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January 14, 2004 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-01-14

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Wednesday
January 14,2004
arts.michigandaily. com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

2 T~S

5

t 1IRI)1~LS~

ILI WE

THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER
"The Believer" - This monthly litmag from McSweeney's decon-
structs Sweet Valley High books, condemns high-fructose corn
syrup and interviews everyone from Ice Cube to David Foster Wal-
lace to Tina Fey.
Mo Rocca - Erstwhile "Daily Show" correspondent and self-pro-
fessed media gadfly, Rocca uses big words to describe Pop Rocks on
VH1's "I Love the '80s." C-list celebrity status never looked so hot.
"Stitch 'n Bitch" by Debbie Stoler - This how-to book for the
Third Wave's crafting revolution features detailed instructions on how
to knit, purl and craft super-cute garments like keyhole scarves,
kneesocks, wristbands, purses, hats and sweaters - there's even a
bikini pattern. Foxy and crafty!

Courtesy of Focus
Features
The way I
hear it, Soze
is some kind
of butcher. A
pitiless,
psycho,
fucked-up
butcher.

ACTORS MAKE AGONY PALPABLE IN '21 GRAMS'

2

"Home Movies" Season 4 on Cartoon Network - The post-"Dr.
Katz" cartoon in which three mostly-noseless eight-year-olds cuss
and make movies returns to weirdo cartoon showcase
"Adult Swim." Let's all sing it

together: FREAKY! OUTI
FREAKY! OUTIE!

*1

Catandgirl.com - 4
Dorothy Gambrell's
goofy/intellectual web-
comic where Girl reads
Proust, drinks tea and
mocks hipsters, while Cat,1
guardian, eats paint. They
peanut butter and chocolate,
butter and chocolate could co
the postmodern condition.

IE
her legal
y're like
if peanut
mment on
Courtesy of Catandgirl.com

By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor
MoVER EVIEW
With a title that refers to the supposed amount of
weight lost upon death, you know "21 Grams" is a
film that takes life very seriously. The search for
meaning in that number drives the storytelling here,
and also propels the disjointed structure that Mexi-
can filmmaker Alejandro Gon- _
zalez Inarritu exploits in this
tale of birth (with an emphasis 21 Grams
on rebirth), death and most At Quality 16
importantly, those fateful Showcase and the
moments in between. Michigan Theater
When Massachusetts doctor Focus Features
Duncan McDougall per-
formed his study in 1907, he believed that those
21 grams amounted to the weight of the human
soul. Through the voiceover of mathematics pro-
fessor Paul Rivers (Sean Penn), Inarritu and
screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga ponder all that is
lost and gained in those 21 grams. The film
explores how such a minute weight means nothing
and offers nothing in terms of what kind of life an
individual has led. Numbers and equations just
add more mystery to the unknown directions that
life can take.
In blatantly gimmicky fashion, but always under
the control of the wunderkind director, "21 Grams"

blows up the sequential nature of conventional film
editing and the conventional, sequential nature of
life. Three tragically connected lives are put under a
temporal microscope, and it is the scene-to-scene-
to-scene jumps in character and appearance that
startle the most, lending the greatest of compli-
ments to the masterful cast for surviving and mostly
overcoming the sometimes-distancing nature of
non-linear editing.
Giving too much detail on any of those involved
steals most of the joy of "21 Grams," for it is a film
that demands an active, meditative viewer and
rewards in small, worthwhile doses. Paul can first
be found (chronologically, not sequentially) in dire
need of a heart transplant, ignoring the advice of his
doctor and the wishes of his wife, Mary (Charlotte
Gainsbourg). Along the way, Paul will find extend-
ed life through surgery but never accept this new
heart as his own.
Coming into the mix, and into Paul's life after his
operation, are Cristina Peck (Naomi Watts), a
recovering drug addict with a husband and two chil-
dren keeping her clean, and Jack Jordan (Benicio
Del Toro), an ex-con and family man who has
reached inner peace thanks to Jesus.
While still holding the damaging Hollywood
reputation of being "difficult," Penn continues his
recent case for the honor of best American actor
working today. His Macbethian role in the equally-
excellent "Mystic River" will likely garner Penn
the Best Actor nomination in this year's Oscars,

