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November 25, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-25

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Monday
November 25, 2002
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily.com

ARTS

5A

'Emperor's Club' keeps stale
genre alive with help of Kline

By John Laughlin
Daily Arts Writer
Michael Hoffman's latest film, "The Emperor's
Club," is a combination of "Mr. Holland's Opus," "Dead
Poet's Society" and "Pay It Forward" while also con-
taining some flavor of the score from "Scent of a
Woman." Starring Kevin Kline as the beloved teacher of
Greco-Roman civilization William Hundert, the film is

retires to his home only to receive an invitation for a re-
enactment of the Caesar competition by a now older and
wealthier Sedgewick. Hunderi is surrounded by this memo-
rable group of former students and is able to see the many
successes that he helped to create. The competition is a
surprising repetition of history, but allows for Hundert to
make amends with one of his former students and his soul.
While "Emperor's Club" is a sort of amalgamation of
various other "teacher homage" films, what sets it apart

yet another homage to those who instruct
us in scholastic life and have the ability to
make us who we are today. While "The
Emperor's Club" may not have the most
unique roots in terms of a seeming sub-
genre that has popped up in the last few
years, it does contain unique lessons about
the importance of "history" and personal
integrity.
St. Benedict's Academy for Boys is the
prototypical East Coast college preparato-
ry school complete with a Latin credo,

THE EMPEROR' S
CLUB
At Showcase and
Quality 16
Universal

are the unique messages it conveys concern-
ing the price of success and the importance
of history. The very idea that a plus or a
minus can perhaps change the course of one's
life is every student's nightmare and while we
are lead to believe that such an impact has
been made, "Emperor's Club" allows pne to
realize that while a single stroke of a pen
may change one's grade, it cannot alter one's
character.
Kevin Kline's performance is masterful
in his ability to express emotions without
physicality. His presence on screen is like
character: bold, truthful, intelligent and hon-

Courtesy of United Artists
The best Bond movie is "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." End of discussion.
007 .
'Die nth Day' revs up the
007 ctio wit a JinX of a twist

gothic architecture and stern dean. Teaching at the
school is William Hundert, whom all the students
admire and is a man who holds knowledge and past his-
tory as the keys to understanding and perhaps enlight-
enment. It would be when the classic "troublesome,
rebellious, lets-play-a-prank, son-of-a-really-important-
man" student, Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch, "The
Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys"), enters Hundert's
classroom that his sanctuary for learning is upset and he
is forced to deal with helping this new student appreci-
ate the value of knowledge.
The Academy holds an annual Julius Caesar contest
in which the students participate to be crowned "Emper-
or" in a test of classical history. By giving Sedgewick
his old textbook (along with a little ushering), Hundert
is able to make the boy want to learn and compete for
the prize. After several rounds of essay writing, in one
of the most poignant scenes in the film, Hundert
changes Sedgewick's final exam grade from an A-minus
into an A-plus, thus giving him the feeling of accom-
plishment he so desperately needs and the ability to
compete in front of his peers and less than adequate
father. .
The final round proves to be more than a showing of
wits in that Hundert catches Sedgewick cheating, but is
powerless to do anything about it. Hundert now must
live with the guilt of not only thinking he failed this one
child, but betrayed another student by raising
Sedgewick's grade and thus ousting him from his right-
ful place as one of the final three.
Flashing forward to the boys' graduation in 1976 and
then moving on into the filmic present, an aged Hundert
is betrayed by one of his colleagues for the position of
the new headmaster. Defeated and dejected, Hundert

est. A Kevin Spacey or Robin Williams he is not, but
one does gain the sense that at any moment the stu-
dents could cry out "Oh Captain, My Captain!"

too much
that of his

By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer
Flashier and reenergized, "Die
Another Day" ushers in a happy 40
years and counting for 007. In this
20th installment of the longest last-
ing film franchise ever, Bond is back
with a 21st century edge fused to the
formula that brought it fame back
when Connery first took on the role
" N ExplosiM batfts and
chases rage as the latest Bond film
rejuvenates the sleek savvy of old

with a plot that restores
to the series.
Pierce Brosnan
returns as James in his
fourth appearance, and
he is better than ever.
He returns to the role
with a cool confi-
dence, allowing him to
embody Ian Fleming's
character with resonat-
ing conviction. He has
a tougher edge and a
more powerful

