Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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87 posts categorized "Movies" Feed

January 27, 2012

Vermont Company to Supply Cat Toys to the Stars

Classic_w_LogoLast week, Milia Bell of Burlington packed up 300 Tickle Pickles and shipped them to California. The squishy green tubes, redolent of catnip, will go in swag bags offered to attendees of the 84th Academy Awards on February 26.

If any A-listers actually own cats rather than handbag-sized dogs, those Pickles will eventually end up where they belong — being clawed and embraced by frenzied felines. That could be a stroke of a luck for a two-person Vermont business.

Bell is the owner of Tipsy Nip Organic Catnip Products, which used to be PupCat Bakery. She's been baking treats for cats and dogs and selling them at local farmers markets since 2004. Since 2009, when Suzanne Podhaizer interviewed her for Seven Days, Bell and her partner have shifted focus — from dogs to cats. They changed their name and now sell only their cat toys and catnip wholesale, with 15 to 20 accounts around the country. (Their canine baked goods are still available at farmers markets.)

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John Sayles to Open White River Indie Films' Fest in April

Chris-cooper-as-colonel-hardacre-2Here's some cool news for indie film fans: John Sayles will be at White River Indie Films' annual fest on April 27 with his new film, Amigo.

A story of American imperialism rearing its head in the Philippines in 1900, Amigo, starring Chris Cooper (pictured), was screened at the Vermont International Film Festival last October. It's available on demand and probably soon on DVD.

WRIF's Q&A with Sayles is still a big deal. If you remember the '80s, you probably know Sayles has been making films steeped in social consciousness since 1979's Return of the Secaucus Seven. He became an indie fixture before people used the word "indie," combining a leftist sensibility with sharp writing and solid drama in movies such as Lianna, Eight Men Out, Matewan, The Brother From Another Planet and Lone Star.

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January 25, 2012

Williston Screening of 'Pina' to Benefit Work of Local Choreographer

Wim Wenders' Oscar-nominated documentary, Pina, is coming to Vermont in March. If I were you, I'd buy my tickets now. Seriously. Do it.

First off, proceeds from the March 1 screening at Williston's Majestic 10 benefit the Flynn Center and, more specifically, Vermont choreographer Hannah Dennison's large-scale tribute to Pina Bausch, Dear Pina, which premieres in the cathedral-like breeding barn at Shelburne Farms in June.

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January 20, 2012

Movies You Missed 22: Mysteries of Lisbon

Mysteries-lisbonThis week in movies you missed: Remarkable coincidences! Swooning! Duels! Ridiculously effective disguises! Yes, we're dealing with a plot based on a 19th-century novel — as realized by an amazing filmmaker.

What You Missed

Portugal does "Masterpiece Theater" with this adaptation of Camilo Castelo Branco's 1854 novel from recently deceased Chilean director Raoul Ruiz. The plot centers on an apparently orphan boy, Pedro (João Arrais), raised at a school run by the kindly Father Dinis (Adriano Luz). His true parentage is the film's first "mystery." (Hint: In 19th-century novels, every obscure orphan turns out to belong to the nobility.)

Once that's been solved, we explore a bunch of other plots and subplots, most of them linked by the protean figure of Dinis, who has borne various colorful identities and names in his life. He's not the only quick-change artist: Another central character is the dashing Alberto de Magalhães (Ricardo Pereira), a self-made millionaire who once went by the name Knife Eater.

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January 13, 2012

Movies You Missed 21: Higher Ground

Higher-groundThis week in movies you missed: Actress Vera Farmiga gets religion in her directorial debut, an irreverent movie that takes faith seriously.

What You Missed

Higher Ground is based on Carolyn Briggs' 2002 memoir This Dark World: A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost, which details the author's experiences as a young wife and mother in a radical Pentecostal church in the '70s and her eventual decision to leave.

For the film, the story has been transported from Iowa to rural upstate New York. That was also the setting of the recent indie cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene, and the films have visual similarities, both evoking '70s counterculture photos of youthful (yet retro) communities where the men wear beards and the women are caught somewhere between prairie and hippie fashion.

