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September 03, 2003 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-03

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 3, 2003 - 9

'Towers'
Shows the
best is yet
to come
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor
You are reading a soon-to-be out-of-
date DVD review.
This November the Special Extended
DVD Edition of "The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers" will find its
release. The DVD set reviewed here, a
more-than-adequate for most films
two-disc version, will be replaced, left
to cohabitate that same cubby in dorm
rooms and entertainment units that
already holds the original "The Fellow-
ship of the Ring" DVD set and one or
two of the myriad "Terminator 2" Ulti-
mate/Special Edition DVDs that Warn-
er Bros. keeps tossing onto the New
racks at Best Buy.
If you did not know this already, and
there is basically
no excuse for
anyone to be rais-
ing their hands,
the "Lord of the
Rings" franchise
is not like other
movies. It is sim-
ply the largest
production in all
of cinema histo-
ry, with the
whole trilogy.
being shot back-
to-back-to-back
for a record-tying |
274 days (not |
including re-
shoots). A two-
disc version is
merely the appe-
tizer for devoted
"LOTR" fans.
Last November's
four-disc for "Fellowship" added over
30 minutes of additional footage, turn-
ing the best movie of the year into one
of the best films of all time, and includ-
ed every inside look and audio com-
mentary possible. No DVD ever
released (not even anything the Criteri-
on Collection has so carefully crafted)
can beat it.
However, none of this means that the
two-disc "The Two Towers" is unwor-
thy of your collection. Not everyone
wants to spend the 10-plus hours scour-
ing four discs for every little featurette

STELLLLAAAA! III

By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Editor
The sloppy demise of the mid '90s
most promising sketch comedy
brigade, "The State" came all too
soon. The 11-person, New York Uni-
versity-incubated crew of writers, per-
formers and directors was a
desperately needed gasp of fresh air
for anyone frustrated by the stale, pre-
dictability of Jay Mohr-era Saturday
Night Live. "The State"'s smart silli-
ness fit in perfectly with MTV's
groundbreaking original program-
ming, including the Frisco edition of
"Real World" and the landmark
social-commentary-as-poorly-drawn-
cartoon "Beavis and Butthead."
But when the troupe attempted to
make the jump from then-still low-
budget basic cable to the big time of
network TV, they found their progres-
sive absurdity wasn't quite as easy to
sell to the masses or the suits as
they'd predicted.
The group splintered after a poorly
rated CBS Halloween special in '95,
but three members, Michael Ian
Black, David Wain and Michael
Showalter, (the driving force behind
cult favorite "Wet, Hot American
Summer" and regulars on VH1's "I
Love" shows) have been gradually
inching their way back to sketch com-
edy the last few years with their
underground shows in Manhattan
under the singular name of Stella.
Stella, whose lo-fi video seg-
ments are currently on display at
www.stellacomedy. com, really create
anti-sketches, flogging deconstruc-
tions of the dead horse of American
comedy. Perhaps as revenge for
their bitter experiences with "The
State"'s fall, the trio steer clear of
cliched characters and forced
punchlines, opting to simply play
dimwitted caricatures of themselves.
Think of slightly calmer versions of
the Three Stooges as always suited,

Climb upon my faithful steed. Then we're gonna ride, gonna .

and commentary from the art director's
second assistant's daughter. The mere
fact that the theatrical version of "The
Two Towers," one of the top three film's
of 2002 in its own right, is included is
enough reason
for any purchase.
"TTT" seam-
lessly continues
the momentum
of "Fellowship"'s
on-the-edge-of-
your-seat conclu-
sion and never
lets up. This glo-
riously makes for
more epic set
pieces and clash-
es, but also cre-
ates a piece with
less heart and
depth than the
original. Yet, the
superior crafts-
manship of
director Peter
Jackson and his
crew still lives on
in full display
and the already wonderful cast of char-
acters only grows more wonderful,
most evidently through the additions of
cautious leader King Theoden (Bernard
Hill) and gothic yes man Wormtongue
(Brad Dourif) and the expansion of the
R Aet QI ao t u RQUo i P1_ iN S

film's greatest gift to the film world -
CGI masterpiece Gollum (Oscar snub
Andy Serkis).
The four-disc will be specifically
designed for the "LOTR" insider. As
the Disc 2 Features preview here,
"LOTR" fans all over the world still
have another two months until the four-

disc "TTT" and
three months until
what everyone is
really drooling
over - the mid-
December release
of Jackson's final
piece in what is

The Lord of
the Rings:
The Two
Towers
New Line

minute Behind-the-Scenes Preview of
"The Return of the King" gives equal
amounts of interviews/insight into the
production and actual footage of this
year's way-too-early but not-to-be-
questioned frontrunner for Best Pic-
ture. Essentially, what Jackson, Elijah
Wood and others reveal to fans is that
the "Two Towers" battle at Helms Deep
was the largest battle ever put on screen
... that is, until you see another certain
battle in December's "ROTK." Wood
even has the nerve to label the third
installation "even better than I hoped it
could be." Star-made hype? Possibly.
But the several made-for-TV and
made-for-Internet behind-the-scenes
documentaries included on Disc 2 only
confirm the passion and dedication of
everyone involved with "The Lord of
the Rings."
It's that rare Hollywood blockbuster;
one that finds equal love in its fans and
its cast and crew.

Courtesy of stellacomedy.com
Black, Wain and Showalter.
sex-crazed urbanite dweebs with a
habit for annoying people and work-
ing dildos into almost every situa-
tion.
After the labored premises and
unfunny reoccurring characters of
MAD TV and last season's SNL, Stel-
la scenes seem delightfully, almost
radically underwritten. "Turkey Hunt-
ing" and "Whiffleball" are pretty
much just the boys doing what the
title suggests, trying to hunt and play
whiffleball in the park.
Most scenes break down into ran-
dom violence or group sex, like a 16-
year-old's video-project outtakes. But
the threesome's straight-faced,
tongue-in-cheek delivery and cheap
anarchism intentionally hide how
clever Black, Wain and Showalter are
and how much thought they are
investing in something as ridiculous
as "Searching for Santa" or "Dick-
fish."
Stella are currently planning to tape
a Comedy Central special at the end
of the month in New York.

fighting for the crown of supreme film
trilogy, "The Return of the King." So
while this lull in between releases could
include a re-reading of all three books
(as "LOTR"'s Dark Wizard Saruman
and legendary British actor Christopher
Lee does each year), a short DVD
release seems suitable for most.
Still, this two-disc "TTT" simultane-
ously whets the appetites of cinephiles
and rings Pavlov's bell with the pre-
views of what's to come. The ten-

Film: *****
Picture/Sound: *****
Features: **I

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The IE Fulbright programs support study abroad to over 100 countries, providing grants
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The competition is open to U.S. students at all graduate levels, and to seniors who will
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