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October 15, 2014 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-15

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014- 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, October 15, 2014 -

A not great, pretty
decent adaptation
Based on children's
book, 'Alexander'

'Love' is tough, timeless

lays schmaltz
on thick
By NATALIE GADBOIS
Senior Arts Editor
The tone of bad days changes
as you age. What once was cata-
strophic - someone told your
crush you
liked him,
you got to
school late, Alexander
Abby didn't and the
invite you Terrible,
to her birth- 'b
day party - Horrible, No
becomes the Good, Very
mundane, Bad Day
little jabs in Rave 20 and
a day usu- Quality 16
ally filled
with bigger Disney
problems
- your rent was due yesterday,
you have a performance evalua-
tion with your boss, "The Good
Wife" aired an hour late because
of football. It's easy to forget
that a bad day is a bad day, no
matter how big or small the
problems seem. The joyful but
flighty "Alexander and the Ter-
rible, Horrible, No Good, Very
Bad Day" follows two very bad
days in the life on one particu-
larly good family - with a lot of
unnecessary schmaltz, we are
shown how these terrible, hor-
rible moments can tie a family
together.
Based on the bestselling chil-
dren's book by Judith Viorst,
"Alexander" charts two days
in the life of the Coopers, an
infuriatingly cheerful subur-
ban postcard family - the first
in which 12-year-old Alexander
(played with lispy gravitas by Ed
Oxenbould) undergoes a series
of 12-year-old misfortunes, and
* the second in which everything
bad happens to everyone else. In
classic Disney-family-film fash-
ion, the abrupt change is a result

Ira Sach's latest
explores ineffable
edges of affection
By MAYANK MATHUR
DailyArts Writer
Love is beautiful, but it also gets
ugly. Itmakesthingseasierbutit's
tough and requires work. Most of
the time, it's all
of these things,
and that's
what makes Love is
it weird. Love Strange
is definitely
istdfnitel Michigan Theater
strange, and
few movies say SonyClassics
it better than
director Ira Sachs's ("Keep the
Lights On") latest film.
The movie takes a look at love
through the life of a recently
married same-sex couple, Ben
(John Lithgow, "This is 40") and
George (Alfred Molina, "The
Normal Heart") and the struggles
they go through when George
loses his job at a local Christian
school after their marriage. They
are forced to rely on the supportof
their friends and close family and
go through a journey that defines
them and the bond they share.
The wonderful thing about
this movie is that it's very real,
in the sense that it deals with
issues that actually occur in the
lives of ordinary people. Budget
constraints, family tensions and
relationship pressures are dealt
with without the unnecessary

Here's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad caption.

of Alexander's errant midnight
birthday wish (complete with a
requisite half-moon and eerie
howl) that for once someone else
understands what it's like to be
him - that his perfect family
has a bad day for once in their
lives.
Steve Carell ("Despicable Me
2") and Jennifer Garner ("Men,
Women & Children") carry
the film as Alexander's consis-
tently caring, supportive, goofy,
movie-perfect parents, juggling
four kids and work (Garner) and
being unemployed with aplomb
(Carell). The dynamics of the
Coopers are concurrently sickly
sweet and endearing - while the
script is littered with nausea-
inducing morality checkmarks,
as their bad day progresses, it's
easy to spot your own family in
this lovingly frazzled one.
Despite the strong cast, "Alex-
ander" becomes bogged down
in the slapstick qualities of a
day gone wrong. Cue the pro-
jectile vomit, the poop jokes,
the crashes and Bunsen burner
fires and pee-induced slips of a
film invested more in its actors
than the quality of its script.
The Coopers' relatability puts
the film in an unusual predica-
ment - because we actually kind
of like themr, we commiserate
with their misfortunes, cringing
when we should be laughing. It's
an unfortunate quandary - why
watch a movie about someone

else's bad day when you would
never want to experience that
day yourself?
But at its heart, "Alexander"
is just a kids movie - almost
refreshingly simple in the sea
of overly self-aware, adult-ref-
erential children's movies of
late. The silly hijinks are amus-
ing and the characters certainly
recognizable - Carell as the
goofy dad you love to be embar-
rassed by, Garner the generous
mom who always knows what
to say. Though the morals are
heavy-handed, they are deliv-
ered earnestly - in particular
by Oxenbould, who already
demonstrates both comedic and
dramatic range. He manages
to give lines like this, without
seeming disingenuous: "Gotta
have the bad days, so you can
love the good days even more."
Groan-inducing, but it's not
wrong - and not a bad lesson to
be teaching kids.
The manic positivity that
rings throughout "Alexander"
may not always be enjoyable,
but at its core it's infectious.
It's not a film that leaves you
questioning the meaning of life,
but, frankly, there already are
too many of those. It's a film to
bring a moody 12-year-old to,
and watch him giggle at Steve
Carell in a pirate costume and
forget his own bad days for a
few hours. Sometimes movies
can be as simple as that.

