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November 26, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-26

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, Novemher 26, 2012 - 7A

"I'll have what she's having."
'Silver Lining'
reaches for the gold

"Screw you! This sweater is stylish and bulletproof.
Insensitive pandering
dooms 'Red Dawn'

Cooper, Lawrence
deliver genuine
DailyArts Writer
Dysfunction is never the goal
of an American family. Ideally,
everyone wants to get along,
avoid conflict
and dodge
able situa- Silver Linings
tions. But of Playbok
course, every
family has its At Quality16
issues - some and Rave
more than
others - and The Weinstein
when the cra- Company
ziness comes, ,
the only way to quell the chaos
is to recognize it. Rather than
sweep family feuding under the
rug or paint an idyllic portrait of
June Cleaver & Co., "Silver Lin-
ings Playbook" tells the truth
about what goes on beyond the
domestic threshold - and more
often than not, it's a far cry from
"Home Sweet Home."
After Pat (Bradley Cooper,
"Hit & Run") finds his wife Nikki
(Brea Bee, "The Destruction
Room") cheating, he beats the
guy to a bloody pulp and earns
himself an eight-month stay at
a mental institution. When he's
released and smacked with a
hefty restraining order, Pat must
live with his eccentric parents
From Page 6A
to have no capacity or boundar-
ies, viewers experience Pi from
a quasi-godly set of eyes. Effec-
tively illustrating the ocean as a
calm sheet of reflecting glass, a
story of suffering finds refresh-
ing solace. A patient, breath-
ing lens isn't afraid to follow Pi
underwater for several seconds
or even bob above the surface
of the ocean like a Coast Guard
Imagine the never-ending
rainbow of colors in "Finding

while he desperately tries to
reconcile his marriage - but he
must first show Nikki that he's a
changed man, fitter in mind and
body. When Pat meets Tiffany
(Jennifer Lawrence, "House at
the End of the Street"), a trou-
bled young woman with similar
struggles, they form a quirky,
combative friendship, one that
eventually turns symbiotic: Pat
agrees to accompany Tiffany to
her ballroom dancing competi-
tion if she will sneakily pass on a
letter from him to Nikki.
The storyline is fairly simple,
straightforward and even a bit
slow at times, but the cast of
characters couldn't be more com-
plicated, conflicted and captivat-
ing, setting this film apart from
typical dramedies.
Cooper tactfully vacillates
between dejection and motiva-
tion, obstinacy and willingness,
and selfishness and generos-
ity. He realistically portrays the
impacts of bipolar disorder, pro-
viding some hilarious moments:
He chucks a Hemingway novel
out of a window when he dis-
agrees with the ending, wakes up
the whole neighborhood scream-
ing as he searches for his wedding
video and destroys a magazine
rack in a fit of rage when he hears
his wedding song at his psychia-
trist's office. He's manic and he's
depressed. He says "more inap-
propriate things than appropri-
ate things," and he's surprisingly
charming when he does. Cooper
is a walking contradiction, and
it's a winning combination.

Giving an equally humanized
performance, Lawrence shows
a spunky, fearless attitude and a
fiery sense of humor. She takes
a character grieving the recent
death of her husband and emotes
confidence, sureness and vicious
rhetoric - "Girl Power" at its
best. She's a worthy adversary
for Cooper's loud, obnoxious
demeanor, and the best moments
arrive when their two person-
alities clash: Tiffany follows Pat
when he goes jogging - to his
extreme dismay - and she jok-
ingly accuses him of assault in
front of a movie theater, warrant-
ing a visit from a police officer.
Robert De Niro ("Freelanc-
ers") adds comedic value as Pat's
father, the most belligerent Phila-
delphia Eagles fan on the planet,
Jacki Weaver ("The Five Year
Engagement") attempts and fails
to mitigate peace in the home as
Pat's conservative mother and
Chris Tucker ("Rush Hour 3")
gets some laughs as Pat's friend, a
repeatescapee fromthe loony bin.
But shining through the den-
sity of talented performances is
the highly entertaining and pal-
pable chemistry between Cooper'
and Lawrence. It's the raw, senti-
mental backbone of the narrative.
Their relationship is a touching
human connection that elicits
hope. It teaches that sometimes
it takes two people to accomplish
what each cannot do alone, and
that even the most unlikely can-
didate, by outward appearance
or initial impression, could be a
silver lining.

