Thursday, March 14, 2019

MXT vs IMAX: Which Big Screen Format Is Better?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2019 at 3:14 PM

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In Malco’s newest theater, the Powerhouse Cinema Grill, the region’s dominant theater chain debuted a new theater design they call MXT. In December 2016, theater one in the Malco Paradiso was converted to IMAX. The giant screen and booming sound system is generally considered to be the gold standard of theatrical film viewing experience. At the Powerhouse press tour on March 7th, Malco representatives were touting MXT as superior to IMAX.

Is that true? Well, it's complicated. Creating a viewing experience is really more a matter of finding the best solution to a set of variables than it is simply buying the perfect equipment and plugging it in. Some of my best film memories are from squinting at a CRT in a dorm room, and I’ve had painful viewing experiences put on by supposed professionals. It’s all relative. As I tell young filmmakers when they ask about cameras, the best one is the one you know how to use.

Your average living room HD flatscreen presents an image that measures 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically. If you sprung for a 4K TV last Christmas, you’re looking at a 4096 X 2160 pixel picture. The current highest possible resolution outside of a lab is 70 mm IMAX film. That venerable format, familiar from museum settings and Disney World, is said to be the equivalent of 8K digital video. But that number is a rough estimate at best, as comparing digital video to analog is apples to oranges. Most digital cinema screens installed in the last 10 years use 2K (2048 X 1080) projectors, which provide more than three times as much “visual information” over a much larger area than your home HD set. Digital IMAX screens, like the one at the Paradiso, generally use a pair of proprietary 2K projectors working together, which greatly increases the light and provides a stereo visual channel for 3D, but doesn’t significantly increase the resolution.

But projector resolution is only one variable. If you’ve got a 4K TV, but the movie you’re watching was shot on a 2K camera, those extra pixels aren’t going to do you much good. Even on a big home screen with a clean signal, the difference between a 1080HD and a 4K screen is not going to be terribly apparent to casual viewers. Only when you blow the image up to theater size will you begin to see a significant difference.

You might have done a little mental math earlier and come to the conclusion that conventional 35mm film stock would have a higher pixel resolution than the 2K digital projectors that replaced them. But once again, that’s comparing apples to oranges. The intricacies of information theory notwithstanding, digital projection as a whole has been an improvement, says Malco Theaters Regional Director of Digital Operations Scott Barden. Film projectors are fragile, complicated machines, and celluloid film runs the risk of damage every time it’s run through one. Yes, a pristine print on a finely tuned and perfectly maintained film projector with a brand new bulb will probably look better than 2K digital projection, but that has always a rare set of circumstances in the real world. Barden says digital projection has allowed Malco, who, unlike many theater chains, take their presentation seriously, to present a more consistent product to audiences.

Where IMAX has an advantage over conventional theater projection is in the control of the variables. The screens are huge, and the theaters are custom built to take advantage of the unique, curved geometry of the IMAX. Until last week, theater one in the Paradiso was the undisputed champion of the city’s screening rooms.

The new MXT theater in the Powerhouse Cinema Grill is built like a conventional theater. Malco VP Karen Melton said its screen is virtually identical to pre-IMAX Paradiso theater one. But the projector is a brand-new, state of the art 4K laser phosphor model. The new projector presents a number of advantages for the theater. For decades, the heart of the projector has been a xenon light bulb of enormous power. They work great, but they have a number of disadvantages. First, a lot of the electricity fed into the bulb is wasted, as it is converted to heat instead of light. All that access heat has to be removed from the projector through a vent that goes through the roof of the theater. Lasers are much more efficient at producing light, and so produce a lot less heat, which can be dissipated without sawing a hole in the ceiling. Second, the expensive bulbs wear out, losing lumens over time until they eventually have to be replaced. Running one full blast will result in rapid degradation. “We typically run xenon lamps at a certain level so we get a very even drop off of the light level,” says Barden. “You don’t really notice over time. There’s not going to be a big drop off a the end, the way we run the bulbs.”
Fresh out of the box! The newly-installed 4K laser-phosphor projector at the heart of the Powerhouse's MXT theater.
  • Fresh out of the box! The newly-installed 4K laser-phosphor projector at the heart of the Powerhouse's MXT theater.
The laser-phosphor projector uses high wattage blue lasers fired through a constantly changing matrix of color filters to produce an image. More light makes it to the screen, and there’s no bulb to burn out, which greatly reduces maintenance costs.

