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November 11, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Monday
November 1,20
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily. com

ARTS

5A

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Didn't you used to host this show?
'Focus' on a dull TV life

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor

Once again, the medium of film finds
its topic in popular television. It seems
that seedy biographies of once famous
television personalities or behind the
scenes players are being produced at
such a high rate it's growing hard to
keep track of them all. In "Permanent
Midnight," Ben Stiller brought to life
former "Alf" writer and heroin user
Jerry Stahl; this December we get, in the
form of George Clooney's directorial
debut "Confessions of a Dangerous
Mind," the true story of "Gong Show"
host Chuck Barris, who somehow man-
aged two careers at once: TV producer
and CIA assassin. The mixture of televi-
sion facade and Hollywood reality cre-
ates an interesting question of whether
small-screen success compels actors and
writers to delve into the darker sides of
their personalities or if these are just the
types of people destined to create popu-
lar television programming.
Paul Schrader's "Auto
Focus" finds another 10
interesting, unbelievable
story of broken Holly-
wood dreams in the form
of Bob Crane, one time AUTO
star of the POW camp sit- At the St
com "Hogan's Heroes." Sony Pictu
Schrader, more famous

life, highlighted by church with the kids,
Crane secretly hides nude magazines
and pictures (he takes himself) in the
garage and must apologize like an inso-
lent son when caught. The darker, less
wholesome side of Crane eventually
breaks out with the help of John Carpen-
ter (Willem Dafoe), a video technician
and leach to the stars. Bringing Crane to
various strip clubs of the Los Angeles
area, Crane starts to play drums in their
house bands. The swinging duo's next
step arrives with the courting and video-
taping of female fans they charm into
wild orgies.
Anne discovers the cheating, essen-
tially giving Crane free reign to indulge
in his every fantasy. A second marriage
to co-star Patricia (Maria Bello, "Coyote
Ugly") gives hope that the two openly
honest lovers can enjoy their sexually
adventurous natures together but her
pregnancy and Crane's post-"Hogan's
Heroes" dinner theater tours combine in
dissolving their marriage as well. Car-
penter remains Crane's
friend through it all, trav-
eling with him as they
have sex with woman
after woman, following
FOCUS their motto, "A day with-
e Theater out sex is a day wasted."
es Classics But Crane's secret life
slowly becomes public

Uncle Jesse likes the one on the right.
By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer

courtesy of warner tiros.

While its title is suggestive of a Noir thriller,
Brian DePalma's latest film, "Femme Fatale," deliv-
ers the seductive and dangerous
female, but leaves the filmic
conventions at the door.
Thievery, sex, backstabbing,
sex, violence, sex, plot twists
and, oh yeah, did I mention
the film has sex in it? Laure
Ash (Rebecca Romijn-Sta-
mos, "X-Men") is a master
thief who uses her extreme
good looks and feminine
wiles to manipulate all who
cross her path. This film marks
the return of a DePalma who, with
films like "Scarface" and "Body
Double," pushed the limits of sex and vio-
lence on screen.
A scene from Billy Wilder's Noir
classic "Double Indemnity" opens the
film and DePalma chooses to slowly
move the camera back to reveal a
naked Laure in the television's
reflection. This juxtaposition sets
up the alluring female lead and
as the viewer comes to find out,
Laure is about to heist $10 mil-
lion worth of diamonds. These
jewels, however, are not con-
courtesy of warner Bros. tained in a safe or protected by
Banderas. laser beams, but worn around the

bare breasts of a female model entering the
Cannes Film Festival. Posing as a photographer,
Laure invites the model into the women's lavatory
for a little more than idle chat. What follows is
one of the most erotic lesbian scenes allowed
within an MPAA R rating.
Guns are pulled and events do not go according
to plan. Laure is able to flee with' the diamonds,
leaving her cohorts behind. When the duped part-
ners do catch up with her, Laure is flung from a bal-
cony, lands on a pile of mats and rescued by a
couple who believe her to be their runaway daugh-
ter. The parents take Laure home and the impostor
soon discovers that she has the ability to pass for the
missing girl. Incidentally, the
'estranged daughter eventually returns a
and commits suicide in front of her
would be doppelganger. Laure now *
has a passport and a new identity.
Flash seven years later.FEMME
Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas, At Shom
"Mask of Zorro") is an out of work Qua'
paparazzi living in Paris who gets Warn
called upon to take a photo of the Warn
American Ambassador's new, elusive
wife. Bardo succeeds in snapping the picture, but in
doing so finds himself caught up in a world of
deception and confusion brought on by Laure, the
wife of the ambassador.
DePalma has once again proven himself a mas-
ter of directing, including reviving his signature
use of split screen action. His camera-work and
frame-within-a-frame techniques are well execut-
ed and his embedded symbolism. in terms of
props, scenery, or otherwise is genius. The ending

is somewhat unexpected but seems all too conven-
ient. "Femme Fatale" is a visually stunning film
and while its ending does bring with it some play-
ful elements concerning past events, it falters in
its ability to conclude swiftly and lacks an overall
feeling of originality.
The necessary chemistry
between Banderas and Romijn-
Stamos is contained in a film
that depends highly on the
actors being comfortable with
sex scenes. Romijn-Stamos,
like in her role of Mystique in
"X-Men;" does not say much

