The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 5
Dude, she's obviously not into it.
Infi ity and beyond
ARONOFSKY'S THIRD FEATURE EXPLORES LIFE, DEATH AND DESIRE
By CHRISTINA CHOI
Daily Arts Writer
0 Death is often mandatory in romantic trage-
dies, but "The Fountain's"
unique take on its intrica- ***' n
cies exceeds the normal The
boundaries of a typicallove Fountain
story. Through a spiritual
and ethereal exploration At the
of love literally throughout Showcase and
the ages, death becomes a Quality 16
catalyst instead of an end, Warner Bros.
spurning an intense and
impossible search for a cure for fate.
Though it's set in present day, "The Fountain"
considers death to be just another curable dis-
ease. At least, that's the belief scientist Tommy
Creo (Hugh Jackman, "X-Men") clings to as he
researches treatments for the brain tumors of pri-
mates. The reason for his work is clear - his wife
Izzi (Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener") is
dying of a brain tumor. Unlike her husband, Izzi
remains undaunted by her prognosis, and spends
her time writing a book detailing an old Mayan
legend about one man's quest to live forever.
Despite its beginning as a classic drama of
love and loss, "The Fountain" strays wildly from
conventional plotlines when Tommy obliges
Izzi's request to read her still-unfinished book.
Fantasy and reality begin to blend in the story,
a transformation so absolute that it becomes
nearly impossible to discern the real world from
its imaginative counterpart.
Tommy becomes Tomas, a 16th-century
Spanish conquistador seeking a magical tree
that will save the life of his queen (also played by
Weisz). He eventually finds the tree only to dis-
cover a band of pagans and their fire-wielding
chief standing guard. Jackman, perhaps using
his "X-Men"-honed skills, then proceeds to fend
them off deftly with the prowess of a seasoned
warrior. Yet just before his apparent success,
he's dealt a mortal wound.
But death is never truly the end. Centuries
after Izzi's actual death, an older, monk-like
Tommy is found drifting in a space capsule
toward a golden nebula. With the magical tree
in his care, Tommy's only desire is to revive
Izzi once he reaches the center of the nebula.
Along the way, he's haunted by memories of Izzi
and how he constantly chose his research over
spending time with her.
These reincarnations of Tommy constantly
fluctuate in a nonlinear path throughout the
film, creating an unsettling displacementof real-
ity. It's sometimes impossible to tell which rep-
resentation of Tommy is authentic and which is
merely a character in Izzi's book. Instead, their
collective passion for the woman they love cre-
ates a powerful effect that makes it incredibly
difficult not to be moved by the fact that Tom-
my's sole motivation, regardless of his place in
time, is to keep Izzi alive.
Yet director Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for
a Dream") doesn't offer any easy answers. While
Tommy's research in the present-day world
seems promising, the tumors of his test sub-
" m y Name is Earl" problems, but the outcomes lead
certainly isn't the to simple lessons that apply every-
funniest show where.
on television. It's often so sappy Making it right years after the
and simplistic that even its few fact, as Earl tries to do, isn't so
good jokes are easily overlooked. simple after all. He may have only
Still, NBC's hit sitcom, now in its stolen money from a guy to buy
sophomore season, is beer, but is returning that
among today's most money enough? Aren't the
original and surprising- consequences that guy
ly introspective shows. suffered Earl's responsi-
It sets itself apart from bility too?
all its soulless, clueless And is it really payback
genre counterparts by if it's done under different
highlighting the dif- circumstances? If as a 35-
ficulties involved in IMRAN year-old millionaire, you
doing even the smallest SYED pay back $5 of a 10-year-
bit to affect change. It's old's lunch money you stole
often said that crime doesn't pay, decades ago, can we really call it
but in "Earl" we see the myriad all even? "Earl" never pontificates
structural barriers that ensure - it simply explores such ques-
charity and goodwill are equally tions with the humility and sim-
as frowned upon and unsung. ple sincerity that anyone who has
For those who have yet to fig- ever faced the humbling everyday
ure out exactly whose name is of life can relate to.
Earl, the show centers on a life- And finally there are the bar-
long petty criminal named Earl riers to doing good, probably the
Hickey (Jason Lee). Its concept is show's single biggest theme. Why
simple: Earl is trying to turn his is it illegal to put change in other
life around. From stealing to van- people's parking meters? If some-
dalizing to bullying, Earl did just one wants to do such a thing, why
about every un-"Sesame Street"
thing you could think of Then
one day, he wins the lottery, only Trailer-trash
to be hit by a car in the midst of
his street jubilation. TV has its
In the hospital late at night,
barely conscious, Earl catches lessons, too
a bit of "Last Call with Carson
Daily," where Carson explains
that his outlook on life is based on should the government stop him?
karma. "Do good things," he says, The simple, despicable, yet prag-
"and good things will happen to matic truth: If all meters get fed,
you." Earl takes this advice to the government issues less park-
heart, knowing all too well what ing tickets and loses money.
happens when you don't do good But other bureaucratic barriers
things. With his faithful and lov- make even less sense. Knowing
ably clueless brother Randy at his he committed fraud on his taxes
side, Earl embarks on aomission for years, Earl tries to give the
to change (save) his life, using government the money he owes by
his lottery money to right all the writing a check and taking it to an
wrongs he has ever committed, Internal Revenue Service office.
