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January 27, 2014 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-01-27

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, January 27, 2014 - 11A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, January 27, 2014 - hA

Write A House
helps artists,
vacancies in Detroit

Chair stares ominously from the background.v
Visuals i
'Invisible Woman

A passionate true
story from the
life of Dickens
By CARLY KEYES
DailyArts Writer
Though celebrated for his gift
of storytelling and unmatched
articulation - proven by pages
upon pages of
forever-trea- B-
sured fiction B
- Charles The Invisible
Dickens's
most pas- Woman
sionate tale Michigan
happens to Theater
be a true
one, and it Sony Pictures
unfolded far
away from
the paper his masterful pen had
so passionately tread upon.
Based on a book of the same
name by Claire Tomalin, "The
Invisible Woman" stars Ralph
Fiennes ("Skyfall") as the
worshipped writer who, long
troubled by a lackluster mar-
riage, pursues a fiery, forbid-
den relationship with a young
actress and devoted admirer of

his work, Ellen "Nelly" Ternan
(Felicity Jones, "Breathe In"),
despite the strong warning of
her caring mother, Frances
(Kristin Scott Thomas, "Before
the Winter Chill").
Fiennes, who also directed
the film, unravels the narra-
tive with heavy helpings of
flashback as real-time Nelly
- who works at a prep school
for young boys and leads the
charge as they prepare a pro-
duction of one of Dickens's
plays - reflects upon her roll-
ercoaster romance with her lit-
erary idol.
While Fiennes and Jones
offer convincing chemistry as
a covert couple, it's a painfully
predictable and played-out plot
from writer Abi Morgan ("The
Iron Lady"), and it grows dif-
ficult to root for a relationship
that is so clearly and firmly
rooted in narcissism: A celebri-
ty novelist trapped in a sexless
marriage with an overweight
spouse jumps at the slightest
attention from a bright, beauti-
ful, blonde 18-year old who can
recite every line of his prose
from memory? It's an obvious
response to a primal scenar-
io, and the only intrigue here

derives from whatever high one
might typically get from wit-
nessing budding scandal and
infidelity progress into an all
out torrid affair.
Although the film lacks
structure and disappoints with
its dialogue, it succeeds sub-
stantially with its decorative
characteristics. The vintage
(and Oscar-nominated) cos-
tume design dazzles, the art
direction delicately impresses
and the inventive, chiaroscuro-
laden cinematography captures
the essence of contradicted
lovers: a man torn between his
life in the limelight and the one
he keeps in the dark with his
secret lover, and she, a woman
who overtly reveres the author
yet never entirely divulges the
true extent of this avid devo-
tion.
Ultimately, "The Invis-
ible Woman" is a narratively
all-too-familiar - yet visu-
ally refreshing - based on real
events biopic that manifests
one of Dickens's most-coined
phrases from "A Tale of Two
Cities": "A wonderful fact to
reflect upon, that every human
creature is constituted to be
that profound secret and mys-

Over half of the homes in
Detroit once housed autowork-
ers and their families. Today, over
half the dwellings in most Detroit-
area communities are vacant
- housing
crime and
decay rather
than people..
But three
such houses
in a neigh-
borhood
just north PAIGE
of Ham- PFLEGER
tramck will
be vacant no
longer thanks to Write A House,
a non-profit that renovates aban-
doned houses and gives them to
writers, creating a writing com-
munity and providing an invalu-
able resource for up and coming
artists: a home.
"In a lot of ways, writers are
suffering just as much as Detroit
is," said Toby Barlow, a founding
board member. "Detroit has been
the poster child for industrial
decline and writers have been
having a pretty hard time of it,
too. It seemed like a great idea to
combine the two."
Write A House's mission state-
ment is to enliven the literary arts
in Detroit by renovating vacant
homes and giving them to -jour-
nalists, authors, poets and more.
Consider it a writer's residency
program, however the residency
lasts forever, creating a writer's
colony and revitalizing Detroit
areas through the arts. The proj-
ect doesn't only benefit the writ-
ers and the houses; it gives an
opportunity to neighborhood
youth to learn carpentry and
building skills through its part-
nership with non-profit Young
Detroit Builders.
Barlow has worked in advertis-
ing around the country, and land-
edinDetroittoworkonrebuilding
Ford's image about seven years
ago. Recently, he joined forces
with Sarah Cox, the editorial
director of the Detroit real estate
website, Curbed, to start Write

A House. Write A House bought
houses near to neighboring Power
House Productions, another arts-
based community project. Write
A House differs from PHP in
its specific emphasis on written
work as opposed to visual arts.
"We were aware that music
and visual arts groups in the city
are doing well," Write A House
board member Anna Clark said.
"But the literary group is a bit
stifled."
Clark, a University of Michi-
gan alum, moved to Detroit in
2007. As a freelance journalist,
she has published pieceswith The
Guardian, The Nation, NBC News
and more. She got her start as a
Michigan Daily reporter covering
the University's administration,
and like many students in Ann
Arbor, had only visited Detroit for
sporting events. A few years after
moving to the city, she founded
Literary Detroit, a reader-centric
program that brings attention to
or creates events to draw inter-
est to literacy in Detroit. She also
serves as a writer in residence at
Detroit High Schools through the
InsideOut Literary Arts Project.
When conversations about Write
A House began, Clark was on
board.
"You couldn't logistically do
this anywhere else," Clark said.
"I've only been here for six years,
and it's amazing to see how the
energy has changed over time. It's
a place where the creative com-
munity is very engaged, and writ-
ers want to be around that strong
creative force."
Many other cities, as Clark
points out, are too expensive for
writers to truly be able to concen-
trate on their work, and not only
that - most cities don't have the
attitude of Detroit, nor the inspi-
rational creative community.
"We think it's a really positive
project," Barlow said. "On the
one hand, you're helping the indi-
vidual writer, and in agreaterway
you're bringing a lot of attention
to Detroit as a place that supports
creativity and the arts."

