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November 24, 2003 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-24

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I

Monday
November 24, 3
michigandaily.com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

Mx fiRdliom Bak
ARTS

8A

I

MYERED 'CAT'
VIDEO KILLED THE CHILDREN'S BOOK STAR

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
I need you to make me feel good.
Halle screams hard,
plot sucks i 'Gotika

By Jennie Adler
Daily Arts Writer

Trapped in her own hell, Halle Berry
stars in "Gothika" as Dr. Miranda Grey,
who wakes up to find herself in the
same psychiatric prison she once
worked at as a suspect for the murder of
her husband (Charles S. Dutton, "Cook-

ie's Fortune").
French director
Mathieu Kassovitz
(the male star of
"Amelie") adds
artful shots to the
scary yet familiar

Gothika
At Quality 16,
Showcase and
Madstone
Warner Bros.

story in a poorly cast "Gothika."
Written by Sebastian Gutierrez, the
plot is failed by its ending. Although
very climactic, it's a disappointing
schmaltzy cop-out with a pathetic last
line. And, despite a slew of suspenseful
twists, the plot is also cliche with bla-
tant similarities to thrillers such as "The
Sixth Sense" and "What Lies Beneath."
The undead coming back to fulfill
unfinished business bear a close resem-
blance to the mysterious naked girl Dr.
Grey literally runs into with her car.
Almost working as a psychological
thriller, "Gothika" delves into the world
of insanity. As a vampy patient, Chloe
(Penelope Cruz, "Vanilla Sky") accu-
rately depicts the mind of irrationality
while delivering the theme: "You can't

trust someone you think is crazy." In
direct opposition is the believer of
logic, Dr. Graham (Robert Downey Jr.).
Both act with such subtlety and accura-
cy that the tension between their two
worlds emits thrills and chills.
Although only part of the supporting
cast, they shine with quirky traits of
originality.
On the other hand, Berry instills fear
no thanks to her acting skills but more
so because of her drab wardrobe and
electrified hair. With more below-aver-
age acting unworthy of an Oscar, she
fails to convey the sympathy the audi-
ence should be feeling for her charac-
ter. Instead, Berry clumsily screams her
way through the film unsuccessfully
evoking the audiences admiration -
maybe she would've been better off
baring it all again.
As "Gothika" trudges on, its charac-
ters fall deeper into a complex history
of "satanic meanderings." The flicker-
ing lights, looming sets, a foreboding
score and creative cinematography
enhance the level of fear. Dynamic
shots from high angles are cleverly
framed to obscure any hint of anybody
lurking. The camera shows you just
enough to tempt a fast heartbeat.
Just because "Gothika" is scary
doesn't mean the plot and casting can
be forgotten. With an original plot and
a much more deserving conclusion,
Cruz should've stepped into the role of
Berry to make "Gothika" stand out.

Chances are if you have switched on the TV,
read a newspaper or simply left the house any
time in the past two weeks you know about the
new film version of "The Cat in the Hat."
Countless promotions for the movie, including
"Cat in the Hat-Opoly,"
abound and it's no sur-
prise that marketers have The Cat in
worked to capitalize on the Hat
the universal appeal of At Quality 16 and
Dr. Seuss and intriguing Showcase
prospect of Mike Myers Universal
in a cat suit. What is baf-
fling is that so much time and effort went into
advertising for a movie that, as it turns out, is
less entertaining than a telemarketer call.
Recent collaborations between ingeniously
imaginative art direction and clever comedy
have proved that a smart, enjoyable children's
movie for all ages is possible (think "Finding
Nemo"). In the case of "The Cat," however,
either someone forgot to consult the formula, or
their version of clever family-appropriate
humor is Mike Myers in scary make-
up running around an unbelievably
expensive set like a chicken with
its head cut off.
We're getting ahead of our-
selves with mention of the
actual Cat, who does not appear
until 25 minutes into the film
which, in a 74 minute movie, is a
relatively long time. First come
drawn-out introductions to an overly
stressed yet ever-perky Mom (Kelly
Preston) and her two chil-
dren, trouble-maker Conrad
(Spencer Breslin, "The Kid")

