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March 15, 2005 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-15

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 9

7 'Sea Inside' a stunning, inclusive biopic

By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer

In his fantasies, poet Ram6n Sampedro swept
across the Spanish countryside and its expansive
beaches, soaring above the landscape with transcen-
dental grace. In reality, he was a quadriplegic man
who wanted to die, masking his sadness with insuffer-
able wit and fighting a nearly 30-year-long battle for
the right to end his life.
"The Sea Inside," winner of this year's Academy

Courtesy of ABC

Just like "Law & Order," except it gets a special parking spot.

Award for Best Foreign Language
Film, is a dramatized take on the
true story of Sampedro (Javier
Bardem, "Collateral") beginning
22 years after the diving accident
that paralyzed him from the neck
down. The film opens as two new
women enter his life: A sensitive
lawyer (Be6n Rueda) and a local

The Sea
Inside
At the Michigan
Theater
Fine Line

ABC doesn't see the
j flaws in Blind Justice'

By Samantha Force
Daily Arts Writer
The premise - a police officer blind-
ed in the line of duty fights to get both

his respect and his
job back. He goes
through many tri-
als and tribula-
tions, but finally
demonstrates that
he is fully capable
of being a detective

Blind Justice
Tuesdays at
10 p.m.
ABC
with a loaded gun.

Seems like an odd setup, yet ABC
expects its primetime audience to swal-
low this pill without choking on its obvi-
ous flaws.
The story of Jim Dunbar (Ron Elrond,
"Ghost Ship") in "Blind Justice" does
accomplish its goal of grabbing the atten-
tion of the viewer. Dunbar works hard to
prove to both himself and his fellow offi-
cers that he is still capable of doing his job
after an act of bravery leaves him blind. He
also struggles with past infidelities in his
troubled marriage with his wife, Christie
(Rena Sofer, "Melrose Place"). When he
is partnered with young female detec-
tive Karen Bettancourt (Marisol Nich-
ols, "Vegas Vacation"), who is trying
to prove herself capable as well, but
does not want to be hindered by his
disability, they form an interdepen-
dent partnership.
What makes "Blind Justice" lose its
credibility are the obvious oversights in
realism in the premise of the show. The
idea of a disabled cop returning to work
is believable, but the idea of a blind cop
getting his job back is farfetched. Another
obvious zing is the idea that he can carry

a loaded gun because of a liability waiv-
er - this comes off as ridiculous. The
disregard for reality is enough to make
audiences uneasy about their own police
departments.
Though many aspects of the show are
hard to fathom, "Blind Justice" maintains
a fair amount of credibility by pointing
out many of its oversights. For instance,
fellow detectives Marty Russo (Frank
Grillo, "The Shield") and Tom Selway
(Reno Wilson, "Fallen") challenge Dun-
bar and express serious concerns at the
possibility of a blind man covering them
in a situation of crisis. Actual life peers
through the melodrama as Dunbar's boss,
Lieutenant Gary Fisk (Michael Gaston,
"Ransom"), tries to keep him from high-
profile and dangerous jobs because of his
disability.
The saving grace of this show may be
the acting talents of Elrond and Nichols.
Elrond rises to the challenge of playing
the role of a blind man. He makes Jim
into a strong, independent, yet vulnerable
character that knows when to ask for help.
Nichols portrays Karen as a street-smart
girl who is struggling to prove herself.
The chemistry between the two makes the
show interesting.
"Blind Justice" is a decent show with
a premise that keeps the audience's atten-
tion. Its stylized cinematography gives the
viewer the opportunity to visualize the
crime scene with Dunbar's other senses
and gives it a unique edge over other crime
dramas on television. Though melodra-
matic at times, this show is a good watch if
the viewer is able to suspend disbelief and
take the premise at face value. For those
viewers out there who want their dosage
of realism in drama, "Blind Justice" is not
the pill for you.

radio host (Lola Duefias, "Talk to Her"), both of whom
eventually fall in love with him in their own ways.
"The Sea Inside" explores Sampedro's final years,
during which he was living with extended family and
refused to leave his bed. Sampedro publishes his best-
selling memoirs and engages in a "life is a right, not
an obligation" legal battle and the very public end of
it all in 1998.
Directed by Alejandro Amenibar ("The Others"),
the film is a marvel of visual mastery. Cinematog-
rapher Javier Aguirresarobe photographs the breath-
taking Spanish landscapes with grandeur, including
the stunning sequences that follow Sampedro along
his psychological escapes and the recurring flash-
backs that take an unflinching look at the day of his
accident.
Amenabar, working from his own screenplay with
Mateo Gil, considers every character beyond his or her
mere function in the plot and emphasizes the humor
and genius of Sampedro rather than his depression'
and internal conflicts. Some moments of the screen-
play don't hold together as well as they perhaps should

