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September 26, 2005 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-26

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 26, 2005 -11A

'Mother' revitalizes old formula

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
If the demise of "Friends" left you jone-
sing for your white-yuppie-buddy-sitcom
fix, CBS is here for __....____.__
you. First there were How I Met
the "Seinfeld" four, Your Mother
then the "Friends"
six; now come the Mondays at
"How I Met Your 8:30 p.m.
Mother" five. By tak- CBS
ing this tired concept
one step further, CBS has shown ingenu-
ity long believed to be dead. The result is
the first great new comedy of the season.
The show is composed of flash-
backs of a middle-aged Ted (voiced
by Bob Saget, "Full House"), tell-
ing his children the story of how he
met their mother. Relative newcomer
Josh Radnor plays the younger Ted,
in a time when the engagement of two
friends caused him to reconsider his
own romantic life. His group of yup-
pie friends are the engaged Marshall
and Lily (Jason Segel, "Freaks and
Geeks" and Allison Hannigan, "Buffy
the Vampire Slayer"), the charmingly
kooky Barney, (Neil Patrick Harris,
"Doogie Howser, M.D.) and a myste-
rious woman named Robin (newcomer
Cobie Smulders).
The show works where others have
failed because of its unassuming
charm. It never has to tell you it's spe-
cial, but by the end, it grows on you.
Radnor is an excellent reincarnation
of David Schwimmer's "Friends"
character, a hopeless romantic with

Courtesy of
"Cheers: We won't be the first show cancelled - that was 'Headcases."'

Where's your goatee, Johnny?


quirks and an uncouth shyness that
prevent him from ever succeeding at
the dating game. Segel and Hanni-
gan refrain from over-playing their
parts and achieve a chemistry rarely
seen on the small screen.
Every comedy needs its Kramer or
Joey (not "Joey"), and "Mother" has
Barney, whose eccentricities are no
less pronounced or hilarious than his
predecessors'. His constant insistence
that they all "suit up" and his slightly
alarming obsession with women of dif-
ferent nationalities both set the founda-
tion for a genre-defining oddball.
"Mother" has many hilarious
sequences that you'll swear you've
seen before, but they're so well done
that they turn out funny anyway.
When Ted lets an "I love you" slip
to an unsuspecting Robin on the first
day the two meet, a scene so uproari-

ous erupts that the audience will never
remember that an episode of "Sein-
feld" had almost this exact scenario.
Also featured are original catchphras-
es that have the potential to become as
much a part of our pop lingo as clas-
sics like "soup Nazi," "master of your
domain" and the "double-dip."
Even with this familiar template,
"Mother" finds new frontiers to explore in
contemporary television's own backyard.
As if that weren't enough, the show also
drops a bombshell in the last few seconds
of the pilot, leaving audiences debating
who the show's eponymous mother will
be. With a mix of charm, quirks, sincer-
ity and of course, awkward humor, "How
I Met Your Mother" is a surefire hit that
will leave other shows this season vying
for the title of best new comedy feeling,
as Barney would say, "de - wait for it,
wait for it - nied!"

By Amanda Andrade
Daily Arts Writer
Tim Burton's charming and lively "Corpse Bride" begins
with delightfully appropriate symbiosis: The story opens
with the lucrative merger of class-
conscious families in Victorian-era Tim Burton's
England. Though such mutually ben- Corpse Bride
eficial relationships were common
in that era, Hollywood, in general, At the Showcase
seems to prefer leeching. Hence, the and Quality 16
film really begins with the exception, Warner Bros.
a collaboration between the versatile
lead actor and fantastically imaginative director who just
can't seem to do great work without each other.
In fact, with the exception of "Pirates of the Caribbe-
an," "Bride" star Johnny Depp has never worked in a real-
ly noteworthy film that didn't bear Burton's crest. (Some
people will say that "Finding Neverland" was a gem;
these people are wrong.) And with the possible exception
of "Big Fish," director Burton has never helmed a classic
that didn't involve his chiseled muse. (Some people will
say "Planet of the Apes" was underrated; these people are
crazy.) Luckily, the two virtuosos come together again for
this animated musical, which proceeds from the social
maneuverings of its opening number to an emotional poi-
gnancy as disarming as it is endearing.
After the botched wedding rehearsal for penniless,
high-society girl Victoria (voiced by Emily Watson,
"Breaking the Waves") and fish-peddler heir Victor
(voiced by Depp), the nervous groom accidentally pro-
poses to a lovely and devoted young woman who also