and goody-goody Sally (Dakota Fan-
ning, "I am Sam"). A paranoid
clean-freak boss (Sean
Hayes, who also voices the
animated Fish), and a sleazy
boyfriend, played almost too
well by Alec Baldwin, add
complications.
Mom is set to host a work party at
her home later that night, putting the
children under strict restrictions to keep the house
clean at all costs. Mrs. Kwan (Amy Hill, "Next Fri-
day), a ridiculous caricature, is called in to baby sit,
and in the meantime exemplifies the film's disap-
pointing reliance on cultural stereotypes for easy
laughs. Finally, the Cat arrives to the relief of the
children (and the audience). Myers bounces onto the
screen with a toothy grin and a puzzling guffaw that
strikes an absurd balance between a swingin' Mr.
Powers and Goofy.
Admittedly, the first minutes of Myer's utterly
absurd antics are entertaining. Soon after the
respect/pity chuckles are over, the reality of pathetic
musical numbers and groan-worthy puns sets in.
Ten minutes of Myers running rampant and accom-
plishing nothing save some truly forced facial con-
tortions will find many wishing he would simply go
back to wherever it is that large, talking felines
come from.
Set design is one exceptional component of the
film, drawing the viewer into an impossibly colorful
world of sculpted shrubbery and Seuss-worthy
gadgets. It's a shame when poor taste and recycled
ideas so destroy the momentum that no one cares
by the time the fantastically designed and visually
impressive house cleaning finale rolls around.
The average viewer attracted to this movie most
likely loved the book, has strong childhood memo-
ries attached and is expecting a light-hearted refresh-
ing visual treat in the spirit of Dr. Seuss himself.
For those I recommend two simple steps: 1) com-
pletely forget that the movie version ever happened,
.2) sit down and re-read the book.

Shattered'
investigates
writer's lies
By anessa Miler
Daily Arts Writer

Insult dog s
Poop only
fun on DVD

By Forest Casey
Daily AtWriter

- ,~,

E

"Shattered Glass" is the true tale of
the young and deceptively brilliant
Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen,
"Star Wars: Attack of the Clones")
whose career writing for The New
Republic was cut short once it was
discovered that 27 of his 41 articles

Courtesy of Lions
I killed them all ... and not just the men, but the women and children tool

With vulgarities substituted for the
usual lyrics and celebrity guests instead
of talented vocalists, the first album
from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog,
Come Poop With Me, attempts to end
the laughs caused by normal musicals.
Newcomers may be surprised by some
of the canine-related obscenities, but,
for the most part, they are simply forced
and unfunny.
Relying on the musical format,
something new to Triumph, who has
made a name for himself by insulting

were completely
fabricated.
The twisted
mind of Glass
takes the viewer
into his foggy
realities that
slowly become

Shattered
Glass
At the Michigan
Theater
Lions Gate

under suspicion. "Shattered Glass" is
presented as a quick-moving and rap-
idly cut exposition on the media but
also the politics of the written word
and when it is necessary to sacrifice
yourself and dignity.
Glass' downfall is an oblique cat-
and-mouse fable, especially as the
tiny section of Forbes Digital catch-
es the mighty Glass and the shallow
nature of his articles. The underdog
triumphs by raising the stakes whilst
the film spins off-kilter. Glass' co-
workers rally behind him, blinded

by his charming smile and entertain-
ing stories.
Christensen eerily conveys Glass'
fagade of naivete and his drive to
succeed which tumbled him from a
peak position in politics. The sweet
innocence of Christensen's portrayal
slowly bubbles up as he's discovered
for what he truly is, but still argues
his virtue, creating nauseous over-
tones as the lies emerge.
Glass' web is unraveled, and he
becomes trapped by his editor,
Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard, "The
Salton Sea"). Lane's inner battle is
poignantly revealed as he questions
the truth behind Glass's words and
soon realizes the level someone
would go to be a revered, successful
writer. Sarsgaard perfectly portrays
Lane's fight to embattle Glass
through his quiet absorption of the

deceit that quickly surrounds him.
Ironically, "Shattered Glass" is
filmed in the bright style of a televi-
sion docudrama, giving viewers
access to follow Glass and his foes
through the twisted office space and
shakily taking us through the murky
mind of Glass and his fictitious
memories. The filming style allows
the viewer to intake the film in a
business-like manner, making the
viewer feel like they belong in the
secret realm of politics.
This expose-based film is finely
crafted to reveal tainted human
nature to make us wonder where the
line should be drawn in creative
spaces, specifically within journal-
ism. "Shattered Glass" is wondrous,
especially since it is a true story that
is executed with realistic undertones
that truly speak to the viewer.

celebrities on
"Late Night with
Conan O'Brien,"
simply does not
work for his type
of comedy. Come
Poop With Me was
recorded both live
in New York City
and in the studio,

Triumph the
insult Comic
Dog
Come Poop
with Me
Wamer Bros.

