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April 09, 2004 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-09

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April 9, 2004
arts.michigandaily. com

Ui Ltdyt& nDatig


I count three soon-to-be-unemployed actors!

Courtesy or louchstone

Isn't it funny that this movie may ruin both of our careers?


By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
SAN ANTONIO - In "The Alamo," to be
released nationwide today, Billy Bob Thornton
gets to play one of the most mythologized Amer-
icans of all time, Davy Crockett. Only this is not
the Crockett most Americans have read about.
Call him David.
In his famous Arkansas drawl, Thornton
explained, "What I tried to do in this movie
was play him as a regular guy as opposed to
the image we usually have, the John Wayne
sort of thing."
A whole generation knows the story of the
1836 battle from the 1960 film"The Alamo,"
directed by and starring John Wayne as Crockett,
then called Davy, sporting the famous coonskin
cap. The real David Crockett was practically
nothing like the fictionalized version, and John
Lee Hancock's "The Alamo" makes that clear.
Moreover, at a time when the story of the Afamo
is barely taught in most schools anymore, Han-
cock's action-packed education lesson does not
stop there.
"A lot of people don't know about the Alamo,
but kind of almost worse than that, there are so

many people who don't know that Texas used to
be part of Mexico," explained Hancock ("The
Rookie"), a Texas native. Initially, Ron Howard
intended to direct this new account of the 13 day
encounter where 189 Texans (both American and
Mexican citizens) found themselves under attack
by 1,400 members of the Mexican army. When
he dropped out, both Disney, the film's distribu-
tor, and Howard asked Hancock to fill his place.
Even after directing the story of the Alamo
nearly 50 times as a youngster in his backyard,
Hancock could not immediately commit to the
task. "I have such respect for the story and
everything, that I thought this one I really can't
screw up," Hancock recalled. "You know,
there's a responsibility, being a Texan, to the
story and so I just tried being as honest as I
could be in deciding if I was the best person to
do this movie."
Hancock finally agreed to make the film. The
first actor he approached with the project was
Thornton, with whom Howard had also had dis-
cussions for the role of Crockett.
While many actors might find the legendary
role of Crockett imposing, Thornton, who por-
trayed a dead ringer for James Carville in Mike
Nichols's "Primary Colors," found a more histori-

cal figure as a comfort. "With playing Davy
Crockett, the pressure is more about living up to
this legendary guy," Thornton explained. "You see,
no one knows what Davy Crockett was really like.
So that takes some of the pressure off of you."
With Thornton aboard, Hancock proceeded to
cast Dennis Quaid as Gen. Sam Houston, Jason
Patric ("Narc") as Col. James Bowie, Patrick
Wilson ("Angels in America") as Lt. Col.
William Travis and Emilio Echevarria ("Amores
Perros") as Mexican Gen. Antonio Lopez de
Santa Anna.
Neither Patric nor Wilson knew the story of
the Alamo beforehand and neither spent much
time reading historical documents for help with
the roles. Wilson took the script as fact and
Patric explained about the knife-wielding Bowie,
"He never left a paper trail because he was
always scamming somebody."
Thornton drew on the wealth of literature
available about Davy Crockett, both fictional and
true, to create his character, as difficult as it
might have been for him. Thornton remembered,
'I was given some books by some of the histori-
ans on the set. Some of them were very dry."
"I have a hard time reading anyway." Thorn-
ton added.

New ABC comedy
not 'Big' on laughs
By Doug Wernert with his off-the-wall cousin Warren
Daily TV/New Media Editor (Faizon Love).
Luckily, things get better for Kevin
TV RVE *as he meets an attractive young lady
during his first day of college, the
There was a time when TGIF - premise for the pilot. In typical sit-
the name given to ABC's Friday night com fashion, he lies in order to con-
comedy lineup - was can't-miss tel- vince the woman to go out with him
evision. With family fare such as andistforced to cover his tracks by
"Family Matters," "Boy Meets lying to the family. Naturally, the girl
World" and "Sabrina the Teenage is tutored by Eartha (Yvette Nicole
Witch," the network offered whole- Brown), Kevin's other cousin who
some programming that appealed to would like nothing more than to
many ages. Five make him leave. When the truth
years after dis- comes out, the girl exits and the fami-
banding the pro- The Big ly is very disappointed, leaving Kevin
gramming block, House alone to try and fix everything.
ABC has resur- Fridays at The show seems harmless enough,
rected the TGIF 8:30 p.m. but the adult edge is evident as one of
moniker, and now ABC the main jokes is in reference to the
offers more adult- mentally handicapped. The characters
oriented comedies. Newcomer "The ^are also not clearly defined, as the par-
Big House" continues this trend, and ents change from zany and obnoxious
the result is another show with no to normal and stern with no rhyme or
clear identity and no real entertain- reason. Warren, as the fat comic relief,
ment value. is always good for a laugh and
Smooth-talking, well-off Kevin Eartha's disdain for Kevin is funny as
(Kevin Hart) has moved to Philadel- well, but when the show can't decide
phia from California to live with his what audience to focus on, the humor
aunt and uncle after his father is doesn't pack a strong punch.
jailed for embezzlement. Aunt Tina With no clear direction, "The Big
(Arnetia Walker) is a no-nonsense House" is a typical midseason
woman who quickly lays down the replacement that quickly shows why
rules of the house and Uncle it should not be included in the fall
Clarence (Keith David) is her quick- schedule. With programs such as
witted husband who follows her this, it is evident that TGIF no
parental lead. Kevin is dumfounded longer provides the quality entertain-
at first, especially when he finds out ment it once did. Is it too late to
he has to live in a grimy basement bring back "Step by Step?"