FETALE
wcase and
lity 16
er Bros.

throughout the
film. When she
does speak her
French accent
borders on Russ-
ian/German at times,
but her sheer presence
on screen is usually enough to
allow for such minimal dialogue.
When blessed with words how-
ever, one can count on her ,

*
at
ur

spouting lines such as "You don't have to
lick my ass to fuck me." Yikes.
"Femme Fatale" begins as a bril- 4
liant return to past film glory, but
becomes a great disappointment
as its script falls into an easy,
cliched all-too-beautiful view
of the world. DePalma, once
great, now only seems to be Courtesy of Warner Bros.
emulating greatness. Romijn-Stamos.

for his career as a screen-
writer ("Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull'
than his directorial efforts ("America
Gigolo"), directs only on this projec
but fails to breathe life into a story tha
in the end, never seems worthier than a
episode of"E: True Hollywood Story."
As Crane, Greg Kinnear gives the
most natural, convincing performance o
his career but somehow along the way
you still never quite care what happen
to this man. It would be rather disre
spectful to the real Ciane to label hi
true story predictable, but the downfa
of the once famous TV actor follows th
path we have seen so many times befor
up until his untimely demise.
First seen rocking the drpms as
radio deejay, Crane soon gets the brea
he's been waiting for, a TV pilot. Afte
arguing with his wife, Anne (an under
used Rita Wilson), over the merits of
sitcom based in a Nazi World War I
camp, they finally decide funny is funn
and after some initial controversy, th
show becomes a hit.
Crane's marriage with Anne is cold
while they live a seemingly religiou
'Feliowship

and his career dies with it.
While Kinnear remains a consistently
n reliable force as Crane's story unfolds,
t, the usually reliable DaFoe starts strong
t, but slowly falls into delivering his com-
n mon over-the-top performance. As the
Green Goblin in "Spider-Man," DaFoe's
ie talents fit the style of the picture but
f 'here, opposite the very real emotions of
y, Kinnear, DaFoe seems out of place.
is Some of the acting blame must be put
- on Schrader's direction. Schrader has
s proven his talent as a director, and in
11 evoking great performances, in films
e like the Nick Nolte, James Coburn
*e showcase "Affliction." However, here he
slowly loses control of the entire film.
a As Crane's life falls to shambles, the
k camera predictably turns shaky hand-
,r held and the editing delivers annoying,
r- choppy techniques in an attempt to con-
a vey the breakdown even more. While
[I powerfully subtle to some, these prac-
y tices are simply unnecessary when
e working with such acting talents.
Another TV biography appears and
d; disappoints, and in all likelihood, anoth-
is er is soon around the corner.
video game

'Felicity' DVD revisits freshman season

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily Arts Writer

Take one impulsive teenage girl, a1
cross-country trip to follow her highI
school crush, several dozen sweaters,
thousands of soft spoken "heys" and
one of the greatest love triangles on1
prime time television and the result is1
"Felicity."+
From co-creators and executive pro-1
ducers J.J. Abrams ("Alias") and Matt
Reeves ("Gideon's Crossing"), this col-
lege drama examines the life of Felicity i
Porter (Keri Russell, "We Were Sol-
diers"), a native Californian who decides
to trail Ben Covington (Scott Speed-1
man,) a boy she hardly
knew in high school but
always adored, to college
in New York City. FELIC
Despite committing a SEASON1
endless string of mis-
takes, Felicity triumphs Picture/Sound
over her failures and Series: ***
uncovers insight into life Features: **
and love along the way.
The six-disc DVD set Warnerl
of season one presents
Felicity's romantic and tumultuous jour-
ney in 21 episodes, plus the complete
pilot. Starting out in New York is diffi-
cult, but Felicity soon finds friends in
Julie (Amy Jo Johnson, "Mighty Mor-1
phin Power Rangers") Elena (Tangi
Miller) and her Resident Adviser, Noel
(Scott Foley), while battling college
adjustment, her feelings for Ben, and
issues with her bizarre roommate,

