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October 09, 2006 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-10-09

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Monday
October 9, 2006
arts.michigandaily.com
artspage@michigandaily.com

ART s

5A

"If you're going to run a vicious crime ring, always start your day with a hearty breakfast. Always."
SUBTLE DEPARTURE
SCORSESE'S LATEST A MARK OF DEFT DIRECTION

Courtey o ew Ue
Ladies take note: engine oil is great for skin complexion.
New 'Chainsaw'
doesn't cut it

By Jeffrey Bloomer
Managing Editor
Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" is per-
haps the most cheerful movie about a fierce and
vicious culture of brutality-
ever made. It opens with **** -
shades of the director's T
great "Goodfellas," but as The
freely and devastatingly Departed
as the blood flows in the At the Showcase
final third, this is never a and Quality 16
movie about consequenc- warner Bros,
es. The film is a legacy
thriller to the bone, setting up the most happily
contrived cinematic duel since "Face/Off" and
running with it, for the most part convincingly,
through a bird's-eye tale of loyalties lost and
almost romantic deceit.
It's a story that could only have been sold by
a director like Scorsese, who makes the film's
narrative inconsistencies seem like a com-
mentary on the essential nature of man. Any-
one who moves a camera this seductively has
and should have the undying confidence of his
audience, but with "The Departed," Scorsese's
heavy hand asa filmmaker comes down a little
lighter. After a decade of films received with
ambivalence and faint praise, here is the kind
of sprawling popcorn movie for adults that has
been out of fashion for some time. It feels like
a quintessentially American movie, if not the-
matically then aesthetically, which in a way is
ironic, since the film is technically a remake of
the 2002 Chinese thriller "Infernal Affairs."

The main plot stays largely intact, save for
an increased prominence of the Jack Nich-
olson character (a no-brainer that surely had
more to do with the actor than the part) - fas-
cinating given that the story was originally a
cultural fable of morality and loyalty that has
now been adapted seamlessly for an Ameri-
can audience.
The new screenplay has the same stops but
new details. In a tough Boston neighborhood
"some years ago;' a mobster takes a boy with-
out a father under his wing. The boy becomes a
man, Colin (Matt Damon), and on the day of his
graduation from the police academy, his godfa-
ther (Nicholson) is there.
Later another young man, Billy (Leonardo
DiCaprio), graduates from the same academy,
but his transition into the police force is stalled.
As with all the characters here, he has an obvi-
ous history hinted at but never explored, and is
tapped by the department to go undercover with
the city's most infamous mobster (Nicholson).
The dichotomy is clear enough. As Billy gets
in with Costello (a little too effortlessly), Colin
rises the ranks of the local PD, and the two
moles - which the film goes to great length to
remind us aren't very different from each other
- end up in tug of war for power both tangible
and otherwise. If it all sounds too busy, it is, but
Scorsese, working from William Monahan's
richly textured screenplay, plays down the con-
vulsion and narrows in on the more obvious
back-and-forth between the two leads.
As Billy, DiCaprio works hard to shake off
the boyish innocence and renegade aloofness

that made him a pin-up and consequently a star
in the mid '90s, a sense of insecurity he should
have outgrown some time ago. Scorsese is
director with a careful eye for talentand once he
thinks he's found it, he sticks with it: The actor
has now headlined his past three films, and as
intensely as he throws himself into his roles,
he's proven himself dedicated but not entirely
in control of his medium. Damon, consequently,
is a strange fit as his double, a star whose pres-
ence as an actor (if not his bankability) has never
been in question. Nicholson nails his part, but
only customarily so, coasting through because
he knows he can. The list goes on, and should,
since the film boasts one of the most uniformly
terrific ensemble acting of the past decade. This
is a group of people who all understand their
roles precisely, and the intensity of their com-
mitment is paramount to the movie's success.
The film's weakest moments are its final ones.
The last half hour is as bloody and unsparing
as the exposition would suggest, but the char-
acters' logic is quickly lost in the crossfire. It's
true that a movie like "The Departed," where
the story's contrivances are brushed past defi-
antly, has no real responsibility to the audience
to end with more reserve (really, an ending less
drastic would probably have been an anticli-
max), but the final scenes are the only time the
screenplay's otherwise modest allegory seems
to be running the show. The film gives into the
temptation to make efficient sense of its narra-
tive too easily, and in a movie all about execu-
tion, very little about concept, it's a misstep that
couldn't be more pronounced.

