The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, March 29, 2010 - 7A
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, March 29, 2010 - 7A
Finding time for
"Don't tell me how to train my dragon."
New animated film
combines amazing effects
with strong morals
By BEN VERDI
"How to Train Your Dragon" is the best
film of the young year. It's exhilarating,
clever, sweet and mean-
ingful; but the only way to
truly do this film justice is
to take $10 and 100 min- Howto Train
utes and go sit in a theater Your Dragon
(3-D glasses optional, but
recommended) to experi- At Quality16
ence it yourself. and Showcase
Unlike the barbs Paramount
thrown at the grandiosity
of another 3-D blockbuster, "Avatar," those
watching "Dragon" won't feel like they're
being beaten over the head with morals
soaking in political innuendo. Nor will
they feel as though the film is hiding a poor
story behind expensive special effects.
The three-dimensional aspects of this ani-
mated feature add to the epic battle scenes
in which Vikings ride around on dragons,
sometimes laying waste to entire villages.
Yet they manage to never feel forced or
unnecessary, just cool.
"Dragon" is, by definition, a "kid movie,"
and what's refreshing is that it really is for
kids. The messages are slow to develop,
but, poignantly, they become clear: "Don't
kill. Use your intellect instead." Notice the
word choice. The message is not corny,
childish, or easily put into practice. It isn't
"Learn, don't burn," for instance. "Dragon"
appeals to the kid in you, but engages you
like a grownup.
Another refreshing aspect of this film is
that it's not just about a token "average kid,"
nor is it about a kid with some ridiculous
secret, or latent set of magical powers or
troubled home life he must overcome. The
main character is a boy named Hiccup (Jay
Baruchel, "She's Out of My League"), and his
Dragon is called Toothless. This is a movie
about normal, socially awkward children.
If "The Lion King" taught kids to go for
glory and "Kung Fu Panda" helped them
understand their responsibilities, then
"How to Train Your Dragon" is for the
other kids - the kids to whom the idea of
becoming king and overcoming some com-
ically overdone set of obstacles seems nice,
but unrealistic in terms of their own lives.
If you take anything away from watch-
ing this film, as someone old enough to be
counted as a "guardian" for little ones in
the theater, let it be this: You'll never be as
popular as the popular kids. But the real
point is you don't have to be. You're smart-
er than them.
Hiccup and Toothless are more Jane
Eyre than Luke Skywalker. They're not
handed the heads of their enemies on
sticks at the end of the movie, and they're
not past all of the things that gave them
trouble at the outset of the film. They
don't "defeat" the popular kids by even-
tually becoming even-more-popular kids.
Instead they become more aware of them-
selves and their ability to accomplish good
in the world. Why beat them when you can
have them join you?
The movie's main characters tactfully
manage to practice love, faith and true
unconditional friendship, which prove,
against an impressively crafted set of bad
guys, toobe whatmatters more than anything.
Movie-watching is a tough
passion to keep afloat when
you're a college student. Our
daily lives don't always afford us time to
sit down for a couple
hours and check out
a classic we haven't5
seen yet. At least,
that's the rationale I
like to use when con-
fronted by friends;
ask, "You haven'tw
seen' ___ '? Why ANDREW
the hell not?" LAPIN
stand me, friends.
When I reveal I haven't seen, say, "Taxi
Driver" or "Blow-Up," that's not code
for "I don't consider that movie a high
enough priority to watch." If I could, I'd
watch two or three new-to-me movies
a day until I've finally seen everything
the cinematic community has deemed
exceptional. But then I would never get
my homework done or have a social life
or do anything exceptwatch movies.
And that just doesn't seem like a worth-
while trade-off to me.
Everyone's got movie blind spots.
They're hard to just fill on a whim,
because no one ever says, "I've got three
hours to kill. Let's watch 'Metropolis."'
It's important to be cultured in the clas-
sics, but we have our immediate priori-
ties. And while all those great "1,000
Movies to See Before You Die" lists can
be our guidelines, we don't have the time
or resources to make them our gospel.
I've probably seen more stuff from
those lists than most, but I still want
to be watching more. The question is
how much more I should have in my
repertoire by certain times in my life.
I'm 20 years old, about a quarter of the
way through my expected lifespan.
Does that mean I should have already
seen 250 of the movies on that list?
