Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's 24 Hour Love, Baby, at International Black Film Festival Summer Series

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM

OK, the hed's a clumsy hat tip to the late, great Nashville soul men Earl Gaines and Ted Jarrett, but that's on us. The International Black Film Festival of Nashville continues its Summer Series of independent films by African American filmmakers with a screening 5 p.m. Saturday of 24 Hour Love, featuring Tatyana Ali, Lynn Whitfield, Malinda Williams and Darius McCrary. From the festival website:

The greatest feeling in the world is when you learn to love! Follow the stories of seven everyday people as they experience laughter, life and matters of the heart. The all-star cast will take you through the good, the bad and the ugly of the many faces of love.

More exciting to us is the chance 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10 to catch up with a movie we missed in theaters, Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer. We've been hearing for the past year about Clarke Peters' performance as a minister pressing his grandson to get religion, and this'll tide us over until Lee's remake of Oldboy comes out in late November. (Its move from a Halloween slot into something closer to awards season bodes well.)

Both IBFFN screenings will be Belmont's Bill and Carol Troutt Theatre, 2100 Belmont Blvd. Admission is $8, $5 for students and seniors. And if you want to give Lee's new project some love on Kickstarter, here's how.

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Scrap Game: Documentary Mettle Hosts Local Premiere Thursday at Bongo Java

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

The title of Andy Arrow's documentary Mettle is a pun that encompasses the two things his subjects need: recyclable scraps of discarded metal they can sell, and the fortitude to brave street scavenging and arrest to make a living doing it. The Brooklyn-based filmmaker, a former Nashvillian, hosts the local premiere of his documentary 7 p.m. Thursday at Bongo Upstairs Theatre above Bongo Java on Belmont.

"It began as a one-day, 10-minute YouTube video project, to see if I could shoot, edit, and score something simple and modest, with the view to making a 'real' movie on a different topic altogether, later," Arrow tells Country Life via email. "But as I quickly learned more about the recycling phenomenon, and the scope of the narrative greatly increased, this became 'the' movie and topic."

After discarding his old air conditioner on a New York sidewalk, only to have it disappear within moments, Arrow began to wonder about the practice of selling recyclables. That led him to a surprising discovery: Not only is it illegal to take pieces of junk discarded on the sidewalk — which become property of the city — those who do can face up to $10,000 in fines. He set out equipped with a Handycam, which he says is great for stealth work but not so great for megaplex-caliber footage.

"The good news is that the Handycam allowed me to approach people on the street, casually, and get raw, spontaneous interviews," Arrow tells Country Life. "Also, I accidentally filmed the cops making a stop, which you might have seen in the trailer, and which almost certainly would not have happened if they had seen a film crew, or even if they had seen me in advance with my Handycam, which they certainly did not."

Arrow is barnstorming the film around the country, and he'll arrive at Bongo Java Thursday night for a "red carpet" event at 7 p.m. before the screening at 8. Tickets are $10 at the door.

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Notes From the 422nd Annual Wraiths for Writing Conference: 'The Double'

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Twins, Amelia Garretson-Persans
  • "Twins," Amelia Garretson-Persans

[Editor's Note: This is the latest 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.]

The words of Professor Algernon Dogwood broke the deepest silence I had ever known. “Wake up! For God’s sake, wake up!” My inner eyelids opened, but it seemed my outer eyelids remained closed. I took in the orange and shifting patterns behind my closed lids. I couldn’t move my arms. The Professor’s words ran on: “Oh God, her pulse is slowing down. Someone get help. Where to get help for the living in a place like this?”

My eyes went black with the pain of trying to twitch my fingers. If it were not for the fear of death I know I shouldn’t have succeeded. In an explosion of agony I opened my outer lids. The Professor breathed deeply.

“You were drowning. I thought you were lost.”

“I saw a woman in a coffee mug. She was eating potato skins.”

“You saw Hilda. Thank goodness I found you.”

I sat up. The lounge windows revealed a high and clear moon, though it was late afternoon when I first entered the lounge.

“Who’s Hilda?” I asked.

“She’s a kind of modern day Keres, a female death-spirit. Never good news.”

The Professor passed me a flask from his coat. “Very odd to be visited by a Keres sister this time of year. Tell me about the something that’s after you.”

