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January 09, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-09

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January 9, 2006
arts. michigandaily.com



. ... ........ . . . .. .. .. .. ... .. .

Language lessons

Welcome back to the dorms, frosh!


In Stephen Gaghan's "Syriana," the ignorantw
audience has to deal with the follow- We tak
ing languages: Arabic, Chinese, Urdu, wars? We'
Persian, French, German and English. an album
Considering most Americans, starters an
including privileged college students low-incom
like us, can't tell you what Urdu sounds educated a
like, let alone which peoples speak Like "T
Urdu and where they live,
this choice might seem like
high-minded condescen-
sion. And it is. And it's the
smart thing to do.
We sometimes deserve
to be talked down to. For
instance, as Gaghan's film
illustrates, we have a woeful
track record for learning lan-
guages. Even the University,
a bastion for strong interna- EVAN
tional learning and language MCGARVEY
training, almost cow-towed to
a group of spoiled, insulted people we call originallya
classmates by reducing an already-shallow the early '9
language requirement. denly carri
Getting submerged into the stew of on his sho
languages, globalization and that always- He's from1
tricky mistress of politics can lose the ing Project
audience. But I think that's the point. away from
Remember Alexander Pope: "The two in childho
purposes of art are to inform and enter- pushing $2
tain." Now think about our modern artis- napalm lea
tic education, our modern art, or modern album, Th
expectations about art and words like tling narrat
"diversion" and "amusement." Didactic art his home:'
becomes, in. our cohort's indecisive eyes, heard me /
associated with shortsighted, patriarchal tant thant
bile like "Birth of a Nation" instead of because ev
righteousness like Sinclair's "The Jungle." - to FEM
We're all guilty of something on a finished bu
global scale, so, conversely, we're all equate Lev
equal in our sins. There are no preachers idiotic Bar
in modern political art, but instead doc- of fate that1
umentarians: Young Jeezy talks about Yeah, it'
feeding his family with coke profits. made a mi
"Here, Bullet," the debut book of poetry Yes, he's
by Iraq War-vet Brian Turner, has speak- To be lo
ers meditating on Iraqi women washing es, socialg
food for their family alongside burned- money ist
out tanks and defused bombs. Gaghan's f
Unveiling minute cultural details, rap, is perf
like Turner's stanzas, is the fundamental possible: su
source of "instruction." We are told things And if
we know nothing about - Muslim theol- you're cor
ogy, oil economics, drug deals in hoods should prob
we're never going to visit - and somehow your stance
become part of the debate. College stu-
dents may not like hearing it, or reading
it, or being forced to write about it, but we speaks
should btietured to. We need to be toldn
we are ignorant and that even if we remain

we are part of the dynamic.
e a class on Middle Eastern
re part of the debate. You buy
cause of the bass-heavy club
d suddenly the MC raps about
e housing? You have just been
nd entertained.
Traffic," Gaghan's other tour-
de-force of culpability and
shared sin, the best modern
political art preaches inter-
connectedness. Purchasing
plastic bags and refilling
your car binds you to oil-field
workers on platforms in the
Middle East. The drugs you
use (narcotic and otherwise)
link you to research scien-
tists, farmers and distribution
networks innately tied into to
class differences.
The rapper Lir Wayne,
a King Midas-like Hot Boy in
90s New Orleans rap scene, sud-
es the artistic lineage of the city
ulders in the wake of Katrina.
the infamous Magnolia Hous-
ts in the city; he's never slinked
crafting new narratives rooted
cd poverty. Between the sticker
20 at Borders and "Fireman," the
ad single, from his most recent
a Carter II, plays simple hus-
tives next to grounded hymns on
"New Orleans my birthplace ya
/ Where money is more impor-
the person." That line works
ver since that hurricane, money
IA, to the contractors who just
iuilding another round of inad-
ies, to the always isolated and
rbara Bush - has been the hand
has disfigured New Orleans.
s Lit' Wayne, the same guy who
nt off inventing "bling-bling."
s educating you.
ost in the streams of languag-
groups and the murky path of
to be awake. Modern art, like
ilms and post-Katrina Southern
orming one of the noblest tasks
ubtly revealing ignorance.
you're a college student and
mfortable with ignorance, you
bably reevaluate a lot more than
e on art.
- For the record cGparvey
ChinesefPersian sa4444can.
vrse with I ugyjag wue at


By Andrew Bielak
Daily Arts Writer
People all over Europe probably know an "ugly
American" when they see one. The fact that some

of our dim-witted, college-age
nationals engage in drunken, post-
adolescent chaos while abroad is
no secret, and these ruffians are
frighteningly easy to spot. Seeing
this behavior firsthand, some of
our comrades across the Atlantic