And every time I watch a bad movie,
or re-watch something I've seen a bil-
lion times before, I suppose that was
one wasted opportunity to chalk up
So what is our obligation to the clas-
sics? I'm not talking about the Bost-1980
John Hughes or Coen Brothers brand
of,"classic." I'm talking about the stuff
we actually have to make an effort to
seek out - the films thatyou won't
find listed as your friend's favorites on
Facebook. You know, great movies from
This semester I thought I'd resolve
to see some of those great movies, soI
took SAC 353: Film History 1960-Pres-
ent as an elective. This would be perfect,
I thought. We'd be coveringthe New
Waves of France and Japan along with
New Hollywood and Italian Neo-real-
ism. Somewhere in that syllabus would
be my chance to finally cross Godard,
Kurosawa and Antonioni off my list, at
the very least.
Well, too bad for me. We did watch
a Godard film, but it wasn't "Breath-
less" or even "Masculin fdminin." It was
"Tout va bien," considered tobe one of
the auteur's more experimental, post-
New Wave selections, and not the most
essential viewing for someone who had
previously seen zero Godard. And the
Japanese selection wasn't a Kurosawa
flick but "The Sword of Doom," by Kiha-
chi Okamoto, which tends to existonthe
fringes of popular consciousness as far
as samurai cinema is concerned.
As far as I understand it, there are
two possible rationales for these sorts
of peculiar film selections: Either our
professor assumes us students, already
educated in the world of cinema, have
already seen the "greatest hits" of the
classics, or he wants to tease us with
selections that are not quite classics,
thereby whetting our appetites to
explore more options on our own. I
wanted to take the easy path toward
filling in a few more blanks on my film
resume by gettingto do it for a grade.
Turns out I'm going to have to exert a
little more effort than that.
To see the good
stuff, look beyond
your film class.
A clarification: I'm not tryingto bad-
mouth the movie selections for my class.
We've also had the opportunity to see
some truly amazing stuff, like a restored
print of "Apocalypse Now Redux" with
full surround sound that left me in awe
for days after. And I elected to attend
the St. Patrick's Day screening of Wong
Kar-wai's "ChungkingExpress," a film
I knew nothing about, instead of going
out to celebrate my nonexistent Irish
heritage. I was treated to a joyful, high-
energy romance of modernurban Chi-
nese 20-souiethings, a movie that I'll be
recommendingto my friends for years.
Trust me, it was the right choice.
What I learned from my Film His-
tory class is that if we're serious about
wantingto see movies, we can't sitback
and wait for someone else to show them
to us. You make your own time to see
the stuff you care about. And if I don't
get to everything before my time here is
up, maybe it's notothe end of the world.
There's an endless, ever-growing uni-
verse of great movies out there, and I'm
just one mere mortal college student.
Lapin has three hours to kill. How
about he reads your e-mails? To entertain
him, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deschanel and M. Ward's sweet reunion
By KRISTYN ACHO
Daily Arts Writer
Zooey Deschanel's persona in
She & Him has always seemed
charmingly tragic. The guise
music is in She & Him
itself a study
in contrasts: Volume Two
At one point Merge
living up to her indie-darling
standards in music videos by
dancing in schools in brightly
colored Mary Janes, and the
next she's exposed, pouring the
depths of her soul into a heart-
breaking drawl on record. Like-
wise, She & Him's Volume Two
is a bittersweet romance filled
with tumultuous highs and
lows. It's endearingly devastat-
ing and it's seriously addicting.
The folk-pop duo, composed
of poster child for allthings
hipster Deschanel and singer-
songwriter M. Ward, is certain-
ly an odd couple in theory. But
the juxtaposition of Deschanel's
Day vocals and Ward's twangy
yet soulful guitar melodies
makes it sound like they were
made for each other.
Volume Two feels like a
reunion of old friends. The
album is a continuation of the
retro-vibing, antique sound
that made vinyl junkies fall for Although Volume Two never
the duo's folksy debut in the quite leaves its lovelorn, dusty-
first place. But there's a definite vinyl comfort zone, it's reassur-
sense of maturation embedded ing to know that some things
within. Deschanel, who general- will always stay the same.
