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October 2013

October 15, 2013

A Movie Not to Miss: The Act of Killing

TAOK_MakeupWhen people commit mass murder, they get locked up. Or maybe they evade prosecution, in which case they keep a low profile for the rest of their lives. When reporters come around with cameras and ask them about the massacre, they say, "I wasn't there" or "No comment."


Not always. In the documentary The Act of Killing, we enter a place where mass murderers are still wealthy, respected, supported by the ruling regime. They don't just confess to their crimes. They boast of them. With help from a film crew, they re-enact incidents of torture and murder using costumes, fake blood, music and cheesy Hollywood clichés.

It may be the most surreal and disturbing thing you've ever seen on screen. It's certainly the most powerful movie I've seen this year.

Continue reading "A Movie Not to Miss: The Act of Killing" »

October 11, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: Extracted

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 12.41.09 PMThis week in movies you missed: I play Netflix Instant roulette and watch a movie I never heard of with an intriguing description.

What You Missed

This is a first feature from writer-director Nir Paniry. It is not Mike Judge's Extract.

The description that made me watch:

Thomas Jacobs can enter a person's mind and view their memories, until a freak accident leaves him trapped inside the mind of a criminal. For four years, Jacobs fights to break free, until he makes a desperate bargain with the convict's own thoughts.

What this doesn't tell you is that Tom (Sasha Roiz, pictured) isn't psychic. He has invented a memory-viewing device that, for some weird reason, gives him a third-person view of a given subject's recollections, just like a movie. Once hooked up, you can traipse around somebody's head and experience their dirty secrets without being detected by their subconscious.

Naturally, the Powers That Be (represented here by a single slimy corrections-department honcho) want to use the device to prove crime suspects guilty.

Tom has scruples about signing a contract with a nascent police state. But he also has a baby on the way and needs dough, so he agrees to be hooked up to a scuzzy young convict (Dominic Bogart) who insists he didn't kill his girlfriend and wants his conviction overturned. Shenanigans ensue.

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

John Freakin' Turturro at the Savoy Theater?

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 12.26.45 PMMaybe it's because I just watched Five Corners and Miller's Crossing (again), and he's amazing in both of them. Anyway, that was my first thought when I read about this series of screenings the Vermont College of Fine Arts will hold later in the month at the Savoy for the fall residency of its inaugural MFA in Film program.

Turturro, who's appeared in a score of Spike Lee and Coen brothers films (and, yes, some Transformers movies), will screen his own directorial effort, Romance and Cigarettes (2005, starring James Gandolfini), on Friday, November 1, 7 p.m. at the Savoy. Tickets are free, but as of this writing, just 27 are left. If you want to go, better hustle over here.

Turturro may have the star power, but he's far from the only visiting director worth checking out at these Savoy screenings.

Continue reading "John Freakin' Turturro at the Savoy Theater?" »

October 10, 2013

BCA Opens a Gallery Dedicated to Contemporary Vermont Artists

  BouquetSince it opened in 1995 (as the Firehouse Gallery), the BCA Center has been the place to go in Burlington to see contemporary artwork from artists in Vermont and around the country. Now, it's dedicating one floor of its Church Street space exclusively to artists based in, or with strong ties to, home. The fourth floor is about to become Vermont Metro Gallery.

The inaugural exhibit, up through January 9, features work by printmaker Bill Davison, sculptor Kathleen Schneider, photographer Don Ross and painter John Gonter. Regular exhibits throughout the year will draw from the more than 150 artists who participate in BCA's lending program, as well as artists who have sold their work through BCA in the past.

Continue reading "BCA Opens a Gallery Dedicated to Contemporary Vermont Artists" »

A Different Kind of Happy Hour at the Mt. Philo Inn

PhiloinnVisitors to the newly renovated Mt. Philo Inn can expect to find more than cozy quarters, including the Charlotte inn's library pictured here. If you arrive at one of three upcoming Thursdays at 5:30, you can sit back with a Vermont beer or wine and listen to a speaker from a local museum.

That's the idea behind the "History Happy Hour," which launches today in the inn's Ballroom with a salon-style talk by Jane Williamson, director of Ferrisburgh's Rokeby Museum. It's one way owner Dave Garbose aims to get people — whether staying in one of the inn's suites or just living nearby — to come in and see the place.

