We expected the mag to uncover all sorts of wacky shenanigans at Acklen — postal workers delivering mail via festive puppets, say, or handmade stamps in honor of Heirloom Potato Week. But the post office captured the magazine's eye for its imposing wall of celebrity customer photographs. If that's quirky, half the barber shops, diners and dry cleaners in Nashville rank somewhere between Emo Phillips and Ish Kabibble.
But the list is worth checking out — not just for Acklen, but also to make the acquaintance of Going Postal, Evan Kalish's photo blog devoted to America's post offices (5,042 in 49 states since August 2008 and counting). There may come a point in the future when we're thankful this record exists.
James Muro’s legendary 1987 splatter fondue Street Trash bears about as much relation to its acknowledged inspiration — Akira Kurosawa’s tenement drama Dodes’ka-den — as The Last House on the Left does to its oft-referenced source The Virgin Spring: It’s the glue-huffing, pus-oozing, lice-ridden derelict who turns up at graduation to proclaim your honor student as his role model.
The plot involves the mayhem caused among tenement dwellers by a shipment of rotgut, Tenafly Viper, that causes any poor Skid Row denizen who downs it to melt, decompose and explode in geysers of psychedelic goo. Good thing it only costs $1. Muro went on to become the Steadicam operator of choice for Scorsese, James Cameron and Michael Mann; his obvious talent, Roy Frumkes’ grimy script, a pungent cast of fearless mugs and flabbergasting gore effects by Jennifer Aspinall make this a gorehound gotta-see when it plays 8 & 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Logue's Black Raven Emporium, 2915 Gallatin Rd.
If you're still not convinced — bear in mind you'll be missing the cinema's greatest game of severed-penis keep-away.
Anyone who cares about seeing the city's theater scene grow should read Martin Brady's Scene cover story this week on Tennessee Rep's production of The Columnist, starring David Alford, Jenny Littleton and a top-line cast of Nashville thesps. Why does it matter? Brady asks and answers the question:
On April 3 last year, The Manhattan Theatre Club presented the world premiere of The Columnist — the latest work by acclaimed playwright David Auburn, whose Proof won the 2001 Tony Award for best play — at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway. A dramatized biography of Joseph Alsop, the late journalist, influential conservative pundit and closeted homosexual known for his unflinching support for the Vietnam War, the play ran for three months, with John Lithgow earning rave reviews in the lead role.
You're probably asking, why is the premiere of a play about a Washington journalist, written by a New Yorker, starring a Los Angeles-based actor and presented on the Great White Way a red-letter day for Nashville's arts community?
The Columnist's path to Broadway really began in Nashville a couple of years earlier, when Auburn participated in the Tennessee Repertory Theatre's Ingram New Works Project, funded by Rep co-founder and philanthropist Martha Ingram to help playwrights develop new works. What began in 2007 as a simple artist-in-residence grant has evolved into a vibrant theatrical incubator that since 2009 has enabled 19 playwrights-in-residence to conceive, field-test and hone their scripts under the tutelage of the program's fellows — nationally known writers like Auburn, Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck), Steven Dietz (Becky's New Car, Yankee Tavern) and this year's fellow, Theresa Rebeck, a gifted playwright best known for her television work, as the creator of Smash and a writer and producer on Law & Order and NYPD Blue.
It's worth reading Brady's story to see how this unusual program is making Nashville an incubator for new plays and building important relationships with noted playwrights. It's also worth seeing The Columnist, which runs through next weekend at TPAC's Johnson Theater. Brady has a full review here. Tickets run $42.50-$55; for availability and show times, visit the TPAC site.
You've probably seen Katie Groshong and Jeff Wedding at the Nashville Film Festival this week, talking up their feature A Measure of the Sin. To see it, though, you'll need to duck out of NaFF (or at least slip out of the closing-night gala early) and head over to The Belcourt tonight at 10 p.m., when the movie makes its local premiere.
Every childhood is normal to the child who lives it. For Meredith that means an enchanted seclusion that is shattered when she is deprived of her mother. Desperate and alone, Meredith must join a household with other women and their children, a sinister man who controls every facet of her existence, and a vicious bear that only she can see. As life in this world becomes increasingly strange and frightening, Meredith realizes that she must flee, even though she fears she has not learned enough to survive on her own.
Actor-producer (and former Belmont music student) Groshong and director-writer-cinematographer-editor Wedding first teamed on the 2004 thriller Blind. She's received extra attention this week at NaFF for her role in Chad Crawford Kinkle's horror film Jug Face, which earned an added second screening tonight at 6. A Measure of the Sin was co-written by Kristy Nielsen and co-stars a number of familiar local faces, including Starina Johnson and Ryan Jackson. Admission tonight is $10.
In this week's Scene, Craig D. Lindsey writes about one of the year's biggest cinematic conversation items: Rodney Ascher's unique film essay Room 237, in which five obsessive viewers of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film version of Stephen King's The Shining spin elaborate theories about the movie's secret meaning — something people have done ever since the film's release. One says it's a parable of American Indian genocide, another a treatise on the Holocaust; still another reads it as Kubrick's veiled confession that he helped NASA fake the moon landing. In each case, Ascher returns to the text of the movie to illustrate their arguments.
The theories extend to how the perfectionist director wanted the movie to be seen — giving rise to the meme that Kubrick designed the film to overlap in striking ways if it were played backward and forward at the same time superimposed. (No word whether you're supposed to simultaneously cue up The Dark Side of the Moon.) To test the theory, The Belcourt will show "The Shining/gninihS ehT" that way in its 1925 hall this Friday and Saturday at midnight after Room 237, with Kubrick's film playing forward only next door in the 1966 auditorium.
