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March 23, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-23

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March 23, 2004



By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer ti


In her never-ending quest to destroy all
expectations of quality in her films, Angelina
Jolie stars in "Taking Lives," an empty psycho-
logical thriller. As Illeana, a hot-on-the-outside,
cold-on-the-inside psychic detective, Jolie
plays a woman who, among other things, lays
in graveyards to pick up vibrations of the
deceased. Uncannily observant and intuitive,

A classical approach
to modern film scores

she is called in by the FBI to
help the Montreal Police
Department solve a mysteri-
ous series of crimes.
During the course of the
investigation, viewers come
to realize that the serial

Taking Lives
At Quality 16 and
Warner Bros.

killer is the unloved survivor of a pair of twin
brothers. Scorned by his mother's affection
toward his dead twin, he wanders off at an early
age, begins killing people who match his age
and description and then assumes their identity.
After catching on to the killer's M.O., the
police bait him in an attempt to end his spree.
"Lives" is trapped so firmly within its genre
boundaries that it's hard not to scream out plot
twists to help the characters along. The lighting
is especially dark
to reinforce the
mood - for
those who think PSY
this could be a
comedy - and TAK N L
the shock-and- TAKING L
awe technique of
fright makes MEM
waste of an
atmospheric Philip Glass score.
The script is often inexplicable as the charac-
ters engage in implausible actions that confuse
more than captivate. The film is a shining
example of the trappings of commercial film-

Move over big boy, I see dead people.

making as there is even a chase sequence that
follows Hollywood conventions.
Moving along the thriller checklist, there is
also the cold reception for the FBI intruding
onto the scene of the local police department,

as well as the requisite phone conversation with
the killer, in which he discusses how similar he
is to the good, but dark, detective. "Hello,
Clarisse ... " Oops, wrong movie.
In addition, Hollywood needs a new creepy
guy, because Kiefer Sutherland's ("Phone
Booth") presence alone hints at the fact that
several twist endings are inevitable. Jolie's role
as the detached ascetic could be interesting, but
with absolutely no back story it comes off as
empty and just a requirement for the plot. What
could have been an interesting rumination on
identity ends up being a laughable movie in
which even an Angelina Jolie sex scene comes
off as perfunctory. What a waste.

Looking back through history, we
are constantly running across the
names of the master composers.
Classical music never enters a conver-
sation without the names of Mozart,
Bach, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky,
among many others, being mentioned.
Today though, composing is, in
essence, an invisible profession. The
only modern composer that main-
stream audiences might be familiar
with is Aaron Copland, only because
his "Fanfare for the Common Man"
was the theme song for the 2002
Olympics and his "Rodeo: Hoe-Down"
is the theme used in the beef commer-
cials for the USDA.
This is not to say though that there
are no modern day composers whose
music is known and loved by many.
Unlike Mozart and Beethoven, who
composed works for the sheer purpose
of being performed, the masters of
today are simply hidden behind the
visual fanfare of the movies.
When you think of movies like
"Braveheart," "Star Wars," "The Eng-
lish Patient" and "The Lord of the
Rings," names like Mel Gibson, Harri-
son Ford, Carrie Fisher, Ralph Fiennes,
Cate Blanchett and Viggo Mortenson
came to mind. Names that are hardly
ever mentioned though, such as James
Horner, Danny Elfian, John Williams,
Gabriel Yared and Howard Shore, play
a big role in making these movies a
success. Just try to imagine the battle
scenes from "Braveheart" or "Lord of
the Rings" without the epic music in
the background, propelling the fighters
into the fray, and you will realize how
much the score of a film adds to the
emotional pull. The names that come
with the tag "Music By" are today's
musical masters.
This year, the Academy Awards saw
many great composers brought togeth-
er under the category of Best Score.
Danny Elfman was recognized for
"Big Fish," Gabriel Yared for "Cold
Mountain," James Horner for "House
of Sand and Fog" and Howard Shore

for "The Lord of the Rings: Return of
the King." Both James Horner and
Gabriel Yared are no strangers to the
Academy Awards, with Horner having
won for his work on "Titanic" and
Yared having won for his work on
"The English Patient." One composer
in particular though, had never held the
little golden statue, yet had demon-
strated his musical genius over and
over. This man was finally recognized
this year, and that, of course, was
Howard Shore.
Hearkening back to the days of
Beethoven, Shore is a composer that
not only takes emotions and sets them
on a grand level, but who also gives
individual themes to all of the little
nuances of character portrayed in the
film. For instance, in "The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers," the people of
Rohan were given a lone violin, rising
above the other orchestration and play-
ing a completely new melody, to serve
as their theme.
Also, similar to Beethoven's "5th
Symphony," Shore uses heavy brass,
percussion and extremely ranging
dynamics to give pieces, such as the
one accompanying the destruction of
the ring and Sauron, the grandeur and
power necessary to signify such an
event. The audience is left breathless
not only due to the battle waged on
screen, but also the gravity of the score.
Today's composers may not be as
public and known as were the masters
of old, but their works are still cher-
ished. Whether known as "the beef
song," or as "Rodeo: Hoe-Down,"
these modern classics still touch the
lives of many and will continue to do
so for years to come. Orchestral music
has been and will always be a large
part of any culture; it is just a matter of
whether the music is live, or hidden
behind a large screen.
-Sarah still can't get the theme
song from "Wheel of Fortune"
out of her head. Email her at


'City' shows potential to take CBS into the future

By Katie Maril Gates
Daily Arts Writer

Los Angeles in the year 2030 is the
backdrop for CBS's latest law drama,
"Century City." The series seeks to
tackle futuristic, controversial legal
cases such as clone smuggling, bioni-
cally enhanced athletes and anti-aging
contracts. While some aspects of the
program may be weak, the story and
the cast has the potential to take the
overdone law genre in an interesting
new direction.
Emmy award-winning Hector Eli-

zondo (TV's "Chicago Hope") leads
the cast as Marty, a senior partner in
the unnamed law firm of the future. He
has teamed up with Hannah (Viola
Davis, "Far From Heaven") to work
with several
young associates
on one bizarre Century City
case after another. Tuesday at 9 p.m.
Lukas (Joan CBS
Gruffudd, "Black
Hawk Down") is the most ambitious of
the bunch, taking on a pro bono client
in the pilot with the self-confidence of
an optimistic rookie. Nestor Carbonell
("Veronica's Closet") also stars as an
ex-congressmen turned lawyer.

The interactions between the
lawyers and the characters them-
selves seem to come second to the
plotline and the display of various
futuristic gadgets. Apparently, holo-
grams are big in the future, allowing
for pre-trial conferencing without
leaving the office and three-dimen-
sional videogames. For the most part,
the holograms appear realistic and do
not distract, but a fabricated skyline
of L.A. in several shots is an obvious
green-screen enhancement that weak-
ens the illusion.
Hopefully in the coming weeks, the
main characters will develop and
expand from their now two-dimension-

al shells. The pilot already hinted at
this development with brief mention of
a previous relationship between Lukas
and the beautiful Lee May (Kristin
Lehman, TV's "Felicity"). The stun-
ning lawyer is a reminder of Nell from
"Ally McBeal," and admits she was
genetically engineered to be smart and
strong, an issue that may come into use
in subsequent storylines.
The show would be wise to give the
always-solid Elizondo more screen
time. And, with a few minor adjust-
ments, such as some dedicated atten-
tion to visuals and more realistic
characters, "Century City" could last
long into the future.





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