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January 16, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Friday, January 16, 2009 - 5

Worth its weight in awards
Boyle's rags-to-
riches masterpiece
paints a stunning
picture of devotion.
By NOAH DEAN STAHL
Daily Arts Writer
Danny Boyle's widely acclaimed
"Slumdog Millionaire" is as good
as everyone says,
if not better. Like ****4
"Juno" last year
and "Little Miss $IUmdog
Sunshine" the MilioDnaire
year before, it's
this year's unoffi- At Showcase
cial "little-indie- andtheState
that-could." Theater
Seeing and dis- Fax Sarchlitht-
cussing the film
is at once a vali-
dation of one's personal taste as
well as an expression of awareness
about the cultural importance of
cinema. As the awards season hits
its stride, omnipresent buzz about
this little movie with a big heart is
inevitable.
"Slumdog" is the story of Jamal
Malik (various actors, including
Dev Patel, TV's "Skins"), an orphan
of the streets who becomes a con-
testant on India's version of "Who
Wants to Be Millionaire?" The
film begins with a brutal inter-
rogation scene where police offi-
cers, assuming that Jamal cheated
on the show, violently attempt to
coerce him into confessing. Their
assumption that he used sinister
methods is justified by the ques-
tion "How could a slumdog possi-
bly succeed?" COURTESY OF FOX SEARCHLIGHT
The officers pull up a tape of "This is roughly the size of my guptanga.
Jamal on the show and inquire
as to how he could possibly have an unauthorized tour guide at the istic colors with the palpable grit ly recalls Fernando Meirelles's bai into a sort of imaginary techni- Mumbai in a manner that effec-
known eachofthe correctrespons- Taj Mahal. In these flashbacks, we of the slums, "Slumdog" is both 2002 film "City of God," set in Rio color playground. tively communicates its identity as
es he gave. Between the ques- see how Jamals tribulations have an authentic depiction of India's de Janeiro. Both portray life in Butthedirectorconqueredthese a sprawling Indian metropolis.
tions, the film cuts to show one of given him the necessary knowl- struggles with poverty and hard- impoverished slums in hyper-real doubts with deft control of the Though critics may be overdo-
Jamal's experiences in the slums edge to answer the questions on ship and a fairy tale about the will cinematic style, complete with film's visual language, exploring ing it slightly,trumpeting,"lum-
of Mumbai - struggling through a the show. Jamal's life experiences to overcome impossible circum- dynamic camerawork and editing. Mumbai as a fantasy setting while dog" as "miraculous" (Chicago
sea of feces to meet India's great- lead him to "Millionaire" and, stances. Against all odds, Jamal But "City of God" was realized by maintaining the fidelity of the city Sun-Times) and "life-affirming"
est movie star; the brutal killing ultimately, to his true love, Latika is constantly driven by his deep- a native Brazilian, whereas Boyle and its life. There is a magnificent (The Village Voice), among other
of his mother in an anti-Muslim (various actresses, including new seated belief that he will be reunit- is a Briton in foreign territory, beauty to the cinematography of fulsome remarks, "Slumdog" is an
massacre; making a living with his comer Freida Pinto). ed with Latika. Boyle's foreign perspective raised Anthony Dod Mantle ("The Last undeniably great film - surely one
brother Salim (various actors) as Juxtaposing vibrant, surreal- In many ways, "Slumdog" close- concerns that he would turn Mum- King of Scotland"); he captures of the year's best.

ARTS IN BRIEF
Film teoiew
An unspirited attempt at bringing
conc books to the silver screen
"The Spirit"
Lionsgate
At Showcase and Quality 16
Give Frank Miller credit for sticking to what he knows. The comic
book artist-turned-filmmaker has taken on his first solo directorial
effort after co-directing "Sin City," and, as he did with that excel-
lent film, he has pulled out every trick in the book to make "The
Spirit" look like a living, breathing, 1940s comic. Problem is, most of
his techniques - stylized black-and-white photography with brief
glimpses of color and excessive green screen use - already feel like
old hat in only their second appearance. Once the thrill of the visual
effects quickly wears off, it becomes all too obvious that Miller still
lacks the ability to tell a compelling story.
The relatively standard plot, featuring a former cop (Gabriel
Macht, "The Good Shepherd") who becomes immortal and swears to
protect his city from its criminal underbelly, doesn't develop nearly
O enough to become engaging. Bizarrely, Miller seems to have run his
own script through a copy machine before handing it to his actors,
who often recite the same lines of hokey dialogue three or four times
in a row ("I can't stand eggs!"). Samuel L. Jackson, as gun-toting
wild man The Octopus, once again proves to be the best part of a
mediocre movie. Somebody make sure he's part of the cast for the
upcoming "Sin City 2," because if "The Spirit" is any indication, that
film won't have a chance of surviving on looks alone.
ANDREWLAPIN
Film Review
Aniston and Wilson should have viewers
wagging their tails with Marley'
"Marley & Me"
20th Century Fox
At Showcase and Quality 16
"Marley & Me," based on The New York Times bestseller memoir
by John Grogan, tells a simple tale: Man meets dog; hijinks ensue.
The film depicts the life of Grogan (Owen Wilson, "The Darjeeling
Limited") and his wife Jennifer (Jennifer Aniston, "The Break-Up")
along with their unruly pup Marley, dubbed by his owners as the
"World's Worst Dog."
As straightforward as the plot seems, "Marley & Me" actually
extends beyond what audiences would expect: It's a dramedy that
features legitimately funny gags in addition to its good-looking
leads. The good-natured tale is littered with realistic themes, exem-
plified as Grogan navigates marital stresses and the ups and downs
of his career as a journalist.
Audiences may prefer the wisecracking Wilson, but his perfor-
mance in the subdued moments of the film is just as engaging. Even
more endearing is Aniston, who's more likable on screen than she's
been in years. Playing the universal Everywoman, she manages to be
more than a straight-faced comic foil to a meddling dog.
"Marley & Me" is hardly a progressive film, but the story is warm-
hearted and lively, much like the dog it follows.
ANNIE LEVENE

