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December 13, 2005 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-13

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December 13, 2005
artspage @michigandaily.com

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11 11111m 118

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
Peter Jackson, suddenly among the most revered
filmmakers in Hollywood, finally returns to the spot-
light after his momentous night at the 2004 Acade-
my Awards for the conclusion of the "Lord Of The
Rings" trilogy.. Jackson spent
the last two years deep in the
picturesque world of his native King Kong
New Zealand, far from the pub- At the Showcase
lic eye, filming his long-gestat- and Quality 16
ing, technologically stunning Universal
remake of the 1933 cult classic
"King Kong." With this visually
breathtaking film, Jackson proves that he hasn't lost
his keen eye for aesthetics and singular vision for con-
cept, even though the film itself is far from perfect.
Jackson's take on the classic story follows the
original almost to the teeth. Deep in the throes of in
a New York teeming with the victims of the Great
Depression, scheming filmmaker Carl Denham, a
surprisingly well cast Jack Black ("The School of
Rock"), feverishly toils to revive his dream project.
He seeks to make a film unlike any the world has
ever seen, but, strapped for cash and fleeing from
creditors, Denham boards a ship sailing for the far
east. In tow are jaded writer Jack Driscoll (Oscar-
winner Adrien Brody, "The Pianist"), a camera crew
and aspiring leading lady, Ann Darrow (Naomi
Watts, "The Ring").
Tricked into venturing into the unknown, the crew
crash-lands on the mystical, appropriately named
"Skull Island." They soon discover the island is not
deserted but inhabited by hostile Aboriginals (ethno-
centrically speaking).
Before they can flee, Ann is captured and offered

Music prof receives
three Grammy nods

Courtesy of Universal


to the Aboriginals' mysterious deity, the mighty
Kong. The crew fights through impossible obstacles
to save her, but their motives vary: While Driscoll
risks his life to save Ann, Denham tranquilizes the
giant ape and takes him to New York where Kong
escapes and wreaks havoc in the city while attempt-
ing to find her.
But of course, you already knew all that. In many
ways, "King Kong" is the quintessential American
action film. Drama and adventure effortlessly blend
with heart-wrenching emotion and persistent Ameri-
can themes. The sequences on Skull Island - featur-
ing dinosaurs, enormous insects and, of course, the
25-foot tall Kong - are among the most visually
staggering scenes ever put on film. The herbaceous-
dinosaur stampede, one of the film's most astonishing
sequences, is so intricate and realistic, it makes the
"Jurassic Park" movies look like low-budget iMovie
knock offs.
Jackson goes overboard on the action. Though he
takes the time to intricately guide every emotional
scene and play up the relationship between Ann and
Kong with subtlety, the middle third of the film has
such pervasive action that it begins get stuck going
through the same motions time and time again.
This sometimes overshadows the most important
themes - Ann's sympathy for Kong and the conse-

quences of Denham's overzealous acquiescence to
the cutthroat world of early-20th-century American
Meanwhile, Watts sparkles in her attempt to step
into the role of the original "damsel in distress," Fay
Wrey. Her portrayal of a victim of the economic crash
is touching and well accented by Depression-era New
York so vividly rendered by Jackson's team. Not only
does she help make her relationship with a CGI ape
feel unforced, but she caps off her performance with
an emotionally stellar final sequence atop the Empire
State Building. Brody is brilliant as usual, even in the
unlikely "action-hero" role. His obligatory relation-
ship with Watts is passable but might have made for a
better story arc if it hadn't been so heavily downplayed
early on in lieu of the unrelenting action.
Jackson constructs "Kong" much like he did
"Rings" -' despite that there is much less story here
to tell. Even with all its astounding action and visual
wonders, the film simply feels too drawn out. Jack-
son would have done well to cut some of the mid-
dle third, smoothing out the central story and more
tightly packaging its narrative arc. But as it stands,
"King Kong" is among the most visually stunning
"event" movies ever released by a Hollywood studio,
cementing Jackson's status as one of the industry's
premiere big-name filmmakers.

