Monday, September 24, 2012

Doctober at Belcourt: A Sampler of 2012's Most Talked-About Documentaries

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 3:54 PM

If you're one of the folks who've written in or called to ask if Escape Fire, Samsara or The Invisible War would be playing Nashville theaters, we've finally got an answer for you: Yes — along with 10 more of the year's most talked-about documentaries. Every October, The Belcourt programs a month of high-profile docs on subjects ranging from art and food to current events and sports. The Hillsboro Village theater has just posted the 2012 "Doctober" line-up, and it has ... oh, about 13 items of interest.

This year's Doctober launches Oct. 5 with Searching for Sugar Man, the Sundance hit that's brought new attention to musician Sixto Rodriguez and his stranger-than-fiction backstory; it closes Oct. 30 with a special screening of Neil Berkeley's Beauty Is Embarrassing, a runaway audience favorite from this year's Nashville Film Festival, with native Tennessee artist-puppeteer-cartoonist White in attendance. (Consider it a warm-up for White's keynote address at the Nash-Up event Oct. 31.)

Above: the trailer for Samsara, the visually sumptuous spiritual study from Baraka director Ron Fricke (not coincidentally the cinematographer of Koyaanisqatsi). Below: a list of all 13 selections with dates and synopses from the theater.

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Countdown to nD Fest: What It's Really Like to Be a Model in Nashville

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 3:35 PM


The Belcourt Theatre's nD Fest is just days away, and even though some of us showed up in our Quitters today (ahem, you know who you are), we're gearing up for a fashionable and fabulous weekend.

The Fest, which is a fundraiser for the Belcourt's educational outreach and community engagement programs, starts Friday, Sept. 28, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 30. You can view a schedule of events here, but if you like parties and special events that celebrate independent film, fashion and music, you should just go buy your Patrons Pass now.

We reached out to several of our friends in the local fashion community to find out what it's really like to work in this growing industry in Nashville. Check back each day, as we'll feature a local photographer, fashion blogger, stylist, hair & makeup artist and designer throughout the week.

Today, we're featuring model and runway coach Dylan Stephens, who has worked in the Nashville fashion scene for three years. A native of Fort Hood, Texas, the 22-year-old Stephens recently moved to Nashville and has walked in Nashville Fashion Week and several local shows in the past year. He is featured in Black by Maria Silver's fall/winter campaign and is unique in the Nashville model scene — yes, we have one — as he models as both a boy and a girl.

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Flipping Channels: Good Bets for Fall TV, from Elementary to Nashville

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 7:02 AM

The network's fall season ramps up the fnal week of September, and the best thing anyone can say is it's got to be better than last year. Network ratings for everything except NFL football and the Olympics plummeted, and there are some previously reliable shows whose appeal is diminishing (American Idol, Survivor, and Law & Order: SVU, to cite just three). But still, at least for the next few weeks, there will be fresh fare on CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW, for whatever it's worth.

Everyone has their stylistic favorites, so it's silly to pretend any one person is somehow a barometer of mass taste. I know I couldn't care less, for instance, about reality TV, most situation comedies or nighttime soaps. There are lots of others who hate crime procedurals and dramas. That said, here are five new shows that hold some promise:

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The Author as Pixels: A Studio Visit With Robbie Hunsinger

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 5:28 AM


Robbie Hunsinger's studio is in the Northwest-facing corner of the Chestnut Square building. Two of the walls are practically floor-to-ceiling windows, and the quality of light that results picks up just about every bit of color in the room. It's understandable, then, that I didn't recognize my own face in her computer monitor for the first several minutes that I played with her Wii Remote-controlled hack. That didn't stop me from having fun with it.

Hunsinger will be bringing similar technologies (which are, believe me, much more fascinating than the several pictures I've included below — but you try taking photos with one hand while shaking and rotating and air-guitaring a Wii controller in the other) to this year's SoundCrawl, which takes place Oct. 6-10. She'll be performing at Brick Factory on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 7-9 p.m., and I highly recommend attending. Imagine a more psychedelic brand of Epcot Center experimentation, or a sophisticated take on Max Headroom.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Get Ready for Brain Damage, This Weekend at Cult Fiction Underground

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 4:00 PM

When one discusses cinematic “body horror,” David Cronenberg is the acknowledged master of the genre. But what if there were a director who deserved the honor equally, even if his influences weren’t high intellectual muckity-mucks like Nabokov, Burroughs and Kenneth Anger, and instead ran more along the lines of EC horror comics, Tex Avery and Herschell Gordon Lewis?