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BOOTLEG Loves Nashville

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

Remember last October when we told you about that day that a rad airstream filled with shoes from Austin was going to be parked outside of Imogene + Willie? Well, unfortunately, the BOOTLEG shoe trailer is not here right now, but our friends at BOOTLEGmarket.com definitely have Nashville on their minds.

BOOTLEGmarket.com, a global, peer-to-peer social, news and e-commerce shoe marketplace offers users the opportunity to buy, sell, rent, trade, or just admire some damn incredible footwear, including many hard-to-find brands or one-of-a-kind vintage scores. I hate to use the term "shoe porn," but, well, it's shoe porn.

But it's not just shoe porn. As with most e-commerce sites, the BOOTLEG folks, powered by founder and stylist extraordinaire Sarah Ellison Lewis — whose CV includes Conde Nast, Barney's, Intermix and Target — has lots of pretty things to look at if you don't feel like pulling out your credit card quite yet. You can flip through the stunning BOOTLEGNewsprint, a photo-packed paean to styling without commercial influences, or peek into a fashionista's closet, or read about the latest gossip (as in, fashion and culture gossip, not US Weekly gossip) on the blog.

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Fort Roll-Up: A Fort Houston + Country Life Podcast

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 8:45 AM

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A few months ago, I started recording podcasts with Fort Houston's Zach Duensing and Brent Jackson. Those guys are hilarious, I'm a little awkward, and we're all still learning. In between us getting awesome at podcasting and now, there are some excellent snippets of conversation to listen to, and we've decided to bite the bullet and start posting them online. Listen to our fifth podcast, which features Jen Uman, below.

This week we interview Jen Uman, Nashville-based artist and illustrator. We discuss Uman’s penchant for blow-job paintings, her stint as an extra on The Simpsons and a voice actor for The Power Puff Girls, and her recently published book about the true story of Jemmy Button, a little boy from a native tribe who was abducted and brought to America in 1830.

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Paul Yoon Discusses Snow Hunters, the August Selection for Parnassus Books' First Editions Club

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 6:30 AM

Watch this video of Paul Yoon, a young novelist whose book Snow Hunters will be featured in next month's First Editions Club at Parnassus. Yoon won the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 award, and he'll be at Parnassus to discuss the book on Thursday, Aug. 1.

From the Parnassus website:

With spare, evocative prose, Snow Hunters traces the extraordinary journey of Yohan, who defects from his country at the end of the war, leaving his friends and family behind to seek a new life in a port town on the coast of Brazil.

Though he is a stranger in a strange land, throughout the years in this town, four people slip in and out of Yohan’s life: Kiyoshi, the Japanese tailor for whom he works, and who has his own secrets and a past he does not speak of; Peixe, the groundskeeper at the town church; and two vagrant children named Santi and Bia, a boy and a girl, who spend their days in the alleyways and the streets of the town. Yohan longs to connect with these people, but to do so he must sift through his traumatic past so he might let go and move on.

In Snow Hunters, Yoon proves that love can dissolve loneliness; that hope can wipe away despair; and that a man who has lost a country can find a new home. This is a heartrending story of second chances, told with unerring elegance and absolute tenderness.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Flipping Channels: Breaking Bad on Crank, Emmys on Crack

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM

You can start a lively debate by asking which AMC series is better: Mad Men or Breaking Bad. As someone who grew up during the '60s and finds a lot wanting in the former's depiction of that era, I come down squarely on the side of Breaking Bad.

But it is also a powerhouse show that can't go on indefinitely, like some procedurals or sitcoms. The evolution of Walter White (multiple Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) from a struggling, ailing, fiscally strapped science teacher to a hard-edged meth dealer wallowing in wealth — which you can relive in the mashup clip above — has been an epic story. Now it is coming to an end.

Breaking Bad begins its final eight episodes 8 p.m. Aug. 11. Expect fireworks to erupt early and continue right through the conclusion. "This is a race to the finish," creator Vince Gilligan told TV Guide. "We leave it all on the field. No loose ends go untied. It's a fast-moving eight episodes."

One proposed thematic direction that didn't happen was the death of White's DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris). As a result, their last encounters will be a major part of the storyline, resolving what has been a brilliantly plotted study in the rippling consequences of immoral choices.

As the show nears its finale, old arguments will only intensify. When exactly did Walter White "break bad?" Or was he bad from the beginning — needing just an inciting incident (or self-justification) to let loose the demons within?

