February 9th, 2005
|Volume 22, Issue 18|
women performers to give audience a "bitchin" good time
Babes will be at Sangamon Auditorium Feb.18 at 8 p.m. Tickets range
from $23 to $33 for adults and $8 to $11 for children. It is recommended
for children ages five and older. For more information or to purchase
tickets, contact the Sangamon Auditorium Box Office at 217.206.6160
During a performance, each
Babe gets her turn in the spotlight. They accompany one another with guitars
"When you’re on stage with your girlfriends," says Sally, one of the Babes, "the musical exchange is really invigorating. We have our own identities, live in four different cities and have four distinct musical styles. But once we get on stage we’re the same person."
is a middle-management accountant whose wife criticizes him for not staying
out late enough with his co-workers. He is a good father and husband,
having bought a house for his family by age 40 — an accomplishment
in a country in which even the smallest homes and mortgages can sometimes
span generations. But something is missing, and “Shall We Dansu?”
(1996) is the question that may be the answer to his problems.
Riding the train home one day, Sugiyama spots a lovely, melancholy young woman staring at nothing from the window of a dance studio. By this point, a voice-over has established the social unacceptability of ballroom dancing in Japanese culture. In a society in which husbands and wives rarely say “I love you” and never display public affection, the idea of clutching someone and running about the floor in front of strangers is ridiculous.
Then again, the woman in the window was pretty and oh-so-sad. Sugiyama finally works up the courage to enter the studio and sign-up for lessons lessons, though he is disappointed to find his teacher will be a more “mature” woman.
Over time, we learn that the woman in the window is Mai Kishikawa, once an international competitor in ballroom dancing, now without a partner. It seems most of the men who come to the studio for lessons have seen her in the window, and most quit when they find out she does socialize with students.
Sugiyama is a dedicated father and husband and does not appear to want an affair. Rather, he is curious about the weight of sadness that Mai wears so prominently when teaching or standing at the window.
There is a moment in which Sugiyama reflects on his new hobby and his family situation. He talks about his love for his daughter and his — something, but not “love” — for his wife Masako. It is hard to say whether this is a typical Japanese situation or something universal to long-term romances across cultures. Either way, the Sugiyama home is typical of filmic families: stable and loveless.
He returns home from work, takes a bath and goes to bed. As he begins dancing in earnest, his wife beings to suspect he may be having an affair. In a funny parallel to Sugiyama’s reluctance to enter the dance studio, Masako hires a private investigator, who goes on to provide some of the film’s funniest moments.
“Shall We Dansu?” was remade in 2004 with Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. I have not seen the American version and so shall not compare it to its Japanese antecedent, but the U.S. film was marketed as a “romantic comedy,” and a brief discussion of genre is probably not out-of-order.
Most romantic comedies can be distilled into three basic parts: love found, love lost and love regained. Add humor, Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts and voila: romantic comedy. In the Japanese “Shall We Dansu?” the payoff is subtler. The repressed sexuality of mainstream Japanese culture makes the film’s ending (which I shall not reveal) all the more poignant.
Like Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” the 2003 Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson film about a middle-aged man lost in an unfamiliar world, this is not a romantic comedy. Rather, it is a journey of self-discovery where humor and a wisp of romance are simply bonus.
“Shall We Dansu?” will be shown this Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Brookens Auditorium. The screening is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs through the Independent & Foreign Film Series; admission is free. Running time: 118 minutes. The film is rated PG-13 for mild language. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Love is in the air.
Like sands through the hourglass, time marches forward to that inexorable day of reckoning that strikes fear into the hearts of men:
It may be a conspiracy of the Hallmark-floral-confectionary-restaurant-Industrial Complex, but it must be reckoned with nonetheless. If you are fortunate enough to have a valentine this Feb. 14, take care to get it right: love has been lost over matters more trivial.
Neither horticulturalist nor chocolatier, I shall instead guide you through gastronomic routes to seduction. Actually, I am not much of a gastronome either, but an assignment is an assignment.
