12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 4, 2002
Uneven 'Full Frontal' marred by confusion
By Ryan Blay
Daily TV/New Media Editor
To understand "Full Frontal," it is necessary to
follow the movie-within-the-movie, "Ren-
dezvous." For many summer moviegoers, that is
strilfe one against director Steven Soderbergh
("Ocean's 11", "Sex, Lies and Videotape"). And
while the concept does click at times, it does in the
end hold back what could have been a truly mas-
terful experimental film.
The talent includes Julia Roberts, Catherine
Keener, Blair Underwood, David Duchovny and
David Hyde Pierce. Brad Pitt and director David
Fincher sport roles as well.
Keener and Hyde Pierce, in particular, excel.
Trapped in a bad marriage, Lee (Keener) is about
to leave Carl (Hyde Pierce) on the fateful day of
a party for David Duchovny's Gus. The epitome
of ineffectual husbandry, Carl hates his job, is
soon fired for what can be described only as
drinking beer out of a glass instead of the bottle."
Lee, of course, is cheating on him. In charge of
terminating employees, she is truly sadistic, the
role in which Keener always shines.
Lee's sister, Linda (Mary McCormack, much
better here than in "K-Pax") is a masseuse look-
ing for love. She meets a man online and
arranges to fly to a Holiday Inn in Arizona to ren-
Nicky Katt ("Boston Public") plays an actor
playing Hitler in a play. In some of the most
bizarre scenes of the summer, Katt's role of
Hitler in a small community performance of a
play is truly classic. When's Hitler's director
(Enrico Colantoni, "Just Shoot Me") suggests
changes in his approach, Katt snaps and verbally
abuses his co-stars and director. Let's say he
takes his role just a little bit too seriously.
In a film featuring an oddly dressed neighbor
(I can't spoil the surprise, the sight gag is just too
perfect) and dogs eating hashish brownies, every-
thing has a truly chaotic feel to it. And while it
provides a great deal of humor, that's also where
the film breaks down.
Viewers may struggle to follow the film when
Julia Roberts as Catherine/Francesca and Blair
Underwood (Nicholas/Calvin) are blend can be likened to a movie fea-
filming scenes together. The film turing a foreign actor. Initially, grasp-
slows down completely. It's simply ing the accent is difficult, but after
not amusing to see these two other- awhile, viewers adjuss. The effect is
wise fine actors in these roles within the same here. The film is often too
roles. Regardless of whether Soder- uneven, ranging from Hyde Pierce's
bergh chose to use a handheld camera FULL FRONTAL unhappy breadwinner to Duchovny's
or regular filming techniques, the Ac nrequest for a handjob.
scenes would still be lacking. Birmingham 8 It's difficult to say whether the
Soderbergh got a good deal of Miramax ensemble or Soderbergh is at fault,
mixed press for his decision to blend but in a film that at times is laugh-
handheld filming and traditional cinematography, but out-loud hilarious and other times awkward and dull,
within the confines of "Frontal" the digital/film itis a shame to see such talent wasted.
Bad IDriscoll maes
for fun 'Frog King'
By Jim Schiff he'd get over himself. His friendship
Daily ArtsWriter with Birdie, a homeless teenager, is
refreshing becapse she can see right
Sometimes a fictional character is through Harry's phoniness. He, in
so despicable that the reader learns turn, finds her amusing and takes an
to like him, even revere interest in protecting her
him. Case in point: nfrom the rough streets.
Harry Driscoll, the nar- One might consider
rator and central char- *** Harry's actions out of
acter in Adam Davies' character - but this
"The Frog King." He's THE FROG KING subplot only strengthens
vain, he's sarcastic and By Adam Davies the idea that Harry is
most of all, he never simply frighteningly
feels an ounce of guilt Riverhead Books insecure, rather than vil-
over anything. Oh, and lainous.
did I mention that he cheats on his "The Frog King" isn't a deep novel
girlfriend? by any stretch of the imagination -
Yes, Harry Driscoll is a jerk,- but it doesn't try to be. Davies wisely
but that's where all the fun is. Davies concentrates on the surface level:
has crafted an endearing buffoon out The silly word games played among
of Driscoll, a low-level editorial the Prestige employees, the orange-
assistant at Prestige Publishing in colojed walls of Harry's apartment,
New York City. In the hilarious, often Harry and Evie's hysterical nick-
laugh-out-loud humor of the first few names for each other during foreplay.
chapters, we discover Driscoll's over- The presence of these little touches
whelmingly dreary perception of his adds up to an engagingly cockeyed
bachelorhood. He hates his room- perspective of being young and sin-
mate, Darrell, who makes sound- gle in New York. Not even the much-
bytes for sitcoms. He pokes fun of praised "Sex & the City" approaches
the socialites that populate book- the originality and adventurousness
releasing parties. He even finds fault of Davies' novel. By comparison,
in girls whose names end with the Harry makes party girl Samantha
letter "E," even though he eventually Jones seem tame.
dates one, Evie. In going out on a limb, in taking
Along the way we learn of Harry's the chances that Davies does, he
upper-crust upbringing, his perpetual occasionally pushes the Harry char-
lateness and his penchant for self- acter too far. When Evie discovers
destructive behavior. But this aside, Harry's affair and leaves him, his
the novel focuses on his relationship efforts to win her back seem too
with Evie. In doing so, the reader is halfhearted. One would hope that
treated with some delightfully witty Harry could at least articulate the
repartee between the pair, fully uti- words, "I'm sorry." But alas, he is
lizing their expanded vocabulary as a too self-centered to admit wrongdo-
result of them both being editors. It's ing to anyone but himself. What the
clear that they love each other, but reader is left with is a sense that
Harry won't - and doesn't know Harry isn't worth rooting for.
how to - express his feelings. Evie's Regardless of one's interpretation
friend Madeleine gives him the titu- of Harry, he still remains an intrigu-
lar name because of his slimy behav- ing character. His erratic behavior,
for and her firm belief that, no matter channeled through Davies' crisp lan-
what Evie does, Harry can never turn guage, makes "The Frog King" an
into a prince. enjoyable read. Unless, of course,
Davies does, however, drop hints you believe that even the slimiest of
that Harry isn't completely amoral amphibians don't have some
and could become a prince, if only redeemable qualities.
IKB MAIL BOXES ETC.
Seed of Abraham
A Messianic Jewish Synagogue
Sabbath - Saturdays at 10 am
Rosh HaShana - Fri. 9/6, 7:30pm
Yom Kippur - Sun. 9/15, 8pm
Mon. 9/16, 10am
3630 Plaza Drive (Airport Plaza south of Briarwood)
Dr. Mark Kinzer, Congregational Leader
For more information contact:
Congregation Zera Avraham
PO Box 2025, Ann Arbor, MI 48106 734-663-3573