Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Arts & Life

MIDDLETOWN – Grab someone and come on out for Coyote Film Festival's Halloween Fright Night this weekend! It's creepy and it's spooky, mysterious and hooky … all together an unsettling good time!


On Saturday night, Oct. 25, there will be one screening only, 7:30 p.m., at Calpine Geothermal Visitors Center in Middletown. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before show time.


See the amazingly creepy, psychological thriller, “Subject Two.” Death has its side effects! Meet Director Philip Chidel and find out how he pulled this one out of his head and created a film that's been winning honors at film festivals.


In addition there will be wonderful animation, “Hope Springs Eternal,” by Ron Noble of Noble Town Productions, which is racking up awards of its own. This seven-minute, dark-humored story of death has been pleasing crowds at current festivals and took Jury Prize Winner at USA Film Festival, Best Animation at Festivus-Denver and Best Runner Up, LA Animation Festival.


The horror genre doesn't usually need any new takes on Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein,” but once in a while, something unique comes along that reminds us how rich with possibilities that original text is. \


Philip Chidel's “Subject Two” – a modern Frankenstein tale that takes place in the isolated snowy mountains of Aspen, Colorado – takes some of its cues from Shelley's seminal work, but the bulk are drawn from a fresh vision that's entirely his own.


At 12,000 feet above sea level, Dr. Franklin Vick has been conducting highly unethical research in the field of, well, resurrection. After his first subject fails him, he calls upon troubled, migraine-plagued med student Adam Smith to assist in furthering his "practical" studies, which involve killing and reviving Adam over and over and over again. But evidently dying has side effects.


Sprinkled with dark humor, this film has won numerous awards since it premiered at 2006 film festivals including Official Selection at Sundance and Best Feature Film at Sci-Fi-London (The London International Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film) as well as Audience Award Winner at Silver Lake Film Festival.


As always, the cost is $10 at the door, $5 for kids 16 and under …but we don't suggest that this is a kid's night – parental discretion is strongly advised! We'll have fresh Coyote Popcorn, candies, drinks and other refreshments for sale.


The Calpine Visitor Center is located at 15550 Central Park Road, Middletown.


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SEX DRIVE (Rated R)


For some unknown reason, this is not the week for family films, with “Max Payne” coming closest with its PG-13 rating. But instead of getting invited to a screening for that film, I was treated to the absurd delight of another teen sex comedy, one that held promise for offending a good number of people.


“Sex Drive” did not disappoint for its randy misadventures and raunchy escapades into the mysterious world of teens gone wild. This one is rated R for good reasons, namely for strong crude and sexual content, among other things.


The aptly named “Sex Drive” most fittingly has dual meaning. It telegraphs the urgency of raging male hormones and conjures up the vision of a road trip that has much to do with sex. As raucous and extreme as it often gets “Sex Drive” has irresistible appeal for the essential charm of its leading characters.


ighteen-year-old Ian Lafferty (Josh Zuckerman) believes that his biggest problem in life is that he’s about to start college as a virgin. Never mind the humiliating job he has at Senor Donut, which often requires that he wear a ridiculous costume while handing out fliers at the mall.


Taunted mercilessly by his obnoxious, cocksure older brother Rex (James Marsden), Ian even loses out in the romance department to his 14-year-old younger brother. The girl of his dreams is his longtime “best friend” Felicia (Amanda Crew), who seems reluctant to mess up a perfectly good relationship with any sort of physical entanglement.


Besides, Felicia is inexplicably attracted to Ian’s good buddy Lance (Clark Duke), a pudgy, nerdy guy who has such an abundance of self-confidence that he’s become the unlikeliest chick magnet. Strangely enough, there’s hardly any female that Lance can’t seduce.


Meanwhile, the sexually repressed Ian resorts to the Internet for dates. Passing himself off as a football stud, Ian hooks up online with Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden), a flaming hot blonde. Though the provocative cheerleader offers the promise of hot sex, the one tiny catch is that Ian must drive 500 miles from Chicago to Knoxville to consummate the deal.


Egged on by his pal Lance, Ian takes a huge risk in stealing his macho brother’s prized vintage 1969 Pontiac GTO for the lengthy road trip. Felicia decides to tag along with the two guys for what is obviously a bad idea.


