The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Friday, December 11, 2009 - 5
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycomFriday, December 11, 2009 - 5
gets serious in
By JENNIFER XU scene. Still, Ronan believes that
Daily Arts Writer the absence of the rape scene does
not detract from the larger picture.
Fresh out of an Oscar nomina- "I think, if anything, it makes it
tion for her role in "Atonement," stronger because I think it's kind
15-year-old Saoirse (pronounced of the easy route to put that kind of
"sir-sha") Ronan has just leapt into scene in," she said.
another dramatic venture. "The "(Rape) can make people too
Lovely Bones," an adaptation of disturbed. If (you) just leave it up
Alice Sebold's best-selling novel, to the audience's imagination, to
is a film directed by Peter Jackson let them think of it for themselves
("Lord of the Rings") about a fam- ... sometimes that can even be
ily's reconciliation with catastro- stronger."
phe following the rape and murder Ronan enjoyed working with
of their teenage daughter Susie Jackson as a director, lauding his-
Salmon. vision for the film and the level of
With her clear, Irish-tinged involvement he had with his actors.
voice, Ronan, who plays Susie, "He's always up and ready to go,
omnisciently narrates the film as and he wasgreatbecause he would
an intermediary between life and ... act through what we were going
death in a sort of post-mortem to do," Ronan said. "He was very
coming-of-age story. hands on."
While the film suggests motifs Jackson's vision for "The Lovely
of mystery, the supernatural, ven- Bones" extends further than over-
geance, family discord and family seeing the film's acting. The film
bonding, Ronan believes that the promises the director's trademark
underlying theme of "The Lovely large-scale visuals, comparable to
Bones" is hope. She asserts that the likes of "Lord of the Rings" and
ultimately the film is about letting "Heavenly Creatures." The trailer
go of the past and moving onward portends amazingly lush heaven
from tragedy, both for Susie's fam- scenes, complete with angel cho-
ily and for herself. ruses and golden fields. Ronan
COURTESY OF ICE H20
Raekwon: Classier than the Cosa Nostra
The Chef cooks
Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon
talks life, faith and the
origin of his nickname
By SHARON JACOBS
Daily Arts Writer
With a languid voice that glides from one
sentence to the next, Rae-
kwon "the Chef" oozes Raekwon
slicked-back cool even out- te Chef
side the recording studio.
Known within the Wu-Tang Tomorrow at
Clan for his smooth and pre- 9:30 p.m.
cise lyrical imagery, Rae will At the Blind Pig
shed his Wu-Tang lineage for1
a solo job tomorrow night at + $2ficsvet
the Blind Pig.
Rae's 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
helped popularize "mafioso rap," a genre in
which romanticized depictions of a glammed-
up gangsta lifestyle recall Italian mobster cul-
"Cinematic street shit is my chamber," he
explained in a phone interview with the Daily.
"Street life, drug tales, that was my world."
Rae himself is the picture of a mafia under-
boss. Even while doing his own thing, he still
looks out for the rest of the Clan - most of the
songs on his 2009 release Only Built 4 Cuban
Linx Pt.II feature Wu-Tang affiliates.
Over the years, the Wu-Tang Clan has
attracted a huge cult following, with five
group albums released over roughly 15 years,
numerous solo albums from its members and
even an official print guide to the group ("The
An entire mythology has been built around
Wu-Tang's nine members, beginning with
their enigmatic nicknames.
Popular legend has Raekwon the Chef get-
ting his moniker from an alleged knack for
cooking up cocaine, but the Chef himself begs
"When we actually got together and said
'Yo, we gonna become a crew and this is my
name, this is your name' ... (the other mem-
bers) gave me 'The Chef' because they felt like
I was the marvelous flavor, like, 'nuff said,"
said Rae, born Corey Woods.
"'Raekwon' came from part of the Nation
of Islam - The 'Five Percent Nation'- when I
was a young kid."
Though he's not connected with the Nation
of Islam, Raekwon recently became a Muslim.
