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October 28, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-28

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0

8A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 28, 2002

ART S

Demme's 'Charlie' a
forgettable remake

el

By John Laughlin
For the Daily
Jonathan Demme's ("The Silence of
the Lambs") remake of the 1963 film
"Charade" asks the ongoing question:
Are some films better left in the can?
Can one, in good conscience, substi-
tute Mark Wahlberg for Cary Grant
and Thandie Newton for Audrey Hep-
burn? Demme had the audacity to do
so with "The Truth About Charlie."
While his direction is first rate, the
film suffers due to cliched perform-
ances and ill-timed humor.
After a visually stunning title
sequence, the remake opens with a
man and woman who have just had
sex. The man's name is Charles -
"Charlie" - and upon leaving the
birth of the train he soon finds him-
self staring down his would-be assas-

that is all but at ease.
That night, Joshua pays a visit to
Regina telling her that he saw the
news report about her husband and
wonders if he can do anything to help.
He then sets Regina up in his hotel,
but' questions are raised as to what
exactly Joshua's motives are.
By means of a note slipped under
her door the next morning, Regina
meets with Mr. Bartholomew (Tim
Robbins, "High Fidelity") - an
American government agent who
complicates the story of Charlie and
impresses the need for Regina to
work with him to gain back the $6
million.
The film continues in this fashion
- constantly adding characters that
want the missing money and Regina is
rocked back and forth amongst them,
playing a seemingly incapable pawn.
Joshua remains her
guardian, but soon he
too becomes suspicious
fr in her eyes and Regina is
left with no one to trust
RUTH but perhaps Mr.
iHARLIE Bartholomew.
"The Truth About
ase and Charlie" contains a plot
y 16 line that is all but simple
and one can easily lose
:rsal footing trying to keep
track of "who did what

04

sin. The film then cuts
to vacation paradise
Martinique where the
beautiful, British Regi-
na Lampert (Thandie
Newton, "MI2") hap- THEr
pens to meet American ABOUT
Joshua Peters (Mark
Wahlberg, "Boogie At Sho
Nights"). The two flirt Qua
slightly while being
portrayed in great style Un
with Demme's swirling
camera movements. Regina and
Joshua part however, thinking they
won't cross paths again.
Cross paths they do when Regina's
ride does not show up at the airport in
Paris. Joshua offers a ride, Regina
accepts and they soon arrive at her
lavish Paris flat. Upon entering
though, Regina finds nothing but
empty space, a smashed piano, and a
torn up mattress. The police soon
detain her for questioning and reveal
to her the body of her husband (Char-
lie), the striking news that $6 million
is missing and the fact that Charlie
owns several passports - thus, Char-
lie is not the man Regina thought she
had married. Regina leaves with her
late husband's travel bag and a mind

*
T
C
wc
lit
ive

and why." The plot that surrounds the
missing money is not as easily con-
veyed as it could have been, but per-
haps, giving the Academy Award
winning director some credit, Demme
intends this so that the audience might
experience some of the confusion that
Regina feels throughout the film.
Demme's direction is up to par with
his usual work. His camera placement
and movements are purposeful and not
simply just recording and revealing.
The direction of the film adds a
sophisticated flavor that saves weak
moments and strengthens an otherwise
would-be awful remake.
It is with the humor and acting that
"Charlie" falters. Wahlberg and New-
ton have big shoes to fill with the film
and their chemistry is nothing like
that of their predecessors. Regina's
incompetence is overplayed and
Joshua is simply too much Wahlberg.
The film contains a farcical tango
scene in which all the players
exchange dancing with one another in
order to convey the idea of how mixed
up in the plot everyone is and how
close all they all are to each other.
While metaphorically brilliant, the,
obvious intended humor just doesn't
work and the scene ends up being
laughable only in its absurdity.
Demme chose to use a flashback
sequence to tie the pieces of the puz-
zle together in the end (a la "The
Usual Suspects") in order to replace
preconceived notions and plot ele-
ments with the truth - Robbins gives
the most melodramatic outcry ever
when he becomes cornered as well.
Some films are better left in the
can and "The Truth About Charlie" is
one of them. The mix of humor and
suspense never quite works. The bril-
liant camerawork is what saves the
viewer from complete boredom, but
the truth about this movie is that it
just isn't that great.