In the predictable manner of other recent teen adventures on the road, seen in movies like “Road Trip” and “Eurotrip,” the comedy of “Sex Drive” also derives inspiration from the “American Pie” franchise. As a matter of fact, the sexual bravado of Ian’s older brother Rick has much in common with party animal Stifler.


The focal point of the story is the planned eight-hour drive that turns into a three-day marathon as the trio loses its way on scenic back roads detours. Car trouble is the least of their problems.


At a rest stop, Lance’s libido gets the better of him as he hooks up with an oversexed girl who lives in a trailer with her white trash parents. What happens during this romantic liaison is probably the film’s crudest moment. But then things get extremely funny when Lance, pursued by an angry boyfriend, flees naked into the cornfields while chained to a brass bed’s headboard.


When the GTO breaks down, they detour to an Amish farm, where the sarcastic Ezekiel (Seth Green), who once spent some time in the outside world, applies his auto mechanic skills to fix the car.


Other road trip problems include an unfortunate encounter in a gas station’s bathroom. A mishap on the highway leads to a stint in jail, where the kids face the expected perils from close confinement with hardened criminals.


There’s a strange interlude at a roadside carnival, where Ian is pressed into making a fateful abstinence pledge on a stage while becoming sexually aroused by the sight of the dancers disrobing behind the scenes.


Whether Ms. Tasty lives up to her Internet profile is best left to be discovered. The journey is of greater consequence than the destination.


Along the way, through all the trials of mayhem and misadventure, the trio of Ian, Felicia and Lance emerge as characters with substance, displaying genuine emotion and feelings.


“Sex Drive” turns out to be much more than sophomoric pranks and simple titillation. Still, for a teen comedy, this film is at turns outrageously hilarious and sweetly funny, even when the broader caricatures intrude.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Not to be confused with the 007 franchise, the original “Casino Royale” was a classic spoof of the secret agent genre. Made in 1967, it followed several of the Sean Connery films.


Now, “Casino Royale: Collector’s Edition” arrives on DVD just in time to celebrate the coming 53rd (or so it seems) installment of a James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace.”


Starring the debonair David Niven as the world famous secret agent, “Casino Royale” recruited several agents to also play James Bond, among them the unlikely Woody Allen. Best of all, the sultry original Bond girl Ursula Andress stars as the sexy Vesper Lynd. The soundtrack features great music composed by Burt Bacharach.


On the TV front, another great series has been released for the first time on DVD. “Nash Bridges: The First Season” revisits adrenaline-fueled adventures of a smart-aleck San Francisco detective, dealing with two ex-wives, a rambunctious teen daughter and a partner (Cheech Marin) who is often scheming for some get-rich-quick fix. This is a TV series worth a second look.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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Pictured, from left to right, judge Sarah France; event organizers Cherie Sheraque and Mary Chadwick; and The Lost Boys, Matt Weiss, Thomas Cano, Jordan Mills and Beau Bastian. Courtesy photo.
 

 


UKIAH – Sixteen competing musical acts and two featured acts came together in a common cause on Saturday, Sept. 27, when they took part in a daylong music competition that raised funds for Ukiah Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah.


The event also offered a chance for Lake and Mendocino County musicians to display their talents for the public.


Event organizers, Cherie Sheraque and Mary Chadwick had the support of their families, friends and the community to make this event happen and through that support and the spirit of the musicians; this event was a resounding success.


Starting at 9 a.m., each of these acts had 30 minutes to perform with the featured bands, II Big and Faded At Four playing for one hour each.


Contestants were placed in groups of four with each act individually judged based upon talent, musicianship and audience participation.


Every participating act received prizes donated by Russian River Records, Laughing Coyote Studios and Ukiah Music Center. Top prizes included studio time at Laughing Coyote Studio and Russian River Records along with a gift certificate donated by Ukiah Music Center, a Fender amp donated by Roadhouse Music and tools donated by Sears.


In an effort to raise funds for The Boys and Girls Club of Ukiah, the public was encouraged to donate money throughout the day along with event shirts being sold and a silent auction of other items donated by various area merchants along with cash donations by various sponsors. The total raised for this worthy cause was more than $2,500.


