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October 22, 2010 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-22

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8 - Friday, October 22, 2010

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8 - Friday, October 22, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

'Radiant Sun' shows a .
true artist's struggle

"Say hello to my fuckint humongous frieod!"
Paint the CIA 'RED'

Don't discount the
seniors who kick ass
in comic-book flick
Daily Film Editor
In a year filled with "let's put
a highly skilled team together to
combat a massive conspiracy"
movies (see "The
Losers," "The ***-
A-Team" and
"The Expend- RED
ables") the Quality16
similarly plot- atyav
ted "RED" feels andRave
like shoveling Summit
manure onto the
pile. The film's only major tweak
from the formula, and the only
thing saving it from irrelevance,
is its silver-haired, 10-percent-
cast. Granted, some of the cast
members of "The Expendables"
were also on the senile end of the
cognitive-abilities spectrum, but
"RED" expertly uses the old age
of its characters for (intentional-
ly) comedic purposes, making it a
worthwhile action-comedy romp.
The film follows Frank Moses
(Bruce Willis, "Die Hard"),
a retired CIA agent slogging
through life, his only excitement
coming from telephone conver-
sations with pension worker
Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, TV's
"Weeds") and a hope to one day
meet her. After being inexplica-
bly targeted for assassination by

a CIA hit squad, Moses goes on
a "Blues Brothers"-like journey
to bring his former cohorts back
together and unravel the con-
spiracy behind the attack, taking
Sarah along for the ride.
4RED" thrives on the backs of
its exceptional characters. Moses
isn't just another prototypical
Bruce Willis tough-guy role; he's
an emotionally stunted killing
machine hankering for some sort
of human connection in his life.
He attempts to make one with
Sarah, who could have oh-so-
easily been written as a helpless,
shrieking, damsel-in-distress but
instead embraces the incredulity
of her situation and eagerly con-
tributes to the operation.
As Marvin Boggs, the team's
token hyper-paranoid, mentally
imbalanced wild card, John Mal-
kovich ("Burn After Reading") does
what he does best: yell loudly and
act like a crazy homeless person.
Playing the role with utterly gleeful
abandon, Malkovich is so superbly
side-splitting that one forgets this
is just a hyperactive version of the
same role he always plays.
The butter on the popcorn is
the very presence of venerated
acting legends Morgan Freeman
("Invictus") and Helen Mirren
("The Queen") in such a silly film.
Watching a guy use a machine
gun turret is not funny. Watching
an old lady use one is only kind
of funny. But seeing Dame Helen
Mirren, the Oscar winning prim-
and-proper portrayer of Queen
Elizabeth II, man a machine gun
turret with ruthless precision?

"RED" succeeds because, as
great as the aforementioned
scenes are, it's much more than
a one-note film about 60-some-
things running around, playing
James Bond.,The interplay among
the cast is delightful, feeling
as organic as possible amid the
absurd goings-on. The movie is at
its absolute best when the entire
team is together, but the pace of
the film is so achingly slow that by
the time this happens the movie is
already almost over.
Based on a graphic novel, the
film is shot in an ultra-cool styl-
ized manner that mimics comic
book panels (think "Scott Pil-
grim" lite). But the action isn't
completely cartoonish - sure,
there's the scene where Marvin
shoots an RPG dead-on with a
revolver, but there are also per-
fectly normal shootouts and a
brutal, "Bourne"-style man-on-
man brawl. The only gripe is that
the action sequences are annoy-
ingly brief and the climax simi-
larly lacks oomph, possibly due to
the age of the actors.
"RED" is the definition of an
escapist movie. It accomplishes
its sole purpose to be a satisfying
mental diversion for audiences,
and one can't help to think that
such luminaries as Helen Mirren
and Morgan Freeman agreed to
star in the film in the first place
to escape their typical, stodgy
dramatic roles. Undoubtedly,
you'll have as much fun watching
"RED" as the actors clearly had
making it.

DailyArts Writer
on her first day of school in
pre-World War II Germany, Ruth
Adler Schnee strolled into class
in a bright yellow sweater her
mother had knit.
"The radiant The Rad
sun is coming,"
Schnee's teacher Sun
exclaimed. "Ah, Sundayat
the radiant sun." 2p.m.
Those brightH
colors of yel- Belmal Slero
low and orange
became a favorite of Schnee, a
prominent modernist textile
designer now in her late 80s.
Her journey from Holocaust sur-
vivor to Detroit immigrant to
important designer in the 1950s
modernist movement is now the
subject of "The Radiant Sun," a
narrative documentary by Terri
Sarris. The film is co-produced
by University of Maryland Asso-
ciate Professor of Architecture
Ronit Eisenbach.
Sarris, a full-time senior lec-
turer in the University's Screen
Arts & Cultures department,
developed an absorbing interest
in artists over the years.
This is her second film docu-
menting the work of an artist or
designer, tracing the moments
that encouraged him or her to
pursue the arts. One of Sarris's
previous films, "Buzzards Steal
Your Picnic," which captures
the process of Detroit composer
Frank Pahl, won best Michigan
film in the Ann Arbor Film Festi-
val in 2008 and the Detroit Inter-
national Documentary Festival in
"I'm really kind of fascinated
by why people becond' artists

