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January 07, 2009 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-01-07

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8A - Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

MILK
From Page 5A
Sant steal the show.
After directing indie gems like
"My Own Private Idaho" and
"Paranoid Park" and mainstream
hits like "Good Will Hunting"
and "Finding Forrester," Van
Sant finally found a balance with
"Milk." Between mass appeal and
obscure art, "Milk" is a film that
deserves both applause and guilt-
free tears. Van Sant, a gifted visu-
alist, allegedly wanted to make
this film for more than a decade,

andit shows.
It's almost perfect. The only
setback? James Franco.
Yes, he's attractive, but "Milk"
proves he's a middling actor.
Working with a stock on-and-off
love story with Harvey, he's just
another popular face in a film in
which he doesn't belong. Think
Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback."
"Milk" is an ideologically
American film about great pro-
gressive values and fighting to be
heard. Milk was a man who for-
tunately was listened to, and the
film shows the beauty of standing
up and speaking out.

DOUBT
From Page 5A
you never know what to make of
anyone in "Doubt."
It's the kind of film that the
Academy drools over. In immac-
ulate performances, Hoffman,
Streep and Adams each put
themselves at differing points in
their faiths. But the real runaway
winner will be Viola Davis ("Dis-
turbia") as Mrs. Miller, Donald's
mother. Her beautiful soliloquy
about her son is worth the price

of admission alone. It transcends
the simplicities of religion to
show how faith never gives per-
fect answers.
With a film that has such brave
ideas, presented ornately and
with historical thoroughness,
the only letdown may just be the
direction. Shanley, an Oscar-
winning writer, directed here
and pangs of first-time decisions
are apparent throughout. Tilted
angles, a bit too much screaming
and an all too debatable conclu-
sion make "Doubt" imperfect.
Just like any religion.

"They don't call me the human nail-clipper for nothing!"

A bloated blunder

Will Smith lacks
his usual charm in
confusing drama
that fails to deliver
By SHERI JANKELOVITZ
Daily Arts Writer
"Seven Pounds" suffers from
two major flaws.
First, very little ,
is explained dur-
ing most of the S
film, making
every scene baf- POUndS
fling. And sec- At Quality 16
ond, while the and Showcase
conclusion of the .
film finally offers Columbia
a . much-needed
explanation, it's a lame one.
Ben Thomas (Will Smith) is an
I.R.S. agent and a morose guy. His

sullenness arises from his terrible
secret - one that propels him to
find and help those he deems wor-
thy of saving. So muddled and yet
so obvious at the same time, the
secret is easily guessed within the
first 15 minutes. Still, the end of
the film is rife with confusion.
Thomas seems to possess all
the attributes of a first-class
stalker. He lurks in hospital hall-
ways, stands over a blind man
while he eats and has a generally
eerie demeanor. Because nothing
is explained until the end of the
film, it's hard to determine just
why Thomas is behaving like such
a creep. This is most likely done
intentionally, to shroud the entire
film in cheap mystery. Instead, it
proves to be a headache-inducing
experience.
By the time Thomas's true
motives are revealed, there's so
muchsuspensethatthetruthwould
have to be something spectacular

to appease viewers. Unfortunately,
it's nothingspecial. The film swells
to a mind-blowing conclusion, but,
when it comes, it's far closer to a
whimper than a bang. The truth is
much less exciting than any of the
possibilities - Thomas is an angel,
Thomas is the messiah, it was all a
crazy dream - running through
the audience's mind.
Smith is such a charismatic guy
that it's almost a crime to keep him
so subdued. The rare moments
when his character cracks a joke or
a smile make the audience laugh or
smile in turn. After all, it's nice to
see Will Smith being Will Smith.
If only we didn't have to suffer
through his dreariness for the rest
of the film's running time.
Looking beyond Smith's per-
formance, the entire film is actu-
ally rather bleak as well, though
several scenes demonstrate its
potential. As two of Ben's seven
chosen people to save, Rosario

Dawson ("Sin City") and Woody
Harrelson ("No Country for Old
Men") garner interest as multi-
faceted characters who, unfortu-
nately, aren't given enough time
to shine. Dawson gives off an
especially luminous quality; each
of her scenes with Smith works
because both actors are simulta-
neously dramatic and human. In
particular, the scene where Smith
and Dawson share a candlelit din-
ner showcases the chemistry they
could have, if only the film gave
them room to explore it.
The film's transparent attempts
to get viewers to think and cry
at the same time are exhausting.
Whatever is supposed to be so
moving or thought provoking is
left a mystery. In the end, noth-
ing much happened, and the little
that did borders on ridiculous.
The film just jerks us around, and
when it's all over, it's not a very
exciting ride.

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Opportunity Favors the
Prepared Mind
What: BlackRock Information Session
Speaker: John Nichols
Managing Director
BlackRock Solutions
Class of '88
When: Thursday January 8th
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 P.m.
Where: Michigan League
Hussey Room
S > BLACKROCK
INVESTMENTS
www.blackrock.com

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