The Michigan Daily - michigandaily com
Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Thursday, January 18, 2007 - 3B
had no c
MARK SCHULTZ If you pop your time-worn
Daily Arts Writer "Country" cartridge into a Super
Nintendo system, you'll under-
1995 film "Billy Madison," stand why the whole game - and
andler's titular character not just its well-muscled star
s the merits of "Mortal - deserves a place in pop-culture
versus the original "Don- history. In 1994, most Super Nin-
g" video game. When I saw tendo games looked worse than
'ie in the theater as an 8- the "Parachute" game that comes
, the name "Donkey Kong" standard on your iPod, but "Coun-
tely conjured up thoughts try's" graphics shine with vivid
character from "Donkey brilliance that still look impres-
ountry," the 1994 Super sive today. Navigating Donkey and
o version of the game. As Diddy through the varied land-
out, the old Donkey Kong scapes of Crocodile Isle, you can
n the same monkey. practically smell the earthy rain-
original Donkey Kong forest aroma of Kongo Jungle, and
is video game debut in you might even shiver while pilot-
ere he was pitted against ing Donkey through an intense
acter who would become blizzard on Gorilla Glacier.
But unlike Mario, Don- In addition to its rich scen-
g went through an aging ery, "Country" is highlighted by
atypical of video-game a dramatic score that varies from
rs. His son, the grown-up toe-tapping jungle romps in early
Kong Jr., became the title levels to tense, slow-paced fune-
r of 1994's "Country." The real marches in menacing cave
Donkey Kong became a levels. "Country" is extraordinari-
relic of video games past, ly fun to play - its levels are com-
d to the sidelines and aptly plex enough that an inexperienced
I "Cranky Kong." player can beat the game while an
then, the Donkey Kong expert player can derive hours of
atter has become a ubiq- enjoyment from looking for secret
sage for Nintendo, rivaled rooms.
Mario himself. Donkey has It's impossible to discuss this
d in virtually every "Mario game without mentioning Diddy
game, has been referenced Kong, whose first name is now
more reminiscent of the rap
mogul than the chimpanzee. Why
?spect those couldn't Diddy harness the star
power of his friend? Americans
1o paved the want their video game stars to be
their heroes, strong and domi-
s you walk on. nating. Donkey Jr. fit the hero
mold perfectly, but after play-
ing "Country," players realize
that he's incomplete without his
Simpsons," and his trade- right-hand man Diddy. "Country"
cktie is a familiar image wasn't about individual heroes - it
sost video-game fans. But was about two monkeys working
s lost in the climb to fame together to retrieve their banana
original game that made hoard from the villainous K. Rool.
Jr. famous. He grew big- But soon no one will remem-
his supporting cast and ber Donkey Jr.'s supporting cast:
hoice but to venture into Diddy, Enguarde the Swordfish
elstrom of pop culture and sad old Cranky Kong, who, at
g behind his largely for- the top of his game, sat in his rock-
'iend Diddy, as well as his ing chair and gradually faded into
e old dad. obscurity.
Courtesy of Paramount Vantage,Warner Brs.and Universal
"Babel," "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Children of Men" are all vying for Academy Award nominatons, although perhaps not on a level playing field.
The Globes? Awful. The Oscars?
By JEFFREY BLOOMER iator" won over "Traffic," then last is an unflinching incarnation of' WELL, WE CAN DREAM
ManagingEditor year's left-field victory for "Crash" national tragedy and "Children of
finished you off for good. I get it. Men" is a starling, at times terrify- After such an off year for movies,
Watchingthe publicity blitzkrieg But with the announcement of ing vision of dystopia with a final is it so much to ask that a few of
that is the Golden Globes Monday the nominations set for Tuesday, battle sequence that inescapably the Oscar noms (set to be released
night was kind of like going to the this is not the time that. No matter recalls images of Iraq.None of them
movies last year: Everyone was your opinion of the awards season, sound particularly appealingas cul- Tuesday) go our way?
there, but nothing happened. the fact remains that Oscar consid- tural products, but they happen to
It was like last fall all over again. eration fundamentally shapes the be three of the finest movies of the BEST PICTURE
Industry heavyweights were in way Hollywood makes and markets year. And as we saw last year, when "Children of Men"
ubiquitous company, some stars of movies, and the awards' influence the surprise best picture nomina- and cut of the pear. A t etirely original take
old Hollywood found themselves in that respect is undeniable. Hil- tion for "Crash" was literally the on mankind's inevitableapocalypse, Aifonso
again (someone care to explain to ary Swank's turn as a transgender beginning of its Oscar campaign, Cuaron's direction paired with Clive Owen's
me Tom Hank's thing with War- youth in "Boys Don't Cry" wouldn't getting a nomination is everything. savior complex yields a film both absolutely
ren Beatty's balls?) and inane but have earned half the attention After that, anything can happen. beautiful and brutally terrifying.
