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November 22, 2004 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-11-22

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Monday
November 22, 2004
arts. michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily. com

i J e tck 4 at u J i g
RT S

8A

Courtesy of Geffen

I should retizzle, fo shizzle.

Snoop Dogg rocks it
old school on'R&G

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer

Look at the legs on that one.

'SIDE CEFFECT
ALEXANDER PAYNE FINDS PERFECTION

MUSC REVIEW**
It's amazing how many contemporary
rappers have launched entire careers
based solely on their ability to imitate
Snoop Dogg. Chingy, Petey Pablo and
Cam'ron all owe most of their income

By Ian Dickinson
Daily Arts Writer
Over the course of his 13-year directorial career,
Alexander Payne ("About Schmidt, "Election") has
successfully and repeatedly managed to capture
the ennui of Middle America with the assistance
of wonderfully quirky storylines and eccentric pro-

tagonists. Payne finally tackles
California in his latest film,
"Sideways," and ends up with
his finest work and the best
film in years.
Starring Paul Giamatti
("American Splendor") as
Miles, a divorced struggling

Sideways
At the State
Theater
Fox Searchlight

in "About Schmidt" so captivating, while Church's
character is a perfect foil to Giamatti. During a
wine-tasting, the naive and immature Church won-
ders aloud when the pair will be able to drink, while
a visably annoyed Giamatti looks on as Church
gulps down a full glass.
While the film is Payne's first foray out of the
Midwest, he still manages to accommodate the
California setting and use it as though it is a char-
acter in the movie. During his previous films' best
moments, Payne manipulated the scenery to this
end. At one moment, Giamatti and Church overlook
a vineyard from a hill while Giamatti stews over his
divorce. The camera gently focuses on both Gia-
matti's visible anguish and the serene wind-swept
field, culminating in one of the film's more heart-
breaking sequences.
The film's most shining moments occur when the
protagonists meet up with two women, Maya (Vir-
ginia Madsen, "Dune") and Stephanie, (Sandra Oh,
TV's "Arli$$"), for dinner. The carefree Church
leaves his cell phone in the hotel room and com-
pletely forgets about his fiancee while he flirts with
Stephanie. On the other hand, Giamatti struggles
to make conversation with Maya and disappears to
"drunk-dial" his -wife to excjuciating ends. u,
Payne is expertly able to synthesize the humor with
the misfortune to an extent that the audience doesn't
know whether to laugh or cry, and in a film like "Side-
ways," it's a wonderful accomplishment. In many

"independent" films and even in some of Payne's pre-
vious work, this sort of mixture fails and comes off as
either pretentious, melodramatic or both.
The underlying themes of "Sideways" are also well
crafted by Payne. The issue of middle age as it affects
the entire cast is neither condescending nor overrid-
ing and Payne's representation of Giamatti's Miles is
an incredibly subtle psychological survey of mid-life
desperation that efupts only at the right moments. The
comedic and dramatic moments are perfectly bal-
anced and well-placed thanks to the looseness with
which Payne adheres to the film's themes.
"Sideways" comes together, though, thanks to the
filmmaking. Payne is able to evoke in the viewer a
sense of his passion for cinema - a passion that is
a prerequisite for any great film. While Payne has
paid homage to his favorite films, such as "Five Easy
Pieces" in "About Schmidt," "Sideways" represents
an homage to two genres: the road movie and the
buddy movie. Payne understands the two genres as
vehicles for slapstick comedy and cliche factories, but
through the environments and relationships between
the characters, Payne transcends the two genres and
advances them to a level of cinematic credibility.
Payne's accomplishments amount to a flawless
film. "Sideways", 4a times hilarious, adJeart-,
breaking, but never uneven. Instead, the film lies
somewhere between the two, in a sort of stasis
between pleasure and pain that results in an amaz-
ing cinematic.experienc. 2.

writer, and Thomas Haden Church (TV's "Wings")
as Giamatti's engaged friend Jack, the film chroni-
cles the middle-aged pair's final trip before Church's
wedding. The two embark on a weeklong journey
in Santa Barbara full of drinking, existential crises
and various sexual indiscretions.
"Sideways" is Payne's most tightly made film
to date, mixing the wry, dark hum 0o1999's
"Election" with the well-developed character stud-
ies featured in 2002's "About Schmidt." Giamatti
successfully captures the neurosis that made Mat-
thew Broderick in "Election" and Jack Nicholson

to Snoop and his
lugubrious flow.
What's even more
influential is the
ease with which he
transitions between
his charming per-
sona in the cin-
eplex and the still

