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September 13, 2004 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-13

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 13, 2004 - 11A

TURNING
A PAGE

POLITICS DOMINATE
SUMMER READING

T his summer, politics and homeland secu-
rity commandeered the book scene. From
presidential memoirs to damaging expo-
ses about powerful political figures, the past
few months have been full of pure American
discourse. Both journalists and political ana-
lysts have been true capitalists by cashing in on
the upcoming presidential election. Numerous
books have been published about the Bush fam-
ily, Kerry's records and the failures of the cur-
rent administration, before and after Sept. 11.
As a result, the political climate this summer got
hotter as the mercury rose, and it shows no signs
of cooling off as the election approaches. Mean-
while, fiction seemed stymied with the critical
acclaim and press coverage of these so-called
political books.
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
By David Sedaris
Little, Brown
A refreshing addition to the short story fic-
tion list, David Sedaris published a fine volume
about coping with family life. Unfortunately,
this one is probably better known for the naked
Barbie on the jacket rather than the compelling
narratives bound within. Short stories are often
pushed aside by the average reader in search of
the novel, which is the literary form most people
gravitate toward. "Dress Your Family" reminds
readers not to underestimate a good compila-
tion of shorts.
My Life
By Bill Clinton
Knopf
By far the most anticipated book of the sum-
mer, this presidential memoir has made a splash
with critics and readers alike. Many have made
the comparison that Bill Clinton's book is just
like the man himself: flawed but ultimately
endearing. The book is an insightful commen-
tary on who the former President really is, and
how he has dealt with his somewhat tarnished
past. This exhaustive memoir covers his life,
from growing up in Hope, Ark., to meeting his
wife Hillary to his infamous scandals. He com-
ments on the major conflicts of his eight-year
term, including his interpretations of the Soma-

Freeeeeedommmmm!

Visually rich 'Hero'
a Chinese classic

By Zac Peskowltz
Daily Arts Writer

Cour tesy yloKo p

They also got high.
lia crisis and Kenneth Starr investigation.
The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report
of the National Commission on Terror-
ist Attacks Upon the United States
By The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks
W.W. Norton & Company
Arguably one of the most important documents
the U.S. government has published in recent his-
tory, this is already in the homes of many con-
cerned or curious citizens. The volume will surely
become part of our shared national heritage, espe-
cially with the addition of a hardcover edition
coming soon. The report is written by an inde-
pendent bipartisan commission. Though it fails
to name who is to blame for the catastrophe now
known simply as 9/11, it does, specify that major
changes must be made in intelligence gathering
and anti-terrorism departments. Most notably,
the commission calls for the creation of a single
National Security Director and a National Coun-
ter Terrorism Center.
Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veter-
ans Speak Out Against John Kerry
By John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi
Regnery
This book hit stores with a definite agenda to
discredit presidential candidate John Kerry's deco-
rated Vietnam War record. Author and Navy vet-
eran John O'Neill interviewed men from the war
who insist that Kerry behaved recklessly in the field
and is undeserving of the Purple Hearts he peti-

tioned for and received. This is not the first time the
two have clashed in front of an audience; O'Neill
and Kerry faced off before in 1971 on "The Dick
Cavett Show," where O'Neill refuted charges of
rampant war crimes in Vietnam. This book will
either garner support for telling the whole story
about Kerry's war record, or be outright dismissed
as fallacious and unreliable. Despite personal feel-
ings on the volume or its agenda, as number one on
the New York Times' nonfiction list, it will have an
impact on Americans.
The Da Vinci Code
By Dan Brown
Doubleday
Despite being published more than a year ago, Dan
Brown's book remains on the top of bestseller lists.
Across the nation, it seems everywhere you turned
this summer someone was still reading "The Da
Vinci Code." What continues to fuel its book sales?
It is a murder mystery combining suspense with con-
spiracy theories that make people think a bit differ-
ently. The author is also inadvertently responsible
for the publication of numerous books supporting or
refuting the theories it puts forward in "The Da Vinci
Code." What made Brown truly shine this summer is
that he also has another and still older book, "Angels
and Demons," in the top five of the New York
Times's best-selling fiction list. Few authors enjoy as
much success; it has certainly been a hot summer for
Brown and his readers.
- Compiled by Melissa Runstrom

"Hero," the highest-grossing film
in the history of Chinese cinema now
making its much-anticipated release in
the United States, is a simple story of
love, vengeance and country. The film
expends little effort creating an elabo-
rate narrative or complex scenery, rely-

ing instead on a
timeless fable and
natural settings to
awe its audience.
The kingdoms
of ancient China
are at war and

Hero
At Quality 16
Miramax

special effects, "Hero" is an exercise
in restraint. Director Zhang Yimou
lets simple but stunning images stand
in for bombast: a girl's tear, the dis-
cipline of a squadron of soldiers or a
sword falling into the dust.
The cast gives dignified performanc-
es that breathe life into the script and
the entrancing score of Tan Dun and
the plaintive violin of Itzhak Perlman
are a fitting complement to the sober
images that fill the screen. Zhang has
a penchant for monochromatic scenes
and they create a totemic backdrop to
the swordplay and romance at the film's
core. The most impressive sequences of
"Hero" are the battle scenes where the
army of Qin shows its martial prowess
to great effect. They are shot in a deso-
late lunar landscape that showcases the
gravity of the soldiers' task and the
solemnity with which they approach it.
There are plenty of traditional martial
arts tete a tetes that are impressive in
their own right, but they cannot match
the sight of the Qin army in its imperial
splendor.
Toward the beginning of "Hero,"
the king of Qin tells Nameless "I
have since had this great hall emptied
so there is nowhere to hide." This is
a fitting tribute to a film that is at its
best when it sheds the trappings of
resplendent ceremony and embraces
austerity.

Nameless (Jet Li, "Romeo Must Die")
is brought before the king of Qin to
be rewarded handsomely for defeating
three fearsome assassins. The pro-
tagonist, a humble prefect, relates the
unlikely tales of how he vanquished
these formidable enemies. The film
proceeds through a series of tellings
and retellings while remaining firmly
rooted in the cavernous hall where
Nameless supplicates himself before
the king.
While takes on the martial arts like
"The Matrix" and "Kill Bill" fran-
chises attempt to overpower the audi-
ence with frenetic beats and explosive

Nf you missed our last mass meeting, wefre haw~ig
another one. Tuesday, 7pm 420 Maynard St.
W'llbring the noise if you big hefnk.

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