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March 31, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, March 31, 2014 - 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, March 31, 2014 - 7A

We would love for Wes to redo "Mr. Popper's Penguins."
Anderso reveals
his latent dark side

FOX SEARCHLIGHT
Pondering the consequences of intentionally veiled satire.
Insanity and the art of
film: Hollywood heroes

'Grand Budapest'
a darkly comedic,
slightlylackluster
cinematic work
ByKARSTEN SMOLINSKI
DailyArts Writer
Don't get fooled by the bright
pink, soft purple color palette and
gorgeous storybook set pieces.
Featuring inter-
national war B+
and cloak and
dagger murder, The Grand
"The Grand }
Budapest Hotel" BudapeSt
contains more Hotel
dark, grisly
material than Quaity16
any previous Rave 20 and
Wes Anderson State Theater
film. Though FoxSearchlight
the film's more
mature themes
compliment the director's patent
absurdity, the fast pace and mas-
sive cast leave many of the charac-
terrelationships-thecornerstone
of most Anderson films - with
very little time for their own matu-
ration.
The story begins with Gustave
H. (Ralph Fiennes, "Harry Pot-
ter and the Deathly Hollows"), a
world-class concierge who gets
his kicks diddling wealthy older
women, adopting the impres-
sionable, young lobby boy Zero
Moustafa (Tony Revolori, "The
Perfect Game") as his protege.
Together, they keep the legendary
Grand Budapest Hotel running

smoothly, and the guestsperfectly
happy (especially the rich, wrin-
kly cougars). When the murder of
one of Gustave's special patrons -
played by an unrecognizable Tilda
Swinton ("Moonrise Kingdom")
- lands the colorful Gustave H. in
a bleak, grey prison, however, the
duo must race against the film's
black leather clad villains to clear
his name.
Withseveredappendages,death
squadsandacarpetingofF-bombs,
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
marks a departure from whimsi-
cal tone of most of Wes Anderson's
work. Usually, the strong sense of
community that pervades Ander-
son's films eschews the presence
of any true villains, opting instead
to recognize even the hero's rivals
and enemies as integral compo-
nents. This time, the bad guys of
"Grand Budapest," followed wher-
ever they go by an ominous, thun-
dering orchestra, appear beyond
redemption.
The startlingly gory violence
perpetrated by the thickly accent-
ed villains - portrayed by Adrien
Brody ("The Darjeeling Limited")
and a perfectly malevolent Wil-
lem Dafoe ("The Life Aquatic
with Steve Zissou") - melds well
with the quick, irreverent pace
and makes for some well-execut-
ed black humor. Unfortunately,
the plot's ceaseless forward drive
also rushes past a few of the film's
more poignant points. When Zero
reveals his tragic past to Gustave,
the dialogue flies at a steady "not
a second to breathe" clip, result-
ing in a disappointingly detached
moment that lacks in genuine feel-
ing.

Andersontdoes managetsome
rather sweet moments. At one
point, the much older version of
Zero (F. Murray Abraham, "Ama-
deus") breaks off his recounting
of the story, his face streaming
with tears, to reveal that he cannot
contain his emotions whenever he
thinks of his lost love Agatha (Sao-
irse Ronan, "The Lovely Bones").
The audience's deserved apa-
thy toward his relationship with
Agatha somewhat dulls her beau-
tiful performance. Anderson con-
stantly tells the viewers that she is
a lovely person, but fails to take the
time to really show her loveliness.
In fact, the vast majority of the
cast receives very little character-
ization, which leaves the cursory
appearances of Anderson movie
veteranssuchasJeffGoldblum, Bill
Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason
Schwartzman, and of other stars
such as Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson
and Lea Seydoux, feeling like a
cheap marketing gimmick. .
Despitetheunnecessaryensem-
ble cast and the more graphic
material, "The Grand Budapest
Hotel" is through and through a
Wes Anderson gem. The normally
colorful auteur's attempt at a more
thematically mature and gruesome
film pays off with its deadpan dark
comedy and more somber, sadden-
ing approach to aging, loss and
loneliness. It's good to see Ander-
son himself moving past his com-
fort zone, and "Grand Budapest"
excites the possibilities for his
future projects. Hopefully, Ander-
son's films will continue to mature
as he ages, without the loss of that
incredible warmth that makes his
films so appealing.

