Dollar Baby” dominates Academy Awards
Foxx, Swank take top acting honors
Mallory Medved - Copy Editor
Dollar Baby” nearly swept the 77th annual Academy Awards, taking
home four awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress
and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, seemingly pulling the rug out from
under “The Aviator,” which took home Best Actress in a Supporting
Jamie Foxx, who’s come a long way since his “In Living Color”
days, won Best Actor honors for his portrayal of blues legend Ray Charles
in the movie “Ray.” This is the first win for Foxx, who was
also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Collateral”
as well as only the second time an African American has won in this category.
Best Actress honors went to Hilary Swank, for her portrayal of boxer Maggie
Fitzgerald in “Million Dollar Baby.” This is her second Oscar,
after “Boys Don’t Cry.”
Another first time winner was Morgan Freeman, who won Best Supporting
Actor for “Million Dollar Baby.” While this copy editor makes
no claims of objectivity where nominee Clive Owen is concerned, Freeman
has been such a mainstay of American cinema that his win was totally deserved
and a long time coming.
Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of screen
legend Katharine Hepburn in “The Aviator,” which was the only
major award won by the heavily hyped Howard Hughes biopic.
Best Director honors went to Clint Eastwood for “Million Dollar
Baby.” This is his second award, winning in 1993 for “Unforgiven.”
His win this year also means another defeat for perennial Oscar bridesmaid
Martin Scorsese, who directed “The Aviator.”
Sunday’s ceremony was hosted by Chris Rock, who seemed to breathe
some life into the three-hour event. Thankfully, he abstained from the
“this show will never end” shtick adopted by previous masters
of ceremony, which I swear makes the show last half as long as it usually
Other time-cutting measures were adopted this year as well. The pecking
order of Oscar nominees was never so obvious when awards for makeup, documentary,
and animated and live action shorts were actually presented in the aisle,
presumably to save time as the nominees made their way to the stage from
Nominees a little higher on the Oscar chain of command, such as the ones
for technical awards like editing, visual effects and sound mixing, were
invited to stand on the stage with each other as they were announced.
I imagine it was a little awkward for the losers to stand there while
the winner reads their speech, but through the magic of editing, we were
spared seeing them in their shame after the Oscar was handed out. In my
mind, I liked to imagine there was a large hook being extended to sweep
them off the stage. Or maybe a trapdoor.
Thankfully, these new measures didn’t cut into the winners’
acceptance speeches. I always love hearing the speeches for the non-acting,
non-writing awards, since those winners usually seem to be genuinely excited
to win and aren’t under the pressure to give especially poignant
The musical numbers all seemed alike, which I’m sure had nothing
to do with the fact that Beyonce sang three –yes, three –
of the nominated songs. Beyonce? Seriously? No one else wanted to do it?
Never in my life have I been so pleased to see Santana and Antonio Banderas
appear to sing “Al Otro Lado del Rio” from “The Motorcycle
Diaries,” which ultimately went on to win.
This year’s ceremony, while efficient, was unusually bland. Rock
kept his trademark edgy humor to a minimum, there were no come-from-behind
winners, and no hysterical and/or offensive acceptance speeches that have
made past years so interesting. Everyone just seemed so professional,
they were determined to say their pieces and then get the hell off of
the stage before the orchestra started up. There wasn’t even a good
fashion disaster to poke fun at; with a few exceptions (Hilary, I believe
your dress was on backwards), this is probably one of the best dressed
Oscars I’ve ever watched.
Other awards included: “Born into Brothels” for Best Documentary,
“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” for Best Original
Screenplay, “Sideways” for Best Adapted Screenplay, “Finding
Neverland” for Best Original Score and “The Aviator”
of the Doghouse
Lars von Trier's new tricks
Brian Mackey - Feature Writer
Step into my confessional:
Before seeing “Dogville,” I made up my mind to hate it.
A few years ago, I was looking forward to writer-director Lars von Trier’s
“Dancer in the Dark” (2000), a musical starring the Icelandic
pop-singer Björk. But “Dancer” was a punishing, soul-crushing
film that ends by belting the audience across the face. My life is 140
minutes shorter, and for what?
Hence, I was not looking forward to “Dogville,” but then something
is a small town in the Rocky Mountains, literally at the end of the road.
The townsfolk look tired and dirty, like they just stepped out of a Farm
Security Administration photo, and it is clear that the still-raging Great
Depression has taken its toll. One character yells at his son for giving
their dog a bone that still had a bit of meat on it.
