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December 02, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-12-02

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December 2, 2002




By Luke Smith
Daily Arts Editor

"Solaris," Steven Soderbergh's
reimagination of Stanislaw Lem's
novel of the same name (Russian
director Andrei Tarkovsky's adapted
the novel in 1971), is a murky amal-
gamation of both sci-fi and philo-
sophical interrogation offering no
answers or closure, while asking
countless questions.
When Chris Kelvin
(George Clooney)
arrives on the
Prometheus space sta-
tion, a vessel modeled SOi
after a modernized S.S. At Show
Discovery from stone and
Kubrick's "2001: A
Space Odyssey," he 20th C
finds splotches, prints
and puddles of blood dotting the oth-
erwise pristine-sleek futra-environ-
ment. Once aboard the Prometheus
Kelvin locates the two remaining
crewmembers, Snow and Gordon
(Jeremy Davies, Viola Gordon) -
both teetering in and out of sanity.
Additionally, and most importantly,
Kelvin meets the facsimile of his
dead-by-suicide wife Rheya
(Natascha McElhone, "The Truman
Show"). It is around this reunion the
film's plot orbits, as hastily as the
Prometheus circumnavigates the
expanding gas giant Solaris.
From this spectral meeting aboard
the Prometheus, the film's action (to

use a term, that "Solaris" actually has
almost none of) takes place primarily
on Earth and in the past through a
series of flashbacks to Rheya and
Chris' short-lived relationship. Dur-
ing these flashbacks the dialogue is
sparse and much of the acting is
through facial expressions and body
language. From this written silence,
"Solaris" is a movie intentionally
devoid of loquacious chatter and

vcase, Mad-
I Quality 16
entury Fox

wisecracking heroes,
and is instead, a pen-
sive eerie study of the
human conscience and
memory systems.
"Solaris" is a
romance, courting the
idea of how we
remember our loved
ones when those
memories are all we

bares all
for his
g; 20th Century
Clooney's Kelvin isn't the wisen-
heimer Danny Ocean ("Ocean's
11"), or the conniving Major Archie
Gates ("Three Kings"); the role is an
about face for the former "ER" doc-
tor. The cerebral Kelvin is a dam-
aged man, a man who slowly
discovers that his memories of his
wife are corroded and incorrect.
That wife is mercurial and temper-
mental, confused and empty while
played with doe-eyed wonder. McEl-
hone's great, blank eyes desperately
stare at her husband, looking for
answers while simultaneously posing
new questions.
"Solaris"' intimacy is augmented
through the sound and score, both of
which capture the isolation and inten-
sity of the Prometheus and its crew's
situation. Cliff Martinez score is
haunting and cryptic, foiling the
affections of the reunited Kelvins
with the reality of their actual dis-
tance. Martinez's music isn't over-
used; instead, it interjects and
interrupts the ambient, stale hum of
the Prometheus' electronics.
The inaudible gaseous Solaris
looms ominously behind the
Prometheus, as much of a character
as Kubrick's monolith. With the dis-
parity of the final descent into
Solaris, the film ends quizzically,
offering the closest thing to an
-answer - that somewhere in
between love and death there is a
third plane - and in Soderbergh's
world, that is "Solaris."

crew finally
gets its due
By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts Writer
Call it Motown, Hitsville, Studio
A or the Snake Pit. Regardless of the
title, it was in this house in the city
of Detroit where magic took place in
the 1960s. Some of the greatest and
most influential music ever recorded
came out of the small studio that
produced the likes of Smokey
Robinson, Marvin Gaye and Stevie
Wonder. Anybody who knows any-
thing about music, from aficionados
to radio surfers, knows the glorious,
mellifluent sounds of Motown.
But "Standing in the Shadows of
Motown" delves into the heart of the
music, the band behind the faces that
never received the recognition it
deserved. From the depths of
Detroit's prolific jazz and blues
scene, Motown's visionary founder
Berry Gordy picked the best to cre-
ate the Funk Brothers. Together, they
fused talents from different back-
grounds into powerfully captivating
rhythm and blues.
Director Paul Justman uses his
first widely distributed piece to art-
fully revisit the story of the band
collectively and individually. Using
archive footage intermixed with
modern interviews and performanc-
es, Justman shows not only the intri-
cately difficult process that these
men made easy but also the influ-
ence that music continues to have on
current performers.
The film tracks the band from its
inception to the movement of
Motown from Detroit to Hollywood.
Motown was the answer to the
masked woes of black music.
Glossed over by radio due to covers
by white bands, the black communi-
ty was in desperate need to be heard
on its own. Musicians had migrated
from the South with the prospect for
work in the booming automotive
industry, but they remained deter-
mined to play their music.
While reciting the history, the

