In today's Tennessean, Joey Garrison reports on the state of Fort Houston, the artists cooperative run by the founders of the now-defunct Brick Factory. A simple zoning upgrade has led to misunderstandings between the Fort and the building's landlord, which Garrison hints might lead to further troubles down the road.
Owners of Fort Houston, a for-profit venture led by Ryan Schemmel, lack a use and occupancy permit to operate long term on the space they rent. To obtain one, they must make available 39 parking spaces on site because the warehouse falls under a new classification: a vocational school.
The property isn’t nearly large enough.
Fort Houston has applied for a variance with the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals to function with 19 parking spaces instead. A hearing is set for June 6.
But landlord Robert Moore Jr., in a May 15 letter, has asked that the request be withdrawn and removed from the appeals board’s docket. The codes department must oblige the request of either the tenant or landlord. Not siding with the latter would be highly unusual.
Oddly, Moore’s objection referenced a desire not to “change the zoning” of his property. Yet the variance would actually keep the zoning intact.
“Where that leaves us is, if we can’t get that variance, we can’t legally operate out of this building,” Schemmel said. “What’s frustrating to us is that the objection just doesn’t make sense.”
Fort Houston has issued a statement in response. Interestingly, Schemmel glosses over most of Garrison's points without disagreeing with any of them, and throws in a few paragraphs about the viability of their business model. Read the Fort Houston statement below (emphasis theirs).
Back in March, Rifftrax — the Internet 2.0 version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which MST3K cast members Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy make fun of contemporary schlock with syncing commentary tracks — successfully raised more than $200,000 to put on their next live show at The Belcourt, beamed out to hundreds of theaters nationwide.
What were they going to do with that newly acquired scratch? License Twilight for a public shaming, of course.
Don't get too excited. According to an update posted yesterday to the Kickstarter, plans for the live riff of Twilight were kiboshed by Summit Entertainment, who weren't terribly interested in allowing their prized cash cow to join the ranks of Birdemic and Manos: The Hands of Fate in the Rifftrax Live hall of fame. Instead, the crew was forced to move on to Plan B: the bug-splattering sci-fi war satire Starship Troopers.
The Rifftrax guys have some words for why you shouldn't be bummed out over the switcheroo:
We’re excited about this for a number of reasons: It’s big. It’s goofy. It’s got giant bug aliens. Folks have been asking us to do this movie ever since we riffed excerpts of it on the 1998 MST3K Blockbuster Special. And IT’S FREAKING STARSHIP TROOPERS! It’s basically a cheesy 50s sci-fi flick, the kind we know and “love”, but made in 1997 with a massive Hollywood budget! NEIL PATRICK HARRIS as a psychic who talks to giant bugs! DENISE RICHARDS as a brilliant starship pilot, before she was a brilliant nuclear scientist in that Bond movie! MICHAEL IRONSIDE, because it’s a war movie, so of course Michael Ironside! JAKE BUSEY, hanging out and making it weird! This movie’s got it all!
Once again, the crew will film the live show in The Belcourt's 1966 hall, simulcast to theaters across the nation. Tickets are not yet on sale, but Kickstarter backers will get first dibs before the rest of us (who somehow slept on this campaign) get a crack at them. If you miss out on being in the broadcast, you'll always be able to watch it at participating theaters like Green Hills 16.
Until then, you can sate your Twilight-related disappointment with the crew's hilarious 2009 Twilight riff. Twilight DVD not included.
Perhaps the reason I have such a soft spot for My Fair Lady is that I'm old enough to remember when the film version first came out. I was all of 4 or 5 years old when my parents took me to see it on its maiden run, and Audrey Hepburn may have been my first crush.
Ahhh, nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Zing!