Indeed, the record's stand-out
track "In the Sun" waxes nos-
c dtalgia for Volume One's taste of
wholesome pop perfection with
seco d e "'~ion cheery chorus: "We all get
s chCer effort. the slip sometimes everyday /
I'll just keep it to myself in the
sun, in the sun."
ly writes the chord progressions, But a wholesome demeanor is
lyrics and melodies, seems more really what sets She & Him apart
confident in her throwback '60s from other bands today. Com-
soda-pop realm, and Ward, who plete with breezy harmonies
produces, arranges and does all and velvety vocals, Deschanel's
the instrumentation, takes no cooed lyrics delve into the first
qualms with letting her vintage flashes of love (and eventually
vocals take center stage. See SHE & HIM, Page 8A
Making the 'Dragon' dream work
By TIMOTHY RABB
The new DreamWorks film
"How to Train Your Dragon" is
poised to be a one of the best-
received animated films of the
year. Several critics have already
alluded to its charming storyline
and characters, but more so to the
painstaking manner in which the
3-D version replicates the won-
ders of flight. "Dragon" is directed
by Chris Sanders and Dean DeB-
lois, the duo behind Disney's "Lilo
& Stitch," and the Disney studio is
the origin of the partnership from
which this concept was born.
"Chris and I met on 'Mulan,'
actually. That was our first film
together," said DeBlois in a confer-
ence call interview. "We were in
the story department. And Chris
Sanders was head of story when
I joined the team as a storyboard
artist. And then I took over as head
of story when he went to develop
a project. And that project turned
out to be 'Lilo & Stitch,' which we
wrote together and then we direct-
Sanders has worked as a co-sto-
ry writer of such Disney classics
as "Beauty and the Beast," "Alad-
din" and "The Lion King." In con-
sideration of this, it's no surprise
that "How to Train Your Dragon,"
which won the box office last week-
end with $43 million, is shaping to
be such a critical and commercial
success. But beyond the singular
requisite of crafting a compelling
story, there's also a fascinating
aspect of Sanders's strategy that he
claims is the key to his films' popu-
"The interesting thing about
working where we do is, it's impor-
tant not to exclude an age group.
It sounds silly, but it's true - we
think pretty much exactly like our
own audience," Sanders said. "You
want the finished film to work on
multiple levels. If you are a young
is a sto
you're goingto come in and The process of storytelling is
ngs that you find genuinely certainly expedited by the lack of
and that you get, and like- a stifling atmosphere, but the best
you're an adult you're going way to draw the most viewers to
different things that will the cinema is by means of com-
you on a whole new level. pelling characters. In DeBlois's
do work pretty hard on the opinion, this can be best achieved
owd, I think it's one of the by endowing characters with the
st crowds to get (into the dynamic personalities and subtle
)." complexities of real-life people.
how does the duo plan to "I think that there are a lot of
n age group characterizedby films where characters are embody-
tiable desire for action and ing too much of an archetype. If
e? your characters are either pure
o things. I think that the good or pure evil, they're just flat,
action in the film ... (is) very and that's nothing like real life,"
up in that the film actu- DeBlois said. "So building faults in
rts with a battle," Sanders just makes them more human. It
tut the other thing is that it makes the whole experience a little
ry that emotionally I think more real and grounded in reality
speak to (teens). It's about a and we're always referencingsisters
o is in that exact same age and people we know ... whose traits
who is struggling with his are both endearing and annoying at
As for future plans, DeBlois hint-
ed at the possibility of an eventual
forallcrossover to live action.
imation frsaf"I think there is certainly an
allure to live-action filmmaking.
Kes is harder And it comes with its troubles
a too, having written a couple proj-
ects for the live action world and
just seeing them get stalled out
with all sorts of strange politics
surprisingly, Sanders and turnovers of executives and
1 unwilling to comment on such," DeBlois said. "So the one
tative aspects of his time at thing about animation that I really
- the studio's penchant for appreciate is that you have a very
quelling any negative press devout team behind you and with
er current or former employ- you that commit to the project and
mplifies its commitment to see it through even its troubles. I
eless reputation. Even so, he absolutely love animation. I grew
ger to comment on the per- up loving it. And so I would say
benefits of working for Dis- more tools in the film box is great,
val studio. and I want to continue down the
great thing about Dream- path toward doing live action films,
is that it has no house style," and to computer animated films,
s said. "It's very, very open and maybe even traditional films
ns of the movies we make in the future."
- everything from broad "How To Train Your Dragon"
to this one, which is a bit stars Gerard Butler ("300") and Jay
antasy-adventure. Comic for Baruchel ("Knocked Up"). Be sure
ut it's also largely about the to see it in 3-D, as it's been noted for
ure." incredible flying sequences.