By Bernie Nguyen
Daily Books Editor
With nominees such as Mariah
Carey and Kanye West taking up press
space across the country, the Univer-
sity and the Grammy Awards may
seem like surprising bedfellows. But
for renowned composer and School
of Music Prof. William Bolcom, the
University was integral in the success
of his piece, Songs of Innocence and
of Experience, which was nominated
for three Grammy awards, including
Best Contemporary Classical Compo-
sition. "I'm delighted for all the people
involved as well as myself," Bolcon
said of the nomination. "This involves
a major accomplishment from the
School of Music's point of view, as well
as everybody else."
Bolcom's Songs, a classical com-
position based on William Blake's
poems, was not a solitary enterprise
but involved the cooperation of the
entire School of Music. Though Songs
has been performed all over the world
by various orchestras worldwide, from
London to Stuttgart, Bolcom is most
enthusiastic when it comes to the per-
formance here at the University.
"I'm so thrilled to see the piece real-
ized this way," Bolcom said, referring
to the piece's recording by University
students. When he was working on it,
he said he told himself, "I don't want
to use a standard orchestra. I don't
want to use a standard anything, and I
took a look at the students around me
and said, 'We should make our own
orchestra with the demographics of the
school.' It made it kind of like a rein-
vention of the orchestra, which is what
I've always wanted to do."
One of the most unique features of
Songs is its integration of poetry with
music. "The poems took me so many
crazy places I never thought I would
go," Bolcom said. "It gave me courage

to put together the most surprising jux-
His current work-in-progress also
involves poetry. "I'm doing a song cycle
for orchestra on the poems of (Spanish
poet Federico) Garcia Lorca,"'he said.
The Civic Symphony Orchestra in
Orange County, Calif. requested to
use his upcoming Lorca piece for the
inauguration of their new venue. Bol-
com said the renowned tenor Placido
Domingo will also a part of his new
project, which should be ready by next
Songs was a work 25 years in the
making. "I fell in love with Blake
when I was 17," Bolcom said. "I just
knew it was going to take years to fig-
ure it out." The long process taught
Bolcom much, however, and his
experiences became a critical part of
Songs's development. "All that would
eventually show up in the piece," he
said. "Twenty-five years later I put the
double bar on it and that was it."
When it comes to the Grammys, Bol-
com focuses not on the notoriety of the
awards but on the opportunities it pres-
ents. He said he holds the nomination at
the same height of his other awards.
"But it's nice for the visibility. What
I'm particularly happy about is some-
thing that's started ... for the School
of Music itself. Reviewer after reviewer
has said that 'I can't believe this is a
school orchestra.' This is quite excit-
ing," he said.
Bolcom also said that one of his
favorite parts of Songs is the commu-
nity that developed around it. "What
was interesting for me," he said, "was
to see all these different walks of life
of music on the same stage. These
were students who had never seen
each other. Just that kind of inter-
change between all different types of
people ... It's all part of the story and I
was so excited to see people meet and
brought together."


Chamillionaire strays
from typical sound

Laid-back comedian hosts new show

By Andrew Kahn.
O'baily Arts Writer
Chamillionaire can bring it.
Not only that, he can bring it in a
heck of a lot of
ways. Sometimes
referred to as the Chamillionaire
"Mixtape Mes- The Sound of
siah," the Houston Revenge
rapper makes a
strong major-label Universal
debut with The
Sound of Revenge.
In contrast to other Houston rappers,
Chamillionaire doesn't rely solely on
self-promotion and braggadocio like
Mike Jones or Slim Thug, or referenc-
es to chains and cars a la Paul Wall.
He's able to encompass all of these
techniques to create a nonregional,
versatile style.
Cham turned to Scott Storch to pro-
duce the album's first single, the bouncy

"Turn it Up" featuring Lil' Flip, but it
sounds like he might have tried too hard
for a hit. The result is lackluster verses
over a poor mixture of drum rolls and
hand claps.
Cham is at his best on Revenge's
more soulful songs, like the piano-laced
"Rain." Southern legend Scarface is a
great addition to the somber track, but
Chamillionaire steals the show with
lines like "Tired of being po' yeah try-
ing to leave the rats / Walk out to see
three of your tires that be on flat / And
that, one tire left a sign of hope / That
helps you to keep on grindin' when you
kinda broke."
He brings a similar smooth and down-
trodden vibe to the spiritual "Void in
My Life:' a song on which he also sings
the hook. A major risk for most rappers,
actual singing is a surprise strong point
for Chamillionaire. On several of the
album's chorus is very reminiscent of
Nate Dogg (the ultimate compliment).
While Cham's versatility brings
fullness to the album, a few songs are

unfortunately degraded by uninspiring
production. The overused, sputtering
drums on "In the Trunk" and the synth-
infused "Fly as the Sky" might have
listeners changing songs before a bar is
even spit.
While he may not be the best at select-
ing quality beats, Chamillionaire's pas-
sion and hunger give a constant mood
to Revenge - there is actually a mean-
ingful intro and outro. His apparent dis-
pute with Paul Wall led to a split from
Swishahouse, the label that the afore-
mentioned Houstonians call home. This
might not be all bad. Chamillionaire is
developing a distinct sound through a
superb blend of conceptual tracks and
club anthems.