By Paul Tassi explodi
Daily Arts Writer on film.
the sel:
Man law: On a date when (R. Let
given the choice between a smart taken b
Oscar-worthy forgot.
epic and an ** scream:
ugly chain- sawing,
saw-wield- Texas than fri
ing maniac, Chainsaw By ti
alwaysgowith Massacre: for Jort
the chainsaw. The in the c
Your girl Beginning role int
will leave the At the Showcase some h
movie want- and Quality 16 it crouc
ing to be as New Line tion, sli
close to you ways an
as possible, as muc
all the while not talking about You wt
how hot Matt Damon or Leonardo looked
DiCaprio was. "Texas Chainsaw the role
Massacre: The Beginning" may The
be your start to a good night, but is its
if you want a good movie, keep attempt
on walking. to hum
The film opens
with a flashback A chainsaw,
about the gruesome
birth and misshap- a backstory
en development of
Thomas "Leath- and a very,
erface" Hewitt
(Andrew Bryniar- very nice ass
ski, "Rollerball"),
then fast forwards to 1969. The friends
Vietnam War is in full effect. show f
Eric (Matthew Bomer, "Flight- stab at
plan") is about to be shipped otherwi
off for his second term, but this would'
time expects to be joined by his actually
recently drafted brother Dean Chains,
(Taylor Handley, "The O.C."). But
The two set off across Texas on of the

ng cow scene ever caught
, the teens are corralled by
f-appointed Sheriff Hoyt
e Emory, "Willard") and
ack to the house that time
What ensues is a lot of
ing, running, crying and
, which is more unsettling
ghtening.
he end you'll be looking
dana Brewster's ass listed
redits as it has the starring
the film. With the help of
yper-ultra-low rise jeans,
hes down to avoid detec-
nks through dimly-lit hall-
d quite literally has almost
h screen time as her face.
onder if the director even
at headshots when casting
film's other bright spot
somewhat commendable
at a backstory intended
sanize the pretty young
victims we would nor-
mally care less about.
A common motif in
"Texas Chainsaw" is
courage, whether it's
reenlisting in a war
to help your brother,
- or running back into
a house to save your
from cannibalistic side-
reaks. It's nice to see a
a unifying theme in an
ise mindless film. Who
Ie thought you could
y use "motif" and "Texas
aw" in the same sentence?
the overwhelming flaw
film is knowing that the

In his own shadow: trips up

By Brian Chen
For the Daily
"What's in a name?"
Turns out, Juliet, there's much
to be said of
names. Take **
Josh Davis,
better known DJ Shadow
as DJ Shadow. The Outsider
He'll likely Unisersal
never surpass
his debut,
Endtroducing..., and he knows it:
That album was an absolute monolith
that has appropriately overshadowed
(get it?) the rest of his career. Like
Kubrick's monolith in "2001" it has
served as the impetus of change, and
on his third studio album, The Out-
sider, Shadow takes the biggest step
in his career away from his debut.
Regrettablyhe takes this step toward
the Bay Area, following the hyphy
movement's recent explosion into the
mainstream. Shadow frustratingly
exploits predictable formulas and
eschews earlier innovation.
In terms of sheer variety, Davis
doesn't disappoint. "This Time (I'm
Gonna Try It My Way)" is pure blax-
ploitation - reminiscent of Bobby
Womack's "Across 100th Street"
- and "You Made It" is probably
the most sincere Coldplay rip-off
ever written. Hell, "The Tiger" even
sounds like Tool.
But that's the problem with The
Outsider: The whole thing is a pas-
tiche. The album almost always
reminds the listener of other (re: bet-
ter) music. "3 Freaks" features an
atrociously noxious beat that could
pass as faux-Timbo, pre-Nelly, pre-
Timberlake. Even the best songs
seem uninspired. The rap-rock
fusion of "Backstage Girl" could
belong to Mos Def's catalog and
"Turf Dancing" sounds like the Nep-
tunes and Rick Rubin tripping acid.
On top of it all, the album is suffused
with hyphy nonsense, from E-40 to
the Federation. Yes, "Tell Me When
To Go" was "hot fire," but the utter
asininity of the movement continues

