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March 07, 2005 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-07

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8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 7, 2005

ARTS

"You're weird."

Director'sc
original ci
By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Editor
"Donnie Darko" has finally returned.
The twisted drama about a disturbedj
teenage boy who learns that the world
will end from a human-sized, metal-faced

"See, I told you there was life after pro wrestling."

ALMOST'COOL'
STAR-STUDDED CAST KEEPS SLOW-MOVING SEQ

DUEL AFLOAT

rabbit named Frank,
(James Duval who
may be recognized
as John the Mod
from another cult
film, "SLC Punk"),
was mismarketed
as an emotionally
tumultuous teen

Donnie
Darko: The
Director's
Cut
20th Century Fox

By Lindsey Bieber
Daily Arts Writer
F
Some people may say that sequels are never
as good as their predecessors, and "Be Cool,"
the decade-later follow-up
to "Get Shorty," does little to
prove otherwise. Former loan Be Cool
shark Chili Palmer (John Tra- At the Showcase
volta) is tired of movie-pro- and Quality 16
ducing and wants to try his MGM
hand at the music business.
He woos the widowed record
label owner, Edie Athens (Uma Thurman), who
helps him break an aspiring singer, Linda Moon
(R&B singer Christina Milian), into stardom.
While the movie is supposed to continue the
"Get Shorty Plot," it ends up copying it, only
substituting movies for music. Perhaps the writer
thought that because of the 10-year gap between

films, the same plot would still be new and
exciting, but instead it proves dull and predict-
able. Even Travolta could not breathe life to the
same jokes and slick one-liners he spoke in "Get
Shorty." The scene where Travolta and Thurman
attempt to re-create their dance sequence from
"Pulp Fiction" does nothing for the film except
make viewers wish they were watching Quentin
Tarantino's classic film instead.
In spite of the repetitive plot, the overwhelming
number of appealing actors and musicians saves
the film. Travolta does not have many scenes
for a lead role, but he is hardly missed when
other characters add their unique humor. The
best supporting characters are Vince Vaughn's
Raji and The Rock's Elliot. Raji is a white talent
manager who tries to be black, and Elliot is his
flamboyantly gay bodyguard who tries to break
into acting. The pair brighten an otherwise lack-
luster story and are hilarious to watch. Another
notable addition is a black millionaire rapper,
Sin (Cedric the Entertainer), who is followed by

an entourage (that includes Andre 3000) in three
bass-pounding, suped-up black Hummers. The
comedy is the only aspect of the film that keeps
it afloat. The actual storyline of producing the
pop star, Linda Moon, is weak and slow.
Despite a plot hinging on the music business,
there is more singing and performing in the
film than expected. Linda (Milian) performs on
several occasions (including one at the "MTV
Video Music Awards"), and even an Aeros-
mith concert is incorporated. For these reasons
alone the film has potential to end up on VHI's
"Movies That Rock" in a couple years. If only
Milian's real music career was as successful as
Linda Moon's.
While "Be Cool" is surely not award-winning
material, it serves the purpose of entertaining
an audience and make for a fun weekend movie.
The film fits the sequel role: It is laidback, has
an engaging yet expected plot, and it mixes in
amusing and upbeat characters to produce a
mediocre film.

U' alum satisfies with impressive debut novel

By Deepa Pendse
For the Daily
University alum Dean Bakopoulos's first novel, "Please Don't Come
Back From the Moon," is an amalgamation of "90210's" sultry plot lines
and "Death of a Salesman's" theme of economic hope-
lessness. This might seem like a disastrous combination, Please
but Bakopoulos pulls it off grandly.
The story follows Michael Smolij from his young Don't Come
adult years to full-fledged adulthood. Michael is of Back From
Ukrainian descent and resides in a fictional decaying the Moon
Detroit suburb named Maple Rock. When he turns 17, By Dean
his father leaves him, just as, one-by-one, most of the Bakopoulos
fathers of Maple Rock also leave their families behind. Harcourt
The fathers' destinations are unknown, but one leaves a
note saying, "I'm going to the moon."
This sentence haunts Michael and the rest of the young boys of Maple
Rock. They grow up wondering where their fathers went, and keep an eye
out for any signs of their return. The children long for their fathers' return
or any contact, but their wishes remain unfulfilled. Their mothers, how-

