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January 12, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-12

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January 12, 2004

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Living the dream in 'America'

By Zach Mabee
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Sony

Attempting to make a movie about
the American Dream is, even in the
most skilled hands, almost always a
flawed undertaking. The story of com-
ing to America has been told so many
times that nearly any permutation of it
hardly seems inno-
vative - or even In America
interesting. "In
America" fills the At the State Theater
tired tale of immi- 20th Century Fox
grant life in Amer-
ica with a previously unseen vigor, a
forceful intensity that, in emphasizing
struggle with brutal honesty, makes tri-
umph indescribably sweeter.
The story, which is rooted in Direc-
tor Jim Sheridan's own immigration
experiences, follows Johnny (Paddy
Considine, "24 Hour Party People")
and Sarah (Samantha Morton, "Minori-
ty Report"), a young Irish couple and
their two daughters, Christy (Sara Bol-
ger, "A Love Divided") and Ariel
(Emma Bolger), as they settle in Man-
hattan, start their lives anew and
attempt to leave behind them the
anguish of their past.
Problems abound from day one, as
Johnny struggles to find work acting
and Sarah works for meager wages at a
local ice cream parlor. All the while,
their tenement is barely habitable, and
they have virtually no money, all of
which goes toward subsistence and the
girls' Catholic education. It's only when
they unexpectedly befriend a reclusive

Clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.

By Za
Daily A

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
The greatest movie about coming to America since ... "Coming to America."

that f
son w
for "s

cch Mabee He stretches the imagination significantly and blends
krts Writer magical realism with sheer absurdity to create episodes
that are peculiar and often humorous. The fantasy is
pleasant, and it is plainly clear why Edward Bloom's
stories and personalities are so adored.
me directors really find their niches in Hollywood. With an ever-present, ear-to-ear smile, McGregor
comfortably locate homes in certain genres or plays Bloom with over-the-top whimsy, and he is sur-
of filmmaking. Few, however, actually make a rounded by a strong supporting cast. Steve Buscemi
e that brings to fruition their creative goals - one co-stars as a country-bumpkin poet turned bank robber
fully actualizes their potential. Tim Burton has turned Wall Street fin-
y done this with "Big Fish." ancier/adventurer and
rtainly most of his previous works showcased his Danny DeVito joins
dless imagination and directorial acumen, but "Big the cast as an
is the glove designed for his _...__...__ eccentric circus
ve hand; it fits perfectly. ringleader. The
sh" is a tale of a father and ig Fish gaunt Helena Bonham
vho, having known each other At Showcase, Carter plays both a
Quality 16 and
so long," as the narrator once Madstone witch and a lonesome,
are like perfect strangers. Sony love-deprived woman.
yone knows and loves Edward This snug fantasy is
m (Albert Finney [older], Ewan McGregor perhaps most enjoyable,
iger]) as a personable, congenial yarn-dispenser though, because it is so
- that is, everyone except Will (Billy resonant. Everyone tells
Crudup, "Almost Famous"), his son. stories, and Edward
Will resents Edward's continual story- Bloom tells them
telling and hopes to get to know his especially well. The
father for his true self beneath the personal signifi-
many anecdotes. cance of fables is
When Edward falls ill, Will returns universally recog-
home and, with the aid of his mother (Jes- nizable, and so is
sica Lange [older], Alison Lohman Bloom's character,
[younger]) and wife, helps his ailing father. regardless of how fan-
While sick, Edward is bedridden and given tastic he may, at
the ideal opportunity to tell completely his times, seem. People
youthful, surreal adventures. He reels off love him for the con-
narratives about a psychic witch, travels genial, personable
with a giant, a stint in the circus, life in an character who comes
ideal town called Spectre, finding his wife to life in his fables,
and true love and fighting as a special opera- and it's Will's own
tions soldier in Japan. tragic loss that he
These recollections afford Tim Burton cannot accept this
an ideal medium for his creative artistry. earlier.

neighbor that they discover hope and
strength amidst seemingly endless
Both the grief and eventual hope are
very tangible emotions, and they're
roused wonderfully through subtle
filmmaking. Certainly the loss of a
loved one has its effect on the family,
but their struggle and pain are con-
veyed most clearly through everyday
frustrations and toils. Watching Johnny
cart an air conditioner angrily through
the city streets to help his girls on a
summer day garners sympathy. Seeing
him risk their entire savings to win
Ariel an E.T. doll at the fair proves his
unyielding desire to please his girls.
This meditative style also helps
Sheridan and company capture the
essential beauty of scenes that can only
be appreciated appropriately on film.

