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November 18, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-18

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'Dodger' teaches quirks of sex-ed

By Stephanie Kapera
Daily Arts Writer

With Ben Affleck engaged to J.Lo and
Leonardo DiCaprio pushing 30, Hollywood
is lately like a regiment full of soldiers too
worn out to fight the good fight any longer;
hence a crucial question looms like a dark
cloud over the industry: Which young male
face will be on the next cover of Teen Beat?
This season, Hollywood has fought tooth and
claw to answer that question. The result?
Bad-boy Kieran Culkin in "Igby Goes
Down," dimple-chinned Jake Gyllenhall in
"The Good Girl" and "Lovely and Amazing,"
and now, in "Roger Dodger," sloe-eyed Jesse
Eisenberg, brother to the curly-haired Pepsi-
commercial girl Hallie Kate Eisenberg. Mr.
Eisenberg is the spitting image of his sister,
complete with the same lisp and stutter, the
same messy brown hair and lanky frame. Yet
in him, there is also a fine actor, and certain-
ly a well-deserving heir to Leo's throne.
What's interesting about this trend is that
all these new young hunks have made their
most recent on-screen appearances in indie
films, and well-made indie films to boot.
This is a promising, if surprising, move for
such a greedy industry, and one that fills this
film critic with hope. "Roger Dodger,"
which won the Best Feature Film award at
the Tribeca Film Festival in May, is
writer/director Dylan Kidd's filmmaking
debut. Teamed with Eisenberg and his
(somewhat) older echo, actor Campbell
Scott, Kidd has crafted a thoughtful and
wickedly funny film. If these bright
young things are the future of American
cinema, then Hollywood is in good hands.
"Roger Dodger" has all the trappings of
romantic comedy, and in its basic premise
there are hints of "What Women Want,"
"About A Boy" and just about every other
cynical-womanizer-changed-by-love scenario
Courtesy of Artisan that's ever been put on the screen. "Roger,"

however, takes a shredder to that exhausted
trope, and what emerges from the wreckage is
a raw look at the male ego as it moves into the
21st Century. It's not a pretty picture.
Roger (Campbell Scott) is a cynical, indif-
ferent thirtysomething working in advertis-
ing. In the movie's opening scene, he uses a
series of well-developed arguments, delivered
with the slimy confidence of a litigator, to
prove that sexual intercourse will soon
become obsolete. Women, he claims, don't
need men to get pleasure from sex. Why else
would God put the clitoris outside the vagina?
Although the film plays with convention,
it also comments on it. Roger's boss Joyce
(Isabella Rosselini), with whom he is having
an affair, breaks it off early in the movie.
Kidd successfully uses this sub-
plot to give us insight into
Roger's tender side, and the
kicker is that he does have one,
even before he is "trans-
formed." For the rest of the ROGER
film, even as he simultaneously
charms and repulses the other At The St
women he tries to pick up at Ar
bars, Roger wears one of
Joyce's handkerchiefs in his
breast pocket. The film is trying to tell us
something: it won't be about a man who is
transformed from a Scrooge to a Casanova,
but about someone who wears his anguish
like a Hugo Boss sports coat. His offensive
pick-up lines are laced with an honest but
well-hidden fear of loneliness.
Enter the foil to Roger's inflated ego -
his nephew Nick (Eisenberg), a Midwestern
high-school nerd who shows up at his office
one day after an interview at Columbia.
Nick begs Roger to help him out with the
ladies. He doesn't want to return to Ohio the
same way he left it, as a virgin, and Roger
agrees to give Nick an all-night crash course
in the art of seduction. What follows is a
series of hilarious, tender and often disturb-


