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March 01, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-01

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 1, 2004


Courtesy ofDisney
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, post 18th birthday.
'Drama Queen' lacks
any comedy or content

Courtesy of Icon
Thank you sir, may I have another!

By Raquel Laneri
Daily Arts Writer
When a film contains the line "you
just have to believe in yourself;" it

By'Zach Mabee
Daily Film Editor

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" has
received an unprecedented combination of fervent
praise and unrelenting criticism. It fomented
debate more than a year prior to its release and
will certainly continue to stoke the fires of con-
troversy well into the future. Irrespective of its
contentious elements, however, "The Passion" will
stand as a brilliant triumph of Biblically inspired
The sparing story commences in the Garden of
Gethsemane, where a torment-
ed Jesus (Jim Caviezel, "The
Count of Monte Cristo") prays The Passion
for God's help and resists the of the Christ
crafty lures of a seductive, At Madstone,
androgynous Satan. Soon Showcase and
after, Christ is betrayed by Quality 16
Judas Iscariot and taken into loon
captivity by the Pharisees who
are generally fearful of his Messianic prophecies
and ministry.
After accusing Jesus of blasphemy, among
other capital crimes, the Pharisees send him
before Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, for
official punishment. Initially uncertain of how to
handle Jesus' sentence, Pilate orders his minions
to scourge Jesus and torture him severely. Upon
reconsideration of the case, Pilate, in deference
to the will of the riotous mobs, condemns Jesus

to death by crucifixion. Following his death, as is
expected, Jesus rises gloriously and sublimely
from his grave to conclude to film.
Preliminary concerns surfaced quite early,
and still persist, about the Gospel that Gibson
and company portray. Charges of anti-Semitism
are prevalent, and questions of the film's histor-
ical accuracy abound. Both ought to be dis-
missed; the film tells a story that adheres
remarkably to the Biblical Gospels. To be sure,
the film does depict the Jewish high priests as
strongly committed to undermining Christ's
ministry. This, however, is in accordance with
the Gospel telling of the matter; any criticisms
of Gibson's movie should be similarly leveled
against the Bible itself.
In any event, the fact that the Jewish high
priests indict Jesus relentlessly should not be of
great concern. The Roman soldiers, after all, are
portrayed as the veritable savages; they, if any
group, are characterized in a decidedly negative
light. More importantly, no Christian viewer
should distinguish one group as being more
involved than others in the death of Jesus. All bear
equal responsibility, and to think otherwise would
run contrary to a foundational tenet of the faith.
Regarding the film itself, "The Passion" is, also
to the dislike of many, strikingly violent and con-
veys, as much as is cinematically possible, every
iota of pain and anguish felt by Christ. From the
moment he is arrested, Jesus is scourged and
flogged ruthlessly by sadistic Roman centurions.
While he awaits trial, he is lashed with some of
the foulest imaginable instruments - for exam-

ple, whips with multiple tails tipped with glass
shards or rusty hooks.
His suffering culminates when he is nailed to
the cross, as metal stakes are bloodily driven
through his hands and feet and his bones are bro-
ken, audibly, to fit him to the boards on which he
is crucified.
Some have condemned this frank violence as a
sadistic or hyper-religious fetish of Gibson's. They
argue, in turn, that it overshadows the love or
other essential traits of Jesus. On the contrary: It
is exactly what so many films about Christ have,
to a flaw, lacked. Jesus, as Christians hold, sacri-
ficed his life for the collective sins of humanity;
he bore upon his shoulders an immeasurably bur-
densome yoke. This grand sacrifice deserves can-
did and revealing consideration.
Whether or not your loyalties lie in Jesus' camp,
you certainly can appreciate the technique and
craftsmanship of "The Passion." Most notably, the
deft work of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel
and composer John Debney blend especially well.
Debney's droning, atmospheric score comple-
ments Deschanel's careful, meticulous camera-
work to make the picture artistically and
technically appreciable to anyone.
As a medium, film provides an unmatched cre-
ative mode for the depiction of suffering and
struggle. Watching both Christ's profound person-
al struggle to accept God's plan and his agonizing
physical struggle to endure seemingly unbearable
abuse provides a window into his unfathomable
sacrifice and struggle that a written scripture
sometimes cannot offer.

