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November 27, 2002 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2002-11-27

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Wednesday
November 27, 2002
michigandaily.com/arts
mae@michigandaily. corn

Awwjm Eau .
ARTS

5

STEPHANIE
KAPERA

Taking another look at the
controversial 'Columbine'

K woman walked into the restau-
rant where I work a few days ago
d asked if there were any good
movies playing in the area. She and her
husband were in from out of town. I
immediately recommended "Bowling for
Columbine," and my suggestion was
echoed with enthusiasm from the other
hostess as well as a few waiters who hap-
pened to be loitering at the host stand.
The woman, who was in her 50s,
made a just-bit-into-a-lemon face. "We
don't want to see that," she said. "We're
from Colorado."
Although the general critical response
to Michael Moore's "Columbine" has
been overwhelmingly positive, there
have been a few dissenters. The nicer
dissenters argued that Moore's thesis was
unclear and that, although there is cer-
tainly a good movie to be made about
gun control, "Columbine" is just not that
movie. The angrier critics - among
them, Rex Reed of The New York
Observer and Jeremy Heilman of Movie
Martyr - despised Moore's interview-
ing techniques, comparing them to
tabloid journalism. Heilman, especially,
was outraged by the film. And he does
have a point, "The problem Moore sees
with media manipulation can only be
solved by free thinking in the public."
Heilman continues, "By leading his
audience to the singular conclusion in
the manner that he does, Moore only
makes the audience think that they are
drawing their own conclusions. They
aren't though. Because he presents him-
self as an everyman, but at the same time
presents himself as superior to everyone
who hasn't suffered greatly, the audience
can easily align themselves with Moore
and tell themselves: I'm glad I'm not
part of the problem."
Neither of these critics cited being
from Colorado as a reason that they did-
n't like the film.
There are a couple of things that stand
out in this situation. The first is that
"Columbine" haters are somewhat justi-
fled in their rationale. Moore's film does
masquerade as a documentary when it
fails, in fact, to show anything but
Moore's own viewpoint on the subject of
gun-control and fear in America. But
who ever said that a movie was a demo-
cratic space? The beauty of the film is
its singular vision, the way one writer's
screenplay benefits from a director's
handling of the material. And Moore,
who is both writer and director of
"Columbine," is a passionate and enter-
taining guide to one of the most affect-
ing, terrifying and moving films
released this year. After all, it's not like
he lied. He just argued his case. And it
was a hell of a case. Perhaps we are
aligned with Moore, perhaps we do
leave the movie thinking, "God, Ameri-
ca is full of idiots." But what's so wrong
with that? It makes us think about the
media we consume, it makes us critical
of our society. And that, I think, is better
than nothing.

As for the woman who was so offend-
ed that I'd even think to recommend
"Columbine" to her, I could have just as
easily responded: "Well, I'm from
Michigan." Because "Columbine" is just
as much about Michigan as it is Col-
orado. Much of the film takes place
here, including an important storyline
about Kayla Rolland, the first grader
who was shot at school a few years ago,
as well as several interviews with local
idiots who keep handguns under their
pillows and make bombs in their base-
ments. I could be plenty more embar-
rassed and distraught by the film than
Mrs. I'm From Colorado, but that fact
didn't even occur to me until she
brought it up.
With two films at the box-office right
now that take place in and around
Detroit - "8 Mile" and "Columbine"
- there is a lot of room for anger and
humiliation to well in us Michiganders.
We could be outraged that our Detroit
has been portrayed as a wasteland of
trailer parks and racism, that our farms
look like breeding grounds for the next
wave of KKK members, and that in the
ruins of our state, the only hero who
emerges is one swearing, violent homo-
phobe whose lyrics offend nearly half
the U.S. population.
So why aren't any of us angry? Why
don't we flee from these films with our
hands covering our eyes? Maybe we're
just better than everyone else (just kid-
ding). The answer is -to quote Winona
Ryder's speech from the beginning of
"Reality Bites'- I don't know. Maybe
the answer is that we're proud. We're
proud to finally be a part of the intellec-
tual debates this nation usually limits to
New York, L.A. and the redneck cities
that dot middle America. "8 Mile" does
a lot of things, good and bad, but like
Moore's film, it is a singular vision, the
story of one boy's passion for his art
form. And the debate about the validity
of that art form is not the central point
of the movie, just as "Columbine" does-
n't want to be a democratic film about
all the possible reasons we as a nation.
are out of control when it comes to guns
and fear. Both movies are movies, made
by one guy with a dream. And both of
those guys come from our great state.
And whether or not we choose to accept
them or not, whether we choose to open
our eyes to what our fellow Detroiters
have to say, is up to us. Hopefully we'll
make the right choice.
The woman, by the way, decided to
go see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"
for the second time. She didn't look too
Greek to me, but I guess that's no sur-
prise. If she had happened to be Greek,
she'd probably have a vendetta against
that film as well. After all, it's just plain
awful when someone from your own
homeland goes around healing his cuts
with Windex. How humiliating.
Stephanie Kapera can be reached at
skapera@umich.edu.

