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October 29, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-10-29

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T
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycomWensaOthr2,08-A

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 -5A

Getting into the
Halloween spirit

he leaves have fallen, the
air is brittle and every
other
storefront is.
dressed in
autumnal rega-
lia. Meanwhile,,
costumes have
started to come
out of the attic
and "Monster BRANDON
Mash" can CONRADIS
be heard on
every oldies station from here to
Hawaii. It means only one thing...
Even though I'm a college
student, I can't help but get all
nostalgic when Halloween rolls
around. Yeah, I've outgrown
trick-or-treating and hardly think
of the holiday as anything more
than a fun diversion (and the
cause for a severe hangover), but
there's just something about the
season that brings it all back to
me.
One of my fondest memories
is watching Halloween-themed
movies on television all through
the month of October. Sadly, since
college, I haven't had time to
*indulge myself. So I figured, this
month, why not?
So here, in no particular order,
is a list of what I consider to be
the best Halloween-themed mov-
ies you can find - movies that just
So haispen to be from my child-
hood. They're all perfect for view-
ing a day, or even a week, before
the Big Night. (And, no, I'm not
endorsing staying in on Hallow-
een to watch "Hocus Pocus." So
don't take me for that kind of guy.)
"Ernest Scared Stupid" (1991):
The immortal Jim Varney
decided to get in the Halloween
spirit with this film, perhaps the
most fucked-up children's movie
everoade. Here's a taste of the
plot:A troll is running around a
small town turning little kids and
dogs into wooden statues to add
to his collection, and it's up to our
resident goofy hero Ernest (Var-
ney) to save the day.
Even as a five-year-old I was no
wuss, but this scared the crap out
of me. And, honestly, I don't know
what's more disturbing: think-
ing about the troll waiting for me
under my bed, or thinking about
whoever wrote this head-trip
itting next to me somewhere in
public. Yeesh.
"Hocus Pocus" (1993):
To be perfectly honest I haven't
seeq this film in years, but I felt I

had an obligation to put it on the
list - I loved this film when I was
a kid.
Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica
Parker and Kathy Najimy play
witches resurrected in modern-
day Salem, Mass. They spend
most of the movie chasing a bunch
of kids who, for some reason
or another, have the ability to
destroy them. If I recall correctly,
it had something to do with a
book. And there's a talking cat in
it, which is cool.
"Halloween II" (1981):
Okay, so there had to be at least
one full-fledged horror film on
this list. This sequel scared the
bejeezus out of me every time it
played on American Movie Clas-
sics when I was younger, and,
years later, I can still attest to its
effectiveness.
I mean, there are only a few
things scarier than hospitals, and
one of them is a masked maniac
running around with a knife.
Sadly for us, "Halloween II" fea-
tures a masked maniac with a
knife running around the inside of
a hospital. If that's not enough to
make you bury your head beneath
Charlie Brown,
Michael Myers
and Ernest - best
Halloween ever.
a hill of pillows, I don't know
what is.
"It's the Great Pumpkin,
Charlie Brown" (1966):
Behold, the greatest Hallow-
een-themed film ever made.
Charles M. Schulz was an
American genius, and "It's the
Great Pumpkin" is one of his
defining achievements. Spooky,
goofy and very odd, this classic
cartoon tells the tragic tale of
Charlie Brown's friend Linus and
his doomed goal to stay up late to
see the Great Pumpkin rise from
its place in the pumpkin patch
one faithful Halloween night. Of
course, it never does. Humorous,
bitter and poignant, as only some-
thing written by Schulz could be.
Don't be mistaken- Conradis will
be getting very drunk on Halloween.
E-mail him at brconrad@umich.edu.

A scene from "The Life of the French and the Famous."

