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January 13, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-13

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 - 5A

Duffy's prized poetry
brings in the crowds

Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stood in for the late Heath Ledger, who passed before the movie was completed.
The Doc.tor isin

Heath Ledger takes a final bow
in 'Imaginarium,' Terry
Gilliam's whimsical new film
Daily Arts Writer
Film critics and movie enthusiasts alike have
long been awestruck when confronted with the
eccentric mind of direc-
tor Terry Gilliam ("12 Mon--
keys"), a Monty Python alum.
His visualizations can only The Imainarium
be characterized as schizo- of Doctor
phrenic, aberrant fascina-
tions that take full advantage Pamassus
of the free range of graphical
capabilities offered by modern At the State
cinema. Gilliam's latest fare, Sony
"The Imaginarium of Doctor
Parnassus," is an epic tale that bears the atypical
themes of his previous works - surrealism, fantasy
and hellish spectacle - while also unintentionally
plunging viewers into new depths of morbidity by
means of Heath Ledger's posthumous appearance.
"Imaginarium" tells the tale of a wizened old man
known as Doctor Parnassus who leads the humble
life of a monk. He finds purpose in the medium of
spiritual storytelling, a process he and his follow-
ers consider essential in facilitating earthly order.
Desiring more time to tell these stories, Parnassus
(Christopher Plummer, "Up") makes a Faustian bar-
gain with the classiest Satan (Tom Waits, "Coffee
and Cigarettes") since Meryl Streep in "The Devil
Wears Prada." Upon winning his mysterious wager,
Parnassus earns eternal life.
Unfortunately, he underestimates the frivolity of
humankind, and his stories soon become trivial in
an increasingly fast-moving world. Seeing Parnas-
sus's despaired condition, the devil exploits him
with another, more sinister wager: The vitality of
youth and the woman of his desires will be given to

him, so long as he relinquishes his firstborn child
when he or she reaches the age of 16. Years later, as
Parnassus's daughter approaches her 16th birthday,
the Doctor realizes he must satisfy the terms of a
final diabolical wager to save his daughter's immor-
tal soul.
Though viewers have come to expect the ominous
in Gilliam's films, there's not enough set-up in "Par-
nassus" for what must be one of the most haunting
scenes in recent film history. We are first introduced
to Heath Ledger's character Tony as he hangs by
a noose under a bridge, his lifeless expression and
deathly pallor accentuated by intermittent flashes of
lightning. Though we later find Tony alive and well
due to an ingenious method of sustenance, nothing
can remove the grotesque premonition of a dead
Heath Ledger from the minds of the audience.
Tony joins Parnassus as a makeshift marketing
representative, convincing the careless, materialis-
tic inhabitants of our modern world to embrace the
anachronistic moving stage upon which the Doc-
tor performs his masterwork. Parnassus's imagi-
narium, which exists behind an enigmatic onstage
mirror, is akin to the musings of Salvador Dali; it's
a landscape in which ladders extend to the strato-
sphere, giant lily pads bridge an endless oceanic
expanse and winding rivers form a purgatorial rift
between the hellish and the heavenly.
Bizarrely detached as this fantasy world maysound,
one of the film's biggest shortcomings is the unjusti-
fiably short time it spends exploring the facets of the
imaginarium. The immersive atmosphere behind the
mirror is every bit as captivating as "Avatar," but with-
out necessitating any hipster Real-3D glasses.
Gilliam managed to resourcefully combine the
shots of the late Ledger with the contributions of
Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell in a sur-
prisingly seamless manner that may earn "Imagi-
narium" a rightful designation as the director's
magnum opus. Unlike the oft-undeserved attention
many talentless artists earn posthumously, Heath
Ledger's final performance proves he left us at the
acme of his acting career, and it serves to remind us
all'of just how much we sorely miss him.