He described his conversion to Islam as more
influential on his world view than his music.
"Allah has given me the power to do what I
do ... but at the same token, I've been doingthis
for a long time, it's my artistry," he said. And
Rae isn't going to change his bragging, swag-
gering lines just because he's "pure now."
As the conversation turned to Cuban Linx
Pt. II, Raekwon asserted that, in the face of a
morphing hip-hop scene, he's "still the same
"I started working on (Pt. II) almost four
years ago ... I knew that this one had to be clas-
sic so I didn't want to rush it." Rae was right
to take his time - most critics agree that the
new Cuban Linx fondly recaptures its prede-
cessor's classic gangsta-poetic appeal.
Despite having released four solo albums,
Raekwon seemed nostalgic for the Clan's
"When I'm with (Wu-Tang)," he admit-
ted, "I don't really have to think too hard
because I know they're already thinking for
me ... I had to really realize (while making
Cuban Linx Pt. II) tha*I gotta please the fans
and I gotta please Wu-Tang, because I know
how they think ... we all think the same way,
(and) they gonna tell me if I'm not in the right
The group mentality is unsurprising con-
sidering that a large part of the Wu-Tang Clan
grew up together in Staten Island, New York,
including Raekwon and producer-leader RZA.
"I was just around him in my leisure time
or whatever, but I seen how he wanted it and
he actually really made me want it even more,"
Raekwon said of RZA's "crazy passion" for
making music in their youth.
Cuban Linx Pt. Il is a big step for Rae, who
dispersed production duties for the album
instead of relying wholly.on RZA as usual.
As the interview came to a close, Raekwon
confirmed that the Wu-Tang Clan will release
another group album soon, though he couldn't
say when. Like any good mafioso, Rae puts
family first. Cuban Linx Pt. II ends with a
champagne toast to his Cosa Nostra: "It's the
Wu-Tang, it's our thing, kiss the ring."
"When Susie arrives in the
in-between, she doesn't want to
go forward, which would mean
accepting her death," Ronan said,
in a phone interview.
"She wants to be back on Earth
with her family and she knows
she can't do that. And to get (to
heaven), she has to focus on her
love for her family and not the hate
and vengeance that she has for her
Ronan had not actually read
the novel during the film's pro-
duction, in part due to the heavy
themes touched upon in the book
(she was only 13 at the time) and in
part due to her desire to interpret
the screenplay the way Jackson
wanted her to. At 15, she has final-
ly gotten a chance to read Sebold's
"I absolutely loved it," Ronan
"I felt every emotion possible.
And I think because I had been
through the whole experience
of making the movie and living
through the story, that (helped)
me to really connect with the book,
and to understand the book fully."
Although Jackson makes an
effort to stay faithful to the source
material, there are still inherent
discrepancies between the film
and the book. The novel contains a
very detailed rape scene in which
the murderer (played by Stanley
Tucci of "The Devil Wears Prada"
fame) brutally molests the young
heroine and subsequently dis-
members her in a frozen cornfield.
For the film, Jackson chose to
take the tasteful route of implying
rather than overtly portraying the,
Going for another
remembers the process of shooting
these scenes as strange but subse-
"It was a little bit surreal at first
because it was all blue screen and
I hadn't worked with that much
blue screen before," Ronan said.
"So, it was sometimes difficult
to try and imagine what it was
going to be like. I saw the movie
a few days ago and it was a lovely
surprise to finally see heaven."
"The Lovely Bones" opens today
in limited release, and critics are
already buzzing about its Oscar
potential. Ronan was nominated
for a Best Supporting Actress
Oscar in 2007 for Joe Wright's
redemptive period piece "Atone-
ment," so she is no stranger to
this level of high-pressure critical
expectation. Still, she tries to keep
everything in perspective.
"To be honest, I try not to think
about awards season at all, espe-
cially when it concerns a movie
that I've made," she said.
"None of the press have actually
seen the movie yet, so it's not fair to
say, but i.t's great that they're put-
ting it at such a high level already."
