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November 14, 2005 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-14

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Monday
November 14, 2005
arts.rmichigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

RTSe cgan wIlg

5A

------------ - -- - ------- ---

Can't get no respect

T is the season - or so the Mei-
jer lobby and all-Christmas
carol radio stations tell us. For
many people, this means the beginning
of the holidays - gift-getting, in-laws
and the like. It couldn't matter less that
it's only November; if you celebrate year-
end holidays, you learn to just accept
that they're going to occupy two months
every year before and after
the actual event, if only
because friendly corpora-
tions tell us that's the way it's
going to be.
The same forces are at
work in Hollywood this timea
of year, but it has nothing
to do with the (premature)
holiday cheer. Quiet and not-
so-quiet campaigns started
months ago, with film festi- JEF
vals and special screenings BLO
dictating the future of doz-
ens of films. With November officially
comes the trade-paper takeover, with
page-wide ads touting performances in
films that haven't even hit theaters.
Yes, it's Oscar season.

edies don't get critical attention because
so many of them depend on the collec-
tive racial, ethnic and sexual stereotypes
of a given society, but what it really
comes down to is that more "serious"
movies are better at masking formulas
for critics. A typical studio comedy is a
laugh-a-minute vehicle for its stars, and,
clever or stilted, it shows. A typical stu-
dio drama, no matter how it
tweaks the details, basically
recycles the win-some-lose-
some archetype before
closing on an optimistic
note - but in the emotional
moment, its underlying
superficiality is overlooked
in the face of welcome senti-
ment.
There has to be a confes-
REY sion in here somewhere: I
)MER tend to align myself with the

FF
DO

But every year, there's always a certain
sort of film noticeably absent from all
the clout. A comedy hasn't won a Best
Picture prize since 1977 when "Annie
Hall" took the prize, and performances
from them don't fare very well (Johnny
Depp's nomination for "Pirates of the
Caribbean" is a notable anomaly). There's
always the wildcard instance of successful
-ounter-programming, typically a hor-
ror flick, but usually, it's the same sort of
fim that makes all the headlines: the one
with that shocking lth-hour death, that
astonishing performance. Outside peren-
nial families-gather-in-large-groups stock
c;medies, which make money by giving
the same people it satirizes something
to do other than talk to one another, the
holidays bring a decidedly serious tone to
the multiplex.
Why don't comedies get any attention?
They're clearly the most popular with
audiences, and the only real box-office
surprises in recent years. Will Ferrell isn't
much of a leading man, but last summer's
twobiggest sleepers were "Wedding
Crashers" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"
- movies people loved because they
could go with a group of friends, laugh
casually and not take away anything
when they left (save for a few mildly
offensive lines to rattle off at a party).
I'd like to say that most modern com-

popular school of thought.
Big-name comedies wear their every-
man appeal on their sleeves, and it's been
extremely bankable for them. But most
of the recent Frat-Pack comedies I've sat
through have left me feeling a void where
I usually go out with ideas and fascina-
tion. There's nothing worse than leaving
a film without a strong feeling about it; I
thought the worst American movie last
year was "Saw," but debating it has led to
some of the most thoughtful and engag-
ing discussions about film I've ever had.
Leaving a theater detached and removed
makes the viewing experience worth-
less; even if you hate a film, you haven't
wasted your time. You learn from it. I've
left too many recent comedies feeling .
curiously removed, as if I've just stared at
a blank screen for two hours.
Whether that's fair is a good question.
Surely, though, the generalization that
comedies can't be important films is not.
The Academy has their issues with them,
and I have mine - but what it boils down
to is a snobbery that's as counterproduc-
tive as it is uncalled for. As soon as audi-
ences learn to expect more from comedies
and Academy voters judge them through
a fair lens, the genre will be in a place to
make a big critical comeback. To para-
phrase the late Rodney Dangerfield, what
we need here is some respect - writers
for their audiences, and audiences for their
writers.
Bloomer thinks "Police Academy"
was overlooked by the Academy. E-
mail him at bloomerj@umich.edu.

"That Jeffrey Bloomer kid shouldn't have made fun of my VitaminWater ads."

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Music Editor
Wow, this 50 Cent guy gets
around.
In the weeks fol- Get Rich of
lowing the release D
of "Get Rich or
Die Tryin'," the At Showcase
man otherwise and Quality 16
known as Curtis Paramount
Jackson put out
a self-aggrandizing video game, a
soundtrack and, of course, the film
itself - a dark slice of his biogra-
phy executed with all the passion of
a middle school science project.
Jackson plays Marcus, a thinly
disguised persona who not only
commits the youthful crimes involv-
ing drugs and violence etched in
Jackson's own backstory, but also
has the good fortune of parlaying
those now public acts (selling crack
like his mother, getting shot repeat-
edly in the mouth) into a personal
mythos. Ultimately, "Get Rich" and
its obsession with "faithfully" recre-
ating the biography of its star leaves
it predictable and in the shadow of
"8 Mile," both its easiest compari-

son and its artistic superior.
The nice foundation of minor
stars surrounding the precocious
leading man props him up admira-
bly: A nuanced street peer (Terrence
Howard, "Hustle & Flow"), antago-
nizing boss (Adewale Akinnuoye-
Agbaje, "The Bourne Identity"), and
a wistful, loyal lover (Joy Bryant,
"The Skeleton Key") all keep their
roles afloat, giving Jackson every
opportunity to succeed.
And the plot is easily violent and
thrilling enough - casually brutal
to an almost unheard-of level. This
would be an unflattering biopic
about any real figure, but 50 Cent
has certainly made himself more
than a man here. He, like Marcus, is
blessed with his skill set: sublimely
gifted rapper, street dealer supreme
and surprisingly decent boyfriend
and father. Interestingly enough,
Bryant's Charlene gets more lines
and characterization than any other
woman in 50 Cent's musical back-
ground. Instead of being a mindless
stripper or ladder-climbing tart (the
usual characterizations of women
in 50's videos), she's tough, smart
and protective.
She's too much woman for him,
and the camera wisely bends to her

in key moments of drama.
Visually, the film is stark. Direc-
tor Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot"),
obviously no stranger to showing
the foul hues of urban decay, tailors
the light to Jackson's expectedly
weathered profile. But the thing that
makes 50's history and authority so
enduring is the same thing that crip-
ples his performance: the bullets.
Jackson's hard lateral lisp, born
out of the bullet fragments in his
jaw and tongue, makes the already
clunky voice-overs self-parody-
ing and mutes the punchiest lines.
Physically, his distorted superman
frame of impossible block shoulders
becomes too large for the screen.
Marcus doesn't so much cradle his
infant son as he does swallow him
in his biceps.
But he still mumbles his way
through all the big scenes and most
of the small ones, trundling over the
timing and beats like a steamroller.
The film's third act, usually the best
("8 Mile," "Hustle & Flow"), tries
to blend the art Marcus eventually
embraces with the cash and power
of the streets. Economics wins con-
vincingly, and art seems just like a
side dish. Funny how fast that can
happen.

Courtesy of Paramount

J

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0 mmM Illmis-

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