Now, about that helicopter shadow ...
If, like me, you missed a number of the films announced in the 2013 Nashville Film Festival's awards ceremony at Greenhouse yesterday afternoon — films such as the narrative winner If You Die, I Will Kill You, the doc winner Far Out Isn't Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story, the New Directors winner Nairobi Half Life, and the prize-winning music film Die Thomaner — you're in luck. As the festival concludes its 44th annual running today, leading up to tonight's closing-night gala, the NaFF has scheduled repeat screenings of award-winning films as well as demand screenings of popular titles:
1:45 pm - Nairobi Half Life (winner of the New Directors Award)
3:30 pm - Far Out Isn't Far Enough (winner of the Documentary Feature Award)
3:45 pm - Die Thomaner (winner of the Gibson Music Films/Music City Award)
4:30 pm - Award-Winning Shorts
5:00 pm - If You Die, I Will Kill You (winner of the Bridgestone Narrative Feature Award)
5:30 pm - TWO: The Story of Roman & Nyro
6:00 pm - Jug Face
6:00 pm - FOLK
6:30 pm - East Nashville Tonight (A Work in Progress)
In addition, there are second screenings of well-received films such as Musicwood (2 p.m.), Chris McDaniel's Music City, USA (2:15 p.m.), the acclaimed World War II drama In the Fog (3 p.m.) and Rhino Season (5:30 p.m.), along with tonight's closing-night feature, the romantic drama Unfinished Song (7 p.m.) with Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave. Below, the NaFF's full list of prize-winning films:
Those Darlins’ Jessi "Darlin" Zazu has added two new groups of drawings to her Hunting for Heroes series. She announced that the new series, titled HOODLUMS and CROOKS, would be available on her Etsy shop earlier this morning. And while the previous collections we told you about back in January may have included infamous anti-heroes like Butch Cassidy and Jesse James, the new ones have Scarface Al Capone, Big Jim AND Little Hymie. In other words, it's a mix of obscure criminals and some of the most notorious mugshots around. I can’t wait until she starts digging into the great female outlaws — take note Ma Barker and Bonnie Parker aficionados!
Swedish father of psychoanalysis Carl Jung had a direct impact on a variety of first-rate artists, from Pollock to Fellini. Watkins’ student-led art operation Co.H teamed with the Nashville Psychoanalytic Study Group to bring a stellar group of Jungian experts together for a discussion on Jung’s influence on art, society and contemporary thought.
A screening of Matter of Heart — a 1986 feature-length doc that combines archival footage with in-depth interviews with Jung’s former pupils, friends and colleagues — will follow. The panel discussion will be moderated by Donna Krupkin Whitney, and will feature Matter of Heart’s producer Michael Whitney as well as Jungian experts Gretchen Watts and Donna Scott.
A rough version of the documentary is available online. Watch it after the jump.
This week has offered nothing but tough choices for Nashville movie lovers, and tonight is no different. Opposite the last screening of Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux 6;30 p.m. at the Nashville Film Festival — followed by a reception 8 p.m. at Alegria in Green Hills honoring Hispanic films and filmmakers — is a free screening of the excellent documentary The Central Park Five 6:30 p.m. at Casa Azafran Community Center, 2195 Nolensville Rd.
Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon's documentary recounts the 1989 New York City rape case that resulted in the railroading of five African-American youths, all of whom were later fully exonerated. Here's what the Scene's Michael Sicinski had to say about the film during its earlier Nashville run:
[T]he specific manner in which the jogger was attacked spoke to roiling racial and class animosities that, while worsening throughout the U.S. during the Reagan era, had hit a crescendo in New York. The jogger (whose anonymity was maintained through the trial and subsequent furor, but later identified herself as investment banker Trisha Meili) was allegedly gang-raped by a sub-segment of group of up to 30 young African-American men, said to have been roaming the Park in a “wolf pack” assaulting anyone who got in their way. The media couldn’t resist the image of young black men behaving like animals, and the “practice” (which it really wasn’t — possibly an impromptu flash mob) was labeled “wilding” due to detectives misunderstanding hip-hop slang. (One detainee apparently said they were “doing the wild thing,” and a proto-meme was born.)
This is some of the background that may help contextualize the importance of The Central Park Five, the new documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. Burns pere, taking a break from his signature PBS style, works with his daughter and her partner to provide a record of one of the saddest chapters in the recent history of U.S. law enforcement and jurisprudence. CP5 details how, in the rush to bring the Central Park Rapist(s) to justice, NYPD detectives and attorneys general rounded up, browbeat, and railroaded five innocent kids from Harlem. Each was coerced into providing a patently false confession (none of their corresponding stories matched), after which they were essentially tried by an angry media and a city that had learned to live on the brink of race war.
CP5 speaks with each of the five convicts, each of whom was fully exonerated. (One of the men, Antron McCray, declines to appear, providing only his voice.) Slowly, patiently, the film allows them to tell their tales; perhaps just as important, it lets them present themselves as the normal, average men they are, not the savages this ordeal made them out to be. Over time, one thing that becomes clear from The Central Park Five is that class identities were in many respects the hidden engine that allowed the whole Central Park Jogger tragedy to unfold in the first place.
The screening, co-sponsored by Nashville Public Television, will include light refreshments. It's worth going just to check out Casa Azafran, one of the most encouraging public spaces in the city.
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