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February 16, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - 5

'Pippa' prevails

Just do it already

Suburban drama
channels 'The
Feminine Mystique'
DailyArts Writer
Pippa Lee's world looks nearly
* perfect on the surface. Lee (Robin
Wright Penn,
"New York,
I Love You")
has been hap- The Secret
pily married
to a recently l
retired, much Pippa Lee
older publisher Atthe Michigan
(Alan Arkin,
"Marley & Me") Elevation
and now they've
moved into a suburban neighbor-
hood in Connecticut to live out the
rest of their lives in peace in "The
Private Lives of Pippa Lee."
The film opens with a celebra-
tory dinner. Pippa Lee, the guests
all agree, is an "enigma"- and she
is. Penn is remarkably good at being
mysterious. She says very little in
the first few scenes, but her ges-
tures and little smiles as she clears
away the plates hint at a compelling
As the film progresses, the sugary
coating of her life dissipates. She is
trapped and no longer knows who
she is. Now that she has found her-
self in a neighborhood full of elderly
citizens who die and get wheeled
out by paramedics, she realizes she
needs to find a new purpose in life.
Unfortunately, the more she tries
to start a new life, the more her
past comes back to haunt her. She
starts sleepwalking and develops
an uncomfortable attraction to her
neighbor's "half-baked" son Chris
Nadeau (Keanu Reeves, "The Day
the Earth Stood Still").
The story is helped by the vari-

Life on a dairy farm: creepier than you think.
ous side characters to which the
audience is all-too-briefly intro-
duced: Pippa's speed-taking mother
(Maria Bello, "The Yellow Handker-
chief") and her aunt's-lesbian lover
(Julianne Moore, "I'm Not There")
who takes pornographic photos are
among the most intriguing. While
not always fully developed, they add
an element of fantasy that allows the
narrative to have its sarcastic edge.
"The Private Lives of Pippa Lee"
has a dryness to it that prevents it
from becoming too dramatic and
can even be comical at times. The
struggles of the characters are not
to be taken too seriously and pos-
sess a refreshing spontaneity that
makes uncovering the next element
of Pippa's story enjoyable.
Blake Lively ("Gossip Girl") plays
the younger Pippa Lee in flash-
backs. Her performance is solid,
but it's difficult at times to see the
connection between her character
and Penn's. Lively wanders in and
out of various situations without

Now that we've plowed through Valentine's
Day weekend, you've probably got a few
chocolates left in that heart-shaped box,
your roses are just starting to
wilt and you've scraped the bot-
tom of the ten and Jerry's pint
Because relationships are on
our minds with the passing of
this pseudo-holiday, our televi-
sions are naturally barraging
us with romance. "The Office,"
"Community," "Modern Fam- CAROLYN
ily," "30 Rock," "HowI Met Your KLARECKI
Mother" and plenty more TV
favorites just aired their Valen-
tine's Day episodes, getting us all excited that our
two favorite characters willfinally realize they're
supposed to be together. Of course, they don't.
They never do. The most we get on the Valentine's
Day special is a wistful glance as character A (once
again) acknowledges feelings for character B.
Valentine's Day is an excuse for TV shows to keep
up the "Will they or won't they?" romantic tension
between their lead characters. It's the oldest formula
in the book for shows to set up a potential romantic
partnership and hint at it incessantly. It took five
seasons for Jeannie and Major Nelson to get mar-
ried in "I Dream of Jeannie." And today it's even
more annoying with shows that seemingly let go of
the potential relationship only to bring it back into
focus when the plot lags. I understand that "Scrubs"
underwent a network change, but J.D. and Elliot's
on-again, off-again relationship was the most irritat-
ing thing on television.
What if their story was real? When you've got two
friends with great chemistry who aren't together,
maybe it excites you at first, but if that untapped
relationship sits for years it starts to become really
annoying. If you know someone in an on-again, off-
again relationship, you know you're not going to sit
down with a bowl of popcorn when they start to talk
about it. You're going to roll your eyes, sigh and wish
they would just make up their minds.
Isn't it strange how relationship troubles are
entertaining when they're fake? We spent 10 years
watching the rise and fall (and rise again) of the
romance of Rachel and Ross on "Friends," but we
can't stand the same from people we know. Clearly,
that's because we're only putting up with the TV
drama for about an hour each week and we can turn
it off when it gets old. Still, there are a few couples
on television that don't make me want to change the

