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March 14, 2006 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-03-14

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 14, 2006



By Jeffrey Bloomer
Managing Arts Editor
We all know where this is going.
A squarely middle-American family goes on a
cross-country road trip through the rural South'-
west to celebrate their par-
ents' silver. Their post-MTV
belle of a teenage daughter The Hills
complains she would rather Have Eyes
be in Cancun; their adoles- At the Showcase
cent son decidedly wears two and Quality 16
shirts even though they're Fox Searchlight
in the middle of the desert;
their eldest daughter's new
husband bickers back and forth with her father,
taking the usual territorial strides. We know
these people.
When they stop at a gas station conveniently
located in the middle of nowhere, the attendant
tells them of a "shortcut" down a nearby dirt
road. "It's not on the map," he says kindly.
A shortcut. Right. That the attendant happens
to be the father of a local band of disfigured
cannibals comes as little surprise to us, but
these are nice people, and so the unsuspecting
bunch jovially drives on. We can't help but sigh:
This can't possibly end well, and we were just
starting to like these people.
All true, but then Alexandre Aja's "The Hills.
Have Eyes" is, of all things, a thematically
complex movie. A remake of Wes Craven's cult
classic of the same title, the film unabashedly
rejects the postmodern-comic chic of its con-
temporaries, opting for pure graphic horror and
a cultural undertow that digs deeper than the
shiny array of carving knives and pick axes that
otherwise drive its narrative.
Bucking the genre's new tendency toward
shock-fueled exhibitions of hopeless torture and
death, Aja - following his frustrating but still
effective French import "High Tension" (known
more tellingly in cult circles as "Switchblade
Romance") - writes and directs his film inde-

co'rtes o f"V

"OMG! We're soooooooo fucking asinine!"

'8th' is 'Laguna'-lite

By Ben Megargel
Daily Arts Writer
MTV sure knows how to appeal to its
viewers' insecurities. As the March dol-

drums set in and
a large percent-
age of America is
at a peak of pale-
ness, the channel
premieres "8th &
Ocean," a reality

8th & Ocean
Tuesdays at
10:30 p.m.

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Just think of it as IM head-bussin'...

pendently of the recent slew of blood-drenched
epic slag, allowing his characters life beyond the
typical who-will-die-next screenplay engine.
All the right elements are in place - the
impossibly squalid gas station, the desolate
ghost town home to the resident cannibals, the
curious backstreet canyon filled with abandoned
cars and luggage - but the film uses them only
as a stage to pursue its more compelling inter-
est: the effect the trauma has on the quintes-
sentially American nuclear family. The Carters
are flag-touting red-blooded conservatives, the
father a lifelong police detective who takes the
back roads for fun and chides his new son-in-
law as a product of his liberal education ("He's
a Democrat; he doesn't like guns," he playfully
tells his son).
This dynamic becomes key, the American ico-
nography seeping into nearly every scene as the
villains point fingers - a bit too righteously, to
be sure - at U.S.-sanctioned nuclear trials for
the area's devastation. Its trail is everywhere: A
character stabs his aggressor with the broken-
off end of an American flag, the drape sticking
out from his head as if he were conquered ter-
ritory. A villain does an eerie rendition of "The

Star Spangled fanner" as he pursues the fam-
ily. There's even a low-angle shot of a trium-
phant would-be victim after he brutally fights
off an attacker set against a classically patriotic
soundtrack - this being the central left'leaning
The clash between values old and new, rural
and urban, combined with a fearful look back
at the past, are at the heart of the film, easily
taking onscreen dominance over the story's tra-
ditional foundation. This is rich and unexpected
work - bizarre but oddly satisfying - with
Aja using the genre framework as his forum for
teasing out deeply rooted social anxieties.
And then it's entirely possible to overlook
these considerations and get lost in the movie's
uncommon visceral grasp. It houses scenes of
stunning brutality, but there's a method to its
madness: The extra-textual wanderings return
to the forgotten roots of a genre once marked by
its knack for exploring painful cultural under-
pinnings. The movie closes abruptly with the
obligatory franchise-begging final shot, but
that's OK - Aja makes no attempt to reinvent
the genre, just to return it back to form. And
that he does.

