Monday, August 19, 2019

Music Video Monday: Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:09 PM

Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster - COURTESY KYLE TAUBKEN
  • courtesy Kyle Taubken
  • Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster

Today's Music Video Monday is taking some "Educated Guesses"

Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster made a splash with Water Liars, the Mississippi band that released three critically acclaimed albums, beginning with 2012's Phantom Limb. Now he's preparing to release his second solo album on August 30th.

Memphis filmmaker Kyle Taubken, who recently debuted his short film "Soul Man" at Memphis Film Prize, created a Memphis-centric video for "Educated Guesses," the plaintive, folkie, first single from Kinkel-Schuster. Have a look!

Educated Guesses [Official Music Video] - Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster from Kyle Taubken on Vimeo.

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

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Friday, August 16, 2019

Dispatch War Rocket Ajax to Time Warp Drive-In's FUTURECOOL

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 8:52 AM

Welcome to Mongo, Earth man.
  • Welcome to Mongo, Earth man.

This month's Time Warp Drive-In is devoted to 80s space opera. The term comes, believe it or not, from Westerns. In particular, elaborately staged Westerns in the middle of the 20th century came to be known derisively as "horse operas," and the term kind of migrated over to movies like This Island Earth. The post Star Wars period of 1977-1984, where studios were greenlighting big-budget sci-fi left and right, no matter how poorly conceived, was the golden age of space opera, and there was none more operatically staged than Flash Gordon.

George Lucas had wanted to license Alex Raymond's comic strip character from the 1930s, Flash Gordon, for his followup to American Graffiti. But Italian mogul Dino De Laurentiis wouldn't sell, so Lucas ended up creating Star Wars instead. De Laurentiis, who didn't get to be a rich and famous movie producer by ignoring cultural trends or letting good taste get in his way, decided it was time to exploit the intellectual property he had been sitting on and make a Flash Gordon movie of his own.

After a false start with director Nicholas Roeg, and a hard pass from Fredrico Fellini, of all people, he hired Mike Hoges to direct. Playgirl model Sam Jones was cast as Flash, but by far the best casting decision in the whole project was Max Von Sydow as Ming the Merciless. In the comic and the classic Saturday matinee serials, the ruler of Mongo has an icky, yellow, peril vibe. Von Sydow, who got his start with Ingrid Bergman in Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal, transcends that to makes Ming both truly alien and kinda charming, in a sadistic space tyrant kind of way.


With Star Wars, Lucas set out to create a visually believable space opera. Flash Gordon attempts to emulate its source material — which is to say, comics of the 1930s and 40s. You might think the whole thing look irredeemably cheesy, and you'd be right, but you have to admit they achieved what they set out to do.

But admit it, we're all just in it for the Queen soundtrack, which is absolute perfection. Let's roll that theme song.


Speaking of classically trained actors going over the top, the second film of the evening is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Widely regarded as the best big-screen Trek, it cements Khan Noonien Singh as Captain James T. Kirk's arch enemy.

So many things passed from this classic into the larger culture. "Kobayashi Maru" became geek slang for a no-win situation, and the "Genesis Wave" sequence, a Lucasfilm masterpiece of early CGI, was recently referenced in Dark Phoenix. But Ricardo Montalbán steals the show from William Shatner, and the folks at Paramount who made this 1982 trailer, knew it.


The final film of the evening is Masters of the Universe, which stars Dolph Lundgrin as toy superhero He-Man in what is probably his finest role, and Academy Award nominee Frank Langella as Skeletor in what is definitely not his finest role. Is it so bad it's good? You be the judge.


Time Warp starts at dusk at the Malco Summer Drive-In on Saturday, August 17. 

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché Explores The Beginning Of Narrative Film

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 9:50 AM

A scene from one of the 1,000 movies made by pioneering director Alice Guy-Blaché.
  • A scene from one of the 1,000 movies made by pioneering director Alice Guy-Blaché.
Everything that seems natural to us now about video content is actually deeply unnatural. It was all invented. An edited video, consisting of different clips strung together to produce a narrative, is profoundly different from the way we visually experience reality. We don't get to skip over the boring parts, and we rarely have the best angle to view the action.