Manhattan.
melodrama that usually comes
along with romantic movies in
the West. The movie gets down to
the things that affect people going
through a difficult time in their
relationship and presents them
in a manner that seems relatable,
even to an audience that might
belong to a different generation.
Because of the plot's relative
simplicity, it's easier to appreciate
the acting of the entire cast.
Sometimes, acting is not so much
"doing" as it is "being," and the
lead pair takes on this mantle in a
beautiful, powerful way. Lithgow
and Molina turn in natural and
unrestrained performances,
and the way one plays off the
other is a lesson in on-screen
chemistry. The actions of every
character, lead and supporting,
have an almost palpable effect
on the others, and it's great to
see a ripple effect taking place
every time multiple characters
are involved in a scene. The film
also delivers a strong, poignant
message about love - one that's

difficult to explain but easy to
feel. It's the ineffability of the
emotion that the film oozes that
makes it special, but at times, it's
also its downfall.
Though few and far between,
some events in the film are
understated to an ambitious
degree. Not much is made clear,
and at times the viewer is left
wondering about the actual
significance of what has just been
said or happened. It's not a hard
movie to follow, it's just that some
important nuances may be lost
on viewers. Although not much
happens, it's difficult to make
sense of all the thingsthat do and
that's what makes it a strange
movie to watch.
Overall, the wonderful acting
and the simplistic, splendid
storytelling keep the film
buoyant, and the subtle tone of
humor makes it enjoyable. The
running time of 94 minutes is
perfect, as it ends up being soft
and delicate in its handling, but
powerful in its message.

Rooting for 'The* Flash'
ByMATTHEWBARNAUSKAS
For TheDaily
The same team (writers Greg
Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and
Geoff Jones) that successfully
adapted
the bow-
and-arrows-
slinging The Flash
Oliver Queen Thursdays
to _ television at 8 p.m.
in "Arrow CW
now bring C

Los Angeles Times Daily Cross
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols
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audiences the fastest man alive in
their new show "The Flash."
Barry Allen (Grant Gustin,
"Glee") is a brilliant forensic
analyst who always wants to help
people and do the right thing;
however, he doesn't always
possess the strength or speed
to succeed. That is, until Barry
is struck by lightning created
by a malfunctioning particle
accelerator that suddenly gifts
him with super speed.
Gustin's Barry is an instantly
likeable character; he's
idealistic and admirable in his
ambitions, but it's not born
out of naivete. The murder
of Barry's mother and the
wrongful imprisonment of his
father, shown in the show's
openingflashbacks, playoff the
tradition of tragic superhero
origins. Instead of hardening
Barry, it opens him to the
world, making him want to
help others and make it a better
place.
Barry's relationships with
three different father figures
form the emotional weight of
the pilot. There is the father
Barry lost, Henry Allen (John
Wesley Shipp, the 1990 version
of "The Flash"), who shares
a scene with his adult son at
the pilot's end. The next is the
father Barry has, Detective
Joe West (Jesse L. Martin,
"Law and Order"), who has
cared for Barry most of his
life. And, finally, we have
the mentor Barry may gain
in Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom
Cavanagh, "Ed"). The most
dynamic and contentious of
the three, Wells is responsible
for the malfunctioning particle
accelerator that gave Barry his
superpowers. Because of the
disaster, Wells lost everything
while Barry unintentionally
reaped the benefits of his
tragedy. Wells' cynical, realist
nature plays off Barry's
optimism, and alhough Wells
decides to help the young hero,
his true motives remain to be

seen.
Directed by David Nutter
(of the infamous Game of
Thrones episode "The Rains of
Castamere"), the pilot begins to
develop all these relationships
while maintaining a strong
sense of pacing. The
introduction of Barry's powers
starts with traces and steadily
grows in displays. There's the
world slowing down because
Barry is moving so fast, a la
"The Matrix" and Barry's super
speed resembles yellow and red
lightning. The powers escalate
with each appearance as Barry
battles the villain of the week,
a criminal who can manipulate
the weather. This culminates
in a strong final battle where
Barry has to stop the villain
inside of a tornado; usually,
special effects on TV range
from poor to awful, but this one
is an exception to the rule.
However, a few poorly
placed scenes slow the pace.
The opening flashback
depicting Barry's life before his
mother's murder is full of poor
child acting and hokey parental
inspiration, both from stilted
writing. At one point, young
Barry laments that he wishes he
were faster; his mother imparts
this sugarcoated, rose-tinted
wisdom, "It's better to have a
good heart than fast legs."
Barry initially appeared on
"Arrow," so it seems natural for
"The Flash" to cross over with
its parent series. However, the
discussion between Barry and
Oliver Queen feels shoehorned
in. It probably works for fans
of "Arrow," but from a pacing
perspective, it slows down the
episode.
Thestrengthof"TheFlash"lies
in the optimism that comes with
superheroes. With many comic
book hero adaptations taking on
a darker tone (just look at FOX's
murky "Gotham"), its refreshing
to see a take on a superhero that
focuses more on the good rather
than the melancholy of heroism.

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