By LEAH BURGIN Midas, Faust and Tiresias.
DailyFineArts Editor What makes Duffy's work so-
appealing is that she uses simple
Carol Ann Duffy can draw a and often comedic language to
crowd. On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the strip the "Mrs. Fausts" or the
University of Michigan Museum "Mrs. Midases" of their unat-
of Art's tainability. They become every-
Helmut day women who deal with the
Stern Audi- Cariol Ann DUffy follies of their husbands.
torium was Christmas, and Her use of straightforward
packed over language also tears down the
capacity-_Other Stores barrier between her life experi-
students, Thursday,Jan. ences and those of others; she
professors 14 at 5:15 p.m. can turn intimate and personal
and fans Helmut Stern Auditorium emotions or situations into uni-
lined the versally relatable episodes. The
walls and selections she shared Tuesday
congregated in all the audito- night, taken from two of her col-
rium's empty nooks. Many disap- lections, "The World's Wife" and
pointed souls were denied entry "Rapture," exemplified her work
to the event and, throughout the and style.
poetry reading, people constantly "I thought that since I haven't
rattled the closed doors of the read here before, it would be best
auditorium, hoping to be let in. to give a sense of what I've done
Yet Great Britain's newly in the past," she said. "I just read
appointed Poet Laureate handled my favorites and the ones that are
the constant disruptions with the most accessible to the ear."
same air of quiet confidence her Appointed Great Britain's Poet
poems exude. Standing squarely Laureate in 2009, Duffy is the
behind a bulky, wooden podium, first woman, first Scot and first
Duffy continued through her openly bisexual individual to hold
selected works with patience and the position. When asked which
a deliberate, calm pace. In fact, of her three notable "firsts" were
she seemed touched by the inter- the most important, Duffy decid-
est shown in her work, instead of edly answered "first woman."
annoyed by the disturbances. "I think being the first woman
"I was really pleased to see so is the only really important one,
many people there," Duffy said. (because) there never has been
"It was very heartening to come a woman. The Scottish thing, I
all this way from Manchester and mean I was born in Scotland, but
have so many people come to the my mother was Irish and I don't
reading. I enjoyed it. I. felt very really feel that I'm doing this for
welcome." Scotland, as I left when I was
It's no wonder that Duffy, pro- five," Duffy said.
fessor of contemporary poetry "And the sexuality thing, I feel
at Manchester Metropolitan everyone should be comfortable
University, is so magnetic - her with their sexuality. And I think
poetry is captivating. The stories everyone's a lot more grown up
she tells are both personal and about sexuality than they were in
collective, ranging in subject mat- the 20th century," she added.
ter from her mother (who passed In addition to her poetry read-
away five years ago) to imagined ing, Duffy will be presenting a
thoughts of the wives of famous lecture, "Christmas, and Other
literary figures, including King Stories," on Thursday night. This

will give those turned away Tues-
day another opportunity to see
her. For those who were fortunate
enough to hear the poetry recita-
tion, Duffy confirmed she won't
be covering the same material.
"I'll be talking about the stories
that I've used in my poetry, from
fairy tales, the Bible, history. I'll
be looking at how I've used the
Christmas story in some of my
most recent work. I won't be read-
ing the same poems or talking
about the same things at all. I
hope to read at least one new long
poem called 'Mrs. Scrooge,' " she
As Great Britain's Poet Laure-
ate, Duffy plans to continue trav-
eling and promoting poets and
poetry. To her, the honor is more of
a reflection on her country, not the
individual poet who receives it.
"Poet Laureate simply means to
me that a country values its poets
and that one poet is the repre-
sentative for all the others. So it's
sort of saying I'm a poet and I'm
proud to take this role, because
my country cares about poetry,"
she said.
Of course, Duffy will also be
spending the next ten years enjoy-
ing the traditional gift that Poet
Laureates have been receiving
since the 17th century - alcohol.
Converted from the older stan-
dard of a "butt of sack" (a large
amount of wine) to modern stan-
dards, Duffy will be receiving
around 105 gallons of sherry.
"It's given by the Sherry Insti-
tute in Spain. So, I will be getting
700 bottles of sherry, but over ten
years," she said.
When asked if she had already
taken the opportunity to taste her
gift, Duffy responded in the affir-
"I've tasted lots of it I get
a different type every year,"
Duffy added. "So I'm going to go
from very dry to sweet over the