If all of this film language we now take for granted was invented, that means there was someone who did the inventing. Thomas Edison and the Lumiere brothers are usually put forward as the inventors of film, and that's true enough, from a technical standpoint. But their idea of a good movie was filming the workers leaving the Lumiere factory, or a train entering the station — literally "moving pictures".

The person who came up with the idea of using motion pictures to tell a story was a former secretary named Alice Guy-Blaché. She was arguably the first film director, as we now recognize the job description, who made more than 1,000 films over her career, including the very first film with an actual story, The Cabbage Fairy, in 1896. She invented the close-up, and experimented with synchronized sound two decades before it would be commonplace in theaters. She founded her own studio, Solax, which was the largest film studio in America in the 1910s. And yet, while many giants of that era like D. W. Griffith are remembered today, Guy-Blaché has been largely forgotten. Pamela Green's film Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché wants to restore her place in history.

Be Natural screens on Thursday, August 15 at Crosstown Theater as a part of their Arthouse film series. Afterwards, Memphis filmmaker Laura Jean Hocking will lead a remote Q&A with director Pamela Green. You can win two tickets to the show by either emailing cmccoy@memphisflyer.com or sending The Memphis Flyer a direct message on Facebook or Twitter. We'll draw the winner at noon on Thursday. Good luck!

Be Natural : The Untold Story Of Alice Guy-Blaché TRAILER#1 from Be Natural on Vimeo.

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Monday, August 12, 2019

Music Video Monday: Tony Manard and the Big Ole Band

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2019 at 11:34 AM

A screen grab from Tony Manard's video "Fool from Memphis." - TONY MANARD
  • Tony Manard
  • A screen grab from Tony Manard's video "Fool from Memphis."

Music Video Monday is bringing the hometown love today.

Here at MVM, we celebrate Memphis musicians and filmmakers. But rarely have we seen a more Memphis-y video than Tony Manard's "Fool From Memphis".

"I grew up in Memphis," says the singer/songwriter. "I have lived here all of my life. I had the verses about all the fun I had growing up here and the good times I had with my knucklehead friends. I was preparing for a songwriter night and started thinking about the most Memphis thing that had ever happened to me. I came up with the time I saw a wrestling match at the intermission of a monster truck show. It's not the Chamber-of-Commerce version of Memphis, but it's mine."

Manard calls this song from his new album, Thanks, Y'all,  "about the most Memphis thing I have ever made." Indeed, where else can you hear a song that waxes nostalgic about seeing an axe-handle fight in West Memphis?

Here's how Manard describes the making of the video:

"My buddy Jeremy Speakes provided the Downtown and Coliseum drone shots. Sean Davis gave me permission to use great stuff from his 'Slow Memphis' YouTube channel.

"My buddy Steve Blurton hooked me up with footage from Riverside Speedway. The guys from the Heavy Weight Chumps podcast set me up with access to a wrestling ring in Pontotoc before an ICW bout. The Midnight Rooster Antoine Curtis, Gio Savage, and Nico Dantzler showed me how to take a bump in the ring and helped me fulfill a childhood fantasy of doing some sick moves.

"My son and Big Ole Band keyboard man Vinnie Manard manned the camera while daughter Chessie, and Nancy Apple mercifully distracted from the sight of me in wrestling tights.

"Big thanks to Jerry Fargo for agreeing to be in the video and teaching me the Fargo strut! Josh McLane was the perfect angry chef at the HiTone kitchen.

"We finished it up with a gathering at Central BBQ to watch some of our Big Ole Band brothers play in the Late Greats bluegrass band."