Snoop Dogg
R&G (Rhythm &
Gangsta): The
Masterpiece
Geffen

wily, sinister Long Beach gangster from
his youth.
Snoop has Crip-walked his way into
every American household. He's not
just a first-ballot rap hall-of-famer; he
might be one of the most important pop
icons of the past 10 years.
And maybe, just like the other heroes
of the past, Snoop Dogg can release an
album where he does nothing unex-
pected, nothing unheard of, and every-
thing can still come out appealing. R&G
(Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece
is calm, approachable and it just plain
works. Teamed with Pharell Williams
and the Neptunes on a handful of the
,album's tracks, Snoop sounds butter-
smooth, confident and just as intriguing
as he did on Doggystyle.
"Let's Get Blown," and the lead sin-
,.gle "Drop It Like It's Hot" are packed
with enough of the Doggfather's dark

magnetism and the Neptunes' pearl-
handled production that Mormons
might start hanging Crip bandanas from
their pockets. Don't let the wink fool
you completely, though. Just like that,
he barks out quiet storms of threats and
warnings. On "Can I Get A Flicc With-
chu," he gets more than a little peeved
at those mindless fans who might forget
his authentically rough past. He sure as
hell ain't Huggy Bear all the time.
Of course there are a few missteps,
"Fresh Pair of Panties" most notably,
where he shows his age, letting the beat
run on too long and falling back into a
predictable "izzle"-fest. R&G is a rela-
tively new convention: hip-hop easy lis-
tening. It's classy, self-assured, and by
all means a veteran record. In a genre
that values youth and energy above
almost all else, the album is worn-in but
not yet weathered.
Snoop Dogg is becoming quite a bit
like Frank Sinatra in his later years. He's
more like the ringmaster than the show-
stopper, and when he brings in the right
people, the disc sounds a lot like the Rat
Pack resurrected. Hey, Frank ran with the
mob, Snoop is a dyed-in-the-wool gang-
banger, Pharrell gets to be Dean Martin,
Chad Hugo as Joey Bishop, toss in Jus-
tin Timberlake, who guests on "Signs,"
as Peter Lawford and the album is one
thugged-out "Ocean's Eleven."
R&G might be glossy, but who's
to say Snoop couldn't go big-budget?
It's so irresistible that when Snoop
croons, "Pharrell got the babyface and
Snoop got the whip appeal, so name
the place," even Frank and the boys
would be jealous.

Cage finds 'Treasure' in Bruckheimer's latest

By Amanda Andrade
and Lindsey Bieber
Daily Arts Writers

Courtesy of Paramount

"How do you like my lederhosen?"

Surreal 'SpongeBob'
eases onto big screen

MOVIE REVEW**
In Hollywood, apparently there's no such thing
as a creative idea. If the book "The Da Vinci Code"
were made into a movie, the latest Jerry Bruck-
heimer extravaganza "National Treasure" would be
it. Though far from revolutionary, it manages a fast
pace and sufficiently intriguing
story to keep this "Treasure"
from being buried by its own National
prodigious unoriginality. Treasure
The film's well-publicized At Showcase
premise posits that the Founding and Quality 16
Fathers, whose lineage descend- Buena Vista
ed from the Knights Templar
and the Freemasons (similar to
"The Da Vinci Code"), left an invisible treasure map
on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Yes,
there really is a treasure and yes, it is actually buried
in a giant underground cavern in Manhattan's finan-
cial district. It's easily the most implausible aspect of
the whole film, so if audiences have already bought
their tickets accepting so much, they shouldn't have
much difficulty believing most of what follows.
Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) pursues
the family tradition as a "protector" of this treasure,
much to the dismay of his cynical father (Jon Voight).
Enter Ian Howe (Sean Bean, "Lord of the Rings"),
a wealthy, unscrupulous Brit who wants to find the

treasure for personal gain. The two part ways after
Ian tries to kill Ben and his geeky sidekick (Justin
Bartha, "Gigli"). Ben then enlists the obligatory
intellectual-hot-girl (Diane Kruger, "Troy") in his
struggle to beat Ian to the treasure in a cleverly con-
nected series of historical clues, very reminiscent of
"The Da Vinci Code" again. Character motivations
change to suit the particular circumstance, and Ben
seems to have an uncanny knack for solving unfath-
omable riddles in under 10 seconds, but the movie
plays better when the audience doesn't think too
much anyway.
To its credit, "Treasure" initially achieves an excit-
ing atmosphere and some hints that it may be more fun
than the average "Indiana Jones" knockoff, particular-
ly when executing the theft of the Declaration. Direc-
tor Jon Turteltaub ("3 Ninjas") moves the film along
briskly. Likewise, the way Ben and company pursue
the first few clues while striving to save the Decla-
ration from destruction at the hands of their British
nemesis (a high-concept joke that doesn't really work)
manages to keep the audience entertained.
But the film, like Bruckheimer's "Pirates of the
Caribbean" clocks in at more than two hours and
drags under the weight of too many plot twists.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have the divertingly fun
performance of Johnny Depp or even the eye candy
of the wet and marginally undressed Orlando Bloom
to sustain such a running time. It's asking a bit much
of the audience to try to be excited by the fourth time
they realize they've only found another clue rather
than the actual treasure. The film simply runs out of
steam long before it runs out of plot.