ever, take on the roles their spouses played. They get drunk at the localebar,
engage in brawls, and some are even escorted home by the police.
As the years go by, Michael and the rest of the boys mature and start
families of their own. Their mothers remarry, move on and move out. Life
closes in around the gap the absent fathers once filled.
Bakopoulos does an exquisite job of capturing the yearning felt by the
young boys. He manages to combine, sex, drugs and alcohol - staples of
American entertainment - with thought-provoking questions about strug-
gling for financial freedom, single parenthood and essentially, surviving
heartbreaking loss.
"Please Don't Come Back From the Moon's" main character Michael
Smolij is a tragic hero in the legacy of Willy Loman. Bakopoulos tempers
his visceral writing with biting comic wit, "I didn't want to hear that my
mother's naked body was proof of a divine being."
Also, as a University alum, Bakopoulos includes many references of the
University in his first novel, reflecting the ins and outs of the campus.
The only shortcoming of "Please Don't Come Back From the Moon" is the
political tangent that Bakopoulos takes with the character Nick, Michael's
cousin. Nick is an employee at Liberty Bell Subs in the newly opened Maple
Rock Mall. He tries to stage a mall employee sit-in strike inspired by the
1937 Flint auto workers strike. With this plot twist, Bakopoulos adds an
unnecessary political angle to a book that's already saturated with complex
characters and complex emotions.
Nonetheless, "Please Don't Come Back From the Moon" shows much
promise. The issues the author addresses are important ones in this era
of simultaneous tax cuts and budget deficits. Bakopoulos has created an
intelligent and witty book that resonates in the reader's mind and leaves an
indelible mark.
Inane thriller 'The Jacket'
wastes its talented cast

flick to U.S. audiences who were still in
emotional turmoil in October 2001, but
gained a rabid cult following when it was
released in Britain. Last year, Richard
Kelly's director's cut was released in the-
aters, and now the definitive version of the
production has found form in DVD.
This sprawling film, set weeks before
the 1988 presidential election, tells the
story of Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal),
whose mental medication causes him
to see Frank and obey the giant bunny's
instructions. Because Donnie heeds
Frank's instructions to go outside, he's
not asleep in bed when a jet engine from
an airplane falls through the roof of his
room. Frank talks to Donnie about time
travel and tells him that the world will end
in 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes and 12
seconds. Donnie's visions also cause him
to wreck havoc at his high school and
around the community. Gyllenhaal's real-
life sister Maggie ("Mona Lisa Smile")
plays Donnie's sister Elizabeth. Drew
Barrymore and Noah Wyle ("ER") play
teacher's at Donnie's school, and Patrick
Swayze appears as a motivational speak-
er-cum-televangelist whose ideas are
taught there.
Because of the film's longtime cult
status, the director's cut DVD release is
packaged with die-hard fans in mind.
The extra scenes in the new cut produce
a more linear plot and explain the time
travel in greater detail. Disc one includes
a widescreen version of the movie with
optional commentary by writer/direc-
tor Kelly and his friend Kevin Smith
("Clerks"). The second disc contains a
production diary, the theatrical trailer
and a storyboard-to-screen featurette.
But the two featurettes that create the
most compelling - or disturbing -
impression of the film's power to attract a
cult following are two mini-documenta-
ries made by fans. The first, called "They
Made Me Do It, Too: The Cult of Don-
nie Darko," consists of analysis of the
movie's meaning, personal stories about
experiences with the film and unabashed
fanatical gushing by British moviego-
ers, critics and artists who rallied around