Just two more History Happy Hours are planned for now:

October 17, with Erick Tichonuk, executive director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum; and October 24, with curator of design Kory Rogers of the Shelburne Museum.

The talks are scheduled for 5:30 to 6:30, and an RSVP is required at 425-3335 or [email protected]. The inn is at 27 Inn Road at the base of Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte.

Photograph courtesy of Dave Garbose.


October 09, 2013

New Tunes: "Stay-at-Home Soldier," Happy Jawbone Family Band

This just in from the Dept. of Musical Oddities (Southern Vermont Division), it's the official video for "Stay-at-Home Soldier" by Brattleboro-based experiemental folk outfit Happy Jawbone Family Band. The song is from the band's forthcoming self-titled full-length, due out on Tuesday, October 15, via NYC label Mexican Summer.

The new album is a follow-up to Taste the Broom, a compilation of previously released HJFB material that MS released earlier this year. Judging from this video, HJFB pick up where they left off on that record, which is to say with winsome, lo-fi pop jangle that's as catchy as it is curious. Check it out …


October 04, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: Room 237

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 3.20.54 PMThis week in movies you missed: When Cinephiles Go Too Far, the movie.

What You Missed

So you consider yourself a fan of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Maybe you watch the 1980 flick every Halloween and croak "redrum" every chance you get. But do you really know what The Shining is about, or what makes it a masterpiece? According to the five film critics who narrate this documentary from director Rodney Ascher, you don't know jack (or Jack).

You see, The Shining isn't actually about a haunted hotel, a psychotic writer or the dangers of cabin fever. It's about the genocide of the Native Americans. No, wait, it's about the Holocaust. No, wait, actually, The Shining is Kubrick's way of confessing that he participated in faking the Apollo moon landings on a soundstage. That's just so obvious when we see little Danny wearing his Apollo 11 sweater.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed & More: Room 237" »

Dale Chihuly Exhibit Extended a Week in Montréal


If you've been wanting to see the magnificent thing that is "Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking" at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, you can procrastinate a little longer: The show has been extended one week, to Sunday, October 27.

But I recommend you don't wait, because think of all those other people who will try to cram in during its final days. It's always better to have elbow room when looking at art, and that's particularly true when a show has been curated as a total, get-lost-in-it sensory experience. This is what I wrote about it back in July.  

It's hard to get away when there is so much to see and do right here in Vermont, but sometimes, you really should. This is one of them. Don't forget your passport!

Photo: "The Boats"

October 01, 2013

Cream, Sugar and ... Lead? VPR Is Testing Its Artist Mugs

Mug_art_340x255_0Over the weekend, Vermont Public Radio issued a statement to its members and the media that "a listener" had discovered lead in the ink on the outside of one of its mugs — specifically this cheerful version, designed by Vermont artist Vikki Day, that was given to donors in 2011 for their contributions.

The situation has evolved quickly since then — yesterday the station announced it has tested older mugs going back to 2002 and found that they contain lead on the outside, as well. VPR has been diligently reporting the discoveries and the steps the station's managers have taken to address them both online and on air. 

What did not move quickly was our ability to get confirmation from an authoratative outside source to explain the test results VPR has posted and, perhaps more importantly, to tell us what it all means. Is this a big deal or not?

Continue reading "Cream, Sugar and ... Lead? VPR Is Testing Its Artist Mugs" »

Being Margaret Bourke-White, and Sally Matson

MargaretBourke-WhiteMargaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) was a pioneering photographer, a hang-with-the-big-boys righteous babe. Not only did she take amazing photographs throughout the 20th century, but she looks good in one, as the 1943 self-portrait here shows. (Courtesy of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection.)

No wonder Sally Matson likes playing Bourke-White. And this Wednesday, October 2, she'll do just that at the Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury.

Matson's one-woman show, titled "Margaret Bourke-White, Courageous Photographer," is part of the Vermont Humanities Council's "First Wednesdays" lecture series. But don't expect some dry, academic lecture. Matson becomes Bourke-White in what VHC calls a "living history" presentation.

She clearly has a yen for scrappy women (and who doesn't, really?): Matson also performs as a godmother of the suffrage movement in a show called "Susan B. Anthony — the Invincible!" 

Continue reading "Being Margaret Bourke-White, and Sally Matson" »

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