show that follows a group of aspiring
Miami-based models attending a dizzy-
ing cycle of photo shoots and nightclubs.
Though completely mindless, the show
is the perfect combination of babes and
bitchiness, or as MTV advertises, the
"latest obsession."
The premise is almost embarrassingly
simple: Modeling agency Irene Marie
Management contracts promising hotties,
setting them up in "model's apartments."
The show chronicles the insanely com-
petitive nature of living with people who
could steal your job at any moment.
In the first episode, the archetypal
cast of reality cardboard-cutouts is estab-
lished. Britt is the innocent newcomer
from Kansas who was home-schooled
her entire life. Kelly and Sabrina are the
blonde twins with an intense case of sib-
ling rivalry. Though the guys haven't been
individually established yet, Teddy seems
to be the consummate player while Sean
is the group clown.
At its most basic level, the show is pure
entertainment. Though many believe pro-
ducer Tony DiSanto's ("Laguna Beach")

shows are completely scripted, it's easy
to not care how fake the drama is. Call it
superficial, but the girls would be divert-
ing enough with the volume on mute.
When Sabrina is hosed down in a white
sheer bathing suit, there are few hetero-
sexual men who would object. And the
male models - at times prettier than the
girls - will satisfy those interesed.
What makes "8th & Ocean" more than
softcore porn is the humor, both inten-
tional and not, that peppers the models'
interactions. The girls treat each other
horribly, with Sabrina and Kelly the most
obvious candidates for the Obligatory
Super Bitch. Somehow, though they are
identical twins, Kelly is the "superior"
model, and makes this clear to Sabrina
on a regular basis.
Another exciting prospect for girl-on-
girl crime is Britt, who is bound to be
completely corrupted by her female con-
temporaries. This type of nasty behavior
is mean-spirited and even a little sad, but
it's totally entertaining.
In contrast to the girls, the guys are sur-
prisingly down to earth, acting more like
a group of friends than competitors. It's
interesting to see a male perspective on
the modeling world, especially when they
hilariously comment on the physical dif-
ficulties of controlling themselves while
modeling with girls.
Although"8th & Ocean" is surely vapid
trash, it is without question some of the
most enjoyable garbage on television. For
all those trying to reach the higher ground
by avoiding the show, give it up. You can't
deny hot people are fun to watch, and you
may as well join in. Just don't forget to
turn the volume off.


Even Depp can't escape stale biopic .

by David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer
Since writer Stephen Jefferys has written a movie

(his first) about a play, it is
only fair that another play
appear in this review - a
play about a movie:
Intern: "Oh man, the reel
fell in the toilet."
Director: "Whatever. Just

The Libertine
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
The Weinstein company

with each other, but you can find more insight and
wit in a Snoop Dogg song.
Depp plays Rochester a.k.a. John Wilmot, a
17th century Poet Laureate type, who is sort of a
Don Juan meets John Donne meets Ty Cobb. He's
a filthy, womanizing, megalomaniacal genius/
drunkard with a fondness for vulgar language and
an appetite for inexpensive whores. But he also
loves theater. Isn't that nice?
In fact, the plot is that, up until he meets actress
Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton, "In Ameri-
ca"), he loves nothing but the theater. They meet
just after Wilmot is assigned to write, in play form,
a "tribute" to current King Charles II's (John Mal-
kovich, "Being John Malkovich") reign.
He takes her on as a pupil after she is booed
off stage and makes a bet with his friends that he
can turn her, "She's All That"-style, into the most
desired actress in England. During the tutelage
process, he falls for her and subsequently begins
to write his play. When the play debuts, however,
it turns out to be, basically, DildoFest 1674. Natu-
rally, the King is insulted, and so Wilmot runs
away. He remains hidden for sixth months, dur-

ing which time he slowly deteriorates, mentally
and physically.
"The Libertine" is the story of said deteriora-
tion. Throughout, he rots. His hedonistic life-
style, from which he has ceased to draw any
pleasure, gradually corrodes him until he begins
to look like a fruit that's been left in the base-
ment. "The Libertine" plods along, the main
events seeming unimportant, until it culminates
in a disappointing scene of supposed redemp-
tion. It's sleep-inducing and possesses an almost
malodorous quality with its grainy color and
depressing sets.
The one impressive aspect of the film is the
makeup job. The artists manage to transform
Depp, one of People Magazine's 50 most beauti-
ful, into one of the ugliest characters ever caught
on film. During the last 30 minutes, he's almost
In the very beginning, while Depp is still
simply a little baggy-eyed and pale (not yet
gruesomely deformed), he delivers the film's pro-
logue. Its first words. are, "Allow me to be frank:
You will not like me." At least he's honest.

fish it out and throw it in the mail."
Yes, "The Libertine" isn't the cleanest of films.
It wasn't meant to be. But rest assured, what it lacks
in cleanliness and color, it makes up for in self-
conceit. In its attempt to be a daring exploration of
an inevitable human despair,-it winds up nothing
riore than a trite, hackneyed misanthropic rant.
The words that spill from the Second Earl of Roch-
ester's (Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean")
mouth are sometimes well chosen and often rhyme


Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

Wilmot was bawdy, but he still didn't write "2 Way Freak."

I F~Y f-I



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