At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Lions Gate

It all starts promisingly enough. Recent college
grads Paxton (Jay Hernandez, "Friday Night Lights")
and Josh, along with newfound Icelandic pal Oli
(newcomers Derek Richardson and Eythor Gudjons-
son) are on a tour of Europe that plays like a frat boy's
wet dream - downing mixed drinks, pissing off the
locals and, most importantly, trying to sleep with hot
European babes. When a marginally shady wanderer
recounts a legendary hostel in Eastern Europe loaded
with beautiful, loose women, the trio is hooked imme-
diately and their sexual adventure begins.
Reaching their destination in an economically
depressed Slovakian town, our friends soon find, to
their glee, that the legends are true: the hostel is invit-
ing; the women are horny; and everything is perfect
- a little too perfect, perhaps?
Sure enough, things start to go awry when our hap-
less hornballs start disappearing one by one from the
hostel. When they reappear, it's in some kind of aban-
doned warehouse/dungeon, surrounded by a variety of
frightening torture instruments and psychotic guys in
surgical masks who know how to operate them. Our
heroes, it seems, have becomes victims of the burgeon-
ing pay-to-kill industry, whereby sufficiently wealthy

sadists get the opportunity to murder someone in the
horrific manner of their choosing.
So after about 45 minutes of flashy nudity and
drunkenness, we are treated to the real meat of the
film: human meat, that is. Besides devising ways
to torture people with power drills, scalpels and
blow torches, Roth seems to take special delight in
throwing around more body parts than a cannibal-
istic butcher shop. While the shock value is clearly
evident, the gratuitous violence delivers few actual
scares or surprises. When the suspense finally does
come, it occurs outside the torture chambers, prov-
ing yet again that mere violence is not enough to
produce an effective thriller.
As a film, "Hostel" feels like a few clever con-
cepts poorly stitched together into an unsatisfy-
ing movie. Roth seeks to posit some intriguing
ideas about cultural intolerance and humans'
capacity for violence, but he fails to form them
into a compelling film. Although "Hostel" has
its moments of pure popcorn entertainment, its
overall mediocrity places it in a throwaway cate-
gory we've come to know all too welL;the highly.
gory, highly un-frightful frightfest.


probably get a little resentful, a little angry and, who
knows, maybe a little violent.
Splatter-happy horror maven Eli Roth ("Cabin
Fever"), however, seems to have the most malevolent
plans of all for our overly obnoxious countrymen.
Unfortunately for us, they mostly involve strapping the
young lads to metal chairs and torturing them for hours
in disgustingly clever ways.
It isn't pretty. Unless, of course, you're into
that kind of thing.

By Christopher Lochner
Daily Arts Writer
A movie bearing the name "Casa-
nova," that of the infamous lecher and
lover of women, immediately conjures

Pathetic'Blood' impossibly stale, boring
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer


Every so often, a film is released that's so atrocious
everyone takes notice. A heinous example of what not

to do with filmmaking, these mov-
ies actually influence future films
more than some great movies, be it
through passing references in studio
comedies (think "Jade" in "The 40-
Year-Old Virgin") or by dissuading
the production of other films in the

At the Showcase
and Quality 16

Courtesy of Touchstone

images of lusty love
making between
beautiful virgins
and the swashbuck-
ling hero. But the
new film version,
which tries to con-
struct itself like a

At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Shakespearean tale

of the world's most renowned romantic
finding true love, ends up playing like a
boilerplate Hollywood romantic comedy
- good for a few laughs, but ultimately
The film, from celebrated Swiss
director Lasse Hallstrom ("Choco-
lat"), stars Heath Ledger ("10 Things
I Hate About You") as Casanova, a
man constantly in trouble with the
law. After a particularly scandalous
romp involving a nunnery, Casanova
is given an ultimatum by the Doge of
Venice (Tim McInnerny, "The Emper-
or's New Clothes"): either settle down
and find a wife or be exiled from the

