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November 28, 2005 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-11-28

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Monday
November 28, 2005
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily.com

RTellSiiigS ill

5A

- - ---------

A universal truth

S o you've just seen the film version
of "Rent"~ and thought the song-
and-dance thing was reasonably
diverting, if a little too early-'90s weepy
(and, of course, that Rosario Dawson was
stunningly beautiful). But when you sit
down to digest it with a couple friends,
you're stunned to find they went the night
before and thought the new
version was totally frivolous.
Before you can even ask
why, they shoot you a half-
accusatory look followed by
* the obligatory "Well, did you
see the stage version?"
The whole process brings
up a familiar case of dija┬░
vu. Wasn't it the same thing
last week with "Harry Pot-
ter and the Goblet of Fire," JEF
where still more fans were BLO
unable to decide whether
to channel their anger into the absence
of Hermione's house elf crusade or
the perennial launch at the Dursleys?
And now there's that new adaptation
of "Pride & Prejudice," in which Mr.
Wickham is practically a footnote and
the producers thought American audi-
ences needed a sweet final kiss for clo-
sure (can't imagine why).
To paraphrase one of the books
in question, it is a truth universally
acknowledged that every book is bet-
ter than its cinematic adaptation. Or so
someone has always told us. Never has
this been a more salient truth than it is
today, with a creatively uninspired Hol-
lywood looking to long-dormant TV
series, video games, novels and espe-
cially a stock of films it has already pro-
duced to keep "new" movies in theaters
on a week-to-week basis.
The fallout hasn't been pretty. In
many cases, outraged fans align them-
selves against adaptations on principle
even before they receive widespread
critical rejection. This isn't a new phe-
nomenon; New Republic critic Stanley
Kauffmann once mused that filmmak-
ers shouldn't even attempt to adapt nov-
els because the cinematic medium can
only hope to "approximate" on screen
what the novel has already achieved on
paper. On the tail end, my guess is that
contemporary film critics dismiss most
television and video game adaptations
simply because they don't think the lat-
ter two are very respectable mediums
in the first place.
So part ofthe problem is an inherent
(and inherently unfair) bias that comes
from both ends, and there's probably no
getting around it. Of course, there's also
a perfectly understandable resistance
on the part of fans to see their beloved
works tweaked long after they were cre-
0 ated (as the "Star Wars" subculture so
eloquently exemplified while decrying
George Lucas for revising his own work
- but we'll talk about that some other
time). No one likes to see his personal
* Chilly
characters
put caper
on ice
By Blake Goble
For the Daily

F
OC

vision meddled with, even if it is noth-
ing more than an illusion he created in
his mind. But seriously, can it really be
that bad?
Consider the new "Pride & Prejudice."
It's an unusual case: Because there's
already a well respected, five-hour BBC
version (starring the venerable Colin
Firth), it's as if the mini-
series somehow renders
another cinematic version
pointless. Among the griev-
ances: the young and not
particularly well rounded
Keira Knightley in the lead,
and that now-infamous final
scene in which Lizzie and
Mr. Darcy display their
affection with more (and just
REY a little more) than tender,
)MER quick-witted pleasantries. As
far as I can tell, Knightley
was a splendid choice (and I don't use
that word lightly); beyond that, the kiss
makes sense in this movie and goes to
considerable length to distance itself
from the source material, even if the Brits
got another ending. Besides, last time I
checked, the credits are clear: As they
say, it's "based on the novel by Jane Aus-
ten" - no more, no less. If you're really
worried that they've put a Hollywood
stamp on your favorite Regency tearjerk-
er, then (gasp!) just don't go see it.
And sorry, kids: The same goes
for "Harry Potter." Many fans have
convinced themselves that "Prisoner
of Azkaban" director Alfonso Cuar6n
has killed the series - due not only
to the fastidiouslycompact third film
but also to his central role in the studio
decision to combine the two separate
films planned for "Goblet of Fire" into
one movie. But stop a second and con-
sider the creative freedom that allowed.
"Azkaban" is not only the most visu-
ally rich of the series, but also the only
film that exists outside a ball-and-chain
relationship with the book, exposing the
oft-forgotten everyday world of the kids
we've come to love. If there are things
a book can do that a film can't, so these
moments are something a film can do
visually that a book can't on paper, and
we should be thankful for them.
To be sure, there are certainly bad
adaptations and others that reconsider
their source material in ways that
don't make obvious sense. But when
you're in line for, say, "Memoirs of a
Geisha," remember that wh .you're
going to see is the work of a group
of people who usually start out in the
same place you did: as fans of the
source material.
- Bloomer's favorite part of the
"Pride and Prejudice" miniseries is
the infamous wet-tunic scene. You
know the one we're talking about.
Share your Darcy/Collins slash fiction
with him at bloomerj@umich.edu.

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

"This is for not going to see 'Sweet November."'

THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIZE
OSCAR-WINNING ACTRESS TAKES A CHANCE ON SCI-FI

By Sarah Schwartz
For the Daily
Most people wouldn't peg Charlize Ther-
on as a science-fiction actress. The first time
she tried her hand at the genre (in the Johnny
Depp space-psychodrivel "The Astronaut's
Wife"), it failed both critically and commer-
cially. Theron has had better luck - and is
far better known - for her heavy, dramatic
roles, such as "Monster" and October's sex-
ual-harassment saga "North Country."
Now, with an Academy Award under her
belt, Theron returns to sci-fi with a sleek
adaptation, "Aeon Flux." She ventures into
the genre again with the shadow of her Best
Actress predecessor, Halle Berry (and Ber-
ry's critically mauled foray into the action
genre, "Catwoman") hangiggheavily over
her head.
Based on the 1995 MTV anime series
created by Peter Chung, "Aeon Flux" is the
story of a totalitarian society masquerading
as a utopia. It follows the one woman (Ther-
on) who can expose the civilization's faults.
Theron wanted Chung to be an integral
part of the movie's creation process. "I did
meet with Peter, and Peter came onto the
set," she said. "This is his baby, so we want-

