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October 22, 2012 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, October 22, 2012 - 5A

FILM REVIEW
Skip this 'Activity'

Latest 'Paranormal'
installment falls
prey to sequel slide
By Carly Keyes
For the Daily
As far as overall quality and
critical acclaim go, a sequel rarely
equals - and even more infre-
quently exceeds
- the original: .
The Academy
Award-winning Paranormal
"Rocky" was AC iv* 4
T.K.O.'ed by the L*'
third round, At Quality 16
viewers were and Rave
hesitant to take
second and Paramount
third bites out of
"Jaws" and the most recent triplet
of "Star Wars" episodes didn't
have the same amount of force as
the original trifecta. So if Stallone,
Spielberg and Lucas can occasion-
ally miss the mark, it doesn't take
a psychic to foresee the inevitable
demise of the "Paranormal Activ-
ity" series.
In the fourth link of this chump
chain, the first brief sequence
depicts a paranormally empow-
ered woman killing her sister,
abducting her nephew and then
mysteriously disappearing. Five
years later, when a suburban
family of four takes in the odd
boy across the street, Robbie
(newcomer Bradley Allen), while
his mother (Katie Featherston,
"Paranormal Activity 3") is in
the hospital, weird things start to
happen.
Worried about her little broth-
er spending so much time with
the freaky tyke, Alex (Kathryn
Newton, "Bad Teacher") and her
boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively, TV's
"True Jackson, VP") are deter-
mined to reveal the truth about
Robbie.
The characters, from screen-

All glory to the hypnotoad!
writers Christopher Landon inducing moments. A cat abruptly
("Paranormal Activity 3") and jumping from off camera and a
Chad Feehan ("Beneath the chair magically pushing itself
Dark"), are as flat as a pancake out from under the table doesn't
- underdeveloped and sorely exactly elicit the shrill screams
lacking redeeming qualities. and face-clenching moments that
The one exception is Ben, whose justify a ticket purchase.
witty remarks, relentless charm This set of highly homogenous
and genuinely lovable personal- horror stories is what an econo-
ity are the saving girace. Without mist would deem a series with
his character, it's basically like diminishing marginal returns.
watching a robotic, brainless The first film is somewhat novel,
family straight out of "The Sims" definitely worth watching, and
computer game. was well enough received to merit
The "cinematography" - if you the green light for a sequel. And
can even call it that - by Doug while "Paranormal Activity 2" is
Emmett ("The Giant Mechanical entertaining, it doesn't compete
Man") is even more contrived and with the quality of the original.
nauseating than earlier "Activity" As for the third flick in the series,
installments. It worked in the first it's the equivalent of beating a
movie, prolonging the precedent dead horse. "Paranormal Activity
set by the surprisingly success- 4" won't exactly be running the
ful "The Blair Witch Project," but Kentucky Derby anytime soon.
now the viewing experience is And, with a slew of scary mov-
like the minute of disorientation ies coming out in the weeks lead-
after a roller coaster ride, except ing up to Halloween, go pick
87 times longer. something else - anything else
Perhaps the mostevident disap- - to get your fill of frights and
pointment derives from the poor delights. Perhaps some truly
directing (Henry Joost and Ariel paranormal ghost can be a Good
Schulman, "Paranormal Activity Samaritan and let the viewing
3") and ineffective editing (Greg- world know if there's a plan in
ory Plotkin, "Paranormal Activ- the works for a fifth "Paranormal
ity 3"). Until the last five minutes, Activity" edition, so the vapid,
there is an unforgivable lack of video-camera creation can be
substantial suspense and fear- stopped before it happens.