Presenting sponsors included Kwine 94.5, Max 93.5 and Russian River Records. Major sponsors for this event were Konocti Marine Construction, North Coast Energy Services and Laughing Coyote Studios. Sponsors included Faded At Four, Ukiah Music Center, Roadhouse Music and Ukiah Daily Journal. Many other sponsors were involved as listed on the Web site for this event, www.risingstarscompetition.com.


The winners of this event were: first place, The Lost Boys; second place, Two Miles To Think;

third place, No Method To Madness; Group A, The Delphonatics; Group B, Two Miles To Think; Group C, The Lost Boys; Group D, No Method To Madness.


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Local publisher Mark Bredt is putting out a call to local writers for manuscripts. Courtesy photo.
 

 

 

This article has been updated.

 

CLEARLAKE – Local publisher Mark Bredt will host an open call for manuscript submissions at Wild About Books in Clearlake at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 25.


Printing under the imprints Mallard and Heron Books, Paracletus and Marshal Creek, Bredt plans to publish four to six books in 2009 featuring Lake County writers, stories or locations.


Authors are welcome to bring their completed manuscripts for consideration.


“One of the publications will be a collection of writings, short stories, and poetry by Lake County writers,” said Bredt.


Bredt also will present the second edition of his own short novel, “The Candlespike Murders,” during the open call.


“After discovering that Amazon was offering a copy of the first edition for $999 – no, really, almost $1,000! That’s absurd, but flattering – I thought it might be worthwhile to bring the book back into print,” said Bredt. “Besides, I am planning the sequel, 'Death Comes Quietly,' to publish in Spring 2009.”


Located in Clearlake Park, Bredt’s company, M Bredt Ink LLC, offers publishing services and consulting to small publishers and authors around the world via the Internet.


“Anyone interested in the book publishing industry, small press publishing or even self-publishing is welcome to stop by during the event and ask questions or discuss the business,” Bredt said.


Wild About Books is located at 14290 Olympic Drive in Clearlake, next door to Lisa's clothing store.


For an updated list of times and dates for upcoming events, stop by the store or call 994-WILD (9453).

 

UPDATE: 

 

In 2009, Bredt was named in a Florida publishing scam related lawsuit.

http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7VJLSY/$file/WritersLiteraryGuildComplaint.pdf

http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2009/08/31/daily59.html?page=1

 

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“The Starter Wife” producers couldn't possibly have known their frothy series about life among the rich and shallow would premiere at the end of the worst week ever on Wall Street. Heck, even the U.S treasury secretary didn't see that coming.


The series was inevitable after the roaring success of the six-part miniseries in May and June of 2007 – it got 10 Emmy nominations and reinforced star Debra Messing's reputation as a Lucille Ball channeler.


It's possible you (unlike most of my friends) know nothing about the miniseries, so: Messing plays Molly Kagan, a Hollywood producer's wife, who gets dumped (by cell phone) and flails about trying to create a new life as a Hollywood outcast. Judy Davis is her alcoholic sidekick, Joan.


In the first episode of the series, Molly's new love has disappeared and her children's book has failed; she's trying to start a writing career based on her journal, which is full of delicious libelous dish. It gets stolen and turns up on a gossip Web site. Joan has sobered up and gotten a part-time job as a counselor/babysitter at a chichi rehab/spa facility.


All just too silly? Yeah, that's what I thought until I remembered that Depression-era movie theaters were crowded with people immersing themselves in escapist fantasies. Now we get to do it at home, even on our computers or mobile phones. At least for as long as we can afford those. Major sponsor Verizon will send show segments to your phone, and full segments are online at http://www.usanetwork.com/series/starterwife/thescene/overview_s2.html, along with games, sweepstakes and other mildly amusing ways to waste time.


Verizon's isn't nearly as brazen with product placement as Pond's was in the miniseries, but we can be even more grateful for the comically surreal fantasy and dream sequences.


You might as well enjoy some escapism. Even Wall Street brokers are doing so with champagne and lap dances, according to http://weblogs.amny.com/entertainment/urbanite/blog/2008/10/1000_lap_dance_takes_away_the.html.


Besides, the New York Times says Messing, one of the six executive producers, has promised the series will "retain the same comic voice, the same darkness, not shying away from social satire because it's now a TV show."


Sounds like screwball comedy, which reached its height as the country started to pull out of the Depression..


Friday nights, USA channel.