Meghan (Amanda Foreman).
Ben is the initial romantic interest; a
track star voted "most popular" in
high school, whom Felicity believes to
be perfect. Throughout this first year
we see him as a struggling student
with little money and a family life
plagued by alcoholism. Felicity's unre-
lenting pursuit of Ben is enough to
drive him (and the audience) crazy
throughout the season, until he finally
reciprocates her feelings.
Noel is the final corner of this ongo-
ing triangle. He confesses his feelings
.for her rather prematurely in the pilot. A
computer graphics major, his geeky
personality makes him endearing and a

thoughts in tapes she records and sends
to an old friend, Sally. In these intimate
talks, Felicity reveals the deep desires
and emotions any young woman in col-
lege can relate to, supplying the series
with a movie-like quality.
Creators J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves
admit their intentions to make this show
resemble a film in the commentary pro-
vided with the first and last episodes of
this set. They discuss the defining Felic-
ityesque camera angles and dim light-
ing while joking about the unrealistic
dorm room size. The look of this show
is unique in its filming and soft brown
colors. It presents a stark contrast to the
fluorescent lights and beige walls of a
real university, making Felicity's world
one to admire.
These pieces of commentary are
interesting but inadequate as they are
the only supplemental material on the
DVD set. Those looking for outtakes,
deleted scenes or cast interviews will be
disappointed to find them missing from
the collection. Good picture quality and
sound along with a dramatic menu
attempt to make up for this void but still
leave fans wanting more.
By far the best season in the series,
this set reveals a time before the issue
of Felicity's haircut, Ben's fall from

Couresy of aerros.
The love triangle in diagonal form.
grace, and too many whispered scenes.
It takes fans' back to the fun and frus-
trations of freshman year to relive the
moments that made "Felicity" a
favorite for many.

should be kept secret, safe

ITY:
1 DVD
Bros.

sharp contrast to Ben's
bad boy image. Noel is
around every time Felici-
ty needs him to dish out
cheesy lines like "Trust
me, I'm the RA."
Throughout the first
season Felicity discovers
being in love with two
great guys at once is not
easy. On top of school-
work and her drastic

By Nathan Pacer
Daily Arts Writer

Based on the literary work of
J.R.R. Tolkien, as opposed to last
year's movie, "The Lord of the
Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
offers a slightly different perspec-
tive than most of us may be used to.
By utilizing plots and characters
seemingly at random, with some
less important characters making a
debut while other more notable
characters are left completely out,
the game appeals to neither the
hard-core Tolkienite, nor the casual
"Lord of the Rings" fan.
The highlights of the game
include the simplistic character con-
trol. The player com-
mands are easy to use
and memorize. The
controls also feel very
smooth and flow well
when a lot of action is LORD
taking place within the RING
game. The ability to FELLOX
switch and move
around the camera THE
angle is also very fluid. For PS2
It even goes so far as to
temporarily blind you Universal
when the camera is fac-
ing directly into the bright sun, a
cool little effect.

aspects of the story. While the
graphics in the game aren't ground-
breaking, they definitely add to the
overall quality of the game.
Unfortunately, the more negative
aspects of the game generally out-
number these highlights. The com-
bat system within the game can only
be described as horrible. The players
can slash-slash-slash with no alter-
native. It would have been nice to
see some sort of up gradable combat
techniques, where a player could
develop some sort of special move.
Couple this with the below-average
Al, where the enemies run straight
at you, and the player can get pretty
bored, pretty quick. The game also
features multitudes of the idiotic

switch from pre-med to art, Felicity jug-
gles her feelings for both Ben and Noel
until the cliffhanging finale. Russell,
who won the Golden Globe for her role,
plays this "spastic" character with
grace, allowing the audience to under-
stand even her most erratic actions.
A key element of the first season is
Felicity's narration of her own life. The
creators allow the audience to hear her

VINTAGE CLOTHING, ANTIQUES, AND COLBEUTlBES

OF THE
s: THE
VSHIP OF
RING
and XBox
Interactive
ture. With

bad guys. You'll even-
tually just get into a
routine of sidestepping
and slashing until
they're dead. Also, the
occasional boss fights
just involve finding the
simple trick, then
standing still until
they're dead.
In addition to the
overall poor gameplay,
the background music
is also a negative fea-
the same beat playing

The Offices of Ne-w StuAde vt Prog ramn4
is now recruiting for
Summer 20013
Orientation Leaders
New Student and Parent Orientation Programs
For more information and tQ pick-up an application,
attend a Mass Meeting:
Tuesday, November 19
6:00pm-1436 Mason Hall
Wednesday, November 20

throughout the entire game and only

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