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October 21, 2003 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-10-21

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October 21, 2003



By Ryan Lewis
Daily Film Editor


Screener ban to hurt industry

His brown leather jacket, signa-
ture fedora and cracking bullwhip
have achieved cultural-icon status.
Known the world over as Indiana
Jones, the character created by the
collective genius of Spielberg,
Lucas and Ford, the archaeologist's
adventure trilogy has been boxed
up, digitally remastered and loaded
with special fea-
tures providing "
a veritable grail The
for any Indy Adventures

A recent uproar has swept through
the Hollywood community,
nce again separating major
studio players from the so-called inde-
pendents of the film world. No, the stu-
dios haven't started buying up theaters
again and muscling the little giants out
of town. The big boys have pooled their
efforts together to shut down the evil
piracy network that has arisen from ...
award screeners?
Yep, those little DVDs and videos
that production companies send out
en masse come award season to mem-
bers of the Academy have been
banned by the powerful Motion Pic-
ture Association of America, and the
independent studios have presented
their opposition in one mighty accord.
Seeing as how almost nobody else in
the world has any notion of what
these packages mean to the studios
that don't have the influence or mar-
keting power of a Disney or Para-
mount, it behooves me to explain just
why this decision has caused such a
commotion in Tinseltown.
Let's take a look at the arguments
presented by each side. MPAA and the
major studios: Screeners have become
a major liability as their presence prior
to the market release on home video
has led to tremendous piracy that cre-
ates a severe drop in DVD and VHS
profits. Independent film companies:
Most members of the Academy won't
have the time to go see our films in the-
aters, so these screeners are necessary
in order for our projects to ever be con-
sidered for an Oscar.
Now, it's important to understand
exactly how ridiculous the screener ban
is and how out of proportion the minor
independents have blown the situation.
For one, copyright infringement due to
the rerecording of screeners is the least
of the MPAA's piracy problems. The
true problem lies in the newfound capa-
bilities of DVD burning, where people
can easily replicate their home video
collection and pass it freely between
friends. Under this consideration, the
ban can be seen as a ploy to push inde-
pendent companies without the market-
ing power of major studios out of
business because they will lose support
in awards voting - especially since the
biggest players in the MPAA's decision
are seven major studios along with
New Line and some others, with its
'And now ...

biggest signature coming from Mira-
max's Harvey Weinstein.
Looking at it from the other perspec-
tive, we can see where this poses a
tremendous threat to the ongoing credi-
bility and power of the independent
features. Knocking out screeners would
prevent much of the academy at large
from viewing the massive amounts of
films before the voting deadline, and
they would therefore be ousted from
consideration. This is truly an under-
standable position.
However, when considering the last
seven years of Academy Awards,
there is a dominant trend to nominate
maybe a single independent film in
the Best Picture category, and you
would have to search meticulously to
find any nominations at all through
the early 1990s. In fact, there has
never been an independent film that
took home the Best Picture Award in
Oscar history. Sure, there is the possi-
bility that an independent will win in
the future, but based on past statis-
tics, the outlook is gloomy.
Not only that, but most independent
films are hardly that anymore. Many of
the so-called independent companies
exist under the banner of a larger media
conglomerate, such as Sony Pictures
Classics, Fine Line and Dimension.
Plus, almost all of the independent
films that have received any nomina-
tions have also found wide release
throughout the country.
The true shame in the matter is that
this pitiless skirmishhas put theissue
of quality filmmaking on the back-
burner. Major productions have been
reduced to a majority of sequels,
remakes, or "re-imaginations." Maybe
the studios are truly concerned that
their films have started to fall second-
tier to the rising quality of independ-
ent films. Regardless, this ban is an
arbitrary assertion of the MPAA's
power that actually has little power to
affect the more important issues
plaguing the film industry today.
Screeners or no screeners, Miramax
will still probably have at least one
Best Picture nod every year and an
independent label will still most likely
never see that little golden man stand-
ing in its personal shrine.