and why they persevere against
the challenges artists encoun-
ter," said Sarris, who met Detroit-
based Schnee through a mutual
friend a few years ago.
Sarris is also interested in the
design from the mid-century
modernist period, exemplified
now on TV's "Mad Men." She
wasn't familiar with Schnee's
designs before she began the doc-
umentary, but now can pick them
out of a lineup.
"I find myself watching 'Mad
Men' now and trying to see if they
use any of her designs, because
they are so identifiable," Sarris
"The Radiant Sun" tells Sch-
nee's story by mixing archival
images and footage with stories
Schnee narrates of her own life.
The result is a chronological nar-
rative structure that lets Schnee
and her work speak for them-
"I didn't feel the need to
interview other people to serve
as expert testimony about how
important she is, because I think
you can see her importance from
her design and what she lived
through," Sarris said, adding that
she wanted the film to be an inti-
mate story-telling session like the
ones she found so engrossing as
she befriended Schnee.
Schnee became an especially
interesting subject to feature
because she broke through - and
was limited by - the expecta-
tions placed on women during
the 1950s.
"I've always looked to women
artists for inspiration, because as
a woman artist, I feel I have a lot
to learn from women who have
been artists before me," Sarris

And Sarris found Schnee's
challenges particularly compel-
ling. If the struggle of raising
three children while sustaining
a creative practice and business
isn't enough, Schnee ultimately
had to switch from her original
interest in architecture to tex-
tile design because of the lack of
job equality between men and
After graduating from the
Rhode Island School of Design
and the Cranbrook Academy of
Art, Schnee interned in New York
City with famous designer and
architect Raymond Loewy, who
designed the Coca-Cola bottle.
But she realized that, as a Jewish
woman, she would probably not
be able to find a permanent job.
She shifted interests to a realm
where women were more accept-
"This is not an uncommon
story for women, to realize that
they'll be involved in design,
but maybe not actually design-
ing the buildings themselves,"
Sarris said, adding that it is still
sometimes an "uphill climb" for
women to be taken seriously in
fields like architecture.
Sarris's interest in women art-
ists is reflected in the film's form
as well as content.
"Think of this as a new form,
of a woman making a film about
another woman's work ... a con-
versation between women," Sar-
ris said.
Continuing that conversa-
tion off screen, Schnee and the
documentary's producers will
discuss "The Radiant Sun" after
the showing. University of Michi-
gan Museum of Art will display a
selection of Schnee's textiles in
cases near the auditorium.

Deduction and snark grace PBS

ManagingArts Editor
Elementary, my dear readers,
is perhaps the least appropriate
word to describe Steven Moffat
and Mark Gatiss's
modern "Sher-
lock" miniseries,
which aired over She k
the summer on
the BBC and Sundaysat
is now finally 9 p.m.
debuting in the PBS
United States
on PBS. The duo
has taken Sir Conan Doyle's clas-
sic characters and transposed them
into the 21st century with remark-
able cleverness and fidelity to the
source material.
But to expect anything less from
the pair would been a very poor
use of deduction. They've shown
in their work on "Doctor Who"
- for which Gatiss is a writer and
Moffat the executive producer -
that eccentric banter is what they
were born to write. And there's no
character in all of fiction with a wit
quite like Sherlock's. The detective
proves a perfect match for Moffat.
and Gatiss's writing style.
The first installment of the
three-part series is by far the stron-
gest, perhaps because it had some-
thing to prove. Putting Sherlock
Holmes in the Digital Age is a bold
move that raised much skepticism
in anticipation of the series pre-
miere. So in that first episode, titled
"A Study in Pink," the task was to
find a successful way to update all
of Holmes's and Watson's quirks
and histories - which was accom-
plished - as well as to forge the
relationship between the two. This
shifted the focus greatly in favor of
the characters, away from the story,
and that was a wise shift indeed.
The tall, dark and brooding
Benedict Cumberbatch ("Cre-
ation") takes on the role of Sherlock
Holmes with all the subtlety, grace
and inept social skills the charac-
ter requires. His Holmes appears
to truly despise the foolish mortals

Technically, as far as this mural is concerned, the roof is the limit. Just sayin'.

