Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beauty Shop - This is hilarious...

Cruising the picture section of The Beauty Shop's MySpace site, I found this quite entertaining...

You can catch the Beauty Shop opening for Pete Yorn at The Canopy Club on November 30th ($17 in advance), and December 1st at The Illini Media Building with Lynn O'Brien and others for the Musicians On A Mission benefit ($5 at the door)

I happened to catch the Beauty Shop at a somewhat unexpected headlining gig in Bloomington at Paulies on Friday, November 17th. .

It was an unexpected headlining gig (to me and the band, judging by frontman John Hoeffleur's response) because all the signage posted had them going second. Instead, the alleged former headliners, Wiplot, went second. Wiplot were the worst band I've ever paid money to see. I actually contemplated waiting around for the payout from the bar owner so that I could take five bucks and give it right to the Beauty Shop. John commented at one point during their set..."I recognize these guys... I saw them on Dateline... the sex offenders episode." These were truly some strange older guys who played, with earnest I might add, some of the most uninteresting and just plain ridiculous songs I've ever heard. Now, this wasn't even entertaining in a "Return of the Killer Tomatoes" way. No ironic humor would be capable of providing a saving grace here, just the announcement of the last song.

The Beauty Shop's set had several newer numbers that I first heard at a Canopy Club gig of theirs some months ago. They sound more polished after some time on the road for some seasoning. The band said they don't currently have any plans to head into the studio, but I certainly hope these new tracks make the cut for whenever they do record again. Hoeffleur continues to be among the best songwriter's around, with songs such as "Ambulance" that are as caprivating lyrically as they are musically. Arianne and Creecher more than kept the backbeat; providing a sturdy canvas over which Hoeffleur painted vivid scenes of love lost (Ambulance), fighting mental illness (Monster), and music industry malarky (Babyshaker). The stage was Hoeffleur's playground, as well, with guitar swings and playful expressions which were energetic and engaging. All in all, a solid performance. A particularly funny happening was when an older African-American guy wandered in front of the stage during the 'Shops set and started giving an interpretive dance performance and lip syncing to the choruses. Priceless.

Paulies is a decent bar. It's sort of an amalgam of the Iron Post (no beers on tap, some darts, a decent sized room, some tables and a stage) and Nargile (sorta dark, has a downstairs bar with a DJ booth where the quasi-hip of Bloomington hang).

Bloomington's bar scene, however, is pretty lame and sometimes mildly creepy. There's the vanilla State Farmers and Country Companies lackies who are looking to get their kicks in their khakis, the ISU Greek scene (shallow fashion victims), the townie thirty-somethings who look like they just got out of a church Bible study circa 1993, and the twenty-somethings that are still consulting Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst for both music and wardrobe reccomendations. There's also a very unfriendly redneck bar just two doors down from Paulies, where I heard the doorman utter "That's right, keep walking you damn city-slickin' Cubs fan" as I walked by. The bars across the street were half-hearted attempts at recreating someone's basement rec room. Fat Jacks is their Guido's, although it's more like the old Two Main... just a stylized meat market where you're just as likely to spill your drink from being crushed at the bar as you are to actually finish drinking it. Rosie's is the only decent bar. It's similar to Bentley's in style with it's traditional English pub trappings, and it looks like they have a decent menu. It's sort of an upscale version of the Esquire. Ultimately, If you're looking for something cool and different, you'll likely find an offering more compelling and friendly in the confines of Champaign-Urbana.

Chuck Koplinski Reviews "The Fountain"

The following review was written by Chuck Koplinski for the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky, "The Fountain."

The Fountain - 1 ½ Stars

Rated PG-13 – Running Time 1:36

By Chuck Koplinski

It’s rare that a film as personal as Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain is produced and released by one of the major Hollywood studios. In a town where hedging your bets on the success of a film has become a business unto itself, there’s little room for movies that feature fractured storylines, mystic undertones and a trippy ending out of the ‘60s. Yet, it’s obvious that Warner Bros. wants to be in the Darren Aronofsky business as they’ve given him free reign with this film, a work that is undeniably ambitious but horribly flawed. While there are a few things to recommend it, most notably its fantastic visuals, the movie is undone by a sophomoric approach to its metaphysical subject and an embarrassing turn from one of the movie’s most reliable actors.

Set in three different eras, The Fountain focuses on one man’s search (or more accurately, the same man re-incarnated) for the secret to immortality. In Spain during the Renaissance, a conquistador by the name of Tomas is sent by the Queen to find the Tree of Life that’s believed to be in the Mayan territory they’re busy conquering. With the promise of her hand and the country’s political superiority if he succeeds, the good soldier dutifully accepts his charge. Meanwhile, in the present day, Dr. Tom Creo is a driven researcher searching for a way to stop the growth of the brain tumor that’s killing his wife Izzi, an author who’s coincidentally working on a book about a conquistador searching for the Tree of Life. We are also witness to a tale unfolding in the future concerning a lone man who’s been charged with keeping the sacred tree everyone’s searching for alive in a transparent floating space orb. He’s routinely visited by the vision of a woman who urges him not to give up his mission.

In each story the couple in question is played by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz and their performances are a contrast in styles that clash horribly. Jackman has developed into an actor of some diversity but he’s not immune to choosing bad scripts (Swordfish) or giving a bad performance (Van Helsing). Here he eschews restraint as if it were a fatal disease delivering an overwrought performance in each of the film’s storylines. While he can be forgiven a bit for his macho turn as the driven conquistador, his obvious, over-the-top choices in the film’s other two segments come off as amateurish and, at times, embarrassing. One would think that Aronofsky would have been wise enough to rein him in, but perhaps he was distracted by Weisz and the other visual delights in the film. (The director and actress were married during the making of the movie.) While Jackman raves, his co-star gives a confident, assured performance, knowing that there’s no need to shout to make an impact when you’re able to display a degree of conviction in your performance.

While the lack of chemistry between its two leads is a detriment to the film, its biggest stumbling block is Aronofsky’s script. The connections between the three storylines hold little mystery, though the way the director cuts them together we’re led to believe that a major revelation will be unveiled in the end. It’s obvious where this is all headed and the simplistic, clunky dialogue that the cast is forced to deliver doesn’t lend a degree of realism or gravity to the proceedings. Instead, unintended laughs are elicited instead of gasps of awe or tears of remorse, which undercuts the entire film.

To Aronofsky’s credit, the film is a visual knockout, a combination of traditional set design and clever animation overlays (the outer space effects were created by optically printing microscopic chemical reactions captured in Petri dishes). Whether it is the Spanish court, the modern apartment in which the Creo’s live or the tiny futuristic space colony, this is one of lushest films to hit the big screen in a long time. Equally impressive are the visual allusions that connect the three storylines. Observant viewers will note the small glimpse of elements that pop up throughout and will be rewarded in the end to see them all time together in the end.

I’m sure that philosophy experts will be able to make more connections with the many reincarnation motifs that populate the film and draw more conclusions regarding its mystic, meditative themes than the average viewer. Be that as it may, even they won’t be able to overlook the film’s sophomoric dialogue, Jackman’s awful performance and the movie’s ponderous pace. Without question, The Fountain is an audacious work brimming with visual delights but its flaws far outweigh its many assets resulting in a curious personal vision that should have remained just that.

Free Counter
Free Counter