But who are the writers that
receive one of these free and newly
renovated homes? The answer is
quite simple - any kind of writer,
from a poet to a journalist and
anywhere in between. Skill is
prized over experience and will-
ingness to engage ina community
of writers and the greater Detroit
community at large is important
for the unification goals of Write
A House.
"When we got the other two
houses we got them in the same
vicinity, to help build a commu-
nityfeeling," Clark said. "Wewant
people to have healthy relation-
ships with the people they live
around. People want neighbors,
they don't want to live next to
vacant houses. And at this point,
there is room for all."
Writers fill out applications
Working to
enliven the city's
literary arts.
and send them in the spring to be
reviewed by members of Write
A House's board - made up of
National Poet Laureate Billy Col-
lins, the ghostwriter of Jay-Z's
memoir "Decoded", dream hamp-
ton (left in lower case mimick-
ing the style of author bell hooks)
along with author and Michael
Stone Richard, a professor at the
College of Creative Studies.
This year's three chosen writ-
ers will move into their new house
with their neighbors, and get to
work at writing and contribut-
ing to their community. Write A
House aims to snatch up and ren-
ovate at least three houses every
year, repeating the process in
hopes of decreasing vacancy and
creating a better Detroit.
Pfleger is looking to remedy
Detroit. To help out, e-mail
pspfleg@umich.edu.

TV REVIEW
HBO soars again with 'Looking'

ByEMILYBODDEN
Daily Arrs Writer
HBO has another hit on its
hands. "Looking," a series revolv-
ing around a group of mostly gay
friends living in San Francisco,
premiered on
Sunday to much A
acclaim. Over
the course of Looking
the premiere's
brief 29-minute Sundays at
running time, 10:30 p.m.
the show man- HID
aged to generate
a strong con-
nection to its
characters, that puts the program
on a strong footing for the future.
"Looking"'s premiere was suc-
cessful because, while managing
to introduce characters and their
pasts, it did not linger on them.
Instead, there was an ingrained
familiarity that made viewers
feel as if they have known the
characters for years. With a
combination of lighting, camera
work and dialogue, "Looking"
produced one of the most hon-
est portrayals of friendship cur-
rently on TV.
Throughout the premiere, the
producers utilized tight fram-
ing, creating an intimacy that is
not always sought after but also
works sowell within the context
of the show. The subtle shift-
ing focus that draws viewers'
eyes naturally from character
to character complemented the
tight framing beautifully. Addi-
tionally, the lighting is soft and
warm which plays into creating
a sense of closeness.
Jonathan Groff ("Frozen")
plays Patrick, or Patty as his
friends lovingly call him, and
is the talent on the show. As

CHECK THE DAILY ARTS BLOG FOR
POP CULTURE UPDATES.

San Fran man tans.
a character, Patrick is who, if
given the choice, would be your
best friend. Cute and slightly
introverted, he often responds
to awkward scenarios in a very
natural way, giggling and look-
ing uncomfortable. Very endear-
ing, he seems to come from a
place many twenty- and thirty-
year-olds can understand. While
friends are moving in with their
significant others, he has resort-
ed to OKCupid (which leads
to one of the most realistically
wretched dates on TV) and his
ex-boyfriend is newly engaged.
It is hard to not feel for a guy
who is reminiscent of at least
one of your friends.
The dialogue can stand alone.
While not as quotable as HBO's
other hit, "Girls," the dialogue is
honest, never coming off as con-
trived. The chemistry between
the cast breathes life into the
dialogue which could easily be
boring if all the other elements
on the show were not so com-
plimentary. As English teachers
everywhere preach, the dialogue
"shows not tells." And by that,
the intricacies of each charac-
ter's personality shine through
to meld with the carefully con-

structed production choices.
"Looking" also uses social
media in a very appropriate
way. Instead of shying away
from mentioning social media,
they embrace it without worry
of seeming outdated. The refer-
ences to Instagram filters ruin-
ing everything ("Is this guy
even hot?") to the proper use of
emojis ("A winking smiley face
- what are you, a Japanese teen-
ager?") are dead on. This genera-
tion is intertwined with the rise
of the Internet and it is great to
see a TV show so unabashedly
use that fact to further plot and
character development.

www.michigandaily.com/arts/the+filter
THE BOARD FOR STUDENT PUBLICATIONS
SEEKS NEW MEMBERS
The University of Michigan Board for Student Publications is
recruiting new members for three year terms beginning in April.
The Board is responsible for three publications:
The Michigan Daily, the Michiganensian yearbook, and the Gargoyle.
Because the Board is committed to realizing diversity's benefits for itself and
for the publications it oversees, the Board is particularly interested in recruiting
members of the University community (faculty, staff and students), or the
general public who are members of underrepresented groups and who
have experience and expertise in journalism, law, finance, or fundraising.
All interested persons are encouragedto apply.
For more information and application forms,4Ile e contact
Mark.Bealafelid, Student Publications Gen 'Manager at
734-418-4115, extension 1246, or, bealdffumich.edu.
nn
fr for i'1

This isn't
'Girls.'

Some reduce "Looking" to
simply a "gay version of 'Girls,'"
but those people are missing out.
With a great first episode, "Look-
ing" reveals more potential than
most shows that have come out in
the past year.

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