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September 14, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-09-14

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September 14, 2004
arts.michigandaily. com

E9ilRgTSn t



. . . . . ..... . ....... . .. . ........... . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . ...... ............................................. .


In my hand, I hold the cure for the gum disease known

Courtesy of

NBC 'Medical' solid,
but stuck in poor slot

Courtesy of Warner
Maybe eat-
ing those
tacos wasn't
a good Idea.


By Kevin Hollfield
Daily Arts Writer


By Sheila Merchant
For the Daily

In the new independent film "We Don't Live
Here Anymore," director John Curran's lofty
ambitions of presenting a multifaceted, honest

story of adulterers falls short
despite superb performances
by the four leads and striking
This excessively wrench-
ing drama, based on the short
stories "We Don't Live Here
Anymore" and "Adultery"
by Andre Dubus, jumps right
into a half-drunken scene.

We Don't
Live Here
At the
Michigan Theater

progressively ugly disputes are well portrayed,
given great depth with the chilling performance
of Dern and the brooding, passive-aggressive por-
trayal of Jack by Ruffalo, the viewer is given little
to show what got the characters to their miserable
state. The director does include a few disconnect-
ed flashback sequences in which Jack recalls Terry
as the beautiful, carefree woman he fell in love
with, but nothing to show that any of that affection
still exists.
While Jack and Terry's relationship is scant-
ly dealt with, Hank and Edith's is completely
nonexistent. Hank is a self-centered, philander-
ing writer whose own career is going nowhere,
while Edith is the diligent housewife, intelligent,
enough to realize her husband's wayward ways
but too weak to stop catering to his every need.
They appear, throughout the movie, to have noth-
ing in common except a daughter and a house.
The audience has only the assumption that a pas-
sionate past once existed, but is left rather unsat-
isfied. Furthermore, the close friendship of Terry
and Edith is constantly alluded to, yet only a few
forced scenes show that they even talk outside
the group gatherings.
Although the lack of back story is disappoint-
ing, the visuals throughout the film are beautiful.
The contrast between the Linden house - messy
and chaotic - and the Evans home - neat and
sterile - parallels their respective relationships.
Terry constantly lays her feelings on the line in

knock-down, drag-out battles with Jack that are
lurid and disturbing. She details to Jack her sex-
ual encounter with Hank, egging him on, waiting
for a reaction that never materializes. Conversely,
Hank and Edith rarely discuss their relationship,
dealing with each other at arm's length.
The cinematographer, Maryse Alberti, also
draws beautiful visual parallels between Jack's
perception of time and his environment: the
speeding train marching onward and the gushing
river where he takes the kids. This river is where
he comes to the realization that not only is his
youth slipping away, but that he doesn't have the
guts to leave Terry and accept the ramifications of
that decision. The sex scenes, though unnecessary,
do serve to show the desperation of the characters.
They're so emotionally starved, so trapped, that
the sex is more of a release than a show of love or
passion, as the scenes graphically demonstrate.
In the end, the acting and cinematography can
only do so much. Although the four leads, who all
give memorable performances, flesh out the char-
acters individually, the script leaves their rela-
tionships hanging in limbo. The fights between
Jack and Terry, initially powerful and persua-
sive, grow weary without hint at any underlying
motivation. Throughout the film the characters
remain too scared or weak to say out loud what
they all know. Their problems, while attempting
to endear them to the audience, only scratch the
surface of the subject's potential.

mobile division
from the Nation-
al Institutes of
Health. His quick

Equal parts "ER" and "C.S.I.," the
creatively named "Medical Investi-
gation" is NBC's latest series where
doctors attempt to solve medical epi-
Dr. Stephen Connor (Neal
McDonough, "Boomtown") leads a

job have

but the
of the
made a

Fridays at 10 p.m.

curmudgeonly veteran who dispenses
invaluable life lessons.
Dr. Connor's crew shows up any-
time there is an outbreak, which seems
to happen once per week. They have
absolute authority, much to the chagrin
of local medical professionals. In the
pilot, when 12 people begin to turn blue
and are hospitalized in New York, the
conclusion is that the cause is contami-
nated food from a restaurant. When
four others in Delaware suffer the same
fate, it is back to the drawing board.
Neil McDonough's Dr. Connor
is the focal point of the show, which
lives and dies through his charisma.
McDonough admirably demonstrates
his acting chops and takes advantage
of his opportunity to be the lead.
"Medical Investigation" is presented
in widescreen format, giving an impor-
tant feel to the show, complimented
by the subject's inherent urgency. Not
only is the subject matter dark, but so
is the visual palette, using filters to
keep the tones saturated, without a red
or orange to be seen. Camera effects
are also put to use, such as when Con-
nor visualizes scenes of the outbreak's
beginning with ghostly, imagined peo-
ple moving in fast motion.
While "Medical Investigation"
looks promising, it has not been given
much chance to develop an audience.
After a plush Thursday premiere, the
show's Friday time slot will most
likely cause the series to die a quick
death, one which Dr. Connor's team
cannot prevent.