By ZAK WITUS a film, we must suspend those
Daily Arts Writer boring, rational beliefs along
with the boring, rational
This year's Academy attitude in favor of the fun,
Awards show tried to fool us. operant beliefs and the fun,
Not the awards themselves operant attitude. It's more fun
- because who really cares to believe that the film is real,
about those. The Academy so we let the film fool us, if it
tried to fool us about who can.
the real heroes were. With By counter-example, when
their montages of film clips we don't submit to the film,
titled "Heroes of Hollywood," or when the film fails to
the Academy Awards show- seduce us, we often enjoy the
men tried to make us believe film much less; and we have
that the heroes of Hollywood not adopted the fun, oper-
were the fictional characters ant beliefs. Therefore, when
(Frodo Baggins, the Termina- we're watching a film that
tor, Indiana Jones), not the we enjoy, we are even more
actors (Elijah Wood, Arnold committed to the fun, oper-
Schwarzenegger, Harrison ant beliefs than the boring,
Ford). But everyone knows rational ones (e.g., Ron Bur-
that's not true. The actors who gundy is Will Ferrell, Woody
play them are the true "Heroes Allen is Alvy Singer, Samuel
of Hollywood" (Chiwetel Ejio- L. Jackson is Jules Winnfield,
fer ("12 Years a Slave"), Mat- etc.). The better the movie,
thew McConaughey ("Dallas the more fully and deeply we
Buyers Club")). That's the believe that the actor is the
point of the Academy Awards. character, and the longer we
That's why many of us watch will continue to believe so
the Academy Awards in the after the final credits have
first place: to gawk and drool rolled.
over our heroes and heroines. All this comes together in
That's why many of us watch how we teach children about
TMZ, read People Magazine film. On the one hand, we're
and hang shirtless Brad Pitt hesitant to tell kids that the
posters on our bedrooms film isn't real and destroy
walls (don't judge me). We their innocent fantasy. On
know the truth: actors are the the other hand, when they get
real heroes. scared or sad, we say things
But nonetheless we often like, "It's ok, it isn't real."
confuse actors with their But who are we really talk-
characters and characters ing to in this latter scenario?
with their actors. During a Ourselves, I think. Film pres-
film, the actor's and charac- ents us with a psychological
ter's identities intermingle. conflict: Our rational mind
Though the actual intermin- wants to tell the child within
gling is brief, the mixing of us that the scary and sad parts
identities often lasts much of film (life) aren't real, and
longer in the minds of the thatdespite all evidence to
audience. That is why we the contrary, it will all 'be OK.
often attribute traits of actors We feel that we must keep the
to traits of their characters inner child in check with cold
and visa versa. reason and logic. And yet, to
I have a theory: While enjoy a movie, we must let that
watching film, we abandon little kid inside of us run wild.
our higher-order, rational Deep down, we want the kid
thinking for the sake of our inside of us to enjoy the unin-
own enjoyment. Of course if terrupted freedoms of fantasy
anyone asked us, we would and fun. It's only in adult life
declare that we (rational- that we're conditioned to "step
ly) know that the actors on back" and analyze the situ-
screen are not really the fic- ation (e.g., film, life), which
tional characters they're pre- requires the suspension of all
tending to be. Only a child or childlike awe and amusement.
insane person would believe What a shame.
otherwise. But something This explains why we often
about film requires us to tem- idolize Hollywood actors: we
porarily revert to childhood confuse their personal iden-
or insanity, because while tities with their characters'
we're watching and enjoying fictional identities. Because