Casanova, the original Stifler.
city. Casanova settles on a young maid-
en named Victoria (newcomer Natalie
Dormer), but soon meets and falls
in love with the beautiful Francesca
(Sienna Miller, "Layer Cake"). Stand-
ing in his way is Francesca's fiance,
Paprizzio (Oliver Platt, "Kinsey"), the
lard king of Genoa. With the stage set,
the ensuing events - involving trysts,
swooning lovers, mistaken identities
and some well placed jokes directed
toward the Catholic Church - evolve
like a hackneyed imitation of a Shake-
spearean comedy.
As unsurprisingly gorgeous as Venice
appears on film, the scenery is comple-
mented by the impeccable costume design
that evokes the richness of 18th century
Venice. Sadly, that beauty can't compen-
sate for a shocking lack of plot. Even the
most basic elements, such as Casanova's
love for Francesca, are poorly illustrated
and lack any semblance of motivation.
Working within these constraints, Ledger

is well cast in the title role (though more
lauded in his other fall release, "Brokeback
Mountain") and there are scene-stealing
performances from Platt and the morose
Jeremy Irons ("Kingdom of Heaven").
The film is straightforward with essen-
tially no depth or twists. In fact, the only
thing that's difficult to explain about this
film is why it received an R rating. While
there are indeed scenes of a man and
women in bed together, they are by no
means explicit. Maybe the MPAA judged
this movie based more upon Casanova's
reputation for debauchery rather than the
actual content of the film. In fact, the
MPAA's only justification for the film's
rating is the always amorphous, "some
sexual content" label.
For Ledger, whose star isn't just
rising but actually aging into a full-
burning Hollywood fixture, movies
that hold back as much as he exudes
probably aren't the smartest move. Or,
to add, the sexiest.

same vein. But here we have "BloodRayne," an out-of-
nowhere vampire tale that comes to the screen as the
third straight game-to-screen atrocity from German
director Uwe Boll. This is the type of film that studios
push toward dead months like January with the tact of a
landlord sweeping rats under the fridge.
Based on a video game or comic book or whatever,
"BloodRayne" is the story of Rayne, who is a dham-
pir, across between man and vampire - a manpire, if
you will. Known among circus circles as a disgusting
creature who drinks human blood yet is impervious to
crucifixes and sunlight, Rayne (Kristanna Loken, "Ter-
minator 3: Rise of the Machines"), in a murderous out-
burst, escapes her captives and goes off on the usual sort
of blood-sucking rampage.
In a world where men and vampires are at constant
war, she becomes a key part of the battle and is thus
sought by both sides. Learning of her father's brutal-
ity (the lord of the vampires, he raped and killed her
mother), Rayne sides with the humans.
For a film that's received as much bad buzz as
"BloodRayne" - the ticket vendor adamantly refused
to sell me a ticket - it's actually not as weak as it might
have been. Camera angles and techniques are solid
in pockets, providing sweeping, wide-angle views of
Romania, where the film was both shot and set. The
musical score is also commendable, though it's a little
overbearing in a film as silly and vapid as this one.
That said, the film goes disastrously awry with its

For this chick, "T3" was a career apex.

contrived storytelling. Boll (the mastermind who gave
us Tara Reid the anthropologist in "Alone in the Dark")
seems to have tried to stretch meaningless video-game
plotlines to epic proportions, and has (once again) failed
miserably. It's impossible to overstate how superficial
and unnatural the dialogue is. The poor actors haplessly
pronounce egregiously false syllables in their attempt to
sound grandiose and unwittingly turn even their most
somber words into a farce.
Perhaps the worst performance of all comes from
Michelle Rodriguez (TV's "Lost"). She plays Katarin,
one of the humans Rayne fights alongside. In a dubious
attempt to balance the Romanian-ness of her name with
grandeur only a British accent can provide, Rodriguez
produces something that's almost as bad as, and actu-
ally resembles, Jake Lloyd's space speech in "Star Wars
Episode I: The Phantom Menace."
And as Kagan, Rayne's malevolent father, the venerable Ben
Kingsley - who won an Oscar for "Gandhi" and has been
nominated three other times - apparently just had some bills
to pay. Surely as college students we can understand that?
To chide a studio and group of actors for working
within the context of a messy plot and laughably arti-
ficial dialogue is actually a boring task. Thank heaven
movies like "BloodRayne" make it easy sometimes.


'Talking Ape' shows importance of language

By Caroline Hartmann
For the Daily
If there's one thing that sets man apart
from all other creatures, it's our extraor-
Ain , -fc 1fInn

versity, explores language and its origins
in his book "The Talking Ape." Burling
not only offers explanations to common
debates in the field but also questions the
foundations of society to better under-
stand how humans relate to one another.
Though much of Burling's work has
frnEn n im;ln +nnirc "Thy Tallkino

prehension or production, not both. But
even the most successful of these experi-
ments, which incorporate both elements,
show that no primate can excel beyond the
learning capacity of a six-year-old.
Personal anecdotes and witty remarks
make the book approachable, and Bur-
lina'o adirect onnection with the reraer

nients, the book is not for everyone. The
implications of Burling's research are rel-
evant for a wide audience, but the book's
technical diction and experimental data
may bore some readers. Though it's best
read in its entirety, reading individual
chapters or skimming through some of
the slower nnrtinns may h the het nii-


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