Jim and Pam of "The Office" are happily mar-
ried. They went through the requisite four seasons
of awkward tension before they got there and "The
Office" is starting to lose its edge, but the show
hasn't completely failed in the wake of their wed-
Jin and Sun only had one season of turbulence on
"Lost" before they became the loving, happy couple
they are - unless you consider Sun thinking Jin is
dead for three years as being unhappy. They're main
characters who are in on all the action and don't
need the added romantic drama of going back and
forth between Sawyer and Jack. I'm looking at you,
Kate. There isn't a single "Lost" fan who enjoys your
complicated relationship with the men of the island.
OK, so those examples of happy TV couples are
weak - one resulted from the drawn-out tension I
hate, and the other has much bigger problems to deal
On-again, off-again TV
relationshps are
ruining primnetime.
with - but that's exactly my point. There ought tobe
some modern television stories that revolve around
normal people in normal relationships.
The only recent show that I can recall that has
done this and done it well is ABC's "Modern Fam-
ily." The whole premise of the show is to examine
the life of the typical American family, showing that
the typical American family doesn't exist. We see
three very different happy couples all with regular
happy-couple problems like arguing over how to
punish the kids. It's simple, it's funny, it's compelling
and it doesn't need seasons of relationship drama to
keep it that way.
If one show can do it, why not more? The exas-
perating love stories of today's television should be
reserved for middle-school girls who care about that
sort of thing. Let's end the "Will they or won't they?"
plot device, because we all know how it's going to
end. Of course Ross and Rachel will be together, J.D.
and Elliot will get married and, clearly, Kate ends up
with Jack. Now I'm goingto go buy myself another
pint of Ben and Jerry's.
Klarecki. isn't spooning anything but ice
cream. To be her on-again, off-again lover,
email her at cklareck@umich.edu.

ever really establishing who she is
or how she makes the jump from
being a problem child to the woman
everybody adores.
Of course, this loss of identity
is a common theme in suburban-
based dramas. "The Private Lives
of Pippa Lee" mirrors the plight
of the suburban housewife laid
out in Betty Friedan's book "The
Feminine Mystique." Lee experi-
ences boredom, emptiness and loss,
but director Rebecca Miller ("The
Ballad of Jack and Rose") clearly
intended the film to be more than
just another tirade against the sub-
urban prison. And she succeeded.
"Pippa Lee" doesn't dwell on its
titular character's melodramatic
past, but instead focuses on her
connections with the people in
her life and the way they affect her
mental state. With all the changes
and uncertainty that her life and
those involved in it bring, there's
enough room to be pleasantly sur-

Artful contradictions Wandering with Wolbers

Daily Arts Writer
How can art represent stead-
fast beliefs - beliefs held so
strongly that
their possessor In Spite of
could only be the Evide
called stubborn? teEdn
The Gallery Through
Project's latest Fed.21
exhibition, "In Gallery Project
Spite of the Evi- 205S. Fourth Ave
dence," asks art-
ists to abstractly
answer the central question,
"How is it that people can main-
tain steadfast beliefs in an idea
even when presented with evi-
dence that seems to contradict
The Gallery Project presents
"In Spite of the Evidence," a
thought-provoking multimedia
exhibition featuring 32 estab-
lished and emerging artists who
have set out to answer this very
question through the lens of their
own artistic vision using every
medium imaginable, including
video, digital art, collage, sculp-
ture and more.
All the pieces on display, like
Sherry Moore's "Safety Net,"
which is assembled with only
safety pins and thread, may leave
the viewer wondering how each
artist feels about his or her beliefs
or other opinions and how such
views can be interpreted in his or
her work.
"The idea is that people have

think a
other p
or evid
the ga
is cultu
All th
case th
well as
or new t
it like "