Looking for love,
finding emptiness

Claude Chabrol's latest experience.
It's the kind of preposterous, cold and
drama invokes little ugly film that only the most masochistic
and scornful people will enjoy. It's a film for
sympathy for its dull and sadists; it's relentlessly life-sucking.
Gabrielle Snow (Ludivine Sagnier,
self-centered characters "Swimming Pool") is an attractive, young
and intelligent French weatherwoman.
By BLAKE GOBLE She's tired of being referred to as a child
Daily Film Editor and not being taken seriously. There's
something funny beneath her restrained
Mass media often stereotype obscure- demeanor, but it's impossible to pinpoint
foreign films as impenetr'ble, sub-porno- just what makes her tick in this completely
graphic Showtime fod- superficial film.
der that only teenage boys f Gabrielle attempts to stimulate herself
watch when Spice Network by predatorily courting the mature, sadistic.
is blacked-out. Remem- \Girl Cut author Mr. Charles Saint-Denis (Frangois
ber the dirty foreign flick Berleand, "Transporter 2"). He's worldly
about incestuous cous- and passionate and perfect for Gabrielle.
ins that George Michael At the And he's a stuffy bastard.
fawned over in TV's Michigan But while Gabrielle tries to woo the liter-
"Arrested Development"? Theater ary pervert statesmen, a talentless, childish
Well, "A Girl Cut in Two" IFC heir desperately tries to win her affection.
is the woeful actualiza- That aspiring suitor is Mr. Paul Andre
tion of that kind of mate- Claude Gaudens (Benoit Magimel). He bites
rial. Except it's not funny in the least. It's his fingers, wears garish outfits and is envi-
a miserable film that portrays a ridiculous, ous of Gabrielle's fawning for Saint-Denis.
contrived dilemma as if it were a universal Awkward sexual proclivities, like hint-
ALBUM REVIEW
No Cure' for
this excruciating
sonic nightmare

ed sadomasochism, define Gabrielle and
Charles's relationship. To pique Gabrielle,
Charles dresses her in costumes and berates
her for her various failings. And he forces
her to sleep with other men in his presence.
Paul isn't better behaved. Nervous that
she might be thinking of Charles, Paul aims a
gun at Gabrielle as she gives him a blow job.
"Girl" is meant to be an ironic dramedy
about a poor young woman's struggle to
find happiness. But it's merely another love
triangle piece, burdened with three truly
self-centered people. Characters may seem
to have deep, revealing attributes that are
aimed at adult emotions: But in the end,
they provide only restrained shock value
and bitterness.
Not only are the characters bad people,
but they're in a poor film. "Girl" is handled
in' an emotionless and tactless manner, and
though it intends to be suave, subtle and
engaging, it achieves none of its goals. It's
the cinematic equivalent of an inescapable
mausoleum.
Like a bad parody of pretentious foreign
films, "Girl" finally gives mercy when it
flames out in a big, pompous, worthless
metaphorical conclusion.

ARTS IN BRIEF

Film
Edward Norton and
Cohn Farrell propel
'Serpico'-style
street thriller
"Pride and Glory"
At Quality 16 and Showcase
New Line
As far as gritty, dark police dra-
amas go, "Pride and Glory" is enter-
taining. The film stars Colin Farrell
("Miami Vice") and Edward Norton
("The Incredible Hulk") as two New
Yolk City police officers from the
same family. Both find themselves
on opposite sides of an investigation
into the deaths of four other offi-
cers who were shot while allegedly
responding to a routine call.
When the investigation points
to dirty cops and drugs, the entire
farily is torn apart in a laudably
woven thematic web, which has
enough drive and swagger to feel
fresh despite the film's genre-

bound execution.
The plot of "Pride and Glory" is
verysimilarto lastyear's "We Own
the Night" (starring Mark Wahl-
berg and Joaquin Phoenix). Easily
better than that film, it evokes the
gravity and steep tension of the
pinnacle of the "dirty cop" genre,
Sidney Lumet's "Serpico."
Norton conveys some of the
same righteous outsider/hopeless
do-gooder aura that earned Al
Pacino a 1974 Oscar nomination
for the title role in that film. For
his part, Farrell comports ruth-
lessness with shocking ease and
brings a nasty efficiency to his
anti-heroic role.
The film itself, however, doesn't
measure up to the fine perfor-
mances that anchor it. Though
emphatic, determined direction
and a few shockers keep the plot
moving, it ultimately amounts to
a level no higher than a decent
episode of "24." It's exciting and
features moments of exceptional
effectiveness, but on the whole,
"Pride and Glory" is a rather con-
ventional, if slightly above-aver-
age, crime movie.
IMRAN SYED