One day, self-appointed town leader Tom Edison (Paul Bettany) is walking
the street of Dogville when he hears gunshots in the distance. After a
little while, he sees Grace (Nicole Kidman) trying to steal the dog’s
bone. When a black Cadillac pulls into town, Tom hides Grace in the abandoned
silver mine while he convinces the gangsters that the woman they are looking
for must have gone another way.
Tom has been looking for a way to task his fellow citizens, to see how
well they can accept a gift, and Grace needs to gain their trust in return
for shelter and acceptance. She decides to offer to help the people of
Dogville, and though everyone says they do not need anything done, she
is soon working a full day.
Before long, the police come through, first saying Grace is missing and
then that she is wanted for a recent bank robbery on the West Coast. Grace
evades the law each time, and though the people of Dogville know she could
not have robbed the bank —she had been in town the whole time —
they decide she should work a bit harder if she wants to continue to enjoy
Grace, true to her name, does not complain as the townsfolk demand and
extract more and more from her. Even though she and Tom declared their
love for each other, she has kept their relationship chaste. When her
treatment grows worse, Tom must eventually choose between Grace and Dogville.
At this point, at two-and-a-half of the film’s nearly three hours,
it was shaping up to be another “Dancer in the Dark.” Had
I not been watching the film on my own television, I might have gotten
violent with the appliance.
Von Trier’s female leads are often women who silently, stoically
accept their miserable conditions for the sake of principle or some simple-minded
idea. But unlike Björk’s character in “Dancer,”
Grace is not stupid and she does have a limit to what she can withstand.
Ultimately, “Dogville” is about human nature. Grace says to
another character, “Dogs only obey their own nature, so why shouldn’t
we forgive them?”
“Dogs can be taught many useful things,” he responds, “but
not if we forgive them every time they obey their own nature.”
In von Trier’s highly stylized world, there is no middle ground,
and Grace must decide whether to forgive or punish.
“Dogville” takes place on a highly theatrical set, with no
walls or roofs and just a few props. The houses, street, and shrubbery
are marked in chalk on a bare, black studio floor, and beyond the narrow
confines of Dogville is vast nothingness — white nothing during
the day and black nothing at night. Even the dog is a chalk outline.
The effect of this pared-down set is jolting at first, but its utility
quickly becomes apparent. In almost every shot, one’s eyes never
wander to paintings on the wall or the mountains in the distance because
those distractions are not present. Attention is always on the actors,
even when none are in the foreground.
The characters must respect the imaginary walls — they cannot see
or pass through them. The audience, however, can often see what is going
on in several houses at once. Sometimes, as when some of the men begin
doing something terrible to Grace, it is telling to see how oblivious
the rest of the town is and what Tom does about it — or rather does
not do about it.
Lars von Trier has famously never been to America, yet he claims that
America’s status as a superpower makes us fair game for filmic exploration.
How close or far from the mark he hits is a judgment I shall leave to
His distance was a source of some criticism around the time of “Dancer
in the Dark,” a film that some (understandably, I think) perceived
as anti-American. But that criticism only emboldened von Trier, who decided
to create an American trilogy, of which “Dogville” is part
Filming on part two, “Manderlay,” has reportedly been completed.
While “Dogville” is better than von Trier’s previous
American film, let’s not provoke him any further. I wouldn’t
want to lose another 140 minutes.
“Dogville” 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: 177 minutes. The film is rated R for violence and sexual
smashes watermelons, slams society at Sangamon Auditorium
Comic brings Sledge-o-Matic to UIS
Mallory Medved - Copy Editor
“You don’t know
the difference between stupid and stylish!” crowed stand-up comedian
Gallagher. Big words for a man who made his grand entrance astride a man-sized
Big Wheel in a neon green clown wig.
brought his particular brand of comedy to Sangamon Auditorium on Saturday
night, with a show that lasted three seemingly interminable hours.
Gallagher warmed up the crowd by tossing various foodstuffs at members
of the audience. They loved it, and that’s when I realized I’m
wasting my life getting a college education when I can make a ton of money
by throwing stuff at people.
As testament to the man’s long and successful career, Gallagher
has incredible aim. He nailed a woman right in the chest with a birthday
cake. Launched from a tennis racket. From 100 feet out. Seeing as I can
hardly hit a stationary target with a balled-up Kleenex from two feet
away, color me impressed.
