
not the only beauty, Vega never gets
lost in her surroundings. The young
actress, who stands Adam and Eve
naked throughout the beginning of
the film, stands emotionally naked
for the remainder. With all its preten-
sion and sometimes predictability
Vega, combined with the heart aching
performances of Ulloa and Nimri,
keep the film centered in a reality we
want to believe in for two hours if
only because we want all of their
romantic fantasies to work out just as
we would our own.
With all its partiallyincomprehensi-
ble story arcs, "Sex and Lucia" is
definitely a film that might deserve a
second viewing so all the pieces
come together. Temporary confusion
is a definite possibility for any viewer
but don't worry, just keep your eyes
on Lucia, she is the light by which all
the other character's dreams and
melancholy will be illuminated.

Courtesy o Magnolia Pictures
Speak slowly, so she can read your lips pal.

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor

Do the songs remain the same?
Recent DMB and RHCPrecords strke dierent chords

Avary' sRules' a ratings headache

Both the Red Hot Chilli Peppers
and Dave Matthews Band used to be
'hip' to staple patches to the backs of
Jansport backpacks. The two bands
rose to fame in similar time frames,
with the Chili Peppers' breakthrough
coming in 1991, (their re-arrival was
1999's Calfornication) and Dave
Matthews debut Under the Table and
Dreaming dropped after developing a
sizable quasi-cult following. With
new albums this summer both bands
continue to stretch, attempting to
grow, with only one of them finding
success at it.
It seems as though guilt has finally
caught up to Anthony Keidis. Now
the rest of the world is suffering
through his purges of moral con-
science and regret. Even worse, Kei-
dis' moral renaissance has led the
Red Hot Chilli Peppers away from
being the summery carefree
funk/rap/pop/etc. act they used to be,
and down a far darker, grimmer and
worse road.
The artwork for By the Way gives
away plenty about the tone of the
album with the members of the band
standing in black and white on the
back sleeve looking somber and
pathetic. They are staring down at the
ground looking like Californication
didn't sell the millions of records that
it did. Perhaps they are
looking at a tombstone
mourning its scripted
message, it reads: Here
Lies the Fun of the Red
Hot Chilli Peppers. '
1984-1999. Fifteen
years is long enough.
Keidis' decline began
with the widely adored
1999 Album of the Year
(according to the By

the Way cover sticker)
Californication. At its'
core, Californication .Q a
was three very average#
singles and~a bucket of
filler, but somehow this Y
went completely over-
looked. By the Way has
a single with a great
chorus in the title track,
but the are verses
marred by desperate attempts to be
hip and funky - not to mention Kei-
dis' nonsensical gobbledy-gook
lyrics.
Hungry for maturity and adult-
hood, the middle-aged Peppers
absolved all of the energy from
1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik into
the same holy water enema Keidis' is
using to cleanse his spirit. The frenzy
and fun have been sucked out of the
Peppers, songs like "Can't Stop" ring
more like a Third Eye Blind B-side
than a Pepper's track.
By the Way sounds less and less
like the Peppers of old and more like
an afterthought on a group of lives
more interesting, more drug-induced
and ones that produced a far better
batch of tunes than what we're stuck
with now.
Dave Matthews is no parlor trick-
ster. 2000's Everyday was co-written
with Glen Ballard, spawned a couple
of hits and Matthews even went as far
as saying "the record saved my life."
Despite not sounding
like a Dave Matthews
record at all, the record
still .wasn't any good.
The absence of most
r T' Fthings DMB (deep
orchestration, horns,
occasional good songs)
on Everyday left even
Matthews with a stale
r'taste in his mouth.
Dave Matthews

Band reconvened and
recooked the now
famous Lilywhite ses-
. P sions into Busted Stuff
The leftovers were pol-
ished, rebuffed and in
some cases reworked
into the finest studio
work of the band's
career.
A smorgasbord of
tracks ranging in emotion pepper
Staffs track list. Songs check in from
pensive ditties, "Grace is Gone" fea-
turing lyrics that will no doubt be
popping up on frat-y Instant Messen-
ger Profiles all year long, to the jerky
"Kit Kat Jam," a song special
because it is unlike anything the band
has previously recorded.
Lead single, "Where Are You
Going," does not standout on the
record, in fact the songs slovenly
pace often forces recollections and
feels like the successor of the giant-
sized hit "Crash Into Me." The song
sounded dull on the Mr. Deeds
soundtrack, and while not out of
place here, it never gels cohesively
with the rest of Stuff
"Grey Street" returns momentarily
to the orchestration found on Under
the Table and Dreaming, however, the
band doesn't indulge too heavily on
their past.
The toughest thing to swallow
about Matthews' Busted soul-search-
ing is that Stuff is likely the best
batch of recordings the band will put
out this side of the Live at Luther
College set played with guitar virtu-
oso Tim Reynolds.

'

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor
The Los Angeles Times reported
that "The Rules of Attraction" (the
forthcoming Roger Avary film) has
recieved a fourth consecutive NC-17
rating from the Motion Picture Asso-
ciation of America. According to the
LA Times, "Rules of Attraction" is
scheduled for a wide release and if it
doesn't recieve an R rating, it will be
nearly impossible to fill a third of the
1,500 screens the theater is slated to
appear in.
The film, which counts James Van-
derbeek ("Dawson's Creek"), Kip Par-
due ("Remember the Titans"), Jessica
Biel ("Summer Catch"), Lauren
Hynde ("A Knight's Tale") and Kate
Bosworth ("Blue Crush") as its stars,
follows a group of morally bankrupt

east coast college students through
part of a semester leading up to a
giant party.
The LA Times reported that the
MPAA continues to bestow the NC-
17 rating because of the callous
approach the film takes toward sex
and calls the sex "demeaning toward
women."
"Rules of Attraction," is an adap-
tation of a novel by Bret Easton
Ellis, who authored the novel of the
same tile.
Ellis' most well-known work,
"American Psycho" was adapted
into a movie directed by Mary Har-
ron and starring Christian Bale.
"The Rules of Attraction" director
Roger Avary is most well-known for co-
writing 1994's "Pulp Fiction" with
director Quentin Tarrantino.
The film is due in theaters Oct. 1 lth.

Courtesy uf Liun s Gate
Dawson gets taught the 'Rules.'

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