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October 22, 2014 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-22

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bA - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

"I'd give you my button-up, but then I'd be cold too, so..."
Bland 'Eleanor

Film starring
McAvoy, Chastain
comes up short
Daily Arts Writer
It's tiring to see movies that
consider themselves too good
to be honest. Subtlety can be
great, even
beautiful (
if done
properly, The
but it can'tD
be forced. isappearance
Especially of Eleanor
when you're Rigby: THEM
dealing with
a movie that The Michigan
looks at the Theater
evolution of The Weinstein
young love Company
and how
its thrill
vanishes when replaced by
the deep pain of loss. Emotion
needs to pour out of such films,
it needs to be raw and out there
for the audience to experience
and to feel, not buried deep
under pages of dialogue and
astute camerawork that few
people care about.
Movies should strive for
empathy, not sympathy.
Granted, this doesn't always

work because different movies
need to be handled differently,
but it's pretty evident that
"The Disappearance of Eleanor
Rigby: THEM," directed by
newcomer Ned Benson, could
have done with a lot less beating
around the bush.
The story, a pared-down
combination of the "Him/
Her" films that studied each
character separately, follows
Eleanor Rigby (Jessica
Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty")
and Connor (James McAvoy, "X
Men: Days of Future Past"), a
young couple that goes through
a crisis in their relationship
when their son dies. Eleanor
abandons Connor and goes to
live with her parents. Connor
eventually tracks her down to
deal with their problems and
try to to move past an obstacle
that apparently dealt a fatal
blow to their relationship.
This could have been a story
about love, loss, compromise
and strength, the things that
real relationships are supposed
to be made of, but it just doesn't
take off. The actors' talent is
wasted and they're hardly given
any meaningful dialogue to
work with. Intimate scenes that
delve into the tenderness of the
characters' relationships are
beautiful when fully explored,
but they're few and far between.

The relationship between
Eleanor and Connor is a very,
very slow dance to no music -
it's boringto watch and you just
don't seethe point of it.
S's easy to see the other
side of things and point out
that one cannot suddenly be
open and deal with such an
insurmountable loss for the
sake of making an engrossing
story. Real life isn't easy and
emotion doesn't pour out of
every sentence and interaction.
Situations do get complicated
and sometimes they get so bad
that people just don't know what
to do. But "Disappearance"
mishandles even those real-
life struggles. Characters move
from one event to the next
as if the events themselves
aren't even connected, with no
apparent consequences.
This is an especially
frustrating film to watch
because you know that it has
the potential to be great. All
the tools are there - the talent
of the actors, the possibility of a
unique story - but they're just
not used to said potenital. Just
like Connor, who is frustrated
with watching his wife live
through her problems without
talking to him, viewers are
bound to be discontented with
this film because it just won't
speak to them.

Too much acid? Or not enoughb?
'The Book of Life'
an aesthetic triumph

Animated film a
charming tribute to
Hispanic culture
Daily Arts Writer
In Ann Arbor, a movie like
"The Book of Life" is always
going to be on the chopping
block. The
question on
our minds
was wheth- The Book
er it would of Life
ate Mexi- Rave 20and
can culture Quality16
for Western 20th Century Fox
But in truth,
the movie is a charming and
colorful tribute to Hispanic
In a screenplay co-written
by director Jorge R. Gutierrez
("El Tigre: The Adventures of
Manny Rivera"), a young man
named Manolo (Diego Luna,
"Casa de mi Padre") is torn

Email: dailydisplay@gmail.com

between his duty to honor
his family's legacy as a bull-
fighter and his love of the gui-
tar. His best friend, Joaquin
(Channing Tatum, "22 Jump
Street"), is a macho soldier
whose father was a fallen gen-
eral. Both boys live under the
shadows of their fathers. The
movie revolves around "Mano-
lo versus Joaquin for the hand
of Maria," a crass prostitute
(Zoe Saldana, "Avatar") who is
the most famous female char-
acter in Miguel de Cervante's
Fantastic figures from
Hispanic folklore become
involved in the game. La
Muerte (Kate del Castillo, "No
Good Deed") and Xibalba (Ron
Perlman, "Hellboy") are the
rulers of the two underworlds.
La Muerte bets that Manolo
will win Maria, and Xibalba
bets that Joaquin will. What
follows is a classic high-stakes
Mexican standoff, in which
the tides rise and fall in favor
of our hero, Manolo. He wins
our hearts over as a young boy,
when he gives bread to an old
beggar as his family is gath-
ered around his late mother's
grave on the Day of the Dead.
She prays that his heart be
"always pure and good," a
prayer that comes full circle.
Maria, when she leaves for
Spain at the start of the story,
gives him a guitar that reads
"Always play from the heart."
Manolo follows that message
without fail. The songs he
sings are touchingly poetic,
in classic mariachi style. He
sings to Maria in the moon-
light as she watches from the
balcony, impressed but always
so elegant. When he leans in
for a kiss, she turns him away.
"Did you think it was going to
be that easy?" she says play-
Though Maria respects her
father's wishes and her fam-
ily's traditional values, she
isn't afraid to stand up for
herself. She challenges her
expected role as a cook and a
cleaner. In her time in Spain,
we learn that she has learned
"Art, music, books!" Not least
surprising is that they seem
to have taught her kung-fu at
an eighteenth-century Span-
ish convent (co-writer Doug
Langdale did work on TV's
"Kung Fu Panda: Legends of
Awesomeness"). All told, if the
audience can find but one flaw
in the story, it's that charac-
ters like Maria do not have sat-

isfying arcs. As much of a role
model as she is, she doesn't
evolve over the course of the
story. She is not like Manolo,
who challenges the tradition
that "Music is not worthy of
a Sanchez bullfigher," refuses
to kill the bulls he is made to
fight and in doing so becomes
the greatest bullfighter in the
Sanchez line.
The film should be appre-
ciated not for the arcs of its
individual characters, but for
its color and the breathtak-
ing scope of its storylines and
themes. The film speaks to
bullfighting, mariachi, femi-
nism, death, camaraderie, love,
tradition, honor, family, cour-
age, sincerity, all warped so
dazzlingly together in a mem-
orable coming-of-age story ...
which may, admittedly, be a
little too dazzling for some.
We are given spectacular tours
of Land of the Remembered
and the Land of the Forgot-
ten. Ice Cube ("Are We There
Yet?") adds a comedic but very
symbolic role as the Candle-
Maker and the keeper of the
Book of Life. He does for "The
Book of Life" a touch of what
Robin Williams did for "Alad-
din" as Genie. Every life is a
candle, he explains, and when
a life is taken away, its candle
is put out. There is depth in
every symbol of the film, for
audiences of all ages.
No children's movie should
be so ambitious, and yet "The
Book of Life" seems to have
pulled it off. Producer Guill-
ermo del Toro does well, as is
his trademark style, to bring
up macabre themes like death
with a young audience. With
Halloween coming up, we lose
sight of the real significance
of the holiday, its roots in the
memory of the loved ones who
have left us.
Perhaps the film's narrative
success lies in its framing the
story of Manolo and Joaquin
within a field trip to a muse-
um. The teacher shows the
white American school kids
the Book of Life and animates
the stories with wooden figu-
rines, a new twist on anima-
tion informed by traditional
Mexican aesthetics. Every
now and then we take an
amusing break from the story,
and the kids make a comment
like "What is it with Mexicans
and death?"
And then we resume in the
most poetic of ways ... "As the
sky cried with rain..."

RELEASE DATE- Wednesday, October 22,2014
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis
ACROSS DOWN 33 Cable installer, at 53 Start
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