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January 05, 2006 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-05

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Thursday
January 5, 2006
arts. michigandaily. com
artspage@michigandaily. com

Rbe WtSiigan Baili

8A

ITIEAELNIIY'
'MOUNTAIN
LEDGER DRIVES
LEE'S HAUNTING
MASTERPIECE
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Film Editor
FitM R EV1EW

90

Courtesy of Cash Money

Don't ask what the tear tattoos are for.

When Ennis and Jack first meet, they won't
even speak to each other. They wait for the
owner of a sheep ranch,
anticipating his return so Brokeback
they can ask for whatever Mountain
work he has to offer in the
outback of Wyoming, circa At the Michigan
1963. Even when they are Theater and
hired to work together, they Showcase
only slowly become friends Focus
until one freezing night in
the mountains. When they can't help but share
a tent, they confuse and frighten each other by
having sex.
They would surprise us, too, but "Brokeback
Mountain" has long since been pigeonholed
as the "gay cowboy movie," a distinction that
would be as disturbing to the characters as it
will be to audiences who see the film and expe-
rience its searching, tender, almost tragic story
of love and loss.
The film, expanded from the famous Anne
Proloux short story, is headlined by two rela-
tively big-name stars - Heath Ledger and Jake
Gyllenhaal - who step over the potential for
controversy and completely immerse them-
selves in their roles. The frankness with which
the film deals with its same-sex romance (and,
yes, graphic sex) demands not only the respect
of the audience but also its undivided atten-
tion. There is scarcely a moment where view-
ers' preconceived notions can play out because
the romance's onscreen intensity always feels so
urgent.
But then again, so does the entire film. Direct-
ed by Ang Lee, the Taiwan-born great who pre-
viously delved into genre filmmaking with such

Wayne finds mature
grooves on Carter'

By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer

Courtesy of Focus

"I'm glad we decided not to hike to Baby-Got-Back Mountain."

modern touchstones as "Sense and Sensibility,"
sees "Brokeback Mountain" as a classic Ameri-
can western, casually brooding and always visu-
ally breathtaking.
Lee develops the love story in much the same
way: No issue is made of sexuality other than
the way it affects the characters, as their clan-
destine romance survives two long decades and
both men's marriages even while their constant
separation slowly chips away at them until they
finally can't take it.
The remarkable thing about the film is that
Lee constructs it very much as a product of
these two genres - the western and the sweep-
ing period romance - and has no qualms about
its deviation from their conventional terms. This
is brilliantly crafted work, without question one
of the best movies of the year.
This would amount to little, of course, if the
stars weren't up for their roles. As Ennis Del
Marr, the film's aching backbone, Ledger deliv-
ers the performance of his career. The actor,
otherwise best known for roles as tween heart-
throbs in films like "A Knight's Tale," renders a
performance so mesmerizing and haunting that

it dominates the film. Gyllenhaal doesn't always
follow through in the final act but still shows
the work of a thoughtful and skilled perform-
er. As the men's wives, Anne Hathaway ("The
Princess Diaries") and especially Michelle
Williams (TV's "Dawson's Creek") are honest,
simple and powerful, aware of their husbands'
secret to varying degrees but always sensing the
emotional distance.
"Brokeback Mountain" ends with a tinge of
hope, but the film is really about loss in more
complex terms than you might expect. The men
live in a time when their love was dangerous;
they don't understand it and they don't want to,
but they can't escape it. I have no idea whether
the film has the power to change minds as its
early champions have claimed. But I do know
that it's moving and provocative, and audacious
enough to follow through with its convictions
without the slightest hint of hesitation. This is
a new Hollywood classic in a very traditional
sense, the sort of film with images that will
forever ingrain themselves in the industry's cre-
ative imagination if only for the subtle revolu-
tion they represent.

Lil' Wayne has come a long way
since he first came onto the scene at age

16 in 1999 with the
Hot Boyz on Cash
Money. Of course,
by being a mem-
ber of Cash Money
Records, his songs
were recorded with

Lii' Wayne
Tha Carter I1
Cash Money
other artists on the

label (Juvenile, etc.) who rapped about
being surreally iced-out. No one took
him seriously in the context of these
hood moguls, but Wayne wouldn't be
held down. Determined to be seen as
more than just another Southern rapper,
he released Tha Carter in 2004 that
featured a hidden side of his talent and
looks to go further with the sequel, Tha
Carter, Vol.I.
Weezy returns like a warrior: long
dreadlocks, no shirt and a chest covered
with tattoos. Trying to separate himself
from the everyday Southern rapper, he
comes with a new slice of production:
Instead of Jazze Pha and Mannie Fresh

beats, he has tracks by Heatmakerz and
other East Coast heavy-hitters. The most
uniquely produced song is "Shooter," a
jazz-funk feel of deep bass and electric
piano. Like almost every other rapper
who moves units, he has found 101 dif-
ferent ways to symbolize drug-dealing,
but includes more reasons and human-
izes his swagger.
In "Hustla Musik" he leads the cho-
rus with "Baby you gotta know that
I'm just out here doing what I gotta do
for me and you." He's matured into a
strong, determined and powerful rapper
who isn't afraid to reinvent himself.
Although he makes a vast improve-
ment here, he hasn't perfected his flow
yet. He makes an artistic statement with
his new range of production, but his
narrative ability seems a bit hackneyed
and in some cases it's the melody that
saves the song.
Lil' Wayne is lacking his early,
scrappy charisma and tries for a mood
that doesn't completely fit him yet.
Still, he's come a long way from
youth. He took some chances, made
some mistakes and now is emerging as
a full, adult artist. The boy has become
a man before our eyes and ears.

