The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 5A
All's Well' for 'U'
Doin it weredoggy style.
Neither the full moon
nor this film help out
Benicio del Toro
By TIMOTHY RABB
Daily Arts Writer
Universal Pictures has again
lived up to its penchant for remak-
ing superhero and
monster films with
a remake of the
1940s Lon Chaney The Wolfman
Jr. movies of the At Quality16
same name. The and Showcase
film draws some Universal
of its best plot ele-
ments from its pre-
decessors, but it should have relied
more upon the raw acting potential
of its accomplished cast instead of its
distinction as a "bankable franchise."
Most werewolf enthusiasts who
catch the Joe Johnston ("Jurassic
Park 3") update will find a veritable
paradise of homages to previous
works: The romantic side story of
"An American Werewolf in London"
is there, as are the Gypsy themes, the
silver-headed walking stick, the Tal-
hot character and the werewolf visage
of Chaney Jr.'s 1941 original. But the
one vital quality missing is structure,
and the movie flounders miserably
through most of its plot as a result.
For starters, we're introduced to
the familiar concepts of werewolf-
ism and lycanthropy with laughable
juvenility. Cause and effect elements
of a plot thread should never draw
so much attention to themselves as
this, but the story is forced upon us
so frenetically that it appears like no
more than a series of rapid sequences.
Since the filmmakers know this to be
an incomplete, introductory format,
they supplement it with pedantic dia-
logue that would be appropriate were
we watching a documentary about the
history of werewolf lore.
Nothing is quite as irritating as
Danny Elfman's score; it's as obnoxious
as one by Howard Shore, should he ever
consume near-lethal doses of cocaine.
The music fills the air with an epic dis-
quiet, even during scenes where pure
silence would have most effectively
heightened the tension. As a result, the
audience begins to discuss the short-
comings of the film as it progresses -
why must it proclaim its glory to us so
earnestly? The true glory of a movie is
in its subtleties, those qualities added
so seamlessly into the final composite
that we scarcely notice them. As anyone
whose ears have suffered permanent
damage by "The Wolfman" will surely
tell you, subtlety is foreign to this hairy,
Surely, the $150 million budget
wasn't all for naught. The scene in
which Lawrence Talbot (Benicio del
Toro, "Che") is forcibly displayed to
the London aristocracy is absolutely
harrowing, and we're made to feel
as haplessly trapped as the nobles
when Lawrence undergoes his pain-
ful transformation from man to
monster. The gore is generous and
stylized, and it's clever and effective
in its naked form; in light of that, it's
a shame the final cut was so exces-
sively vested in cheap scares and pre-
Word to the (occasionally) wise
men of Universal: When you've been
endowed with such talent as del Toro,
Hugo Weaving ("The Matrix") and
Sir Anthony Hopkins ("Silence of the
Lambs"), you should let their knack
for proficient performance speak for
itself. When the cumbersome presen-
tation of "The Wolfman" causes us to
question the storytelling rather than
the story, it begins to resemble a par-
ody more than a substantial remake.
By HEATHER POOLE
Daily Arts Writer
While students may cringe at the thought of
the dreaded iambic pentameter, the upcoming
University studio production of Shakespeare's
"All's Well That Ends Well"
addresses the exciting and Ail's Well
contemporary issues of gen- That Ends
der roles and sexuality.
This Thursday through Well
Sunday, the School of Music,
Theatre & Dance's perfor- Thursday at
mance will feature the talents 7:30 p.m.,
of Musical Theater students Friday and
under the guidance of direc- Saturday at8$
tor and assistant professor in p.m., Sunday
the Department of Theatre & at2 p.m.
Dance Malcolm Tulip. Walgreen
"All's Well That Ends Well" Drama Center
explores complicated issues Ticketslfrom $9
concerning marriage and love.
"If you had to say what the play is about, it
might be about ... love and marriage - are they
compatible?" Tulip said. "And then as soon as
you ask that question then all the rest starts to
tumble around it: the idea of marriage as a con-
tract, not as a realization or the consummation
of love, but as something that has to do with
other business transactions."
"Social and gender roles are definitely a pre-
dominant theme in the show and ... how the
class dominates the sexuality, how men treat
the women and how they basically objectify
women," said Tyler Jones, a Musical Theater
junior who will play Bertram, a leading role.
"All's Well That Ends Well" is one of the few
studio productions conducted by the Depart-
ment of Musical Theater each year. Unlike a full
production like last October's "Evita," a studio
production often operates on a lower budget but
allows more room for experimentation.
Studio productions are one of the opportu-
nities offered to Musical Theater students who
choose to participate outside of class.
"The focus in astudio rather than a full produc-
tion is really on the process," Tulip said. "It's on
the acting and on the development of character."
The absence of Shakespeare in recent studio
productions led Tulip to choose "All's Well That
Ends Well." Both Tulip and the students were
attracted to the freedom of undertaking this
complex and rarely performed play.
"I think it's interesting because it's not very
clear whether it's a comedy or tragedy," said
Laura Reed, a Musical Theater sophomore, who
will be playing Helena, one of the leading roles.
"We had a lot of choices to make about the
characters. A lot of it was up to us to discover for
ourselves and what we wanted the production
to be, which ... was alot of fun," she added.
"It's not a 'Romeo and Juliet' or 'As You Like
It.' It is something that was unfamiliar to us,"
said Cody Davis, a Musical Theater junior, who
will be playing the King. "And you ... get to cre-
ate more of your own art rather than thinking of
the past and what you have seen."
In addition to the many possibilities in char-
acters, "All's Well That Ends Well" explores com-
plicated issues concerning marriage and love.
Though Tulip intends to keep the produc-
tion as close to the original play as possible -
only cutting one line and changing 12 words
- the cast and crew changed the time period
from the 1600s to a more modern setting in the
"I had a desire to see it in something more
modern so the audience isn't focusing on the
historical side of it," Tulip said. "And atthe same
time, I didn't want to ... get so hung up on the
'50s that we forget what the play is about. So
the truthful answer is that the '50s is there for a
modern sensibility, slightly more old-fashioned
on love and marriage
stands the test of time.
Reed, Jones and Davis all expressed apprecia-
tion in working with Tulip, a regular director in
the department's studio productions since 2001.
"In all honesty, I love working with (Tulip)
because he's able to get such a natural way out
of anyone, in a way that makes it seem like they
aren't doing a contrived performance," Jones
said. "He's just really gifted at getting people to
act at their full potential."
Under the direction of Tulip, along with the
dedication of the cast, this adaption of "All's
Well That Ends Well" speaks to the enduring
complexities of human nature and love without
clouding the plot with a dated setting.
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