happens to be dead (Helena Bonham Carter, "Big Fish").
Sucked down into the hereafter, Victor longs to return to
his sweet fiancee in the dreary world above.
Such gruesome plot points should be no surprise to any-
one familiar with Burton's style. Having established himself
as master of the whimsically macabre, the director brands the
film with as pronounced a personal stamp as any in recent
memory. The stop-motion animation, also employed in the
Burton-produced "Nightmare Before Christmas," is impres-
sively detailed, giving the characters an outstanding range of
emotional subtlety that rivals flesh and blood.
Also adding to that Burton flair is a playful score from
longtime collaborator Danny Elfman. The music is a per-
fect match for the film's pleasantly demented tone and
never becomes overbearing while helping the story reach
for an emotional high note. Unfortunately, the full-out
musical numbers are less spectacular, settling for measly
entertaining when they should be infectious.
Beyond this, the only real criticism of the film might be that
it's too short. Or, more accurately, that the film's material pro-
vides only enough momentum to hit the hour-and-a-quarter
mark. Kudos to Burton for not contriving to stretch the film
past its narrative limits, but considering that the much-beloved
"Nightmare Before Christmas" already used many of the
visual tricks employed here, "Corpse Bride" would have ben-
efited from a more innovative and well-developed story.
That's not to say the film's not clever. It's a visual mas-
terpiece in which the dead are far more alive than the liv-
ing. There isn't a superfluous frame in sight, and every
shot is breathtaking. The film is, quite simply, classic Bur-
ton-Depp - the familiar form done up with imagination
and originality spilling forth from every scene, ensuring
it a peaceful resting place in every quirky family's movie
collection for decades to come.

Dylan finds 'Direction' in new doc

By Alexandra Jones
Daily Arts Editor
After 40 years of cryptic comments, evasive answers and
the occasional self-imposed exile, the mystery of Bob Dylan's
public persona is extensively explored in
Martin Scorsese's documentary, "No Direc-
tion Home." The filmic texts chronicling No
Dylan's progression from unknown folk Direction
ruffian to the voice of a generation to rock's Home:
inscrutable-yet-magnetic pioneer-poet were Bob Dylan
previously limited to two documentaries:
D.A. Pennebaker's "Dont Look Back" (sic) Tonight and
and "Eat the Document." Both films show Tuesday at
Dylan on tour in Britain, the former in 1965 9 p.m. on PBS
and the latter a year later; both show him and on DVD
in transition, his music becoming more and PBS/Paramount
more disjunct from the sounds and ideas
that his supposedly progressive fans had come to expect. By
1966, fans didn't just misunderstand Dylan - they booed the
singer's new material.
Scorsese uses bits of media - that which influenced
Dylan and his journey to New Jersey to visit'Ainerican
folk legend Woody Guthrie - and comments from Dylan's

Greenwich Village folkie/artist chums to tell his story. The
concert footage, which includes the performance when he
first went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and
Dylan's live reaction to the infamous "Judas!" incident, will
become sacred to Dylan aficionados. The quality, as well
as the rarity of this footage, is unparalleled by any bootleg.
Present-day Dylan, clad in black leather, adds thoughts he
sees fit to share. The first half of "No Direction Home" con-
trasts Dylan at his breaking point in '66, far from whatever
"home" is, with his small-town Minnesota origins; he works
the coffeehouses in New York, is discovered by producer
John Hammond, starts writing his own songs and becomes
a prominent voice of the civil rights movement. The second
half shows Dylan distancing himself from fans and report-
ers' incessant labeling and questioning. There's no cryptic
motivation for his metamorphosis and withdrawal: Dylan
does what any real artist would, ignore the bullshit and
doing and saying what he wants.
In the documentary, Dylan says that as an artist, "You're
constantly in a state of becoming." Scorsese doesn't set out
to explain his subject; he lets this story unfold on his own.
"No Direction Home" provides a thorough and spellbind-
ing document of one of the most fascinating public (and
not-so-public) figures of the 20th century, and Scorsese
shows us in a way that will satisfy Dylan's longtime devo-
tees and draw in new fans.

















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