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August 2013

August 30, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: 56 Up

Screen Shot 2013-08-30 at 11.01.00 AMThis week in movies you missed: Catch up with a British TV documentary series that has spanned almost a half century — and think about your own mortality.

What You Missed

In 1964, Granada Television ran a documentary profiling 14 British kids from various regions and social classes. The announcer intoned, "Why do we bring these children together? Because we want to get a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The shop steward and the executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old."

Well, it's 2013, and those "children" are nearing 60. Every seven years, the documentary crew (helmed since the second film by Michael Apted) has returned to check in on them, producing a one-of-a-kind record of how people evolve, or don't, as they pass through their lives.

For instance, the viewers have watched Neil Hughes transformed from a lively, imaginative kid to a college drop-out to a homeless man to a local politician. His schoolmate, Peter Davies (pictured), followed a more consistent path as a schoolteacher and lawyer — but he also has a late-in-life musical career.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: 56 Up" »

Seven Questions for Brett Dennen

Brett Dennen
Brett Dennen

Brett Dennen has a knack for breezy, feel-good folk-pop. He also has a new record coming out on Tuesday, October 22, called Smoke & Mirrors. Touring in advance of that album, Dennen will stop by the Barre Opera House in Barre this Sunday, September 1. So we shot him a few questions via email about the new joint and some other random stuff. Here's what he had to say.  

SEVEN DAYS: When Loverboy came out you said in several interviews that it contained some of your most personal songwriting and storytelling to date. Did you continue in that vein on Smoke & Mirrors or did you take a different approach?

BRETT DENNEN: Yes. I went further. Even more personal. I figure the best way to reach people, or to ask them to relate, is to be totally honest.

SD: Otherwise, what can audiences expect from the new record? 

BD: I think that people who are fans of my early music will appreciate some of the songs. I also think that those who appreciate my more breezy upbeat songs will be happy as well. It is a nice mix of feel-good and intimate music.

Continue reading "Seven Questions for Brett Dennen" »

Breaking Bad With Middlebury TV Scholar Jason Mittell

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 11.54.32 AMBack in 2009, when I interviewed Middlebury prof Jason Mittell for a Seven Days cover story, I asked him about his favorite new TV shows. Mittell, a professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies, focuses his research on television. (He's taught a whole course on "The Wire.")

Mittell raved about a then-obscure AMC drama called "Breaking Bad," in which a high school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston, pictured at right) starts cooking methamphetamine to pay his family's bills after he's diagnosed with cancer. "It’s so intense and focused," Mittell said.

I watched the show. I got addicted. And so, it seems, did a large swath of people around the world who are currently following "Breaking Bad"'s final season (five episodes to go!) with baited breath and more than occasional heart palpitations.

Mittell has been writing season 5 episode reviews for cultural-studies blog Antenna that go up shortly after each Sunday episode airs. Because I can never get enough of discussing "Breaking Bad" (to the annoyance of everyone I know who doesn't watch it), I decided to draw on his expertise and ask him questions about Skyler hate, serialized TV, Walt's karma, the great spoiler debate and anything else I could think of. Warning: intense wonkiness about "BB" and television generally from both of us ahead!

No spoilers for the show's specific plot points follow, but there is discussion of overall character arcs into early season 5, and an oblique reference to something that happens in episode 5.11.

Continue reading "Breaking Bad With Middlebury TV Scholar Jason Mittell" »

August 28, 2013

More Produce, and More Summer Theater, From Fable Farm

02-Fable-Farm-Theatre-Seth-Butler-SB-20130818_0409-pressLast summer I had the immense pleasure of attending a "stone soup" dinner and a play, Sea Marks, smack in the middle of tiny Barnard, just a block from the general store and pretty Silver Lake. The vegetable growers and thespians both were from nearby Fable Farm, cofounded by brothers Christopher and Jon Piana. If you missed my story about their enterprise last summer, you can read it here

The creative agrarian entrepreneurs at the charmingly named Fable Farm not only provide local CSA members with veggies; in August, they provide drama. This is courtesy of the New York City actors who spend their summers working on the farm.

It's a lovely experience, sharing a rustic meal and then huddling in front of a makeshift outdoor stage on mismatched seats and hay bales. Were it not for the electric lights illuminating the stage, this rural entertainment would have seemed timeless. 

Since my schedule is not going to allow seeing this year's production, I'm hoping some of you might go instead and report back.

This time, Fable is putting on Crimes of the Heart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Beth Henley. The Southern tragicomedy concerns a dysfunctional family, so everyone should be able to relate. Last weekend, two out of three shows sold out, so reservations are advised. Note that the farm dinner is BYOB.

Farm Fresh Dinner Theater with Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley, produced by Fable Theatre, Thursday through Saturday, August 29-31, 7 p.m., at Clark Commons, Barnard. $25. fabletheatre.com 

August 26, 2013

Dancing With Justin Timberlake: A Vermonter's Dream Comes True

1150211_10151829865989224_1268417503_nFormer U-32 student Lindsay Richardson danced her dream onstage last night with pop megastar Justin Timberlake at MTV's Video Music Awards. The best, and lengthiest, vid we found on the internets is on Perez TV right here. Or you can watch the Timberlake sequence here, or the entire broadcast on demand here.