Fortunately for us psychotronic film fans, there exists such a cracked genius — Frank Henenlotter, who over the past 30 years has managed to eke out six wonderful anything-goes blood and hysteria classics, all with practically nonexistent budgets. While he’s best known for the three Basket Case movies and the 1990 classic Frankenhooker, one of his very best and most often overlooked films, Brain Damage, is this weekend’s feature at the Cult Fiction Underground.

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Trending: Quitter Chic with Stella Shops

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 2:45 PM

You know when you have those mornings where you just can't pull a matching outfit together? Maybe you're having a fat day, or you're hungover, or you've come to the conclusion that nothing in your closet matches.

Today was one of those days. In a panic, I grabbed the tightest, most uncomfortable dress that I own and a pair of those nude stripper-esque shoes that everyone wore two summers ago. I am sitting at my desk, with my dress unzipped and my shoes on the other side of my cube, shoving expired Girl Scout cookies in my mouth while I type. I am not happy.

I should have worn my quitters.

What are quitters, you ask? They're your comfy clothes. Maybe it's your yoga clothes — which are cozy to wear even if you have no intent of doing yoga — or your Thanksgiving dinner pants, or your jeans that you don't have to wear a thong with because there is plenty of room in the trunk. Whatever it is, it's your go-to when you JUST GIVE UP.

At least once a week I walk into my coworker Carla's office to show her my QOTD (quitters of the day). I like to show Carla because she is always dressed to the nines, and she runs the totally awesome style blog Stella Shops, so she totally appreciates some well-executed quitters. Because quitters don't have to scream to the world, "HEY! I WORE MY QUITTERS!"

Funny thing is, quitters were ALL OVER New York and London fashion weeks. And why not? Take it from a girl with a zipper seam embedded in her torso: Fashion doesn't always have to be painful. But quitters don't always have to look like quitters. Carla pulled together some of her favorite examples of quitters that would be appropriate for work, play, or massive cookie binging.

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Installation View: Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video at The Frist

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 11:45 AM


The much-anticipated Carrie Mae Weems retrospective opens at The Frist today, but I got to sneak in early for a media preview yesterday morning. Weems herself was in attendance, along with her husband Jeffrey Hoone. (“I am so lucky! And he’s a white man!” were the first things she said.) Hoone gave a glowing introduction to her curiosity and work ethic while we stood in the room devoted to her “Kitchen Table Series,” and I could almost hear Paul McCartney singing “Lady Madonna” in my head.

Not surprisingly, the preview audience seemed most moved by “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried,” the series of 33 appropriated photographs of African-Americans from the earliest days of photography, and curator Katie Delmez mentioned that Michelle Obama was similarly moved after seeing the series at the MoMA. When an audience member told Weems that she wanted to cry whenever she saw one particular photograph — the famous daguerreotype of the shirtless man whose back was badly scarred, presumably from being beaten by his slave owner — Weems said that she too felt those strong emotions, and that was why it was important to her to etch the inscription on the glass.

She read the inscription aloud: “Black and tanned / your whipped wind / of change howled low / blowing itself — ha — smack / into the middle of Ellington's orchestra / Billie heard it too & / cried strange fruit tears.” Out of the tragedy of slavery, out of the hardships African-Americans have endured, artists like Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday have risen. “I am so grateful to be black in American that I don’t know what to do,” Weems said. Her voice is warm and confident, and she talks about heavy things with a reflective lightness.

Look through photographs of the installation below, and come to The Frist tomorrow at 11 a.m. to hear Carrie Mae Weems' keynote address.

