Gargoyle guide to the week in entertainment, March 9-15
Published: Monday, March 9, 2009 - 11:36pm
The best deal in town this week is the Champaign Park District's Battle of the Bands. Come out to the Virginia Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, and for $5 you can see 11 of the area's top teen bands, including Uni's own Shoompie. Check below for more of this week's entertainment picks, from movies and albums to DVDs and video games.
MOVIES OPENING IN C-U THIS WEEK
"Last House on the Left"
Rated R, dir. Dennis Iliadis
When Mari (Sara Paxton) and her friend Paige (Martha MacIsaac) leave Mari's family's rural vacation house for a night on the town, they run across a group of escaped prisoners. The two are kidnapped and Mari is shot several times. The prisoners then take refuge in the only nearby lodging which, unbeknownst to them, is the same house Mari was staying at. When Mari's parents find out what happened to their daughter, the family begins a series of violent attempts for vengeance in this horror thriller.
Rated R, dir. Zach Cregger & Trevor Moore
Eugene (Zach Cregger) believes in abstinence. But after facing pressure from his girlfriend (Raquel Alessi) and his sex-obsessed best friend Tucker (Trevor Moore), he's about to lose his virginity on prom night. Unfortunately, Eugene's alcohol consumption leads to an unfortunate accident that places him in a coma for four years. When he awakes, Eugene is shocked to learn that his girlfriend has become a Playboy centerfold model. Eugene and Tucker embark on a road trip to crash a party at the Playboy mansion and find Eugene’s old love, but a series of hilarious mishaps along the journey might stop them from making it on time.
"Race to Witch Mountain"
Rated PG, dir. Andy Fickman
Jack Bruno (Dwayne Johnson) is a cab driver hired by a UFO agent to take two children to "Witch Mountain," a place infamous for unusual incidents possibly relating to extraterrestrials. But when an evil organization begins to follow the cab, it becomes clear that the kids are actually alien beings pursued by an evil organization determined to use the aliens for their own purposes. Jack must work with the aliens to save both their planet and the Earth — and to stay out of the hands of dangerous people along the way.
Laura's Pick: Normally I hate generic horror movies and supersexualized comedies ("American Pie" excluded), and family films make me angry, especially because in my opinion the Disney corporation is evil. But these films all look surprisingly good. "Miss March" could possibly be funny, once you get over how stupid it is. (You can’t just rush out of the hospital after a four-year coma! You can’t even walk!) "Race to Witch Mountain" doesn’t look as cheesy, boring, or unimaginative as most of the movies in its genre. But the real winner is "Last House on the Left," just because the idea of a horror flick with killers who aren’t running around in absurd masks with over-the-top chainsaw action sounds pretty appealing.
NEW CD RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
"All I Ever Wanted"
Miss American Idol is back, but this time around she seems a little odd. Is she … happy? The young songwriter whose whole schtick was about yelling at past boyfriends and talking about how she doesn't need men in her life now flips her head as shown on the album's first single, "My Life Would Suck Without You." Still, Clarkson has an amazing vocal range and is one of the top performers in pop/rock today.
"Love vs. Money"
The Radio Killa is back with his sophomore album, "Love vs. Money." The Dream again captivates his audience with his falsetto and hypnotic beats. Using his hit-making expertise (he produced Rihanna's "Umbrella" and Beyoncé's "Single Ladies"), The Dream comes out with a very good R&B album to start off his 2009.
If there was ever a male singer who has been able to switch sounds and genres better than Chris Cornell, I'm not aware of him. The definition of a wandering musician, formerly a member of Soundgarden, Audioslave, Temple of the Dog, and Alice Mudgarden, Cornell is back with another solo album. He also got help from superstar producer Timbaland on this album. Maybe Cornell will be catapulted to the mainstream again just like Nelly Furtado was by hooking up with Timbaland.