all scribbled on a scrap of paper Thanks but no thanks, he's told:
residing indefinitely in his shirt The government only takes money
pocket. it misses. Even if you committed
A sitcom with such a sanitary fraud, it's your right to withhold
concept can easily be shallow and that money until compelled to pay
lack the subtle touch that makes it back.
any good TV show work. But for So the government forces Earl
"Earl," the push to do good isn't to remain a criminal even when
good enough. Everyone wants he tries to make amends and move
to do good; no one walks around on. The perils of a cops-and-rob-
saying "I will ignore three people hers justice system, all neatly
today, backstab six others, steal packaged into an entertaining 22
a drink from the office fridge minutes.
and top it all off by crashing into While pointing out the com-
a coworker's car and not leave a plexities of the simple problems of
note." But it happens. our lives, "Earl" doesn't shy away
"Earl" truly breaks new ground from the simple truth our hectic
in its analysis, dissection and lifestyles tend to belittle: No mat-
ultimate appraisal of what makes ter the barriers, we can right our
good and bad. It is a show of not little parts of the world - if we
simply committing a crime or only choose to try.
making amends but about the _____________
consequences of both. Its setting - Even if Syed won the lottery,
in a rural town is a perfect place he says paying his parking tickets
for such a portrayal - people's would beout of the question. E-
lives are complex and so are their mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LEARN TO LIVE FOREVER
The Fountain of Youth. The Tree of Life. The Holy
Grail. Whatever you want to call it, Hollywood film-
makers have been fascinated with the idea of eternal
life for some time. Check out some of its other cin-
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989)- Har-
rison Ford, in the series's most complex installment, battles
Nazis, theforces ofdarkness and his own waningfaithto
find the Holy Grail, which will grant eternal life; before the
bad guys do. Noone else does it better- especially not
with a whip.
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"(2001)-
Voldemort wants the Sorcerer's Stone. The Sorcerer's Stone
brews Elixerof Life, whichgrants the drinker eternal youth,
Enter wands, broomsticks andsome adorably prepubescent
British actors before theytfound their groove,
"Tuck Everlasting"(2002) - Yes, it's Disney, but this
cinematic rendition ofta cassic young adult novel hits a few
sweetspots in its exploration of young loveand the unfore-
seentragedy ofteternal youth. Also, see Rory Gilmore get
her Victorian dress on.
jects remain unchanged (at least at first). As he
faces the unnerving fact that he may not be able
to save Izzi, his other selves still fight to defy
this. Despite the outcome, the film reminds us
that we live in a world outside the realm of sci-
ence fiction. Our inevitable fate is made haunt-
ingly clear and continues to linger even after the
Let the holiday exploitation parade begin
By KAI QIN
For the Daily
With the passing of Thanksgiv-
ing, it's time for the latest attempt
at a Christmas cash-cow. This year
it's "Deck the
Halls," with *
Broderick Deck the
("The Stepford Halls
Wives") as an At the
anal-recen- Showcase and
tive optom- Quality 16
etrist who 20th Century Fox
self on being the town's unofficial
Christmas king. Sure, he may look
innocent with his endless supply
of sweater-shirt combinations, but
with his strict holiday calendar
and meticulous planning, Broder-
ick's Steven Finch is essentially an
That is until Buddy Hall (Danny
DeVito, "Be Cool"), a maniacal car
salesman, moves into the house
next door. The two men quickly
develop a love-hate relationship
straight out of "The Odd Couple"
with their epic feud over seasonal
trivialities. When Buddy discovers
his house isn't visible from outer
space, he embarks on an obsessive
mission to build the world's largest
Christmas light display - which
ruffles Finch's king-of-Christmas
feathers. Inane gimmickry,botched
physical humor and an hour and a
half of sleep-inducing absurdities
Even for the lowered standards
of a holiday comedy, "Deck the
Halls" completely fails to conjure
any laughs. Every joke is recycled,
every sight gag contrived. Only the
special effects are worth laughs
- the green screen has never been
more awkward and fake snow so
obvious. In the "funniest" scene
of the movie, Finch and Hall's
daughters dance onstage in front of
their unsuspecting fathers toward
a punch line so ineffective even
comedic veterans like Broderick
and DeVito can't squeeze out a drop
The wives of the warring men,
Kristin Davis ("Sex and the City")
and Kristin Chenoweth ("RV"), are
barely given any material to work
with, standing around only to con-
vince the audience the two male
characters have families.
The film's only savinggrace turns
out to be Buddy's awe-inspiring
LED light show. Clearly inspired by
Internet videos of real-life Christ-
mas lights synchronized to various
songs, "Deck the Halls" takes its
own display to greater extremes:
and other livestock are "Deck the Halls" is a caricature
a live nativity scene, and a of a movie, its release surely the
'awn sleigh further adorns product of economic acumen and
ter wonderland. As vari- financial analysis instead of cre-
ative ingenuity. What the studio
didn't realize is the reason classics
like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A
ig tChristmas Story" were successful
of the holiday is because they were good movies
in the first place, with holiday ico-
nography like mistletoes, garlands
s o and Christmas trees all secondary
to character development and plot
progression. By failing at these
res like Rudolph and Santa very basic elements of storytelling,
on the roof, we simply "Deck the Halls" drains the audi-
p but be tempted to put up ence of any spirit, holiday or oth-
own holiday decorations. erwise.
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November 22 through November 28, 2006
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