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September 23, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-09-23

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Monday
Septermber 23, 2002
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily.com

ARTS

8A

Heath Ledger talks of rising
stardom both on-screen and off

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor
When Heath Ledger sits down to pro-
mote his new film "The Four Feathers"
one would not expect that ensuing con-
versation to include references to "Police
Academy" and a discussion on the diffi-
culty of acquiring Foster's, the self-pro-
claimed beer of Australia, in his home
country. But then again, Ledger is only 23
and he likes to take part in the same
things other people his age do.
"I never sit around and think about my
career that much," Ledger admits. "I'm a
pretty lazy person. I mean once I hang up
the phone I'm gonna go home and sit in
front of the TV and, ya know, cook and
clean my shit. I don't really sit around and
get all calculated about everything."
Ledger won't let his superstardom get
to his head, purposely avoiding the hun-
dreds of websites devoted to the young
Aussie star of "A Knight's Tale" and
"The Patriot."
"I don't have an e-mail address, and
I've never seen any of (the websites). I
hang out with my best friends that have
been my best friends since I was three."
But Ledger's Clark Kent-like vision of
his own life is anything but the truth. Not

many people his age get to spend months
in the beautiful deserts of Morocco or
play-kissing some of the world's most
beautiful women, such as Kate Hud-
son, his co-star in "Four Feathers" and
past film lovers Julia Stiles and Shan-
nyn Sossamon.
In his new role, Ledger gets to play
antique dress-up once again, command-
ing the role of a young British officer
Harry Haversham during the end of the
19th century. But the movie was not just
playing war as Harry makes the difficult
decision to desert the military as they ship
out to a battle he doesn't understand.
The intriguing character, along with
the charm of one of his favorite directors
brought him to the project.
"Initially, it was Shekhar Kapur (the
film's director). I was and still am a huge
fan. And secondly, just the character and
his journey is so epic, that he really starts
in one place and ends in another."
He continues: "I was curious about this
character because on paper, and in the day
and the time, he was labeled a coward. It
really read black and white; he was cow-
ardly on paper. He didn't want to go to
war, and he was using his wife as an
excuse ... it was very straightforward, but
in that cowardly act I found him to be
courageous, because he was standing up
for what he believed in, he was standing
against a systematic and regimental
lifestyle that he'd been spoon-fed his
whole life."
Ledger recalls the actual production
with fond emotions, despite hours of
being put in makeup and filming in the
hot temperatures, he still came away
with a great shooting experience on
and off the set.
For one scene, Ledger got to live out
that epic dream of crossing the desert,
making that grand journey that has been
so beautifully filmed in numerous classic
films, most significantly in "Lawrence of
Arabia,' a film "The Four Feathers" has
been compared to.
"I jumped on my camel and rode off
into the sunset for hours and hours. I had
a turban on over my head and I had Pink
Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon playing, it

was just magical"
Ledger developed many close relation-
ships with his co-stars but speaks the
most glowingly of Djimon Honsou, the
"Amistad" star who plays a guardian
angel role to Ledger's Harry.
"He is my brother and he's got such a
beautiful soul; a big heart and generous to
work with. And he's got such a huge pres-
ence. At first he can be intimidating, he'll
walk in the room and, he's massive, and in
actual fact he can pick you up and snap
you over his knee. But you know, he's just
big and gentle and you can push him over
with one finger. We had a ball."
Part of that "ball" included a weekly
musical jam with some of the locals.
"Every Tuesday night we would
play drums with this Sudanese drum
band. We'd just kind of get blind
drunk on red wine; we'd keep a con-
stant beat for like three hours straight,
and that was fun. Out in the middle of
desert and just playing away."
Still, with all the joy "The Four Feath-
er" was to make, Ledger feels a real affin-
ity for making smaller films, and even
taking smaller roles like in last year's
"Monster's Ball."
"It keeps you alive doing smaller
movies and smaller roles. There's less
pressure. 'Monster's Ball,' the whole
movie was shot in four weeks and my
work was over in two days. It's fun to be
able to just walk in and walk out and not
have the pressures of creating this huge
arch for the character to carry a movie.
You can just go in there and pretty much
do what the fuck you want."
Having finished two other films since
"The Four Feathers," Ledger does not
have any upcoming plans for his career,
instead taking a momentary break and
keeping a return to theater a possibility
for the future.
This short vacation does not mean he's
unhappy right now with the way things
have worked out for him so far; on the
contrary, when asked to compare the cen-
tury he lives in now with the numerous
ones he has lived through in his films, he
replies, "I'm pretty happy in this one, no
matter how fucked up it is."

