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December 01, 2003 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-01

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I

8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 1, 2003

ARTS

4

A genre returns with 'The Missing'

A

in a surprisingly dark yet inspiring genre pic. Much akin to
Ford's "The Searchers," "The Missing" deals with the
search for a kidnapped daughter across the 'terrain of the
19th-ccentury American West. Unlike Ford's classic - in
fact different than almost any other Western - Howard's
film features a female heroine and two tremendously strong
supporting female characters..
Cate Blanchett ("The Lord of the Rings") plays Maggie
Gilkeson, a resilient medicine woman living on the New
Mexico range with her two daughters and the support of
neighbor/lover Brake (Aaron Eckhart, "Any Given Sunday").
One day, Maggie's father (Tommy Lee Jones) returns home
after having left his family to live with various Indian tribes.
Jones' character, Samuel Jones, quite closely resembles the
prototypical Western hero. Coming in out of the wilderness to
a society that rejects him, he aids the good white people in
their plight against evil. Howard's direction and Ken Kauf-
man's adaptation of Thomas Eidson's novel, however, utilize
simple modifications of the classic hero to transform Jones
into a much more complex character. Instead of simply know-
ing the ways of the "Wild West" and Indians, he rejected his

own family and culture for the life of a tribesman. He fights
not for the love or safety of his family, but for his own health.
His is a supremely flawed character; one who is actually
weaker than his foe.
After Maggie rejects him, her eldest daughter (Evan
Rachel Wood, "Thirteen") is kidnapped by a crew of Indian
scout Army deserters led by a shaman called a brujo (Eric
Schweig, "Skins"). With the help of her father and
youngest daughter, Maggie embarks on a journey to rescue
her daughter before they reach Mexico.
Though "The Missing" is at times slow and tedious, it
harkens back to the classics and provides some of the finest
performances from its leads. Blanchett's stalwart heroine is
the inspiration that Dr. Quinn never was, and Jones turns in
an award-worthy display of talent. Schweig as the antagonist
gives life to one of the most evil and ugly villains of the
genre. Another twist by the filmmakers transforms the typi-
cal face-to-face duel into a brilliant battle between the brujo
and Jones on a mystical plain for the survival of Maggie.
These little but notable quirks carry the power of "The Miss-
ing," which will hopefully inspire the return of the classical
Western genre.

It's quite possible I'm your third man Girl, but it's a fact that I'm the seventh son.

- - -
HEE [, HE

By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Editor

Action 'Timeline' surprisingly OK

By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer

Maybe it's general boredom with
movies about time travel. Or perhaps
there's a mass distaste for Paul Walker
prancing around in
medieval garb.
Regardless, Timeline
"Timeline" was At Showcase
not a highly antici- Paramount
pated film. It may
be, however, one of the more surpris-
ingly enjoyable hits of the season.
That's not to say it's great, but given
the expectations, it's a pretty gratifying
couple of hours. Walker ("2 Fast 2 Furi-
ous") stars as Chris Johnson, the aim-
less son of Prof. Edward Johnson (Billy
Connolly, "Head of the Class"), a lead-
ing medieval historian and archaeolo-
gist. Edward Johnson and his team,

with Chris along for the ride, are exca-
vating the French site of Castlegard, a
former stronghold that fell in 1357.
Their dig is abruptly halted, though,
when the elder Johnson disappears.
Soon thereafter, the team receives a
call and is taken to the desert research
facility of ITC, a technology research
firm that alleges to have found a
wormhole leading back to 14th-centu-
ry France. The workers at ITC tell the
team that Edward Johnson traveled
through the wormhole and that only
they, because of their extensive cultural
and historical knowledge, can return to
save him. They agree to go, and the
journey ensues.
The introduction of the story and
explanation of the wormhole phenome-
non are weak, fraught with seemingly
oversimplified science jargon and
romanticized descriptions of the study
of history. To be sure, the introductory
sequences and the entire concept of