In this week's Scene, Martin Brady reviews Studio Tenn's production of the Lerner and Loewe classic. And while Brady notes that the musical softens the satire of the play it's based on — George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion — he also writes that Studio Tenn's mounting is the best locally staged Lady Nashville has seen:
The Nashville area sees homegrown productions of My Fair Lady often enough — Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre did it in 2003, Boiler Room Theatre and Lamplighter's in Smyrna both did it in 2009. Studio Tenn's staging looms as the gold standard for now, and maybe for quite a while. When it's done well, it's right as rain in Spain — and a little extra push in the direction of romance never hurt anybody.
If the impressive trailer above is any indication, it would seem his praise is well-earned. Read the whole review here.
Studio Tenn's My Fair Lady runs through June 2 at The Franklin Theatre.
In the Critic's Pick I wrote about the outdoor light installation that opens Friday at Cheekwood, I suggest that Gatsby would have looked great filmed on the mansion's front lawn. What else would look good against Bruce Munro's fairytale opulence? There are a few obvious candidates. I've compiled my own short list here:
Add your own suggestions in the comments section — and see the exhibit for yourself tomorrow — Cheekwood will stay open until 11 p.m., so you've got plenty of time to set an agenda.
It’s too bad Baz Luhrmann already filmed Gatsby, because Cheekwood’s latest over-the-top outdoor art extravaganza would make the perfect movie set. British artist and lighting designer Bruce Munro follows in the similarly decadent footsteps of Cheekwood's 2010 installation by Dale Chihuly, the institution's biggest seller to-date. Munro has shown his work at only one other U.S. venue, so Cheekwood took a gamble when they named him Chihuly’s successor. But take one look at the psychedelic glitz of Munro’s Light, which includes hundreds of miles of glowing optic fiber and 20,000 lighted glass spheres, and you'll see why. Light is a sumptuous installation that combines the elegance of Cheekwood’s natural landscape with the cutting-edge glam of Munro’s design.
This is the Summer Guide cover photo that pretty much crashed our server when it went live in 2008. The photographer was the awesome Kristin Barlowe. The model we believe you know. (It's worth seeking out her 100 Proof album from last year, too, as Jewly Hight concurs.)
Juliette is meeting with a detective, summarizing the sad end of her mother’s life. They found coke stuff in the house, they found oxy stuff in the house. He asks if it could have been a drug deal gone bad, or perhaps even ... a lover’s quarrel? Juliette says that her mother and Dante did not have a romantic relationship, but she wouldn’t put it past ‘em. The detective tells her Jolene’s body is A-OK to be carted off to the funeral (he said that more respectful and police-y), so Juliette leaves the station, greeted by paparazzi throwing around phrases like “clearly distraught” and “drug-fueled murder-suicide.”
Australian artist Patricia Piccinini's "The Long Awaited" was the centerpiece of last year's Fairytales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination at The Frist, and Nashvillians everywhere fell for the artist's Fraggle Rock-meets-Carl Sagan vision. Her latest project, "The Skywhale," will surely make converts out of the rest of the world. Put simply, it's a hot-air balloon that was commissioned by the Australian government as part of the Centenary of Canberra, their capital's centennial celebration. But take one look at the piece and you'll see that it's so much more.
A series of videos documenting Piccinini's process and the creature's first flight are below. Watch all three, then help me figure out how to convince the artist to come back to Nashville and let us take a ride.
[Editor's Note: This is the 10th installment of 'Notes from the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference,' a biweekly series of story and art that artist Amelia Garretson-Persans has created for Country Life. Trace its roots by reading the previous entries.]
Lily Bennett had the kind of glow that didn’t brighten a space, but rather made the darkness steel itself against her. Sitting very still in the opaque blackness I imagined that I no longer had hands.
Lily spoke: “Zeta Omega Tau began to include a midnight visit to my hole in the ceiling as part of its initiation rites. The noise of their whispers and snickers made it impossible to write my riddles, and in not writing, I began to lose track of the east wing’s secret. I felt the secret’s heart flutter like a pet rabbit whose hutch door has been left open.