Courtesy of Fine Line

Making fun of this movie might be in poor taste.
(his relationships with the aforementioned women
often seem shapeless and distant), and the humor,
though warm and genuine, often becomes so heavy
that it undermines the film's dramatic edge. But these
problems are overshadowed by Amenibar's technical
prowess, similar to the situation with his underwhelm-
ing but atmospherically effective chiller "The Others."
In addition to providing the film's superb score, he
handles extremely complex material with an inclusive,
complete feel, a rare feat among biopics.
Beyond the efforts of the production, the always
outstanding Bardem executes yet another astound-
ing performance as Sampedro, aided by makeup
effects that earned the film an additional Oscar
nomination. He injects an emotional life into his
medium that no production team, even one this
skilled, could hope to match. As in his acclaimed
turn as famed Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in
2000's intimate "Before Night Falls," he takes the

life of a man living under circumstances that most
viewers can't relate to and breaks down the emo-
tional boundaries as few other actors can. Among
the supporting players, Rueda and Duenas shine
as Sampedro's late-life loves. Receiving much less
but equally deserved recognition are those por-
traying his family, most notably Mabel Rivera and
Tamar Novas as his sister-in-law and nephew.
Most remarkably, the film is neither downbeat
nor depressing, but rather strangely uplifting. It
is the story of a man who wants to die, yes, but
that is the least notable thing about him. Ram6n
Sampedro was a man with a sharp eye and an even
sharper wit, a writer and poet who embodied the
human spirit. The movie is a stirring testament to
him, not to his beliefs or decisions. It may end with
a death, but as this film and a handful of others
have shown in the past, sometimes there couldn't
be a happier ending.

FESTIVAL
Continued from page 1
smaller screening room - the Film Fes-
tival presents a wonderful opportunity
to see the crown jewel of Ann Arbor's
film scene come to vibrant life.
Unlike other festivals constructed
around a specific niche idea, or those
like Tribeca and Sundance which
function mostly as meet-and-greets
for industry insiders looking for a bit
of indie cred, the AAFF is an inde-
pendent, nonprofit event seeking pri-
marily to connect emerging talents
in the independent film scene with
an involved and attentive audience.
Hamilton states that the ultimate
goal of the festival is to provide "an
open forum for conversation" between
innovative filmmakers and the several
thousand film enthusiasts who will

journey from as far as Australia and
Iraq to be involved with the festivities.
Given the organic and genuine rela-
tionship that has developed over the
years between artists and the festival,
with many talented filmmakers opting
to return year after year to display the
evolution and growth of their abilities,
this description of the AAFF as a kind
of continuing dialogue of ideas seems
particularly apt.
Hand-picked from more than 1,000
entries, this year's selections represent
the very best in narrative, documen-
tary and experimental film from the
United States and abroad. Two of the
most highly anticipated works debut-
ing at the festival are the documenta-
ries "High Tech Soul: The Creation
of Techno Music" and "The Dream of
Sparrows." Produced by Ann Arbor-
based Glu Studios, "Soul" explores

the origins of techno music in Detroit
and the impact of artists such as Juan
Atkins and Derrick May on the nation-
al music scene.
"Sparrows," the brainchild of Iraqi
filmmaker Hayder Mousa Daffar and
his team of contributing directors, is an
account of daily life in postwar and pre-
reconstruction Baghdad that attempts
to reconcile the discordant Iraqi points
of view concerning Saddam Hussein
and the American occupation. Daffar's
77-minute documentary will make its
international debut at noon on Sun-
day. Tickets for the screenings will go
on sale one hour before curtain at the
Michigan Theater box office; tickets
are $8 for the general public and $6 for
students, or $80 for a full festival pass.
At the close of the weekend, the
festival's three-member awards com-
mittee (led by Judge Emeritus and

AAFF founder George Manupelli)
will dispense more than $18,000 of
prize money in the form of some 20
named honors.
Selected winners will also be
asked to participate in the Festival
Tour, which will visit several U.S.
campuses and museums over the next
few months.
With the recent proliferation of digi-
tal video allowing independent film-
makers to realize their artistic visions
with minimal studio interference, the
Ann Arbor Film Festival is now more
relevant than ever. It is a showcase for
the best and brightest stars of Ameri-
ca's most democratic artistic media; it
is a celebration of the direct communi-
cation between filmmakers and filmgo-
ers; and an important testament to the
viability and vitality of culture in the
Midwest.

U U

- I

' be
WY

/

1~

You're invited to e4 L 104, a series of free, fun workshops sponsored by the
Alumni Association that are full of practical advice and tips to help you get ready
to enter the real world.
You'll, get:
* Helpful information from seasoned professionals in lively presentations geared
specifically to college students
Take-home materials that you can use for future reference
Free pizza, pop and a special gift
The chance to win a $50 Best Buy gift card at each session
Register in advance for two or more sessions and you'll be entered to win a
$250 Best Buy gift card (can you say new iPod?)

I.

R

OPPORTUNITH
There's still time! Application
deadline EXTENDED to MARCH 18N
" Freshmen, Sophomores & Juniors:
EATT NT IN Internship Opportunity Right on Campus!!!

" Full-time positions available for the Fall '05 semester
" Sell advertising to local and national businesses
" Manage your own account territory
- Earn a commission based pay
" Flexible hours that work around your class schedule
e Management opportunities available

Tuesday, March 15
Good Credit: Bad Debt
Christine Riggenbach, Account
Executive, MBNA Business
Development
The importance of establish-
ing good credit
Effective tools to manage
debt

Thursday, March 24
Six Degrees of Separation:
Building Your Network
Through People You Know
Vickie Austin, Founder, CHOICES
Worldwide: Business, Executive
and Career Coaching
The importance of loving
what you do and doing what
you love

Tuesday, March 29
Investing in Your Future
Ronald Eppler, Senior Portfolio
Manager, Beacon Investment
Company
Investment options with
limited resources
Understanding stocks and
mutual funds

4

Pick up an application today at
TNI i mic! n DarILII N

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