'Scrubs' limps onto ABC

By TRINA MANNINO
Daily Arts Writer
For diehard "Scrubs" fans, the
seventh season was like a fancily
wrapped pres-
ent that's hard
to resist opening. **k-
But when final-
ly unwrapped, SUbS
instead of con- eaon E
taining that new
iMac, the box Tuesdays
contains just at 9 p.m.
another one of ABC
GrandmaMillie's
lumpy sweaters
with a cat on it.
The excitement generated by
,season seven dissipated quick-
ly as the show moved in a new
direction that was simply unnat-
ural and out of place; almost out
of the blue, childlike protagonist
J.D. (Zach Braff, "Garden State")
fathered a child. Unfortunately,
J.D. isn't the father type - never
has been, probably never will be.
The season also suffered from
frustrating plot problemis chat cul-
ininated in a tremendiiusly disap-
pointing ending. "Scrubs" fans
should've revolted against the fina-
le after J.D. and Eliot (Sara Chalke,
"Mama's Boy") decided to be just
friends - probably the worst idea
in TV history after Brody Jenner's
reality show.
Undeniably, "Scrubs" is dete-
riorating. The jokes and scenarios
have steadily worsened as the
series has progressed, screwing
up the lives of J.D., Turk (Donald
Faison, "Clueless"), Eliot and the
rest of the Sacred Heart Hospital
employees.
But these flaws can't all be
blamed on the creative team.
When the writer's strike began
in November 2007, the show
hadn't completed filming on sea-
son seven, and when it finally
returned to the air, the writers
had little time to resolve the vari-
ous storylines that were intro-
duced before the work stoppage.
With the series's fate undeter-
mined as it resumed in April
2007 - it was rumored that NBC

was going to drop "Scrubs" from
the lineup - it's clear that the
"Scrubs" writers scrambled for
an ending just to cover their asses
in case the show ended up getting
canceled.
Thankfully, "Scrubs" has
another shot to redeem itself after
its disastrous seventh season. Two
seconds away from being canned,
the show was picked up by ABC for
this year.
Thus far in it's eighth season,
"Scrubs" has lacked the goofy buf-
foonery it's known for, and that's
probably due to a lack of screen
time for its most humorous char-
acters. Turk, an extremely promi-
nent character in past seasons, was
barely even in the premier. Even
"The Todd" (Robert Maschio, "As
the World Turns") and his banana
hammock were nowhere to be
seen. . .
With the limited air time old
characters have been given thus
far, it seems the new interns will
What happened
to J.D.'s fantasies
and the oddball
one-liners?
be given larger roles this season.
Unfortunately, the newbies aren't
nearly as funny as those they're
replacing, especially Doug, the
intern who works at the morgue,
and another intern fondly known
as Snoop Dogg Intern. Speaking of
newbies, there's also a new chief
of medicine: Dr. Maddox, played
by Courtney Cox ("Friends"). Cox
doesn't fit into the "Scrubs" uni-
verse and lacks the mean-spirited
humor of the old chief of medicine,
Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins, "The Sum
of All Fears").
Fans who have followed the
show since its beginning will
want to believe "Scrubs" still has
something substantial to offer.

Sure the hospital staff is as quirky
and politically incorrect as ever,
and the writing is trying awfully
hard to be sharp. But let's face it:
From what we've seen so far in the
eighth season, "Scrubs" is far from
what it used tobe. Even the show's
life lessons are beginning to get a
bit tiring.
This season of "Scrubs" should
be the last. Not just because it
seems poised to suck, but because
the characters are growing out of

their roles; J.D. has a kid for cry-
ing out loud. The "Scrubs" creative
team should use this potential last
go around to revive the punchy
one-liners and the strange fan-
tasies of J.D. that made the early
seasons so memorable.
It's time for "Scrubs" to wrap
up with dignity before it starts to
resemble the lovechild of "E:R."
and "Everybody Loves Raymond"
- overly dramatic and totally
unfunny.

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