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September 24, 2014 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-09-24

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6A - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily = michigandaily.cor

6A - Wednesday, September 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

'The Tombstones' a
gritty noir revamp

Frank replaces
action thrills with a
solemn Neeson
By JAMIE BIRCOLL
Daily Film Editor
This is not "Taken." This isn't
"Nonstop" or "Unknown." This
is sharp, gritty film noir set in
the under-
belly of New
York City,
but it's not A Walk
your typical
New York A g
Cityscape; Tombstones
the richest
inhabitants Rave 20 and
are the drug Quality16
traffickers, Universal
the pure-at-
heart are the
homeless - no glistening sky-
scrapers 'wafching over the good
people, only grey and dark and
gloom, and a man, with his own
demons, who slips in and out of
the shadows.
That man is Liam Neeson,
and at last, in "A Walk Among
the Tombstones," he is presented
with a film for which his impos-
ingstature and actinggravitas are
put to good use. Here, he is not
the badass running around the
city killing all those who stand
in his way, dropping threatening
phone calls and occasional one-
liners in an only mildly concealed
Irish accent. Instead, his badas-
sery stems from screen presence
alone, in the way the camera sits
at his back as he walks through
the rain of a dark fall night, slight-
ly slouched to broaden his already
large 6'4 frame. God he's cool.
Neeson plays Matt Scudder, a
retired cop and recovering alco-
holic who now works as an unli-
censed private eye, unbound by
the law. Through a fellow AA
attendee;e8'senet up with heroini
trafficker-Kenny (Dan Stevens,
TV's "Downton Abbey"), who
offers Scudder $20,000 to find the
men who brutally murdered his
wife. From there, we get a slow-

I

'03 Bonnie & Clyde.

It's bid day!
burning mystery that progresses
at a sometimes uneven pace as
Scudder works a particularly
unglamorous case - unglamor-
ous in that it's sometimes kind of
boring. The job consists of a lot of
research, a lot of discussing and
a lot of sitting, contemplating,
replaying events. The adrenaline
junkie should find his fix some-
where else.
But writer-director Scott
Frank ("Minority Report") opts
to replace those action-thriller
cliches with something more
thoughtful: his leading man.
Notice how many shots there are
of Neeson with his back to the
camera just staring or walking,
and notice how effective they
are at setting the solemn tone of
this New York underworld. Mar-
vel at the camerawork as it pans
from Neeson's face, tracking his
eyes first to the right to the man
he's following, then to the left to
the man who's following him.
Frank submerges the viewer in
this wo'rldthis throwback to the
archetypal days of film noir. All
those classic noir flourishes (the
hero patiently waiting in the dark
room reveals himself to a suspect
with the illumination of a desk

Flawless 'On The Run'
more than documentary

lamp, etc.) make appearances but
with an updated yet natural feel.
Supporting turns by Ste-
vens and Brian "Astro" Bradley
("Earth to Echo"), as a spunky
homeless kid Scudder takes under
his wing, are welcome, but it's the
few scenes that put Scudder with
cemetery groundskeeper James
Loogan (6lafur Darri lafsson)
that really shine. Olafsson, best
known as The Yellow King of
"True Detective," brings just the
right amount of weird and vulner-
able to match Neeson's cool and
confident to create sometruly com-
pellingmoments;onecanonlywish
they were more plentiful.
Because "A Walk Among the
Tombstones" is just one book in a
19-book series by Lawrence Block,
one can only hope for more Matt
Scudder. The film is something
of a throwback, taking place in
1999 - the decade of "Seven"
and "Primal Fear" and "The
Silence of the Lambs." Movies like
"Tombstones" are rare these days;
they'renthe kinds that don't explode
in your face but forceyou to take
in the gravity of the moment, to
experience the darkness and
to hope that the man in the
shadows is on your side.