The Funk Brothers, without Terry.
film also discusses the personal his-
tory of the band members. From
front-men like Benny "Papa-Zita"
Benjamin and James Jamerson to the
beats of "Pistol" Allen and keys of
Joe Hunter, the musicians poured
their souls and sweat into endless
hours of recording sessions.
They forged a bond that crossed
the color barriers of segregation and
wrote poetry through instruments.
"Standing in the Shad-
ows" brings light to the
extreme racial divide
that existed outside the
studio and the context
in which the music STANI
found meaning.6While THE SHE
the nation struggled MO'
with war, riots and
demonstrations, the At M,
band created its own Ar
harmony in songs like
"What's Going' On."
Every member could have their
own documentary. They tell vivid
stories of late-night sessions where
they would lay down some of the
most prolific measures of musical
history and personal experiences
that somehow always intertwine.
They were a family together - their
musical talent heightened by the
presence of each other - and this
film finally pays the homage that the
unrecognized artists deserve. Raw,
humorous and truthful, the players
tell their story without regard to the
mythical image of Hitsville. Howev-
er, the film sometimes tries too hard
to portray the stories in reimagined


clips. Funny as they may seem, their
hokey nature does not fit the high
quality of the rest of the film.
Special appearances by current
singers Ben Harper, Meshell N'de-
geocello, Joan Osborne and others
help personalize this unbiased and
historically valid experience to
younger viewers who can't necessar-
ily relate to the nostalgia. Perfor-
mances by these platinum
performers candidly
show the influence the
music of the Funk
** Brothers has had on
their own records. With
ING IN faultless tonality and
DOWS OF heartfelt belting, they
OWN perfectly recreate the
aura of the Motown
Istone Sound meshed with
san their own persona, and
Justman doesn't hesi-
tate to show the young
performers' appreciation.
Motown influenced more than just
a generation, it impacted nearly all
of pop-culture that followed. As
Justman himself said, this film was a
race against time. After 10 years of
intensive research through archives,
interviews with band members still
living and filming the live perform-
ances only a year ago, "Standing in
the Shadows of Motown" has finally
come to the screen. Although some
of the musicians passed before film-
ing began and others sadly just
before the premiere, their story will
now be told in a film that is as mov-
ing as the music-they played.

have left. Imposing our own inter-
pretations on actions, we corrupt
realities and oft fail to remember
the truth -"Solaris" is Soderbergh
at his most preachy, but he isn't
behind a bully pulpit.
Soderbergh was, however, behind
the camera under a pseudonym (Peter
Andrews) for the film's cinematogra-
phy. His characters are framed gently,
with the Prometheus' soft lumines-
cence invoking spiritual warmth
between Kelvin and the visiting
Rheya. This heat carries into the
flashbacks, which are splattered with
playful sexuality and moments of
confidence beneath low lighting.

Animated gold foundin 'Treasure'

By Jenny Jeltes
Daily Arts Writer
Disney's new animated film, "Trea-
sure Planet," based on Robert Louis
Stevenson's novel, "Treasure Island,"
is a journey into outer space, taking
place at a time when aliens and crea-
tures from all over the galaxy can
travel from planet to planet via the
Spaceport, which happens to be on
the moon. It is entertaining to see the
vast array of creatures and aliens,
from an evil and conniving arachnid,
Arrow (Roscoe Lee Browne), to
Morph (Dane A. Davis), the sidekick
who is a pink jelly-like mass who can
transform himself into anything with
any voice. Aside from this animated
creativity, however, the story is told in
a dull manner.
The basic storyline is that Jim
Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a
young boy who is fascinated with the
story of "Treasure Planet," where the
"Loot of a Thousand Worlds" is myste-
riously hidden away. Despite Jim's
delinquent tendencies and lack of a
sense of self-worth at home, he wishes
to travel into space to find this treasure
when he encounters a map from a
dying man whose ship crashed near
Jim's home. From here, the audience is
drawn into the adventure through
space, which includes getting sucked
through a black hole and traveling
through space storms.

A major problem with "Treasure
Planet" is that it does not contain
nearly as much humor as Disney's
other animated films. It is almost as if
the screenwriters forgot this element
when they were wrapped up in adapt-
ing "Treasure Island" to a galactic
environment. The audience may

chuckle a little (maybe
once or twice) when the
character B.E.N. (Mar-
tin Short) is introduced,
but other than that,
moments of laughter are
few and far between. It
seems that humor has
become a prerequisite in
any Disney film, regard-
less of the content. If
Morph is supposed to be


dry, there is at least usually something
interesting too look at. Perhaps the best
part of "Treasure Planet" is the rela-
tionship between Jim and the cyborg,
John Silver (Brian Murray), the cook
on the ship with an arm consisting of
gadgets, weapons and other useful
mechanisms. Disguising his goal to
obtain the treasure for
himself, John befriends
Jim in an attempt to get
the map and information
on the treasure's where-
SURE abouts. He takes a gen-
vET uine liking to the boy,
se, Mad- however, and by the end
duality 16 of the film, he turns out
to be not so evil after all.
ley "Treasure Planet"
teaches a moral,
although it is poorly developed and far
from powerful. After Jim's adventure
and attempt to get the riches, he learns
that this is not what's really important
after all. It's up to the audience to fig-
ure out what Jim means when he pro-
claims, "I can chart my own course."
With the "moral" of the story arbitrari-
ly assigned, the visual splendor is all
to be remembered.


At Showca
stone, and C

the classic Disney sidekick of the
film, he has a long way to go before
becoming as memorable as the Genie
from "Aladdin," or Timon from "The
Lion King."
Although a lack of humor in general
had a significant effect on the enjoy-
ment of the film, "Treasure Planet"
should be applauded for its visual cre-
ativity. Even when the dialogue turns

The University of Michigan
museum of art
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,




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