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April 05, 2013 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-04-05

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Friday, April 5, 2013 -5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.cam

What's the officer, problem?
Talking with'Breakers'

Ebert was the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Iremembrance
of Roger Ebert

Film critic leaves
legacy after battling
thyroid cancer
By AKSHAY SETH
Daily B-Side Editor
Roger Ebert, arguably the
greatest and without doubt the
most identifiable film critic of
the 20th century, died yesterday
as a result of recurring compli-
cations from an extended bat-
tle with thyroid cancer. It was
the same thyroid cancer that
sidelined him from "Ebert &
Roeper," the same cancer that
robbed him of that calm, mea-
sured voice and the same cancer
that, for seven years, couldn't
keep him from writing about
movies.
And when you look past all
the touching goodbyes that'll be
published in the next few days, I
think, at least for a moment, it'll
become clear what made Ebert
Ebert: not the unending stream
of book deals or the hyper-
influential television shows that
gave him as much recognition
as many of the movies he wrote
about, but a stubborn resilience
- a dedication to keep moving
forward and doingwhathe knew
he loved.
At this point, many of you
pessimists will probably become
disgruntled by my use of the
phrase "doing what he loved"
and dismiss this homage-slash-
eulogy like you would of some-
one who brings a Hallmark card
to a funeral. My 14-year-old self
would agree with you; the whole
"following your dream" part is
old, a phrase thrown around in
the third act of feel-good mov-.
ies in a vain attempt to make two
hours and $10 spent at the movie
theater mean something. But
after a certain point, maybe it'll
be an essay you'll write or a book
you'll read that unveils some
sense of undiminished clarity,
you stop feeling superior to the
content that you examine. For
me, that moment came when I
took an active interest in watch-
ing movies.
For Roger Ebert, that moment
came when he started writing
about the movies he watched.
In "Awake in the Dark: The Best
of Roger Ebert," he describes

how, while writing his first few
reviews, he left the movie the-
ater, formulating the "exact
angle of condescension" that
would forever define his take
on cinema. A clever phrase,
bemoaning the abysmal state
of Hollywood already floating
around in his mind.
Even as the most fledgling of
fledgling film critics, I can tell
you confidently that this form
of acerbic writing gets old and
alienating. Fast. What allowed
Ebert to gain traction with a
mainstream audience and let
film criticism, as a discernible
form of writing in and of itself,
gain hold within the world of
professional journalism, is his
willingness to accept movies
open-mindedly because, just
when he'd given up on ever lov-
ing his job, he described how "a
movie would open that disarmed
my defenses and left me ecstatic
and joyful."
With that openness came the
belief that accessible writing
wasn't synonymous with stu-
pidity or easiness. The crucial
difference was trusting your
audience to follow your argu-
ments, no matter how thorough
or complex. As long as you took
the time to keep them engaged
in a way that let them argue
back, you could give yourself the
opportunity to have a conversa-
tion with them - and at its core,
that's what writing reviews is all
about.
The first words I ever wrote
about a film weren't directly
inspired by that film, but by
Ebert's two-star review of it.
I'm talking about "Fight Club,"
David Fincher's frantically styl-
ized depiction of youth's naive
"fuck you" to creeping com-
mercialization. Enraged at the
mocking review, I wrote, "Wtf
is Ebert thinking. This shit
genius." Words not exactly rep-
resentative of a film connois-
seur, but a response nonetheless.
And that's what mattered: The
review got a response out of me
without being alarmist bullshit.
As someone who (at the time)
was afraid to admit that he was
developing an unhealthy habit
of watching three movies every
night, this was a major develop-
ment.
In his last few days, Ebert did
something he'd always avoided:

He took an indefinite "leave of
presence" (the title of his last
blog) from his writing. In his
essay, "I do not fear death,"
Ebert writes, "I know it is com-
ing, and I do not fear it, because
I believe there is nothing on the
other side of death to fear," pro-
fessing his ultimate understand-
ing of the inevitable. He seems
at peace with what everyone
knows will happen, but he never
mentions how he will lose what
has been one of the most signifi-
cant parts of his life: his writing.
In his blog, he promised he'd
still be there and would be taking
steps to produce more content,
but this was clearly a goodbye,
a noticeable waver in confi-
dence that I'd never before seen
in Ebert's writing. The reviews,
blog posts, tweets and Facebook
updates that had always been
on the Internet, symbols of the
critic's perseverance, would stop
appearing and eventually patter
out of relevance.
As I think about Ebert's life, I
keep goingback to his farewell to
Gene Siskel, his longtime cohost
of "Siskel & Ebert," who passed
away in 1999 after a bout with
a cancerous brain tumor. In the
opening statement, Ebert looks
too at ease, as if trying too hard
to maintain the air of compo-
sure that for so long had defined
the extraordinarily popular
show that made him famous.
He speaks at length about Sis-
kel's passion for his work and
how, despite his diagnosis and
surgery, he kept coming in to do
recordings of the show and how
he phoned in reviews from his
hospital bed. For a brief moment,
he pauses and points to the now-
empty movie theater seat next
to him, describing how just a
month ago, Siskel was sitting
right there, talking about mov-
ies.
I can't help but think Ebert's
passion is a reflection of what
he learned in his time with Sis-
kel, of the bond that they formed
while sitting down and talking
about movies - a bond that he
formed and strengthened every
week with every one of his read-
ers.
In the last sentence of his last
blog post, Ebert wrote, "See you
at the movies." Save me a seat,
buddy. I'm looking forward to
talking.

By CONRAD FOREMAN
DailyArts Writer
Spring break forever, bitches.
If you're at all aware of the
film "Spring Breakers," written
and directed by Harmony Korine
("Trash Humpers"), then you've
probably heard those words at
least a dozen times in its trailers
and promotional videos. Korine,
famous for supposedly flipping
off director Larry Clark upon
first meeting, then writing the
script for Clark's film "Kids" in
three weeks, explores this (in)
famous tradition in his latest
project. So, why "Spring Break-
ers?" Why now? And, at the end,
will you really want spring break
to go on forever (bitches)?
"I felt like I needed to make
(the movie) just because I liked
the storyline, and I liked the
characters; it was a world I want-
ed toexplore. Is it areflection? ... I
think it's connected to youth cul-
ture in some way," Korine said in
a conference call with The Michi-
gan Daily on March 25.
"But at the same time, it's - it
was never meant to be a kind of
documentary or an expose on
something ... It's something that's
more like a pop poem, or almost
like the real world but pushed
into something more kind of - I
don't know - hyper-poetic. And
it is kind of - it works on its own
logic ... it's connected to the cul-
ture, and maybe there's a zeitgeist
in some way. But it's also some-
thing separate."
Star Ashley Benson (TV's
"Pretty Little Liars") joined
Korine in discussing the film.

Benson, a four-year vet of the themes of this film, which, along
ABC Family hit explained that with a hefty load of violence,
her role as Brit in "Spring Break- prominently features boobs,
ers" is a step forward for her booze and enough bikinis to give
career, as she sheds her innocent a 12-year-old boy wet dreams for
"PLL" persona to portray a much a week.
edgier character. Korine spoke about his deci-
"I feel like people have just sion to cast Benson, as well as
seen me in a certain way for such Disney stars Selena Gomez (TV's
a long time," Benson said. "And I "Wizards of Waverly Place) and
really wanted to do a film where Vanessa Hudgens ("High School
I was different from anything Musical") despite their young fan
I've ever done. I read Harmony's bases.
script, and it was exactly what I "I think that their fans will
wanted to do. I liked how edgy it also grow up and eventually see
was; I liked how different it was. it," Korine said. "So, I think that
I wanted a chance to work with we make a movie, and the movie
Harmony, to work with James exists forever, and so eventually
(Franco), and I wanted to do people will find it - people that
something different." aren't old enough to see it now
will be old enough to see it in a
few years, and hopefully they'll
n s d enjoy it. I wanted to work with
enso n e s these girls first and foremost
her (good-girl because they were the best for the
her ood-irl part. They were the most inter-
esting for the part."
image Korine's wife Rachel Korine
("The Fourth Dimension") com-
pletes the quartet of spring
She went on to discuss how her break babes, while James Franco
fans might react to her new role ("Your Highness") and rapper
and whether that impacted her Gucci Mane ("Beef 4") round out
decision to take the part. the cast. When asked which one
"As far as my fans go, I just try of these two gentlemen. would
to - I don't know - I hope that make the better spring break
I'm a good example to them. ... I companion, there was no hesita-
think some people with younger tion.
fans, they kind of choose roles for "I'd pick Gucci because he's
their fans. For me, it's more about rad," Benson said, while Korine
things I want to do and projects I was even shorter with his expla-
want to be a part of. And of course nation: "Gucci." At another point,
my thought is: 'I hope my fans he referred to Gucci as "the Trap
enjoy this.'" God," and even once went so far
Young fans of Benson will as to say, "Gucci is what makes
likely be taken aback by the dark America great."