time travel seem unnecessary once the
jump to the 14th-century is made.
That being said, "Timeline" operates
most effectively as a medieval action
film, something that is seen all too
rarely these days. Epics from that
epoch have become common fare, but
rarely do we see a strict action flick
centered on those years.
"Timeline" maintains remarkable
tension throughout, and the battle and
chase sequences, especially those in
the closing minutes, are enjoyable and
greatly anticipated. This anticipation is
nearly squelched, though, upon every
return to the modern landscape. The
dialogue of the ITC officials and the
debates surrounding time travel are
foolish and generally unbelievable.
The film ends with the culmination
of several key themes relating to time
travel and history, namely a disap-
pointing one about one's ability to
write his own history. It's good for
"Timeline;" though, that these thematic
elements don't surface too often. If
they did, this respectable medieval
action flick with easily neglected time-
travel elements could have ended up
nothing more than a poorly scripted,
sci-fi mess.

It's bitingly cold as White Stripes fans troop up the
antique steps of Detroit's Masonic Temple Saturday night.
More than a few are muttering about what was supposed to
be a late summer treat having
turned into a frozen show-sicle.
Originally scheduled for Aug.
10, but delayed when guitarist
Jack White shattered his left
hand during a fender-bender in
July, this homecoming concert
was put on the back burner with
a host of other live dates while
the frontman convalesced. The
Stripes added a second date for
Friday as a means of apology,
while the gruesome surgery
footage Jack posted on the
band's website silenced (almost)
all other grumbling.
Inside the picturesqueMason-
ic, an endless stream of vintage.
Tex Avery and Felix the Cat car-
toons play to set the mood before
D-town staples, the Paybacks, -
handle formal opener duties. Led
by the rasping fury of Wendy
Case, they launch through a dozen neo-garage rockers to a
half-empty hall. Suggesting a more amped-up Pretenders,
the Paybacks make enough of a mark that Case is actually
momentarily swamped by autograph requests from mini-
Meg Whites after their set.
Perhaps alluding to Jack's broken finger, perhaps just for
effect, the Stripes are lead onto the stage by a kinda sexy,
-i'1trreepy nurse, who gives the duo each a pill-and a'
kiss on the top of the head to get .'em through the show.
Without a word Jack grabs his guitar and launches right
into the determination(al) anthem "Seven Nation Army.'
Though it's November outside, Jack and Meg let loose a
blast of sweltering intensity that must've been baking since

August. The Stripes relentlessly and comprehensively plow
through their back catalogue, scorching through songs off
all four of their albums, with a shake of B-sides and covers
for good measure. The pace is blistering with Jack cutting
early from "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" to "Can-
non" then into "The Big Three Killed My Baby" in what
feels like only a few action-packed, defiant seconds.
Only when the Stripes come to Dolly Parton's epic
"Jolene" do they finally let up,
giving the audience a lesson in
the importance of dynamics. A
good band like the Paybacks
poundout an entire set at max
volume, while a great band like
our candy-striped heroes can
shift from raw ear-splitting explo-
sions to whispered intimacy in
the space of a couple heartbeats.
You'd be hard pressed to dig up a
better illustration than the tragic
build of"Jolene" Saturday night.
From there, the Stripes leap
right into the appropriate "In the
Cold, Cold Night," with Meg
stepping out from behind the
drums to take lead vocals. While
her vocal track on Elephant gave
the song a tentative innocence, on
this night Meg drips with confi-
dence, infusing an entirely differ-
ent air of sultry obsession into the
song. The pleasant surprise of the night has to be the
strength that Meg quietly flaunts with her drumming
unquestionably developing an ever steadier crush.
Jack couldn't help but take over just before the encore.
He stomps through a mesmerizing down-tempo "Fell in
Love with a Girl," before bleeding over into slow burner
"Ball and Biscuit," where he delights in soloing one-hand-
ed just to prove the finger is OK.
The Whites only play for a blurry hour and a half, but
with kinetic, raw versions of Dylan's "Outlaw Blues" and
the Stripes' own "Girl, You Have No Faith In Medicine"
echoing off the Masonic's walls, few seemed to mind.
Nice to see they were worth the wait.

I
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