Su
pi
spel

Call: #734-418-4115
Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com

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perstar couple - "Crazy in Love," "Baby Boy,"
"99 Problems," "Hard Knock
uts on concert Life" and many others.
"On The Run" is also surpris-
cial for the ages ingly inventive. Instead of lazily
running through each of their
vast catalogs of crowd-pleasers
By ALEC STERN (there are certainly enough
Senior Arts Editor of them), Beyonc6 and Jay Z
reworked and remixed their
the rumors are to be greatest hits while simultane-
ed, Beyonce and Jay Z ously highlighting a number of
been liv- lesser-performed titles - the
separate jazzed-up rendition of "Ring
for a The Alarm," a Nikki Minaj-
now. In a On The assisted, elevator incident-ref-
lew York erencing version of "Flawless"
article, a Run Tour and a "Love On Top"/"I Want
claimed Beyonce You Back" mash-up are just a
uple was and JAY-Z few instances of the power-
g a way producing that elevate "On The
lit that HBO Run."
n't dis- But it isn't simply Bey and
heir huge Jay's musical proficiency or
rt tour, the last show of palpable chemistry that pro-
was secretly set to be the pels the concert doc to such
t of HBO's "On The Run soaring heights. Director Jonas
Beyonc6 and Jay Z." But Akerlund proves to be "On The
the concert documentary Run"'s indispensable third-
ered on Saturday, it wasn't wheel - its success as attrib-
rehash of the show's Sept. utable to the man behind the
is-set finale. Instead, "On camera as it is to the duo occu-
un" seemed more like the pying the stage. Supported by
's response to the gossip, the disclaimer that "this is not
nating in a glorious trib- real," "On The Run" appropri-
America's royal couple, ately tells the story of a fugi-
most definitely seem to tive couple. Beyoncd and Jay Z
n (drunk) in love. drive fast cars, brandishing big
you thought you'd seen stacks and even bigger guns
from Beyonce in the last as they flee the authorities
a surprise album, a sold- that chase them. In the wrong
orldwide tour, that show- hands, the sequences could
ngVMA performance last have easily been-overshadowed
- she raises the bar yet by the power of its subjects or
in "On The Run," while dismissed as merely interludes
usband continues to be allowing for costume changes.
f rap music's most domi- But instead, Akerlund's grit-
nd talented musicians. In ty, atmospheric visual story
he concert brings out the unfolds as a defining center-
each performer - infec- piece of "On The Run," drawing
y likable and, if possible, upon French filmmaking and
more elite when sharing the country's romance-tinged
age together. aesthetic.
concert's set list is mas- There are stateside influ-
ly crafted, and it's clear ences that are also present in
n as the opening guitar Akerlund's "On The Run," as
s of '03 Bonne & Clyde" imagery from Quentin Taran-
inate through the Stade tino's "Kill Bill" is a ubiquitous
ance for the first time. presence that informs much"
ghout the special's two- of the narrative and in turn,
half hour running time, enhances the visual splendor.
ouple's newest releases, It's not the first time Beyonc6
ed and Magna Carta Holy and the director have paid hom-
are heavily featured, but age to the bold 2004 revenge
ut neglecting the classics flick. In "Telephone," their

collaboration with Lady Gaga,
Beyonce rescues the blonde
singer from prison in the yel-
low, "Pussy Wagon"-branded
truck famously driven by Uma
Thurman's character in "Vol-
ume V"
In "On The Run," howev-
er, the nods to "Kill Bill" are
more significant. Even from
HBO's first promo for the con-
cert special, in which Beyonc6
serenades Jay Z with a rendi-
tion of Nancy Sinatra's "Bang
Bang" (a song prominently fea-
tured in the opening credits of
Tarantino's film) it was clear
that "On The Run" would draw
upon similar themes. A decade
after the release of "Kill Bill,"
Beyonce embodies an updated
iteration of The Bride - clad
in white, doomed by her love
for a dangerous man, hell-bent
on wreaking havoc against her
oppressors. The tribute gives
"On The Run" artistic merit
separate from its performances,
amounting to something much
more significant than your
average concert tour (or concert
film).
Ultimately, the onscreen
versions of Bey and Jay meet
a violent demise in a stunning.
sequence that samples both
Sinatra's "Bang Bang" and
The xx's sultry "Angels." But
the characters' deaths allow
for "On The Run" to make yet
another powerful declaration.
"This is real life," Jay pronounc-
es to the packed crowd of over
60,000 people. And suddenly,
Mr. and Mrs. Carter are per-
forming against a backdrop
of videos of a very different
nature. "Young Forever" and
"Halo" provide the soundtrack
to a striking montage of home
videos from the Carter's more
than decade-long relation-
ship, including footage of their
engagement, wedding and jour-
ney into parenthood, spotlight-
ing a vulnerable side to the
couple uncharacteristic of their
exceedingly private past. "This
is real life" is not only "On The
Run" 's powerful ending, but its
lasting impact - the dichotomy
between real and not real, gen-
uine and manufactured, facts
and rumors. And the result is
***flawless.

.0

RELEASE DATE-Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
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