By JOSHUA BAYER
DailyArts Writer
The Cure was the crowned
chameleon of '80s alternative
rock, skittering anxiously from
angular punk
to doomy goth
to sparkling
dream-pop and T
everything in
between. This 4:13 Dream
bold eclecti- Geffen
cism has lent
the band a sur-
prisingly long shelf life. But after
over three decades of ricochet-
ing between genres, The Cure
now seems a little bit dizzy and
considerably jaded.
Album opener "Underneath the
Stars" really shows the group's
strengths. A slowly aching heart-
burn that simmers for six majes-
tic minutes, the track is a genuine
purging of emotional sinuses and
showcases The Cure at its hap-
lessly romantic best. Drenched in
reverb and peppered with trick-
ling wind chimes, it's the perfect
song to listen to repeatedly after
a particularly painful breakup.
It's a shame the rest of the album
lacks the goosebuinp-inducing
sincerity that ripples so warmly
on "Stars."
According to eyeliner-smitten
'frontman Robert Smith, t4e band
cranked out a whopping 93 songs

during the recording session for
4:13 Dream, an album initially
slated as a double-album. It's a
blessing they narrowed the cuts
down to one disc's worth of music.
At 52 minutes, the record already
feels excruciatingly long.
Angry tracks like "Switch" and
"It's Over" feature Smith spew-
ing out atonal rants over repeti-
tive song structures, constantly
venting without ever achieving
true intimacy. The meek chord
progression meanders back and
forth, never building to the emo-
tional climax that's absolutely
crucial with such moody music.
The end of "Reasons Why" is
a perfect example of the band's
declining ability to climax. Lean
and muscular, with airy gui-
tars, crisp drums and a buoy-
ant bassline, the track slinks
along sexily until Smith decides
it's the perfect time to bust out
his monotonic caterwaul. After
such cool-headed vibing, Smith's
splashy howl comes off as melo-
dramatic and schlocky.
Even slower numbers like
"Hungry Ghost" and "Perfect
Boy" bring little variety to the
table. They're essentially tran-
quilized versions of the more tes-
tosterone-soaked tracks. Smith's
recent fetish for stuffing too
much lyrical content down each
song's throat inerferes with his
typical knack for punch-drunk

LIKE TO TALK
ABOUT TV?
GOOD. NOW WRITE
ABOUT IT FOR US.
Daily Arts is looking for TV writers.
E-mail battlebo*@umich.edu for an appjlication.

Nope - not related to Halloween at all.
hooks. Without strong melodies his sexual escapades. Though it's
holding the songs together, the absolutely ridiculous, the song is
bulk of the album blurs into an a jolt of much-needed energy in
artificially-dreamy pastel smear. such a bleary-eyed song cycle.
A handful of tracks find ways The aptly titled "The Scream"
to stand out, but not necessarily is an oddity, even for The Cure. It
because they're good. Lead sin- starts off with promise, hinging
gle "The Only One" doesn't hold on a tight.groove that slowly gets
lost in a hazy swirl of guitars and
synthesizers. Then Smith seems
to get lost himself, letting loose
Sure enough, a bloodcurdling scream and con-
tinuing to "sing" in this mode for
time has passed the rest of the song, redefining
the term "emo" in the process.
these '80s goth The whole affair feels unbeliev-
ably forced and is almost embar-
rockers by. rassing to listen to.
Unlike The Cure's earlier
material, 4:13 Dream erects an
alienating wall between the lis-
a candle to The Cure's radio hits tener and Smith's woozy rumi-
of yore, but it's the peppiest thing nations on tainted love. Rather
the band has recorded in a while. than stirring up empathy over
Party-starter"Freakshow"chugs heartache and heartbreak, it
alongonunabashedlytackydeath evokes pity for a once-prolific
metal distortion a1 wah-wah band suffes g from a creative
pedals as Smith unloads about drought.

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