Moore and .:., .s.yo:. 6
Haysbert give .
two of the 3 <.> ;:><;
year's best L .
performances
in "Heaven."
Courtesy of USA
Films
HEAVEN' LY CRLEATERES
HAYNES RECREATES A LOST GENRE

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor

"Far From Heaven" is a film that req
lecture on '50s melodramas before viev
not to say Todd Haynes' latest film can't
on a casual level, but the real joy of "Hea
its immaculate recreation of the work
Douglas Sirk, one of the most popular
filmmakers of his era. "Heaven" is an
ode to Sirk's "All That Heaven
Allows" and "Imitation of Life"
among others, domestic soap operas
that starred the likes of Rock Hudson
and Lana Turner. Haynes' lavish pro-
duction design mirrors Sirk to a tee,
but what makes his film so fascinating
is its lack of modernization in the way
it discusses issues of discrimination.
The year is 1957. Cathy Whitaker
(Julianne Moore, "Boogie Nights") is
American housewife of the '50s, comple
kids who look like they could be theo
Ozzie and Harriet and a successful hus
(Dennis Quaid, "The Rookie"). But i
Cathy and Frank are far from Ozzie a

Frank has been having an affair with a young man
and Cathy has found true happiness, but not sex rela-
tions, with her black gardener, Raymond (Dennis
uires a brief Haysbert, "24").
wing. That's The events in "Far From Heaven" unravel slowly,
t be enjoyed just like in a Sirk film, allowing the audience to take
aven" lies in in all of the glorious visuals. Each shot is painted
of director with a palette of rich colors, from the changing
autumn leaves of Connecticut to the
* plush interiors of the Whitaker family
home. The camera gracefully moves
* * Afrom the treetops down to the charac-
FAR FROters on the ground, straight out of a
HEAVEM scene from "Written on the Wind."
HEAVEN Homosexuality is handled in "Far
At the Michigan From Heaven" like it was in the '50s,
Theater as a disease that can be cured and
USA Films treated. Frank admits, "I know it's
wrong because it makes me feel des-
picable." The changing social climate
the typical of 1957 is further illustrated in the budding interra-
ete with two cial relationship between Cathy and Raymond, and
offspring of before long the whole town is in an uproar over their
band, Frank friendship. Moore, Quaid and Haysbert give tremen-
it turns out dous performances that fuel the emotional firepower
nd Harriet; of the film.

From
Senator to
President to
gardener.
g V } Courtesy of USA
Films
One of the more striking features of "Far From
Heaven" is its sweeping score by veteran screen
composer Elmer Bernstein. The man who created
some of the most memorable soundtracks of the '50s
and '60s, "The Magnificent Seven" and "To Kill a
Mocking Bird" come to mind, is, at 80 years old,
once again in top form. Bernstein is able to evoke
the elements of Frank Skinner's best compositions,
Sirk's long-time collaborator, while fleshing out the
music with his own elegant touches.
Todd Haynes is arguably the most daring Ameri-
can director working today. From his audacious
debut, "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" (a
biography made with plastic dolls rather than
actors), Haynes has always been a controversial fig-
ure in independent filmmaking. His feature films
"Safe" and "Velvet Goldmine" have won him much
attention and praise for their unique visual style and
well written scripts, and "Heaven" is no exception.
"Far From Heaven" is perhaps 2002's most ambi-
tious film. Writer/director Haynes has perfectly
recaptured the atmosphere of the '50s melodrama
without tampering with the formula. In doing so,
Haynes examines the social undertones of not only
Sirk's filmography, but also the foundation of the
'50s nuclear family.

'X-Files' DVD showcases highs, lows of season six

By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Arts Writer

"Little Girls make the best aliens."
This is stated in one of the special
features on the new DVD set, "The
Complete Sixth Season of The X-
Files." This six DVD set isn't just
the 22 episodes of season six, but
includes lots of extra features to
enhance the experience. "The X-
Files" ran for nine years, with each
season being unique. Season six
came right after "The X-Files"
movie "Fight the Future" hit theaters
in 1998. Season six, in many
episodes, directly contrasts the
movie's seriousness. Many episodes

behind the existence of extraterres-
trials and the government's involve-
ment and subsequent conspiracy in
covering up their existence. It is par-
ticularly interesting to note that
within this single season, the show
disbands its core conspiracy and cre-
ates a new one with its season
finale. It is the search for the truth,
and the reactions of Mulder and
Scully to what they find in this
search, and to each other, which cap-
tivates the audience. The acting in
season six is remarkable, with
Duchovny and Anderson creating
some of the best chemistry seen on
the small and big screens of Holly- '
wood. They have so much previous

are very bright com-
pared to traditional "X-
Files" standards. In a
new location, when the
set moved from Van-
couver to Los Angeles,
and with the potential
for new viewers from
the successful movie,
series creator Chris
Carter wanted to try
something a little dif-
ferent. As a result
many of the stand-