ing they believe in or sial, but we tryto think of subjects
bout, and that there is a that are of interest in the world,"
y for people, even though Pritschet said. Past exhibits have
eople disagree with them included "Nature Repercieved,"
ence to the contrary (is "Animal Intelligence" and "Gen-
ed), to still have their own der Agenda."
said founding co-director Because of the gallery's com-
Pritschet, who runs the mitment to exposing different
with Rocco DePietro. points of view, Pritschet often
its opening in April2005, finds it becomes a launching pad
lery has curated nine for newer artists.
exhibits each year. "We have some people in mind
goal is to have work that who we invite, but as a nonprofit
rally aware, courageous, (organization) one of the things
t-provoking and individu- we've always done is we will
Pritschet said. look at people's submissions,"
ae exhibits typically show- Pritschet said. "We try to support
e work of local artists as emerging artists and to provide
artists from around the a venue for seldom-heard voices.
, who may be established We look at people who are mar-
to the art world. ginalized from the art scene, but
we never compromise and have
mediocre work."
Pritschet mentioned that one
of her greatest pleasures was to
vidence at present the work of a well known
artist who had won several
Very Project. awards in New York City right
next to an artist who was apply-
ing for an MFA at the University
of Michigan.
re interested in as many Although The Gallery Project
as we can get who are was originally intended by its
g to the theme," Pritschet founders to be a five-year proj-
ect, Pritschet and DePietro, both
focus on a wide variety of artists themselves, have recently
t viewpoints diffuses the decided to extend their lease for
al controversy of an exhib- two more years. Their next exhi-
In Spite of the Evidence," bition, "Mind," which opens with
deals with personal con- a reception on Feb. 26 and runs
like religion and politics. through March 28, will celebrate
don't try to be controver- the extension.

Daily Arts Writer
Saskia Olde Wolbers takes audi-
ences on journeys throughtheir own
psyches. The London-based film-
maker will be pre-
senting five of her NowThat
distinctive films as
part of the Penny Part of Me
W. Stamps lecture Ha Become
series on Thursday
at 5:10 p.m. at the Fiction
Michigan Theater. Thursday at
There's noth- 5:10 p.m.
ing typical about Michigan Theater
Wolbers's films Mi
- there are no
physical actors, as the audience is
transported into the eyes of the nar-
rators who wander through unfamil-
iar and dreamlike worlds and express
their thoughts through voice-over.
The lecture is titled "Now That
Part Of. Me Has Become Fiction"
because her films are meant to have
the effect of the "traveling imagi-
nation," which is how Wolbers
describes the common experience of
people when they read fiction. The
films also use narrators who attempt
to construct their own realities, like
a man who lies to his family for sev-
eral years, saying that he's a doctor.
"The ideas for my films come from
a variety of sources, usually a situa-
tion that is described by a newspaper
that doesn't have much insight into
the real story, so you have to imagine
it," Wolbers explained. "I'm very led
by chance, and that's what I come

Wolbers's complex storylines are
told in intricately constructed set-
tings that represent anything but
"Apart from the film I made in
2007, which is set in West Africa,
everyfilmisinan aquarium,withliq-
uid dripping from the sets," Wolbers
said. "The sets are miniature and are
usually made from a combination of
metal and plastic."
Her filmmaking style is uncon-
ventional as well, as she usually lets
the results of the filming process dic-
tate the overall story.
"As I work very organically, the
complete text is not finished until
I am done with all of the filming,"
Wolbers said. "It is sometimes very
intuitive, but at other times very
Wolbers will be showing "Kilo-
watt Dynasty," "Placebo," "Interlop-
er," "Trailer" and "Deadline," as well
as scenes from a new film.
The audience can expect more
than just viewing Wolbers's ground-
breaking films. They will also hear
what goes on behind the scenes.
"I talk about the research that's
involved, alittle bit about how I make

the films, the process, references
... as well as other things that influ-
ence me," Wolbers explained. "The
lecture will start with a still image
usually referring to the research,
and each transition between films
will be accompanied by a different
still image."
Wolbers is very passionate about
her work and hopes to entertain as
well as enlighten the viewers of her
Films for a rainy
"I think that the perfect audience
walks in on a rainy afternoon and
finds this story that's quite intimate in
a way," he said. "It has sort of a photo-
documentary style, even though the
visuals are more akin to fiction than
to filmmaking, because you're not
really seeing what you're hearing. I
guess there's an element of mystifica-
tion - Itry to create a different sort of
space for the audience members."

Xile f ihi iJC an 43aij Invites you to see
Shutter Island
Thursday, February 18th
State Theater
For your chance to receive a pass to check out the new thriller, come down to The
Michigan Daily office through 2/17 and sign up for our email list to be in the loop
for more great offers!
*No Purchase Necessary. While Supplies Last. Seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first
come, first served basis. Theater is overbooked to ensure capacity. Employees of the Michigan Daily
and promotional partners are not eligible to win.

,.,nmoe vowneu s e v e t-..spa.
Attend an information session.
Wednesday, February 17th
6:30 p.m.
U-M International Center, Room 9
800.424.8580j www.peacecorps.gov
Life is calling. How far will 'you go?

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