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

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Do The Right Thing Returns for 30th Anniversary Screening

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2019 at 4:18 PM

Bill Nunn as Radio Raheem in Do The Right Thing
  • Bill Nunn as Radio Raheem in Do The Right Thing
What we call the indie film movement has its roots in Kubrick, Corman, and Cassavetes, but it really popped off in 1989 with a pair of films: Stephen Soderberg's Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. It's hard to overstate the impact of Spike Lee on a generation of filmmakers. He's like Jimi Hendrix was for guitarists. You either embraced his approach and iterated on it or you consciously rejected it and went in another direction. There was no ignoring him.

Lee has made some great films in the last three decades, such as last year's epic BlacKkKlansman, but Do The Right Thing remains a towering masterpiece of a film. It has also remained stubbornly relevant. The proxy fight over who gets to be on Sal's Pizza wall is reflected today in a hundred conversations on representation in media. The senseless police brutality inflicted on Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) looks like a dress rehearsal for the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner. The dilemmas faced by the protesters were hashed out by Lee before many of them were born.

The cast is among the most amazing ever assembled: Samuel L. Jackson, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Giancarlo Esposito, Martin Lawrence, the recently deceased Paul Benjamin, and, in her film debut, a former Soul Train dancer named Rosie Perez. Lee opened the film with Perez dancing to Public Enemy's anthem "Fight the Power" in what the film criticism website The Dissolve called the greatest pop music moment in film history.


Crosstown Theater's Arthouse film series will present the 30th anniversary of Do The Right Thing on Thursday, August 8th, at 7:30 p.m. The Memphis Flyer is giving away free tickets to the screening. If you would like to be in the drawing for two free tickets to the film, you can either email cmccoy@memphisflyer.com or send a message to our Facebook page. We'll draw names for the winner at noon on Thursday.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Memphis Film Prize Awards $10,000 to Brooks and Meyers' "A Night Out"

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2019 at 11:08 AM

(left to right) Memphis Film Prize Executive Director Gregory Kallenberg, cinematographer Andrew Fleming, directors Kevin Brooks and Abby Meyers, actress Rosalyn R. Ross, and Memphis Film Prize Filmmaker Liaison David Merrill. - COURTESY MEMPHIS FILM PRIZE
  • Courtesy Memphis Film Prize
  • (left to right) Memphis Film Prize Executive Director Gregory Kallenberg, cinematographer Andrew Fleming, directors Kevin Brooks and Abby Meyers, actress Rosalyn R. Ross, and Memphis Film Prize Filmmaker Liaison David Merrill.

The Memphis Film Prize screened the ten finalists' films to packed houses Friday and Saturday. The winning film, announced at an awards brunch on Sunday, was A Night Out by co-directors Kevin Brooks and Abby Meyers. The film stars Rosalyn R. Ross as a woman trying to cheer herself up after a bad breakup by going to a nightclub. It represents a significant technical achievement, as all of the action takes place in one continuous, 10-minute shot in an around Molly Fontaine's in Victorian Village. This is Brooks' second Film Prize win in a row, after taking home last year's prize for his short film Last Day.

This year's prize also included, for the first time, Best Performance awards. Best Actor went to Percy Bradley's comedic performance in Clint Till's Hangry, where he plays a retired reverend in an assisted-care facility who is done with the bad food they serve and helps himself to some of the staff's fried chicken.

Best Actress went to Latrice D. Bobo for her turn in Arnold Edwards' Pages. Bobo plays a suicidal woman who connects with her similarly depressed upstairs neighbor.

This is the fourth year the Memphis Film Prize has solicited films made in Shelby County for its contest. You can read more about the filmmakers who competed this year in the current issue of the Memphis Flyer.

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Music Video Monday: The Poet, Havi

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2019 at 10:27 AM

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Music Video Monday gonna knock you out!

"Shea Butter (Heart of Darkness)" marks the MVM debut of The Poet, Havi.  "I made this about a month after watching Black Panther, so I was definitely riding the high of seeing all my people as heroes on the big screen — especially Lupita Nyongo and the Dora Milaje, because strong black women with buzz cuts is everything. If you listen to the song, it's filled with a ton of references to black men and women who were the epitome of beauty and coolness and who were unabashedly themselves. All warriors in one way or another."

