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September 10, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-10

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, September 10, 2012 - 7A

Cooper can't express
himself in 'Words'

"Will you give me an Oscar?"

Old age, friendship
tackled in star-
studded sci-fi film
Daily Arts Writer
The term "old age" elicits a
variety of emotional responses
in those of us who aren't quite
there yet, fear
probably the ***
most univer-
sally prominent. Robot and
And in an hon-
est and loveable Frank
representation At the
of the perils of Michigan
age, "Robot and'
Frank" shows Samuel Goldwyn
us why. Films
Based in the
near future, in which vehicles
smaller than Smart cars roam
the streets and political debates
shift from human slavery to robot
slavery, "Robot and Frank" tells
the story of an elderly man, Frank
(Frank Langella, "Unknown"),
who's barely coping with the
timeless nature of loneliness and
age. Frank leads a life devoid of
the technological advancements
of his time, choosing to embrace
books instead of tablets and
refusing to use robots for house-
hold help. In a predictable state of
affairs, he's losinghis memory, his
children are too far away to visit
often and he has no hobbies to
keep his mind occupied.
But unlike today, the future
seems to have a cure for his

all-too-familiar predicament.
Frank's son, Hunter (James
Marsden, "30 Rock"), buys him
a robot "butler" (voiced, impec-
cably, by Peter Sarsgaard, "Green
Lantern") to help with house-
hold tasks and keep Frank in
good health. Barring initial aver-
sion to this technological intrud-
er, Frank develops an inevitable
friendship with the newest occu-
pant of his house - a friendship
that grows deeper and more
human as Frank rediscovers his
passions and once again finds
purpose in his life.
There's something to be said
about first-time director-writer
pair Jake Schreier and Christo-
pher D. Ford's decision to base
this film in the future. Frank's
avid dislike of technology only
adds humor and depth to the
development of his friendship
with Robot. These distinctly dif-
ferent species soon find common
ground in Frank's rediscovery
of old habits - as an ex-thief, he
challenges himself to overcome
the technological advances in
security systems with the help of
his own technology, Robot.
But Schreier's genius plan isn't
to evoke humor from a strange
relationship or joy from a man's
rediscovery of himself, though it
unequivocally does. Its aim is to
use this unusual companionship
to elicit the most humane fears of
old age. He combats Frank's lone-
liness with a program designed to
do anything it takes to keep Frank
healthy, even if that entails thiev-
ery. But the film never fails to
remind the audience that it's not

the robot, but the mere presence
of company that gives Frank the
confidence to be himself: In his
case, that entails asking out the
librarian (Susan Sarandon, "Jeff,
Who Lives at Home") and engag-
ing in a heated books-vs-technol-
ogy squabble with the narcissistic
library owner (Jeremy Strong,
"The Romantics").
For a low-budget independent
film, "Robot and Frank" has an
enviable cast at its disposal. Lan-
gella, as Frank, is masterful and
poignant in his character's pro-
gression from lostto found. Mars-
den and Liv Tyler ("The Ledge")
as Frank's children are almost
always on par with the power-
house who plays their father. And
Sarandon, while having a role too
short to display her talents, gives
every scene an impressive boost
of dry humor and undisguised
A bit slow to start, the film
delves too long into Frank's fad-
ing memory and inability to care
for himself. But when it gets down
to business, "Robot and Frank"
shows a captivating flare for cap-
turing Frank's changing attitude,
while subtly hinting at the immi-
nent end of an unsustainable rela-
tionship between a human and
robot that, nonetheless, drives
Frank closer to his family.
With potency and casual grace,
this film shows that self-discov-
ery toward the end of one's life
isn't simply about the self, but
about the people and relation-
ships - human or technological
in nature - that form the roots of
one's identity.

Daily Arts Writer
A lot of people think of Brad-
ley Cooper ("The Hangover") as
a smug douchebag. He takes on
idiotic roles,
screws them up
and then pre-
tends to have T Words
one of those
frustratingly At Quality16
aloof demean- and Rave
ors when con-
fronted. And CBS Films
to make things
worse, he tries to fake-cry for no
apparent reason on "Inside The
Actors Studio." I mean, come on
man - you're not supposed to
act like a phony turd in front of
James Lipton.
Cooper's nose for mediocre
scripts strikes again with his
most recent film, "The Words."
But somehow, Cooper is not the
only significant reason "The
Words" is an exasperatingly slow
torture-fest of a movie. Sure, the
confused nature of Cooper's por-
trayal adds to the movie's forced
feel, but what it all boils down
to is heavy-handed direction
and a script so full of itself that
it insists on dragging the viewer
through the most insignificant
plot details in a failed attempt to
come across as complex.
To be fair, "The Words" does
have a somewhat interesting
plotline involving a story within
a story - kind of like "Inception,"
except starring writers. We pick
up at a book reading by well-
known author Clayton Ham-
mond (Dennis Quaid, "What to
Expect When You're Expecting")
titled "The Words." The book
tells the story of a struggling
young writer, Rory Jansen (Coo-
per), as he fruitlessly attempts
to get his first novel published.
Finally, Rory's luck appears to
turn around when his wife Dora