Vampire weakened

DailyArts Writer
You know what kind of movie
you're watching when some ran-
dom dude with
a shiny bald
head appears
onscreen for a Daybrekers
second - just
minding his own At Quality16
beeswax - and and Showcase
the first thought Lionsgate
that comes to
mind is, "He's
probably going to be impaled."
You really know what kind of
movie you're watching when said
baldy is skewered with an anony-
mous dart about two seconds
"Daybreakers" is "that kind
of movie" - but it probably
shouldn't have been. Starting off
as more of a dystopian think piece
than a kerosene-soaked gore-fest,
the film is especially disappoint-
ing because of its squandered
premise. The opening 15 minutes
violently dump the viewer into
a vivid parallel universe where
over 90 percent of the human
race has been turned into blood-
thirsty vampires, making humans
a sought-after endangered species
and their blood a rapidly dwin-
dling commodity.
The stark world that the Spier-
ig brothers ("Undead") create
makes for some genuinely affect-
ing, socially conscious eye candy.
"Daybreakers" drives a stake into
the heart of the sensational, "I
vant to suck your blood" vam-
pire archetype, opting instead
to portray vamps as mundanely
human-like - albeit with pastier
skin and significantly sharper
teeth. There's something incred-
ibly unsettling alout watching

a bunc
their v
fees a;
the De
as Edw
ing he
the w
this m
plot mt
of twin
sible. L
gray ch
then bl
ating r
ers" iss
into mi
tory, it
bleak, e
tic prec
many c
ers driy
all over

h of undead preteens in obnoxious splattering noise.
arsity jackets sipping cof- With violence this ridicu-
nd texting on their cell lously cartoony, "Daybreakers"
would've been better slated as a
rally, everything becomes sadistically campy bloodbath a
less juicy once the plot la "Kill Bill" or "Evil Dead." But
y gets going. The narrative the second the guts are done fly-
s Ethan Hawke ("Before ing, the soundtrack's somberly
vil Knows You're Dead") swelling strings kick back in and
vard Dalton, a blood-suck- the characters begin conversing
matologist attempting to gravely about the direness of their
t a blood substitute from situation as if the audience actu-
subjects in order to curb ally cares. Hawke is especially
idespread famine. While morose, spending the majority of
ay sound intriguing, the the film glowering and looking
elts into a contrived series malnourished.
sts and turns, seemingly Dalton's human companions do
ed to get as much gore and little to lighten the mood or flesh
chnics onscreen as pos- out the drama. Willem Dafoe
,uckily, the gore is pretty ("The Boondock Saints") is tossed
- the scene in which a test in as a hard-ass former vamp
projectile vomits white- who gruffly refers to himself as
tunks all over himself and "Elvis," clearly intended as wise-
ows up all over the oper- cracking comic relief. But thanks
oom walls is particularly to the Spierigbrothers' classically
ing. derivative script, Dafoe's one-lin-
ers come off more like flat-liners
(see: "Being a human in a world of
vampires is about as safe as bare-
gory mess backing a five-dollar whore").
a dRather than bother to develop
a dystopian any legitimate chemistrybetween
Dalton and half-baked love inter-
est Audrey (Claudia Karvan,
"Aquamarine"), "Daybreakers"
shoves their "sexual tension" in
problem is that "Daybreak- the viewer's face via melodramat-
severely at odds with itself. ic backlighting and hiring Karvan
it seems to want to derail to run around in a skimpy red
indless, blow-'em-up terri- wife beater with her nips popping
stubbornly clings onto the out for the second half of the film.
arnest tone of its apocalyp- "Daybreakers" crumbles
rise without ever truly cap- because it can't decide whether it
g on it. In one of the film's wants to be a brainy allegory or a
ar chases, Dalton's pursu- brain-dead extravaganza. And by
ve onto a bridge as it's col- the time everyone's ripping each
, and a metal beam smashes other's kidneys out in the streets,
h the windshield spraying a you'll probably just be wishing
amount of bright red blood you didn't have to endure so much
the rear window with an hollow sulking to get there.

Carol Ann Duffy read to a packed house at UMMA from her poetry collections, "The World's Wife" and "Rapture.
o Come to 420 Maynard St. for the
Daily's mass meeting tonight at 8 p.m.
r s

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