After that, Gallagher launched into his nearly hour-long monologue, covering
such subjects as body piercing, homosexuality, stupid kids, his incompetent
stagehands, the French and homosexuality of his incompetent stagehands.
In an audience comprised mostly of twentysomethings and families with
children, Gallagher treaded the delicate line between edgy comedy and
Finally, finally, Gallagher got to the real reason we were there: Smashing
stuff! Well, not quite. An hour and a half into the show, he pulled several
audience members onstage to participate in a long, drawn out, and slightly
boring joke about bears pooping in the woods. Classy.
In the last hour or so, the show seemed to drag terribly. Gallagher taunted
the audience by preparing plates of messy food to smash later. He then
invited everyone who was celebrating a birthday onstage to gather ‘round
and have a cake smashed in their faces. And then, he let them all take
a whack at smashing a plate of the food he had prepared earlier. Unfortunately,
the majority of the group were preteens who could barely raise the Sledge-o-Matic
over their heads.
It was only in the last 15 minutes of the show in which Gallagher got
to the real reason why he was here – to smash stuff! It was like
a culinary Fourth of July as he exploded plates of every sort of food
imaginable, covering the walls and audience alike with cottage cheese,
corn, cactus, strawberry syrup, mayo and mustard, each explosion larger
and more colorful than the first.
While I enjoyed the show, I thought it was entirely too long. About an
hour could have easily been cut out of the show with nothing lost. It
was fine to pull some people out of the audience to assist on some stunts,
but those parts seemed to drag on forever. Around the two-and-a-half hour
mark, I was itching to start smashing things with a mallet myself.
One last point of interest: If you’re going to (loudly) take calls
on your cell phone during the show, as did the gentleman several rows
behind me, don’t mouth off when a fellow patron three times your
age tells you to stuff it, and please, for your own sake, don’t
yell for an usher like a wimp when he punches you afterwards. Thank you.
is a gypsy child who never, never follows the rules
'Carmen' a dissapointment at Sangamon
From the opening scene to the
final act, Georges Bizet’s opera, “Carmen,” was disappointing.
Performed at Sangamon Auditorium Friday, Feb. 25, “Carmen”
was beautiful to listen to, but unremarkable to watch.
The story begins in 19th century Seville with Don José, a portly,
unromantic looking, middle aged soldier, hanging around with some soldier
are eventually joined by the cigarette factory workers, brazen young women
with a definite look of “street walker” about them. The most
brazen and streetwalkeresque of the women is Carmen, a dark haired gypsy
whose every movement oozes sexuality.
Carmen takes the stage and sings “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle,”
love is a wild bird that no one can tame. She makes it clear that she
is out for a challenge and she does not want a man who comes to her to
willingly. The one man who seems indifferent to her charms is Don José,
so of course, that is the man she wants.
Later in the first act, Carmen and another factory worker quarrel which
results in the other woman being injured. Don José is ordered to
apprehend Carmen and question her about the incident, which he begins
to do but is sidetracked by her charms. She convinces him to help her
escape and Don José is arrested and thrown into prison for assisting
Two months later Don José is released. He goes to find Carmen who
is busy dancing for military officers. Naturally, he is riddled with jealousy.
Carmen placates him and then tries to convince José to desert his
unit and go live a life of freedom in the mountains with her. He is torn
between his duty and his irrational obsession with a gypsy.
An officer for whom Carmen has been dancing interrupts just as José
was about to return to his unit. Consumed with jealousy, José fights
him. Although they are broken up before bodily damage occurs, José
has no choice but to forsake his life as a solider and live with smugglers
Life as a smuggler seems to be all that and more, until Michaela, Don
José’s old love, pays a visit. She reminds José of
his past and the man he used to be, but more then that, she tells him
some news about his mother. He decides to turn his back on Carmen and
his life as a criminal. After José leaves, Carmen quickly rebounds
into the arms of Escamillo, a flamboyant bullfighter.
Don José and Carmen are destined to meet one last time, only, this
time they both do not survive.
The set was provincial, at best. It looked very reminiscent of the sets
we made for our theater productions in high school. The costumes were
unrealistic and the actress who played Carmen had either the world’s
worst hair or a really ugly wig on.
All in all, I had expected better from an international touring company.