0

Courtesy of Miramax
Heath Ledger rides a horse in "The Four Feathers."
'Four Feathers' miXes romance
with battle or epic desert ride

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor

Director Shekhar Kapur followed the unexpectedly suc-
cessful "Elizabeth" with something few film-
makers (it was nominated for seven Academy
Awards) possess today: Patience. After a delay
of four years the Indian director has finally
made his second American film and it was well THE
worth the wait.
"The Four Feathers" tells a story has been FEA'
brought to the screen (big and small) six times At Shoi
before, sometimes successfully but mostly in Qua]
less than adequate style. The story is so attrac- Mi
tive to filmmakers because it features so many
fascinating plot elements, such as British classi-
cism, imperialism, battle strategy, military unrest and unlikely
friendships between dissimilar persons but most of all
because in the end it is the love story at its heart that rises
above the rest.
Young officer Harry Haversham (Heath Ledger) has been
prepped his whole for the military life by his father, a general.
Harry detests this forced lifestyle but accepts it because his
friends go through it with him and because his fiance Ethne
(Kate Hudson, "Almost Famous") seems attracted to his suc-
cess in the field, Harry is at the top of his class.

TI
,W(
lit
irar

But Harry finally. decides to resign his post a few days
before his company is sent off to the Sudan to do battle for
reasons not clear to him. He will not take part in a fight so
foreign to his own being and give up years of his life that
could be better spent with his lovely compan-
ion. His desertion labels him a coward, break-
ing communication with his father and losing
the friendship of all but one of his officer
TOUR friends. As a sign of his cowardice he is sent
four white feathers, three from fellow officers
-IERS and a last one not coming from best pal Jack
:ase and (Wes Bentley, "American Beauty") but from
:y 16 Ethne herself, who thought she might have had
a war hero for her man, not a deserter.
max Eventually, Harry travels down to Africa
to try to restore his good name and bring peace
to himself. With the help of Abou Fatma (Djimon Honsou), a
protector and companion, Harry works as an Arabic spy to try
and aid the efforts of his former brethren.
With an epic scope, "Feathers" often falls into cliches of
romance triangles and battle cries but an overall acting per-
formance that rivals almost any other this year (especially
Ledger as the leading man and Honsou in a role he has played
before but never as well) and cinematography by legend
Robert Richardson that makes beautiful landscapes and faces
even more breathtaking to look at, Kapur's film overcomes all

0
0
0

Courtesy of Miramax

A cleaned up Ledger.

Williams highlights
WB's 'Everwood'

'Taxicab' creaters release lame,
superficial 'Sex with Strangers'

40

By Katie Marie Gates
For The Daily
In the majestic stillnessc
orado Mountains, covered in
home to a population of "just
and growing" is the picturesq
Everwood. Well, according U
new drama it's there, waiting
the lives of one family
that has lost its way.
After the sudden death
of his wife, Dr. Andy
Brown (Treat Williams,
"Hollywood Ending,"
"The Late Shift") decides
to leave New York and
his prestigious medical
practice with his son,
Ephram (Gregory Smith, "T
and daughter Delia (Vivien

Ephram soon falls in love with an out-
going, beautiful girl at school, Amy
(Emily VanCamp, "Glory Days") only
of the Col- to find she has a boyfriend in a coma.
n snov and Amy is hoping Dr. Brown will know
t over 9,000 the cure. Meanwhile, in renovating the
que town of old train station for his new office,
o the WB's Andy meets the town's pretentious
g to change "Primary Care Physician," Dr. Harold
Abbott (Tom Amandes,
a "The Untouchables"),
who has practiced in the
*** small town for 15 years
preceding his father. It
EVERWOOD looks as if Andy will
Mondays at 9 p.m. not receive a single
WB patient, until he
announces to the town
gossip that he will be
he Patriot") doctor to everyone, free of charge.
Cardon, "A Thus, the scene is set for the

By Ryan Blay
Daily TV/New Media Editor

Courtesy or we

The family of "Everwood."

