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January 08, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-08

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 - 5

The
tragedy
of life s
~ wilight
Dark film's dreary
yet realistic depiction
of aging difficult to
watch
By Blake Goble
Daily Arts Writer
here's a speech by pro- Bosco, TV
tagonist Jon Savage mid- Savage (the
way through Tamara Seymour H
Jenkins' "the Savages" that teaches c
essentially sums up the entire performan
film. Upon being confronted lazily work
with the issue of putting his about Brec
father in a nursing home, Jon be going no
breaks down, and starts yelling age, (the al
words like "shit" and "piss" and ney, "Kinse
"smells" and "death"to describe unsuccessf
the sad truths makingent
of old age. In get the desi
other words, respect ne
it's a drag. playwright
At least The Sava When L
that's the wis- At the Michi- with demen
dom "The Sav- the death
ages" brings Fox Seat friend, Jon
to living with Fee Searchlight focus the:
old age. In a father's ca
sardonic attempt at humor and to Buffalo,
M humanity, "Savages" winds up come to ter
being a poignant and painfully health and
accurate depiction of elderly choices ab
care. A bit too painful, actually. This is whe
The story revolves around some inter
two estranged children recon- issues.
necting with their exiled-from- Will Lei
Arizona father, Lenny (Philip buried? Ju

Enough AVPR'
Give me'Rocky'

f there's one thing that has char-
acterizedHollywoodlately-that
is, besides the pathetic celebrity
breakdowns, the eye-rollingly pass6
sex tape scandals and the writers'
strike - it's the increasinglack of orig-
inality and, more importantly, sinceri-
ty in its films. More
than ever before,
Hollywood has
become a genuine
cinematic sausage ;
factory. Films are
churned out with-
out a nod in the
direction of actual
quality. As long as BRANDON
the public eats-up CONRADIS
the films, the pro-
ducers obviously
think: Why waste time actually trying
to make good movies? I say enough.
Now, I know what you're thinking:
0 6 Hollywood has never bern known for
its originality. It has always cashed
in on the latest trend, always sworn
its faith in commercial potential and
nothing else. Through the years, Hol-
lywood has dragged with it a chain of
innumerable franchise films, each of
which it milks until bone dry. But most
of these films used to be at least pass-
able, if not good.
Take the 1980s, for example - the
-FFoXSEARCHUGHT decade of greed and excess, a time
when the "Me Generation" had finally
hit it big. Franchises were the thing
Hoffman in a ("Rocky," "Friday the 13th") and so
Linney's affair were big, macho action movies like
-aged professor the "Rambo" series and "Commando."
d good, but the These films had no pretensions, no
here is bleak. lofty ambitions: They knew what they
may be some were. So did their filmmakers. But they
of tea, though. were fun, painless and, at times, much
ng an 80-year- cleverer than what you'd expect (the
his pants and underrated "Commando" is surely a
pers on an air- masterpiece of schlock '80s filmmak-
rious. Or sad. ing).
best reason to Now take the recently-released
for the perfect "AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem."
n's and Linney's Besides the amusingly pretentious title
as brilliantly (I still don't understand what requiem
'ays, and Bosco it'sreferringto-perhapstheinevitable
d for acting his one for the beloved franchise the film
so many others destroyed?) and some impressive spe-
refuse to (Jack cial effects, there was nothing - and I
one?). mean nothing - of note here. It wasn't
a feeble, elderly so much a painful viewing experience
eper and deeper as it was a simply dull and embarrass-
hard to watch, ing one, which is just as bad.
ght be too hon- James Cameron's "Aliens," released
ck of dignity on in 1986 and a predecessor to the afore-
at hits hard for mentioned clunker, is one of the best
volved. Getting films made in the past 30 years. It's
and "The Savag- flawless. Watching that film, or even
harsh reminder David Fincher's uneven, but admi-
rable, "Alien 3," released in 1992, one

