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September 29, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-29

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September. 29, 2003
b artseditor@michigandaily.com




A loss in faith drives
spirited 'Holy Land'



By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Writer/director Eitan Gorlin's
debut, "The Holy Land", is a haunt-
ingly solemn and provocative look
into the underbelly of the most tragi-
cally misrepresented place in history.
A young yeshiva student, Mende
(Oren Rehany), feels increasingly
confined by ultra-
Orthodox The Ho
Judaism and can- y
not control mas- Land
turbating between At Madstone
meals and read- CAVU Films
ing profane liter-
ature during rabbinical studies. Upon
the revelation by the head rabbi of an
unknown religious passage that
allows unfocused youth to sow oats
in a brothel, Mende experiences life
as a five-second orgasm in a Tel Aviv
strip club.
His new love of the secular causes a
move to Jerusalem, where he lives
with an American expatriate bar
owner. The narrative begins as he
becomes entrenched in the countercul-
ture of Israel. The dive bar serves as a
religious neutral zone for weary Jews
and Arabs, as well as a sanctuary for
his love with Sasha (Tchelet Semel), a
Russian prostitute. The confusion

between paid prostitute, willing lover
and neophyte is used to heighten ten-
sion, and while cliched, it pays off.
Unique premise aside, the film is
shot with reathtaking photography
that allows the beauty of Israel to
shine in contrast to the character's
behavior. Through depictions of the
Wailing Wall, the vesper tine
cityscape, to Mende and Sasha's
romantic amble through downtown,
the viewer feels Gorlin's love for his
The superb cast manages to capture
the full gamut of emotion. Rehany
plays Mende with a restraint and
simultaneous spirit of exploration that
can only be described as a superior
Jason Biggs. Dialogue like "You have
nice eyes," "I wear contact lenses" and
"He's the only Arab who likes Dylan"
underscore the type of subtlety on dis-
play here. Even the score is extremely
effective with the music naturally cor-
responding to every mood.
Without redundant Zionist or Pales-
tinian recitations the characters are
simply allowed to be. A bus ride into
Jerusalem with a terrorist update fol-
lowed by a sports score is a scary real-
ity. "No school this month, the soldier
killed the teacher" says it all. The film
plays like a subversive "Casablanca"
with the idealistic Bogart sacrifice
replaced by a different sacrifice and
glance that will not be forgotten.

It's so alluringly easy to discount a
movie starring The Rock before even see-
ing it. As far as films are concerned, his
performances have thus far been abysmal,
sort of like his professional football gig as
Duane Johnson in the CFL. But just when
you thought things couldn't get any worse
- that he couldn't release anything more
atrocious than "The
Scorpion King" -
what does he do? He The
stars in "The Run- Rundown
down" and totally At Quality16 and
redeems himself. The Showcase
WWE superstud plays Universal
Beck, a brutally
straightforward retrieval agent who works
for a local gambling shark. Aspiring some-
day to open his own Italian restaurant -
nothing large, maybe 15 tables - Beck
has made a life of bashing those who fail
to uphold their betting obligations. To set-
tle down and end his career of professional
thuggery, though, he must complete one
last job: finding his boss's son, a college
dropout and self-proclaimed treasure
hunter living in the Amazon.
The Rock certainly proves himself wor-
thy of action stardom with this role. Arnold
Schwarzenegger's cameo early in the film
forces you to compare and contrast the

By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer

two, like it or not. The Rock comports him-
self with a unique blend of bravado and
charm that most muscle heads just cannot
muster. He's more human and personal
than the statuesque Schwarzenegger, and
his dexterity with a twelve gauge is
arguably better.
Beck quickly locates his target, Travis
(Seann William Scott), only to find that the
object of Travis' treasure hunts is coveted
by a local gold-mining tycoon and slave
driver, Hatcher (Christopher Walken).
When Beck captures Travis to take him
home to his father, he also becomes a men-
ace in the eyes of Hatcher.
"Rundown" surely doesn't succeed just
because of The Rock's involvement,
though. The supporting cast members,
namely Scott and Walken, turn in strong
performances, tempering their characters
with their own unique blends of humor and
These individual performances fulfill
their potential through the dynamic,
sharply orchestrated cinematography and
choreography. The opening scene intro-
duces characters in a Guy Ritchie-meets-
"Sportscenter" fashion, and the many
action sequences that follow entail precise
camerawork and a balance of film speeds
that make man-to-man combat all the more
gratifying. The team responsible for "Run-
down" had a clear sense of its goals, and
we ought only to hope that big Duane can
contract his mammoth frame and action
buff charm to similar outfits in the future.

Courtesy o Universal

Do you smell what Tony Rocky Horror is cooking?

Final 'Family Guy' falters with unimpressive special features

By Jason Roberts
Daily Arts Editor
Seth MacFarlane tapped into a
goldmine in 1999 with the creation
of the quick-witted and edgy animat-
ed comedy "Family Guy." FOX
eagerly scooped it up, ran with it for
only two seasons and then dumped it,
leaving the show's hardcore fans
longing for more. Fortunately for

fans, MacFarlane brought back the
series for a final 21-episode season

that once again
pushed the enve-
lope in animated
The third sea-
son of "Family
Guy" delivers,

Family Guy:
Season 3

MacFarlane lost a lot of the key writ-
ers that provided the backbone to the
two original seasons. This is evident
in the first few episodes as many of
the jokes feel more forced and
labored than others. However, as the
season progresses, the dialogue and
scenes become much richer.
With a show as biting and humor-
ous as the "Family Guy," it comes as
a disappointment that the features are
not as fleshed out as they should be.
The highlighted feature, an episode

titled "When You Wish Upon a Wein-
stein" that was banned from the air
due to its controversial content, is
surprisingly not superior to any of
the other regular episodes.
Additional features are mere
padding to this already rich three-
disc set. They range from the unin-
teresting to the unnecessary. The
audio commentary on select episodes
fails because it's too slow. With the
episodes, and all their pop-culture
references, moving at such a light-

ning-quick pace, the commentators
are often left to play catch-up.
Aside from its unexciting extras,
the final season of the "Family Guy"
is well worth purchasing for its
superb 21-episode breadth alone.
One can only wonder what the twist-
ed mind of Seth MacFarlane will
bring us next.

targeting everything from religion to
Bill Cosby to pornography. The jokes
are fast and furious, weaving a deep
and intricate tapestry. Unfortunately

Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: **I

WB- ° aP . Ap S'Sx3 RM Mt' U U,°.:..

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