Jack (Mark Ruffalo, "Eternal Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind"), and Edith (Naomi Watts, "21
Grams"), the wife of his best friend Hank (Peter
Krause, "Six Feet Under"), slip off to get more
beer and plan their next sordid rendezvous. Later
that night, Terry, Jack's wife (Laura Dern, "Juras-
sic Park"), questions his recurrent need to "run
errands" with Edith. He dissuades her from the
notion by suggesting that she and Hank fooled
around while they were gone and that she's feeling
guilty about it. The audience is immediately aware
that these types of fights occur very regularly in
the chaotic Linden household. And although the

shambles of his personal life, as Con-
nor is separated from his wife and can
barely find time for his son. With all
the effort put into this character, it is
odd that the rest of the group is devel-
oped to a much lesser extent.
The balance of the team exhibits
several of the usual primetime dra-
matic character traits. Dr. Natalie
Durant (Kelli Williams, "The Prac-
tice") is a pathologist who respects
Connor, but often comes into profes-
sional conflicts with him. Specialist
Frank Powell (Troy Winbush, "John
Q.") is an inspector who exists only
for plot advancement, while Dr. Miles
McCabe (Christopher Gorham, "Jake
2.0") is the fresh-faced rookie full of
potential. The only one missing is the


FOX's 'Champ' loses by
By Doug Wernert
Daily TV/New Media Editor


Show your student I.D. & get
regular price merchandise.
Here's a no-brainer: Simply show your valid
student I.D. and save 15% on all regular
price stuff. (That's a lot of stuff.) But, you'd
better hurry. Come September 26th, this
offer's history. Sorry, cannot be used with
any other discount or offer.
Offer ends September 26, 2004.

Ladies and gentlemen ... let's get ready to stumble!
With ideas for new programming seemingly at a
standstill, FOX has decided to put up it's dukes and
offer "The Next Great Champ." It's the scandal-filled
sport of professional boxing mixed with the always-
popular reality TV format, with just a touch of FOX's
sleaziness thrown in for good measure. As expected,
the meshing of these three unpredictable elements
results in a complete train wreck of
a show, one that goes down for the The Next
count without so much as landing Great Champ
one jab.
Twelve professional prizefight- Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
ers, each with a nickname such as FOX
"The Ex-Con" or "The Pretty Boy,"
are competing against each other for a chance to win a
contract with Golden Boy Promotions and even a pos-
sible shot at a titleholder. The title is not specifically
named, but fortunately for the group, they have a solid
sponsor. This comes in the form of eight-time world
champion Oscar De La Hoya, who not only runs Golden
Boy Promotions, but also serves as the easily forgotten
host of the program. The contestants are constantly in
awe of De La Hoya, but he doesn't add anything to the
show other than his name and the occasional appear-
ance at the training sessions.
These sessions are useful to give the show its intend-
ed bad-ass feel. They are led by legendary trainer Lou
Duva and Tommy Brooks. These two are all business,
and immediately bring back memories of Burgess Mer-
edith in the "Rocky" series.
Each week, after a harsh training exercise, the duo
will rank the fighters. The lowest-ranked man is forced
to put up or shut up in the ring by challenging one
of the top three ranked men to a fight, with the loser
being forced to leave the contest. In addition, the high-
er-ranked man is playing for prize money, while the
lesser is literally just hoping to fight another day. In
order to save time for the fight, much of the actual
training is cut out of the show, so it seems that the
rankings have no apparent basis other than the boxer's

I'm a baaaaaad man.

performance on one specific activity.
The boxers themselves aren't given sufficient time
to develop their own personalities unless they are
involved in the elimination bout. In addition, due to
poor lighting and similar body types, it's often too dif-
ficult to distinguish the fighters from one from another
in the training sessions. Throw in the fact that each
pugilist has brought along a companion for guidance
and the result is 24 people on one program, with only
two or three actually worth remembering.
The main fight itself is a giant collection of errors.
What should be a simple tale of two men's fight for
survival is turned into an overly dramatic, over-pro-
duced debacle, complete with ring announcers, play-
by-play commentary, and even ring-card girls. Bizarre
camera shots and effects, along with a poor "Eye of the
Tiger" cover, only hurt the viewing experience.
The fight doesn't fit the atmosphere of a reality TV
program or even part of a movie. Rather, it has the feel-
ing of being somewhere in the middle, like the central
scene in an over-the-top documentary about boxing,
and the result is a complete visual mess.
"The Next Great Champ" gets points for being origi-
nal, at least untii "The Contender" debuts on NBC in
November. Until then, the unanimous decision for FOX
should be to throw in the towel on this one.


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