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January 08, 2007 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-01-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Monday, January 8, 2006 - 5A

Smith shoots par in
exploitative fable

Clive Owen does a convincing antihero as the protector of a very important bundle of joy in the terrific "Children of Men."

Daily Arts Writer
The destruction of humanity isn't new sub-
ject matter in filmby any means. In recent years
alone, the world has been
decimated by the likes of ****
extraterrestrial invaders,
colossal weather phenome- Children
na and the ever-popular go- of Men
to of nuclear war. But with At Showcase
"Children of Men," based on and Quality 16
the P.D. James novel, virtu- Universal
oso director Alfonso Cuaron
("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban")
offers a new, frightening vision of the apoca-
lypse brought on by a sudden onset of worldwide
infertility. No one knows the reason behind the
dry spell, but its pervasive consequences are all
too obvious.
The film opens in 2027 London with a somber
newscast reporting the murder of the youngest
person on earth. As the report reveals in omi-
nous detail, the man, christened "Baby Diego,"
was 18 years, four months, 20 days, 16 hours
and eight minutes old. The world is shattered
by the incident, a stark reminder of the looming
extinction of the human race.

In a chaotic society ravaged by despair and
political conflict, we meet Theo (Clive Owen,
"Closer"), a low-level bureaucrat intent on liv-
ing his last days in a most unspectacular fashion.
When he's kidnapped by The Fishes, a group
of radicals led by his ex-wife Julian (Julianne
Moore, "The Forgotten"), Theobecomes involved
in a transporting Kee, the world's first expectant
mother in nearly twodecades, to a group known
as The Human Project. Theo must not only
conceal Kee's pregnancy but protect her from
incarceration as an illegal immigrant, who are
mercilessly hunted by the British government.
A series of horrific encounters with radicals and
British authorities punctuate their journey.
In "Children of Men," Cuardn, one of the best
pop filmmakers currently at work, creates an
intensely realistic and complex world with a clear
allegorical undertow reaching into our own. For
instance, Quietus, an openly advertised suicide
pill, is suggestive of the modern obsession with
prescription drugs. And in the final sequence, an
astonishingly staged vision of modern combat,
the film immediately evokes images of war long
a staple on our nightly news. In this sense, the
film's futuristic outfitting is simply a ruse, a lens
through which we can view and evaluate the
direction our own world is heading.

As a reimagined version of the stock, disil-
lusioned antihero, Owen gives an appropriately
subdued performance, cracking jokes (when his
ex-wife notices he's been smoking, he cracks
"yeah, they're not working") and becoming an
unlikely savoir. Moore, at her best, has too little
screen time, but her casting is actually clever
given her character's path. But it's Michael
Caine ("Batman Begins") who owns the movie
as Jasper, Theo's hippie best friend. With his
political ramblings and half-baked jokes about
storks, Caine proves once again to bea dramatic
chameleon, able to mold himself into any of the
various uses the film finds for his character.
The familiarity of Cuaron's society helps make
"Children of Men" a terrific social commentary
that mines our political landscape. In the most
dramatically profound scene, Theo and Kee walk
untouched through a maze of armed troops who
are silenced by the cry of the last child on earth.
The borderline divine status of the infant com-
pels a sudden cease-fire as the soldiers bow and
watch on in awe. When a rocket suddenly flies
in, turmoil resumes and the baby is immediately
forgotten. Cuar6n's message is clear: In a world
where every human life should be treated as the
last, political rifts and social conflicts overshad-
ow even the brightest beacons of hope.

Daily Arts Writer
How hard do actors have to
work to charm
an audience, *
making it for-
get the story The
and see only Pursuit of
them? And Happyness
can a movie At the
succeed on Showcase and
the basis of an Quality 16
actor's charm columbia
alone? In a
time when actors are becoming
loss of a commodity, these ques-
tions are especially relevant to the
film "The Pursuit of Happyness,"
where Will Smith's performance
makes up for the misguided and
exploitative plot.
Smith ("Hitch") stars as Chris
Gardner, a down-on-his-luck sales-
man who takes on a competitive
internship to become a stock bro-
ker. Along the way, his wife leaves
him, and since this is strictly a
father/son story, Thandie New-
ton ("Crash") as Linda Gardner is
totally unsympathetic. When she
leaves, Chris assumes care for his
son, Christopher, played by Smith's
actual child, Jaden Smith (TV's
"All of Us"). The father/son rela-
tionship plays exceedingly well on
screen, with Jaden's trust for his
real-life father clear in the film.
And trust is basically all the
two have. They are evicted from
their apartment and later a motel,
leaving them to carry their few
remaining possessions on their
backs. The subpar daycare Chris
can afford for his son has the word
"happiness" spelled incorrectly on
the outside of the building (hence
the misspelling in the title).
With no home, father and son
make their way to a homeless
shelter, but they can't always get a
room. When the shelter is full, the
two go to the subway station. Not