Brought to
cinemas in 1981
with "Raiders of
the Lost Ark,"

of Indiana

the first flick featuring Jones, the
idea was an instant success. Spawn-
ing two sequels and influencing
countless films to follow, Spielberg's
most adventurous work is some of
the director's finest. "Raiders," "The
Temple of Doom" and "The Last
Crusade," all center on the archeo-
logical misadventures of a would-be
James Bond college professor
embodied by Harrison Ford.
The four-DVD set allows each of
the films to be seen in their full,
versions. Widescreen formatting
and George Lucas' signature THX
sound enhance the already near-
perfect action movies. Simply hav-
ing the ability to finally watch the
movies on DVD all in a row should
be enough to entice a purchase, but
it only gets better with the supple-
mental bonus materials disc.
With over three hours of "Indi-


documentaries on the making of
all three films, the package con-
tains all the tidbits of trivia and
neat facts that the DVD creators
could possibly unearth. Taking an
expedition into this disc has Spiel-
berg and Lucas discussing just
how similar "Raiders" is to "Star
Wars," Harrison Ford showing that
he's really not afraid of snakes,
bugs or rats and you can even see

Selleck auditioning for the Indiana
Jones role. It is truly interesting to
learn just how many characters
received their namesakes from
real-life dogs.
Adding to the already overflow-
ing wealth of goodies in the docu-
mentaries are four intriguing
features on the light, sound, stunts
and music that made "Jones" so
memorable. There are also exclu-

ries of
nal trailers to round out the more
than pleasing list.
Finally, a package fit for the
beloved archeologist digs deeper
into the many facets of "Indiana
Jones" than has ever been
explored. My soul's prepared,
how's yours?

Movie: *****
Picture/Sound: *****

ana Jones" special features and an original casting video of Tom sive DVD-ROM content plus origi- Features: *****
Cameron's Dak' DVD draws dose to serles 9

Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer

James Cameron's "Dark Angel"
lasted only two seasons on the FOX
network, but DVD has allowed fans
to relive the sci-fi adventure. Season
two picks up with Max (Jessica Alba)
searching for her fellow survivors of
a military experiment in a post-apoc-
alyptic Seattle. Most episodes show
,off the large budget with use of elab-
orate action sequences and special
effects, but Cameron and company
failed to make truly memorable char-
acters. Alba was once Hollywood's

"It-girl," but her lack of emotional
punch has led her to drop almost
completely off the map ("Honey"
does not look like it will be the
answer either).
While the pic-
ture is clear and Dark Angel:
the original tele- The
vision aspect Complete
ratio is retained, Second
the series was Season
broadcast in the
16:9 widescreen FOX
aspect for high
definition owners, which is a superi-
or format. The soundtrack is Dolby
Digital and is superior than the sound
found in even the original airings.

The extras are average for a TV
release with select commentary
tracks and three behind-the-scenes
"Dark Angel" is enjoyable, but
never achieved the success of other
female-led action dramas because it
lacked the wittiness of "Buffy" and
the thrills of "Alias." Cameron has
created memorable science fiction in
his films; however, he was unable to
defend his self-proclaimed "King of
the World" title with the failure of
"Dark Angel."

- Lewis can be reached at

Movie: ***
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: **

'for French success

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Veteran French director Claude Lelouch's
newest film, "And Now... Ladies and Gentlemen,"
proves there are a few reasons left to like the
French. Lelouch sneaks in a
globetrotting gem of a movie
with an exotic set of locales And Now ...
and an incredible cast. Ladies and
Valentin, played effortlessly Gentlemen
by Jeremy Irons, is a debonair .
English jewel thief (what other At theater
type is there) and Jane Lester, a Canal+
troubadour nightclub singer
played by the stunning Patricia
Kass, are inextricably linked by the desire to
escape withering relationships and intense memory
blackouts. Their paths cross when a set of bar dates

coincide with Valentin's yacht crash in Morocco.
Suffering from the same medical condition,
momentary amnesia, they find solace in each other.
This film is distinctly French with its character-
driven focus and attention to nuance, all while lur-
ing you into complacency with its beautiful jazz
score. With the use of a cut narrative, flashbacks
in muted tones, indistinct dream sequences and the
fading to black and white to illustrate memory
blackouts, this film demands an awareness rarely
required in American cinema.
Using their states of amnesia as a tool to free
the characters from their pasts and begin anew as
well as have them black out at moments of
extreme drama may appear as a bargain basement
means to generate suspense, but it succeeds in cre-
ating the dreamlike and fluid style this film
At times, the movie meanders to its destination,
with an overindulgence for the beautiful milieus
and admittedly incredible cinematography over

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Courtesy of Canal +

Is that a picture of Mulder in a Speedo?

meaningful development. The characters' slow
banter hampers the flow in a few instances.
Detractions aside, this film stands as unique in
tone, skeptical yet romantic, and as a poem to life.
Lelouch's love of this world is infectious and illus-
trates a dream-like ideal of redemption, romanti-
cism, and humanism all with a fine elegance.


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