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March 10, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Monday, March 10, 2008 - 5A

FILLING IN THE BLANKS

By BLAKE GOBLE,
DailyArts Writer
With the popularity of YouTube lowering
the bar for everyone, we can all become pop-
ular entertainers. Sure, there are the clever
videos from JibJab.com or CollegeHumor.
com, but it's the so-so ama-
teurs we secretly love. We
love the Lonelygirl and the
"Leave Britney Alone" guy, Be Kind,
regardless of their genuine
talent. Within ostensible Rewind
crap, there's a quality that's At Quality 16
indescribable.
That's the mantra that and Showcase
"Be Kind Rewind" was cre- New Line
ated upon, but unfortunate-
ly, it only sporadically succeeds. Jack Black
("The School of Rock") is Jerry, a Passaic,
N.J., mechanic who lives in a trailer that sits
frighteningly close to a power generator. Mos
Def ("16 Blocks") is Mike, a substitute video
store operator and forced friend of Jerry.
The guys are barely getting by in their little,
crumbling community. And with developers
coming in to gut their store, everything is
going to be torn down. The guys have to do
something.
But Jerry becomes magnetized during a
botched act of vandalism, turning him into a

tape eraser. Casually browsing Mike's store,
Jerry blanks every tape. Born from fear, des-
peration and limited budgeting, the two opt
to recreate classic films as customers request
them. And at a dollar a rental with their
building about to be torn down, they have to
pay the rent somehow. It's a flimsy plot, but it
enables some great antics.
The movie reshoots are the only places
where "Rewind" shines. This film tries to
embrace the lazy, crazy and sometimes uber-
creative fervor of amateur film. Through the
pleasure and uniqueness of watching the work
of someone who doesn't really know what he's
doing,the film sends mixedsignals.Butannoy-
ing, improvised dialogue and wildly inconsis-
tent characters mar an otherwise inventive
and bizarre exercise in film appreciation.
Sure, it's kind of funny to see Jack Black
piss out magnetic radiation that drags metal
objects into a sewer. But what's the point?
Mike and Jerry get popular, but they get
shut down due to copyright infringement.
Then the power of the people and their love
for film with "pure heart" prevails. What-
ever. Loose and obnoxious drama mixed with
overtcsentimentality ruins an otherwise great
camp.
Director Michel Gondry ("Eternal Sun-
shine of the Spotless Mind") has more expan-
sive visual invention in his left pinky than

most directors have in a $100-million budget.
But his talents are squandered for a series of
decent montages in which the leads re-create
their favorite Hollywood hits.
First it was 'Be Kind
Rewind.' Next a Mos
Def, Tenacious D
mashup.
"King Kong," "2001: A Space Odyssey,"
"Rush Hour 2" and "Ghostbusters" all get
two-cent tune-downs. This is where Gondry
shines despite his cardboard script. Think of
every cheap technique - forced perspective,
old-timey quality, heads in TV sets - and
you'll appreciate Gondry's creativity.
"Rewind" proves that sometimes it's not
the actual movies, but what we remember
and re-create from them in our minds that
counts. The film's best moments are so pure
and honest and lovingthateven crappy drama
shouldn't be able to ruin them. But unfortu-
nately, it does.

.OURTESY OF NEW LIE

"No, seriously, I used to be a rapper."

E! EARTS IN BRIEF
Looking for love in N.Y.C. for 400 years Tnewestgameshow

By PAUL TASSI
Daily Arts Writer
After the bleak winter of the writers strike, "New
Amsterdam" may be the most promising new show to
debut in some time. However, it runs the risk of not
knowing what to do with its virtually limitless poten-
tial (see "Heroes") and shows signs
of jumping the shark before it even
gets its feet wet.
Like "Heroes" (and more recently New
"Jumper"), "New Amsterdam" takes Amsterdam
the premise of "someone that can do
something superhumanly cool" and Monday's
builds a show around it. The focal at 9 p.m.
point here, however, is not flying, Fox
super strength or teleportation, it's
something infinitely more interest-
ing: immortality.
- John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, "King-
dom of Heaven") is a homicide detective in modern
day New York City, which is a far cry from his first
job as a Dutch soldier pillaging America four hun-
dred years ago. After saving a young Native Ameri-
can girl from being slain as he and his friends razed
her village, she rewards him by granting him eternal
life, with the caveat that he can only become mortal
when he finds his true love. This explanation is a bit
cheesy and ridiculous, but it might have been nice if
there wasn't reasoning for his immortality at all, or if
the source of his eternal life had been a mystery for
the show to explore. But a Native American priestess?
Come on.
Four centuries later, Amsterdam is still looking.

He says he's taken the detective job because "death
fascinates him." You would think that with four hun-
dred years of wisdom and sound financial investment,
he'd be living on his own private island sipping Cristal
for all eternity. But "New Amsterdam" takes a more
ambitious route, and does so effectively: It shows the
complexities that come from being immortal.
Living on an island might be relaxing, but it sure
as hell would get boring after a few decades or so.
That's why, through a series of flashbacks, we find out
about John's past lives. Already we discover he's been
a famous artist and a lawyer, not to mention that he
stormed the beaches at Normandy. Drawing from the
nearly infinite well of four hundred years of world his-
tory, there's bound to be a lot more flashbacks in store
for "New Amsterdam."
Thoughpartofthe show is spent exploringAmster-
dam's past, the other two thirds is a typical "CSI"/
"Law & Order" type murder investigation, mining
Super powers are cool but
immortal ity is cooler
a genre that's already far too common on television.
Through these cases, the show occasionally shows
some snippet of Amsterdam's past, but when it's just
a typical whodunit, the show drags and forgets it has
something new to bring to the table. Also in the crime
scenes is the horribly stock character of John's part-
ner, Eva (Zuleikha Robinson, "Rome") in the typical

hints at the network's trend
towards similar fodder
"My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad"
Mondays at 9 p.m.
NBC
It seems as though NBC is slowly changing from
a respected cable network to a crappier version of
the Game Show Network.
The network's new game show, "My Dad Is
Better Than Your Dad," pits fathers against each
other in embarrassing (to watch) contests, while
their brats shriek encouragement from the side-
lines. You can thank the writers strike for this
one.
Aside from the disconcerting competition for
a child's love, "Dad's" contests - Disney-themed
trivia quizzes, launching kids toward a target -
are completely unentertaining. Where's the "birds
and the bees" contest, where each dad competes
to give the best sex talk to his their child? Or the
competition to see which dad can stay up the lat-
est waiting for his teenage daughter to come home
after she sneaks out? These would be ahell of a lot
more fun to watch than four middle-aged men bat-
ting newspapers away with a tennis racket and a
frying pan.
If this show does anything right, it's prov-
ing kids can drive people to do some regrettable
things.
JOHNDAAVETTILA

COURTESY OF FOx
You can only live forever if you're this smooth.
"I-don't-tak-no-shit" role that seems to be a necessity
for all crime shows.
The possibilities of "New Amsterdam" are virtu-
ally limitless. How many wives has John had over the
years? How many children? How many dogs? Well, we
know that he calls his latest dog "36." The show feels
like it's in over its head sometimes and has to resort to
typical crime drama nonsense to fill the gaps between
what's actually interesting. "New Amsterdam" is one
to watch; hopefully it'll realize what it's capable of
soon enough.

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