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
While every stand-upcomedian featured on television
specials or at the local comedy club clumsily attempt to
tackle political and social humor, it's refreshing to have
someone like Patton Oswalt come along.
The comedian, who costars as Spence on CBS's hit
sitcom "The King of Queens," recently landed a gig on
Comedy Central's "Comedians of Comedy." The show
chronicles comedians' lives on the road as they tour the
country. Despite his success, Oswalt remains a down-
to-earth, affable personality.
Oswalt said he derives most of his humor from every-
day situations. "Just life ... things that happen to me.
Then there are times when I'm just bored out of my
mind and thinking of weird stuff."
Oswalt also said he doesn't believe he has any constant
themes in his act, but that his act is simply a reflection
of moments and events in life he finds entertaining or
He went on to explain that his stand-up act's mate-
rial is markedly different from his role on "The King
of Queens." That show "is a scripted show so it's not
reflective of my sensibility ... It's good, it's just differ-
ent from what I've always been doing."
Oswalt said that he enjoys the apolitical nature of
"King of Queens." "It's a really fun show to do. There's
no politics and everyone's laid back, so I hope (it stays

on the air)."
Like most comedians, Oswalt said he knew he was
funny at an early age, but that didn't make his career
choice easy. "I was always funny as a kid, but I never
thought I was going to be a stand up; I always wanted to
be a writer," he said.
"It was in the summer between freshman and sopho-
more year of college that I started going on stage in
Washington, D.C., and it just kind of stuck. I think that
was the one job that I was getting no money for but I just
kept doing it."
Keeping with his no-frills nature, Oswalt said he
doesn't really know why he finds certain comedians
funny. "I don't know what specifically I like about their
acts, other than they're just so freakin' funny."
Unfortunately, his easygoing nature cost him certain
opportunities as well. Oswalt explained how a screen-
play he wrote received an honorary mention at the Sun-
dance Film Festival - with the recognition going to
someone else. "It went to Sundance without me even
knowing it," he said. "I wrote it for a TV show and then
the guy that made it, he submitted it and it ended up
doing really well."
Oswalt also plans to break into mainstream Holly-
wood as a screenwriter. "I've sold a bunch of different
movies but then they always end up going through the
turnaround," he said. "There's a movie that I'm finish-
ing the screenplay for right now that I really like and I
want to get it out there and sold."

'Match Point' stars talk about Allen's darker script

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School of Information students apply
what they learn as they learn it. Our
Practical Engagement Program ensures
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experience through field placements,
internships, and part-time jobs before they
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graduate. Be part of it. Connect with SI.

Before SI:
BA, Computer
At SI:
After Sl:
Software Engineer,
Northrop Grumman

By David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer
While Woody Allen fans might miss his, bal-
loonish head and tiny limbs flailing in sarcas-
tic remonstration to the oh-so-cruel Fates, Allen
chose to stay behind the camera for his latest film,
the inordinately dark "Match Point."
But in keeping himself offscreen in the new
movie, which opens in limited release Dec. 28
before and opening nationwide Jan. 20, he's made
room for younger, aesthetically pleasing stars.
The cast includes such up-and-comers actors as
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers ("Bend It Like Beckham"),
Scarlett Johansson ("Lost in Translation") and
Emily Mortimer ("Scream 3").
Allen has penned a serious dramatic film, and
his selection of actors reflects it.
And with a glossy pair of ice-blue eyes set in a
fair face, Rhys-Meyers is well suited for playing
the enigmatic character.
"My physicality," he said, "lends more to dra-
matic works than to comedies," he said.
His character, Chris Wilton, certainly fits the
bill as young man who marries into a wealthy fam-
ily only to stumble helplesslysafter a pouty-lipped
American actress (Johansson) at a most inconve-
nient time.
Wilton looks like any other handsome, well


Courtesy of Dreamworks
In these situations, people don't brush their teeth before making out In the morning.

Mortimer didn't find it surprising that Allen
wrote this type of screenplay either. As a big
Woody Allen fan before she starred in this movie,

acter is feeling and what she is saying. However,
in this complicated film, those two things were
essentially the same.



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