THE X-FILES
COMPLETE SIXTH'
SEASON DVD
Picture/Sound: ****
Movie: ****
Features: ****
Fox Home
Entertainment

experience in the devel-
opment of their charac-
ters that eve forget that
we are watching actors,
and we put our faith in
the mutual trust that
bonds these two com-
plex characters.
A few episodes are
particularly noteworthy.
This includes the two-
part episode "Two
Fathers" and "One Son"

over again is interesting because of
the wonderful way that director Kim
Manners manages to make each
identical day interesting with its own
personality. "The Unnatural," writ-
ten and directed by David Duchovny,
is a charming independent story
about a 1940s Negro League star,
who also happens to be an alien. The
episode, though, seems to say more
about the human condition than
about any extraterrestrial plot.
The weakest episode of this sea-
son is the over-the-top "How The
Ghosts Stole Christmas," which
seems too hokey with actors Lily
Tomlin and Ed Asner playing ghosts
that haunt a house that the two
agents happen to get trapped in. It is
written and directed with too much
emphasis on the comical aspects of
the ghosts, and not enough on the
potential significance of the situa-
tion. It is almost painful to see two
such complex characters, Mulder
and Scully, wandering around in
such a silly plot.
The extra features in the DVD set
are plentiful. There is a wonderful
20 minute documentary on the sea-
son, a behind the scenes featurette,
fifteen deleted scenes with optional
commentary, forty-four promotional
spots, French and Spanish language
selections, international clips, spe-
cial effects commentary, a DVD-
ROM game, and an engaging
character profile on the Cigarette
Smoking Man (William B. Davis).
The picture quality for the episodes
is good, and the graphics in the
menus are interesting. These fea-
tures add to the season six experi-
ence. It is indeed an-experience,
filled with highs, lows, frustrations
and of course aliens and monsters.
With this DVD you can experience

these points as often as you would
like, and even learn details as to
how it is all done. This is a definite
buy for the hardcore "X-Phile," and
is recommended for regular fans of
the show as well. The features give
you the freedom to probe deeper
into the realm of "The X-Files," or
to simply learn how an effect was
created. The show is interesting and
the extra features make season six
really come to life.

alone episodes, those not related to
the alien/government conspiracy,
tend to be light and almost jovial.
While the cast and crew pulls this
off well, it is difficult for old view-
ers to break from the dark and mys-
terious schema that has developed in
regards to the show. If you can see
past this prejudice though, you will
find these episodes delightful.
The whole premise behind the
series is the search by Mulder
(David Duchovny, "Evolution") and
Scully (Gillian Anderson, "The
House of Mirth") for the truth

which reveal many
answers to the series' mysteries
involving the alien/government con-
spiracy. Packed with suspense and
drama, they answer many of the
questions raised in the movie and the
first six seasons of the series. How-
ever, in typical "X-Files" manner,
the answers leave new questions in
the air, which are used in the new
alien conspiracy created with the
season's final episode, "Biogenesis."
Among the stand-alone episodes,
there are a few that are particularly
well made and entertaining. "Mon-
day," in which a bad day is repeated

C.ourtesy of idos
Eldos' sequel features some of the best multi-player action since "Goldeneye."
Timespitters 2' wows

THEME SET SUNDAYS!
2-4-1 COUCH DANCES
EVERY TUESDAY

By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor

When Sony's Playstation 2
launched two years ago, the fledgling
system's games were substandard,
until Eidos' "Timesplitters" was
released. The multiplayer, FPS fea-
tured an excellent multiplayer mode,
in the vein of Rare's
"Goldeneye." Interest-
ingly enough, some of
Rare's staff defected
and formed Free Radi- TIMESPI
cal, the company

stantially more infiltration required in
this game, but not so much that the
game is overrun with stealth.
On top of a much improved story
mode, "Timesplitters 2" has undergone
some tweaking in the multi-player
mode (the game's multiplayer mode
was the only reason to own the first).
The graphics have been tightened, and
tons of new player mod-
els are now available.
There is a challenge
mode where players can
[TTERS 2 open new playable levels
for multiplayer games

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