wonders how the makers of "AVPR"
could have been so careless. It's a
perfect example of the sheer lack of
understanding on the part of modern-
dayproducers,writers and directors as
to what makes a good film. There are
many bad movies released every year,
but to take two beloved franchises and
sully their names with a film that feels
like a direct-to-TV, SCI-FI Channel
movie is just sad.
But it's typical of what we've been
seeing recently. Countless excellent
films have had their legacies tainted
by pitiful rehashes, both well-known
("Halloween") and forgotten ("The
Hitcher," "The Wicker Man"). There
were remakes in the '80s as well - not
as many, mind you - but they were
good remakessuch as David Cronen-
berg's masterful "The Fly" (1986)
and the awesome but little-seen "The
Blob" (198e).
And if you think I'm getting a bit
too nostalgic for my own good, Hol-
lywood producers have taken note of
the bygone years of good filmmaking
as well. Classic franchises like "Rocky"
and"DieHard"havebeenbroughtback,
and while both "Rocky Balboa" (2006)
Judd Apatow's
humor is a fresh
look in a stagnant
Hollywood
and "Live Free or Die Hard" (2007)
were perfectly respectable, that's all
they were. Ultimately they were need-
less rehashes that existed solelyto give
their aging stars one last shot at glory
(though Stallone isn't done yet - a new
"Rambo" film is on its way).
So between the chintzy franchise
films and the horrid remakes, is there
any commercial Hollywood fare
left to enjoy? Sure there is: producer
Judd Apatow's recent comedies like
"knocked Up" and "Superbad" were
hilarious, and summer hits like "Dis-
turbia" and "Transformers" were, if
not great, at least fun and well-made.
But the good movies are too few and
far between. I'm getting tired of going
into films I've been looking forward
to for months and walking out bitterly
disappointed. It's been happening too
often, and I can't be the only one who
thinks so.
Brandon can be reached at
brconrad@umich.edu.

TOP: "Let's noeer speak at this ain."
BOTTOM: "temember that one time on the coach."

's "Damages"). Jon
e outstanding Philip
Hoffman, "Capote")
lasses on theater
ce to get by while
king on his "novel"
ht, which seems to
owhere. Wendy Sav-
so great Laura Lin-
ey") is the standard,
ul New York temp
ds meet until she can
ired fellowships and
eded to be a noted
t.
enny is diagnosed
ntia not long before
of his longtime girl-
and Wendy must
ir lives on their
re. After returning
N.Y., Jon and Wendy
irms with his failing
I must make hard
out his well-being.
ere "Savages" raises
resting but morbid
nny be cremated or
st how bad is his

mental state? Can Jon and of humor like
Wendy pull the plug when the head sling or
time comes? Is this really all with a middle
that funny? "Savages" pres- are all well an'
ents some pressing, but all too overall feeling 1
heartbreaking considerations. "Savages" I
The whole film holds a lazy viewers' cupc
tone and style - handheld Maybe watchi:
camera work and naturaliza- old man lose
tion included - hoping to bank expose his dia
plane is hilai
Either way, the
Acting in see this film is
acting. Hoffma
Savages is the characters are
realized as alw
brightest spot in should be laude
own age when:
this bleak film in his age group
Nicholson, any.
The sight of;
on its reality to engage viewers man sinking de(
with such a serious set of mat- into hysteria is
ters. But the ultimate effect is and the film mi
downright depressing. est. There's a la
By focusing an entire film display here th
on youth coping with death in all parties inv
hyper-accurate fashion, "Sav- older is rough,o
ages" will surely alienate most es" is a telling,
young viewers. Little moments of that fact.

ARTS IN BRIEF

Kids show doesn't
translate to big screen
"Alvin and the Chipmunks"
20th Century Fox
At Showcase and Quality 16
This has to be making someone
at Fox really happy. A release before
Christmas, and a gross of almost $200
million, means mil-
lions of kids and
their dragged-along
parents have been
seeing "Alvin and
the Chipmunks"
and loving it.
So what about
the rest of us?
"Alvin and
the Chipmunks"
is just terrible.
Time may tell,

but this is a disaster of poor taste,
not dissimilar to "The Flintstones,"
"Casper," "Valley of the Dolls" or any
other studio hit that has had a rough
run after its success.
We allknow the cartoon. Unsuccess-
ful dweeb musician Dave Seville (Jason
Lee, "Almost Famous") finds himself
living with three singing chipmunks
who soon become a huge success with
the public. You know, like Miley Cyrus.
This beinga "family" film, many scato-
logical and slapstick jokes ensue.
The only saving grace of the film is
David Cross's ("I'm Not There") per-
formance as the Chipmunks' manager
Ian. The acerbic, sardonic comedian
recently shot back at critics who had
attackedhim foractingin similarkiddy
fare. But fear not. He's the same love-
able asshole he's always been. Smug,
condescending and surprisingly funny,
Cross takes some crappy lemons and
makes the best lemonade he can. Or, in
this case, chipmunk shit.
BLAKE GOBLE

