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November 13, 2007 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-11-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8 - Tuesday, November 13, 2007
LIONS From page 5
Behind the secret operation is
Sen. Jasper Irving (Tom Cruise),
a hotshot Republican senator bent
on restoring his party's reputation
by finishing the job in Afghanistan.
In the hour that Todd and Malley
talk and Arian and Ernest fend off
enemy fire, Irving gives an exclu-
sive interview to the journalist
Janine Roth (Meryl Streep), detail-
ing his plan and minimizing past
mistakes. Roth is suspicious, but
Irvingis persistent in his claimthat
the world will change, if we trust
our leaders just one more time.
Following a tight script that
reads like a lecture at the American
Enterprise Institute, Redford rais-
es all the right questions but fails
to consider how answers to them
might have changed since Viet-
nam. Veteran incendiaries from
the '70s may brush back their hair
toflash battle scars, but is it really
so productive for today's youth to
challenge, rouse and ultimately
fail in the exact same way? Will
policy really change if we storm
the streets and hold a permanent
march on Washington, or are we
better off empowering ourselves
to avoid similar mistakes when
our turn arrives? There's plenty
to ponder in "Lions for Lambs"
- including a tragic, effective final
showdown on that Afghan moun-
taintop - but it's mostly stuff we're
already thinking about.
The political commentary of the
film isn't hard to follow, and maybe
that's the problem. While nothing
it says is wrong, "Lions for Lambs"
is almost fanatically over the top
in its execution. It doesn't so much
raise questions as inject them
forcefully into your bloodstream.
It's a valiant attempt at rousing the
troops, but sadly, one that will be
largely ignored for its simplistic,
unsophisticated zeal.
com with interest.

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

But ... where does the food go

More than just a doll

Despite immensely
awkward premise,
'Lars' is a genuine
Daily Arts Writer
On the surface, the prem-
ise sounds completely absurd.
An off-kilter loner named Lars
(Ryan Gosling, "The Note-
book") purchases a sex doll
online, names her Bianca and
persists in believing her to be
a real person for several weeks,
even going so far as to get her
hair cut and dress her in differ-
ent clothes each day. Soon, the
small town in which he lives
rallies behind him, and after a
while, he has everyone treating
Bianca as if she were real.
Absurd? Maybe a little. But
in the capable hands of Gos-

ling, it's nothing short of, well,
Gosling, Hollywood's rising
golden boy, has never had a role
quite like this.
It's as chal-*
lenging as it
sounds. In the L- d
wrong hands Lars and the
the character Real Girl
runs the risk
of becoming At the
a bad joke or Michigan
even border- Theater
line disturb- MGM
ing. Lars is
socially awkward, delusional
and barely walking the edge of
sanity. It's easy to imagine the
character slipping into total
creepiness without Gosling's
soulful interpretation.
Gosling wears his pain
etched plainly across his face,
and it only takes one mournful
glance for him to win over the
audience. He's careful not to
give too much away too soon,

and it's a delight to watch the
inner workings of his character
become clearer with each pass-
ing scene. Many of his scenes
involve simply him and the doll,
but it's impossible to look away.
Gosling doesn't just hold our
attention, he demands it, and
by the end of the film he has us
actually getting choked up over
the fate of the doll.
Bianca is more than just plas-
tic to Lars, and soon she comes
to represent so much more to
the people of the town and the
audience. It's at this point you
may think you know how the
movie will end, but not so fast.
Nothing about the film is stan-
dard, allowing us to ignore some
of its minor absurdities. Yes, the
thought of a man buying a sex
doll and, in doing so, uniting his
town and growing as a person is
ludicrous. There are moments in
which the film could easily take
a different path and become just
as ridiculous as it should be.

Thankfully for us, it never does.
Helped by a supremely tal-
ented supporting cast, includ-
ing Patricia Clarkson and Emily
Mortimer, the film's sincerity
is evident. There are no forced
laughs and the blossoming
romance between Lars and
small-town girl Margo (Kelli
Garner, "The Aviator") is han-
dled with delicate care.
It's not often a film can make
its viewers laugh, cry and then
think about their own lives. It's
even more rare for a film to do
all this and not feel manipula-
tive. "Lars and the Real Girl"
doesn't cheat and rely on cliche
melodrama to tug on its audi-
ence's heartstrings, but instead
chooses to focus on real human
emotion and turmoil.
It's nice to see some original
films are still being produced.
Not only that, but an original
film that's actually better than
just about anything else out
there at the moment.

The idolized sex toy
in "Lars and the Real
Girl" is hardly the way
Hollywood favors its
dolls. The usual
'CHILD'S PLAY' (1988)
A serial killer places his soul
inside the body ofta doll, and it's
not long before the doll is carry-
ing out his life's work,
A murdered ventriloquistgets
her final revengefrom beyond
the grave through her vast
collection oftdolls, which she
deems "her children."
Upon discovering an ancient
Egyptian secret, a puppet
master gives life to his puppets
- and inadvertently turns them
into killers.
While the monstersarentdolls,
it's hard to ignore the iconic
image of thatcreepy clown doll
terrifyingthe two children.
'MANNEQUIN' (1987)
Another anomaly: Starving artist
builds a mannequin that comes
to life. It's notscary, exceptthat
she dates Andrew McCarthy.


From page 5
time with cheaper reality pro-
gramming. Industry insiders are
ball-parking the strike at nine
months, but who knows when
they'll be back to work?
Still, I question how aware
most people are of what this strike
means for them. We've all seen
Tina Fey picketing, and the work

stoppage is most definitely real,
but television is such a passive
vehicle that it's not reasonable
to envision a future without new
original programming. Television
is like the mail: Most people don't
give it much thought on a daily
basis, but when it doesn't show up,
you notice.
At least for some people that's
true, and here's where the strike
becomes problematic. For some-
one who is just interested in hav-

ing "Everybody Loves Raymond"
episodes on in the background
while they're making dinner
and isn't vehemently opposed to
watching a British dude judge
America's national karaoke tour-
nament, the strike probably wont
matter too much. But for a certain
audience this strike does matter,
and I question how aware the net-
works and this specific group of
viewers is of this.
Television's current audience
is smarter and more diverse than
it has ever been because of the
increased availability of program-
ming through peripheral sources
and the proliferation of material
that's simply smarter than what
television is used to. So yes, there
is a ton of crap on television, but
there's also a lot of intelligent
serial programming that appeals
to people who shrugged aside
less engaging shows in the past.
And unfortunately, it's these
people who stand to lose the most
from this strike. It may not have
occurred to many of these indi-
viduals yet, but in one week when
"The Office" jumps into reruns
for the indefinite future it will,
and it's unlikely they'll be OK

with whatever NBC presents them
with instead.
If we've learned anything from
the recent NHL strike and Major
League Baseball's mid-'90s shut-
down, it's that removingsources
of entertainment from people's
lives is a bad move. Once people
realize they can get by without
something they need, it's unlikely
they'll all rush back when their
source of entertainment from yes-
teryear comes calling again. Don't
believe me? Go to Joe Louis Arena,
and you'll see. It took a jacked up
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa
to revive baseball and they had to
cheat - allegedly - to do it.
The question isn't if people
will come back but who and how
quickly. TV people will always
watch TV, but I don't know if the
same can be said for segments of
TV's relatively new niche.
The networks maybe concerned
with writers takingcuts from their
DVD revenue now, but maybe they
should be more focused on who's
goingto be buying those DVDs if
they dick around for a year.
- E-mail Passman at



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