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June 30, 2008 - Image 9

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2008-06-30

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. Monday, June 30, 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Read the day away

Out of this galaxy

DailyArts Writer

Kudos, as well, for the outright
anger that the filmmakers dis-
play toward modern society in
the movie's second half. WALL-E

A literary creature in his natural habitat, the Diag.

By Ben VanWagoner I Associate Arts Editor
Long before there were summer blockbusters or huge concerts in Chicago, there was summer reading. The rich
and titled sat - no, reclined - on their estates, scanning John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and trying to look like they
weren't checking out the hired help. Not much has changed - summer after summer, a desperate push is made to
read all the stuff you didn't have time to read during classes, all the while fighting distractions like barbecues and
pesky movie sequels. Here are a few to check out, providing you can tear your eyes away from "the help."
An astonishingly thoughtful and even terrifying novel, "Grendel" aims directly at society's
heart and is unforgivingly harsh. The book is based on the Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf, and
the story is familiar to most of the English-speaking world: A terrible monster terrorizes an
ancienf village in Sweden before being taken down, mano-a-mano, by the hero, Beowulf.
Except, in Gardner's version, the monster thinks, too. His thoughts are at once fascinating
and horrifying, the very thoughts that play around the edges of our fears. It's the perfect
length for a novel that's largely based on philosophy - at192 pages, long enoughto be effec-
tive, but not so long that it drags. Feel smart again: Read "Grendel."
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: From the dubious title, it's hard to
tell what a powerfully emotional book this is. "The Time Traveler's Wife" is a light read in
that it moves quickly, but heavy in its themes and its sense of philosophy. Henry DeTamble
is stricken with a genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily snap between different
times of his life, and his lover, Clare, struggles to live in a world plagued by uncertainty.
From her first meetingwith Henry as a six-year-old girl (Henry is in his 30s and has known
her for years), Clare loves a man who is always disappearing. The novel is touching without
being too sappy, tragic while somehow uplifting and never irritating for its strange, sci-fi
premise. And, honestly, it's a lot less trouble than Charlotte Bronte.
River Town by Peter Hessler: Pit
As everygood B-School student knows, "China and India are taking over the world, and
we better get ready!" if you haven't heard that enough, you will have soon. "River Town"
is a book that explains modern-day China far better than any economic or history text, r V E
as well as an extremely interesting travel narrative. A nonfiction memoir of Mr. Hessler's f' t
two years teaching in a relatively small city in China, the clear, insightful, writing bril-
liantly explains just why China is so important and its people so intriguing. Hessler, as a
Peace Corps volunteer, gets a point of view few of us are lucky enough to experience, and
by sharing it, gives readers the next-best solution to actually being there.

The trailers shown before and EVE find themselves aboard
"WALL-E" were a cold reminder the vessel that is aimlessly trans-
of just how hard it is to make a porting the human race across the
decent family film these days. The galaxy. Everyone in the future is
many G-rated a boneless 600-pound blob. They
travesties soon ride hoverchairs everywhere and
playing in the- *** have forgotten how to walk. Their
aters everywhere eyes are constantly glued to TV
will include a WALL-E screens, and all of their nourish-
pointless sequel At Qualityl6 ment comes in Slurpee bottles.
to "Madagascar" and Showcase While this vision ofthe future isn't
and something isney/Pita: exactly original (Mike Judge's
called "Beverly "Idiocracy" immediately and
Hills Chihua- unexpectedly comes to mind), it
hua." It truly was a blessed sigh displays remarkable boldness for
of relief when the familiar Pixar a Disney cartoon. Still, one wishes
lamp once again hopped its way thattheword "sustainable"wasn't
across the screen, even though it so obviously used to drive home
was introducing a most unfamil- the environmental message.
iar movie. It's the little throwaway
"WALL-E" is unlike any family moments that give "WALL-E"
film in recent years. The geniuses unexpected gravitas, like when a
at Pixar have crafted a dark satire, shipbursts through a solid layer of
a rousing sci-fi comedy and a love dead satellites as it leaves Earth's
story - all resting on the boxy atmosphere. The film aims higher
shoulders of an adorable little and digs deeper than any previ-
robot. ous Pixar production. Yet even
The minimalist plot develops forgetting about the technical
block-by-block, - aspects, there are
much like the some sequences
tiny trash cubes The little robot that are simply vir-
that WALL-E tuoso filmmaking.
dutifully stacks. that could. (No surprise that
Several hun- director Andrew
dred years in Stanton also co-
the future, the directed the excel-
human race has created so much lent "Finding Nemo.") The
pollution and waste that Earth brilliant opening scene, for
has become uninhabitable. Man- example, hauntingly underscores
kind's solution is to build a fleet of images of Earth's desolation with
robots to clean up the mess, then perky music from "Hello, Dolly"
escape the planet in a large space- and produces a feeling of wonder
ship and hope everything works that never fades for the length of
out. WALL-E is the last surviv- the film.
ing member of his clean-up crew. Good luck trying to repli-
Doomed to an impossible task, he cate that with Chihua-
woefully toils away until he gets huas.
a surprise visit from a sleek,
cute yet dangerous robot
named EVE.
Does a machine pos-
sess the ability to love?
Certainly there can be no
other word for the attraction that
literally sparks between WALL-
E and EVE. Their chemistry is
perfectly established in the first
half of the movie, which is almost
entirely without dialogue. It is a
truly masterful visual script that
makes words absolutely unneces-

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