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September 23, 2010 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-09-23

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2B - Thursday, September 23, 2010
Judging A Book
By Its Cover
Why read a single page when the cover
tells the whole story?

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Phoenix rises to the occasion*

I'm Still Here'
captures essence of
method acting
By TIMOTHY RABB
Daily Arts Writer
Joaquin Phoenix has proven
that even the most scrutinizing,
cynical critics
can be duped,
and indeed they
were. Don't
watch "I'm Still
Here" for the Tonight at
awkward, unnec- the State
essary male Magnolia
nudity, the dis-
gusting scato-
logical humor or the cacophonous
raps. If for no other reason, watch
it because Phoenix dedicated two
years of his life to make it, and he
did an excellent job at convincing
us that he was finished with act-
ing, all while ironically employ-
ing the damnedest acting chops
we've ever seen from him. "I'm
Still Here" is the epitome of meth-
od acting, and it may very well
become one of the definitive cult
classics of our generation.
The mockumentary chronicles
Phoenix's decline from a hand-
some young actor - whose work
in films like "Gladiator," "Walk the
Line" and "Two Lovers" was uni-
versally lauded - to a disheveled,
mumbling Joaquin 2.0. While news
outlets jumped at the chance to
speculate about the reason for his
abrupt retirement, only Phoenix's
most trusted associates knew that
his aspirations to be a hip-hop art-

"Tonight on 'Masterpiece Theater': This is some good fuckin' shit."

ist were part of an elaborate act.
Any discerning audience mem-
ber should recognize the subtle-
ties that hint at a mockumentary.
Several of the situations Phoenix
finds himself in (as well as the
lighting and dialogue that accom-
pany them) suggest that the events
were entirely preconceived. Even
so, the line between fact and fiction
is blurred just enough to confound
those who knew the fallacious
nature of the whole affair before
they had even breached the doors
of the theater.
This particular work is brilliant
due neither to its cinematography
nor its direction. Succinctly put,
the film as a whole looks like the
documentary of a raucous frater-
nity with scant membership. But
it shows a sense of aptitude and

self-awareness that comi
nicely for each and ever'
coming. In some ways the:
akin to films like "Grindhot
"Machete," B-movies that.
settle for, but strive to be
conceived.
Either way, it's a rarec
when one watches a mo
feels as if the charactera
portrays is the result of no
painstaking preparation,1
complete alteration of a life
this case, Phoenix's perfo
is effective and believable1
it's not Phoenix as Johnn
nor is it Phoenix as Commo
Phoenix as himself, and evE
of us who know the truth
this charade are tempted to
that his insanity stems not
hoax, but from a lamentable

Through a classic tiger-meets-
girl tale, Charlaine Harris con-
structs a haunting narrative about
love, lust and zoology. And vam-
pires. The plot centers on lonely
widow Karen Nightgown and the
evening her life changed forever.
During one of her nightly Grieve
Strolls, Karen takes a shortcut
through the local golf course.
But wait! Something's amiss. As
the stars come out, Karen hears
some distressing growls emitting
from the underbrush. Investigat-
ing, she finds a kitten trapped in
a rusty beaver trap and promptly
rescues it.
But Karen is about to find out
this little kitty's got a secret. After
Karen nurses it back to health, the
kitten reveals its true form - a
500-pound Bengal tiger! Karen is
terrified at first, but soon the two
become the best of pals, hatching
schemes and solving mysteries
all over their sleepy Midwestern
town. That is, until vampires get

wind of their recent exploits and
try to make sure Karen and Clem
(Karen's name for the tiger, after
her late husband) are never heard
from again. Oh, and Clem can fly.
Harris does many things right
with "Definitely Dead," the eighth
novel in her "Tigers and Dames"
series. As we have come to expect
with Harris, her plot and pac-
ing skills take a backseat to the
extraordinarily detailed tiger
facts she includes on every page
(her description of the physiol-
ogy of a flying tiger is particularly
exquisite). However, she treats
the vampires with disdain, never
really diving into the psyches of
these blood-suckers. All the tiger
facts in the world can't make up for
the way she superficially portrays
Count Snarl-Face, the leader of the
town's Vampire Guild, whose only
real trait as a character is his pre-
dilection for pulling on Clem's tail.
But truth be told, this book rules.
-JEFF SANFORD

pensates of heart. And that is the essence of
y short- acting.
movie is Perhaps this is a situation in
use" and which Joaquin truly made a series
not only of bad decisions and has now
poorly doubled back to his former, sound
self. Maybe this is a repeat of "Evil
occasion Dead," the Sam Raimi debut that
vie and apparently strove to be a serious
an actor horror film and ended up unin-
t merely tentionally hilarious. But even if
but the Phoenix made a bad career move,
style. In realized his mistake and ran with
rmance the idea that "it was all for show"
because to save face, he's still proven that
y Cash, the nature of celebrity and those
'dus. It's that adhere to it are fickle and
en those superficial. He's not only validat-
i behind ed his career - he has elevated it
believe to heights that will likely see him
t from a through more than a few promi-
change nent roles in the near future.
See, there are these warring clans of
gnomes living in the ridiculously ornate
front lawns so common in 21st-century
American suburbia. Gnomeo falls in
love with Juliet, a girl from the enemy's
side of the picket fence. (Why she isn't
named Gnomeliet will likely remain a
mystery for the ages.) Also, Elton John
appears as a gnome - in only a slightly
creepier state than his normal physi-
cal presence. Though the jury's still out
on whether "Gnomeo and Juliet" will
retain the Bard's signature double-sui-
cide ending for this family-friendly out-
ing, our money's on: Definitely.
-ANDREW LAPIN

TRAILER REVIEW

Next February when your English
professor assigns you to read Shake-
speare's time-honored
classic "Romeo and
Juliet," you'll be able
to tell them, "I don't
have to read it. I just Gnomeo
saw the animated and Juliet
Disney musical ver- Disney
sion starring lawn
gnomes." And you will
flunk the class. But the important thing
is you will have seen a movie that, if its
trailer is any indication, promises to
increase our nation's garden-creature-
related nightmares by 1,000 percent.

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