"Not Without A Fight"
New Found Glory
NFG is back for their sixth studio album, leaving even diehard listeners to wonder … why? "Not Without A Fight" rings eerily similar to their self-titled 2000 release, but not in a particularly good way. Tracks like "Heartless at Best" and "I'll Never Love Again" pretty much sum up this band — whiny punk posers. So if you're into lovesick vomit, by all means, buy this album. If you like actual music, I'd suggest you stay away.
Will's Pick: I'm a huge "American Idol" fan. Go out and buy Kelly Clarkson's new album. I am quite serious, and this should not be taken as a joke. But overall this week has some good artists and some not so great.
NEW DVD RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
"The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas"
Rated PG-13, dir. Mark Herman
During World War II, Bruno's father is a Nazi running a concentration camp. The young boy (Asa Butterfield) thinks that the camp adjacent to his house is a farm, though he is constantly shielded from it. As Bruno’s curiosity grows, he decides to explore the "farm." In doing so, he befriends a little Jewish boy (Jack Scanlon). The friendship grows despite the fact that the boys are separated by barbed wire. "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is based on a fictional book about the innocence and prejudice of WWII children.
"Rachel Getting Married"
Rated R, dir. Jonathan Demme
Kym (Anne Hathaway) has come home for her sister Rachel's wedding. Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) is really insane — whenever she is around there is always a family crisis leading to a tragedy! This is true of Kym as well, mostly due to her snooty comments about her sister. As the joyous weekend starts off with (too many) friends and family, will these two very different sisters be able to have a peaceful weekend?
Rated R, dir. Gus Van Sant
Set in the 1970s, this Oscar-nominated film tells the story of Harvey Milk, a gay activist elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Sean Penn won this year's Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Milk, who was murdered by fellow city supervisor Dan White in November 1978.
"A Secret" ("Un secret")
Rated NR, dir. Claude Miller
François lives in Paris after World War II. François (Quentin Dubuis) is lonely and as result makes things up, people and stories. On his 15th birthday, he discovers that his family is Jewish and suffered immensely in the Holocaust. Now there are no more stories for François. The movie is based on the novel "Memory" by Philippe Grimbert.
Eleni's Pick: "The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas" is really good. I have never seen another film like it. The ending is really powerful.
NEW VIDEO GAME RELEASES IN STORES THIS WEEK
"Resident Evil 5"
Chris Redfield, a member of the Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), is called upon to help Sheva Alomar investigate an incident that occurred in the fictional African Kijuju desert. When he arrives, he and Alomar find out that something has gone terribly wrong with the local civilians. "Resident Evil 5" costs $59.99 for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
When Varrigan City is overtaken by terrorists, it is transformed into a game show of death. The prize is $100 million, which goes to the sole survivor. Armed only with a chainsaw, Jack is determined to win. "Madworld" costs $49.99 for the Wii.
"New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis"
An upgraded version of the original "Mario Power Tennis," this new edition will offer improved graphics and allow players to use the Wii controls to play tennis. "New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis" costs $29.99 for the Wii.
Gordon’s Pick: The "Resident Evil" series has always produced great horror games, and "Resident Evil 5" keeps that tradition going. Though the latest version keeps most of the game play mechanics from "Resident Evil 4," its coolest feature is the cooperative mode. Now, you won't have to play alone through the mind-boggling horrors that lie in wait for you.
EVENTS IN C-U THIS WEEK
Battle of the Bands
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11
Tickets: $5 student, $8 adult
Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park, Champaign
See 11 local teen bands face off at the seventh annual Battle of the Bands, sponsored by the Champaign Park District. The event includes a performance by Shoompie, the collaborative project of Uni seniors Teddy Zamora-Mills, Clement Dossin, Kareem Sayegh, Carter Hutchens, and junior Eddie Diazmuñoz. Each band will perform for 12 minutes. The winner gets three hours of free studio time, a paid performance at a Park District event, a performance at the Taste of Champaign-Urbana, a performance as opening act at a summer concert, and a chance to compete in the Battle of the Bands state finals at the Illinois State Fair.
Gargoyle Pick: Battle of the Bands, no doubt. Come on out and support Shoompie. Homework can wait.