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January 07, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-01-07

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Friday
January 7, 2005
arts.michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ARTS

5

"Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills."

'Dynamite' DVD
features an indie hit

Courtesy of Fox
Searchlight
You want
to put your
what in
my what?

'KINSEY' BIOPIC SCORES WITH SATISFYING PERFORMANCES

By Punit Mattoo
Daily Arts Writer
Every year, one particular film is
labeled by the media as a "surprise hit."
This past year was no exception with a
low-budget indie about a dorky Idahoan

By Jeffrey Bloomer sacrificed much of his reputation, health and per- by the length of the film; considering this, he
Daily Arts Writer sonal life for his work. The limits of his clinical has crafted a reasonably detailed and immensely
approach to sexuality are also explored, because entertaining work, skillfully paced with warm
F_____REVEW_______ as his research assistant and sometime lover Clyde humor and well-developed characters. It is the
Martin (the dynamic Peter Sarsgaard, "Shattered work of an expert storyteller in control of his
During the formative years of his career as a Glass") tells him, "sex is a risky game ... if you're medium; the result is "Kinsey's" ability to tran-
biologist, Alfred Kinsey studied the gall wasp. He not careful, it will cut you right open." scend its own limitations.
collected more than four million specimens of the Liam Neeson stars as Alfred Kinsey in a perfor- "Kinsey" is also markedly frank about sexual-
insect, publishing several vol- mance that highlights his great range as an actor. ity, both in relation to the research project and to
umes on his findings. Remark- Neeson masterfully captures Kinsey's many lay- the characters. It is fearless in its portrayal of the
ably, when Kinsey took up sex Kinsey ers, including the effects of his emotionally scar- places Kinsey's studies took him, from graphic
research, he went about it in At the Michigan ring upbringing and his deep love for his wife - it classroom presentations and disturbing interviews
the same way: He took case Theater and comes as little surprise that he is almost certain to with sexual predators to his personal acknowl-
studies, systematically col- Quality 16 earn an Oscar nomination for his work. Equally edgement of his own bisexuality. The film is rated
lecting the sexual histories of Fox Searchlight outstanding is the supporting cast, including the R (as opposed to the commercially unviable NC-
thousands of Americans across phenomenal Laura Linney ("Mystic River") as 17), in a move that will hopefully signal a greater
the country. Mrs. Kinsey, Lynn Redgrave ("Spider") in a divine acceptance of pertinent sexual content from the
What Kinsey discovered - albeit brief - appearance as an interview sub- notoriously frigid Motion Picture Association of
was that masturbation, adultery and homosexual- ject in one of the film's most emotionally-charged , America in coming years.
ity were all far more prevalent than anyone had scenes and Sarsgaard, who continues to establish Alfred Kinsey helped bring America out of the
previously thought. He conducted this research himself as one of the most versatile and talented sexual dark ages, a time where it was said that
in the 1940s, a time when "aberrant" sexuality actors working today. masturbation caused insanity and oral sex inhib-
(essentially anything besides procreation within Condon directs from his own screenplay, orga- ited fertility. His work is still hotly debated today,
wedlock) landed people in prison, or worse. nizing Kinsey's life into a narrative that at times and though the film takes an affirmative stance on
Directed by Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters"),-comes together a bit toa seamlessly; It gift-wraps--his legacy, it rises above any political statement.
"Kinsey" has a deep affection for its subject but his internal motivations and sometimes consid- In the year of the biopic, "Kinsey" emerges as one
is careful not to merely streamline his successes. ers the desperate need for and the effects of his of uncommon power and weight; it is one of the
He is portrayed as a deeply principled man who research only superficially. Condon is constrained"dbest films of the year.

that earned $46
million. Backed by
a massive ad cam-
paign and MTV's
support, "Napoleon
Dynamite" found
a teenage audience
drawn to the film's

Napoleon
Dynamite
20th Century Fox
eccentric lead and

audiences can't help but laugh. With his
trademark quips "sweet" and "what the
flip?" Napoleon is the perfect anti-hero,
and Heder's deadpan delivery is classic.
The DVD's features, although not
extensive, are enjoyable. The short film
"Peluca," which "Napoleon Dynamite"
is based on, was made while Hess was
in college. The film depicts Seth (still
played by Heder, but not yet Napoleon) in
a condensed version of the feature with
a cast comprised almost entirely of local
students - including two characters later
combined to create Pedro, Napoleon's
best friend.
The commentary provided by Hess,
Heder and producer Jeremy Coon pro-
vides insight into how the film's eccentric
aspects came to life. Viewers also learn
that Napoleon's moonboots come courte-
sy of an uncle, while the pet llama, Tina,
is one of five owned by Hess's family.
The film's picture and sound prevent
"Napoleon Dynamite" from being a truly
great DVD. Conversations are often too
quiet and sometimes indecipherable.
The slightly grainy picture, although still
impressive for such a low-budget film, is
bothersome at points. Regardless of these
shortcomings, "Napoleon Dynamite" has
a cult-classic aura that makes each view-
ing just as fun as the last.

favorable word-of-mouth.
Set in director/co-writer Jared Hess's
hometown, the film focuses on the daily
life of the geeky Napoleon (Jon Heder).
With his giant afro, unicorn shirts and
moon boots, Napoleon embodies the
awkwardness that is high school - of
course, he's oblivious. Instead, he sets
his disdain upon his equally tacky older
brother, Kip (who spends his time "talk-
ing to hot babes online"), and visit-
ing Uncle Rico (who's stuck in his high
school glory days).
Although essentially plotless, free of
any drugs, profanity or sex (a reflection
of Hess's Mormon upbringing), thefilm
manages to be hilarious. Relying upon
one-liners, Hess and his wife and co-
writer, Jerusha, craft such an absurd envi-
ronment and memorable characters that

Film: ****
Picture/Sound: **
Features: ***

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