Such questions ensure that Breaking Bad will join other departed classics like The Wire, NYPD Blue and The Sopranos among shows TV fans will forever discuss, debate and dissect. It is good the program is going out on a high note, and won't hang around until every ounce of creativity has been wrung out of its staff.

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RED 2: A Hard Day to Die Good, Or Something

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 5:34 AM

This year, Bruce Willis was involved in a sequel that nearly squandered the goodwill of its franchise name. The script, involving nuclear terrorists and clearing a guy’s name, felt like an old spec piece from the '80s some studio exec found while spring-cleaning his office (and subsequently had rewritten to fit characters people would recognize). The film had its modest pleasures, but at the end of the day, it was a menial exercise in patience that pretty much soaked all the fun out of the series.

So, am I describing A Good Day to Die Hard or RED 2? The answer is: yes.

In Die Hard’s defense, it’s hard to blame the filmmakers for wanting to bring Willis' John McClane back to the big screen for a fifth outing. He’s a well-loved action hero with a strong following. But can anyone say that about Frank Moses, Willis’ gun-slinging goodie from the 2010 action comedy RED?

As much as I enjoyed that slaphappy surprise, I never thought I’d see the retired but extremely dangerous crew return in another installment, and for good reason: There didn’t need to be a sequel. Sure enough, while the original felt amusingly weird, RED 2 is merely inconsequential. Instead of the bombastic blast RED provided, the new movie is uninspired product that uses a semi-familiar title to attract an audience.

It’s not a complete loss: Supporting players John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker revive their memorably quirky roles to remind you how much fun they were in the original, and Anthony Hopkins has a ball playing a mysterious professor. Director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) gets the action progressing snappily in the third act, but by that point it’s too little too late — consolation for the price of a Redbox rental, maybe, but not a movie ticket.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Tonight: Bill Cosby at the Schermerhorn

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 3:00 PM

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Bill Cosby
When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 26
Where: Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Bill Cosby’s role as the lovable dad everyone wished they had in The Cosby Show has seen a definitive shift over the years. Today, Cosby has taken on more of a tough-love role, demanding higher standards of education and responsibility from black America. To Cosby, the issue boils down to accountability, while his critics say the multi-millionaire comic is ignoring systemic inequities of race and class.

Cosby recently took a public stance on the George Zimmerman verdict, maintaining that the case was not a racial issue and there is no reason to call Zimmerman a racist. (Really, Bill?) Despite his controversial views, Cosby remains an in-demand performer.

Material from Cosby’s current tour will be included in his first comedy special in 30 years, Far from Finished, set to air Nov. 24 on Comedy Central.

Watch the video of Cosby's take on Zimmerman after the jump.

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Help Corporate Juggernaut Bring Tig Notaro to Nashville

Posted By on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 11:20 AM

This summer, Tig Notaro is crisscrossing the nation, performing on the porches and in the backyards of her fans' places for a tour documentary that will eventually be aired on Showtime. And if the precocious jokers at Corporate Juggernaut have anything to say about it, she'll be coming to Nashville for an intimate performance in Brandon Jazz's living room on the site of Grassy Knoll Movie Nights next to Bongo Java East.

Notaro has been a working comedian for more than a decade, but only recently broke into the mainstream after riding a wave of tragedy into what Rolling Stone described as an “instant legendary” set of stand-up comedy at Largo in Los Angeles. Abandoning her usual set to speak frankly and honestly about undergoing stage-two cancer treatments, the sudden death of her mother and a dissolution of a relationship. Which sounds like a total bummer, but Notaro's set was real and truly masterful — something that any fan of comedy absolutely must listen to. It was released under the name Live (with a soft "I") and can be found on Spotify and iTunes.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Corporate Juggernaut, the scrappy comedy upstart profiled on our cover at the end of May, has submitted their application to bring Tig to Music City and, honestly? They've got a pretty good shot at this. This isn't the first time that a YouTube video has thrown Brandon Jazz into unlikely circumstances, after all. Back in 2012, Jazz (and his Armed Forces) were tapped to open for The B-52's at the Ryman, thanks to his penchant for self-promotion and an antagonistic music video shot during a Westboro Baptist Church protest. If there's anyone who can use the power of the Internet to pull off something crazy, it's him.

If you want to help, all that they ask is that you tweet their video. Nobody really knows how Notaro and Showtime are going to pick their venues, but it couldn't hurt to give this thing some social media props.

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