Last Thursday, the stars aligned such that I was able to make a direct comparison between the two systems. I watched the Live Aid sequence from Bohemian Rhapsody on the Powerhouse MXT screen, then caught the Captain Marvel premiere at the Paradiso IMAX.

Which one was better? Visually, I would call it a toss up. The clarity and color of the image from the MXT 4K laser projector is mind blowing. But that IMAX theater architecture really does have a big effect. For Captain Marvel, I bought my ticket only 10 days in advance, so I was stuck in seat A-13—front row center, and it was fine. It’s true there are no bad seats in that theater.

The big difference was the sound, where MXT has the advantage. In keeping with their goals of creating an immersive experience, IMAX is configured to maximize the subwoofer boom effect. Rattling the chest makes those big explosions feel more visceral. Malco opted to pair a Dolby Atmos system with the 4K laser projector in the MXT theater. “The audio is something we wanted to do specifically for large format,” says Barden. “It’s got full Dolby Atmos, a 38-channel surround sound system, which is spectacular for the auditorium.”

For creating an immersive experience, I’d much rather have Atmos than 3D. With the exceptions of Avatar, The Walk, and Alita: Battle Angel, 3D has never risen from gimmick to art form for me. But you should never underestimate the power of great sound design. The entire horror genre is practically built on it.
Inside the MXT theater.
  • Inside the MXT theater.
For me, the bottom line comes down to the source material. If some or all of the film you’re going to see was shot in the IMAX format, such as Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, then you should see it in the IMAX theater. For any other film, including big Hollywood productions such as the digitally shot Marvel and Star Wars franchises, I would choose the superior sound at the Powerhouse MXT. But unless you’re a nerd like me, either theater is going to deliver a good experience — as long as the movie is good. Which is something else entirely.

[This piece was edited to clean up errant pixel counts.]

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Monday, March 11, 2019

Music Video Monday: AWFM ft. Hannya Chaos and PreauXX

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 11:53 AM

Music Video Monday seeks clarity.
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Rap supernaut A Weirdo From Memphis is back with the second clip from his latest Unapologetic EP, "You Goin' To Jail Now". This time it's an old-school club banger, and he brought along MCs PreauXX and Hannya Chaos, and the whole Unapologetic crew for good measure. The video was directed by 35Miles and cut by FILOSOFI. "'FYM' is a song made by Memphis people to jump around to. It’s designed to be played loud as fuck while you crash into people or do fun stuff," says AWFM.

 Be warned, "FYM" by AWFM is NSFW. So put on those headphones before tearing up your club-icle.


If you'd like to see your music video featured on Music Video Monday, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com. 

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Friday, March 8, 2019

Captain Marvel

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2019 at 1:48 PM

Brie Larson (center) is perfectly adequate as Captain Marvel.
  • Brie Larson (center) is perfectly adequate as Captain Marvel.
Maybe the best part about making a Captain Marvel movie is that you don’t have to care about continuity or canon, because, where that particular character is concerned, there basically isn’t any.

