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October 11, 2004 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-10-11

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8A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 11, 2004


I didn't do it.

Fourth 'Silent Hill'
still spooks garners

By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
Ideally, the following review of
"Silent Hill 4: The Room" would be
filled with concrete evidence of why it is
such a groundbreaking videogame. But

like any mystery-
driven adventure,
too many examples
would spoil its sur-
prises. All that can
be offered instead
are a few thoughts

Silent Hill 4:
The Room
Xbox and PS2

along with this
message: "Silent Hill 4: The Room" is
the reason why videogames should be
considered an art form.
"The Room" that the title refers to is
actually a third-floor apartment in the
fictional city of South Ashfield. Trapped
inside is the 20-something Henry
Townshend, an average guy who, after
i series of recurring nightmares, finds
that the door to his apartment is chained
shut and his windows are locked. His
only exit is through a hole that mysteri-
0usly appears in his bathroom, leading
to a series of haunting parallel worlds
around him: subways, forests, prisons
and other locales. Henry must fight
and solve puzzles here to discover the
worlds' significance in the mystery of
his imprisonment.
Ironically, the room that Henry is try-
ing so desperately to escape is the saf-
0t place in the game. Henry can return
here through portals found in the paral-
lel worlds and recharge health, save his
progress and store and retrieve items.
What's notable about the apartment is
that gradually things begin to happen

inside: Notes get slipped under the door,
events transpire in the real world (which
Henry can view through windows and
peepholes) and eerie anomalies like the
washing machine spewing blood occur
with little explanation.
The beautiful thing about this con-
cept is that the developers have taken
something that is, at its core, a place to
rest and recharge and turned it into the
focal point of the game. The most min-
ute changes in the apartment are easily
noticed because the player gets used to
scouring every corner for clues. The
story is then revealed though scrutiny of
the apartment world's many transforma-
tions. This introduces a style of narration
in videogames that can't be duplicated
in movies, let alone cutscenes.
But just because a game is artistic,
doesn't mean that it's flawless. Unfor-
tunately, "Silent Hill 4: The Room"
falls into the trap of adding unneces-
sary gameplay in order to boost play
time over 10 hours. The game feels like
it is spiraling toward its climax at about
the halfway point until players find that
they must revisit all of the nightmare
worlds again in order to solve the mys-
tery. The reality of "The Room" is
that the puzzles are fairly obvious and
the run-around-and-use-your-crow-
bar action is as inane as every other
survival-horror game out there. The
redeeming factors are the story and
the atmosphere, both of which become
overshadowed by repetitive gameplay
during the second half.
Despite the poor judgement of the
developers, the innovation in videogame
storytelling demonstrated in "Silent Hill
4: The Room" is worth checking out. It
may lack creative gameplay, but it's still
an engaging piece of work.


By Zac Peskowitz
Daily Film Editor
The citizens of Odessa, Texas., inhabit a society
engineered for the particularkind of glory that accrues
to a young man who can throw the option, nimbly
dash past linebackers and make bone-crushing tack-
les with reckless abandon. From
the 20,000-seat Ratliff Stadium
where Permian High plays its Friday Night
home football games to the Lights
adoring cheerleaders who bake At Showcase
treats for their gridiron heroes, and Quality 16
Odessa is a place with its values Universal
firmly and unambiguously set in
place. Filled with disquisitions
and beautifully shot in haunting tones, "Friday Night
Lights" is an enthralling portrait of west Texas's most
important institution.
Adapted from the book by Pulitzer Prize winner
H.G. Bissinger, "Friday Night Lights" is the story of
the 1988 Permian Panthers and their attempt to live
up to the monumental expectations of Odessa by win-
ning the Texas AAAAA football championship. The
team is lead by Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), a
peripatetic coach who deals with the personal traumas
of his teenage players, the vicarious ambition of the

Permian football boosters and the perpetual doubts
of sports talk radio's chattering classes. The brash,
hubristic running back destined for the NFL Boobie
Miles (Derek Luke, "Antwone Fisher"), the tortured
quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black, "Cold
Mountain") and the stoic lineman Ivory Christian
(Lee Jackson) are a few of the teenagers that Gaines
must mold into a coherent squad. This motley group
of wunderkinds and also-rans are all thrust together in
an effort to embrace Odessa's form of immortality.
Director Peter Berg does an impressive job cap-
turing the loneliness of west Texas. He repeatedly
uses expansive shots to show rugged country split
by the blacktop of a two-lane highway and the occa-
sional oil derrick pumping crude from the depths
of the land. Berg's camera slowly takes in this vast
landscape and he moves the focus to the outskirts of
Odessa, then to the center of the city, and finally the
metaphorical heart of the town - the poured con-
crete of Ratliff Stadium. Berg is particularly adept
at capturing west Texas in the midst of the 1980s oil
bust and the accompanying economic dislocation.
Berg's Odessa is a portrait of contrasts- a hard-
scrabble section filled with hardluck cases is jux-
taposed against the Moet-sipping class of boosters
who provide Permian with the financial wherewithal
to run its extravagant football program. The sadness
of Odessa is revealed through Berg's grainy shots of
decrepit buildings and his depiction of the rough and