ing episodes giving both boys new insight
about matters of love and loss - although
not in the way you'd expect. This is a movie
first and foremost about education, about
what we learn about ourselves in the process
of teaching others, and about the shame and
happiness that often snarl into a knot under
the thick skins of our own pride.
Kidd never lets us forget that "Roger
Doger" is an indie flick. The locations are
filmed in heavy shadow, yet the darkness is
offset by subtle hints of light, like the blurred
headlights of taxis, the sweat that dews on
Nick's forehead and the shiny makeup worn
by the two girls Nick and Roger meet at a bar
(Elizabeth Berkely and Jennifer Beals). All
of this light is scrupulously suggestive of the
hopefulness that keeps people
wading through the dark world
of the Manhattan nightlife.
Kidd sometimes shoots his
characters from across the
)ODGER street, forcing them to compete
for screen time with taxis and
te Theater 5th Avenue shoppers. With this
san two-men-in-a-crowd dynamic,
Kidd subtly suggests the univer-
sality of his story; Roger and
Nick could be any of us, we've probably
bumped into them, in fact, somewhere
between LaGuardia and Tiffany's.
Eisenberg is the essence of purity. He's
like a puppy. His cheekbones alone are worth
the movie ticket. Scott's precision is razor-
sharp, and Rossellini is alternately sympa-
thetic and lovely as Roger's latest victim.
At the end of "Roger Dodger," just when
you're sure the movie can go nowhere but
down from the crescendo it has whirled itself
into, Kidd pushes his film just a little bit fur-
ther. And the touching hilarity of the film's
final moment is a revelation in satisfaction.
Just know that you'll leave with Mr. Eisen-
berg's face on your mind. You might not be
able to get him out of your head for days.

Chung tuned 'Radio' sensational

This lighting is
pretty k
flattering for
both Seagal'
and Ja Rule,'
too bad the E|Y |
movie isn't.
Courtesy of Columbia
Seagal's 'Half Past' already dead

By Melissa Runstrom
For the Daily
Tomorrow, the "Orchrestre Philhar-
monique de Radio France" with con-
ductor Myung-Whun Chung will be
performing for a fortunate few Amer-
icans at Orchestra Hall. The orches-
tra, on its first tour of the United
States, will play at only two venues:
Carnegie Hall in New York and
Orchestra Hall in Detroit. The tour is
in commemoration of the 10th
anniversary of the death of celebrated
composer Olivier Messiaen. They
will be bringing his legendary
"Turangalila-Symphonie" to life.
Chung, the director, has worked
closely with the late Messiaen on a
number of occasions,
and he still has a deep
emotional connection
with Messiaen's music. ORCE
Chung himself is a PHILHAR
world renowned con- DE R
ductor and humanitari- FR
an. Chung has won
several awards includ- At Orch
ing being named "Artist Tom
of the Year" in 1991 and 8 p.m. Tick
"Best Conductor of the U.esy
Year" in 1995 by the Uiversity
Association of French

Montalbetti the orchestra's artistic
delegate explains, "He has such a
strong personality. Such aura, which
with anyone brings such concentra-
tion to the work, has a very great way
to try to build with the music."
Chung's work adds to an already
unique collective of talented musi-
cians. The orchestra has a reputation
for its masterful execution of 20th
Century compositions. One of the
unique things about the orchestra is its
flexibility; it can change from one full
138 member ensemble to two or three
smaller ones. The extra flexibility
allows the orchestra to present more
than 50 different programs in one sea-
son. It also can boast being France's
largest producer of music. The orches-

By Jenny Jeltes
Daily Arts Writer

There is absolutely no incentive in
going to see Steven Seagal's new
action-thriller, "Half Past Dead."
Mindless dialogue, bad acting and a
lame plot make one want to leave the
theater shortly after the opening cred-
its. Action films are supposed to rouse
an audience and keep it rooting for the
"good guys," yet director Don Michael
Paul simply saturates the viewer with
constant violence and killing - with

ous"), who
he's not par
ization -n
ing. Sashah
they bothg
thrown into
posedly giv
out some n
be the first
what eviden
is more lik
director n
which make

very little coherence - making the more meani
film feel like a dizzying
spell of nausea.
The latest gossip is
that Seagal isn't looking
too sharp these days.
This is absolutely true, HALF PAST DEAD
he isn't. Yet, the film A
tries to avoid putting him At Quality 16 and
in an unattractive light Showcase
by using effective cam- Columbia
era angles and tech-
niques. It is painfully obvious, million in g
especially by only showing him from a death ro
the neck up during much of his dia- (Bruce Weii
logue. And the dialogue, by the way, is just about t
not any better, especially when he But Sashac
attempts a Russian accent in one of his course, along
lines with, "You think you're mean? Some ele
I'm meaner." Enough said. plain distur
Sasha Petrosevitch (Seagal, "Under there for s
Siege 2") is an undercover FBI agent more. For ex
who gets into the crime scene through
Sonny Ekvall (Richard Bremmer,
"Just Visiting"), the head of a criminal
organization. Sasha is trusted by the
menacing, threatening Ekvall partly
due to the support of his young buddy,
Nick (Ja Rule, "The Fast and the Fur-