I

Fun in
short
supply
wit Jane'
By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer

New 'Producers' doesn't translate

_K

The 20-something, moviegoing crowd
had an epiphany last year. When "Eternal

Sunshine of the
Spotless Mind"
premiered, we
learned two things
about Jim Carrey:
the typically goofy
actor could handle
a serious role, and

Fun with Dick
and Jane
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Columbia

Courtesy of Columbia
Watching your own crappy movie at a theater requires a special disguise.

Jim Carrey might actually be hot.
Many of his new fans poured into the
theaters over the holiday to feed their
blossoming crushes, and instead ended
up crushed because "Fun with Dick and
Jane" is nothing more than a fluffy and
unimaginative film.
Sure, Carrey is attractive, but the 90
minute movie feels as if it will never end
and inspires none of the classic "Dumb
and Dumber" or "Ace Ventura" laugh-
until-you-choke moments.
The film focuses on a family of three.
Dick Harper (Carrey) is promoted to
Vice President of Communications the

day before his company faces an Enron-
esque crash. He and his wife, Jane (Tea
Leoni, "Spanglish"), sell their belong-
ings after months of unemployment,
finally resorting to thievery in order to
pay the bills.
One problem with the film is the way
it's been promoted.The audience comes
in expecting a rip-roaring, slapstick
comedy about the criminal exploits of
the Harper couple. But the film takes
too long to get to that point. The first
half follows Dick and Jane through the
loss of their jobs, the beginning of the
financial crisis, then the slow - and
slow is putting it mildly - descent
into crime. When the narrative finally
meanders its way to the robbery scenes,
they are too brief and already featured

in the trailers.
The film is not altogether dull, but
the humorous moments are forgettable
at best. Carrey is charming and goofy,
as usual. Leoni delivers a funnier (and
sexier) performance than you might
think. But there isn't a lot of chemistry
between the characters - comedic or
otherwise. The audience hoping at least
for a flash of PG-13 nudity from the
dually quirky, attractive leads, will be
disappointed.
Ultimately, the film is merely pass-
able holiday fare. The plot is mildly
interesting. The main characters are
intermittently amusing. There isn't any-
thing overtly objectionable about "Fun
with Dick and Jane," it's just not all that
worth watching.

By Zach Borden
Daily Arts Writer
After becoming a Tony-winning, box-office behemoth
on Broadway nearly five years ago, it was only a matter
of time before the musical version of "The Producers"
made the jump back to its original form: a broad, big-
screen comedy.
And given how much a sensa- The Producers
tion "The Producers" was when it
debuted on the Great White Way, At the Showcase
it would only make sense to bring and Quality 16
along most of the show's primary Universal
talents for the jump to celluloid.
Unfortunately, devoid of the stage, even all the right
players can't recapture the magic of the theater.
The film follows Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane), once
one of the most successful Broadway producers around,
but, after a string of misfires, has his dreams of becom-
ing rich all but shattered. But the timid accountant
Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick) pays Max a visit and
suggests that a producer can make more money with a
flop than a hit, Max and Leo conspire to produce the
worst musical ever, "Springtime For Hitler" - written
by a Nazi (Will Ferrell). Yet problems arise fast when
their musical becomes an unexpected success, and their
curvy Swedish secretary (Uma Thurman) causes ten-
sion between the duo.
The film's success hinges on director Susan Stroman
("Center Stage"), who was instrumental to the actual
musical's success. But Stroman is limited in her theatri-
cal background and appears oblivious to the differences
between film and stage in visual representation and act-
ing. She seems content to overuse close-ups and direct
most of the film on a few bland sets rather than think-
ing bigger and utilizing more locations. The movie also
takes time to gather comedic momentum and allow the
narrative to flow.
Compensating a little for Stroman's disappointing
direction are the performances. Wisely, much of the
original Broadway cast returns. Lane's bawdy and ram-
bunctious Bialystock and Broderick's nebbish Bloom
have plenty of charm, but their chemistry - while

Courtesy of Universal
It costs a little more for two of you.
enjoyable - doesn't have the same magnetism it did
on the stage. Also reprising their stage roles are screen
newcomer Gary Beach and Roger Bart ("The Stepford
Wives"), both of whom offer pitch-perfect comic tim-
ing and show complete ease on camera.
Most surprising, however, are the two established
stars who steal the movie from the show's veterans.
Thurman, as secretary Ulla, nails the loopy accent and
plays well off Broderick and Lane, while Will Ferrell -
Nazi playwright Franz Liebkind - is a hoot. Ferrell's
is outlandish, but his mannerisms and comedic prow-
ess create a force that rivals even Lane in sheer comic
lunacy.
While "The Producers" is passable as a film, it pales
in comparison to its stage version. Sadly, "The Produc-
ers" joins the ranks of recent movie-musical disappoint-
ments ("Rent," "The Phantom Of The Opera") and begs
the question if "Chicago" - which promised the revival
of a genre so long pronounced dead - was merely a
fluke after all.

DAILY ARTS 2006. CAN'T STOP. WoN'T STOP. BAD BOY.

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