ed to keep him involved. I wanted him to
be happy (and) to see it like we were being
authentic to what he created."
To keep the film true to the original, the
filmmakers kept much of its hyperstylized
world of anime. Theron felt this accuracy
helped her keep the character grounded in
the story.
"For me as an actor, all of those elements
play such a huge part in the performance
that you are able to deliver," she said. "I
need those surroundings. I need the ward-
robe. I need the hair and makeup. When you
work hard enough, you can just let it go and
let it be a natural process without manipulat-
ing it."
Gone, however, is her character's original
costume. "You know, it is a cartoon, and I
am not a cartoon, and I cannot run around
in a G-string and do the splits because Para-
mount will not be able to release the film,"
she said.
To manage the character's signature splits
and other moves, Theron had to train exten-
sively and, like her role in "Monster," she
changed her appearance for this movie. By
learning gymnastics and karate, Theron
transformed her body into something more
realistic for the character. The process was a

welcome change for the actress.
"I wanted to learn how to actually do these
things versus just making my body look like
I could do them, but I could not," she said.
"But at the same time, I learned incredible
skills."
In fact, "Aeon Flux" marks the first time
Theron has taken on such a physically chal-
lenging role. "I mean, I became a gymnast on
this film, which was something I had never
done before ... So that was a huge interest
for me was to kind of go and push my body
to those limits to actually learn the skills,"
she said.
"There was a goal at the end of the day,
and that was for me to be able to do these
things."
Even so, Theron believes the film boils
down to the ideas the character represents.
"The whole film is really about questioning
your government, and I think right now, in
this day and age ... the majority of America
is doing that," she said.
"It deals with issues that I think we are
dealing with right now, and if we do not pay
attention to them, we will be dealing with
the final product of what 'Aeon Flux' deals
with 400 years in the future. So maybe we
can learn something."

Usher's latest foray into the big
screen fails to 'Mix' up formulas

By David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer

Sure, Harold Ramis's "The Ice Har-
vest" has been mar-
keted as a kooky
crime caper in the The Ice
vein of Elmore Harvest
Leonard. But, in At the Showcase
fact, this is a nasty and Quality 16
film about people Focus
and the nasty things
they can do.
Really, there's not a single like-
able, relatable or empathetic human
being to be found in "The Ice Har-
vest." Consider Vic Cavanaugh (Billy
Bob Thornton), a sleaze merchant
of sorts, who is capable of shoot-
ing his wife in the head for money.
Or take Pete Van Heuten (Oliver
Platt, "Kinsey"), a drunken mess of
a character capable of embarrassing a
close friend's ex-wife (or, rather, his
own current wife) in front of family,
courtesy of a yuletide drunken spell.
Or there's Renata (Connie Nielson,
"Gladiator"), who might be a hooker
with a heart of gold but for those little
dollar signs in her eyes.

Courtesy of Focus

The male is rarely the one objectified in the sexploi-
tation market - the proverbial steak-
on-a-string - but hip-hop superstar
Usher's latest vehicle, "In the Mix," In the
is basically a prolonged dimple pag- Mix
eant. It's an excuse to put the pop At the Showcase
world's newest fine-chiseled Apollo and Quality 16
on screen for longer than a four-min- Lions Gate
ute music video, the same essential
excuse used to make heart-rending
films like "Crossroads" and "Glitter." Yeah. It's another
one of those.
Ab-tastic Usher Raymond plays up-and-coming DJ
Darrell, object of salivation for all women under age
40, who takes a bullet for family-friend/mob-boss Frank
(Chazz Palminteri, "A Bronx Tale") on the night of
Frank's daughter's return home.
Frank invites Darrell to stay at the house during his
recovery, and he winds up nominated for a bodyguard
position. Darrell is assigned to look after Frank's daugh-
ter Dolly (Emmanuelle Chriqui, "On the Line"), follow
her everywhere she goes and do.everything she does.
Problems arise when Dolly, like every other female in
the movie and even the counter guy at the spa, eventu-
ally succumbs to Darrell's abdomin - I mean, charm-
ing personality.
Unlike other drool-worthy vehicles,"In the Mix" is a
bit confused about its identity. Advertised as an inadver-
tent-mobster film (think "Mickey Blue Eyes" or "Ana-
lyze This"), the movie seems to be an extended fantasy
about what it would be like to go on a series of dates
with Usher. Much of the time, the film neglects the mob
plot and simply follows the budding couple around the
city - they do Yoga, go to a restaurant, a nightclub, a

Nice suits.

so sleazy that who really cares if he
gets away? Played with deadpan self-
deprecation by John Cusack, Arglist
is neither an actual person nor worthy
of the audience's care. Therein lies
the major problem with "The Ice Har-
vest": The film, above all else, is just
really unlikable.
Still, there's an interesting piece of
noir-esque filmmaking buried some-
where in here; it's too bad the movie
is drenched in an icy, vacant exterior.
Ramis shoots for a low-key, well-
scripted story but ultimately puts too
much on the screen, trying too hard
to be subtle.

subject matter, and the direction fal-
ters when the drama and tension come
to a peak. There are little tidbits of
humor, including some fun jabs at
small-town conservatism and a nice
moment involving a car trunk with
someone inside.
These scenes are the only ones in
which the movie succeeds; if Ramis
had continued in that direction, he
might have really had something.
Instead, the film is dazed and con-
fused - not just because of its plot twist
or seedy characters, but also because
of the complete disparity between the
marketed product and what winds up

{; z

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