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December 10, 2003 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-10

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December 10, 2003





"Futurama" - Despite the popularity of "The Family Guy," this
Matt Groening creation is the funniest cartoon series since "The
Simpsons." Buy the first two seasons on DVD, or just pay homage by
watching the canceled series on the Cartoon Network.

Courtesy of HBO
You know what
the dead do
most of the
time? They
watch the
living ..
especially in
the shower.
film gives the feeling that any-
thing can happen. When two utter-
ly disparate characters meet in the
stupor of their hallucinations,
wake up and remember their meet-
ing you realize anything is hap-
pening. Its flights of fancy are
frequent and funny but the film
understands its gravity and is
grounded by its deeply conflicted
characters that pull in opposite
Using period references, Nichols
accurately recreates the era. The
'80s feel permeates throughout the
movie and the brutal realism of the
early outbreak of the AIDS epi-
demic is as important as it is diffi-
cult to watch.
The film uses a wicked device
in having several of the actors por-
tray completely different charac-
ters. Streep plays a prehistoric
rabbi, the ghost of Ethel Rosen-
berg, and the mother of a conflict-
ed gay Mormon. After a while it
becomes incredibly fun to discern
exactly who is what, a nearly
impossible task if it were not for
the aid of the credits.
The first three-hour half played
last Sunday and the cliffhanger it
ended on ensures my return next
week for the concluding half as
easily as it will take home numer-
ous Emmy's come award-time.
HBO continues to effortlessly turn
out quality program after program
while other networks flounder. The
willingness to do the unconven-
tional as well as the original makes
"Angels in America" what it is. An
impeccable marriage of writing,
acting and directing is well worth
the six hour investment.

"Pirates of the Caribbean" - Now on DVD. Johnny Depp, Orlan-
do Bloom and a parrot ... is there anything left to say?
"Les Miserables" comes to Detroit - This award-winning musical
may have closed on Broadway, but you can still enjoy the magic of
the wretched right here in Detroit. It hits the Fisher Theatre just in
time for the holiday break.
"Wolves of the Calla" (Fifth in the
"Dark Tower" series) - Stephen King
continues the story of the Gunslinger's
quest for the Dark Tower in one of the
best book series ever.
"The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King" - The
historic final film in the tril-
ogy hits theaters the 17th!
It is so exciting but also
so very sad at the same
time ... Courtesy of New Line
Did FOX really need;
to cancel Ster show.

By Scott Serila
Daily Arts Editor
Gather around and let me tell y'all
the tale of Benjamin Stiller and his
short-lived sketch comedy struggles.
Seems I remembers way back in, oh
musta been 1992,
Benny and his rag- The Ben
tag bunch of come-
dy misfits tried to Stiller Show
bring the folks at Warner
FOX a Gen-X
brand of funny. They were brilliant.
They were hilarious. They were can-
celled faster than "Veronica's Closet."
The party line of comedy nerds has
been that "The Ben Stiller Show"
was a lost gem, a cutting-edge show
exploding with fresh talent so power-
ful that it spooked the network suits
into canceling out of fear. With Andy
Dick, Janeane Garofalo and Bob
Odenkirk rounding out the cast, not
to mention David Cross and Dino
Stamatopoulos later of "Mr. Show"
helping out with writing duties, how
could the series have been anything
short of classic?
Oh man. Watching the new released
"Complete First Season" is simply dis-
appointing, seeing how badly some of
the sketches have aged. Relying nearly
completely on parodies, you can't help
thinking more of "MAD TV" than
Monty Python. The ideas are funny: an
Amish dating show, U2 playing at a bar
mitzvah or the cultish cannibalistic
theme restaurant, T.J. O'Pootertoot.
Obviously still developing, the link-


ing segments with Stiller talking direct-
ly to camera are painfully unnecessary
and too many sketches either go on for
too long or are stifling Stiller-centric.
The "Zoolander" star overbearingly
dominates over his incredible cast,
indulging in vanity sketches to show off
his narrow range of impressions. Imag-
ine upstaging Andy Dick!
It's a shame the show wasn't given
more of a chance to find its legs, but the
cancellation of "The Ben Stiller Show"
wasn't the tragedy it's been made to out
have been. Luckily Stiller has had his
film career, Garofalo survived SNL and
Odenkirk and Cross teamed up to make
the great "Mr. Show." Oh, and Andy
Dick, well at least he had his drugs.
See, something for everybody.