they are the heroes and stars
in film, we seem to believe
that they are heroes and stars
in real life too, but of course
that's an absurd connection.
And because we believe that
they're heroes and stars, we
treat them like heroes and
stars (e.g., TMZ, People, etc.).
And because we treat them
like heroes and stars, the
actors start to somewhat feel
like the heroes and stars. And
because the actors feel like
heroes and stars, they start to
believe and act like they are
heroes and stars.
Our mental
construction
of heroes is
absurd.
And thus we achieve my
main point: Brad Pitt is the
real hero. And Brad Pitt might
know that better than anyone.
He even had the good sense
to cast himself as the savior
in "12 Years a Slave," the film
that he produced. Brad Pitt
seems to understand how his
audience mistakes him for his
characters and his characters
for him. Brad Pitt knew that
the only way to make the fic-
tional savior in "12 Years a
Slave" believable was to play
the role himself and thereby
transfer the personal saint-
liness of Brad Pitt unto the
character. And who will doubt
that personal saintliness of
Brad Pitt? Just look at his
beautiful face and all his phi-
lanthropy.
So, try as they might, the
2014 Academy Awards show
won't convince us that fiction-
al characters are the "Heroes
of Hollywood," because we all
know better. When wanting
someone to believe or looking
for a personal hero, there's lit-
tle doubt that celebrities are
the best choice. But, if that
seems absurd, or if our uncon-
scious construction of the
Hollywood Heroes appears
too problematic, then maybe
seek heroes elsewhere. Or,
maybe, stop seeking heroes
altogether and merely look in
the mirror.

'Sabotage' squanders potential

Schwarzenegger
makes a ridiculous,
entertaining return
By OMAR MAHMOOD
For theDaily
There are some movies that
don't take themselves seriously,
and that's precisely their appeal.
You can watch
them late at B
night with your
friends when $abotage
the conversa-
tion at hand is Quality16
more pressing and Rave 20
than the plot, Open Road
and your eyes
are half open
anyway, and you can look to the
screen every now and then and
laugh.
Perhaps director David Ayer
("End of Watch") would have
done better to not take "Sabotage"
so seriously. The film ends up so
wildly implausible that it results
in nothing but accidental com-
edy. Any movie starring Arnold
Schwarzenegger ("Conan the Bar-
barian"), of course, is fated to be a
little ridiculous. That being said,
this role is new territory for Arnold
- one that we would expect to see
played by the likes of Liam Nee-
son - and he does seem out of his
comfort zone. He's not as pompous
as in the "Terminator" series and

appears more measured than he
was in his pre-political filmcareer.
Arnold plays Breacher, a strug-
gling drug enforcement agent who
strikes gold when his loyal team
bustsacocaine cartelandruns into
millions of dollars in contraband.
The agents are - often cheesily
- portrayed as a close-knit family
in the movie, not unlike what we
find in "The Fast and the Furious"
series, another of Ayer's works.
Following the bust, they become
the target of a masterful scheme
to destroy their reputations and
to frame them for the embezzle-
ment of 10 million dollars.
"Sabotage" was always going
to be how Arnold's comeback
would be judged. But to the
credit of the cast, one of the more
prized feats of this movie is its
depth, studded with actors that
were made for these kinds of
roles, led by Sam Worthington
("Man on a Ledge") and Terrence
Howard ("Ray"). They have col-
orful nicknames like "Sugar,"
"Neck" and "Grinder" that dis-
play an overdone display of bond-
ing. They make the best of an
occasionally troublesome script
and often try too hard to bring
it to life. Joe Manganiello ("Spi-
der-Man") steals every one of
his scenes, regardless of having a
few scarce lines, and he should be
looking at greater roles after his
performance.
No critic can come away from
the film without pointing out

the hilarity of Olivia Williams's
("The Sixth Sense") Southern
accent. Williams plays a local cop
who takes an intimate interest in
Breacher's case. If the produc-
tion staff hired accent trainers,
they did not care to specify a
Southern region, and the prod-
uct is stereotypical enough to dip
its way into satire. It's even more
ridiculous than Arnold's macho
Austrian accent, which still can-
not be taken seriously.
The most surprising aspect of
"Sabotage," though, is that it's
not the non-stop fight scene that
the teaser trailers would have led
you to believe. The plot is instead
a gripping mystery, and if you.
can get past the botched accents
and broken script, you will find
yourself on the edge of your seat.
The gore, at least, is a spectacle
to behold. Rife with violence, not
the least of which is atrail of dead
bodies laced with cash, the film
more than earns its R rating. It
begins with a gut-wrenching and
discomforting scene as Arnold
looks on in mute pain while watch-
ing a woman being tortured on a
screen.
The tone is set from then on, and
we must suspend our disbelief and
our incredulity for the rest of the
movie as we watch a gory spectacle
of unintended hilarity. But in the
final estimation, Arnold fans will
find here a welcome reminder of
earlier days, if they can only with-
hold the urge to snort out loud.

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