The song is the first of a promised 30 new singles from Havi's Studio 88, a new recording venue in Midtown with a mission to facilitate the creation of new Memphis music.

Directors Josh Cannon and Nate Packard took inspiration from Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull for this video. But Robert Di Niro never shared the screen or the ring with so many twerkers. Punch it in:


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

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Monday, July 29, 2019

Music Video Monday: Uriah Mitchell

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2019 at 11:04 AM

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This Music Video Monday might be for you.

Uriah Mitchell's got music in his blood. As the son of Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell and great-grandson of Willie Mitchell, he's the fourth generation to make music at Royal Studios.

He's got a new album, No More Lullabies, which he wrote, produced, engineered, and performed. The first song, "Might Be", spikes a jilted lover's brush-off with anime references and dope beats. The video was directed by Waheed AlQawasmi, and kicks off with some eye-popping visual effects. Check it out:


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

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Posted By on Sun, Jul 28, 2019 at 3:09 PM

Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  • Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
About three-quarters of the way through Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, “California Dreaming” floats to the top of the soundtrack. But even though, at this point, we’ve already smoked a joint with Michelle Phillips (Rebecca Rittenhouse), it’s not the version of the song that made the Mamas and the Papas into household names. Instead, it’s José Feliciano’s impassioned, flamenco-inflected cover. The wistful song about homesickness, swaddled in superfluous organ and string, is twisted to add to the mounting sense of dread. This is August 1969, and Charles Manson is about to bring the Swinging '60s party to an end. “I suppose everything had changed, and nothing had,” wrote Joan Didion of the days that followed the shocking, ritualistic murders of Sharon Tate and six others.

When the Weinstein Company collapsed, and disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein’s most significant discovery announced he was on the market for a new studio with a movie about the Manson Family murders, the creeping dread and sudden, searing violence is what everyone envisioned. I sincerely doubt that the winners of the ensuing bidding war — Harry Potter producer David Heyman and Columbia Pictures/Sony — expected to get a $90-million buddy comedy. And yet, this is what they got, and they should be glad.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is something Tarantino hasn’t been in a long time—fun. If that seems like a strange thing to say about a film centered on the gruesome cult murder of seven people, that’s because it’s not really what the film is about. Or rather, this sprawling work is not solely about Manson, but about the context that produced him. As Family member Leslie Van Houton (Victoria Pedretti) points out, they were the first generation to grow up watching people murder other people on TV for fun.
Leonardo Dicaprio as Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth
  • Leonardo Dicaprio as Rick Dalton and Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth
Two of the people intimately involved in creating those fake, televised murders are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Dalton is the former star of Bounty Law, a popular Western series that ran on NBC in the late '50s, early '60s. Booth was his stunt double on the show, and now his best friend/retainer. To reference another true crime sensation, he’a kind of a Kato Kaelin figure.

During a meeting with producer Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino), Dalton is forced into the crushing realization that his career is on the downswing. Tarantino, with his simultaneous mastery of cinema forms and willingness to remix them, tells the story of Dalton’s career with a combination of voice-over (courtesy of Kurt Russell), flashbacks, and archival clips from fictional shows and movies. You might think a film that was initially billed as Tarantino’s take on Helter Skelter would resemble the director’s only literary adaptation, Jackie Brown, but it feels more like Grindhouse, the 2007 exploitation pastiche he co-directed with Robert Rodriguez.
Damon Herriman as Charles Manson
  • Damon Herriman as Charles Manson
Dalton lives in the Hollywood Hills on Cielo Drive, right next door to Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and his wife, Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Polanski, coming off Rosemary’s Baby, is the hottest director in Hollywood. Dalton, part of the older generation New Hollywood types like Polanski are making obsolete, wishes he could get an audition with his new neighbor. But he’s not even on their radar as they power around town in Polanski’s MG roadster on their way to parties with Steve McQueen (Damien Lewis), blissfully unaware they’re living in a doomed world, and the hammer is about to fall.

