September 26, 2006
the IDidigadrn flI
"Guess who I was with last night?"
Li's finale coasts
with easy formula'
Art doesn't get iier than this.
By Kristin MacDonald
Daily Film Editor
It seems fairly appropriate that
a man who stars in movies with
"The Ooe' ** -k-,.
"Hero" o F
"Fist of Leg-
eod" would At the Showcase
stride off into and Quality 16
martial arts Focus
with a final epic titled "Fearless."
After all,Jet Li has already buddied
up with DMX, romanced Aaliyah
and laid the smackdown on a gray-
ing Mel Gibson. What more can
kung-fu celluloid offer him?
Jet Li's last hurdle turns out to
be his greatest. In "Fearless," the
impassable Li comes up against
the ultimate cinematic villain
- clich6. And despite his valiant
efforts, the martial-arts hero is
"Fearless" recounts, in typi-
cally stylized fashion, the some-
what-true story of Huo Yuanjia,
a turn-of-the-century Chinese
martial-arts master. As a young
man, Yuanjia (Li) is fixated on
following his father's footsteps to
become a local kung-fu hero -
basically amounting to kicking the
crap out of his many opponents.
This affords plenty of opportunity
for some terrific mano-a-mano
showdowns, though the fast pace
is periodically slowed by sermon-
izing reminders that the quest for
champion status is not a worthy
quest at all.
Whatever. While he mows
down challengers, Yuanjia should
just roundhouse the screenwriter,
too. Instead, he kills a rival, whose
family seeks vengeance in Yuan-
jia's own home (Lesson: Revenge
begets more revenge = bad!).
Distraught with grief, Yuanjia
stumbles from town in a foggy
reverie, half-mad and unkempt.
He awakens in a bucolic para-
dise straight out of Mao's wettest
dreams, where a gorgeous blind
girl tends to his shamefully matted
hair and peasants work in com-
munal peace. Why, after several
contented years, does he decide to
leave this eastern Eden? Because
the story must go on!
When he returns to town, a
fresh band of scheming, imperi-
alistic foreigners arrive, insulting
the courage of the Chinese man.
Yuanjia cannot permit such dis-
grace and proceeds to defend the
dignity of his countrymen the only
way he knows how - with the pro-
verbial can of kung-fu whoop-ass.
His effort is all the more impres-
sive considering those many years
of fieldwork haven't dented his
abilities in the slightest.
Granted, "Fearless" bills itself
as a martial-arts epic, and as
such has a right to all the magical
stunts and fable-like storytelling
the genre allows. But to play with
those freedoms is entirely differ-
ent than merely fulfilling them.
Gems like Li's previous effort
"Hero" resonate for the transport-
ing nature of their fantasy - they
soar, taking majestic visual liber-
ties and evoking the powerful sim-
plicity of Greek theater pathos.
"Fearless," on the other hand,
doesn't invent its fun; it merely
collects together some old favor-
ites from the kung-fu canon. Fig-
ures. There wasn't much pathos
in "Freddy Vs. Jason" either,
and that's the other big credit on
director Ronny Yu's resume (well,
next to "Bride of Chucky"). Jet Li
deserved a better send-off for his
departure from the martial arts
screen; if he's fearless, it's for
allowing this production team to
have the honor.
BANK ON BANKSY
BRITISH GRAFFITI ARTIST CREATES SINGULAR WORK
n 1926, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote: "I do Thirty years after De Bois's essay would
not give a damn for any art that is not find the U.S.'s Cold War face-off with the
used for propaganda. But I do care U.S.S.R., and it was the groundbreaking
when propaganda is confined to one side accomplishments of artists working in
while the other is stripped and silent." New York City that caused the center of
Although he was speaking of- the elite, the artistic and the
the art and literature of the cultured to move from Paris to
Harlem Renaissance - and New York. The role of art as a
the subsequent racial issues player in the Cold War cannot
surrounding that movement be dismissed.
