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March 07, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-07

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arch 7, 2005
arts. michigandaily.com

cite mStrtun tuUl


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"Don't hit me so hard. I'm not the guy who made 'Cursed.' "

. Scorsese masterpiece
still a DVD knockout

By Adam Rottenberg
baily Arts Editor

Even though the Best Director statu-
tte has eluded Martin Scorsese through-

out his illustrious
reflects the para-
mount of filmmak-
ing. Reteaming
with "Taxi Driver"
and "Mean Streets"
Collaborator Rob-

career, his work
Raging Bull

rt DeNiro, "Raging Bull" re-imagines
boxing as a metaphor for the paranoia
and rage that filled the life of middle-
weight champ Jake LaMotta.
"Raging Bull," released theatrical-
ly in 1980, is a timeless classic. Shot
almost entirely in black and white, the
film follows LaMotta's meteoric rise
and disheartening fall from grace in
;vivid and brutal detail.
DeNiro earns his Best Actor Oscar
lby delivering the most complex and
,intense performance of his career. The
supporting cast is just as impressive,
exemplified by Joe Pesci as LaMotta's
streetwise brother and Cathy Moriarity
as his abused wife.
! The beautiful cinematography
accentuates LaMotta's destructive
behavior both in and out of the ring.
Scorsese stages the boxing matches as
a"sort of brutal ballet, which enhances
their effectiveness as a part of LaMotta's
downward spiral. Yet, the sweet science
is almost an afterthought as most of the
picture focuses on the volatile relation-
ship between LaMotta, his wife and

his brother. Through the director and
DeNiro, the viewer enters LaMotta's
fractured mind and descends into the
darkness with him.
MGM's release delivers an impres-
sive array of extras that are worthy of
the cinematic classic, unlike the previous
barebones release. The first disc features
three commentary tracks. Scorsese and
editor Thelma Schoonmaker discuss the
intricate details of the film's structure,
themes and the shoot in a captivating
manner. The next commentary, with
producers and assorted members of the
crew, doesn't entertain or inform nearly
to the degree of the first. Surprisingly,
the third commentary, which features the
real Jake LaMotta and the screenwriter
Paul Schrader, trumps Scorsese's though.
LaMotta's own interpretation of his cine-
matic doppelganger recounts the validity
of the film and even offers rationales and
apologies for his choices in life.
The featurettes on disc two break
down the process of filming - from
Scorsese's initial reluctance to take
the project to DeNiro's weight gain,
which halted production for months.
Additionally there is a featurette com-
paring LaMotta's fight footage from
old newsreels with DeNiro's recre-
ations in the film.
"Raging Bull" deserved the five-star
DVD treatment the first time out, but
this release is good reparation. The film
is an essential piece to any cinephile's
DVD collection.

By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer
Wes Craven's "Cursed" is like the trashiest
tabloid on the newsstand oozed into a half-

baked werewolf movie in a
to modernize the age-old
tale into a hip horror/com-
edy gone horribly awry.
You know you're in trouble
when a character declares,
without the slightest hint
of irony, that "there's no
such thing as safe sex with
a werewolf!"


wretched attempt
At the Showcase
and Quality 16

rewrites. It's hard to imagine that the original
was worse than this new version, which takes
all the familiar avenues of the standard were-
wolf flick - characters developing silly, canine
habits and a money shot of the villain transform-
ing into a lupine caricature - before launching
into an overblown double-climax that literally
fills a third of its running time. It requires that
viewers sit through not one but two obligatory
scenes in which two different villains explain
their motivations at mind-numbing length.
"Cursed" reteams Craven with screenwriter
Kevin Williamson, the team behind the first
two megahit "Scream" movies. Their col-
laboration on this film was intended to yield
a contemporary spin on tired werewolf tales,
but instead they deliver a dementedly nuanced
and formulaic recycling of the same, clichd
material. Williamson, whose work is usually
characterized by its witty dialogue and edgy
plot twists, offers up a screenplay here that
is astonishingly banal. He replaces the frisky
fun and frenetic energy of his previous work
with outdated pop culture gags and a sub-
plot in which the homophobic captain of the
wrestling team (gasp!) turns out to be gay in
several hopelessly contrived scenes that are
shamelessly played for laughs.
The subpar direction of Craven, the horror

Courtesy of
The horror
on their
faces is
to the look
on the guy
who paid
$9 to see
this movie.
maven behind such cult classics as "Nightmare
on Elm Street" and "Last House on the Left," is
equally lacking, in comparison to his previous
efforts. Though he easily establishes his signa-
ture atmosphere, Craven relies on cheap scare
tactics and inane in-jokes to drive the story and
shows surprisingly little skill in downplaying
the film's laughably slipshod creature effects.
The werewolves, which are the creation of Rick
Baker Studios, look remarkably like stunt-
men wearing giant werewolf suits. And as if it
weren't gutless enough, the last minute decision
by infamous studio head Harvey Weinstein to
cut the film from its original R rating to the
teenage-friendly PG-13 turns each attack into a
boring chase sequence that ends with a fade to
black and loud, muffled screams.
Meanwhile, the considerably large cast,
including Joshua Jackson (TV's "Dawson's
Creek"), R&B singer Mya and Scott Baio (yes,
Scott "Charles in Charge" Baio) coasts through
the film, doing what little they can with the
material. The weak story is the most disappoint-
ing aspect of "Cursed." It lacks the genre-bend-
ing ingenuity and self-aware characters who
elevated "Scream" above mediocrity. Without
them, the substandard "Cursed" makes for yet
another hollow addition to the recent over satu-
ration of horror films.

The film follows a recently orphaned sister
and brother (Christina Ricci, "Monster" and
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Village") whose car is
attacked by a mysterious beast along a wind-
ing Hollywood road. The creature, of course,
turns out to be a werewolf, and the siblings
discover -that not only are they cursed with
"the mark of the beast," but it also appears to
be stalking them.
Originally slated for release more than a
year ago, the film underwent a massive reshoot,
including recasting several roles and numerous

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



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