A

A

Nobel winner Coetzee's latest novel a difficult, yet rewarding read

By Matthew Gtdnshpun
For the Daily

J.M. Coetzee's latest book is about
literature and reason.
It manages as well to be a book about
aging, ethics, African culture, divinity,
the beauty of women's breasts and a
host of salient topics in between. "Eliz-
abeth Costello" is a volume that, while
physically diminutive, is a hefty tome.
Its 233 pages are sure to be multiplied

by repeated readings from those who
undertake it seriously.
The front of the volume announces
"fiction," belying its unique style.
Divided into eight "lessons" and a
postscript, the narrative follows loose-
ly its titular protagonist, an esteemed
Australian writer, often skipping
through large spans of time. The les-
sons themselves are mostly descrip-
tions of lectures and arguments
produced by Elizabeth, and Coetzee
has published most of them separately
throughout the years. Lessons 3 and

4, for example, were read as the Tan-
ner Lectures at Princeton University
and published with responses by sev-
eral prominent philosophers as "The
Lives of Animals."
Coetzee's decision to write what
could have been a series of philosoph-
ical tracts as a work of literary fiction

is bound to draw
unnecessary ire.
In the third les-
son, Elizabeth
contends that
what goes on in
the world's

Elizabeth
Costello
By J.M. Coetzee
Viking Press

anti-Semitism against her.
Rather than having her be an Ayn
Rand-style vehicle for his philosophical
muse, Coetzee breathes humanity into
Elizabeth. As the book progresses, Eliz-
abeth becomes further fraught with
worries. She realizes she has grown old.
Her lectures, observed by her son, lack
their former passion. In the final lesson,
Elizabeth finds herself in a Kafkaesque
limbo. Standing before a gate, she is
asked to declare her beliefs before she
can pass. Troubled, she states that she
has no beliefs. She is, in her words, "a
secretary of the invisible." She can
muster little more than a series of
uncertain metaphors based in her youth.
We are reminded of the first lesson
- "Realism." Elizabeth, in a lecture
given upon the acceptance of a prize

work fractured the way we look at lit-
erature: "We used to believe that when
the text said, 'On the table stood a
glass of water,' there was indeed a
table, and a glass of water on it, and
we had only to look in the word-mir-
ror of the text to see them." Today,
however, "The word-mirror is broken,
irreparably it seems." Word-mirror
indeed. When reading "Elizabeth
Costello," it is unclear to what degree
Elizabeth is an opaque reflection of
Coetzee himself.
With its dense collection of literary
references and clouded allegory, the
book is often difficult and not imme-
diately rewarding. Nevertheless, the
mirror of literary realism requires the
occasional shattering, and Coetzee,
this year's winner of the Nobel Prize
iT itprnra hl c onn a nwn, o.c

but the very nature of prerecorded and
scripted songs detract from Triumph's
usual spontaneity, and the comic rou-
tine is left to fester in the realm of trite
puns and cutesy lyrics, far from the
shock value of Triumph's original mate-
rial and also far from entertaining.
The major redeeming point of Come
Poop With Me is the included DVD -
easily better than the music and rival-
ing all previous television appear-
ances. The DVD, a taping of the same
concert in New York used for the CD,
acknowledges that the comedy of Tri-
umph is dependent on visual shock -
the "poop jokes" come from a rubber
dog puppet instead of a faceless voice
with a Jewish accent.
The DVD features some fantastic
footage of Triumph skewering two per-
fect pseudo-celebrities: Ben Curtis (the
"Dude, you're getting a Dell" guy) and
"Jared" from Subway, but the high point
is the final musical number, "Every-
body Needs A Little Pooping," featuring
Maya Rodulph and Horatio Sanz (of
SNL fame), Adam Sandler, Conan
O'Brien and Jack Black. The song per-
fectly ties together Triumph's observa-
tional humor and captures the true
absurdity of five actual celebrities
singing about poop. If only the rest of
th lnm wn th..in is anndffll

Monday ihru friday

slaughterhouses is worse than the
treatment of Hitler's victims in con-
centration camps. Coetzee is not blind
to the statement's implications. Eliza-
beth is pilloried in Commentary, and

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