vouches for him, saying
t of any government organ-
no FBI, no CIA, no noth-
has Nick fooled, too. Soon
get into trouble, and are
the "New Alcatraz" maxi-
ity prison. This will sup-
e Sasha an edge on finding
ew information, but I will
to admit, I have no idea
nce he's looking for. What
kely, however, is that the
ever told the audience,
es the rest of the story even
The rest of the story,
by the way, is that a
group of not-so-scary
villains, headed by 49er
Six (Nia Peeples, "Blues
Brothers 2000") and
49er One a.k.a. Donny
(Morris Chestnut,
"Under Siege 2"), break
into prison to find the
whereabouts of the $200
gold brick stashed away by
w inmate named Lester
tz, "Deep Impact"), who is
o serve his death sentence.
comes to save the day, of
ng with his sidekick Nick.
ments of the story are just
bing, and they seem to be
hock value, and nothing
xample, when Donny locks
...................................... :
6 .

Lester in the electric chair and unsuc-
cessfully tries to get some answers on
the gold, Donny turns around and
shoots a priest standing next to him.
This resulted in a lot of gasps from the
audience, but other than that, the
scene simply reminds the audience
that this is a horrible film, and that
characters have to go to such great
lengths as shooting a priest in the head
in order to keep our attention.
There is no redeeming quality to
"Half Past Dead." The attempt to
make Sasha a glorified hero creates
nothing more than laughs. Moreover,
the filmmaker makes a pathetic
attempt at bringing status to the side-
kick Nick. Ja Rule just can't play a
believable character, and he would
have been better off recording another
album than wasting his time on such a
gutter-dwelling action-flick.

estra Hall
ets: $10-$56
Musical Society

tra also has a close con-
nection with Messiaen;
the late composer dedi-
cated one of his last
works to the orchestra
itself, and the orchestra
regularly performs his
works in concert.
The orchestra was
going to perform at Hill
Auditorium, but for
obvious reasons had to
be rescheduled for
Orchestra Hall in
specifically chose Ann

Theatres and Music Critics, along
with "Man of the Year" in 1995 by
UNESCO. He is also active with the
United Nations youth anti-drug pro-
grams. Under his directorship the
"Orchestra Philharmonique de Radio
France" reaches superb heights of
excellence. Chung's liberal approach
allows the musicians to work their
own magic, which is evident in the
performance. He serves as a constant
inspiration to the orchestra, as Eric

Detroit. It

Arbor because it was, "one of the
most interesting places to present the
project," said Montalbetti. This
change in venue means that it won't
be able to do the entire program that
they had planned. This program and
tour, including the "Turangalila-Sym-
phonie" and Debussy's "La Mer," is to
give Messiaen the homage that he
deserves, and it selected the music to
reflect that goal. The word "turan-

Courtesy of UMS
Mr. Chung, director and leader.
galila" is Sanskrit and is loosely
translated to be a combination of joy,
love, life, movement and death. Mes-
siaen himself described the symphony
as a love song and a hymn to joy. This
symphony highlights the orchestra's
woodwind and piano parts and is
itself a very strongly constructed
work. The Orchestra Philharmonique
de Radio France and conductor
Myung Whun-Chung try, above all
else, to add to the audience's enjoy-
ment of the music. It has an extraordi-
nary link to the music and to the
composer, which comes across in
their enthusiasm and respect for the
music itself. According to Montalbet-
ti's, "I think the music is saying so
much about love, about peace, about
faith, it is a message that is so strong
and so clear."
Tickets can be bought from the
Michigan League's ticket office. Stu-
dent rush tickets are available the day
of the performance, and transporta-
tion to and from Orchestra Hall is
available for an additional $13, but
must be reserved in advance.






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