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September 07, 2005 - Image 49

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-07

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The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2005 - 7D




By Doug Wernert
SEPTEMBER 29, 2005
Daily Staff Writer

The housewives intercept a secret memo from American teenagers: Eva Longoria is fucking hot.

When it comes to laying out its premise,
the new ABC drama "Lost" doesn't waste
a second. A man laying in a pile of brush
regains consciousness and wanders onto
the beach, only to find the burning wreck-
age of the plane he formerly occupied.
For the next few minutes, chaos reigns as
people are trapped under debris, a preg-
nant woman screams for help, a piece of
the plane explodes and the other surviv-
ing passengers wander aimlessly along
the shore of this deserted island, some
hysterical and others in shock. By the
time the opening credits roll, "Lost" has
snatched the audience's attention, ready to
take them on a horrifying thrill ride that is
unlike anything on television today.
The now-conscious man is Jack (Mat-
thew Fox, "Party of Five"), a heroic
doctor who possesses both fearless-
ness and the kind of knowledge that
can help the 48 survivors stay alive. He
quickly assumes a leadership role, mov-
ing people to safety and tending to inju-
ries. Wounded himself, he calls on an
attractive young woman to sew him up.
This woman, Kate (Evangeline Lilly),
becomes a perfect counterpart to Jack,
as she also keeps a clear head at all times
but still has the fear of being stranded on
the island lingering in her mind.
Jack and Kate clearly establish them-
selves as the most complete and dynamic
characters on a show with a robust sup-
porting cast. Whether it's the hard-nosed
Asian man who speaks no English tell-
ing his wife to stay away from the rest
of the group or the self-centered woman
who keeps telling her brother they are
going to get rescued (which is certainly
not happening anytime soon, as the plane
crashed hundreds of miles away from
where it lost communication), the rest of
the survivors open up endless possibili-
ties for storylines. Dissension among the
group members is bound to happen once
the airplane food runs out and they real-

By Doug Wernert
OCTOBER 10, 2005
Daily Staff Writer

"Desperate Housewives" isn't your
ordinary television program. For one
thing, a central character kills herself
in the opening minutes of the first epi-
sode. While this
might seem tragic Desperate
to some, the nosy Housewives
next-door neigh-
bor's reaction is Wednesdays
relief that now she at 8 p.m.
doesn't have to ABC
return the woman's
blender. It's this tone that establishes
the backbone for "Desperate House-
wives," a new comedy that doesn't take
itself seriously and uses its humorous
writing and outlandish atmosphere to
create one of this season's most sur-
prising, unique programs.
"Housewives" may best be
described as "Arrested Development"
meets "Sex and The City," as the

show follows around several married
women who are frustrated for one rea-
son or another. Tying it all together is
Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong),
the dead woman who serves as the
narrator for the series and for her
friends' eccentric day-to-day lives.
This cast of peculiar women all have
their fair share of problems.
First, and most importantly, is Susan
Mayer (Teri Hatcher), the divorced
mom looking to get with the new
neighborhood hunk (James Denton).
While this seems to be the primary
storyline, a second plot line with an
overly sophisticated mother (Marcia
Cross) - who drives her family crazy
- is also entertaining. Whether it's
Gabrielle Solis (Eva Longoria), the
sex-crazed model who hooks up with
her gardener, or the career woman
(Felicity Huffman) who is now over-
whelmed by her four kids, each of
Mary Alice's friends are totally differ-
ent and likable in their own way.
The show manages to bring a fresh
comedic approach without being so
over-the-top that the gags become

inane. Sure, the flashbacks of Susan's
enemy Brit (Nicollette Sheridan)
seducing everyone from the cable guy
to the neighborhood priest are silly,
but this storytelling device moves the
plots along and helps the viewer keep
the main characters straight. The men
are simply there to either frustrate,
annoy or intrigue the women. Gabri-
elle mowing the lawn in her evening
gown so her husband won't find out
about her affair is downright hilarious.
After all, they're desperate housewives
for a reason.
Both the characters and the humor
are given ample time to develop and
that's the powerful combination that
made "Desperate Housewives" the
top-rated show in the country at the
beginning of October. The group
conversations they have scream "Sex
and The City," but these are kept to a
minimum so the show can develop it's
own personality. As of October it was
off to a tremendous start and as long
as the show keeps the originality and
the sex appeal flowing, viewers will
continue to tune in.

"Is God still punishing me for Party of Five?"

Courtesy of ABC

ize the peril they are in.
Probably the most intriguing of this
supporting cast is Charlie (Dominic
Monaghan, "Lord of the Rings"), an
eccentric European man who takes a
liking to Jack and Kate, going along
with them to find the cockpit of the
plane to try and radio for help. It is dur-
ing this expedition where the danger
of their predicament becomes evident.
Lurking in the jungle of this island is
a huge, bloodthirsty beast looking for
prey. While the trio is inside the plane,
the animal makes its presence known,
violently shaking the cockpit and kill-
ing the pilot, leaving him hanging in a

tree. While this idea seems a tad hokey,
the characters, mixed with some great
camera work, create a very realistic aura
of fear that is passed on to the audience.
The beast remains unseen, which will
only build more anticipation towards its
eventual sighting.
"Lost" could have very easily been a
poor "Cast Away" rip-off or, even worse,
elicit comparisons to an overly dramatic
version of "Gilligan's Island." Fortu-
nately for viewers, while the program
isn't able to keep up the raw energy of
the fantastic opening sequence, it makes
up for it by being original, smart and
truly engrossing.

Director's cut trumps original
cult classic, "Donnie Darko"


By Alexandra Jones
MARCH 7, 2005
Daily Staff Writer
"Donnie Darko" has finally returned.
The twisted drama about a disturbed
teenage boy who learns that the world

will end from
a human-sized,
metal-faced rab-
bit named Frank,
(James Duval who
may be recog-
nized as John the
Mod from another

Darko: The
20th Century Fox

suit; he appears in almost every scene,
apparently listening to or interviewing
fans (although he never speaks) or sit-
ting in the back of the theater where
some of the testimonials are given.
While it's great to see a fantastic,
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 com-
plex work of genius. It's unfortunate that
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 documentary
contest sponsored by DonnieDarko.com
to find the film's No. 1 fan and features
someone who calls himself Darryl Don-
aldson, whose obsession with the film bor-
ders on the disturbed. Darryl shows us his
collection of screenshots ("I used to have
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 fanat-
icism. Darryl'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
overlooked film. Its cult status combined
with the availability of a lavish DVD
release should bring the film to a greater
audience beyond longtime fans.

cult film, "SLC Punk"), was mismar-
keted as an emotionally tumultuous teen
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 Gyllen-
haal), whose mental medication causes
him to see Frank and obey the giant bun-
ny'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. Gyl-
lenhaal's real-life sister Maggie ("Mona
Lisa Smile") plays Donnie's sister Eliza-
beth. Drew Barrymore and Noah Wyle
("ER") play teacher's at Donnie's school,
and Patrick Swayze appears as a motiva-
tional speaker-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.

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