March 6, 2006
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And the winner is ...
THE OsCAR WINNERS, AND HOW THE DAILY FARED
time to kill,
WILLIS EXUDES CLASSIC CHARM IN LATEST VEHICLE
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
As John McClane in 1988's venerable "Diehard,"
Bruce Willis embodied one of the most enduring
action characters in modern
American cinema. But he's
33 no longer, and just can't
sell lines like "Yippee ki-yay,
Actors in his position face
a tough choice (see Harrison
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Ford, who pretends that he's still the whippersnap-
per who fought Nazis in 1981). Willis, however,
harboring no such delusions, embraces his bald-
ing, gray head, creaking joints and ballooning belly
and uses them to create a memorable new brand of
action hero in his latest, "16 Blocks."
OK, time for a small reality check. Though "16
Blocks" is an action thriller, Willis's Jack Moseley
is hardly an action hero. He's the hung-over, sick-
to-his-stomach cop who just wants to go home and
sleep after a long night shift. But wouldn't you know
it, some suit-and-tie hands him paperwork just as
he's leaving the building and orders him to trans-
port a prisoner 16 blocks up the street to a court
hearing. 118 minutes, 16 blocks: one hell of a day.
The prisoner is Eddie Bunker, played brilliantly by
the supremely talented hip-hopper-turned-actor Mos
Def ("The Italian Job"). We're told he's a nobody.
It's just a routine job - but, of course, there's much
more to it than that. Eddie is a key witness in a police
corruption case and, as if New York City's infamous
gridlock wasn't enough, half of the city's police force
is out to stop Jack and Eddie at any cost.
Turning America's most symbolic city into a vil-
lain is a brash yet successful move and gives the
film a sense of complicity that similar fare often
lacks. Sixteen blocks is about a 10-minute drive in
most inhabited places, but in New York, it can be a
nightmare taking up the better part of a day. At its
core, the use of the city's congestion and bustle in
this way is nothing earth shattering - just a mild
variation of the archetypical "dark-forest" theme in
a hero's journey - but applied in this film, it works
to just the right effect, complicating our hero's bur-
den and adding intrigue.
We all love New York, sure, but here, it's a very
The leader of the corrupt cops out to stop Jack
and Eddie is David Morse's nauseatingly slick
Frank Nugent. Morse, basically the Ben Wallace
of onscreen law enforcement, has a commanding
presence that's always a force you want on your
side (as Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx
found out in "The Green Mile," "The Negotiator"
and "Bait," respectively). Unfortunately for Jack
and Eddie, he's rotten to the core in this role with a
dozen heavily armed men at his disposal.
Though he's very much over the hill, Wills's
Moseley is a little like the 40-year-old Michael Jor-
dan returning to play for the Wizards: He shows
occasional flashes of former brilliance. One such
occasion makes for the most memorable scene in
the film, one of the more prototypically cool recent
moments in the movies. But Willis's expected
super-cop antics are kept to a minimum, and this
saves the film from going too overboard with Jean-
Claude Van Damme-style pyrotechnics.
Instead, what sells the film - and indeed makes
it funny and almost, almost believable - is the
nonchalant genius that is Mos Def. He's annoying,
he talks too much and most of what he says seems
meaningless, but he plays his character so seam-
lessly that we're almost left stunned.
Still, there's one inescapable, if entirely volun-
tary, conclusion: "16 Blocks" is tense, tight, funny
and wholly entertaining - but only if you let it be.
Hold fast to the knowledge that it's only a movie
and is meant by no means to be a how-to guide
on transferring prisoners or the New York Police
Department. There are loopholes in the plot, and
some may even be glaring to those out to scruti-
nize. My best advice: don't. It's a movie, and it's
better than most.
The Daily guessed cor-
rectly in seven of the
eight major categories
We said: "Brokeback
Winner: Ang Lee
We said: Ang Lee
Winner: Philip Seymour
We said: Philip Seymour
Winner: Reese Wither-
We said: Reese Wither-
Winner: George Clooney
We said: George Clooney
Winner: Rachel Weisz
We said: Rachel Weisz
We said: "Crash"
We said: "Brokeback
AP PHOTOS Mountain"
'Ultra'-thin thriller bottoms out
By Christina Choi
Daily Arts Writer
"Ultraviolet" is the foul, misshapen
lovechild of a union between Japa-
and reality that,
hopefully, was a
endeavor, the film
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
Get ready for life after Michigan with Real Life 101.
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Jeff Abraham, Lindsay Stevens and Geri Rudolph of Stevens Van Lines
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March 28, 6-7:30 p.m.: Personal Branding 101
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William Ward, Adjunct Professor, Ross School of Business
As the work place becomes more and more competitive, how are you going
to get yourself noticed and rise above the clutter? Come to this personal
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success you're looking for.
sacrifices continuity for a comic-book
style coupled with what barely passes
The film unfolds in a futuristic
world where the sole apparent accom-
plishment is the abolition of the hor-
ror caused by, say, fat people wearing
horizontally striped shirts. The set has
an artsy feel, with bright and solid
clothing and walls eerily reminiscent
a Skittles rainbow.
Milla Jovovich ("Resident Evil"),
who plays the aptly named Violet, is
a fearless vampire who risks every-
thing to save a boy named Six (Cam-
eron Bright, "Running Scared").
Six is the ultimate weapon in the
never-ending feud between humans
and vampires, yet his rapidly fading
health may prevent either side from
using him in time.
The film's thin plotline is riddled
with unanswered questions: For
instance, what's the source of Violet's
abnormal strength and agility? How
does she consistently manage to kill
countless men and have them all col-
lapse in a perfect circle around her
perfect superhero poses? More impor-
tantly, is her flawless face really a hid-
den advertisement for Botox?
Violet gives away no secrets, but
this is probably because she rarely has
anything worthwhile to say. Jovov-
ich's attempts to keep Six in line are
constantly thwarted by her lackluster
delivery. Even Six finds her hard to
believe, and it must be tough for the
guards not to burst out laughing when
Violet smoothly declares, "you are all
going to die." But in true Hollywood
style, being able to slice through men
like butter compensates for her lack of
basic verbal ability.
Despite these drawbacks, the film
manages to incorporate some sci-
fi creativity. Disposable paper cell
phones and bracelets that double as
credit cards are just cool enough to
provide a welcome diversion. Still,
the film pushes it a bit too far with the
extravagant measures the evil Daxus
(Nick Chinlund, "The Legend of
Zorro") takes to ensure his protection
from the contagious vampire virus.
Among his precautions include a gun
sealed in aluminum foil and an air fil-
ter that strongly resembles a pair of
silver nose plugs.
Six is also unrealistic, but in a dras-
tically different way. Besides being
discovered in a case that looks like a
giant white lima bean, his dialogue is
the most sophisticated of the film -
odd considering his favorite memory
involves being pushed on the merry-
go-round by a laughing Violet.
That pseudo-maternal moment is
the most bizarre scene of "Ultravio-
let," but not because it occurs right in
the middle of an intense scene of bat-
tle and tragedy. It's then that the film,
much like the audience, appears to
forget its role as a tribute to senseless
action and instead finds itself a com-
edy worthy pf outright laughter.
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