but in many ways Paul is the more difficult,
diverse role. Penn must show gentle kindness,
vengeful hate and then desperate love in three con-
secutive scenes (more than once) and he still gives
the character an emotional continuity that the
film's structure occasionally takes away.
Watts' underscored performance will be the
most surprising since the majority have only seen
her in the less-demanding, more relaxed (as strange
as that sounds) "The Ring." Beauty can be a curse
to gifted actors, but Watts never lets it get in the
way. "Mulholland Drive" introduced us to her hyp-
notic talent, and "21 Grams" reveals the subtle,
emotional depth Watts has hidden until now.
Save the best for last: Benicio Del Toro. The
main problem of Inarritu's first English-language
film is its all-too restricted scope. Once Paul and
Cristina find each other, their world seems to shrink
around them. Mostly outside the Paul/Cristina cir-
cle, Del Toro flourishes on his own.
When will someone finally realize that Del Toro
should never be off the screen for too long? Much
like Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," "21 Grams" is a
very good film with Del Toro off screen and a mas-
terful one with him on it. Del Toro's body control
and conveyance of Jack's rage hidden within recalls
a young Marlon Brando. Jack often says, "God
even knows when a single hair moves on your
head." Students of acting can study the delivery of
that line for decades. And that should be the legacy
of "21 Grams."

Apprentice' doesn't
serve Trump well
By Douglas Wernert
Daily Arts Writer
TVEI E-**

__j

This whole reality TV thing is
starting to wear a bit thin. As if "The
Bachelorette 2" and the upcoming
"My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance"
weren't enough, the one and only
Donald Trump now has his own
show. The real estate mogul stars in

"The Apprentice,",
proves that you
can make it in
corporate Ameri-
ca, but making it
in TV land is
something differ-
ent altogether.
Producer Mark

a program that
The
Apprentice
Thursday at
8:30 p.m.
NBC

Burnett came up with the concept,
which is very similar to his CBS
brainchild "Survivor." A team of men
and a team of women vie for the
chance to be president of one of
Trump's companies. After competing
against each other in an interesting
business activity (selling lemonade,
for example) a member of the losing
team is fired, not by their peers, but
by Trump and his two associates, who
play the typical snobbish stooges you
would expect in a show such as this.
The loser takes the dramatic elevator
ride down to the first floor of Trump
Towers and must now live with the
fact they will never work for a man
with a really bad toupee.
The contestants themselves - who
should be the backbone of the show
- are seen as secondary to Trump. A
clever entrance video highlighting
New York introduces the 16 ambi-
tious applicants, who range from
being high-school educated to receiv-
ing an MBA at Harvard University.
They have street smarts and plenty of
business aspirations but are all clear-
ly trying to suck up as much as possi-
ble. It can be fun at times to watch
each entrepreneur battle to be the

Courtesy of NBC

I show no human emotion.

leader in group activities, but no dis-
tinguishable qualities shine forth.
With the exception of one cast mem-
ber named Sam, who is clearly out of
his mind (he tried to sell a cup of
lemonade for $1,000), the contestants
are pretty similar.
Since there is no quirky host to
guide the show along, Trump makes
numerous appearances. He lacks
charisma and personality and cer-
tainly doesn't seem like the type of
boss you would want to work for.
Then again, he is rich, which is cer-
tainly enough to be a star on TV
these days.
"The Apprentice" is not the worst
reality show out there. The business
activities are enjoyable to watch, but
unfortunately, when characters nobody
cares about are coupled with a recy-
cled playing style, the result is another
average program on prime-time televi-
sion. This show won't get canned, but
on the other hand, it certainly won't get
promoted anytime soon either.

RTAKES
JUVENILE
JUVh THE GREAT
CASH MONEY
The dizzying "Back That Azz
Up" launched the careers of
Juvenile and the Cash Money
Millionaires in 1998. Sadly, on
his seventh album, we find
Juvenile stuck in the mind-set
of the previous decade, with
none of the substance to back
him up. Juvenile's flow has
remained the same: a quick,
stammering mutter with the
emphasis in his verses placed
on lame gun-threats.
Producer Mannie Fresh, one
of the founders of Cash Money,
has sprung up a more success-
ful group, the Big Tymers, and
his occasional production on
the album feels like charity to
an old friend. When it comes to
the Fresh-less tracks, each one
is more teeth-grating than the
last. The aptly titled "Numb
Numb" is Juvenile's boasting of
his crack-dealing skills over a
beat so cheap it could have
come from a Casio keyboard.
The bargain-basement guests
and the occasional "introspec-
tive" tracks ("Juve the Great,"
"In My Life") just magnify the
pathetic fall of the Juve. Time
for someone to back their azz
up into retirement. *
- Evan McGarvey

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