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October 01, 2009 - Image 12

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4B - Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


48 - Thursday, October 1, 2009The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

w 'DAISIES' (1966)
A surreal bouquet
of 'Daisies'

Rocca s modern life

Daily Arts Writer
Vera Chytilov's "Sedmikrasky"
("Daisies") is a divisive film.
According to Czech film historian
Peter Hames, female audiences
saw humor in "Daisies" where men
did not. Women also more closely
identified with its heroines, while
men were more likely to see them
as petulant brats. Audiences may
be less prejudiced now, but femi-
nism is still a contentious topic.
Either way, "Daisies" is a delicious
conversation starter.
"Daisies" is often lumped into
the dubious category of the "Czech
New Wave," a period during the
'60s which saw the emergence of
talents like Milos Forman and Jan
Nemec. These directors drew from
practices like surrealism, cinema
verite and neo-realism. But even
compared to its contemporaries,
"Daisies" is totally iconoclastic; it's
a feminist critique wrapped in a
beautiful psychedelic package.
The film has something like a
story, but it's more a series of the-
matically connected skits than a
logical narrative piece. In sum-
mary, the two protagonists, Marie
I and Marie II (a.k.a "the blonde"
and "the brunette," among other
names) are two mischievous teen-
age girls who generally wreak
havoc, scamming old men out of
their riches on lavish dinner dates,
upstaging cabaret performances
and even setting fires. While dis-
rupting social order, they also
engage in nonsensical dialogue on
the meaning of life.
In the same way that the events
in "Daisies" are illustrative and
allegorical, its characters are like
puppets that exist to both enact
and deconstruct traditional ideas
about women. To heighten this
impression of unreality, the direc-
tor instructed the actresses (who
were models by trade) to speak
every line in a silly, coquettish way.
This parody of feminine arche-
types further calls attention to the
film's playful, rebellious spirit.
Though its subtext is heady, the
film is a blast to watch. Despite the
actors' lack of experience, their
physical comedy is spot-on. To
match the actors' pratfalls, the film

is edited to include deliberate con-
tinuity "errors," givingthe impres-
sion that people and objects can.
magically transform and teleport
from one place to another. In con-
text, these well-timed edits create
jokes in film form and add to the
overall sense of chaos. But those
elements only constitute a small
part of the film's outrageous visual
"Daisies," on the most basic
sensory level, is an explosion of
color. This is partially achieved
by the heroines' costumes and the
film's settings, which constantly
change. Color filters add to the
atmosphere of spontaneity. Tell-
ingly, the heroines' bedroom looks
like an art installation, with scrib-
bled patterns, magazine clippings
An artsy movie
that's both
inventive and
of glamorous women and draw-
ings of flowers brought together
in a collage that covers the walls.
The room acts as a microcosm of
the film in its deconstruction of
feminine images. Further, this
deconstructive theme is explored
in striking animation sequences
where collages of leaves, roses and
butterflies seem to dance in front
of the screen. The blazing, shim-
mering, rainbow-tinted journey
through a train tunnel is a visual
high point.
Most art films seem to be only
entertaining to an elite . group
trained in how to "read" them.
Against the odds, "Daisies" offers
enjoyment on multiple levels. It's
frequently funny. It's gorgeous to
watch. It has showy technique for
film buffs and is open to delirious
interpretation games by film schol-
ars. It also gets people talking as
they struggle to identify (or not)
with the blonde and the brunette.
For those looking for a film that is
both non-traditional and non-bor-
ing, look no further.

Mo Rocca's eccentric
journey from TV addict to
media personality
Daily TV/New Media Editor
You might not know it, but you know who
Mo Rocca is. The man has one of the most ran-
dom yet impressive resumes the entertainment
business has ever seen. He's a recurring judge
on "Iron Chef: America," a regular contributor
to NPR's "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" and a
commentator for VHI's "Best Week Ever" and
"I love the ..." series. He was a correspondent
for "The Tonight Show" and is currently cor-
responding for "CBS News Sunday Morning"
and "The Daily Show." Oh, and he was on
Broadway in "The 25th Annual Putnam Coun-
ty Spelling Bee."
So, yes, you're probably familiar with him in
some capacity or another. It's almost as though
Rocca has the career of a celebrity has-been,
without ever really having been. He's well
aware of this, however, stating early in his lec-
ture at the Ross School of Business on Friday,
"At this point, some of you are probably won-
dering who the hell I am," and a little later, "At
this point, you may be thinking what a lot of
people think, which is 'OK, great, but how the
hell did you get to be on TV?"'
In an exclusive interview with the Daily, he
disclosed how he felt he got his start.
"Well, it all started, I think, when I was very
very little and couldn't stop watching TV. And
the neighbors - I have two brothers, there are
three of us in all - the neighbors thought there
were only two children because I was inside