From a musically-charged snowball
fight in a wintry landscape to a solemn
close-up of a newborn child, "In Amer-
ica" makes great the most simple,
potentially trivial, moments.
It also capitalizes on the basic, most
unrefined roles of the film: those of
the two sisters - played by actual sis-
ters - Christy and Ariel. They com-
plement each other ideally, as Christy
reveals a taciturn understanding and
appreciation for her family's lot, while
Ariel teems with vigor and adorably
innocent curiosity. Indeed, their unity
brings sanity to their parents' chaotic
lives and buttresses relationships both
within and outside the family. As chil-
dren, they provide crucial coherence to
a family that, without it, would have
crumbled and never reached its sweet


Ripe dames shed clothes in 'Girls'

By Mary Hilemeier
Daily Arts Writer

If you've got it, flaunt it. And if you happen to be a middle-
aged British mum who doesn't exactly still have everything,
flaunt it even more.
This brave premise is at the heart of "Calendar Girls," a
light-hearted look at 12 women who, in their fight to
fuidraiser, conveniently find the time to
rekindle friendships, unearth strength
and beauty within and drop their clothes Calendar
for a pin-up calendar. Girls
When Annie's (Julie Walters, "Billy At Showcase and
Elliot") husband passes away, she and Quality 16
her fun-loving best friend Chris (Helen Touchstone
Mirren) set out to raise money for a hos-
pital sofa in his honor. Logically they decide that the only
possible way to raise enough money for a love seat is to pose
for a nude calendar.
What keeps this insane story from dissolving in its own
ridiculousness is the fact that it is true. In 1999, 12 spunky
women from Yorkshire made their own calendar, and six of
those real women actually appear in the film.
Despite a good-heart and healthy sense of humor, "Girls"
starts slow and forgets to accelerate. The meandering look at
village life picks up slightly when its gaze lands on either the
radiant Mirren or the sympathetic Walters, but these flashes


Have you ever seen a grown woman naked? Eww.
of life are not quite enough to sustain a suitable pace.
A well-worn story track and bends in the plot are visible
miles away and certainly do not help the cause. When the
calendars surprisingly catch or, the women arelaunched
into celebrity status overnight. Inevitably jealousies arise,
and a lesson about the price of fame and across-the-board
soul-searching expectedly ensue amid an emotional musi-
cal montage.
If the very idea of a dozen nude geriatrics causes your
blood to curdle, don't worry - the photo shoots themselves
are done respectfully and with appropriate humor. It's the
camera's departure from the cheery faces of the heroines and
the story's digression from the inspirational tale of these brave
women that ultimately hurts the film.




Ar ts

(as represented by the women of "Saved by the Bell")

Invisible War' strays from series but remains strong

Kelly Kapowski
Lisa Turtle
Stacey Carosi

Jessie Spano
Tori Scott
No Stars
A.C. Slater

By Charles Paradis
Daily Arts Writer
Those familiar with Eidos' 2000
release "Deus Ex" will find the
company's latest installment, the
long awaited sequel "Deus Ex:
Invisible War," to be a satisfactory
game yet a poor imitation of the
first. Aside from similar plot ele-
ments, "Invisible War" feels more
like a good concept with the origi-
nal name slapped on than a continu-


ation of the original. While much of

cerebral story remains the same,
gameplay has changed quite a
and for the worse. However,

despite these
changes, the
game is still
In "Invisible
War," players
take control of

Deus Ex:
Invisible War
XBox and PC

Seattle, where the game begins, you
awake in your apartment to sounds
of a raid. At this point, you realize
that someone has it in for you. Like
the original "Deus Ex," gamers
explore a world where various pow-
erful factions vie for position,
manipulating pawns like yourself.
Your journey will take you to vari-
ous locales including Washington,
Egypt and Germany, all of which
are graphically well done.
The storyline is fairly open-
ended, with multiple paths and
solutions to choose. You can side
with a faction, then stab them in the
back only to weasel your way back
in later on. Along the way, you will

be confronted with situations that
can require Herculean strength,
James Bond-like stealth or a combi-
nation of the two. You can upgrade
yourself with various biomods,
which pale in comparison to the
dynamic character development of
the original game.
Furthermore, the game slows
down at times when there is a lot
of on-screen action. Fortunately,
there is a patch available for the
PC to help correct this problem,
but nothing similar exists for the
XBox version.
Though "Invisible War" does not live
up to the standards set by its forefather,
it still is a solid game in its own right.


Alex D., an enhanced secret agent
whose school is destroyed with the
rest of Chicago in an impressive
opening cutscene. After fleeing to



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