usually will elicit
one of two reac-
tions: The viewer
either feels
inspired, resolved
to follow his
dreams and expe-
riences a reaffir-
mation of life or
he wants to

of a Teenage
At Madstone

vomit. Once in a while, a film comes
around that doesn't trigger either of
these extreme reactions to such a
moral-"True Confessions of a
Teenage Drama Queen" is such a
movie. When the protagonist utters
these words at the end of the film,
the only possible reaction is befud-
It's nearly impossible to figure out
how "believing in yourself" figures
into any of the many stupid occur-
rences and vapid concerns in the life
of teenager Lola (Lindsay Lohan,
"Freaky Friday"), unless it's trying to
teach girls that if you believe in
yourself you, like Lola, can meet an
ultra-famous rock star and hang out
at his ultra-cool pad at an ultra-
exclusive party. Also, in the process,
you can undermine the popular girl
in school and get a boyfriend. Do
filmmakers really think that the most
complex thoughts of a teenage girl
consist eof^rer f 9 of a rock
unde ifeiy

Lola, the titular "Drama Queen," is
devastated because her mother has
forced her to move from hip, cultured
New York City to New Jersey - the
bane of all existence. Yet, instead of
exploring Lola's problems of readjust-
ing, feelings of alienation, and dis-
tress over her parents' divorce, the
film focuses on an obsession with a
rock band and a petty rivalry between
her and the popular, snobby rich girl.
The rivalry played out through audi-
tions for the school play - a musical
"update" of George Bernard Shaw's
"Pygmalian" called "Eliza Rocks!"
complete with midriff-baring cos-
tumes and hip-hop dancing - obtain-
ing tickets to the Sid Arthur concert
and after-party, and a Dance Dance
Revolution show-down. It seems as if
the director (Sara Sugarman) throws
in anything young girls would find
"cool" to sustain their attention and
appeal to them. The film is just satu-
rated with staples of tacky pop culture
- from the annoying girl-rock-group
music accompanying every scene to
the glitter-infused outfits and Louis
Vuitton handbags clogging every
So, after all the idiotic drivel, slut-
ty outfits and singing of soon-to-be
pop hits, when Lohan - in a voice-
over, no less - reveals that the
movie's really about following your
dreams and believing in yourself it
comes as quite a shock. A shock too
great, which prevents it from being
inspirational. Or too confusing to
cause even the most cynical audience
member to throw up.
)f U.S. Army
weapons trading. Darkly satirical and
contemporarily apropos, great acting
and a better script only falter in the
sometimes-dragging plot.
The DVD has little to offer other than
the movie. A basic and uneventful com-
mentary track is available, but only
director Gregor Jordan participates.
"Beyond The Iron Curtain" could have
been an excellent features, but it's only
five minutes long. Really, the only extra
worth noting is the Anatomy of a Scene
piece composed by the Sundance chan-
nel, not even created for the purposes of
the DVD.

rw. ,.

DVD reveals
By Ryan Lewis
Daily Arts WriterI

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You can gain experience in:
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Please pick up application at
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Delayed almost two years because of
the box office implications of a movie
depicting the army
in a negative way I
(not that the last Buffalo
two years of reality Soldiers
haven't done so), B
Miramax decided Buena Vista
to slip "Buffalo
Soldiers" into theaters under the radar.
Unfortunately, it worked. This quality
film in the same vein as "M.A.S.H."
went relatively unseen, and its DVD
release will probably do the same.

Courtesy ofBuena Vista
Mmmmmm ... buffalo wings.
"Soldiers" details a peacetime army
base in 1989 Germany where restless
American G.I.s conquer their boredom
through black-market drug and

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

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