I knew the basic outlines of the saga of Captain Marvel, but in boning up for the Big Movie Event (TM), I dove into the story, and it’s more convoluted than I remembered. Captain Marvel was a Superman knock off, created the year after Action Comics #1 was published, who became the most popular comic book character of the 1940s. After Detective Comics (DC) sued the tights off Fawcett Comics, they took control of the character and changed the name to Shazam, which had been Captain Marvel’s catchphrase. Meanwhile, Marvel comics figured they need Captain Marvel for obvious reasons, and made a legally questionable deal with the smoking ruins of Fawcett to introduce their own Captain Marvel. Marvel’s Marvel never really caught on, but the terms of their contract said they had to publish at least every two years or lose the copyright, so they kept rebooting the character for decades. Captain Marvel has been an alien super soldier, a New Orleans cop, a clone, the sister of a clone, and some other stuff. She’s been a woman on and off since about 1982, but DC already beat them to that punch with their only good movie, Wonder Woman. So as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is concerned, they could go nuts with Captain Marvel—if they wanted to.
Say what again to Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
  • Say what again to Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Maybe it would have been better if they had gone nuts. But the MCU has reached such a state of complexity, story wise, that many of Captain Marvel’s beats have been preordained for years. Ironically, in the light of the post-Oscar kerfuffle about Netflix productions not really being movies, but rather TV productions that should instead be eligible for Emmys, the theatrical business’ current cash cow is basically a TV series in its last season. (Further evidence of the film/TV narrative convergence: The final season of Game of Thrones will be six episodes, each as long as a feature film.) This prompts the question I’ve seen on social media: “Will I enjoy Captain Marvel if I’ve only seen less than half of the Marvel movies?” The answer is, sure, if you like going to the movies, you’ll probably dig it. The craftsmanship is impeccable, the actors likable, lasers are blasted, stuff blows up real good, and there’s a cute kitty. Besides, after Avengers: Infinity Wars, we all know how it ends, right? The ship sinks, and Captain Marvel is the deus ex machina.
Surf's up for Ben Mendolsohn as Talos the Skrull.
  • Surf's up for Ben Mendolsohn as Talos the Skrull.
Playing the infinitely powered god in the well-oiled Marvel machine is Brie Larson, one of her generation's finest screen actresses, stacking that paper. The current comic Captain Marvel (who is actually younger than the MCU) is a test pilot turned irradiated super-being Carol Danvers, so Larson plays her as basically a gender flipped Chuck Yeager. She’s got a few wooden moments here and there, but really shines in the middle passage, when the film becomes a buddy cop movie between an amnesiac uberwoman and a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as young, binocular Nick Fury.

This is, of course, a “hero finding her powers” origin story, but it’s not quite by the numbers. What writer/director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck get right here is Danvers’ shifting identity, and uncertainty of who, exactly, the good guys and bad guys are. This gives Ben Mendelsohn, who previously worked with Boden and Fleck on Mississippi Grind, a lot to chew on as the shapeshifting Talos the Skrull. Annette Bening was no doubt happy to add “Supreme Intelligence” to her IMDB listing. She, Jude Law as Kree commando Yon-Rogg, and Clark Gregg as beloved Colsen, Agent of Shield, are all welcome presences. Lashana Lynch is good as Danvers’ human partner Maria Rambeau—a character who herself was Captain Marvel in the mid-’80s.
Sometimes Brie Larson glows.
  • Sometimes Brie Larson glows.
I’ve said before that all you need to do to get a good review out of me is to get the fundamentals right, and Captain Marvel certainly does that. It’s a state-of-the-art entertainment product, just like Alita: Battle Angel, the other $150 million film currently in theaters about a woman with amnesia who turns out to be a morally compromised alien super soldier with a heart of gold. Only this one has more familiar branded characters from Disney. Enjoy, consumers!

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Monday, March 4, 2019

Music Video Monday: Snazzy-Line ft. Ryan Peel, Webbstar & Rico

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 11:13 AM


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Feeling snazzy this Music Video Monday? You're not alone.

Memphian Ryan Peel sends us this music video from Japanese artist Snazzy-Line (aka Hidetaka Fujiki).

"Hidetaka initially flew to Nashville to make his record, but after some organizational issues, was sent to me by a mutual friend. Then, sight unseen, Fujiki rode a bus to Memphis and we began creating his album! Fast forward a few months and one more round-trip flight from Japan, Hidetaka returned to finish up the rest of his record and I hosted an event (30for$30) to showcase his music and shoot this accompanying music video. This was an incredible experience for both of us and I was able to employ multiple Memphis artists to complete the vision: Rico Fields (Negro Terror), Derek Brassel (Black Cream), Stephanie Doll McCoy (Adajyo), and WEBBSTAR."

Shot and edited by Josh Collins and Bronson Worthy, here is "Life Of The Party":


If you'd like to see your music video featured on Music Video Monday, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com. 

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Apollo 11

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2019 at 11:11 AM

Who has two thumbs and just landed on the dang moon?
  • Who has two thumbs and just landed on the dang moon?

Anyone who thinks the moon landings were fake should see Apollo 11.

The moon race was a unique kind of Cold War competition. The technologies of war and mass destruction were redirected towards peaceful exploration. The contest was not who could kill more, but who could go farther. And for once, that exploration was victimless.

There were no indigenous populations in space — at least, none that we know of — to displace. The Apollo program was an intersection of state propaganda, engineering, and science. That means that it was documented every step of the way by the most advanced photographic equipment available. Unlike other major historical events, many of the artifacts produced were cataloged with an archivist’s care in real time. There’s more real, verifiable, physical evidence that we went to the moon that there is of your birth.