"They told me I was 'Limitless.' They were wrong."
(Zoe Saldana, "Avatar") buys him else's work can ruin lives. It's an
a tattered old briefcase while important moral, but the script
they are honeymooningin Paris. overdoes it - and to be com-
pletely honest, who really wants
to watch a confused Bradley.
This script is Cooper bitching aboutlife? Given
Cooper's muddled performance,
sure to give you nofnecares.
The one redeeming feature in
an emotional the movie is Saldana's portrayal
of an instinctively doting wife.
hangover. Needless to say, the performance
won't get much attention due
to the shitty nature of every-
thing surrounding it, but there's
The briefcase contains an old no denying that Saldana deliv-
manuscriptfor a brilliant,unpub- ers a layered interpretation of
lished and seemingly authorless an apparently one-dimensional
novel about a post-World War II character.
love story. Rory plagiarizes the But her performance simply
novel word-for-word and has it isn't enough. Though the movie
published. The novel becomes an has the look and feel of a film that
overnight sensation, and every- wants to take itself seriously, the
thing about Rory's crappy life clumsy direction by first-timers
seems to be changing for the bet- Brian Klugman and Lee Stern-
ter - until an old man (Jeremy thal turns it into a boring and
Irons, "Margin Call") shows up unnecessarily complicated slog-
and reveals himself to be the real fest. Behind all the redundancy
author. is an earnest attempt at telling a
Unceremoniously, what could story about how a small mistake
have been a decent, if not amaz- has the potential to push a man's
ing movie devolves into a sloppily life down the course of ruin. If
written and delivered testament only it didn't try to beat us over
about how stealing someone the head with it.


Request an application by e-mailing arts@michigandaily.com.

'Light of Day' is blurry mess

By DAVID TAO lis, "D
Senior Arts Editor fraugh
from t

The only thing better than
a vacation is a paid vacation
to Europe. The cast and crew
of "The Cold
Light of Day"
used their film
as such - an The Cold
excuse to go to
Madrid for 10 LgtfDa
weeks on a stu- At Quality 16
dio's dime. For and Rave
leading man
Henry Cav- Summit
ill, who was
more Clark Kent than Superman
when "Day" started production,
it was a holiday that plight have
turned him into a real action
star. For co-stars Bruce Willis
and Sigourney Weaver, it was a
low-budget B-movie starring an
unknown actor that might never
get a theatrical release in Amer-
ica - permission to phone in
their performances and sip san-
gria between takes. But now that
Cavill is Zack Snyder's choice to
play Superman, the studio sens-
es a cash cow and everybody's
shoddy work is exposed to, well,
the cold light of day.
Cavill (TV's "The Tudors")
plays Will Shaw, a failed busi-
nessman off to Spain to see his
semi-estranged family. His rela-
tionship with his father (Wil-

visit a1
back t
More i
with g
As his
one by
an assh


ie Hard") is particularly ter pickpocket, found himself a
t, and 'drives Will away pistol and located a long-lost half-
he family for a while to sister. Miraculously, he's trans-
local drugstore. He comes formed himself from Wall Street
o find his family gone. washout to Mr. Badass, the guy
mportantly, he finds guys who shoots the gun, runs across
uns trying to kidnap him. the rooftops and drives the cop car
father steps out from the down a flight of stairs away from
ws and snaps their necks the pursuifig police. Picture a
y one, Will realizes that "Bourne" movie with only a token
isn't just an asshole - he's attempt at a backstory, featuring a
hole employed by the CIA. lead less charismatic than either
version of Bourne, and you've seen
most of "Day" through mental
one wanted "Itg'sso loud and frenetic, in a
m ake this. cloyingly post-Michael Bay sense,
that audiences almost forget the
plot holes. But yes, there are plot
holes too - the sloppy kind where
m there, the film degener- the script introduces a strang-
om an orderly, trope-filled er into the mix and everybody
outline into something somehow knows his name. There
d and incomprehensible, are also some truly abhorrent
cling a spider's web after scenes where director Mabrouk
ider gets its daily dose of El Mechri ("JCVD") decides to
cocaine. Apparently, Will's shoot in the daylight and darken
le a MacGuffin in the form the frame to simulate nighttime,
efcase on a recent mission. presumably because cast and crew
r's character really wants took a vote and decided the Span-
so does another mysteri- ish club scene would be a more
d guy, and one of them - or productive and entertaining use
vho knows? - is out to kill of time.
his entire family and the You can't really blame them
family he has but doesn't for that though. Compared to
bout. the dreck Mechri and compa-
who cares? There's hardly ny turned in, most everything
time to process any of it. would be a better use of your
sly, Will has become a mas- time.

ates fri
the spi
dad sto
of a bri
it, but
ous bas
both, w
Will, h
other f
know a



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