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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Movie Reviews

    Owen, Washington dazzle in ‘Inside Man’

    Clive Owen may have lost out in his quest to be the next James Bond, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up on his quest to be a bona fide action hero.

    At the very beginning of director Spike Lee’s new film, “”Inside Man,”” Dalton Russell (Owen) lays out what’s about to happen: He’s about to pull off the perfect bank robbery. He and three other comrades dress up like painters and casually walk into the bank. By the time the security guards realize something is happening, the robbers have already pulled out their guns and taken the bank hostage.

    Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington) is sent in to negotiate with Russell to release the innocent hostages who were in the bank at the time the burglars came in. The problem is, Frazier and the rest of the NYPD don’t know how many robbers or hostages there are, or where the hostages are being kept.

    It becomes even more confusing because the robbers dress everyone else in similar painter suits. That way, when the police finally get fed up and bust in, they won’t be able to pick out the robbers from the innocent civilians. Even though he knows that the robbers are among the crowd, detective Frazier cannot figure out who’s who because they all have alibis. Even stranger, there seems to be nothing missing from the bank. Is it really the perfect crime after all?

    Surprisingly, this action movie is a little devoid of action, which may turn off audiences looking for explosions and gun fights. The confrontation between the police and the robbers comes really early in the movie, so the rest of the movie is just a standoff between the two sides.

    Instead, it becomes a waiting game to see who will be more patient in getting what they want.

    You would think with completely covering up Owen’s face, it would be hard to keep the audience’s attention peaked during the slow points without much action. While another recent movie, “”V for Vendetta,”” stars another masked character, at least the character of V is able to be witty from behind his mask. Owen is just muffled, so Washington is forced to step up, and that’s not a bad thing. In his interactions with everyone, he smiles and charms his way through every conversation.

    Lowdown

    “”Inside Man””
    R, 128min.
    Universal Pictures
    6/10

    Spike Lee is almost undercover here as well. Lee, known for bringing grittiness to movies about the black community, takes a second fiddle to the plot of the bank robbery. It’s easy to forget that he’s even behind the wheel of the film.

    However, the social commentary he chooses to include is notable.

    When Owen’s character sits down to eat with the son of the one of the hostages, he examines the video game that the kid has been enthralled with during the whole situation. It’s one of the bloodiest games ever, where players get points for making a drug deal or shooting up another thug. The kid actually tells him he would get big points in the game for pulling off the bank robbery. It’s quite the social commentary when even the bank robber is shocked and taken aback by the violence of children’s video games.

    While it’s not worth going to the movie just to see the bits of Lee that shine through, they’re still there, loud and proud. By stepping back and using another writer, it branches out what you can expect of Lee as a director. “”Inside Man”” is another run-of-the-mill action movie that will blend in with the many already on the shelves.

    Tessa Strasser

    ‘Wonder’ful DVD for twisted show

    “”Wonder Showzen”” is one of the best shows to come along in years, and now you can watch the first season without feeling guilty about tuning into MTV.

    The show uses (read: exploits) children, puppets and cartoons to deliciously riff on topics ranging from slavery to the barbecuing of God, creating a variety show that’s like a cross between “”Sesame Street”” and “”Chappelle’s Show.””

    Posing as a show for young children, the show comes with a disclaimer before every episode that you would have to be crazy to allow a child to watch it. This is usually apparent by the very first shocking segment.

    The star of the show is Clarence, a blue puppet-on-the-street interviewer who can’t seem to stop annoying passers-by and getting into fights with blurry-faced New Yorkers. Clarence acts like he’s doing the interviews to help “”teach the children”” in order to catch interviewees off guard. His segments, such as “”What riles you up, Harlem?”” air in every episode and are consistently funny.

    The weakest part of the show is often the storyline involving puppets that runs through each episode. Although they anchor the show and keep it moving, most of the absurdity that makes the short skits great grows tired after a few minutes. But with stories about a war between letters and numbers, the alcoholism of the letter “”N”” and a sea voyage that results in finding a bottle full of liquid “”imagination,”” the show never gets that boring.

    Another show standard stars young journalists in “”Beat Kids”” – with its title written on a set of fists that comes up before the segment. The finest of these is when young Trevor goes to the racetrack and does an impression of the man he’s interviewing. “”Gamble, gamble, gamble, die,”” he says before collapsing into his death pose.

    There’s really too much on the show to cover in one review, as skits fly by quickly without waiting for the viewers to catch their breath. The cartoons are mostly great, including the regular “”D.O.G.O.B.G.Y.N.,”” which is exactly what it sounds like.

    Lowdown

    “”Wonder Showzen””
    Season One
    Paramount

    The short and sweet creative bits that come between longer segments have provided some of the funniest moments. My all-time favorite has to be when kids dance to an upbeat song called “”Slaves”” as the background constantly changes to show some of the contributions of slaves to the world. Sample lyrics: “”Slaves built America! Slaves, this is your song! Thank you slaves!””

    This is a perfect example of how the show often elevates itself above crude jokes to achieve interesting social and political commentary.

    In fact, the creators of the show are former “”South Park”” writers. The pilot was an Internet gem for a couple years when it was called “”Kids Show.””

    Most thought it was destined to fall into the “”Heat Vision and Jack”” pilot pile, so funny and unique that it scares TV execs.

    Surprisingly, MTV not only aired a season of the show; it invited the madness back for a second go-round. Season two of “”Wonder Showzen”” starts tomorrow on MTV2. As with most MTV2 shows, reruns will occur constantly, so there’s no reason to stay home on Friday night.

    Unless, of course, you really want your eyes to start bleeding.

    Nate Buchik

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