all the time," Rocca said. "I must've looked
like I had skim milk runningthrough my veins
because I was translucent. I was so pale and
sickly. And so I was just indoors all the time
and if I wasn't watching TV, I was imagining
TV shows that I would be on."
Rocca started performing when his parents
grew concerned about the amount of time he
spent in front of the television.
"And then finally my parents just threw me
out of the house - I mean, just like onto the
front lawn - and I had all this pent-up energy
and at first I used it to pursue a career in gym-
nastics," Rocca explained. "I taught myself
tumbling. Sometimes I would land on my head
and it would hurt. So the gymnastics didn't
get too far ... In any case, I sort of segued from
gymnastics into performing. And I loved doing
plays and musicals, but I wasn't sure if I want-
ed to write or perform in them or both."
When Rocca went to Harvard he got very
involved with Hasty Pudding Theatricals, one
of Harvard's more prominent theater troupes,
for which he wrote and performed in for all
four years of his college career.
"(That) is pretty damn impressive," Rocca
said. "Very few people do that - not the Har-
vard part, I mean the Hasty Pudding part."
Rocca is nothing short of impressive, but
eccentric is the best word to describe him. He
stood out among the B-school faculty wear-
ing a pair of bright pink pants - later clari-
fied on Twitter as "Nantucket Red" - and a
large, funky pair of glasses. He invited audi-
ence members to quiz him on world capitals
throughout his talk and was never wrong.
"South Africa actually has three capitals,"
he exclaimed. "It's Cape Town. It's Pretoria
and it's not Johannesburg, it's Bloemfontein.
Am I right?" More than once, he broke out

into song and he ended his lecture by giving an
impromptu ballet performance.
It's clear that Rocca is comfortable with
himself and truly loves what he does. And he's
done a lot.
But he cites reporting as his favorite job.
"I loved doing television field pieces and
I've done a lot of them," he said. "If you com-
bine 'The Daily Show' with 'The Tonight Show'
with my gig on 'Sunday Morning,' I see them
all as part of one continuum in a way. Three-
to six-minute stories with my point of view
with me acting in some way as a journalist -
certainly as a storyteller - and participating
in one degree or another in the story ... I love
doing that."
Still, it's hard to label him as simply a TV
correspondent. "It's not easy to describe
what I do or give myself a title," he said. "I've
earned the title 'pundit,' but anyone can be a
pundit. So I don't want to be a pundit, and a
fundit - a fun pundit - is a little too cutesy. I
think it's a little too precious ... and 'satirist' is
a little bit lofty ... no one knows what a satirist
is anymore. So I consider myself a commenta-
tor, a correspondent and common. Those are
my three seats."
Though he's very good at what he's doingnow,
Rocca is looking forward to bigger projects.
"Well, I want to do another booksince no one
read the first one, but Iliked writing it," he said
referring to his book "All the Presidents' Pets,"
which, in spite of its didactic title, is satirical
fiction, so you can and should read it.
But whatever projects Mo Rocca embarks on
in the future, they will certainly be witty and
"In many ways, my career has been a platter
of tapas, and I love tapas, but I'm also looking
forward to moving on to a main course."


From Page 1B

And the MFA deg:
JD or MD, doesn't
nicely into the ca
trained for. Ernes

The University's Creative Writing MFA program offers full funding for the
education of all of its graduate students.
a t;