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Shirley Clarke, Once-Banned Indie Pioneer, Celebrated at Belcourt

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 9:04 AM

Even many who pride themselves on knowing every unheralded film and director might pause when asked about Shirley Clarke. Clarke's first love was dance, and she was a choreographer before becoming an indie filmmaker in the '50s. But her innovative approach and maverick spirit (a feminist long before that word became part of the lexicon) was most evident in a series of landmark films. These include the award-winning Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel With The World (1963), her stark and unsentimental look at gangs The Cool World (1964), and 1985's superb Ornette: Made in America, screening Sept. 21-23 at The Belcourt as part of its two-film Clarke salute.

Clarke used the musical backdrop of Coleman's freewheeling 1972 symphonic composition "Skies of America" to fuel a documentary that proves as fascinating, if at times erratic, as the album. Rather than provide a life portrait, Clarke makes the movie a tribute to Coleman's personality and avant-garde approach, blending interviews and performances with reflections and music video snippets.

Besides footage of Coleman and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, there are also scenes filmed at the opening of the now defunct (but unforgettable) Caravan of Dreams club in Fort Worth, and in Morocco. Other contributors include R. Buckminster Fuller, William S. Burroughs and critic Robert Palmer.

After languishing for years after Clarke's death in 1997, Ornette: Made in America has been restored on 35mm film and issued on DVD as part of a campaign to eventually make all Clarke's films publicly available. It comes to the Belcourt Friday, one of two newly restored Clarke productions that will be screened over the next week. The other is another controversial, seldom-shown Clarke work, The Connection, which shows Sept. 23, 25 and 27.

An unblinking look at jazz-musician junkies that calls into question its own method and motives, Clarke's 1961 debut feature was initially banned from New York theaters due to concerns over language. The New York Court of Appeals finally allowed it in theaters after Clarke and producer Lewis Allen filed suit. Even so, it's likely that more people have heard The Connection's outstanding score (composed by pianist Freddie Redd and featuring alto saxophonist Jackie McLean) than have seen the film. A negative New York Times review didn't help matters upon release, and The Connection soon disappeared from view. Through Milestone Films' efforts, however, these restorations should give a larger audience new appreciation for Shirley Clarke's vision and talent.

Note: Ron Wynn will host a Q&A following the Sept. 23 screening of Ornette: Made in America featuring saxophonist/bandleader and Coleman fan Rahsaan Barber.

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This American Dreamlife: Mike Birbiglia in Sleepwalk With Me, Opening at Belcourt

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 7:01 AM

When he’s awake, Mike Birbiglia dreams of being a successful comic. When he’s asleep, he dreams of making a neck pillow out of hot pizza. Thanks to his sleepwalking — the glum inertia of his days and the literal somnambulance of his nights — the wrong dreams are coming true.

That’s the gist of Sleepwalk With Me, stand-up Birbiglia’s first feature as director, adapted from his own autobiographical piece (he suffers from “rapid eye movement behavior disorder”) for the radio anthology This American Life.

Read the rest of the review here.

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Tonight: Great Performances Opens With Kyle Abraham's "Live! The Realest MC" at Vanderbilt's Ingram Hall

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 at 5:00 AM


Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion
Where: Vanderbilt's Ingram Hall
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21

In Live! The Realest MC, New York-based dancer Kyle Abraham does the unimaginable — he makes the story of Pinocchio relevant. Reimagining the plight of the puppet as a metaphor for coming out as a gay man in the hip-hop community, Abraham's moves unfold like an urgent, hypnotic and often hilarious fairy tale. Outfitted in a bedazzled Adidas track suit, Abraham will lead his troupe of five dancers across the stage at Vanderbilt's Ingram Hall as the season opener for this year's Great Performances series, and it couldn't be a better choice.

Due to a shift in administrative focus, Great Performances has been cut to less than half the size of last year's lineup. Live! The Realest MC is therefore charged with making a much larger impact on its audience, galvanizing them to get excited about the Great Performances season. From the looks of it, Abraham and his company Abraham.In.Motion are more than up to the task.

"We've tightened our focus," Great Performances director Bridgette Kohnhorst tells the Scene, "and curatorially, we've looked at what we clearly do offer the Nashville public audience that you cannot get every day. That is our contemporary dance, our world music, our edgy theater."

Watch a clip from Live! The Realest MC after the jump.

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