“What could I use to make them go away? What was in my mind? There was an ugly woman standing and clipping her long fingernails, a black outline of a leafless tree hung with eggs, a hungry cat in a tall field I couldn’t see, and the feel of cold pebbles in cotton pockets.
A few years ago, a young first-time director named Antonio Campos showed his directorial debut Afterschool at the Nashville Film Festival. Those who saw the movie that night were clearly witnessing the start of a remarkable career — the movie was shot with a formal rigor few veterans could match, using frames within frames and icily poised compositions to evoke the teenage characters' media-stoked alienation. Campos even stuck around after his screening, chatting enthusiastically with viewers about Michael Haneke and David Cronenberg movies.
His second feature, Simon Killer, shows tonight and tomorrow night at The Belcourt. (I really like the theater's move of devoting a couple of weeknight slots to movies of note that haven't played here, thus minimizing the theater's risk yet giving local moviegoers a shot at seeing them on the big screen. I understand the same thing is happening in a few weeks with Beyond the Hills, the second feature by 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days director Cristian Mungiu.) Michael Sicinski wrote about it in the current Scene, and his piece suggests the movie deserves much better than the largely dismissive reviews it received on the festival circuit:
While I suppose it must be said that Campos' latest film Simon Killer isn't as accomplished as his debut, it's also equally vital to note that its shortcomings are a direct result of its ambition. Rather than simply refine his ample strengths (or worse, abandon them for some industry payday), Campos took on new challenges, and if the results are that Simon Killer is a flawed, imperfect film, then so be it. It's also a formally assured one, and never less than riveting.
[Join Ettes leader Coco Hames as she moves through the Janus Films Essential Art House DVD box set one film at a time.]
THE FALLEN IDOL directed by CAROL REED (1948)
Running time: 95 minutes
If you're into the tight, menacing vibe of Carol Reed's most famous film, The Third Man, I'll go ahead and guarantee you'll enjoy The Fallen Idol. It's the first of three films Reed did with author Graham Greene (1959's Our Man From Havana rounding out the trilogy). It's sillier and more obvious than either The Third Man or Reed's other great film from this period, 1947's Odd Man Out, but that's the fun of it.
An adaptation of Greene's short story "The Basement Room," The Fallen Idol features li'l Bobby Henrey (who, no, wasn't really in anything else ...) playing Phillipe, the son of a French ambassador living in London, and his relationship with his caretaker and butler, Baines (Ralph Richardson). Baines seems a good guy, and Phillipe looks up to him. But people aren't always what they seem, especially when the viewpoint belongs to an idealistic 9-year-old boy. I'd say "gaze," but that belongs to us, the audience, whom this film plays to more than anything.
With his parents often gone, Phillipe identifies and idolizes the man of the house. However, Baines is carrying on with another, younger woman, and his wife is wise to his misdeeds. Phillipe is confused, and absorbs the brunt of Mrs. Baines' punishment until ... something happens? That Baines did or did not do? There is a police inquiry? Justice is tested? Innocence is lost? Phillipe remains confused.
I've read some things extolling The Fallen Idol's virtues as a noir classic and precursor to some serious cinema, so it might just be me — but the little boy playing Phillipe is really distracting! Some say, oh, it's a boy acting just his age, that's just how a real 9-year-old boy would react! Maybe! But it pulls me away from the story and even the visuals, making it seem like a black-box theater play, which is fine, but less captivating than history might suggest it to be.
Being as sniffish as I could possibly be, I don't see that being a precursor to a classic film makes something a classic film — but like I said, I'm being mean. The Fallen Idol is a fun, beautiful, direct, and satisfying film, but if there's a child-centric book-to-stage-to-cinema movie of the era I prefer, it's The Bad Seed — man, that's a good one.
death to parking minimums
"Has decided 'likes to clean' counts as a personality." Yes. So much yes.
The stoned Scarlett theory makes complete sense.
If they stop filming in Nashville, I stop watching.
Juliette Barnes decides to run for President – and wins! Can the first…