Every so often, NASA gets the footage out of the nitrogen-filled vaults where it is intended to last until the fall of technological civilization and gives some filmmakers, armed with the latest video and audio technology, a crack at it. The last time this happened was in 1989, with For All Mankind, a film cut together from Apollo archival footage and contemporary interviews with the astronauts. It’s an amazing documentary that won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was nominated for an Academy Award. But that film has been overshadowed by its score, an instant ambient classic by the creator of the genre, Brian Eno.

Apollo 11 premiered at Sundance 30 years after For All Mankind. Instead of offering an impressionistic interpretation of the entire three-year lunar exploration program, the new film focuses on the first moon landing. All the footage is from the two weeks around July 20th, 1969, when the attention of the world was focused on Cape Kennedy and the sky above.

Director/Editor Todd Douglas Miller had access to all of NASA’s archives of 16mm, 35mm film, and hours upon hours of audio recording. Incredibly, the team even uncovered some previously unseen 70mm footage taken by a NASA documentary crew wandering through the crowds gathered on the beach to watch the launch. Ordinary people gathered to watch history in the making turns out to be some of the most compelling footage from a film where people land on the moon.

All of these sources were digitized in the highest possible resolution, color corrected, and transferred to IMAX size. It’s a good reminder of the resolution possible from even 16mm film. The images you’ve seen, like the long slow pan up the Saturn V, are stunningly rendered here. But there are lots of footage that have never been seen before, like the closed circuit video footage of the astronauts climbing into the elevator. The haunted look on Neil Armstrong’s face as he suits up makes a good argument for Ryan Gosling’s emo spaceman performance in First Man. The spacecraft, blown up to IMAX size, look like steampunk contraptions from a different age. The walls of the lunar module are clearly as thin as aluminum foil, and flex madly in space when a thruster washes across them. You can clearly see the reflection of Buzz Aldrin in the window as he films Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon.

Miller’s editing is uncannily good. He takes inspiration from the other great cultural documentary about 1969, Woodstock, and uses splitscreen liberally and effectively. While not nearly the equal of Eno’s Atmospheres, Matt Morton's score, created using vintage synthesizers, throbs and booms majestically. The film is a masterpiece of visual storytelling that is destined to have a very long life in educational and science center IMAXes all over the world.

It is a melancholy experience to watch the triumphs of Apollo 11 in 2019. This is what We The People could accomplish if we put our minds to it. And yet we have a Russian-installed gangster in the White House helping as the super rich loot the country. We have a scientific challenge that needs addressing with the same urgency as the space race, and much larger stakes. But we have a climate change denier in charge who wants only to profit from the destruction of technological civilization.

Back to the moon landing conspiracy theorists. There’s no way what we see in Apollo 11 was faked. The scale of it is just too big, and the results too haphazard. It’s obvious most of Apollo 11 was shot by people with very little cinematographic training. Kubrick’s vision of space travel was clean, hygienic, and effortless. Apollo 11 is dirty and precarious.

I think it’s significant that the moon landing conspiracy theory first surfaced in its modern form on Fox television in 1999. If a simple hour of deceptively edited TV could erase from the minds of millions the greatest propaganda triumph of the twentieth century, then the sky was the limit.

Now we have people being manipulated into believing Hillary Clinton’s satanic pedophile ring is based in a DC pizza joint. The trick is not to erase the images you don’t want, or even create fake images. It’s to convince your marks to reinterpret all images in the way the propagandist wants you to interpret them. Meaning itself is systematically destroyed. Apollo 11 simply strives to reconstruct the events from the existing evidence. And for that simplicity, it might be one of the greatest documentaries ever made.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Nicholas Roeg and Nubia Yasin On The Cinema Screen This Week in Memphis

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 3:12 PM

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Legendary director and cinematographer Nicholas Roeg passed away last year at age 90.

He was the second unit cinematographer on Lawrence of Arabia, and was then promoted to full director of photography for David Lean's epic follow-up, Dr. Zhivago. But he and Lean clashed on set, and he was quickly fired.

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Roeg went straight to the director's chair himself, and stayed there. His first film as helmer was Performance, a stylish look at swinging '60s London that starred Mick Jagger. He went on to direct David Bowie in his signature role, The Man Who Fell To Earth.