NEaW M EnD IyA NO T E BOhK
BrTeaking your FaCebDook habit

By CARLINA DUAN
Daily Community CultureEditor
I wavered. I bit my lip multi-
ple times. I wandered away from
the computer, but then found
my hand glued to my iPhone,
pressing the small, blue "f" logo
with my thumb. The next 20
minutes of my snowy walk were
spent swiping through people's
statuses, profile pictures and
wall posts; head down, screen
wet and spackled with snow. I
almost got run over by a car. But,
then again, this isn't out of the
norm.
Facebook addiction strikes
me often. So often, in fact, that
I've renamed it our 21st centu-
ry version of the plague. Most
of the time, the FB Plague will
bite you at the most inoppor-
tune of moments. For example,
when I have a 10-page paper to
write. Or during that one phys-
ics lecture during which my
professor just happens to be
giving us all the answers on the
upcoming exam. Instead of pay-
ing attention to the real world,
Plague symptoms lash out. I
find myself scrolling through
statuses, keeping tabs on peo-
ple's tagged photos and events
to which I wasn't invited. And
Facebook gives us permission'to
do what our human nature loves
best: creep.
I'll admit it: I'm a Facebook
fan-girl. There's a certain art to
constructing your own online
profile, to shaping a new status
that informs the world: Yes, I'm
alive!Yes, I'meatingspicy chick-
ent Yes, I'm giddy! I want you to
"like" me - or a status I con-
structed, a photo I put up, a com-

ment Iv
I am im
askingy
book in
into ot
allow of
own liv
table, p
newsfe
those "
even fo
online.
Argu
a gener
- a gen
given e
paid att
online
that, s
somebo
clicking
little no

wrote - because (I think) ing we can "delete" our real-life
nportant. In a sense, I'm actions, but unfortunately, it's
ou to "like" my art. Face- all a lie.
vites us to dip ourselves On Monday night, I deacti-
her people and to also vated my Facebook. On Tuesday
thers to dip back into our night, 25 hours later, I reacti-
es. It makes us unforget- vated it. In between, I had three
opping our names on the "accidental" log-ins, when I
eds of "friends," allowing logged onto Facebook (thereby
friends" to think of us- reactivating my account) out of
r a second -when we're instinct, forgetting I didn't exist
in the social-media sphere any-
ably, our generation is more. I also took a walk to the
ation of Facebook users Arb, reveling in my "new found
aeration that loves to be freedom" and wriggling my
vidence that we're being new hiking boots in the mud. I
ention. We navigate our was free. I could listen to (real)
realms with confidence birds tweet live, chirpy sounds. I
;omewhere out there, didn't have to deal with the con-
dy is paying attention, stant "10+ New Stories" tab on
"like," giving us red, my screen, forcing me to look up.
tifications. But mid-walk, my phone
buzzed. A friend had texted:
"Hello, missy. Do you still
:active your, exist?" My mouth dried itself
of spit. How many people had
account. already forgotten about me now
that I had deleted my Facebook?
How many people had already
questioned my existence? If I
:h is why Facebook also wasn't on Facebook, did that
me anxious. Notifica- invalidate my being? After 25
or lack there of - freak hours of being Finally Facebook-
With Facebook, we can less, I succumbed. The FB virus
hat parts of us are paid was forever in my system, and no
in to in ways that we can't matter how hard I tried to cure
life. We can also (magi- myself, I almost didn't want to
everse our actions. Don't entirely heal.
mething you just typed? Here's the hard truth: I
it! Don't "like" a photo couldn't tear myself away from
e? Unlike it! But this cre- Facebook for more than a day.
anxious mentality that Time and time again, I was
or awkward face-to-face drawn to the "deactivate your
ion. Say something inap- account" button. But the Plague
te? LOL (literally) at the has sharp teeth, reminding you
ime? Facebook makes for of the entire digital life - now,
erous playing field. The in our generation, almost a sec-
ue tricks us into think- and life - you're missing out on.

De

GET OFF
FACEBOOK.
GET ON
TWITTER.
Follow us
@michdailyarts

Whic
makes
tions -
me out.
shape w
attentio
in real1
cally!) r
like sot
Delete
anymor
ates an
makes f
interact
propria
wrong t
a dang
FB Plag

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