Tarantino’s post-modernism is, as always, a double-edged sword. Jackie Brown is the director’s most disciplined and most emotionally resonant work. Grindhouse is a carnival funhouse. Both have their place, of course, but the latter is certainly shallower.
once-upon-a-time-in-hollywood-leonardo-dicaprio-dancing-1553087465.jpg

Where Once Upon a Time in Hollywood redeems itself is in the depths of the performances. The casting is fantastic. Lena Dunham nails Gypsy, one of the Manson cult leaders. Dakota Fanning plays Squeaky Fromme with ice water in her veins. Nicholas Hammond, a Hollywood journeyman who played one of the Von Trapp kids in The Sound of Music, steals scenes from DiCaprio as a pretentious TV director named Sam Wanamaker. Ten-year-old Julia Butters gives method acting lessons to Dalton in a bravado scene that dances on the fourth wall.

DiCaprio delivers one of the best performances of his career as the washed-up Dalton, all sniffles, limps, and nips from the hip flask. Robbie is radiant as Tate, especially in a sequence where she charms her way into a screening of a Dean Martin movie she’s in and dons giant glasses to watch herself act on the big screen. But it’s Pitt who rises above the rest of the cast in a phenomenally self-aware performance as a guy whose lack of self-awareness is both his greatest asset and biggest handicap. When he picks up a hitchhiker and heads for the Spahn Ranch, where the Family is holed up, Pitt becomes the chill in your spine.
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a sprawling mixtape of a movie. It’s long, self-indulgent, and never quite congeals into more than the sum of its parts, at least on first viewing. It could very much use the moderating influence of Pulp Fiction editor Sally Menke, who died in an accident after her Academy Award nomination for Inglourious Basterds But it's an absolute joy to watch. The production design is impeccable; with the help of legendary special effects designer John Dykstra, Tarantino’s team seamlessly recreates 1969 Los Angeles. It is in turns funny, sad, exhilarating, and horrifying. I’ve called it a comedy, but it really defies genre description. It’s a comedy with a gun to your head, daring you to laugh while you wait for the shot that may or may not come.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fredrick Wiseman's Memphis Documentary "Juvenile Court" Screens At Rebranded Crosstown Arthouse Film Series

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2019 at 2:08 PM

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Crosstown Theater has rebranded their weekly film presentations as the Crosstown Arthouse Film Series. This better reflects the series' content and mission of bringing classic, rarely seen, or overlooked films to Memphis audiences.

Case in point is tonight's film, Juvenile Court. Director Fredrick Wiseman was one of the early practitioners of what was called "Direct Cinema", a kind of American answer to cinéma vérité. Enabled by the development of the kind of handheld camera and audio equipment we in the digital age take for granted, filmmakers of the 1960s were able to capture reality in a way that their predecessors simply could not. Wiseman's films like High School, Basic Training, and Missile were all about capturing everyday life in various contexts. In the early 1970s, he turned his camera on the Memphis justice system for what would become Juvenile Court. Wiseman doesn't editorialize — although he was a pioneer of using editorial techniques to construct a narrative out of seemingly disconnected images and events, which producers of today's reality shows have weaponized. Instead, he simply captures the faces and interactions of normal people in the abnormal circumstances that they are placed in.

Tonight's screening will be introduced by filmmakers Joann Self-Selvidge and Sarah Fleming, who are currently engrossed in creating Juvenile, which traces the experiences of five people from all over the country who have been caught up in the tangle of the American juvenile justice system, and what lessons we can learn from their experience.

Tickets to the show are $5, and can be bought at the door only. Showtime is 7:30 PM at Crosstown Theater. 

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Music Video Monday: Joe Restivo

Posted By on Mon, Jul 22, 2019 at 11:45 AM

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Music Video Monday is getting jazzed.