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January 06, 2012

Movies You Missed 20: Puncture

PunctureThis week in movies you missed: Captain America crusades for our nation's health care workers and snorts lots of blow.

What You Missed

OK, it's not Captain America, just Chris Evans, the actor who plays him. In this fact-based drama, which premiered in New York last fall, Evans plays Mike Weiss, a young Houston personal-injury lawyer who fights for underdogs and enjoys recreating with hookers and drugs.

When a pretty nurse (Vinessa Shaw) tells Weiss how she was infected with HIV by an accidental needle-stick — one of thousands of similar accidents each year — he takes up her cause. An engineer (Marshall Bell) has invented a "safety syringe" that can only be used once, preventing such incidents. But a powerful cartel of medical supply manufacturers holds American hospitals in its grip, leaving him no market for his device.

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December 23, 2011

Movies You Missed 19: Saint Nick

Saint-nickThis week in movies you missed: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he's going to kill you (in this horror flick from the Netherlands, that is).

What You Missed

This week in Vermont news, we learned that public school teachers can get in trouble for telling fifth graders that Santa is fictional, like Harry Potter. Apparently it's culturally insensitive to cast doubt on a "symbol of the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ," said school superintendent Christopher Kibbe.

So I guess we can see why Saint Nick was never released theatrically in the U.S. In this slasher film, dastardly Dutch writer-director Dick Maas dares to imagine that Saint Nicholas is not just real, but evil.

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December 16, 2011

Movies You Missed 18: Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame

Detective_dee_04This week in movies you missed: an ass-kicking, anachronistic genius detective from Hong Kong. Top that, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes!

What You Missed

A 2010 mystery/action epic from prominent Hong Kong New Wave director Tsui Hark, based on the real Tang Dynasty official Di Renjie and latter-day fictions about his exploits.

The year is 689 A.D., and Wu Zetian (Carina Lau) is about to crown herself China's first empress, over the objections of clan leaders who do not want a woman on the throne. After officials inspect the 200-foot Buddha statue just constructed in the empress' honor, one of them bursts into flames, a victim of apparent spontaneous combustion.

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December 09, 2011

Movies You Missed 17: Portlandia

PortlandiaThis week in movies (or TV) you missed: Finally, someone made a sketch comedy show about all the different subcultures in Burlington. OK, not really. But close enough.

What You Missed

Until now, I was under the mistaken impression that "Portlandia" was a web series. It actually airs on IFC in 20-minute blocks, but a lot of the sketches have found their way to YouTube.

As you may have deduced, the setting is Portland, Ore. Most of the parts in these loosely connected sketches are played by Fred Armisen of "Saturday Night Live" and Carrie Brownstein, late of Sleater-Kinney. In the first sketch of the first episode, Armisen plays an Angeleno who returns from a trip to Portland to tell his friend about the magical place he's discovered — a city where political earnestness, slacking and "the dream of the '90s" never died.

I didn't have to watch much of the ensuing musical number to realize that Burlington and Portland are spiritual twins. Lines like "It's where young people go to retire!" sounded like outtakes from my inner monologue. Even Portland's fictional mayor (played by Kyle MacLachlan) kind of has a Bob Kiss vibe to him.

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December 04, 2011

Movies You Missed 16: The Future

FutureThis week in movies you missed: What looked like an indie twee fest is actually the saddest film I have seen this year. And I have seen both Shame and Melancholia.

(Sidenote: If you want to see Melancholia on the big screen, hie thee to Merrill's Roxy right now. It may not linger, unlike Kirsten Dunst's character's depression.)

What You Missed

The Future is the second movie written and directed by Miranda July, who is known for play writing, dance, performance art and stories that get published in The New Yorker. As this New York Times profile explains, her success has sparked more than a little envy among thirtysomething struggling-artist types who find her work more precious than substantial.

The protagonists are Jason (Hamish Linklater) and Sophie (July), two nonfamous thirtysomething struggling-artist types who live in L.A. together. They are considering a huge step: adopting a cat from the Humane Society. The cat they've chosen has renal failure and a life expectancy of about six months, making this a manageable starter commitment in their view.

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