E-mail Sophie Annan Jensen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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THE EXPRESS (Rated PG)


I am a sucker for uplifting sports movies, no matter whether it involves an individual or the entire team overcoming great odds to triumph in a blaze of glory. Simply put, “The Express” is that kind of inspirational homage to athletic achievement.


This fact-based story follows the extraordinary life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.


To this day, considering his fight for equality and respect in the turbulent late 1950s and early 1960s, Davis is arguably as deserving of being a civil rights icon in the sports world as Jackie Robinson. At least, “The Express” will leave an indelible impression that Ernie Davis is a real hero worthy of lasting recognition.


“The Express” rolls out the story of football glory when the No. 1 ranked Syracuse University Orangemen square off against the University of Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1960.


At this point, Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) is the outstanding running back on the Syracuse team coached by Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid), a decorated veteran and Southerner with a single vision of a national championship.


Then, in a series of flashbacks that start before the first snap of the ball, the story of Ernie’s journey from early childhood in the care of his Pennsylvania coal miner grandfather (Charles S. Dutton) to his standout high school years as a football player in Elmira, New York, unfolds.


Having acquired the nickname of the “Elmira Express,” high school wonder Ernie is scouted by numerous coaches from prestige schools. Coach Schwartzwalder is most persistent, going so far as to use Syracuse alum Jim Brown (Darrin Dewitt Henson), the legendary football player for the Cleveland Browns, to help persuade Ernie during the recruiting process.


It’s not that the coach is so eager to recruit black players, considering that Brown was difficult to handle. It’s simply that he recognized talent, even at a time that blacks weren’t fully accepted on college campuses in the integrated North.


When Ernie first arrives at Syracuse, he draws stares and antagonism from many unfriendly white students. Fortunately, Jack Buckley (Omar Benson Miller), another black student on the football squad, becomes Ernie’s friend and soul mate, and together they deal with intractable racism both on and off the field. Even on the enlightened Syracuse campus, the athletes of color have to overcome inherent prejudice.


Things are really ugly when the team travels on the road during its championship season, facing an extremely hostile crowd in West Virginia, where the coach warns the players to keep their helmets on at all times.


The stark reminder of the nasty racism of the pre-Civil Rights era shows up most vividly and forcefully during the famous Cotton Bowl game. Playing in front of a hostile crowd in Dallas, the Syracuse Orangemen are subjected to vile taunts and hostility. Worse of all, the referees were clearly biased in favor of the Texas Longhorns, overlooking late hits and other infractions by the home team. It’s little wonder that at some point the contest turns from a game into a full-blown brawl clearing both teams’ benches.


When Syracuse wins the championship, the team is invited to celebrate at a whites-only country club. Of course, Ernie and Jack are pointedly excluded from the festivities, and by now the Orangemen have bonded so that the entire team refuses to attend if the black teammates are excluded.


It’s not until the next season that Ernie is in the running for the Heisman Trophy, winning it and capping another milestone in his college career.


“The Express” turns poignant and sad when Ernie’s post-college career is cut short by leukemia. Rob Brown’s Ernie endures his challenges on and off the field with dignity and grace. To be sure, the movie is a very inspirational sports story, but you come away with the feeling that there’s much more to know about the Ernie Davis story.


This standout player will never be a household name like Jackie Robinson, or even Jim Brown, but “The Express” helps to bring some well-deserved recognition, and in the process delivers a very appealing entertainment.


DVD RELEASE UPDATE


Aficionados of Alfred Hitchcock are going to love the DVD release of the “Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection,” featuring eight restored and remastered classic films, some of which have been out of print for years.


The set is highlighted by Hitchcock’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, “Rebecca,” starring Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in a dark tale of love and obsession.


Ingrid Bergman appears in two classics, first alongside Gregory Peck in “Spellbound,” and with Cary Grant in “Notorious,” a tale of crime, passion and espionage. Gregory Peck defends a beautiful woman accused of poisoning her husband in “The Paradine Case.”


The spy thriller “Sabotage,” the drama “Young and Innocent,” and the high seas thriller “Lifeboat” are also featured. The terrifying whodunit “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” is one of Hitchcock’s earliest films.


This DVD collection is loaded with extras, including screen tests, still galleries, vintage radio interviews, an “AFI Tribute to Hitchcock” and more.


Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.


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