Springfield, mercifully, has many excellent options for all ranges of budgets. A modicum of effort and you can even support a locally-owned business, because nothing says tacky like Fridays on Valentine’s Day (before you write in, I actually like Fridays the other 364 days of the year).
You may be thinking, “How much should I spend?” Simple answer: How much do you love her? (I know my choice of pronoun is sexist, but as the French say, c’est la vie, which means “get over it, English doesn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun.”)
The restaurant possibilities in this article can be broken down into three categories: “But soft, what light ... et cetera,” “Are we going out on the 14th or what?” and “We need to talk.”
But soft, what light ... et
Springfield has a number of high-class, trendy restaurants. Among the best are Sebastian’s Hideout and Indigo.
In the heart of downtown is Sebastian’s Hideout. This restaurant features a constantly changing menu based on the availability of fresh ingredients. The food, they will tell you, is a fusion of Asian, Californian and French styles. The contemporary décor is warm and inviting, the food is usually delicious and always — interesting, in every sense of the word. I once had a chicken dish flavored with lavender, which turned out to be quite good after I got past the feeling that I was eating a bowl of flowers. Do not show up looking like a schlub, everyone will know I sent you and how does that reflect on me?
Sebastian’s Hideout is located at 221 S. 5th St., 217-789-8988. Reservations are filling fast, so call soon.
On the southwest side of town is Indigo, the hippest restaurant you may never get in to. It is one of the hottest reservations in town this Feb. 14 and rightly so: Indigo is one classy restaurant. If you make it in, dress well and be prepared to spend a significant portion of your most recent paycheck. The food is a mix of classics and more intriguing fair, though I had a friend once tell me it tasted like the most expensive food she had ever consumed.
Indigo is located at 3013 Lindbergh Blvd., Suite C, 217-726-3487. Valentine’s Day is already booked solid between 5:30 and 8:30, but reservations before and after are still available. Indigo will also be open on Sunday from 5-10.
Are we going out on the 14th
If you do not want to take out another student loan to finance your romantic activities, consider Banana Leaf or Mario’s, two reasonably priced but fine restaurants. Also, you can wear jeans in case you have no sense of style.
Banana Leaf Thai & Asian Cuisine offers food from every corner of Southeast Asia. They have noodle dishes and rice dishes, pad Thai and General Tao chicken, curry and crab Rangoon. The translucent rice noodles are almost as interesting to look at as to eat and the decorations are a fascinating mix. From the ceiling hangs a faux-crystal chandelier, surrounded by a recessed blue, neon light. On the wall is the usual mix of Asian ephemera, but on the left is a sight to behold: a giant, backlit photo of the Great Wall.
Banana Leaf is located at 2433 S. MacArthur Blvd., 217-698-8760. Reservations accepted.
On the northeast side of town is Mario’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. The Italian food here may make you wax nostalgic for the Italian mom you never had — it is delicious and the pastas and sauces are available in a wide variety of combinations. The atmosphere is casual with an odd mixture of wall decor. Next to the obligatory poster of a thousand and one pastas is an actual golf club that once belonged to Tiger Woods.
Mario’s is located at 3073 E. Clear Lake Ave., 217-523-2211. Reservations accepted.
We need to talk
Been thinking of ending it for some time but just haven’t found the words? Perhaps you are just — how do the French put it — le poulet? No worries!
There is one sure way to let that special someone know it was over weeks ago: McDonalds.
Valentine’s Day beneath the Golden Arches is incomparable and no reservation is required. For a touch of romance, try ordering in French: the Quarter-Pounder with Cheese is a Royale with Cheese, because of the metric system; the Big Mac is still a Big Mac, but call it le Big Mac. The look of befuddlement on the faces of the burger-technicians behind the counter will more than make up for the look of love your date is sure to be shooting you.
Day is coming up, which means that I will be sitting home alone, accompanied
by a pint of cookie dough ice cream, a fifth of vodka and most importantly,
a huge stack of movies.
