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April 16, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-16

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April 16, 2004



Get thee to a nunnery.

Controversial film

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer

Make no qualms about it: "The
Magdalene Sisters" is a downer in
every sense of the word. Writer/direc-
tor Peter Mullan encountered a fair
amount of controversy for bringing

one of the most
shameful acts of
the Catholic
Church to the big
screen in all its
unrelenting pes-
simism. Upon its


ilts DVD
Stripped and given severe beatings,
these girls were slowly forced into obe-
The film focuses on the stories of
four women who struggle in different
ways and with varying degrees of suc-
cess to escape their confinement.
"Shawshank Redemption"-style
attempts to find joy within the sur-
roundings are avoided, as is the buddy
flick where the girls all bond by the
end. Overwhelmingly these girls are
broken, and even their escape from the
convent fails to bring a resolution.
A story with this level of power war-
rants strong DVD extras, but sadly,
these are missing. There is a documen-
tary - "Sex in a Cold Climate" - on
the real-life victims of the Magdalene
convent which offers some interesting
insight into the film, but it just leaves
viewers with the desire to hear more.
Audio commentaries, usually the norm
for today's DVD releases, are nowhere
to be found, which is disappointing for
a film this intense.
Despite the lack of special fea-
tures, "The Magdalene Sisters" is
still powerful and revelatory viewing
for those interested in this unique
and tragic story.
Film: ****
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: *

To me, clowns
. aren't funny. In
fact, they're
kind of scary.
a I've wondered
where this
°r started, and .1
think It goes
back to the
time I went to
the circus, and
a clown killed
Courtesy of Bravo my dad.

release it was officially banned by the
Vatican, which heightens the contro-
versy. Mullan's film achieves its goal
of depicting the grim and hopeless sit-
uation these women were trapped in.
The film tells the story of "sinful"
women who were, during the mid-
1960s in Ireland, abandoned by their
families for being raped and having
children out of wedlock were sent to
the Magdalene convent. There they
would ostensibly find redemption
through performing slave labor, wash-
ing clothes for the profits of the nuns
in charge. The militant nuns who ran
this labor camp were vile and con-
temptible women who spared no act of
cruelty on the girls left to their care.

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily Arts Writer
Bravo brings the amazing talents of Cirque du
Soleil to television in its new 13-part miniseries
"Solstrom." The show is a far cry from today's

popular dramas and reality
TV, presenting a series of
Cirque performances on a
fabricated set for a unique
combination of television and
theater. While the perform-
ances themselves are no less
than amazing, the program is
not as perfect as its artists and

Cirque du
Sundays at 9 p.m.
may prove to be

Bravo. In addition to "Solstrom," the network
aired several original Cirque du Soleil perform-
ances. The series differs from the live show in its
overall theme. In the original, a mad scientist
discovers the creatures of Cirque du Soleil have
left their home on the sun and have come to earth
to inspire humans to become amazing Cirque
In the first one-hour episode entitled
"Romance," a female Cirque member named
Fiona dressed in flamboyant costume and make-
up enters a small Italian village to stir things
up. With a breath of her "solar wind," plain-
clothed citizens are soon walking tightropes,
juggling and performing amazing acrobatic
dances. There is no dialogue throughout save
for that with the mad scientist who appears at
the end of some scenes.
A major flaw in the series is the inclusion of
the mad scientist, who is bizarre and poorly

acted. The character serves no real purpose
except to discredit the talent of Cirque du Soleil.
Whether it be acrobats on bicycles or a man
creating music from a table full of water glasses,
each segment of "Solstrom" is unique and amaz-
ing, but might wear on the audience's attention.
While varied cinematography supplies views of
the stunts from all angles, such shows are often
more spectacular when seen live. Consequently,
the TV adaptation does not inspire the "ooos"
and "ahhs" such miraculous acts warrant.
Each upcoming episode will have a different
theme as it features more famous Cirque du
Soleil acts with some new performances as well
as the young French daredevil team Yamakasi.
After one episode it seems that there is nothing
more to see and audiences may be reluctant to
devote an hour each Sunday to circus acts. How-
ever, watching these artists push their bodies to
the limits is at least worth a peek.

uninteresting to the college audience.
The pilot episode of the new series debuted
during a weekend tribute to Cirque du Soleil on

Irish journalist's tale canonized in dramatic 'Veronica Guerin'

By Hussain Rahim
Daily Arts Writer
Joel Schumacher - the man sole-
ly responsible for destroying the
"Batman" franchise - makes an
attempt at atonement with a retelling

of the story that canonized the the restrictive laws of the land. As
famous Dublin journalist, Veronica Veronica Guerin _________
Guerin. Although not completely (Kate Blanchett, Veronica
forgiven, he lays out a solid path for "Lord of the
a road to redemption. Rings: Return of Guerin
During the drug wars that con- the King") trav- Warner Bros.
sumed Dublin, Ireland, in the late els through the
'90s, those responsible for the nar- slums, she's alarmed by the glaring
cotics problem were hamstrung by drug problem, evinced, for example,

by children playing with heroin nee-
dles. Deciding she must put an end
to this, she wages a personal quest to
expose the problem.
Her path is intriguing, and she has
the charm and will to achieve get
what she wants. She works the
police, sources and strangers with
ease as she gets closer to the truth.
Along her course, she encounters the
typical conflict that occurs with all
protagonists who risk their lives for
a greater good, the battle between
family life and her work. Oddly, her
family bends around her devotion,
even as it becomes clear that her
mission is a death wish that the drug
kingpins will gladly fulfill for her.
Blanchett is convincing as Guerin,
clearly portraying the equal mix of
insanity and devotion that allowed
her to continue her investigation

after being shot, threatened and
beaten. After all this, she fearlessly
and instinctively presses on.
The special features add little with
the offerings of. a interview with
producer Jerry Bruckheimer and a
"making of" vignette. More back-
ground information on the real
Veronica Guerin would have been
nice as well. Bruckheimer is praised
far too much in his interview and
doesn't offer much insight into the
story or the movie.
"Veronica Guerin" aims to be all-
encompassing, but with a fairly
short runtime it can only brush over
her remarkable personality while
sticking with the tale that immortal-
ized her in Ireland. Although the
film was largely missed in theaters,
this DVD offers a chance for viewers
to see the conviction of a woman


Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Diane Sawyer or Mary Sue Coleman?
whose drive made a difference.

Film: ****
Picure/Sound: ***I
Features: **





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