Muttrumps
ult classic
the film after its unsuccessful, poorly
marketed reception in the United States.
"They Made Me Do It, Too" is "hosted'
by someone in a Frank suit; he appeal
in almost every scene, apparently listeri
ing to or interviewing fans (although he
never speaks) or sitting in the back of the
theater where some of the testimonials
are given.
While it's great to see a fantasti(,
genre-defying film like this championed
so strongly by viewers, some of the Brit
ish fans cast aspersions on American
audiences for not "getting" such a con.
plex work of genius. It's unfortunate th4
success in the film industry is measured
by performance in the United States, but
these fans - some of whom are identi-
fied only by their "Donnie Darko Fan"
number - blame the initial obscurity
of "Donnie Darko" on American audi-
ences and misguided marketing. One
posits that "Americans don't understand
these in-depth sorts of films" the way
U.K. audiences do; another states that
the film's current status as an interna-
tional cult success and the release of this
very director's cut is due to British sup-
port. "Donnie Darko" was released in
the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and was
marketed, in the words of one fan, "like
a bad episode of 'Dawson's Creek," but
the laudable enthusiasm of British fans
is tainted, at least for American viewers,
with a distasteful arrogance.
This featurette is meant for pretty seri
ous fans, but casual viewers or those curi;
ous about the movie after seeing it for the
first time wouldn't be shut out. However;
"#1 Fan: A Darkomentary" is a differ,
ent story. It's the result of a documentaji
contest sponsored by DonnieDarko.coi"
to find the film's No. 1 fan and fea
someone who calls himself Darryl Do
aldson, whose obsession with the film 1x4
ders onthedisturbed. Darrylshows,us.b
collection of screenshots ("I used to havb
pictures of my family in these (frames),
but I thought these were cooler"), Jake
Gyllenhaal pictures, and an aluminum
foil model of the jet engine that falls on
Donnie's house. This homemade contest
winner could be enjoyed by die-hard fans
- although it's hard to believe that anyone
could relate to this guy - or be viewed as
a specimen of disturbing fanaticism. Dar-
ryl's creepy testimonial about his love for
the movie is so over-the-top that it almost
seems like a joke.
The generous features on "Donnie
Darko: The Director's Cut" DVD serve
as a fitting treatment for an unjustly over-
looked film. Its cult status combined with
the availability of a lavish DVD release
should bring the film to a greater audience
beyond longtime fans.

* 440 * A,

0

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

By Kristin MacDonald
For the Daily

Anyone seeking an edge-of-your-
seat thrill ride this weekend would
do well to avoid "The Jacket," a
pseudo-thriller directed with nei-
ther the wit nor gravitas that could
have pulled up
the film from the The Jacket
doldrums of its
barebones plot. At the Showcase
The premise and Quality 16
probably looked Warner Independent
better on paper
than in execution. Good-hearted Gulf
War vet Jack Starks (Adrien Brody), a
man with an absurd capacity for bad-
luck head wounds, returns home to

play the unwilling witness to a fatal
altercation with a highway patrolman.
Believed guilty for the officer's death
and branded insane from his head
trauma-filled past, Brody's veteran is
forced into a court-ordered stint at a
mental institution of the classic hor-
ror movie variety - where the doc-
tors are as emotionally unstable as
their excessively quirky patients. An
exaggerated medley of pill-popping
ensues as a prelude to the treatment
that will make up most of Jack's stay
- being strapped into a strait jacket
and shoved into a morgue drawer for
hours on end.
But the fun doesn't stop there.
Enter Keira Knightley as Jackie, a
love interest with a twist - she exists
fifteen years in the future. Starks'
relationship to Jackie is intricately

Friday, .Mfarcl 11th, 8-11 6PM
Nortl Campus, Pierpont Commons

You, too, will need a drink after you see this movie.

FOOD
4E
BEADS

U U

tied to the strait jacket of the movie's
title, a device whose power of time-
travel is neither explained nor, really,
explored.
Lacking the suspense of a bonafide
thriller and flailing around the
strained emotional depths "The
Jacket" becomes an awkward movie
middle-ground that is the rough
equivalent of boring. The film strug-
gles to establish an appropriate or
even permanent tone, veering from
occasional bursts of frenetic, music-

cles spectacularly when a cocktail of
bizarre psycho-ward drugs requires
it. Knightley, on the other hand, strug-
gles with her version of the sulky,
alternative and conveniently single
girl, even though she is required to
do little more than pout and provide
glaringly gratuitous flashes of nudity.
Main acting kudos go to both Kris
Kristofferson (playing a more subtle
version of his usual sinister perfec-
tion) and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the
institution's physicians, for injecting

lV

FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Vietnam/Iraq
Comparisons

U m 0 0 0,0
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