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Live Culture: Vermont Arts News and Views


February 03, 2014

What I'm Watching: 'Heathers'

Teenage suicide. Don't do it.

One career ago, I was a professor of film studies. I gave that up to move to Vermont and write for Seven Days, but movies will always be my first love. In this feature, published occasionally here on Live Culture, I'll write about the films I'm currently watching, and connect them to film history and art.

When the fondly remembered cult film Heathers was released in 1988, I was only a year or two younger than its main characters, who are high school juniors and seniors. My friends and I loved it and talked about it often — especially when cable and dear old VHS gave us the chance to watch it again and again. And even though our own high school afforded us unlimited opportunities to observe the cruelty of the Popular Kids and the thoughtless acts engendered by cliquishness (the film’s chief satirical targets), I can say with certainty that, still, we didn’t fully “get” Heathers.

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January 13, 2014

Director Werner Herzog's Latest Film Is a Vermont Exclusive

UPDATES BELOW: 12/26/13 & 1/14/13

Though the semester is nearly over, a film class at the University of Vermont has welcomed a new student: acclaimed director Werner Herzog.

Herzog, who has been making films since the early 1960s and is best known for his films Aguirre, the Wrath of God; Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, has been an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College for the past semester, working with students and speaking at public screenings of his films.

UVM professor Peter Gruner Shellenberger, a visiting lecturer in film and photography, recently took some students in one of his filmmaking classes to Hanover to hear Herzog speak about his films. Shellenberger brought to the event a vintage Super-8 camera, preloaded with film and, at the Q&A session, asked Herzog if he would use the camera to make a film for the UVM students.

To Shellenberger's surprise, Herzog agreed.

"Did I think he would do this?" asks Shellenberger rhetorically. "Never in a million years. But, then, there’s a part of me that maybe knew that he would be open to it," he adds, referring to Herzog's reputation for unusual film projects.

Two weeks after giving Herzog the camera, Shellenberger received it in the mail, with a roll of unexposed film still inside it. Herzog also included a few unusual conditions:

What should happen is the following: please develop the film and hand it over to your students. My demand is the following: they have to make films, collectively or individually, which should include my footage. Obviously, they do not need to take everything, nor in the order I filmed the material.

The title of their film/films has to be WHERE’S DA PARTY AT?

In my footage this appears in one of the graffiti, and at least this portion of the text should appear in the film, or all the films.

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December 06, 2013

Video: "Africa (I'm Coming Back to You)" by A2VT

528915_437987979560510_1757840490_nA2VT are at it again. Almost exactly one year after showing their adopted Onion City home some love with the video "Winooski, My Town," the trio of African refugees turned "urban global" rappers cast a longing gaze toward their native soil with a lively new vid, "Africa (I'm Coming back to You)."

Directed and produced by Casey Clark, the new video was shot at various locations along the Burlington waterfront and features some nifty dance moves courtesy of the Roxy Dance Studio, a solo dancer by the name of Mimosa — she's the young lady on the rocks — and, as always, A2VT themselves. 


November 14, 2013

Video: "Matador" by tooth ache. (NSFW)

ToothacheA couple months ago, local electro-pop songwriter tooth ache. — aka Alexandria Hall — released a rerecorded version of her debut LP Flash & Yearn, which was originally released in 2011. Ms. ache. has just unveiled a provocative new video for one of that record's signature cuts, "Matador."

Earlier this year, Hall dished to 7D about the song for a piece we did on local love songs. Here's what she said:

“Matador” is a glimpse at love as the game or sport or chase. In the song, the matador exercises more control over the situation, while the speaker, the bull, is the passionate, even desperate one, hurling herself at him despite love’s lances.

But the matador is in danger, too. So while it may seem like the bull is the “victim” of love, they’re both in this turbulent, dangerous, but showy and appealing zone. It’s this kind of chaotic but necessary ritual. It’s anxiety and anticipation … the drum machine’s urgency or the bass line’s hesitance.

Playing up the aforementioned love-as-sport angle, Hall's new video is set in a combination bowling alley/strip club — Shenanigan's in White River Junction, to be exact. (And, yeah, it's a real place.) Produced by Burlington's Sullen Belle Productions, it's an entertaining video that almost plays like a short film. It features bowlers, strippers, one of the greatest ironic T-shirts ever and one unfortunate fella laid to waste by a stiletto heel through the eye — perhaps a stylish allegory for bullfighting? Oh, yeah, there's a real live bull, too. (We hear his name is Ace.)

Here's the video, in all its delightfully sleazy glory. And, yes, some of the strippers are topless. So if naked lady parts offend, maybe skip this one. (Though frankly, we find the heel through the eye scene to be far more unsettling than a few passing bewbs.)

Tooth Ache | "Matador" [NSFW] from SULLEN BELLE productions on Vimeo.



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