Last Wednesday, Indie Memphis started a mini-tribute to Roeg with Walkabout, a gorgeously shot 1971 film set in Australia that maintains a strong cult following.

This Wednesday at Studio on the Square, they will screen Roeg's influential 1973 horror film Don't Look Now. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star as a married couple looking for psychic answers in Italy after their daughter accidentally drowns. It includes a controversial sex scene and some serious scary face from Sutherland. Get those tickets here.



Across town at the Malco Ridgeway, the Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival concludes with the French film A Bag of Marbles (Un sac de billes). Based on the memoir of Joseph Joffo, Christian Duguay's 2017 movie is a story of friendship between two young boys during the Nazi occupation of Europe.




Thursday at THE CMPLX, the big winner at the 2018 Indie Memphis Youth Festival, "Sensitive" by director Nubia Yasin and screenwriter Sage Scott, returns to the screen. The short film about a young Memphis man trying to live up to an elusive and toxic masculine ideal will be followed by a panel discussion with queer black men on their struggles for recognition and acceptance. The night will conclude with a feature film, 2011's Gun Hill Road

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Music Video Monday: K. Reese

Posted By on Mon, Feb 25, 2019 at 11:13 AM

Roll into your week with Music Video Monday.
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This moodily lit video for "Moves" by hip hop artist K. Reese is some eye candy. Director Daniel R. Ferrell and cinematographer Jason Thibodeaux crush the blacks and light with creamy neon to give K. Reese's ode to cruising at night a perfect video setting.


If you'd like to see your music video on Music Video Monday, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Russian Doll

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2019 at 10:41 AM

Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll
  • Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll
Groundhog Day has become a touchstone of American comedy. It’s the go-to example of a film that can be both funny and philosophically profound. It’s telling that, while the film is so ingrained our culture that “Groundhog Day” has entered military slang for repetitive duty, no one has really tried to emulate it. Sure, time loops show up again and again in sci fi, but the comedians have left it alone. The tone is just too delicate, and the talents of Bill Murray and Harold Ramis too intimidating.

Russian Doll dares to riff on Groundhog Day, and your TV screen is all the better for it. Natasha Lyonne, who started out as a kid on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and has lately been an anchor of Orange Is The New Black, worked on the idea for ten years, enlisting Amy Poehler and writer Leslye Headland to bring it to fruition. Lyonne’s performance as Nadia Vulvokov, a self-destructive software engineer whom we meet in the bathroom at her 36th birthday party. The details of that party, thrown by her friend Maxine (Greta Lee) in her sprawling Manhattan loft, will become ingrained in her mind as she lives it over and over.

Lyonne’s performance is a revelation. Maybe that’s a weird thing to say about someone who has had such a varied career, but Nadia is an instant classic take on a caustic New Yorker. It’s extremely difficult to get that “magnificent bastard” chemistry just right, as the failure mode is “unsympathetic jerk”, which is why it’s remarkable that Lyonne’s Nadia is in the same league as Bill Murray’s Phil Conners. Murray’s speciality was the charming rake, and in Groundhog Day, he took it to the next level by gradually breaking down his character’s defenses until basic brokenness was all that remained. Nadia follows a similar trajectory, only she does it with all of the cultural expectations of niceness attached to being a woman—in other words, like Ginger Rogers, she does it backwards, and in heels.

I’m not going to say much about the plot, because deciphering the situation along with Nadia is half of Russian Doll’s deliciousness. But it’s already inspired dozens of different takes and interpretations, ranging from a metaphor for drug addiction and mental illness to an allegory of the gentrification of Downtown Manhattan. What’s important is, the writing is complex enough to support multiple interpretations, and it’s engaging enough to make you want to come up with your own.

In an era of streaming bloat, where stories can take unnecessary hours to unfold, Russian Doll’s episodes are 30 minutes each, and edited tight as a drum. The red herrings and thematic curlicues all seem relevant and necessary. And just when you think the writers have painted themselves into a corner, they they open another trapdoor and escape. Peeling back Russian Doll’s layers is the first great TV experience of 2019.