Not just any movies, but movies about romance. Nothing salves the lonely heart on the most romantic day of the year like a nice lovey-dovey movie. The leading man is handsome and clever and the leading lady is inherently flawed but still so loveable. We are not all lucky enough to have love in our real life, so I suggest spending your Valentine’s Day with some of these timeless romances:
Return to Me (2000)
David Duchovny and Minnie Driver star in this very sweet tale about a widower and a woman who has recently undergone a heart transplant. From the moment they set eyes on each other they cannot get one another out of their heads. They are undeniably drawn to one another. Is it fate? Destiny? Or maybe it has something to do with the fact, that unbeknownst to them, Minnie Driver’s character has David Duchonvny’s dead wife’s heart?
French Kiss (1995)
Kevin Kline is super hunky in this film as a Frenchman who accompanies Meg Ryan, an airplane phobic ex-American/Canadian, on a trip through France to find and win back her ex-fiancé. Kline is remarkably believable as a moody, wine guzzling Frenchman. This film is very funny and has gorgeous shots of the French countryside, the Riviera, and Paris.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Every woman has had the same fantasy. Quit high school, move to L.A., become a prostitute and oh yeah, the really important part, fall in love with Richard Gere. This modern tale of happily-ever-after burned the image of Julia Roberts in that red dress in all of our minds. It also had us singing the tune “Pretty Woman” ad nauseum.
Marisa Tomei’s wedding is fast approaching but she cannot get over some lingering doubts. One phone call while she is trying on her wedding dress sends her and her best gal pal, played by Bonnie Hunt, to Italy to find a man who she thinks is her soul mate. The only problem- she has never met him. She got his name off a ouijia board when she was a girl. In romantic Rome she has a chance meeting with Robert Downey Jr. and they fall instantly in mad, passionate love. One more, slight problem- he’s got the wrong name.
Ok, no kidding around, “Moonstruck” is one of the most romantic movies of all time. Whenever I watch it, I turn into a lil’ puddle of romantic comedy-loving mush. Cher stars as a widow who is engaged to a nice man she does not love. Nicholas Cage is her fiancé’s estranged brother. She attempts to repair the “bad blood” between them only to fall headfirst into a passionate affair with Nicholas Cage’s character. To be honest, I have always found Cage strangely attractive and in no film is he more so then “Moonstruck.” There is something incredibly primal and passionate about his character that leaves the viewer week in the knees.
The Notebook (2004)
I have never cried more at a movie then I did when I first watched “The Notebook,” the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It is undoubtedly the most tender and heart wrenching romance I have seen. The film is told in flashback with James Garner reading a notebook to Gena Rowland’s character. The love story unfolds with Ryan Gosling (who is the absolute embodiment of the term “leading man” in this film) and Rachel McAdams. Watch it with a box (or two) of Kleenex.
Got Mail (1998) and Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
I grouped these two films together because a.) my editor is going to freak out if I go over 1000 words on this article and b.) they are both excellent Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks collaborations. In both, Meg is perkily blond and cute. Tom Hanks is a good man who does not exactly ooze sexiness but would make a nice father for your children. That is really all you need to know about these films.
Fools Rush In (1997)
“Fools Rush In,” with Matthew Perry and Salma Hayek, has never been considered as one of the greatest romantic comedies. However, I find something incredibly compelling and charming about this tale of two people from different worlds who are brought together by circumstance and “rush in” to a relationship against common sense and the opinions of all those around them.
Notting Hill (1999)
There is nothing like Hugh Grant’s sexy British accent to keep you company this Valentine’s night. Hugh Grant plays a very ordinary guy who meets and becomes smitten with a beautiful, world-renowned actress, played by Julia Roberts. Unfortunately, Grant’s rather commonplace existence is difficult to reconcile with the famous movie star’s celebrity. Every time I watch this film, I want to pack up and move to England (if only for the hunky accents.)
When Harry Met Sally…
Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan meet three times over a ten-year period before they become friends. Can their friendship last, or is friendship between a man and a woman impossible? This is a timeless film whose appeal can not be ruined by nonstop playing on TBS. It is also fun to watch Meg Ryan’s hairstyle keep changing throughout the film.
Some other, really excellent
romances to laugh and cry at:
While You Were Sleeping (1995)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Sabrina (1995 or 1954, both are pretty good)
Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
Roman Holiday (1953)