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August 05, 2002 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2002-08-05

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gan Daily website.
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~Tbe DaftU
ARTS

Monday 4
August 5, 2002

'Lovely and Amazing' is a little bit of both
Keener, Mortimner
shine i'Lovely'
By Luke Smith i's
Daily Ats Edtor

Sappy sad chick flicks generally generate little
more than groans from most of their audiences, with
die-hard genre lovers fawning magical and waxing
wonderful over the cinematic poetic justice coughed
toward viewers as the credits roll. Director and
writer Nicole Holofcener (HBO's "Sex in the City
(1998)" and "Walking and Talking") tries desperate-
ly to avoid the tired cliches of the genre.
Her characters aren't burdened with flamboyance
or over-arched boredom - instead of using
extremes as films often do, Holofeener draws her
characters down the center and away from the oft
fantastical females of other chick-flicks. The women Hey It's Lee Bright and Donnie Darko!
of "Lovely and Amazing" are instead inherently
flawed, and it is on those flaws that the movie focus- ments. While her adoration of herself is her greatest
es and eventually champions. fault, the former prom queen's sister Elizabeth
The film's story centers simply enough on a Marks has a different batch of problems entirely.
mother and her three daughters. Matriarch Jane Elizabeth Marks (Emily Mortimer) is an
Marks (Brenda Blethlyn) has countered the empty actress, a seemingly typical actress with typical
nest syndrome through a collection of pillows and concerns about her looks, which should be atypi-
her adoption of the daughter of a crack cal, but are in reality, relatively typi-
addict. Raven Goodwin's role as the cal. Elizabeth's insecurities about
chubby black daughter of Jane Marks her looks are her greatest burdenbher
is comical enough in that viewers often *** somewhat distorted body image
see a pair of skinny white women with leads her to ask for fellow actor
a stout black kid, easily 15 years their LOVELY AND Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney)
junior and referring to her as their 'sis- AMAZING who she has just bedded, to critique
ter.' Although to the film's discredit her body. The ensuing scene is hor-
one can only handle so many Big At State Theater ribly comedic and equally horrific
Brother/Big Sister foundation jokes. Lion's gate to watch as Marks' flaws are spread
Eldest child Michelle Marks before viewers like the rest of her
(Catherine Keener) is a regressive body is in the scene. Juxtaposed
juvenile, entrenched in her own absorbed little world with not loving herself, Elizabeth has a very open
filled with explanations of her own natural child affection toward dogs; her obsession with-stray
birth - the only thing remotely parental she's ever dogs extends so far as to lead her to pluck any
done - and obsesses over her inept art, comprised of dog off the street that simply looks abandoned.
useless items found in most grandparents' base- The elder marks sisters experience abandon-
ment in their own
respects, only instead of
pups left on the lawn,
the women experience
some exonerated sepa-
rations from the male of
the species. Michelle
i Et

Marks' obsessions with herself drive her husband
to working long hours and eventually working on
her best friend for overtime. She is shown repeat-
edly getting into bed with her daughter, who,
mind you, she brought into this world without the
aid of chemicals. Somewhat thanklessly, the film
avoids stereotypes when it shows Michelle Marks
budding interest in her boss at the one-hour
photo, the 17 year old Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal).
The relationship certainly isn't condoned in the
film, but it is refreshing to see an older women
committing statutory rape, rather than a man as is
always the case.
The trials of Michelle aren't paralleled in the
younger Elizabeth Marks - instead of her elder's
self absorption, Elizabeth suffers from poor self-
esteem a poor self-esteem that drives her begin-
ning of the film boyfriend Paul (James LeGros)
away completely.
Holofcener's women are decidedly realistic.
From the mother's desperate reach for youth
through cosmetic surgery, affectionate rationali-
zation and adoption of a child, to the sister's own
inabilities and difficulties to establish and main-
tain relationships of their own, "Lovely and
Amazing" truly traces a dysfunctional family
functioning: It does so with fairly representing
the women and their flaws and praising them for
their humanity rather than condemning them for
their illicit behaviors and personal hang-ups.

GIBSON OPENS BIG WITH 4
"SIGNS" - M. Night Shyamalan's
fourth film cracked $60 million at
this week's box office, pulling home
an estimated $60.3 million according
to Boxofficemojo.com. Shyamalan's
previous film "Unbreakable" was
considered a box office disappoint-
ment after the wild success of the
break-out thriller "The Sixth Sense."
Next week's biggest threats to "Signs"
are "Spy Kids 2" and the Vin Diesel
rip-off of "The Spy Who Loved Me,"
in "xXx."
DVDS ATTACK! - Starwars.com
dropped the release date for the first
ever digital to DVD film, announcing
a November 12 street date for "Star
Wars: Episode II - Attack of the
Clones." The DVD is reported to con-
tain no fewer than eight deleted
scenes and will be formatted similarly
to last year's "Star Wars: Episode I -
The Phantom Menace" DVD.
Also hiting shelves in November is
the special edition "Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring," only a
few months on the heels of this week's
release of the two-disc "Lord of the
Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
set. The August 6 release will include
the theatrical edition and a 10 minute
peak at the upcoming "Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers." The second
disc in the set will also include three
documentaries, fifteen featurettes that
appeared one the official website and
a preview for the four disc special edi-
tion. The sequel to "Lord of the
Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" hits
theaters nationwide in December.
POUNDING THE PAVEMENT -
Matador Records announced this week
that it has set an Oct. 22 release date
for the reissue of Pavement's debut
record Slanted and Enchanted exactly
10 years and six months to the day that
Slanted saw its original release.
The new two disc version will be
remastered and will have bonus tracks
including the Watery Domestic EP in
its entirety.
Pavement also announced plans to
release the long awaited DVD "Slow
Century" that has been inthe works for
years. The DVD will feature 11 music
videos, directory commentary from
Lance Bangs and two full concerts that
can be watched from various camera
angles.

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