excitement

DIE AN
DA
At Showc
Qualit,
Unitedi

and is stripped of his double-0 status. equipped with stealth capability.
But that hardly ever stops him. Everything in the film, from the
After escaping the confines of extravagant sets to the ultra-fancy
MI6 and his superior M (Judi Dench, fight sequences, is intricately
"Iris"), Bond begins his rogue search detailed and sometimes too gaudy.
for Zao. Information leads him to The fighting is, however, some of the
Havana where a highly dangerous best in Bond history, including an
genetic engineering lab changes peo- extraordinary, explosionless fencing
ple's genetic makeup providing duel between Bond and Graves. But
entirely new identities. the expensive choreography, demoli-
Enter Jinx. The mesmerizing tion and CGI run too long and lose
AmerieNS Apetih , played ry :na 'al they takeat reoIiflthe~
the gorgeous Halle Berry, has also actually interesting plot.
found her way to Cuba in search of Following tradition - Bond is,
Zao. Imbedded with diamonds from after all, the ultimate ladies man -
earlier explosions, Zao seeks to the film is packed full of the neces-
change his identity, and sary double entendre. Brosnan and
Bond needs to know Berry play off each other quite
who's funding it. appealingly as Jinx becomes less a
Jinx's introduction typical Bond girl and more of her
OTHER projects just one of the own character. Stephens is a little
many tributes director over the top, but manages to pull off
Y Lee Tamahori ("Along one of the most devilish villains
ase and Came a Spider") pays to Bond has faced to date. Contribu-
y 16 Bond's past. While her tions from Pike, Dench and Cleese
Artists emergence from the are all superb. Yune's Zao has a
water pays homage to fresh effrontery while providing an
the original Bond girl arch-enemy throwback to characters
Ursula Andress, numerous other like Odd Job.
scenes honor the series' history. In "Die Another Day" manages to
particular, in an abandoned subway inject some change into the superla-
stop, gadget creator Q (a role now tive formula that has lasted for four
filled by John Cleese) shows James decades, but it fails to stop where it
through a hodgepodge of classic 007 should. The special effects are too
memorabilia. long, too flaunted and too many; the
As in every Bond movie, behind story includes more explanation than
the dangerous assassin lies a diaboli- it should; and the film as a whole
cal multi-billionaire with a drags on for more than it needs. Too
respectable business front. Gustav much of the story jumbles and scrab-
Graves (Toby Stephens, "Posses- bles while the focus is on the action.
sion"), the lavish diamond mogul, This Bond is a welcomed return
appears as the mastermind behind to the old while ushering in a new
Zao, but something more evil is age. Although it still doesn't meas-
obviously in the works. When Bond ure up to greatness, it triumphs as a
returns from Cuba, he is reluctantly genuinely fun addition to its line-
welcomed back by M and sent to age. As long as there are movies,
Graves' Iceland fortress in the com- there will be Bond, and if this is an
pany of femme fatale Miranda Frost indication of the future of the fran-
(Rosamund Pike) and a slue of the chise, then fans and casual
most desirable gadgets, including the observers alike should be in for a
requisite expensive automobile fully- satisfying road ahead.

The University of Michigan
museum of art

Courtesy of Universal

Dead movie.

I-

resiliency. He has the swagger to fit
the role where, finally, it is undeni-
ably his to retain.
The film opens with the formulaic
Bond vs. horde action-opener in a
demilitarized zone of "axis of evil"
member North Korea. While, as
usual, he manages to cheat death,
defeat an army onslaught and finish
with some quip, he uncharacteristi-
cally becomes captured and impris-
oned. After more than a year of
torture, he is set free in exchange for
the deadly assassin Zao (Rick Yune,
"The Fast and the Furious"). Upon
release, Bond is coldly welcomed
back into a world that has drastically
changed while he was away. Some-
body from the inside set up Bond to
be captured by the Koreans and gave
vital information leading to the death
of another operative. This time
around, Bond has lost his credibility

DAY WITH(OUT) ART

VINTAGE CLOTHING, ANTIQUES, AND COLLECTIBLES

December 1, 2002
To observe this annual commemoration of the tragic loss of life and creativity wrought
by the AIDS virus, the University of Michigan Museum of Art will hold the following
exhibition and programs:
November 26-December 4
An exhibition from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, on view during
Museum hours
Sunday, December 1, Lecture, 3 pm
Robert Atkins, co-founder of Visual AIDS, a New York-based organization responsible
for the annual Day With(out) Art, speaking on changing representations of AIDS since
the 1980s
Monday, December 2, Poetry Reading, noon
The Museum will be open over the noon hour for this special reading of poems
of remembrance.
UMMA's Day Without Art project is co-sponsored by the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, AIDS Partnership Michigan,

- "u-~wr'~ -r.-r.m ~m~a ..m , ,u m m U U U ~ *

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