One key fact must be established before even discussing
"Sex With Strangers:" This is a film that is about sex with
strangers, and nothing more. No profound message about
human sexual desires or why we act the way we do. It's a
documentary (or alleges to be so - more on that in a
moment) about swingers. And while producer/directors Joe
and Harry Gantz ("Taxicab Confessions") have unltnited
access to the swinger lifestyle, their failure to capture any
sort of significant nugget of wisdom makes this film seem
like a laughable soft-core late night TV movie rather than a
highbrow work.
"Sex" follows three couples as they progress (if one can
use that term with them) in their swinging lifestyles. The

Beautiful Mind"), for a place in the
Rocky Mountains that someone once
told him was beautiful. Ephram thinks
the idea ridiculous and another reason to
hate his father with whom he never had
much of a relationship.
Upon their leaving New York the
entire medical community is aston-
ished, and the outrageous decision of
Dr. Brown is even documented in
Time magazine. Consequently, when
the Brown family arrives in Everwood,
everyone already knows them.

regrowth of this family after their tragic
loss, but not without more turmoil.
Anger still runs deep in a family where
little time 'was spent with the most cher-
ished member. Andy finds himself talk-
ing to his dead wife in sad, intimate
flashbacks where she once told him if
she ever died first, she wanted him to
move to a beautiful place she had once
been to called Everwood, Colo., there
she would wait for him.
If your heart is open to it, this story is
very touching, but not without distract-

ing quirks that the viewer cannot over-
look. For example, the 60-something
biker nurse played by Debra Mooney
("Tootsie") is rather bizarre. One won-
ders if the WB is looking to create
another "Gilmore Girls" cast of amusing
small town folk but haven't gotten it
right this time. The acting at times is
mediocre and the dialogue rushed. An
interesting aspect of this episode was the
use of a narrator we soon come to find
is the bus driver in town. It gives the
story a magical feel, as if a tale that will
eventually teach us some great lesson.
The pilot episode was played in letter-
box in an attempt, one assumes, to seem
more movie like and professional. How-
ever, it almost implies a status this show
has not yet received (i.e. "ER") and may
never reach. The story appeals to those
older or younger than us , so a college
student might find it hard to relate and
quickly lose interest, but the plotline has
potential and is worth a second glance.

prime swinging couple,
and the only one that
actually appears happy,
is James and Theresa.
The Lacey, Wash., cou-
ple travel around in their
mobile home, drinking
Jaggermeister and
seducing couples - or
occasionally letting
themselves be seduced.

No STARS
SEX WITH
STRANGERS
At Madstone
Paramount

non's child. However, this is counteracted by one very anti-
comedic storyline. Shannon was molested as a child. This
very serious problem has led to depression and sexual
problems for the couple. It seems a shame that she should
have to be on camera during what must be a trying
process for she and her husband.
The third and most dysfunctional swinging couple isn't
a couple at all - just a very fucked up trio. The guy in
the group is Calvin. You. see, he was engaged to be mar-
ried to Sara, a whiny redhead who shall henceforth be
known as "the whiny redhead." However, he's into a new
girl, Julie. She was not bisexual but is in love with
Calvin. The whiny redhead is furious anytime she's not
the center of attention.
They're basically a bunch of Jerry Springer rejects. Sara
will cry as soon as Calvin asks for some privacy so he and
Julie can have sex. The nerve!
The first scene with Calvin has him talking on the phone
with Julie, calling her "cold as ice ... cold as a brick" and
telling her that if she doesn't like the arrangement, she can
leave. In fact, Calvin states this frequently to both girls.
The question that must be asked: Why do the girls need
Calvin? At one point that I suppose can be called the high
point of the movie, Julie penetrates the whiny redhead with
*a strap-on in a bizarre group sex scene. Did I mention that
TWR is also blindfolded and tied up? But wait, there's
more.
What would happen if Calvin and Julie got married,
and TWR was the maid of honor? I'm not saying that
happens in the shocking finale of the film.
The bottom line: Only James and Theresa seem happy
with the lifestyle. Everyone else is either too screwed up
to like it. Nobody except TWR is particularly attractive,
and nobody presents any sort of intellectual or outside
interest.
The issue of legitimacy isn't really important, although
it does seem like the actors are rehearsing from a script at
times. Is this really a documentary? Does it matter? Would
it really enhance the work if it was?
This superficial work should be watched on fast-for-
ward, or better yet, altogether avoided.

This is pretty much all of what we see of them - no jobs or
other hobbies. James seems to wash the windows of his
trailer an awful lot, and Theresa goes in to have her breasts
enlarged (apparently from super large to extra-super large).
No, the film doesn't.show the surgery, it does have that
much restraint.
Following a similar lifestyle are Gerard and Shannon, a
Gulf Coast, Miss. couple. Doing absolutely nothing to chal-
lenge the southern-hick stereotype, the couple seems pas-
sionate about swinging, a suggestion a therapist gave to save
their marriage. In one humorous scene, they explain to one
of their mothers about their lifestyle. The mother takes the
news surprisingly well, after focusing most of her concern
on the consequences of their lifestyle on Gerard and Shan-

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