You've probably seen Memphis guitarist Joe Restivo playing with the Bo Keys, or the Love Light Orchestra, or in any of the other ensembles where he regularly provides six-string support. But he's more than a sideman. His new album Where's Joe?, released last week on Blue Barrel Records, shows off more than just his raw chops. His melodic sense is on full display in this music video for "Starlight Motel". Directed by Andrew Trent Fleming and Jason Lee, it's an ode to the seedier side of the hospitality industry, ending with a confab in front of every Midtowner's favorite dive, The Lamplighter. Take a tumble.

Joe Restivo will be playing at the Green Room in Crosstown Concourse on Thursday, August 1.

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

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Tired Of Good Movies? Time Warp Drive-In Has Got You Covered With The Return Of The Worst Movies Ever

Posted By on Fri, Jul 19, 2019 at 1:56 PM

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I feel you. Now that you've fully absorbed the Cats trailer, you're primed to watch some bad movies. Really bad movies. Absolute ineptitude. Movies that turn the old conceptual corner from bad to good. This weekend's Time Warp Drive-In has got you covered with The Return of the Worst Movies Ever.

What makes a movie so bad it's good? This is a question that has plagued fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for two decades. I think it's impossible to intentionally make a film so bad it's good. You have to really believe in what you're doing, and have utter confidence in your creative vision. And no one had more misplaced confidence in his creative vision than George Lucas circa 1986.

And, hey, wouldn't you feel the same way? He'd just come off of changing the entire film industry with the original Star Wars trilogy and two Indiana Jones movies. He could do no wrong. Time to tee up a really daring project — an adaptation of a cult comic book by Marvel that took a semi-satirical look at the medium. In 2019, that's half the films greenlit in Hollywood. In 1986, that was Howard The Duck. Lucas produced and his friends Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, who had written American Graffiti and punched up the dialog in A New Hope, directed and wrote. He cast Lea Thompson, who was so good in Back To The Future the year before. What could possibly go wrong?

This.


Feeling the burn? You ain't seen nothing yet. In 1988, Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra Terrestrial had held the title of the top-grossing film of all time for six years. McDonald's, in their corporate wisdom, decided they needed to expand beyond just making TV ads and buying product placement segments, and produce their own feature film. What kind of movie did they want to make? One like E.T., of course. Everybody likes E.T. The result is Mac and Me, one of the most inept films ever made. There's a reason it was chosen as the lead film for the latest season of MST3K. And that reason is this scene, which you should not watch if you value your sanity. 


Also, there's a four-and-a-half-minute long musical number, set — where else? — in a McDonald's.

I said earlier that it's not possible to make a truly bad/good movie if you set out to do so. But what if you know you're making a bad satire of Hollywood sexism and capitalist alienation, but no one else involved in the project does? That's what's claimed of Paul Verhooven's 1995 disasterpiece Showgirls. I'm not sure I buy that explanation for one of the most horrific and mean-spirited films ever made, but you can judge for yourself. The trailer oozes sleaze, and it only scratches the surface.


If you survive that long, you will be "rewarded" with Samurai Cop. Dig the magnificent mane on the titular character, who is...wait for it...a cop, trained as a samurai. Yeah.


Time Warp Drive-In starts at dusk on Saturday, July 20th at the Malco Summer Drive-In. 

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Award-Winning Filmmaker Matteo Servente To Shoot His New Film "Nessun Dorma (No One Sleeps)"

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 12:53 PM

Matteo Servante
  • Matteo Servante
Bluff City Law isn’t the only production ramping up in Memphis this month. Matteo Servente is getting ready to roll camera on his new short film, “Nessun Dorma (No One Sleeps).”

Servente, who was born in Italy, has made Memphis his home for more than a decade. In 2017, he won the Memphis Film Prize with his short film “We Go On,” then went on to be the first person to ever win prizes for both a narrative and documentary short film at Indie Memphis. “Nessun Dorma” is based on a feature film Servente has been developing for more than five years. The story is about a 10-year-old child who steals a car to go on a quest to find a mermaid. When his car breaks down in an unfamiliar place, he asks for help from a local barber and a police dispatcher. “Their lives get a little bit turned upside down by the arrival of this kid, and they have to make a decision about whether to help him or not,” says Servente.