Comprehensive Cancer Center, in part
with fording from the National Insti-
tutes of Health (NIH) is providing expo-
sure to cancer research for highly moti-
vated and talented college undergradu-
ates. This program will provide the suc-
cesful applicants an opportunity to ex-
plore potential careens in the field of
cancer research. In keeping with the
terms of the NIH grant, we especially
encoarage applications from individa-
als from popalations that are carrently
underrepresented in biomedical and be-
havioral research. The program is
aimed at students who are completing
their sophomore or junior undergradu-
ate year this spring.
The program will run for ten weeks,
June 7th - August 13th, 40 hrs/ week.
Students selected who do not currently
have U-M mentors will be matched
with an appropriate U-M faculty. Only
U.S. citizens or permanent resident
aliens are eligible to apply. Interns wilt
be paid $4,500 for the 10 week period.
Your application mast he uploaded hy
March 31 at the following site:
Questions? - Contact Car Nosel at
cnosel cl umich.edu
WORK ON MACKINAC Island, this
summer - Make lifelong friends. The
InlandHouse Hotel and Ryba's Fudge
Shops are looking for seasonal help in
all areas: Front Desk, Bell Staff, Sales
Clerks, Baristas, and Kitchen Staff.
Housing, bonus, and discounted meals
available. Call Ryan 1 (906)847-7196.
For Tuesday, March 30, 2010
(March 21t oApril 19)
You'll enjoy buying beautiful things
for yourself and loved ones in the next
few weeks. Fortunately, opportunities to
earn more money also esist for yea.
Keep your eyes open!
(April 20to May 20)
The nest few weeks are the perfect
time to buy wardrobe items for yourself.
In large measure, it's because you like
what you see in the mirror. Relations
with others are particularly cozy and
(May 21 to June 20)
Solitude in beautiful surroundings will
please you in the month ahead. Try to
find some time to be by yourself to con-
template, meditate or just enjoy being
(June 21 to July 22)
In the month ahead, a friend could
become a lover. Certainly, new friend-
ships can begin. It's very easy to let oth-
ers know how much you care for them.
(July 23 to Aug. 22)
No matterwhat you do for a living,
someone will ask for your creative or
artistic input about things. Office
arrangement, furniture arrangement,
design layout o landscaping might be
mrean for your input.
(Aug. 23 toSept.22)
Travel for pleasure will delight you
during the next few weeks. Some of you
also wilt fall in love with somebody
from another culture or a different back-
ground. (It's a great way to learn a new
(Sept. 23 toOct. 22)
Gifts, goodies, favors from others and
the opportunity to use things that other
people own are just some benefits that
will come to you during the next few
weeks. Romance is also particularly
sweet and tender.
(Oct. 23 oNov. 21)
The month ahead is the perfect time to
patch up shaky relationships or mend
broken fences in good friendships.
Mutual agreement is easy to establish.
(Nov. 22 to Dec. 21)
You might get a raise or find praise at
work. Relations with co-workers are
(Dec. 22 to Jan. 19)
The month ahead is a wonderful, fun-
loving, flirtatious, playful time for you.
Enjoy sports, romance, vacations, the
arts and parties!
(Jan. 20to Feb. 18)
Home-decorating projects will appeal
to you now. Roll up your sleeves and get
busy. Entertain at home in the coming
(Feb. 19 to March 20)
Expectto appreciate how much beauty
there is in your daily surroundings dar-
ing the next few weeks. You might dis-
cover how much love there is around
you as well.
YOU BORN TODAY You have
relentless, driving energy. You also have
a fabulous imagination and an ability to
envision achievements. Because of this,
you work tirelessly, and you do big
things! Friendships are important to you.
You need the space to operate independ-
ently. This year, something you've been
involved with for about nine years will
end in order to create room for some-
Birthdate of Warren Beatty, actor;
Eric Clapton, musicianl Robbie
Iw'RESNIBLE., ACTIVE1, .CAR-~
ING, and creative care giver required
for 8 yr. old boy & 10 yr old girl this
summer. Req./details: female student -
jr, sr, or grad at UofM pref; own car;
required between June 14-Aug 27;
tam- 6pm daily; $10/hr. West side of
Ann Arbor. Call Lisa @ 734-997-9676.
02010 King Features Syndicate,Inc.