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October 20, 2003 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-20

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October 20, 2003
michigandaily. com

fRsm Oddil



Emotional, innovative
'Son' benefits Film Fest

By Christopher Pitoun
Daily Arts Writer

In Marcus Nispel's retelling of the 1974 classic,
you; might find yourself reminded of how good
the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was and
how this remake seems to have fallen flat.
In the great steppe of Central Texas, the lives
of five young teenagers descend into a world of
madness where a beastial man and his chainsaw
rule. They fall prey to the
Hewitts (named the Sawyers
in the original), a family of The Texas
pure sadists capturing travel- Chainsaw
ers for their physically Massacre
deformed son to torture, like At Quality 16 and
spiders in their web. Showcase
The 1970s setting for this New Line
film is overshadowed by the
21st-century time period in which it's made. The
group of five lacks the flower power that one
would expect in a crew of kids driving to Dallas
to see a Lynard Skynard concert in 1973. The
film makes a superficial effort to convince the
audience that marijuana, rock music and a beat-
up van are what define hippies.
Jessica Biel manages to hold her own, occupy-
ing the vast majority of the film's space and
does as well as can be expected having to run

around and scream constantly. She provides
enough depth that when she is forced to commit
a mercy killing for a friend, the audience feels
the shared pain of her dying companion's last
Elements of the plot end up as odd little bits
of mystery that don't really make much sense. A
strange baby kidnapped by the Hewitts and the
wandering woman found at the beginning whose
picture appears on the Hewitt estate are designed
to add to the intrigue.
Part of the elegance of the original was in its
somewhat grimy low-budget nature. This film is
set in the poorest sector of '70s "silent majority"
America. So why then does it seem that one can
feel the money being spent for another elaborate
set or overly ornate monster? "Texas Chainsaw
Massacre" seems to have inserted some of the
notions of ghetto fabulous into a setting where it
truly has no place.
To its credit, the film's visual imagery is
extremely striking. The audience initially feels
that disgusting nature of the Hewitts. Everything
from their physical appearances to the pigs that
roam around their living room are effective in
revolting the audience. Yet this effect wanes in
the wake of the dark lair for the chief villain,
that's so ornate, it would clearly have no place in
the destitute circumstances in which these char-
acters supposedly live.
When the film finally comes full circle, and

By Mary Hillemeier
Daily Arts Writer
"The Son," the new film from
directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dard-
enne, opened this week at the Mad-
stone Theater as a promotion for the

42nd annual Ann
Arbor Film Festi-
val. Innovative
and thought pro-
voking, this emo-
tional French
drama boasts a

Le Fils
(The Son)
At Madstone
New Yorker Films

performance by Olivier Gourmet,
recipient of the Best Actor honors at
Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal
of the conflicted carpenter Olivier.
The story revolves around Olivier, a
divorced vocational carpentry instruc-
tor whose tragic past has left him
trapped in a hauntingly routine exis-
tence. The key to his misery appears
with his new student Francis, played
by Morgan Marinne. Unbeknownst to
him, this 16-year-old student's past is
dangerously linked to his own.
Gourmet is an expert at layering his
emotions and allowing them to slowly
peel away, revealing a new dimension
to his character with every twist of the

plot. He is fascinated with the boy. As
his obsession grows, an unexpected
relationship also develops, obstructing
his judgment and creating a startling
bond between the two.
The intriguing relationship between
the two men is what makes this some-
times deliberate film worthwhile. The
end result is rewarding if one has the
patience to wade through the lengthy
silent shots which abandon dialogue
and music for more subtle visual
In a solid performance Marinne
wisely underplays, using mystery and
vulnerability to create more questions
than answers. Although his Francis
walks a fine line between redeemable
and damned, he confidently leaves
this decision to the audience; a rare
choice among contemporary young
actors who tend to shamelessly aim
for the emotional jugular.
An unwavering dedication to reali-
ty throughout keeps the script tight
and unique. And the nuances hidden
within each interaction demand atten-
tion and inspire much food for
Ultimately, "The Son" is an intense
meditation on redemption and forgive-
ness that asks much of its audience but
does not forget to return the favor.

You damn fool. You ruined the door!

Biel has evolved into the hysterical girl she had
found the day before wandering on the side of
the road, the audience feels little else but more
educated in the ways of slaughtering human

Smith ponders the works of Shakespeare

By Johanna Hanink
Daily Books Editor

Gould, the daughter of a famous pro-
ducer in Hollywood, and Joe Roper, a

The last time most of us seriously
thought about the kind of processes
that went into the writing of Shake-
speare's plays was the last time we saw
Joseph Fiennes playing the role of
Shakespeare himself opposite Gwyneth
Paltrow in "Shakespeare in Love."
Sarah Smith, an author renowned for
being an entertaining
and witty speaker, will C HA S INI
address the most
famous question about zk
Shakespeare's author-
ship - whether he was,
in fact, the author of the
playsuthat we now
attribute to him - this
afternoon at 3 p.m. in
the Michigan Union
Pond Room. SARA H
Smith, author of two
New York Times Book
Review Notable Books
of the year and the hold-
er of a doctorate in English from Har-
vard University, is also the author of the
new and enormously well-received his-
tory-mystery tale "Chasing Shakespear-
es." Although she will be speaking from
3 to 4 p.m., she will be available in the
Union beginning at 10 a.m.
"Chasing Shakespeares" is the story
of two Harvard graduate students, Posy

Vermonter who
fits neatly more
neatly into the
classic stereotype
of obstinate New
Englanders. The
pair have come

Sarah Smith
Today at 3 p.m.
Michigan Union
Pond Room

reinvigorate this debate: Through her
fiction, she craftily sows the seed of
intellectual curiosity in readers' minds.
For those who are already experts on
this controversy, footnotes to the novel
(about poem quotations, historical
events referenced, etc.) can now be
found at www.sarahsmith.com. I
Smith has succeeded in launching a
weighty intellectual project through a
fictional story of mass appeal. Her book

has already resurrected the important
problem of Shakespeare's authorship -
and the importance of authorship in
general - on the pages of the nation's
leading newspapers. Her appearance at
the University will be a treat for lovers
of literature and history alike - few
authors are able to blend these areas
with the genre of the modern-day mys-
tery with Smith's skill and ease (and
enjoyable end-product).

across a letter, signed by a "W Shake-
speare," which claims that he was not
the author of the plays. While Joe is
doubtful of the authenticity of the let-
ter, Posy is certain it's
real. They leave for
England in search of"
(seW4more evidence, each for
his own opinion. In the
England of today, a far
cry from the Bard's
Britain, they begin on a
trail of both literary and
self-discovery - each
finding something more
S M IT H than either of them bar-
gained for.
This book should
prove the perfect vehicle
to encourage discussion
at the University about the problem of
Shakespearean authorship. Because
Smith's prose style is so effortlessly
sophisticated, the fictional story of Posy
and Joe (interesting enough as an exer-
cise in character study alone) will draw
readers into the greater historical ques-
tions without even realizing it. Smith
has picked a very effective platform to

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