'Panic Room'
makes geat
DVD set
By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor
Director David Fincher's signature
style - creepy, stylishly shot
thrillers - rises above the medioc-
rity of the script in "Panic Room."
Previously released in 2002, this
new three-disc edition of the Jodie
Foster thriller stands among the most
comprehensive releases to date.
Foster stars as a recent divorcee,
who, with her adolescent daughter,
moves into an upscale house in New

NYC rapper retains city's flavor on LP

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Music REVIEW ***I
DJ Signify, a New York native
and former producer for the avant-
garde rap label Anticon, forges out
on his own with a distinctive instru-
mental album. Sleep No More from

Lex Records
also brings along
a few Anticon
expatriates for

DJ Signify
Sleep No

its own, it is deepened by some per-
fectly focused and chilling vocal
contributions. Using Nova Scotia
native Buck 65 and incessant style
flipper Sage Francis, DJ Signify
cements the claustrophobic mood of
the record. Buck and Sage spit
some visually rich storytelling,
which feels like a transmission
from a lost episode of "The Twi-
light Zone" or "The Outer Limits."
Sage and Buck never rhyme on
the same track, so their contribu-
tions have their own feel. On their
tracks, the beat always manages to
interact precisely with the topic
and flow.
Sleep No More is a focused and
coherent record that aims for the
subconscious and hits often. This is
the insomniac manifesto that red-
eyed somnambulists have been
waiting for.

Courtesy of Columbia

I'll huff and I'll puff 'till I blow your house in.

York complete
with a "panic
room." This room
serves as an
fortress in the
event of a home
invasion. When

Panic Room:
three criminals

break in searching for millions of
dollars hidden within that very.
room, and a war of attrition begins
between the two sides.
The movie is entertaining, but
nothing too special. However, this
release covers nearly every aspect
imaginable about the film. The first
disc features the movie, in a pristine
widescreen transfer (though not as
good. as the Superbit edition from
2002) and Dolby Digital Sound. The
disc also contains three different
commentary tracks: one with Foster
and Forrest Whitaker, one with
Fincher and one with the writer,
David Koepp. Each offers a differ-
ent perspective into the intense
shoot and Fincher's commentary is
incredibly informative about the
creative process.

turettes on the pre-production phase.
Taking viewers from storyboards to
the actual shots, few DVDs offer
such comprehensive glimpses into
their creation. Also present on this
disc are production features such as
an hour-long documentary on the
photography as well as a featurette
on the makeup. The documentary
covers a unique aspect of filmmak-
ing often overlooked in DVD extras.
The final disc focuses on the post-
production work with a few
sequence breakdowns from the pro-
duction phase, showing four scenes
during filming to compare to the
final product. 21 astonishing fea-
turettes demonstrate all of the spe-
cial effects that went into making
"Panic Room." From the creation of
the room to the computer-generated
camera work, nothing is left to the
imagination. The creation of Howard
Shore's score is also included in a
featurette with multiple angles of the
recording session to choose from.
While not the most interesting extra,
it shows just how comprehensive
this set is.
"Panic Room" is a good film, but
a DVD release of this caliber should
be saved for films that truly are
noteworthy. However, this set rivals
the "Alien Quadrilogy" and "The
Lord of the Rings" extended editions

Film: ***
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: *****

ings on the market. Fans of David
Fincher, the film or of filmmaking
should invest in this extraordinary

the journey. More
There is noth- Lex
ing that serves as
a preparation for the pure mood of
the album. A DJ Shadow compari-
son would be wrong, it's a far cry
from the electronic glitch-hop of
Prefuse 73, and RJD2's style is too
soulful to be in the same family.


for more information call 734/998-6251
The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts presents a public lecture and reception

Sleep No More is a unique state-
ment from a noteworthy voice in
experimental instrumentation.
With the minor key piano chords,
pulsing tones, feedback and one
rubber ducky squeak, this is not the
record played before the party.
Although the atmosphere is clear on


Richard Abel
Robert Altman Collegiate
Professor of Film Studies
Wednesday ! y
A "1 I 4 . 5 Yt

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