By Marshall W. Lee
Daily Arts Writer
SpongeBob SquarePants, the delight-
fully dim aquatic Candide singlehand-
edly keeping Nickelodeon's ship afloat,
is unquestionably the coolest sponge in
the sea. And now with "The SpongeBob
SquarePants Movie," a feature-length
adaptation of his hit half-hour program,
Bikini Bottom's
favorite fry-cook
is also the cool- The
est sponge on the Sponge Bob
screen. SquarePants
If the raucous, Movie
indulgent nonsense At Showcase
of SpongeBob and Quality 16
(voiced by Tom Paramount
Kenny) and his
oafish best buddy
Patrick Star (Bill Fagerbakke) has never
graced the hallowed ground of your TiVo,
then this 90-minute quirk-fest from series
creator Stephen Hillenburg may seem an
insufferably aggressive exercise in stu-
pidity. But for the mind-bending mix of
elementary-age tykes and 20-something

screen adventure is basically the triumph
of juvenile determination over grown-up
disbelief. In the movie, SpongeBob is
dismayed when his managerial dreams
are dashed by Mr. Krabs, proprietor of
the fast-food joint where our yellow hero
mans the grill. With SpongeBob away on
a wild ice-cream bender, the time is ripe
for Bikini Bottom's pintsized scoundrel
and rival restaurateur Plankton to put into
motion his evil plan for world domination.
This scheme involves the theft of King
Neptune's crown, which SpongeBob and
Patrick promptly set off to retrieve with
the helpful guidance of the King's daugh-
ter Mindy (Scarlett Johansson). Along the
way the duo encounters various dangers,
hilarious obstacles and the unabashed
goofiness of several show-stopping musi-
cal numbers.
What is most refreshing about "Sponge-
Bob" is Hillenburg's blatant disregard for the
Hallmark morality and jazzy CGIanimation
of most children's programming. The static,
2-D backgrounds and vibrant colors have the
convoluted look and feel of an aquatic acid
trip, and the strident absurdity of Sponge-
Bob's world is a delightful reprieve from the
self-important and self-righteous attitude of
many films aimed at kids (see "The Polar

There's a treasure map on the back of the Decla-
ration of Independence. That's actually the plot.
Helping "Treasure" proceed smoothly are the come-
dic talents of Bartha. He achieves the near-impossible
feat of providing energy and a great deal of humor as
the token sidekick, while rarely coming across annoy-
ing or unnecessary. Cage, on the other hand, appears
to be at least partially asleep through much of the
movie. His chemistry with Kruger is nonexistent and
the love affair between them feels extraneous.
Perhaps with a more charismatic leading man and
a shorter running time, Bruckheimer would have
had another improbable gargantuan hit on his hands.
Instead, he's delivered the kind of benignly enjoyable
bombastic summer film audiences enjoy in the the-
ater when the air conditioner breaks. If only he knew
it was November.

Global Star's 'Outlaw Golf2' mixes sex
and sand traps with varying success

A

By Forest Casey
Daily Arts Writer

When "Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach
Volleyball" was first released for the
Xbox, many in the gaming community
didn't know what to think. Here was a

Fortunately, the golf is as techni-
cal as before. Like EA Sports' "Tiger
Woods PGA Tour 2005," "Outlaw 2"
maps the control of the golf swing to the
left directional stick. This small change
makes the golf seem more like an actual
skill and less like a three-button mini-
game. While gainers can still put draw,
fade and spin on the ball, as in the last
game, there is a new percentage indica-
tor on the power meter, that makes it
less like guesswork to hit perfect shots.

creations that they force players to watch
the swings of all the character models ...
on every stroke.
Watching each of your opponents
swing is really tedious, but the game
commentator makes it worthwhile.
Hypnotix enlisted comedian Dave
Attell (TV's "Insomniac") to provide
the voiceover, and he performs to 'his
usual unsober brilliance. With the first
"Outlaw" featuring "Daily Show" corre-
spondent Steve Carell, the commentary

game that perfectly
captured the tech-
nical aspects of vol-

Outlaw

I

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r

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