Telev
mo
11right, folks: It's time to
talk about your mommy
issues. Or, more specifi-
cally, your issues with televi-
sion's wives and mothers.
Few fic-
tional moth-
ers come
under fire
as often as
"Breaking
Bad"'s Skyler
White. The
"Skyler is a KAYLA
bitch" argu- UPADHYAYA
ment has
been so prev-
alent since the series' inception
that it feels tedious at this point.
But unfortunately, it's a conver-
sation we need to keep having.
Despite Anna Gunn's own com-
ments on the sexism behind the
vehement - sometimes even
violent - aversion to Skyler, and
despite the countless manifestos
scattered across the internet
that attempt to vindicate her,
the Skyler haters remain.
Just last week, I told a friend
of mine that Skyler was one of
my favorite characters on the
show.
"You like Skyler?" he asked.
Here we go again. When I
pressed him for an explanation
as to why he can't stand Skyler,
he gave the usual: "She's annoy-
ing."
Let's see. When Skyler first
finds out her husband has
ingrained himself in the danger-
ous world of the crystal meth
market - and has essentially
put their entire family at risk in
doing so - she reacts like any
rational human would. She's
furious. She wants Walt out of
her life. When he doesn't allow
that to happen, she cheats on
him - something folks seem
quicker to criticize than they do
Walt's multiple homicides.
Skyler isn't a bitch. She's
a prisoner. She's avictim of
Walt's self-absorbed, oppressive
behavior. She's a mother who
so desperately wants to protect
her children that she is willing
to put herself at risk, is willing
to compromise with the man
who threatens their safety in the
first place. Skyler's moral com-
pass is far from true north, but
every action she takes is for her
family's survival, while Walt's
actions are for the sake of his
own ego and relentless need for
control. Just look at how many
get-out-of-meth-free cards he
has turned down.
The only reason people hate
Skyler is the result of this per-
verse attachment to the show's
antihero. Skyler gets in the way
of Walt, our chemistry-teacher-
turned-meth-maker, who has
transformed into nothing short
of a sociopathic nightmare. It's a
FPolicy Talks

disease
to Ton'
In 2
nos" w
York P
ers hox
of thea
Tony's
gestion
women
ing too
Sure
but eve
activiti
to the v
by her
are we
judgem
and wi
some c
men th
S
Sk
Vict
"Reven
nation,
"Worst
In h
Conrad
viewer
prime:
critical
and mo
televisi
kind of
for her
great d
ler, she
family'
Som
horribl
to beat
eleine
this ye
back to
Victori
queen,
in her
Conrad
gross o
her a m
And
mom e
Betty D
comme
derisio
housew
of muc
Men" f
And
despise
season
themu
Roger I
official
Franci
TV his
Noti
Friedm
discou
discuss
is one o
and fat

that can be traced back Don has a wonderfully complex
y Soprano. relationship with his daughter
002, when "The Sopra- Sally that is a million times less
as in decline, the New volatile than Betty's relationship
ost ran a poll asking view- with her, but Don isn't only self-
w to fix the series. Many destructive - he frequently con-
answers centered around trols or dismisses his family.
wife Carmela, and sug- We're much faster to label a
s included "kill all the character a bad mother than we
" and "Carmela's whin- are a bad father. So in the case
much - whack her!" of Don Draper, we put him on a
Carmela is no saint, pedestal ... because he's so damn
n her most nefarious cool and sexy and played by the
es don't quite compare impossibly perfect Jon Hamm
violence perpetuated for Christ's sake! It's an idoliza-
mobster husband. Why tion that's slightly less prob-
so much quicker to pass lematic than defending Walter
sent on these mothers White, but it's a double standard
ves over the corrupt - in all the same.
ases, downright evil - It'd be easy to blame the
ey're married to? "Mad Men" writers for this
inconsistency. They've somehow
made the sexist Roger Sterling,
'top hating the philandering, emotionally
g abusive Don,andPete Campbell
Eyler W hite. - a snide and slimy rapist -
endearing, while Betty just gets
increasingly more childish and
malevolent.
oria Grayson of ABC's But this is where "Mad Men"
ge" too suffers condem- 's writers shine: writing char-
appearing on countless acters that are imperfect. The
Mothers on TV" lists. series is backed by a distinctly
er case, her evil husband female-dominant writers'
I is widely disliked by room, so it's no surprise that the
s, but Victoria is stilla show's women are so complex.
example of how hyper- They have thankfully made
viewers are of women - Betty so much more than an
thers in particular - on oppressed 1960s housewife. She
on. She certainly isn't the suffers from undeniable depres-
mother to bake cookies sion that's not simply the result
children and wish them a of her domineering husband or
ay at school, but like Sky- her own unstable relationship
is fully committed to her with her mother, but is deeply
s preservation. ingrained as a part of her.
etimes that means doing So, no, the way Betty is writ-
e things, like hiring thugs ten is not enough to justify the
up her son, but as Mad- huge discrepancies between her
Stowe put it at Paleyfest and Don's likability. Both char-
ar, "It all sort of twists acters are written with flaws.
some sense of family." But viewers are simply quicker
a might be a certified ice to sympathize with flawed male
but she's also trapped characters (They're so misun-
marriage, subjected to derstood!) than with flawed
I's manipulations - it's a women (They're so annoying!).
versimplification to label I throw the term "strong
onster mother. female characters" around alot
of course, there's the in my analysis of television. And
veryone loves to hate: it's importantto note that this
)raper. Whether it's does not mean a character needs
ants on her mothering or to be a fault-free role model.
n of her appearance, the Yes, it'sgreat to have the Leslie
vife has been the subject Knopes and Tami Taylors to look
h criticism in the "Mad up to, but we can learn alot from
andom. more morally gray women, too.
it's not just the fans who It's fine to be critical of female
Betty. In his review of characters. But when it comes to
four's "The Chrysan- television, male douchebags are
n and the Sword," critic loved, female bitches are hated,
Friedman declared: "It's and this double standard has got
. Betty Draper, now Betty to stop.
s, is the worst mother in In the meantime, I'll be
tory." patiently waiting for a justifica-
ceably absent from tion for hating Skyler White that
ean's work - and most isn't inherently sexist.