- his point is timeless. Art is undeniably a critical
Today's media conveys tool for change, be it local,
information with the same national or international. It's
liberty as any artist (don't even that "other" sphere of life,
think of pulling out the absurd ynext to politics, economics
"liberal media" falsehood), to and other engines of progress.
the detriment of our nation ANDREW SARGUS But art has to mingle, doesn't
and our world. News media KLEIN it? How else could it engage
are just lenses, rarely objec- us? If there was no crossover
tive. And so history has shown us that between expression and reality, we might
sometimes we need artists to tow the line, as well have one huge Street Art Fair
to push the envelope of social awareness. - beautiful pots and clocks, but not a lot
of dialogue - for the rest of our lives.
Enter Banksy, a British graffiti artist
whose staggeringly ingenious art has slid
under the radar in places ranging from
London to Paris to Paris Hilton's latest
album. His stencils are undeniably his
best work: little girls clutching bombs,
Mona Lisas with bazookas, British blokes
lawn bowling with cartoonish hand-bombs
- Banksy's patience, subtlety and tact are
unmatched by any contemporary artist.
"This is not a photo opportunity" briefly
adorned a wall near a particularly scenic
view of the Eiffel Tower. A police officer
with a leashed dog frame the ominous
"Stop me before I paint again." And there's
my favorite: Ronald McDonald and Mickey
Mouse holding hands with a young naked
girl - after a moment you realize she's
from the infamous Vietnam War photo of
refugees fleeing American napalm.
See BANKSY, page 9
'Kidnapped' abducts old ideas
By Ben Megargel
Daily Arts Writer
The dramatic climax of "Kid-
napped" occurs about five minutes
into the hour-
long series **A x
dard, there's Wednesdays
the faux cop, at 10 p.m.
traffic stop and
bloodless gun fight. The teenage
child of a powerful Upper East Side
power couple is snatched from the
car in the process, and while this is
all mildly entertaining, it feels like
cut footage from a weak "24" epi-
sode from season three.
"Kidnapped' under the ever-
growing serial thriller genre, is
barely functional. The show's
sprawling cast is composed mainly
of seasoned veterans who play their
roles effectively. Despite the lack of
screen time for any particular actor,
each shines in his own role. Of par-
ticular note is Jeremy Sisto ("Six
Feet Under"), who portrays the
steely-eyed private investigator with
equal parts machismo and subtle
vulnerability. Oscar-winner Timo-
thy Hutton ("Ordinary People")
and Emmy-winner Dana Delaney
("Chinatown") are also standouts as
the parents of the kidnapped boy.
Inmany ways borrowingfrom the
script of "24" and other serials, the
show is intricately produced, pay-
ing close attention to visual details.
Sharp, "Law and Order"-style edit-
ing, unexpected camera angles and
blue-washed lighting permeate
every shot, and the effort put in to
reproduce the professional look of
similar shows is obvious.
But despite a solid cast and excel-
lent production value, "Kidnapped"
is unable to rise above a tired plot
and script. With "Vanished" and
"Without a Trace" already covering
abduction, the entire premise seems
moot. To make matters worse, the
drama is poorly organized. The boy
is kidnapped before his personality
or back story is established, stifling
any potential for emotional attach-
ment. In addition, the parents are
cold and self-serving and seem
almost as worried about the skel-
etons in their closet being found
by their son. This lack of character
development begs the question why
anyone should care about this fami-
ly's fictional predicament.
If "Kidnapped" had come ou
five or 10 years ago, it would've
been groundbreaking material anc
a likely Nielsen-ratings favorite. Bu
in a world where far superior seri-
alized dramas are the norm on tele
vision, "Kidnapped" makes little
distinct impact. Besides, a host of
anonymous FBI agents and private
investigators is no match for the
man himself, Jack Bauer.
for more information cal 734/615-6449
The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts presents a public lecture and reception
What will I find in a sales career at Lilly?
We want to share with you why over 250 of Michigan
graduates enjoy their work at Lilly.
PLEASE JOIN US.......
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When: Thursday, September 28th, 2006
Time: 6:00-8:00 PM
Where: The Michigan League - Michigan Room
(Food will be provided.)
Full-time as well as intern positions available.
For more information about Eli Lilly and Company,
please visit our website at www.lilly.com/careers.
Meeting Needs for the 21" $Century
Mark E. Meyerhoff
Philip J. Elving Collegiate Professor of Chemistry
September 27, 2006
Answers That Matter.