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Music Video Monday: Impala

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2019 at 11:39 AM

Music Video Monday is kicking in the door to your week!
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Are you ready for a hard-boiled music video from Memphis surf gods Impala? Buckle in while Memphis Flyer cover model Rosalyn R. Ross solves the case of the missing painting in this boffo promo for "Double Indemnity" by expat Memphis filmmaker Edward Valibus.


If you'd like to see your music video on Music Video Monday, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com

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Friday, February 15, 2019

High School Magic and a Pam Grier Double Feature this Weekend at the Cinema

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2019 at 4:26 PM

Pam Grier as Jackie Brown
  • Pam Grier as Jackie Brown
Saturday is packed with cinematic treats this week.

First, at 10 a.m., a rare screening of a Memphis classic at Malco Studio on the Square. When What I Love About Concrete won the 2013 Best Hometowner Feature at Indie Memphis, it had been in production for several years. Filmmakers Brett Hannover, Alanna Stewart, and Katherine Dohan began the project while they were still in high school at White Station. As I said in my Indie Memphis' Greatest Hits article about the film, everyone thinks they should make a movie about the high school experience, but these folks actually did it, and their movie is much cooler than yours would have been. Somewhere between Sixteen Candles and A Wrinkle In Time, What I Love About Concrete is a must-see. And if you, or someone you know, is in grades 7-12, you can see it for free, and have a pizza lunch with the filmmakers, courtesy of the Indie Memphis young filmmakers program! Click here to sign up.

Then at sunset, the Time Warp Drive-In kicks off its sixth season with a tribute to actress Pam Grier. Quick, what's the best Quentin Tarantino movie? Time's up! It's Jackie Brown,  the Elmore Leonard adaptation QT wrote for Grier in the mid-90s. And there's no better place to see it than the Malco Summer Drive-In.


Then, Grier's breakthrough performance, the 1973 blackspoitation flick Coffy, in which she is an incredible bad ass.


Get out and see some flicks this weekend! 

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Music Video Monday Valentine's Day Special Thursday Edition: Stephen Chopek

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 at 11:36 AM

If Valentine's Day were three days ago, this would be a more appropriate Music Video Monday.
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But we go with the calendar we're given, not the one we wish we had, and Stephen Chopek's new video is ideal for Valentine's Day. MVM's favorite minimalist auteur covered Shane McGowen and the Popes "The Song With No Name" for his upcoming EP, which drops next month. It's an Irish "dirge for Valentine's Day," says Chopek. So this one's for all you lonely hearts out there in music video land. Keep searching 'til you find the right channel.


If you'd like to see your music video on Music Video Monday that are actually on Mondays, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Memphis Filmmakers Take Home The Hoka at Oxford Film Festival

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 at 11:44 AM

Winning filmmakers on the red carpet at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival, (left to right) John Charter, Paul Kaiser, Timothy Blackwood, Bradford Downs, Suzannah Herbert, Morgan Jon Fox, John Rash, Will Stewart, and Christian Walker - JOEY BRENT
  • Joey Brent
  • Winning filmmakers on the red carpet at the 2019 Oxford Film Festival, (left to right) John Charter, Paul Kaiser, Timothy Blackwood, Bradford Downs, Suzannah Herbert, Morgan Jon Fox, John Rash, Will Stewart, and Christian Walker

Memphis-born filmmaker Suzannah Herbert and directing partner Lauren Belfer's documentary Wrestle took home the prize for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Oxford Film Festival, which took place over the weekend. Herbert and Belfer were also awarded the Alice Guy Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award. The sports documentary, about a high school wrestling team in Huntsville, Alabama, has also won the Ron Tibbets Excellence In Filmmaking Award at Indie Memphis, the audience and best sports documentary awards at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Best Documentary award at the Denver Film Festival.

The Narrative Feature Hoka, as the festival's awards are called, went to Jordan Noel for This World Alone.
Sonya A. May, Hudson Phillips, Jordan Noel, and Trisha Solyn celebrate their win for Best Narrative Feature at the Oxford Film Festival. - JOEY BRENT
  • Joey Brent
  • Sonya A. May, Hudson Phillips, Jordan Noel, and Trisha Solyn celebrate their win for Best Narrative Feature at the Oxford Film Festival.

Oxford's Best Music Documentary Award went to John Rash's Negro Terror, a portrait of the Memphis anti-racist hardcore punk band.

Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox's short film "The One You Never Forget" tied for Best LBGTQ Short Film with Will Stuart's "All We Are". The documentary The Gospel Of Eureka by Michael Palmeri and Donal Mosher won in the LBGTQ feature category.

Memphis filmmaker Christian Walker won Best Mississippi Music Video for "Wash My Hands", a video he made for Cedric Burnside with Beale Street Caravan.

Mississippi film awards included John Reyer Afamasaga’s Door Ajar: The M. B. Mayfield Story winning Best Feature, "Roots and Wings" by Hannah Miller winning Best Short, and Bennett Krishock winning Best Emerging Filmmaker for "Happy Birthday Papa".

You can see the complete list of winners for the 16th annual film festival on the festival's website

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Memphis Film Prize Calls For Entries At Fourth Annual Kickoff Party

Posted By on Thu, Feb 7, 2019 at 10:47 AM

Kevin Brooks (center right) won the 2018 Memphis Film Prize with his short film "Last Day".
  • Kevin Brooks (center right) won the 2018 Memphis Film Prize with his short film "Last Day".

The fourth annual Memphis Film Prize will call for entries at a gala kickoff party at The Cove on Thursday, February 7th at 6:30 PM.

“We are gearing up for another huge year,” said David Merrill, Memphis Film Prize Filmmaker liaison. “Our goal is to continue to grow independent filmmaking in Memphis and create an indigenous film capital in our city.”

Begun as an offshoot of the Louisiana Film Prize, the festival offers a unique competitive structure. Filmmakers are required to register their films in advance, and Film Prize officials sometimes show up on competitor's sets. The entries, which usually range from 40 to 60 short films, are winnowed down to 10 films, which are shown at the two-day event and voted on by festival-goers. The winning short film receives $10,000. Past winners have included McGhee Monteith's "He Could Have Gone Pro," Matteo Servente's "We Go On," and Kevin Brooks' "Last Day." The 2018 edition of the festival set records for attendance, doubling the audience from 2017.

“Last year, Film Prize was elevated to a new level by the talents of the filmmakers,” said
Gregory Kallenberg, Executive Director of the Prize Foundation. “The local community has been key in making all of the filmmakers and the festival successful, and we want everyone to celebrate that success and kick off a new and glorious year with us on February 7th.”

You can find more information about the Memphis Film Prize at their website

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Juntland, Supernatural Swedes, and Hebrew Neo-Noir at the Cinema This Week.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 3:30 PM

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Tonight (Tuesday) at Crosstown Arts, Indie Memphis' weekly Shoot & Splice series brings an evening with Munirah Safiyah Jones, the creator of Juntland, an animated webseries about the perils of dating in 2018. Here's the episode that got Jones noticed when it went viral.


Wednesday night at Malco Ridgeway, Indie Memphis brings the acclaimed Sweedish film Border. Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by Let The Right One In's John Ajvide Lindqvist, the film made a splash at Cannes, winning the Un Certain Regard ("Another point of view") award. It's going to be Nordic and creepy.


On Thursday, The Morris and Mollye Fogelman International Jewish Film Festival teams up with Indie Memphis to present Shelter. Director Eran Riklis uses the classic noir trope of changing identity through radical plastic surgery as a jumping off point for the taut Israeli thriller. Tickets are available here for the screening at the Memphis Jewish Community Center.


On Thursday at the Paradiso and Malco Collierville is 2019's best title (so far), I Want To Eat Your Pancreas. It's an anime feature based on a tragic, coming-of-age novel by Yoru Sumino, so actual onscreen cannibalism is unlikely. Still, a guy can dream.


Finally, on Sunday, the MIJFF presents one of its popular dinner and a movie programs with Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel. This uplifting sports documentary by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger traces the Israeli national team's journey to the "World Cup Of Baseball".

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Monday, February 4, 2019

Music Video Monday: Jeff Hulett

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 11:35 AM

Today's Music Video Monday goes walkabout.
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I'm not talking about Nicholas Roeg's 1971 film about Australian childhood, which Indie Memphis and filmmaker Lynn Sachs will present on February 20th. I'm talking about walking. "Bones", Jeff Hulett's second video from his Around These Parts album, was created with the help of the singer/songwriter's far flung friends. Folks from all over the country sent Hulett videos of themselves (and others) walking. The result is a short, fun, engaging video. Check it out:


If you'd like to see your music video on Music Video Monday, email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com. 

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