ision has some
mmy issues

'2 Days iOn New York'
'too scattered to shine

By NATALIE GADBOIS
DailyArts Writer
No one plays disheveled and
erratic as well as Julie Delpy
("Le Skylab"); her effortless
charm, beauty
and innumer-
able neuroses
combine into 2 Days in
something New York
enchanting.
Unfortunately, At the
the same cannot Michigan
be said about
Delpy's most Magnolia
recent project,
"2 Days in New York."
This eccentric sequel to the
2007 French gem "2 Days in
Paris" chronicles two days in the
life of Marion, played by Delpy
(who also wrote, directed and
starred in both movies). Her new
boyfriend, Mingus (Chris Rock,
"Death at a Funeral") is thrown
into culture shock after meet-
ing her oversexed and politically
incorrect French family. "New
York," however, lacks the quiet
originality of its predecessor,
and while the latest doesn't lack
charm, it's a rehash of the original
with some unsatisfactory tweaks.
Marion finds herself residing
in New York with Mingus, her
son Lulu from a previous rela-
tionship with Jack, her neurotic
"Paris" ex and Mingus's daughter
Willow (Talen Ruth Riley). They
live a storybook cozy urban life,
but their world is turned upside
down when Marion's narcissistic
sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and
her overly frank father Jeannot
(Albert Delphy) visit from Paris,
joined by Rose's creepy boy-
friend Manu (Alexandre Nahon).
These three quickly leave a path
of destruction both through New
York and Marion's relationship
- Jeannot is detained for try-
ing to sneak 30 sausages through
customs, Manu walks into the
apartment and immediately tells
Mingus that he loves "the blacks"
while Rose attempts to convince
Marion that Lulu is autistic - all

rse on "Mad Men" - isa
ion of how Don Draper
ef the worst husbands
hers on television. Yes,

Upadhyaya is celebrating
mother's daya little early. To
join, e-mail kaylau@umich.edu.

"It's okay, honey, my comedy career isn't dead yet."
within hours of their arrival. lies in the superb character acting
Cultural and racial misunder- by Delpy and her French coun-
standings were similarly as pres- terparts, its downfall is in the
ent in the original, but in this film character interactions. The film
they degenerate into shrill argu- is focused too much on in-fight-
ments, with the language barrier ing - between Marion and Rose,
causing farcical bantering rather Marion and Mingus, Mingus and
than thought-provoking discus- Manu ... the list continues. This
sion. Despite the lack of interest- detracts from the more conversa-
ing discourse, however, the actors tional and intelligent discourse of
deftly portray these stereotypical "Paris."
roles with humor and originality, In contrast, in some instances
making the endless silly fights Delpy delves too far from situ-
more tolerable. ational cultural humor into broad
existential musing. Marion
attempts to "sell her soul" in her
W hy did he need art exhibition, then proceeds to
question the existence of a soul
30 sausages? for much of the movie's second
half. The result is too ambitious
and broad, mostly because the
best part of the original was that
Delpy is again fantastic as the it was an analysis of a microcosm
contradictory Marion - both self- of human life instead of an over-
ish and kind, delusional and level- arching existential debate.
headed. Her relationship with Delpy has created a funny and
Mingus seems abit forced, in part eccentric film, even if it lacks
because of the drastic contrasts the substance and fluidity of the
between her very French fam- first. Throughout "2 Days In New
ily and Mingus's very New York York," the dialogue is amusing
attitude. Rock tries valiantly to and original, and the actors suc-
embody this character, but hits a cessfully portray the culture clash
caricature-esque portrayal when between slow-moving, unshaven
surrounded by other understated, Paris and clipped, millennial New
organic characters. He plays Min- York. Marion is a lovable mess-up;
gus well enough, but throughout few other actors could playa hys-
the film you sense he's "just act- terical woman yelling "He has my
ing." soul in his underwear!" with such
While the strength of the film humor and grace.

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