Birdman far from
stellar on Stars'

By CHRIS GAERIG
Daily Music Editor
Birdman is a philanthropist
of sorts. Adopting the young
Dwayne Carter (you prob-
ably know him as Lil' Wayne)
because of Carter's absentee
father and his teenage moth-
er, Birdman took the impres-
sionable boy
under his
wing and
helped turn Birdman
him into the
self-pro- 5 Star Stunna
claimed, and Universal
often criti-
cally-hailed,
"best rapper alive." Plus, the
Cash Money figurehead seems
unquestionably supportive
of women of the night. Phi-
lanthropist (philanderer), no
doubt.
But never has it appeared as
though Birdman (a.k.a. Baby),
the proverbial teacher, was
anything more than an inferior
student to his masterful under-
study. As such, in the face of
the virtual crumbling of Cash
Money proper (the label is
now more disjointed than ever,
with the collective artists rare-
ly associating with one anoth-
er), Birdman has continued
to produce lackluster records
while Wayne has shot up the
charts. It's no surprise, then,
that Birdman's latest release
S Star Stunna - rather unfor-
tunately named - is bursting
with slothful flows and dry
metaphors.
Carried throughout the disc

is the all-too-frequent Italian
mob trope. Nearly a quarter of
the 22 tracks are skits discuss-
ing loyalty and keeping your
composure. Its repetition is
almost too much to bear at
this point in the Cash Money
catalog, but it's what's expect-
ed when Birdman has recycled
the same lines for years.
And yet, even with the over-
arching, obnoxious theme,
5 Star Stunna is strangely
gripping, demanding more
replay than most discs. This
is mostly due to the soaring
club beats, something Birdman
has always been able to capi-
talize on (see The Neptunes-
produced "What Happened
To That Boy" on Baby aka the
#1 Stunna). The frying synths
on the epic "100 Million" are
reminiscent of those on DJ
Khaled's "We Takin' Over,"

"I will give you this much money to tell someone I'm relevant."

WANT TO
WORK
FOR THE
DAILY?
COME TO ONE OF OUR
MASS MEETINGS
420 Maynard St., just
northwest of the Union
" Thursday, Jan. 10
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* Sunday, Jan. 27
7 p.m.

while
(feat
WayI
larly
c
r
the t
from
only
quali
Co
the f

e the song's construction den "Believe Dat" is unde-
uring headliners like Lil' niably great. Sliding along
ne and Rick Ross) is simi- sustained violin strings, Lil'
expansive. Unfortunately, Wayne shows his proficiency
at singing hooks, all while
the vocal samples intertwine
-ash M oney with his smooth croons. And
for a change of pace, the vio-
frontman lently sub-woofing "All the
Time" pulls between wood-
adds block taps and an ominous
bass thump.
iothing new And yet, munfortunately, it's
tracks like "Wet Paint" and
"We Gangsta" that stick in
rack falls short - aside your mind at the album's close.
the gorgeous chorus - as The former's tasteless chorus
Young Jeezy produces any "Pussy like paint / Pussy like
ty lines. candy" is not only awkward
'ntinuing this trend, to listen to a la David Banner's
beat on the sample-rid- "Play," but it's also a repetitive

and tired metaphor.
The album is also hindered
because Birdman is little more
than a functional MC. When
a track doesn't have any guest
spots, which admittedly isn't
often, he pumps out the same
recycled flows he's used for
years.
And yet, regardless of all
its flaws, the disc seems filled
with singles like "Pop Bottles,"
"Love My Hood" and "Make
Way." Still, 5StarStunna isjust
another release in the queue
keeping fans content until
Wayne's Tha Carter III drops.
But the way things are going,
eventually, one of these might
actually live up to 5 Star Stun-
na's ambitious title.

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