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February 06, 2012 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-06

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6A - Monday, February 6, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Monday, February 6, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Radcliffe returns in
refreshing horror film

Daily Arts Writer
Nowadays, there are three
types of female stock characters
in the horror genre: the help-
less bimbo, the
protagonist * *
damsel and -
in the case of The Woman
"The Woman in Black
in Black" - the
scary-ass girl- AtQuality16
slash-woman and Rave
with long
black hair. And CBS Films
though direc-
tor James Watkins's ("Eden
Lake") haunted-house tale is one
of the most old-fashioned hor-
ror films in years, its mysterious
atmosphere is chilling enough to
set audiences on edge.
Adapted from the Susan Hill
novel of the same name, "The
Woman in Black" forgoes blood
thrills, machetes and whatever
creative weapon Hollywood
can dream up. There aren't any
sick death traps or killer video-
tapes. And, unfortunately, the
story takes place in turn-of-the-
century United Kingdom, which
sadly excludes the possibility of
radioactive zombies. Instead,
the story follows a well-estab-
lished formula that still man-
ages to entertain. It tells the
tale of a young lawyer named
Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe,
he's freakin' Harry Potter) and
his candlelit search for answers
about a curse that's killing the
children of a remote village.
Most of the scares in "The
Woman in Black" rarely cause
the audience to leap out of their
bones, so to speak. The audience
is well aware that Kipps will hear
a suspicious noise, and that when
he goes to discover its source, he
will find nothing but a rodent.
Plus, the number of times he goes

Not nearly enough spirit fingers.
NBC' s 'Smash' hit



up and
stairs i
down t
ing ann
when t
cut it s
with t
are beii
So, m
lage he
angry g
ple, ma
ingly h
in a lav
but the

down a certain flight of and his work ethic falters. And
s enough to inspire a new now, he must stay and finish this
ig game. Kipps goes up the job: to settle the affairs of an
Take a shot. Kipps goes old house and ultimately sell it,
he stairs? Take a shot. Yet to save his career, and his only
)w the film avoids becom- family, his son.
oying. Such a backstory sounds ade-
quate on paper, but it's hardly
moving on the silver screen with
Vait, Sirius the amateurish way it's often
spat out in the exposition. Nev-
Black?! ertheless, Radcliffe's perfor-
mance is respectable to the point
that it's not awful - though it's
admittedly bizarre to see him as
camera shots are limited a father - and the story is sig-
hey want to toy with our nificant enough that its attempt
ations and prolong the to engage audiences is actually
se. Yet they know when to admirable.
hort and reveal what we While it may not offer any-
know. It's natural - not thing original, the thrills of "The
- terror. Combine that Woman in Black" are satisfying
he dilapidated set, and and well-executed. It's a haunt-
an eerie notion that you ed-house movie, which means
ng watched at every turn. dark hallways, cobwebbed cor-
why is Kipps staying in a ners and musty portraits. But
rundown house in a vil- there are enough affecting imag-
believes is cursed by an es such as creepy nursery toys to
;host? The answer is sim- shake audiences. Powered by a
ybe easy, but also surpris- ghost-sleuth story with a human
iuman. As a young man core that falters without com-
w firm, Kipps once had a pletely failing, "The Woman in
ing future with his wife, Black" is paradoxically able to
birth of their son was her freshen up the horror landscape
He suffers tremendously, with old-school formulas.

New musical
theater-based show
fills the 'Glee' gap
Daily Arts Writer
In 2009, "Glee" brought musi-
cals to mainstream television.
The story is a legend: the unprec-
edented rise to
fame, outra-
geous musical
numbers and Sh
bastardization Pilot
of everything Mondays at
the show stood 10 P.M.
for. For those
who still want NBC
to love musical
television but believe in organic
storytelling and creative original-
ity: rejoice, for your salvation is at
NBC's midseason headliner
"Smash" is everything "Glee"
isn't and it's probably many things
"Glee" aspired to be. The plot is
simple: 24-year-old Karen Cart-
wright ("American Idol" runner-
up Katharine McPhee) wants to

make it big on Broadway. There
are no petulant teenagers or life-
and-death sing-offs. There is orig-
inal music (as opposed to straight
covers and shameless pandering)
and quality acting from relative
newcomers as well as veterans of
the stage and screen.
Karen manages to land a call-
back for a new Marilyn Monroe
musical by illustrious Broadway
legends Julia Houston (Debra
Messing, "Will and Grace") and
Tom Levitt (Christian Borle,
"Legally Blonde: The Musi-
cal"). The pair teams up with
director Derek Wills (Jack Dav-
enport, "Pirates of the Carib-
bean"), whom Julia respects and
admires, though Tom harbors
unrestrained loathing for him.
Julia and Tom want to cast
their friend Ivy Lynn (Megan
Hilty, "Broadway's Wicked"), but
Wills wants to have auditions.
His tangible ego makes him the
closest thing to an antagonist,
but he's the first person besides
Karen's charming British-Indi-
an boyfriend (Raza Jaffrey, the
London production of "Bombay
Dreams") to see something in her.
Wills isn't overtly sleazy, but
he does manage to make things

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RELEASE DATE- Monday, February 6, 2012
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS DOWN 36 NHL part: Abbr. 47 Bront~s
1 PC screens 1 Chums 37 "Understood" "Jane _"-
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awkward by calling Karen to
his home late at night to capture
the essence of Marilyn. Despite
the compromising situation, she
performs a sultry "Happy Birth-
day" to prove she has the neces-
sary sex appeal, only to inform
Wills as he inevitably leans in for
a kiss that it's "not gonna hap-
pen" (WWMD?). It's one of the
standout scenes of the pilot, but it
requires elaboration: Was it some
kind of test? And, if so, what was
he tryingto prove?
Truthfully, McPhee is too
beautiful and talented to be the
girl next door, just as this role
didn't suit her on "American
Idol" years ago. Wills echoes the
American people in 2006, seeing
that this girl was bornto be a star.
Still, the fact remains that she
was that girl, so playing cautious
hope comes naturallyto her.
The first audition is shown
partially in a room with the judg-
es (who also include a shrewd
and calculating Anjelica Huston,
"The Royal Tenenbaums") and
partially as a staged number. At
first, it seems like a "Glee" tactic
- going back and forth between
real life and the stage - but upon
further inspection, it's genius.
"Smash" actually has a reason to
picture every auditionee as the
star in the spotlight - it puts us
right in the position of the cre-
ative minds behind Broadway's
best, prompting us to visualize
the potential of every performer
with the skill and foresight (and
pressure!) of a casting director.
Karen and Ivy are both excel-
lent choices to play Marilyn, and
therein lies the main conflict of
the pilot. It spends more time on
Karen, a fresh-faced ingenue, so
she's the underdog who garners
the audience's sympathy. On the
other hand, it's hard not to want
to be on the same team as Will
and Grace - I mean Tom and
Julia - so we're forced to take a
second look at Ivy and see that
she too deserves a leading role
afteryears of struggling.
The story isn't surprising by
any means, but in a way, that's
classic Broadway. Is it so bad
to promise aesthetic entertain-
ment and a certain "happily ever
after?" "Smash" has no preten-
tions about pushing the bound-
aries of television drama, so its
strength lies in showcasing the
heart and soul of showbiz. With
such apparent passion behind the
scenes, "Smash" is poised to be
just what the title promises.

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