At the same time, Ronan hopes
that audiences will be receptive to
"Hopefully it does well. I just
really hope that everyone enjoys
Reitman explores unlikable leads
Daily Arts Writer
Though a film adaptation is exciting in its
visualization of particularly engaging writ-
ten works, the making of one is encumbered
by unique obstacles. How does one adapt a pre-
existing narrative ina manner that stays true to
the original story while still including one's own
brand of originality?
In Jason Reitman's estimation, the answer is
Jason Reitman, the young writer-director of
"Thank You for Smoking" and director of "Juno,"
divulged the motivation for his new adaptation
in a recent interview. His newest project, "Up
in the Air," is a reworking of a novel by critically
acclaimed writer Walter Kirn. The book follows
a middle-aged "management consultant" named
Ryan Bingham as he travels across the country
by plane, firing the unfortunate employees of the
various companies that have requested his ser-
vices. "Up in the Air" will start screening in wide
release at the end of the month.
Despite Ryan's dreary line of work, the great-
est pleasure he derives from his life is flying.
The close relationship betweenthis love of flight
and screenwriter Jason Reitman's own life gives
presents intimate perspective to the story.
"I started enjoying flights for the same reason
I enjoyed going to movie theaters. It's a chance
to unplug from your normal life," Reitman said.
"You know when you're up in the plane, your
cell phone doesn't work and your closest friend
is this person in 17J and you can have the kind
of conversation with them that you would never
have with someone you knew well. And yes,
I collect miles. I collect miles like crazy ... I've
been on 20 flights in 20 days."
Reitman's oddball enthusiasms - particular-
ly for flying and frequent-flier miles - are closely
related to those of his unlikely protagonistRyan,
sans the illegal prescriptions and illegal women,
of course. Flirting with the fine line between
the real and the fictional is the process by which
an artist can bring about a sense of catharsis in
those who view his work, after all.
What better way to elicit emotion than to
Breathing life into
show normal people the ways in which the
despair, joy and other emotions found in art par-
allel the emotional ups and downs in their own
lives? In this sense, Reitman is no narcissist -
he's a humble writer of the people and for the
"Because of the economy, I (decided to) cast
real people as the people who lose their jobs in
this movie ... except for a few actors that you're
going to recognize like Zach Galifianakis ("The
Hangover") and J.K. Simmons ("Juno"), these
are people in St. Louis and Detroit who actu-
ally just lost their jobs in real life," Reitman said,
describing the evolution of the screenplay in the
past seven years.
This unlikely approach recollects the unadul-
terated displays of social decay in post-World
War II neo-realist films,, though Reitman's
motivations are far removed from the political
realm. His films are more focused on character
studies of isolation, as can be seen in tobacco
lobbyist Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart, "The Dark
Knight") from "Thank You for Smoking," preg-
nant high school student Juno MacGuff (Ellen
Page, "Hard Candy") and Reitman's newest
character, the lonely wanderer Ryan Bingham
(George Clooney, "Burn After Reading").
"I'm obviously attracted, whether I know it or
not, to characters who live in a kind of polarized
world," Reitman said.
"I like these characters because they usually
have avery open-minded point ofviewon some-
thingthat's traditionally (divisive) and they give
me an opportunity to take a fresh look at a sub-
ject that is usually talked out in only one way."
And as for Reitman's next character study?
"If 'Thank You for Smoking' and 'Up in the
Air' were two parts of a trilogy, and I needed my
third angry white guyto fill it in," he said. "After
tobacco lobbyists, corporate termination execu-
tives, what's the third slot? Maybe someone who
works in the clergy."
Future plans aside, one can expect more of
the same from Reitman's observations from "Up
in the Air." It will likely be a glorious amalga-
mation of happiness and despair, acclaim and
stigmatization, laughter and somberness. Less
contrived glitz and garish glamour and more of
life, just the way it is.
Only 15, Saoirse is making serious dramatic waves.
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