knowing what to do, Chris imag-
ines a world of dinosaurs for his
son. Their only safe place, he tells
Christopher, is a cave. This "cave"
ends up being a murky bathroom,
where, laying on paper towels,
Chris holds his sleeping son. It's
one of the film's most heart-break-
ing moments.
Even with Smith's cathartic
scene, Chris's motives become sus-
pect. He takes on an unpaid intern-
ship in the hopes he might get the
job offered by the company at the
end, while he and his son barely
get by tIf Chris had dropped out of
the internship program, found a
decent-paying job to support him
and his son, would anyone pay to
watch the movie?
Of course they wouldn't. The
The Regan era:
now bad for Will
Smith, too.
audience wants to see Chris suc-
ceed, but he has to succeed on a
larger scale. Chris wants the box
seats at the football game, not ones
in the nosebleed section. He wants
the fast, expensive car, not the bus
he takes to work every day. What he
seems to chase goes beyond simple
comforts - he gambles with both
his own and his son's futures in his
pursuit of a lavish lifestyle.
Smith has the buoyant charm
and personality to sell this "inspir-
ing" movie. And it's hard to look
past his performance to see the
problems underneath, as Smith
gives a flawless performance. It's
the story that's flawed. The bond
between father and son is not hap-
piness, but luxury. Chris finally
tells the audience what happiness
is when he gets the job, not when
he's holding his son.


Oasis stops the clocks, stays in the '90s

the rele
a tes
to the
of the
ers. No:
music s
out boi
peak of
ing pub
stant p
bus and
its seem
It's t
utter d
ity hase
to savet

By MATT KIVEL about the way I feel / Tonight I'm
Daily Arts Writer a rock'n'roll star." The song's nar-
rative captures the seemingly end-
fact that Oasis has stayed less possibilities of youth and the
r long enough to celebrate self-consciousness that comes with
ase of a "best-of" album is having a dream that most deem
tament impossible.
sheer *** All of the band's anthemic songs
ia and are on display in Stop the Clocks:
0sness Oasis "Slide Away," "Live Forever,"
Gal- Stop the Clocks "Champagne Supernova" and the
broth- columbia inescapable middle school clas-
matter sic "Wonderwall." The album also
way the trends of popular culls a couple of stunners from the
hift, Liam and Noel churn b-side compilation The Masterplan,
mbastic records that are showing just how good Noel's songs
unaware of their own irrel- were during the band's formative
nearly 10 years after the years.
Oasis's popularity. Surviv- Stop the Clocks ends with Noel's
lic rows, onstage outbursts, finest moment, the piano and
ember departures and con- string-laced "Don't Look Back in
aparazzi, the aging band Anger." If one were to make a case
es to hop onto their tour for the elder Gallagher as one of the
slip on the leather pants for '90s' great songwriters, he would
tingly endless world tour. need look no further than Morn-
:his thick-headedness and ingGlory's centerpiece as evidence.
isregard for the current Every melody and guitar lick is
scene that makes the Gal- memorable. The strings and drums
such an endearing pair of weave behind the steadily pulsing-

ething rockers. Their nar-
balls-to-the-wall mental-
't wavered, and it continues
the band from slipping into

The Golden Rule
of'90s rock: keep
on truckin'
an ironic netherworld of rockstar
Stop the Clocks draws heav-
ily from the glory days of Noel's
songwriting (1993-1995), with only
four of its 18 tacks coming from the
post-Morning Glory era. Fittingly,
"Rock 'N' Roll Star" kicks off the
album, just as it did on the band's
1994 debut, Definitely Maybe. The
Gallaghers' intentions were clear
from the beginning - to leave their
dull Manchester life for a world of
over-the-top stardom and excess.
The guitars bleed into one another
while Tony McCarrol beats wildly
on his drums, building a sound
more commonly found in shoegaze
than punk rock. The music and
Liam's vocals are defiant, but what
makes "Rock 'N' Roll Star" reso-
nate all these years later are Noel's
introspective lyrical refrains. "I
live my life for the stars that shine /
people say it's just a waste of time /
I'll take my car and drive real far /
You're not concerned about the way
we are / In my mind my dreams
are real / Now you're concerned

To play: Complete the grid so that every row, column
and every 3x3 box contains the digits 1 to 9.
There is no guessing or math involved,
just use logic to solve. Good Luck and enjoy!
Difficulty: Medium
1 9 8 5
9 8
6 9 2 7
5 6 1
52 9 4
8 4 5
Puzzle by sudokusyndicatiocom

u0Most Images Only $6, $7 and $8
00 T -, ,cc
1 £ Tw6 xz :

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