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November 25, 2002 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-25

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, November 25, 2002
r-

ART S

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Courtesy of New Line
It's kinda like a frame within a frame.
'Friday After Next' retains appeal
of series thanks to clever writing

By Josh Neldus
For the Daily

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If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That
was the intention of producer Ice
Cube when making "Friday After
Next," the third installment in the
"Friday" series. Ice Cube reuses
many of the plotlines, types of humor
and even exact lines that made "Fri-
day" and "Next Friday" so success-
ful. But "Friday After Next" also
brings in its own original elements,
and it is these new twists combined
with the old, familiar essentials that
make this movie worthwhile.
Like its predecessors, "Friday After
Next" finds Chris Jones (Ice Cube,
"All About the Benjamins") trying to
make it through another Friday. The
movie opens in the apartment where
Chris now resides with his cousin
Day-Day (Mike Epps, "All About the
Benjamins"). It's the night before
Christmas, and the only creature stir-
ring is a sneaky Santa Claus. This
crooked Claus steals all of the boys'
presents and their rent money, setting
up the money problems that Chris
always seems to fall into on Fridays.
Just like the first two, the minimal
plot consists of how Craig can get
enough money to avoid another dis-
,tfou Fiday. The majority dlf the
day is spent following Craig and
Day-Day at their new jobs as security
guards at an outdoor shopping center.
There's no doubt that this somewhat

ironic employment will provide the
interactions that this movie needs to
keep alive the "Friday" traditions.
Like the last two Fridays, Craig
and his helpless sidekick get into
physical danger. It is not Deebo that
threatens Craig's safety this time, but
his landlord's son,
Damon (Terry Crews),
who has recently been
released from jail. The
jail time has brought
about some changes in FRIDAY
Damon's sexual prefer- Ni
ence, and neither Craig
nor Day-Day wish to be At Shov
his welcoming home Quali
gift. Amidst all of the New Lin
conflicts and problems.
that seem to character-
ize Craig's Fridays, he always seems
to find time to kick back; relax and
forget about his problems with the
help of a little marijuana. A Friday
wouldn't be complete without getting
high, after all. Of course, someone
does take a beating at the end of the
movie, because Friday also wouldn't
be complete unless someone "got
knocked the fuck out!"
Other than Craig and Day-Day,
"Friday After $ext" brings back some
of the other classic characters from
the first twM iiIsfllments. John With-
erspoon is back as Willie, Craig's dad.
However, the bathroom humor that
made him so funny in the first two is
subdued to a short stint near the end

wca
litys
le C

of the film. Don "D.C." Curry returns
as Uncle Elroy, creating competition
with his brother Willie throughout the
movie. Anna Maria Horsford comes
back as Mrs. Jones, Craig's mother,
and making a crowd pleasing return
appearance at the end of the movie
party is Pinky, played by
Clifton Powell. But "Fri-
day After Next" also sees
some new actors making
their "Friday" debuts.
ELFTER Following in the foot-
:T steps of Nia Long and
Lisa Rodriguez comes
ase and the stunning K.D.
y 16 Aubert ("The Scorpion
'inema King"), who plays
Donna, the new apple of
Craig's eye. Like his
past two interests, there are obstacles

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Craig must overcome to win over
Donna. The biggest, or actually
smallest, obstacle is Donna's current
boyfriend, a short wannabe-pimp by
the name of Money Mike, portrayed
by comedian Katt Williams.
Williams' "Friday" debut is also his
film debut, and he has signed with
NBC to create and star in his own
family sitcom.
Ice tubemakes the necessary
changes to produce another "Friday"
so that the connections ate d 0--
but the movie still has originality.
"Friday After Next" keeps its focus
on Friday but it's downright funny
any day of the week.

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Nelson's 'Grey Zone' focuses
on shock instead of characters

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By Stephanie Kapera
Daily Arts Writer
"The Grey Zone" is being promoted as "The story you
haven't heard" which - besides being a self-conscious
reference to our culture's fascination with the Holocaust,
and to the staggering number of.Holocaust stories we have
accumulated - is an ironic way to promote a film in
which it is difficult to actually hear anyone at all. Shooting
for some outrageous level of gruesomeness, dialogue in
"The Grey Zone" is whispered, muffled and eventually
rendered somewhat irrelevant in the face of the film's grim
and often unbearable visuals.
This film does, on some levels, hold true
to its tagline. It is undeniably a departure
from Holocaust narratives as we have come
to know them. Instead of focusing on the
Nazis as monsters, "The Grey Zone" tells
the story of one of Auschwitz's 13 Son- THE GR
derkommandos. The Sonderkommandos
were special squads of Jewish prisoners who At Ma
took care of a lot of the Nazis' dirty work in Lion
exchange for a few extra months to live. In
theory, this issue is riddled with moral complexity. These
Jews - played by David Arquette and Steve Buscemi,
among others - were responsible for telling prisoners
that, once they left the "showers," they would be fed and
reunited with their families. Their tasks also included
throwing dead bodies - sometimes the bodies of their
own relatives - into the furnaces and dealing with the
ashes that remained. The film wants desperately to ask:
What are we capable of doing? How much are we willing
to betray in order to stay alive?
Director Tim Blake Nelson ("O") adapted the true story
of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli and turned it into the centerpiece of
his screenplay. Nyiszli was a Hungarian Jew chosen by Dr.
Joseph Mengele to be one of the physicians who per-
formed medical experiments on Jews at Auschwitz. Along-
side Nyiszli lived the 13 Sonderkommandos, the 12th of
which organized the only armed uprising ever to take place
as Auschwitz, which serves as the film's climax. Towards
the end of the war, these men succeeded in partially
destroying the camp's crematoriums.
There is a sense that narrative arc is a foreign concept
to Nelson. The first half-hour of the film is a blur of con-
fusion because, try as we might, it is difficult to differen-
tiate between the half-dozen ash-smeared male faces that
make up the cast. The film dives right into its subject
mattr wh1ich is nerhans an attemnt hby Nelson to nortraiv

Although this scene is affecting, the film's lack of plot
development or an even tone takes away from the emotion-
al punch it should deliver. The other subplot involves a
fourteen year-old Hungarian girl who survived the gas
chamber because her face was in a wet pocket of air. The
men organizing the revolt, along with Dr. Nyiszli, take it
upon themselves to make her a sort of personal crusade:
they want to see her live. This is a futile plot move in many
ways, since the motivation these men feel to save this one
child is never fully explained. It too lacks emotional force.
All of the performances are admirable, as is the film
itself. It is difficult to be harsh on a film that undoubted-
ly has good intentions. "The Grey Zone" does a lot of
interesting things. It does show us things we
haven't seen before, and it is a fairly
intriguing moral trap to spend a few hours
inside. Yet something about it just doesn't
work. Maybe the truth is that good inten-
;Y ZONE tions don't necessarily result in a good
movie. The film closes with the Hungarian
stone girl, narrating from her death, speaking
Gate briefly about being burned and turning into
the ash that covers the men's faces. This
should bring us to a certain emotional height, but
because of the film's messy plot, and lack of character
development, we are left unsure of how to feel. "The
Grey Zone" has, as far as quality and watchability is con-
cerned, landed in a sort of Grey Zone of its own.

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