Richardson started at age 12 studying hip-hop dance with Vermonter Sarah Cover, who runs the Urban Dance Complex in Williston. (As of September 1, it will be called the Urban Complex: Dance and Fitness.) With the help of Cover's New York and Los Angeles dance connections, Richardson got a leg up in the highly competitive industry. She moved to LA at 18 and, according to her Facebook page, is represented by the Go2 Talent Agency.

On Facebook before last night's show, Richardson let the cat out of the bag with these comments:

After a few of what felt like long weeks of secrets, I am VERY excited to say that one of my biggest dreams has come true. ... I could not be more honored to work with such an inspiring and humble human being and group of individuals. Tune in tomorrow and catch me and the most amazing group of dancers perform with Justin Timberlake on the VMA's!!!

In this "Stuck in Vermont" from 2007, Richardson spoke to Eva Sollberger about her aspirations.

Congratulations, Lindsay! Since one of your biggest dreams has come to pass, we can't wait to see what you do next.

Photo of Lindsay Richardson courtesy of her Facebook page.

August 23, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: Antiviral

AntiviralThis week in movies you missed: Writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, son of David, demonstrates the apple doesn't fall far from the tree with this high-concept science-fiction indie.

What You Missed

Imagine if celebrity culture really got out of control, and you have the world of Antiviral. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works at the tony Lucas Clinic, where ordinary people come to have themselves injected with celebrity diseases. Do you worship Beyoncé? Now you can suffer through a flu virus taken straight from her body! And pay for the privilege!

Actually, all the celebrities featured in the film are fictional. The clinic has an exclusive arrangement with blonde bombshell Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon), who is so idolized that consumers also clamor for steaks grown from her muscle cells. (And, yes, they eat them. The film's celebrity butcher shop is worth seeing.)

Syd himself is addicted to the viruses of the famous, shooting them up before the general public gets a chance. But when he goes to collect a new bug from Hannah, he gets more than he bargained for. This one is killing her.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: Antiviral" »

August 20, 2013

A Strong Woman and a Jamie Wyeth Portrait

CometJWyeth1My consciousness for all things Wyeth has been heightened since viewing and writing about the Shelburne Museum's exhibit "Wyeth Vertigo" earlier this summer. In fact, that exhibit taught me more than I previously knew about N.C. and Jamie Wyeth — father and son, respectively, of Andrew.

So a recent article in the New York Times about Jamie caught my eye, as did the accompanying luminous portrait he made of one Dr. Helen Brooke Taussig in 1963, when he was just 17 years old.

(For copyright reasons, I can't replicate the painting here, so you'll have to check it out at the Times site. Jamie Wyeth's "Comet," right, is courtesy of the Shelburne Museum.)

Alongside Jamie's portrait in the Times is a more conventional one of Taussig, from 1981, by Patric Bauernschmidt. And the difference between the two plays a part in a fascinating tale about permissible images of women — in this case, professional women — and how they have changed over a half century.

The story is also enlightening about the portrait-painting business itself, and how Jamie approached this commission. Not least, the article is about Taussig, who is no longer a household name but was famous in the 1940s.

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August 16, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: My Amityville Horror

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 10.20.51 AMThis week in movies you missed: Meet the real-life demonologist Vera Farmiga portrayed in The Conjuring in this documentary about one of the youngest victims of the famous Amityville house (or famous hoax, depending on your perspective).

What You Missed

In 1975, when Daniel Lutz (pictured) was 10, his family moved into a Long Island ocean-front dwelling that they'd purchased at a discount after one of the former inhabitants killed his family of six there. Twenty-eight days later, the Lutzes fled the Amityville house, telling tales of haunting and possession that would spawn a bestselling book, talk-show appearances and a string of cheesy Hollywood films.

This 2012 documentary from Amityville aficionado Eric Walter (who runs this site) is essentially a portrait of Lutz in his late forties. Despite allegations over the years that the "horror" was a hoax, Lutz insists it's all true, and more horrifying than people realize.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: My Amityville Horror" »

New Movies: Caption Me, Bee-yotch!

JobsEvery week I choose still pics from new movies to place on our Showtimes page. Some of those stills are just crying out for creative captions, but, sadly, the studios do not supply them.

You could, though! Check out these images and suggest your own captions in the comment section. The reward for good ones will be ... uh, nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. But, hey, that's also how much snark costs!

P.S. Apologies for the title of this post. I've been watching too much "Breaking Bad" this week.

So, what's new in theaters?

At the top of this post is a still from Jobs, starring, you guessed it, Ashton Kutcher. Your caption?

Personally, I'm going for: "Hey, think anybody will mistake me for Affleck in an Argo sequel and give me an Oscar?" Lame, I know. You can do better.

Continue reading "New Movies: Caption Me, Bee-yotch!" »

August 15, 2013

Feel Like Screaming? Join Edvard Munch ... in High Def

The scream revSince the advent of high-definition broadcasts, Vermonters have been offered a regular diet of lavish productions in real time from New York's Metropolitan Opera, or La Scala in Milan. Then came documentaries, pop concerts and other specialty programs. And then: art exhibits from major museums around the world.

Middlebury's Town Hall Theater has gotten in on the acts by installing HD satellite technology, and in addition to opera broadcasts has already shown a Manet exhibit this year, in April. In October, a Vermeer show from London's National Gallery will arrive.

Today, in two screenings at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., it's Edvard Munch's turn.

Continue reading "Feel Like Screaming? Join Edvard Munch ... in High Def" »

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