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June 05, 2006 - Image 11

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-06-05

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, June 5, 2006 - 11

"This lighting is not nearly as dramatic as my writing." Couresy ofarey Sones
Author bingsF troubled
myaterlW' to Ann Arbor

By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer
Wherever Chuck Palahniuk goes,
people faint.
The author of "Fight. Club" and
"Choke" has been touring the globe,
reading excerpts
from his newest
book, "Haunted." Chuck
Each timehe reads Palahniuk's
"Guts," one of the "Haunted"
short stories from Wednesday
this novel/compi- at 7 p.m.
lation, at least two $13.95
people drop on the $.
spot. In fact, it's Ati a A
always at the same
part of the story ... down to the word.
When he utters the phrase "corn and pea-
nuts,' the audience slumps over in their
chairs or starts sobbing hysterically -- a
few have even had seizures.
Palahniuk will come to Ann Arbor on
Wednesday. You know whatthat means.
"Haunted" is a novel written from the
perspective of 20 different writers who
answer an ad for a writers' retreat. They
plan to abandon the distractions of real
life for three months and finally make
some progress on their manuscripts. But

at the end of the bus ride, instead offind-
ing the haven of seclusion and tranquility
they expected, the writers find themselves
locked inside an abandoned theater. Their
captivity is reminiscent of a reality TV
show. In this twisted version of"The Real
World,' the participants are forced to live
in close quarters without heat or power
and a dwindling food supply.
The writers begin to produce material,
but what comes out is not the masterpiece
any of them had in mind. At first, the sto-
ries and poems (which are integrated into
the text of the novel) are autobiographi-
cal, detailing the defining moments in
each person's life. The stories are funny,
extreme and, as the book progresses, gro-
tesque. As their living situation deterio-
rates, the stories become darker and more
frightening. The captives even begin fic-
tionalizing theirimprisonment,hoping for
martyrdom and immortality in the eyes of
the media when they're rescued.
Palahniuk's stories are terrifying and
thought provoking. Some have called
"Haunted" his best, while others have
denounced it, saying it lacks cohesion
or that the author is at times gratuitously
gross. Pick up your tickets for Wednes-
day's reading at Shaman Drum, and come
to Angell Hall Auditorium A at 7pm. and
find out for yourself. And make sure to eat
a big meal beforehand.

French
action film
'District'
a smash
By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer
FIL.M R EVI EW irn
Who said the French were sis-
sies? Our macho American men (you
know, the ones who make fun of
the French in an exaggerated, lispy
accent) will pee themselves when
they see "District B13."
This art/action film, set in the super-
ghettos of 2010 Paris, is 85 minutes
of cutting tension, intense-yet-playful
subtitled banter and the baddest-ass
fight scenes since
"Crouching Tiger,
Hidden Dragon." District B13
Cyril Raffaelli At the State
and David Belle Theater
star as a cop/ex- Magnolia
con crime-fight-
ing duo. District
B13 is a neighborhood in Paris
entirely controlled by one gang. It's
become so corrupted that the author-
ities erect a wall around the perim-
eter and pull all police stations,
schools and even postal service from
the area. Belle and Raffaelli are sent
into B13 to diffuse a neutron bomb,
only to find out that the situation is
more complicated than they expect-
ed. The two go head-to-head with
the gang's boss, and have to fight
their way through an army of thugs
to reach the bomb in time.
The fight scenes are incredible
not only because of the choreogra-
phy, but because the actors are so
perfectly coordinated. Belle and
Raffaelli have very similar body
types: They're the same height and
move in like ways - they even wear
the same black tank-top through the
whole film. The choreography of
each scene showcases their talents
and agility in an extraordinary way:
When they're fighting side by side,
their movements are uncannily syn-
chronized.
But the hand-to-hand combat is
only half of it. "District B13" rein-
vents the chase scene. Belle might as
well be Spiderman for as much roof

leaping as he does in the film.
Between the jumping dives
through glass, acrobatic flips paral-
lel-bar style over pipes and one scene
in which a peripheral character stops
in the middle of an escape to stuff
her panties in a bad guy's mouth, the
chase scenes (always on foot) are big
and astonishing.
Like any action film, though, not
much can be expected from the nar-
rative. The plot is thin to begin with,
and two long prologues (which are
supposed to provide background for
the main characters but really are
just excuses for more fight scenes)
make the 40-minute-long bulk of the
narrative seem lopsided. There's also
a heavy-handed bit of judgment and
an inserted moral we could do with-

"Oh boy, did I overshoot this wall or what?"

out. And to add ick factor to injury, a
sappy, Hollywood-style kiss ending
ruins the previously romance-free
storyline and brings the otherwise
riveting story to a severe halt.
But in the end, all is forgiven.
Instead of dwelling on the plot's,
misgivings or the little continuity'
mistakes (and there were plenty),
the viewer will walk away think-
ing about how Raffaelli bashed the
giant's head in with that concrete
block or Belle's crazy jump-and-
roll battle tactics. Or just maybe,
the viewer will walk away thick in
a heated debate on French gender
stereotypes and our notion of the
prissy, unconfrontational French-
man versus the uber-masculinity in
the two heroes of "District B13."

second annual
U<
Try to find the "Fake ad" in today's paper
and throughout the month.
If you think you have found the ad, e-mail your guess
(with your name and page number of the ad) to:
displayomichigandaily.com (subject: fake ad contest)
Contest sponsored by Papa John's Pizza.
Winner will receive i Free Large Pizza
Winner will be chosen at the end of each month
and will be contacted by e-mail.

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