_ _ _._ ___
_ _ __
__ _

'Saul and Patsy' make ill-fated return

S aul and


By Matthew Grinshpun
Daily Arts Writer

Saul Bernstein died in 1985. At the
end of "Saul and Patsy Are Getting
Comfortable in Michigan," the short
story's author, Charles Baxter (who until

recently taught cre-
ative writing at the
University), killed
Saul and his wife
in a car accident.
But in an interview
conducted by his

Saul and
By Charles Baxter

whether the protagonist would have
been better left for dead.
The book follows Saul and his wife,
Patsy, through several years spent in the
community of Five Oaks, Mich., where
Saul has taken up teaching in an idealis-
tic "project of undoing the dumbness
that's been done." Just as Saul is becom-
ing comfortable with his identity as a
lone Jew educating in the land of the
goyim, a former student from his reme-
dial class begins haunting his home.
Soon enough, tragedy strikes, and as the
plot develops, a treacherous gothic cult
begins to threaten the couple and their
new family.
The book's overarching plot struc-
ture, however, matters less than its
smaller subplots. While the passages
describing the tension that childbirth
has brought to Saul and Patsy's mar-
riage show off a delicacy with words
reminiscent of Baxter's previous
work, most of the book fails to meet
that standard. The character of Saul's
brother, for example, stands out as
one of the book's more promising

elements. Unfortunately, he goes
underdeveloped, and the mysterious
subplot involving his deteriorating
sanity languishes.
Saul himself is a cliche exhausted
long ago by Woody Allen. Placing Alvie
Singer ("Annie Hall") in rural Michigan,
renaming him Saul and granting him a
stable marriage with children could, per-
haps, have led to some dynamic scenar-
ios. In Baxter's book, it hasn't. Instead,
we are offered the same paranoiac inse-
curity and fear of anti-Semitism that has
defined the character class for decades.
In the few situations in which Saul tran-
scends his frailty and takes firm action,
it seems almost as though Baxter has
slipped in an entirely different character.
Several of Baxter's tangents would
qualify as excellent short stories, and the
fact that the book is based on examples
of that format is evident throughout. At
several points, Baxter's widely
acclaimed brilliance shines through the
novel's hodgepodge narrative, but it only
leaves the reader more confused as to
why he hadn't abandoned ship and

Show: ***
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: **

1: FAR1,El'S B AX "'E X

0' Tk, e ',.,,. of d.: u

publisher, Pantheon Books, Baxter
explained that "a very large woman
approached me at a literary gathering
around 1986 and grabbed my lapel and
started to shake me, saying, 'You have
the nerve to kill off that nice couple!' I
was frightened and said, 'They aren't
dead.' " The product of that intimidating
encounter includes two short stories and
Baxter's latest novel, "Saul and Patsy," a
book that will leave many wondering

saved the more interesting plot webs for
separate tales.
"Saul and Patsy" is a book that
entices but never truly fulfills. Its angu-
lar, segmented plot sits uncomfortably
with it sensitive, understated prose,
while its main character is dull and
stereotypical. Hopefully, Baxter's next
effort won't take its cues from assailants
at literary conventions.

HORT TAKE S letGrades" which unlock new
0 S maps and skuls. The monoto~ny of the
fun but branless platlorming is bro-
I-NINJA ken by mini-scenarios that resemble
PS2 classis like "Marble Madness" and
NAMCO . "Punh-Qut," Homages like this are
w.I elme additions but aren't enough
Namo' s action/platfarmer "I- to match the addictive gameplay
"tt mp t rekindle the spiit found in Mario's 3-D adventures. "I
of Mario, Sonic and Crash Bandicoot Ninja" is cleary ribute o te
by combining elements of all three imorta gaming gods in a next-geu
while adding some interesting twists. environment. It's a fun little number,
As the cute but fierce "Ninj a," but it doesn't dig deep enough to
gamers hack, slash, run and jump reach videogame nirvana. ***
trghmsly lina leesad col- -J ared Newma.


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