There was virtually no choreography and little blocking of any kind. The
actors looked like they were just standing around on stage until their
next cue to begin singing. The music and the voices of the performers
were full and beautiful, however.
In this day and age, it is not enough to just stand there and sing prettily.
I mean, heck, I missed “Reba” and male exotic dancers at Karma
for the performance of “Carmen.” I want it to be as pleasing
and exciting to the eyes as it is to the ears.
sisters in classical music trio to perform at Sangamon
Trio featured in 'New York Times,' 'Time' and 'Vogue'
You know what we need to see
more of in Springfield? Hot Korean sisters who play classical music. Keeping
that in mind, the Ahn Trio will be coming to the Sangamon Auditorium on
This classical music ensemble is comprised of three sisters who are graduates
of The Julliard School of Music in New York. Cellist Maria and pianist
Lucia are twins. Angella is their younger sister who plays the violin.
Ahn Trio made their first appearance as an ensemble in 1979 on Korean
television. Two years later when the sisters were nine and seven respectively,
they moved to the U.S. to enroll in Julliard.
Since then they have been featured in a 1987 “Time” article
about “Asian American Whiz Kids,” as well as in “Vogue,”
“GQ,” “Town and Country,” and “The New York
Times” among other publications.
In 1997 the Ahn Trio appeared on MTV in a Bryan Adams’ “Unplugged”
program. This performance led to the sisters developing their own Ahn-Unplugged
concerts, a means of sharing classical music in an alternative format.
Maria, Lucia, and Angella make classical music exciting and entertaining
for younger audiences. In addition to playing Tchaikovsky and other dead
white guys, the Ahn Trio plays pieces composed for them by living composers
like Michael Nyman, Maurice Jarre, as well as an adaptation of “Riders
of the Storm” by the Doors.
The Ahn Trio will be at Sangamon Auditorium Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m.
Tickets range from $20 to $30. For more information or to purchase tickets,
contact the Sangamon Auditorium Box Office at 217.206.6160 or www.sangamonauditorium.org.
up like 70’s stars is sure to bring the crowds to Sangamon Auditorium
As someone who was born in
1983, I have often wondered what the 70’s were like. After seeing
“ABBA: The Show” at Sangamon Auditorium, I am not longer curious.
“ABBA: The Show” attempted to recreate the music and magic
that was ABBA of the 1970’s. It was not the real ABBA, but performers
acting the parts of Agentha, Bjorn, Ana-Frid, and Benny.
ABBA was officially formed in 1970 by two engaged couples. They called
themselves ABBA, an acronym of their first names, and went on to international
stardom with songs like “Waterloo,” “Fernando,”
and of course, “Dancing Queen.”
The performance Sunday, Feb. 27, was worthwhile if only to watch and sing
along to “Dancing Queen.” The auditorium was packed for the
show. The audience was populated by people who remember the 1970’s
(well, they were definitely alive during that decade, I am not sure how
much everyone recalls) and they all seemed to really enjoy the show.
real ABBA is known for their keyboard-based arrangements and the respective
soprano and mezzo-soprano voices of Agentha and Frid. Their harmonies
seemed effortless. In “ABBA: The Show” the harmonies were
not nearly as smooth and clear. The performers were attempting to recreate
everything about the Swedish group including their accents. Unfortunately,
they failed miserably on that point.
The costumes were fabulous though. The first half of the show, they were
clad in pajama-like, white, shiny jumpsuits. The second half, the female
members of the band wore bright purple dresses with white and purple ponchos.
The men wore shiny turquoise bellbottoms. Everyone wore big shiny boots
that were very hot.
ABBA was accompanied by four background dancers from the New Jersey Ballet
Company. I thought their movements were far to “ballet-y”
and not appropriate for the type of music ABBA is so well known for. Overall
they were distracting and I am glad they only accompanied the group on
a handful of songs.
The choreography of Agentha and Ana-Frid was much more suitable. There
were no Brittany Spears’ moves. Everything was something you might
have seen at an ABBA concert 30 years ago.
During “ABBA: The Show” the group sang 20 songs, including
“Take a Chance on Me,” “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,”
“Mamma Mia,” and “Fernando.” While they were singing
“Fernando” I forgot for a minute they were not the real ABBA.
The real ABBA released eight albums. Their last was in 1981, and by that
time, both couples had divorced. However the group will live on forever
in recreations such as “ABBA: The Show” and the Broadway musical
comprised of their songs, “Mamma Mia.”