The lead part of the questing kid is played by Max Havens. “He responded to one of our postings for additions, and he was incredible,” says Servente. “So we're really excited because of course a lot of this film is right on his shoulders, and he seems to be very much up to the task.”

Havens is going to have a lot of quality help. The police dispatcher will be played by veteran character actress Beth Grant, who has appeared in everything from The Office to American Gods. The part of the barber went to John Diehl, who has appeared on shows such as Friday Night Lights and The Shield. Servente says Grant persuaded Diehl to take the part. “He’s a friend of hers and was actually semi-retired from acting. But he’s doing this project because he’s acting with her, so it’s kind of a family thing for them. They’ve been friends for 40 years.”

The screenplay was written by Melissa Anderson Sweazy, who co-directed the documentary feature Good Grief, which swept the Hometowner Audience and Jury awards at Indie Memphis the same year as Servente’s double win. Shooting the project is acclaimed Memphis cinematographer Ryan Earl Parker.

Production of “Nessun Dorma” is supported by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) Fiscal Sponsorship Program, where more than 40 people have already made a tax-deductible donation to the cause. Servente says this short film will hopefully clear the way toward the production of the eventual feature film version. You can see more about the IFP fiscal sponsorship program at this link.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Music Video Monday: Louise Page

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 11:47 AM

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Music Video Monday won't leave you at the altar — unless you deserve it.

The would-be hubby from Louise Page's new video, "Future Runaway Bride," certainly deserves pre-spousal abandonment. He's swigging from a pocket flask even while the father of the bride, played by Lucero's fezzed-out Brian Venable, looks on. The nerve!

The video to accompany yet another banger by Page was co-directed by Joshua Cannon and Barrett Kutas, and shot by Sam Leathers and Nate Packard.

If you need more Weezy in your life, you can either pop the question — which, in the light of this video, seems like an iffy proposition — or can check out her NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which gives you more short-term reward with less long-term commitment.

Now get to the church on time!


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

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Pop Art, The Monkees, and a Social Media Tragedy This Week At The Movies

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 11:57 AM

Artist David Hockney in A Bigger Splash
  • Artist David Hockney in A Bigger Splash
Tonight (Wednesday) at the Malco Powerhouse, Indie Memphis presents a groundbreaking hybrid documentary from 1974. A Bigger Splash is about a crucial period in the life of artist David Hockney. Filmmaker Jack Hazan hung out with the influential painter from 1971-1973, documenting his artistic process and, more importantly, his on-again, off-again relationship with Peter Schlesinger. This is not a fly-on-the-wall verité film of the type you might expect from other late-60s, early-70s documentarians like Les Blank, but rather a documentary hybrid with some staged scenes that the director and subject say reflected their real lives at the time. This film was banned for years in England because of its honest depiction of a homosexual relationship, but the art proved to be enduring. One of the paintings created during this period featuring Schlesinger was Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures), which set a record when it sold for $90.3 million in 2018. Showtime is at 7 p.m., with tickets available on the Indie Memphis website.


Thursday is a busy film day in the Crosstown area. At Crosstown Arts' space at 430 Cleveland, Indie Memphis presents an explosive documentary about the infamous Stubenville High School rape case. Roll Red Roll follows online journalist Alex Goddard as she uncovers first the horrific crime of an incapacitated teenage girl whose gang rape was documented by the perpetrators on social media, then the cover-up perpetrated by football coaches and school administrators trying to protect their young athletes in the sports crazy Ohio town. Tickets are available at Indie Memphis.

Roll Red Roll - Trailer from ro*co films on Vimeo.


Meanwhile at the Crosstown Theater, a decidedly stranger film from the swinging Sixties. Head started out as the Monkees' attempt at making a film like The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, but they hired Jack Nicholson to write it and, as Wikipedia puts it, "brainstormed into a tape recorder, reportedly with the aid of a quantity of marijuana." The results are extremely weird, and much darker than what was expected from the family-friendly TV fake rock band. Tickets are $5, and the show starts at 7:30.

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