Daily Arts Writer
During post-production of
"Red Dawn," MGM's. execs
changed the nationality of the
invading Chi-
nese army to
North Korean
by digitally Red Dawn
altering flags
and other AtQualityl6
national sym- and Rave
bols, and dub- FilmDistrict
bing over the
original Chi-
nese dialogue with Korean. The
studio didn't want to alienate
Chinese audiences. And folks,
therein lies the moral of the
story: China's a big cash cow,
and North Korea - well, no one
likes an Asian who can't afford
the price of admission, even if it's
because he or she is living under
the regime of the world's most
oppressive dictatorship. No harm
done. Asians do all look the same.
Had MGM left nationalities
alone, "Red Dawn" would've just
been another stupid remake, a
stupid, stupid story of how Wash-
ington teenagers band together
as a tight-knit group of insurgents
who call themselves the Wol-
verines (after their high school
mascot) fighting off a Chinese
invasion. Now, "Red Dawn" has
become an ignorant, misguided
mess pandering to audiences
infected with American jingoism
and racial fears, bitten by Yellow
Peril. It has been made into some-
thing it should've never been.
And yes, it's still stupid.
Directed by newcomer Don
Bradley, a well-known stunt
coordinator who worked on such
films as "The Bourne Suprema-
cy," it should be a safe assump-
tion walking unknowingly into
"Red Dawn" that its action
scenes would be its saving grace.

Instead, the viewer is too often his Marine brother, Jed Eckhert
lost in a jumble of shaky camera- (Chris Hemsworth, "The Aveng-
work, hindering the action rather ers"), are performed with believ-
than augmenting it. The action ability, though never with depth.
lacks ease, direction and, worse Hemsworth is charismatic as
yet, fun. a big brother, but his patriotic
Lost, too, is any sense of logic. speeches often leave you bury'
Whenever the Wolverines leave ing your head in a bag of popcorn,
their humble home in the woods rather than roused.
to kill some commies, they seem When Smith (Kenneth Choi,
to waltz into their North Korean- "Captain America: The First
occupied city. We have no idea Avenger") enters the picture,
how they got inside with AK-47s. it's painfully obvious what they
Were there fences? Were there were doing. He's the tokenAsian-
guards? The Wolverines walk in, American character fighting for
bomb a few places, shoot up some his country, for the Red, White
people and walk out. They learn and Blue - which is hardly con-
to kill and to be soldiers in what soling for any Asian-American.
appears to be a couple of weeks. While enduringthis long hour-
It's difficult to decide what to and-a-half as the lone Asian-
blame for these discontinuities: American in the theater, there
Was it the terrible writing, the was a woman in the audience,
terrible editing or both? clearly incensed by Jed's "Go
America" speech, who let, out a
painful, whispered "yeah!" each
North Korea? time she saw America's freedom
*e being righteously defended. As
China? Does if the mightiest military super-
power should feel like a victim.
America know There is no self-referential humor
or anything else to indicate film-
the difference? makers of "Red Dawn" really
understood that irony.
MGM's decision has politi-
cized what should have been
It's only when "Red Dawn" is nothing but bubblegum action
three-quarters finished that an thrills. Still, it'd be slanderous to
actual objective arises for the say the director, the writer, the
Wolverines. Until then, with- actors or anyone else involved
out a clear sense of setting and in "Red Dawn" is racist. But for
time, we spring from one flashy, pandering to the minutemen in
shaky gunfight to another like all of us, for reviving old memo-
an unhappy version of that slinky ries of immigration exclusion,
on an escalator from the GEICO riots, violence, war and xeno-
commercial - miserable and phobia, the film itself is tremen-
mindless. You can't help but think dously irresponsible. It makes
almost half of the film could've one wonder if and how many
been lopped off. Americans across the coun-
Speaking of things that are try reacted the same way that
clunky and absurd, Josh Peck woman in the theater did. Do
(TV's "Drake and Josh") stars as they see the h orean/Chi-
Matt Eckhert, and he sure does nese army as iders? Or Asian
try. To be fair, his moments with invaders?

Nemo," and then supplant ani-
mation with live-action. "Pi"
accomplishes precisely this:
turning a luminous unreality to
reality at its most beautiful. The
3-D makes it all the more mouth-
Sharma is gold as our protag-
onist, never handing us a faulty
expression or underfed drama.,
He reminisces, "gods were my
superheroes growing up," fur-
thering his profound spiritual
link which bases his fight for
survival. His trail to dominion
over Richard Parker epitomizes
the desire for both safety and

That pretty much lays out
the lean meat of the rib-eye. So,
about that fat? Many early char-
acters play trivial filler roles, to
no avail. They don't propel the
plot, add flavor or cause tangi-
ble discord. They suck. In addi-
tion, Pi's religious devotions are
barely scraped, whereas deeper
probing could've justified the
later thematic elements.
The fact is, we're still eating a
first-rate steak, not a half-chuck,
half-mole rat hamburger. "Pi"
succeeds as a delightful, appe-
tizing treat, but not as a full-
fledged character study. Good
thing it's not trying to be one.

November 30th, 2012

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