0
0

Monotonous 'Ghost Ship' sinks in its own blood

Courtesy of Universal
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By Tara Billik
For the Daily
A baby-pink title, "Ghost Ship', is
superimposed over images of under-
water bubbles fluttering toward the
screen. Combined with a pleasant lit-
tle melody, it seems like the intro-
duction to something like "The Little
Mermaid." However, the horrific
bloodbath delivered in the opening
sequence confirms this is not a
movie to bring the kiddies to. In fact,
the blood and gore
scenes are enough for
even horror film fanat-
ics to overdose on, and
the plot is too dull to
even hold the attention GHO
span of most adults. At Sho
"Ghost Ship" begins Qua'
in 1962, aboard a luxuri-
ous ocean liner, the Warn
Antonia Graza. The set-
ting is elegantly decorated with the
rich colors and costumes of the pas-
sengers, and a lounge singer's voice
sensuously accompanies director
Steve Beck's visuals. This party scene
chimes warnings from the comparable
atmosphere of the "Titanic." Indeed
within the first 10 minutes, tragedy
strikes. A gruesome massacre ensues,
leaving a little girl as the only sur-
vivor. Beck deserves plenty of praise
here for depicting, what all horror
filmmakers strive for, a "new and

aiti
ner

improved" way of killing people.
The story commences some years
later with a small band of ship sal-
vagers. They sip beers as a young Air
Force pilot, Ferriman (Desmond Har-
rington) approaches them with pic-
tures of the missing Antonia Graza he
discovered floating in the Bering Sea.
With dollar signs twinkling in their
eyes, the crew (including Ferriman)
sets off to recover the mysterious ves-
sel. As their tugboat ventures through
the dark and stormy seas (of course)
they literally bump right
into the side of the enor-
mous Antonia, and
climb aboard to explore.
After starting off full'
C SHIP speed ahead, the narra-
case and tive continues to putter
ty 16 along for the next hour
or so. It's probably pret-
Bros. ty frightening for those
who are scared of the
dark because the lights are so dim
almost nothing on-screen is clearly
visible. Of course a character shines a
flashlight on a dismembered body
part here and there, most significantly
revealing an especially nice view of
two characters wading through a river
of bloated corpses. But other than his
reliance on thoroughly disgusting us,
Beck reverts to the traditional shock
factors; slamming doors, rats in a
trunk, close-ups of rotting dead peo-
ple, etc. The score is tediously omi-

courtesy of'Warner eros.

Nurse Hathaway still misses Doug. Don't we all.

nous and slow-paced, until it becomes
suddenly amplified, letting the audi-
ence know when they should be
scared. These techniques will make an
audience gasp, but they're equivalent
to someone simply yelling, "boo!"
The characters have little dimen-
sionality, and deliver seriously terrible
lines. Epps (Juliana Marguiles, "ER")
at least veers off the road from the
sexually objectified female victims of
the traditional slasher films. Yet even
with her tomboyish, tough, attitude
she's just a Ripley ("Alien") wannabe.
The captain (Gabriel Byrne, "Stigma-
ta") has minimal dialogue, except for
obtrusively delivering expository
information to the audience. in one
particular scene, he and the "ghost
captain" share a conversation over a
drink (after we've been informed that
he doesn't drink anymore). The scene
is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's,
"The Shining," and at this point we
kind of wish Jack Nicholson would
show up and give us something to
actually be scared of. As the first
mate is being seduced by the ghost of
the lounge singer, the Beavis and

Butthead-like duo Dodge and Munder
are shoveling beans that turn to mag-
gots in their mouths, and playing
rock-paper-scissors for who gets to
die next. Then there is Santos. Well,
he is that unimportant minority who
gets to die first. Santos' clich6d
demise clearly sums up the originality
of the script.
The monotony is finally interrupted
by a flashback to 1962, in which the
opening sequence is elaborated on. A
more than welcome heavy metal song
guides the jump cuts of the ocean
liner slaughter, complete with addi-
tional innovative murders, sparing
nothing for the squeamish. The
pounding rhythm of sound and visuals
remains etched in your mind, seeing
as nothing else from the film will.
Finally, Beck offers up a surprise end-
ing. It's definitely unpredictable, but
gets taken so far that the audience has
to question whether it actually makes
any bit of sense. But then again it is a
horror film and thus must end with
the possibility for a sequel. Let's just
hope a sequel to "Ghost Ship" doesn't
come back to haunt us.

,

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