diverting celebrity chatter kept it deserved had she not pushed Consider too that the past few
things moving along at an agree- through conventional logic and years have seen the Academy move BEST DIRECTOR
able pace. But as the night hit its unseated Annette Bening's real- further and further from tradition, Paul Greengrass,"United93"
final stride, looking back on it was estate agent in "American Beauty" willing to take risks on its nomina- It doesn't reallypmatter who ends up nomi-
a decidedly bleak prospect. for best actress. And with indepen- tions and sometimes even on its ated inhiraceince O arw sely take
Meryl Streep takes a top best dent filmmaking making a bigger awards. After a Golden Globes cer- perpetual ridesmaid Martirn Scorsese ("The
actress award? Uh huh. Oscar dent each year, almost every emony so outwardly and cheerfully Departed"). Regardless, Greengrass deserves
Jennifer Hudson and Eddie major studio has opened an art- conformist, could this be the year at least a nomination for depicting Sept.11
Murphy take top supporting hon- ._the Academy gives its final fuck- without the typical Hollywood theatrics. The
ors, and "Dreamgirls" wins best you to what "should" win Oscars? British directorguided "United 93"with a
musical or comedy? It's all right. I W ill the Academ y Might this generation begin to vote deft, unsentimental hand, shunning flashy
can take it. with its conscience? style in the namenofthonest emotional impact.
"Babel" wins best drama? OK, finally break from Probably not. But the nomina-
this shit is just depressing. tions are set to be announced first St CarTiNG nCTnR
The high point of the evening had convention? thing Tuesday morning, and for Say Carell will aoaMismoie, hie"
to be Sacha Baron Cohen's deadpan once, I won't feel so ridiculous for Carell's masterfully compact turn as a heart-
acceptance speech in which he paid getting up hours early to watch a broken, suicidal Proust scholar proved the
long-winded tribute to his co-star's house division, which means that five-minute telecast. This year, the actor is more of a Jim Carrey than a Will Fer-
anus (a location where he spends without the awards, it's very possi- stakes seem a little higher. rell in his ability to do drama.
a good amount of screen time in ble some of the great films of recent
"Borat"), but really, how much of a years would never have been made
surprise was that? If anything, his (Universal's Focus division alone is
speech was a reminder that if he responsible "Lost in Translation,"
had put half as much restraint into "Brokeback Mountain" and your
his movie, it might have actually beloved "Eternal Sunshine"). The
amounted to something. awards mean something whether
It's no secret that year-end or not we want them to, so we may M IDNIG HT M OVIES
awards are in studio pockets in just as well enjoy them.
about every way besides the literal That said, there's not going to be
(and even then who knows?), but many smiles if next week's nomina- COEN BROTHERS FILMS IN JANUARY!
never has all the faux-excitement tions go to route of the Globes, cele-
of the season seemed so grimly brating the mediocre because that's
determined. In the year that had where the money and the primetime
"Dreamgirls" a front runner for prestige is. "Children of Men" and
the best picture Oscar before any- "Letters From Iwo Jima," two films
one had seen anything other than dropped into December by chance,
a 20-minute clip show of it, in the and "United 93," released last April,
year when a few international stars have allbecome calling cards fordis-
and a knockoutpremise has vaulted sidents who argue that 2006's few SATURDAY, JAN. 20 @ MIDNIGHT
a high-concept dud like "Babel" anomaliesof greatimoviemaking FOR MORE INFO VISIT WWW.MICHTHEATER.ORG/STATE.PHP
into the realm of high ar, has the are being cast away in lieu of better _____________________________
awards season finally become commercial prospects. None of the
meaningless? three was nominated in the Golden
I know, I know. The Oscar Globes' best-picture contests.- www.thark.org
nominations haven't even been Can these movies give the Oscars ,
announced yet, and no one cares the hope that was so absent from
about the Golden Globes. Besides, the Globes? That depends if the January 26 FRIDAY6:30PM
say this was the Academy Awards: Academy can get past the labels. RFD BOYS HITOS I NAGATA EMSDMRLE
If you didn't write them off when "Iwo Jima" is a Japanese-language JAf W i'"MARTHA RAINWHICH!
"Shakespeare in Love" won over war movie that includes scenes
"SavingPrivate Ryan," when "Glad- of American atrocity, "United 93" U
RpO G EAND i Mr m RAJ
I r YU A GUE
NVITE YOU AND A GUEST TO A SPECIAL SCREENING!
QANDALF MURPHY AND THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS
EMBER SWIFT MILLtSR EMCEE: JEFF DANIELS
T.n rv2' 7 S A7 CUAT IAY A'M
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