January 25th, 2006



Volume 24, Issue 1

'Last Holiday' is a laugh-out-loud, funny film

By Gabrielle Wiegand - Feature Writer

A cinematic masterpiece it is not, but “Last Holiday” is one heck of a fun, positive, entertaining film. While it might not have the hype and glamour surrounding say a film about gay cowboy love, “Last Holiday” does have the distinction of being famed French actor Gerard Depardieu's last film before his self proclaimed retirement.
Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) works in the housewares department for a large department store in the South. Georgia's life is quiet and boring. She hopes that one day something exciting will happen to her, like maybe her hunky, hunky co-worker, Sean (LL Cool J), will fall madly in love with her or she'll take that dream vacation or wear that dream gown.
Sadly, instead of going out there and making something happen in her life, Georgia clings to her “book of possibilities,” a scrapbook containing pamphlets and pictures of what she wishes her life were like. 
Then one day something does happen to Georgia. A routine CAT-scan after a bump on her head shows that she has a rare disease and only three weeks to live. With her time almost up, Georgia decides to turn her possibilities into realities. She hops a jet to Europe and proceeds to have the holiday of her life. Her effervescence and new found joie de vivre touch all those around her and she winds up the most sought-after woman in the Czech Republic. 
Queen Latifah (“Chicago,” “Bringing Down the House”) artfully captured both Georgia's helplessly shy existence at the beginning of the film as well as the elegant self-assured sophisticate at the film's end. Fiercely funny, Queen Latifah had me laughing out loud, not just during the blatantly funny parts, but also because of her character's subtleties. 
She commented about this role, “Most of the characters I’ve played are vocal and outgoing and this was a chance to embody someone who is meek and unaccustomed to speaking her mind. Georgia became one of my favorite characters because she’s so decent and inspiring.” 
Georgia's love interest in this film is Sean, played by LL Cool J (“S.W.A.T.,” “Deliver Us from Eva”).  Not only was he super-hot like always, LL Cool J played the shy, regular guy/average Joe to perfection.  My one main fault with his performance is that he kept his shirt on for the entire film.
The supporting cast of “Last Holiday” was refreshingly believable, which is harder then you would think it since the other characters included a Donald Trump-like mogul, a famous eccentric chef, a U.S. Congressman and a senator.

Gerard Depardieu (“Green Card,” “Cyrano de Bergerac”) took on the role of Chef Didier, the brilliant, seasoned chef of the Grandhotel Pupp. Apparently such a role was right up Depardieu's alley (or should I say allee?). “I have a passion for food,” he says.  “When someone asks me how I am, I say, ‘Great, I just had a wonderful steak.’ This role for me is like a wonderful steak.” 
And this film is like a tasty ice cream sundae, complete with cherry on top.  Funny, enjoyable, with the right amount of suspense, “Last Holiday” is delight to the filmgoer's palate. 
“Last Holiday” runs 122 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some sexual references. 
Grade: B+


Getting some culture in 2006

By Gabrielle Wiegand - Feature Writer

A new year and a new semester are in full swing and with both, come resolutions and good intentions. One resolution that would be fun and educational to keep in 2006 is getting out more and enjoying the art and artistic events Springfield has to offer. While the latest Vince Vaughn flick and a game of flippy cup might be your preferred entertainment on a Friday night, there is a plethora of attractions that will entertain you and maybe expose you to a little culture.
At 1 p.m. this Friday afternoon, the Springfield Art Association is presenting a brown bag lecture entitled “Fine Penciling: The Visual Arts in Charlotte Bronte.” This free event focuses on the influence the visual arts had in Charlotte Bronte's literary works (think “Jane Eyre”). For more information, call (217) 523-2631.
If Charlotte Bronte is a little too much culture for you, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sangamon Auditorium will be presenting the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. This Chicago-based dance company's performance is based on the rhythms of swing, Latin jazz, blues and funk. Tickets are $27 and $23. Call (217) 206-6160 for more information.
If you are not into books or music, it’s OK because I have you covered. This Sunday, White Oaks Cinema is beginning the 15th Annual Film Festival, sponsored by the Springfield Art Association. “Duma,” a coming-of-age tale about an orphaned cheetah that befriends a young boy in South Africa, will be playing at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. An encore showing of "Duma" will be 7 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students. Any questions? The Springfield Art Association will have the answers at (217) 523-2631.
The Sangamon Auditorium will be hopping again next weekend with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. Okay, so Jimmy Dorsey, himself, won't be here since he died in the 1950s. But the Big Band music he helped make famous in the 30s and 40s will be played Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. under the direction of Bill Toole. Tickets are $27 and $22. For more information or to purchase tickets call the box office at (217) 206-6160.
Perhaps you already get all your culture from PBS--FINE! There are also some pretty good, frivolous movies out or soon to be out here in town.  “Last Holiday,” “Casanova,” “Hoodwinked” and “New World” are all out and “Annapolis,” “Big Momma's House 2,” “Capote,” “Transamerica” and “Nanny McPhee” will be out this Friday.

Panic! At the Disco bursts on the scene with 'Fever'

By Stephanie Orr - Assistant Editor

If you're looking for a unique and high octane musical experience you need to listen to "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out," the first studio release from Panic! At the Disco.

The band's style is hard to describe because it's a little bit of everything in one glorious mix. The music is made up of everything from guitars, electronic keyboards and drums to organs and accordions. The sound swings from techno to dance to rock and even includes a little bit of vaudeville.

The CD opens with a short musical introduction, and then jumps right in to the music with "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage." Yes, that's the title of one song on the album. And it isn't even the longest title.

That's one of the things I like best about this band, the fact that they have these outlandishly long and weird titles that end up not being obviously connected to the lyrics in their songs. Some of the other titles include "Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off," "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" and "There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of it Yet."

PATD doesn't just produce super fun song titles though; they also deliver super catchy music.

The band doesn't seem to really believe in intros to their songs, instead they plunge right in to the music and the first thing you're likely to hear is the first note and the first word all at once. Every song is upbeat and begs you to bounce your head, tap a foot or engage in some other form of movement.

The music, though composed of extremely dissimilar instruments, flows smoothly and is much more developed than you would expect on a band's first CD.

The lyrics, written by band member Ryan Ross, are refreshingly unique and strangely wise. In "I Constantly Thank God for Esteban" vocalist Brendon Urie melodically tells the audience "Gentlemen, if you're going to preach, for God's sakes preach with conviction!"

"There's a Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven't Thought of it Yet" is another of the knock-out songs on this CD. The sound is reminiscent of the 1930s with piano and a bouncy beat. The lyrics tell the story of a woman's failed night out on the town and advises that she should visit the ladies' room and, "Talk to the mirror, choke back tears and keep telling yourself, 'I'm a diva!'"

Another good one is "Build God, Then We'll Talk." This track borrows from The Sound of Music's "My Favorite Things," altering the melody to be a lot more rock and explaining that "There are no raindrops on roses or girls in white dresses, it's sleeping with roaches and taking best guesses." The song is mostly about the hypocrisy that can be found in relationships and also states "What a wonderful caricature of intimacy."

Basically this is an amazingly well-done CD. Even though this is PATD's first release it has the quality of an established band that has all the time and money needed to perfect their sound in countless studio hours.

And the sound is perfect. It's nothing like the tween based emo/screamo formulaic "rock" that has been flooding the market recently. It's unique, it's fresh. It's everything music should be.

Grade: A+




'Last Holiday' is a laugh-out-loud, fun film

Getting some culture in 2006

'The Sea Inside' rocks the boat






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