Steely eyed skeptics can lam- James Joyce and
baste the system all they want, achieved literary
but what they can't deny is that success without th
stand-out MFA programs like MFA. Considering
Michigan's have left an indelible enroll inan MFA p
mark on American fiction. Apparently
A lot of today's best and
most influential writers A F
have cut their teeth in
these graduate programs: program
Recent Pulitzer Prize winners
Junot Diaz, Richard Russo and you the g
Michael Chabon have all sprung
out of MFA systems - not to men- of makin
tion the countless other MFA-
holders who dominate the shelves writing s
of Borders.
Nowhere is the virtue of the
MFA known better than at Mich- r
igan. The University's program
is widely considered to be the - Miria
world's second best (the MFA's
birthplace, Iowa, still holds the
No. 1 spot). The University of plenty of reasons.
Michigan has produced a parade "An MFA progr
of successful writers, including the gift of makini
the Whiting Writer's Award win- your primary respo
ner Patrick O'Keefe and Uwem Miriam Lawrence,
Akpan, whose short story col- MFA student at the
lection just achieved the literary wanted the oppor
equivalent of winning the lottery, and work with a
becoming the newest addition to writers with a va
Oprah Winfrey's Book Club. But and interests."
what, exactly, makes Michigan MFA programs,
such an elite place to study cre- pend-giving progrm
ative writing? igan's, afford prec
Well, for one, the faculty. budding writers t
According to Eileen Pollack, the sively on writing. P
director of the University's MFA provides graduates
program, "The faculty (members) tangible affirmatio
are not only accomplished writ- cation to fiction.
ers, but dedicated teachers. Some "I always wrot
programs hire superstar writers since I was really
who teach one course a year and just wanted the o
are never around. All our teach- In Hollywood, the
ers are full-time." to really focus on
What really separates Michi- said McLaughlin,
gan's MFA program from the oth- her motives for pur
ers, though, is the funding. In an degree.
almost too-good-to-be-true sce- And while an MF
nario, the University makes sure essarily translate i
all its MFA students are provided ful writing career
for while they pursue their degree. helps jumpstart the
"We have full funding for all "There is onet
our graduate students, so you MFA from a place
don't go into debt if you're earn- does: It gets you
ing an MFA here. We pick up attention when yc
tuition, you get health benefits out," Pollack said.'
and you get a really generous sti- have a seal of app:
pend to live on. So in a way you read much quicker
get paid for two years to write," more enthusiasm."
Pollack said. Granted, not all
The obvious economic advan- go on to careers ful
tages of pursuing an MFA at and booktours. Wh
Michigan help attract the cream secure fellowships:
of the aspiring-writer crop. ships, alot of grado
Josh Boucher, a second-year time jobs to suppo
MFA student at the University, while they try to g
was duly wooed: "I applied to published. This is
10 schools, and with the fund- of pursuing an MF
ing offered here, it was the clear program like Michi
choice." happens to be much
The unprecedented funding It's not clear ift
wasn't the only reason students MFA programs li
chose Michigan over the likes depends upon the
of Brown University, New York students have tos
University and other top-notch writing, the works
programs. critiquing other'sw
Emily McLaughlin, a second- sumingnew, varieg.
year MFA student who, before interaction with ex
enrolling at Michigan, was work- ulty or an intricate
ing in Hollywood as a televi- of it all. It's not eves
sion writer, was more generally programs are in fa
impressed: "Michigan has just for good writing -
a well-rounded program - the in the writer, not th
internships, the visiting writers, But with an expa
everything." of successful alumn
Still,inspirationcan'tbe taught. clear: Something is

ree, unlike the
t always segue
reer you have
t Hemingway,
Robert Frost
brilliance and
.e benefit of an
all this, why
iogram at all?
, there are
m Lawrence,
MFA student
am gives you
g writing into
msibility," said
a second-year
University. "I
tunity to meet
lot of talented
riety of voices
especially sti-
ams like Mich-
ious time for
o focus exclu-
lus, the degree
with a sort of
n of their dedi-
e stories ever
young. And I
fficial degree.
re was no time
your writing,"
referring to
suing an MFA
A doesn't nec-
nto a success-
r, it certainly
thing that an
like Michigan
really serious
ou send work
"(It's like) you
roval. You get
and with a lot
MFA graduates
1 of publishing
ile a lucky few
and professor-
ates seek part-
.rt themselves
et their work
all in the risk
A. But with a
igan's, the risk
the success of
ke Michigan's
surfeit of time
sharpen their
hop process of
work and con-
ated ideas, the
ceptional fac-
e combination
n clear if MFA
ct responsible
maybe it's all
e program.
nding rolodex
i, one thing is


SAT. JJ urey and Motro
OCT. & Shooter Jennings
CT wsg: Earl Greyhoundf
St. Andrew's Hall
They Might Be Giants
OCT. wsg: The Guggenheim Grotto
8 St. Andrew's Hall
14 and older welcomel
OCT. Hanson I Hellogoodbye.
10 wsg: Steel Train, Sherwood
The Fillmore Detroit
OCT. The Mars Volta
14 Clutch Cargo's
SAT. The Used
OCT wsg: The Almost, Drive A
17 The Filmnr D etonit


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