NBC t kein
fixing American schools

Most morose weather report ever.
around him, but still hints at the be quite difficult, and also seemed
vulnerability and loneliness behind to be a second priority to showcas-
the hard exterior. That makes the ing the protagonists. As a result,
moments when he truly opens up to there's never any suspense, danger
Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman, or mystery, even when there's sup-
"Hot Fuzz") all the more satisfying. posed to be. Especially in parts two
Freeman is truly the star of the and three of the three-part minise-
series, as far as the narrative goes. ries, the stories feel thrown togeth-
The majority of the series follows er simply as a way to maximize the
Watson, often leaving the audience number of different interactions
wondering what off-camera she- Sherlock and Watson can have, as
nanigans Sherlock could possibly well as to introduceSherlock's nem-
esis, Moriarty (another bold move,
but one that proved anti-climactic
in execution).
]H~olmnesdoesn't But while the story can be wea-
handle f rying at times, the series's score
a IOOIS We is intense and almost irritatingly
catchy. Composed by David Arnold
and Michael Price, the music merg-
be getting himself into now. And, es the feel of Victorian England
while it never would have been pos- with that of the "Legend of Zelda"
sible for Freeman to outshine Cum- franchise. The end result is upbeat
berbatch given their respective and driven, yet still evocative of
characters, Freeman captures the cloudy skies and sketchy alleyways.
boyish, adventurous yet anxious Following the critical acclaim
army doctor adeptly, making the that met the BBC run of the series,
audience both pity and envy him at an agreement was signed for more
the same time. episodes of "Sherlock" to be pro-
The characters, along with their duced down the road. There will
conversations and burgeoning rela- likely be mysteries, and Holmes and
tionship, all make for captivating, Watson will likely work together to
hilarious and even adorable televi- solve them, but what people will
sion. Thestories,unfortunately, lack tune in for is the dialogue. Whether
that allure. And the blame in this it's Sherlock telling the police how
case falls on our modern authors, daft they are or Watson pointing
not on Conan Doyle. Updating and out Sherlock's social misconcep-
reshaping some of the old stories to tions, it's the banter that makes
fit a modern London turned out to "Sherlock" so bloody addictive.

For theDaily
From budget slashes to run-
down classrooms, it's a sad fact
our education system is deficient

in more than
a couple ways.
But what hap-
pens when the
problem is rec-
ognized? Once
we're capable
of pinpointing
the fact that yes,

Schol Pride
Fridays at
10 p.m.

many schools in
low-income neighborhoods lack
adequate facilities, supplies and
materials, what do we do next?
Executive Producers Cheryl Hines
("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and
Denise Cramsey (producer of
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edi-
tion") are leading the way with
their new proactive series "School
The show follows the diverse
personalities of SWAT command-
er Tom Stroup, Susie Castillo
("House of Payne"), Kym Whitley
("Til Death") and Jacob Soboroff
("AMC News") as they bring
together communities to renovate
and make over some of the coun-
try's most needy schools. The first
episode, titled "Soaring Eagles"
after the school's mascot, tells the
story of Enterprise Middle School
in Compton, California - a school
likened to a prison by the students.
Unsanitary bathrooms, walls cov-
ered with graffiti and dangerously
outdated athletic facilities are just

a sampl
to save
video s
their sc
timer w
days. V
the sch
set to w
and effc
What r
brand n
plex, sc
a Peopl
ily ont
make t
be prou
to findc
state o1
the att
nor Ar
this me

ling of what plagues Enter- oric that fails to address the com-
plex issues our schools face.
ap and his team swoop in Additionally, while it's heart-
the day in response to a warming to see the students' and
ent in by two Enterprise teachers' eyes fill with tears of joy
s depicting the state of at the sight of their new school,
hool. There are cheers and one can't help but wonder if this is
tion as they unveil a giant what's really necessary to improve
rith a countdown set for 10 our nation's education system. Yes,
Vithin this timeframe, the it's remarkable that within 10 days
nity completely rebuilds NBC converted the ugly duckling
ool. Faculty and volunteers into the belle of theball, soto speak,
rork, and rebuild it they do. but is it just facilities that make a
e upon montage shows us school tick? What about teachers
kids and adults working to and parental involvement in their
the school they love. Com- children's education? These are also
willingly donate their time important factors that NBC seems
)rt to help with the project. to have neglected in its agenda to
esults is a state-of-the-art compress miraculous educational
school complete with a rebirth into an hour of television.
ew gym and athletic com- But the show in and of itself is
ience classrooms and even a positive thing. Schools get the
money and the recognition they
need, and viewers get a glimpse
of an issue that desperately needs
reality show attention. And despite the overly
sentimental aspects of the show
hat actually (e.g., a few too many scenes of
s ea iteachers thanking NBC profusely),
as real issues. the intimate interactions between
adult and student are moving and
unaffected. It's touching to see
e magazine reading room. members of a community work
e the show focuses primar- tirelessly toward a common goal.
the communal struggle to The episode closes with sta-
he school into something to tistics showing Enterprise's
d of, there are also attempts improved test scores months
out "who's to blame" for the after the renovation. Witnessing
f our nation's schools. But a school's marked progress and
empts are unsubstantial. uplifting storylines of proactive
ff briefly interviews Gover- teachers and engaged students is
nold Schwarzenegger, but definitely worth setting aside some
rely provides political rhet- time for.


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