to defy limitation.
WorseShadow employs unforgiv-
ably lyrics over these insipid beats.
About a minute into "What Have I
Done,' Christina Carter coos, "Don't
be afraid, can't you trust me / I am
your healing spirit." This might just
be the apogee of the album's lyrical
awkwardness. Except it's not. The
Outsider is loaded with unfortunate
lines like "We air the club out like
a motherfucker farted!" and "Ghost
ride my dick!"
Nonetheless, the album features
some real gems. Horrible bridge
notwithstanding, "Turf Dancing"

absolutely shines. The juxtaposition
of minimalist bass thumps and blar-
ing synths creates a singularly queasy
beat, one of the album's most electri-
fying. The softly beautiful "Broken
Levee Blues" is in every aspect a sen-
sational song, illustrating the despair
of post-Katrina New Orleans with
simple guitar licks, a steady bass and
defeated whispers of "nobody cares"
- thatitlsegues intothe pseudo-punk
cacophony of "Artifact (Instrumen-
tal)" corrupts its captivating senti-
ment. Now nobody cares.
It's unfair to criticize Davis for
striving to grow as an artist, but here

I

he has foolishly equated popular- a last-time-together road trip movie is a prequel. If you've
ity with catering to the masses. Oth- with their respective girlfriends seen the first one it's quite clear
ers have successfully pulled off the Chrissie (Jordana Brewster, "The that Tommy Hewitt and his hill-
mainstream transition - Danger Fast and the Furious") and Bailey billy clan survive for many years
Mouse and his Gnarls Barkley proj- (Diora Baird, "Accepted"). to come. This leaves no room
ect immediately comes to mind. DJ As they head down the vacant for thinking "maybe these are
Shadow, on the other hand, has for- Texas highway, Dean reveals that the kids who finally kill Leath-
gone the ingenuity of his past albums he won't be joining his brother in erface," an option that a sequel
and created something more akin Vietnam; he and Bailey are run- would have at least left open.
to a bad mix tape. It might be too ning away to Mexico instead. Eric What you have instead is a less-
much to label Shadow a "sell out," if is stunned enough not to see the than-groundbreaking, slightly
only because he seems to genuinely cow crossing the road in front of unnerving slasher film with an
believe he's making artistic progress. them. After the most impressive obvious ending.
Must be a consequence of the hyphy
bullshit - Shadow's going dumb, fr m .
dumb, dumb ..
Dr. Janet Bennett
On Becoming a Global Soul:
A Path to Engaged Citizenshipj
This presentation will examine the following:
e What exactly is intercultural competence?
s What are the benefits of being interculturally competent?
t What are the risks?
* How do we achieve such competence?
d { w nt to * How does being an interculturalist contribute
to being an engaged global citizen?
Monday, October 9, 2006
ubou OW TOmT18Ballroom
Michigan Union
Dr. Janet M. Bennett is the Executive
Director of the Intercultural Communication
institute and has devoted her career to
developing theory and training methods in
ntercultural communication. Heriwork
nocuses on intercultural competence in both
domestic and global contexts, in education,
Ste andcorps servsnes es heasreentlyr Dr. Janet Bennett
edited, with Dan Landis and Milton Bennett,
Wy, Vrna, WI 393 i'sthe third edition of the Handbook of Intercul-
y s m tural Training S pone
Y the Dvin aat tdet ffairs
in ollaboration with
S ivrrERyrsr MInrrAN LS&A CitizenshipTheme Year
-______ ~~~ *$*t$* *t#*~~~tI~ OF$I*.1Itff11 999110*..*1 1*
f '

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