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August 08, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-08-08

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August 8, 2005

ape AIiW~tan 130


LwE Gos ON

By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
Once dreaded by mainstream moviegoers as
the most boring and predictable genre of film,
a new wave of more acces-_
sible documentaries has L I
gained popularity in recent March of the
years. Much of this prog- Penguins
ress could be attributed to At the Michigan
an everyman from Flint, Theater,
whose eternal vow to "take Showcase and
it to the man" has resulted Quality 16
in groundbreaking exposis Warner independent
such as "Bowling for Colum-
bine" and the highest-grossing documentary of
all time, "Fahrenheit 9/11." Into this new world
of documentaries come two inspiring films,
"March of the Penguins" and "Murderball,"
both of which brilliantly portray the struggle to
survive under unlikely circumstances.

Narrated by the venerable Morgan Freeman,
"Penguins" is poised to become the second high-
est-grossing documentary
ever, behind only "Fahren- Murderball
heit." It tells the story of the
emperor penguin, a species At the Michigan
that must travelup to75 miles, Theater
on foot, in temperatures dip- ThinkFilm
ping to 80 degrees below zero,
and endure nearly fourzmonths without food every
year, all to reach a mating ground where its off-
spring will have only a chance to survive.
The film goes step-by-step through the mating
process of the penguins, which seems compli-
cated, laborious and indeed, unlikely to succeed.
But even against nature's steepest odds, whether
it be 100-mph winds in subzero temperatures or
predators that pick off the penguins with a primal
ease, the emperors follow their long-practiced
ritual without the slightest hesitation. The natu-
ral determination and simple stubbornness with
which these penguins trudge on, even as their fel-
lows fall around them, leads us all to ponder the

Mark Zupan, the star of "Murderball," plays against Canada in a quad-rugby match.

true strength of life.
This strength is also apparent in "Murderball,"
a story of quadriplegics looking to move on with
their lives after debilitating injuries. "Murderball"
refers to the original name of wheelchair rugby,
a sport that the quadriplegics in the film take up
to satisfy their competitive spirit. The movie takes
us into the lives of quad-rugby players from the
United States and Canada as they compete for the
gold medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics while
still struggling to get their lives back on track.
By expertly portraying a series of successes and
setbacks, the film concludes that despite the loss of

some use of their limbs, these people are just as (or,
in many cases, more) determined to succeed as the
rest of us. The film is-not interested in moralizing
- it simply shows us how most of these people are
essentially no different from everyone else.
Many viewers might think they don't want to
see a movie about quad-rugby players or migrating
penguins, but these films have the power to both
inform and entertain even the most casual viewers.
With any luck, they'll finally prove that documen-
taries aren't just for the art-house set anymore.
Both: ****


'Bullshit' takes title too literally
By Imran Syed tion. She blames advertisers, retailers, pelling arguments. While describing the quote that reads, "No matter how cynical
Daily Arts Writer politicians and even James, the 80-year- kickbacks CEOs like GE's Jack Welch you become, it is never enough to keep
old Walmart greeter for our problems. earn after they retire, she logically con- up." Penny takes this too much to heart,
BOO K REVIEW________ _ She even says in chapter two, "Ads deter- cludes that those who have the most get going off on things that most of us have no PORTANT T IS1
mine not only what we buy, but also what the most for free. After all, the man made problem with and making arguments to
In today's world of unprecedented we perceive ourselves to be, and even millions each year - he can afford to pay overhaul things she does not understand.
information saturation, it's inevitable that what we do." Really, Ms. Penny, do you for his own hotel room. Another apt jab On the issue of increased drug prescrip-
much of what passes seriously think we're all that stupid? she takes is at the Oscar gift bags, which tions for more ailments, she overlooks
as truth is, in fact, not She goes on to make a similar obser- give expensive, name-brand merchandise science advancements and simply asks,
true at all. There are Your CallIS vation later while chiding Walmart for for free to some of the only people in the "Are millions of us really fucked up?" truth
small stretches of fact, Important being so damn big, calling it "an expert of world who can actually afford it. Despite Penny's aim to dispel it, perhaps ki8t
casual omissions and to Us: The impulse merchandising. You go in for a But just when it seems like she is onto there would have been a lot less bullshit gLNI
clean fabrications, Truth About mop and you leave with a bunch of other something, Penny goes way off track. In floating around in the world if this book
all of which consti- Bullshit stuff because it's all right there." Now this the opening chapters, she stays true to her had never been written.

tute what first-time
author Laura Penny By Laura Penny
sums up as "bullshit" Crown
in her book "Your
Call is Important to Us: The Truth about
Bullshit." Anyone who picks up this book
will doubtlessly have suffered through
never ending rhetoric from the left, right
and everywhere in between, but they'll
come away feeling more light-headed
and confused than ever, left to ponder
how this 220-page rant does not fit its
own definition of bullshit.
Penny gives her readers no credit
whatsoever. Her central argument lies
in the fact that we're just simple beings
who do what we're told without ques-

is probably true, but are we really going to
blame the store if Bernie the middle-class
suburbanite drives himself to bankruptcy
because he just could not lay off buying
additional cheap products? Don't we have
any responsibility for what we do?
Granted, Penny does make some com-

bullshit theme, but later on she goes into
what feels like a political science thesis.
She points out many flaws in the system,
but never gets around to explaining exact-
ly why these are "bullshit" or how they
might be avoided.
The book opens with a Lily Tomlin

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