tumble lves Cf udesss ns
Put me
in coach.
I'm ready
tumble lives of Ocdcssidns.
"Friday Night Lights" is a coming-of-age film with
the tincture of darkness, a well-done take on the clas-
sic sports story The film takes a serious look at the
obsession that guides Odessa and makes the case that
the shattered lives and sadness are directly linked to
the distorted emphasis on football. Sometimes the
script lays this on a bit thick. For example, one call-
er to a talk radio show bombastically claims that he
has found the source of Permian's recent struggles,
"They're doin' too much learnin' in the schools."
Much of the movie takes place between the hash,
marks. The film isn't as effective as Oliver Stone's,
"Any Given Sunday" in transporting the audience'
inside the chaos of a huddle, but "Friday Night Lights'
successfully conveys the violence, speed and excite-
ment of the sport. The game sequences are visually:I
appealing, but they suffer from the temptation to cone
trive drama into every pass, run and punt.
Thornton gives a prototypically solid performance,
that reveals the tensions inside of Gaines as he strug-
gles to lead his players to victory while navigating
the treacherous currents of football politics and those,
who doubt his ability. He is backed up by a cast con-d
sisting mainly of young and relatively inexperienced!
actors, but they serve as a strong complement to the1
formidable Thornton. They lend a quiet dignity to
the small tragedies and triumphs that make up life
on the desolate plains of west Texas.

Gritty 'Kings cp~turesurbnlife

By Sarah Peterson
Daily Fine Arts Editor

"But no matter how brutally the
game of 'life' batters this assortment

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of characters, they
have the will, the
energy,'the hope
to keep playing the
game." This line,
taken from The-
atre Prof. Charles
Gordon's synopsis
of "In Arabia We'd
All Be Kings,"
perfectly sums
up the essence of
the play. A drama
about the dark and

In Arabia
We'd All
Be Kings
Thursday at 7:30
p.m., Friday and
Saturday at 8
p.m. and Sun-
day at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $15 students
At the Trueblood Theater

includes: Lenny, a man just recently
released from prison, Skank, a punk
always looking for a fix, Skank's girl-
friend Chickie, a crack addicted pros-
titute, and Demaris, a woman trying
to make money for taking care of her
baby, among others.
Walking into the theater, the audi-
ence is immediately transported into
the depths of the city, into a less than
friendly looking bar. The lights are
turned down low and the music from
the jukebox in the corner is blaring.
The characters are lounging at either
tables or at the bar counter, and an aura
of neglect permeates the whole scene.
Lenny (Kevin Kuczek) is the first
man to talk, throwing the audience into
the middle of life in this particular area
of Hell's Kitchen. We see Lenny get
into a fight with his girl, Daisy (Eliza-
beth Hoyt), and then we see him pull
a knife on Skank (Matthew Smith), a
punk whose hair is gelled into bright
red spikes sticking out at odd angles.
This scene, with language as foul and
gritty as the almost opaque mirror

- covered in dirt and dust - behind
the bar, and characters easily driven to
violence, expertly sets the mood for the
rest of the play.
"In Arabia" is an episodic play, in
that it is made up of different scenes,
connected only by the relationships
between the characters in them. The
play jumps from being inside the bar to
the street with only the connection that
the woman out on the street is the girl-
friend of the man who was just in the
bar. Sometimes, this set-up can make
a play seem choppy and hard to follow,
but for this story, which is a dialogue on
the lives of the downtrodden, the tech-
nique is well employed.
The real reason for the success
of this production however, was the
cast. There was no character - no
life - that wasn't interesting. The
actors made each of their respective
character's struggles real, drawing
the audience in and making the audi-
ence wonder and care about what was
going to happen. Even though the
characters were drug addicts, ex-con-

dirty underbelly of reality, "In Arabia"
is as clever as it is heartbreaking.
The play takes place in a back-alley
bar in Hell's Kitchen, New York City,
in the late 1990s. The cast of unsight-
ly characters who frequent the bar

uourtesy o4.uro .4 pa1 4144/ OT i nete an 4 urama
Kevin Kuczek as ex-convict Lenny
and Elizabeth Hoyt as his alcoholi
girlfriend Daisy in Stephen Adly
Guirgis's "In Arabia We'd All Be
victs, hookers and bums - figures
normally ignored by society - they
were all portrayed as merely people
trying to get by, and trying to make
sense of life.



Make a Statement on campus.

Representatives from the Michigan Student Assembly and staff from the
Office of Student Conflict Resolution (a unit of the Division of Student Affairs)
want to hear your ideas for amending the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
Open Forum
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
4:00-6:00 pm
Michigan Union - Anderson Rooms C&D

Co-sponsored by:

( c\

Office of Student Conflict Resolutiont
DM~sioof i SAer t Affairs

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