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June 13, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-13

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June 13, 2005




By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Editor
The most extravagant scene of the tongue-in-
cheek "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" has its title spouses,
played with no reserve by
Brad Pitt and Angelina
Jolie, violently duking it Mr. & Mrs.
out and destroying just Smith
about every inch of their At the Showcase
McMansion. They attempt and Quality 16
to poison, stab, shoot and 20th Century Fox
just plain beat the hell out
of each other, all with a
joyous allure. The scene, a turning point in the
gleefully over-plotted film that unapologetically
consumes a fifth of its running time, is about
one high-tech gadget and self-conscious punch
line short of total camp.
And if you think about it, "Mr. & Mrs.
Smith," in all of its deliriously over-the-top
glory, works on much the same level: Its mix
of self-referential irony and wall-to-wall CGI
action is almost completely zany, but still, it's
all great fun. Even with its technical prowess

and the considerable skill of director Doug
Liman ("The Bourne Supremacy"), though,
the film wouldn't even be able to approximate
its feel-good, escapist charm without Pitt and
Jolie in the leads. Forget the gossip rags, the
loss of Hollywood's prize A-list couple and the
fact that they showed up to the premiere sepa-
rately: just sit back and enjoy the show. Pitt
and Jolie have an exuberant sexuality between
them that not only steals the show but keeps
the movie afloat through all of its bouts into
nonsensical bombast. They aren't just the stars
of the movie - for all intents and purposes,
they are the movie.
The good news, then, is that the film is
fully aware of its headliners' importance
and, for the most part, just lets them do their
thing. Students of the comedic marriage-
on-the-rocks movie will have little trouble
recognizing the setup: A bored, humdrum
suburban couple, nose deep in five - wait,
six - years of marriage, sleepwalks their
way through dinnertime interaction and
couples' therapy, where their therapist's
inquiry into the number of times they have
sex in a week results in a bemused "I don't
understand the question."

Should have never let Jen get her hands on the gasoline.

Ah, yes, but when they discover that they are
actually rival high-priced assassins who just got
hired to kill each other, their furious standoffs
result in, basically, some great sex and the total
reinvigoration of their hapless union. Consider:
Before they figure each other out, their most
involved discussion on a typical evening is over
the aesthetic of new curtains. Afterward, they
amorally exchange their "numbers," which, no,
is not their sexual histories. They swap the num-
ber of people they've killed on the job (Jolie's 312
runs at about five times that of Pitt's "low 60s,"
but then it would, wouldn't it?).
"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is above all a crowd-
pleaser that's clever and energetic enough
to help audiences overlook its flaws. Like
the realization that the action sequences are

expensive and busy but mostly empty-head-
ed. Like the fact that the aforementioned
domestic scene is lifted from the edgier "War
of the Roses," along with a faux-stripper
farce (with a supremely leathered-up Jolie
standing in for Jamie Lee Curtis's cocktail
dress-clad housewife) and a cheeky dance
scene that distinctly recall "True Lies." But
call it derivative; call it mental masturbation
for tabloid mongers - the fact remains that
"Mr. & Mrs. Smith" triumphs because of the
fervent sexual chemistry between its stars.
The movie will doubtlessly inspire other,
lesser vehicles featuring sensationalized
celebrity couples, but think of it: A movie
where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes try to
off each other? Now that would sell.

White Stripes rock out with 'Satan'

By Lloyd Cargo
Daily Arts Writer
After the 2004 release of her Jack
White-produced and critically lauded
album, Van Lear
Rose, Loretta Lynn
posed the question: The White
"For (Jack) to be Stripes
so great now, what Get Behind
will he be later on? Me Satan
How can an artist 2
whose professed
influences are so
antiquated keep progressing musically?
How long can The White Stripes care-
fully crafted retro fagade ride the wave
of modern cool?"
The answers lie in White's abil-
ity to vary the Stripes' sound from
album to album in a way that keeps
things fresh without alienating their
installed fanbase. Get Behind Me
M Satan might be a step back from
2003's Elephant commercially, but
it's a more consistent effort over-
all. White certainly fulfills the high
expectations that come along with
being a platinum artist who rock

snobs actually respect.
Gone are the face-melting guitars
of Elephant. Gone are the anthemic
choruses guaranteed to blow up the
charts. In their place are parlor pia-
nos, acoustic guitars and the some-
what esoteric marimba. The result
is an album more in line with De
Stijl, except instead of black blues-
man fetishism, White lovingly cribs
hillbilly folk.
That's not to say that White
straight-up rips off anyone's sound;
he's wise enough to incorporate the
raw sentiment of his influences into
a sound consistent with the Stripes'
approach. You don't need to know
who Mississippi John Hurt or The
Carter Family are to appreciate Get
Behind Me Satan, but if you do, the
album doesn't come off as disre-
spectful in the same way bands like
Jet offend anyone who's ever listened
to the Stooges.
White eschews commercialism
not only with his choice of instru-
mentation but also with the overall
tone of his lyrics. There's no "Apple
Blossom" or "Little Acorns" here to
lighten the mood. Even the album's
closer, traditionally a light-hearted

respite on Stripes records, takes on a
more somber tone with "I'm Lonely
(But I'm Not That Lonely Yet)."
Get Behind Me Satan is a step for-
ward for the Stripes, and it certainly
ranks up there with their best work, but
it's not the defining, epochal statement
befitting a man so talented. The pro-
duction was rushed, and it shows. "Blue
Orchid" is the weakest lead single the
Stripes have ever released.
That defining statement needs to
come soon for White. Most great
bands have never had a four-album
run the way the Stripes have since
De Stijl, and while he doesn't appear
to be dropping off or walking on a

plateau, it might be time for White,
arguably our generation's greatest
songwriter, to make a drastic step.
If his recently announced collabora-
tion with Brendan Benson and The
Greenhornes is as good as it can be,
Jack White's legacy will go down in
history alongside his influences. If
not, how many more times can Jack
and Meg mine musical history?
Volunteers ages 18 years or older are needed in
a research study of the effects of anuptaphobia.
Study will involve administration of test medication
and weekly evaluative interviews over a period of
two months. Participants will be compensated up
to $200 upon completion of the study. For further
information, please contact fernsler.study@coriat-

IRB# 045913459-P34


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