Saturday, 25 May 2024

Arts & Life



LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — While volunteers are busy installing a new studio transmitter link for improved broadcasting capability, long-time programmer and local musician Herb Gura has been busy behind the scenes producing another standout show with singer, songwriter and political satirist, Roy Zimmerman.

“SING. LAUGH. HOPE” is the title of the concert.

“It’s an annual event and fundraiser for the station,” said Gura. “Roy is a longtime friend of community radio. We appreciate his support and the messaging inherent in his brand of humor. We sing, laugh and hope right along with him. It’s always a fun time and the venue is a favorite. We’re glad to be returning to the School House Museum.”

Roy Zimmerman is an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist who tours the country delighting audiences with his witty, humorous and intelligent style of songs that shine a light on subjects some may consider tableside taboo — like politics and religion.

But the moment he takes the stage his audiences welcome him with applause, followed by rousing laughter throughout the show.

“I love doing these concerts for my friends at KPFZ because I love community radio,” Zimmerman said.

Folk and Beyond radio programmer Dwain Goforth added, “Roy Zimmerman is this generation’s Tom Lehrer. Whatever your political persuasion — if you appreciate the comedic aspects of politics — you’ll love Roy’s unique ability to jab at the ironic nature of it all. He never disappoints.”

“We’ve seen Roy perform many times,” added Linda Lake, a former radio programmer and wife of the late Ron Green. “For a good laugh and a really good time, I highly recommend his concert.”

Tickets for the concert are on sale at Catfish Coffee in Clearlake and Watershed Books in Lakeport or by calling 707-263-3640. Some tickets will be available at the door.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at the School House Museum 16435 Main St. in Lower Lake.

The concert is a benefit for Lake County Community Radio, Inc., the only commercial free nonprofit community radio station serving Lake County — in good times and in crisis — throughout the year.

Halloween is not just for kids dressing up and knocking on doors for candy. This is the time for anyone willing to enjoy the scary thrills of series and movies on television and streaming services.

The Turner Classic Movie channel has been showing an abundance of Creepy Cinema for the whole month, but it is Halloween day when all the chills and frights are going to be released for a 48-hour Terror-thon – 31 films with the most fear-inducing stories.

The early 1930s was indeed a golden age of great horror and monster movies. Universal Studios founder Carl Laemmle struck gold for his struggling studio by adapting classic Victorian novels into cheaply made, but enormously popular horror films.

One of the first and best was the original “Frankenstein” (1931). Colin Clive plays Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the mad scientist obsessed with bringing people back from the dead.

Frankenstein manages to assemble a being made entirely of human body parts who then comes to life as a homicidal maniac set on killing his creator. The ensuing sequences are as terrifying today as they were over 90 years ago.

Boris Karloff gives one of the most chilling performances in all of film as the monster, a role he would recreate in two equally frightening sequels, “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935) and “House of Frankenstein” 1944.

Mel Brooks’ 1974 “Young Frankenstein” is a classic in the genre, even though it is a comedy, and it would be nice to find it on a streaming service. Peter Boyle could not be any better as the tap-dancing monster.

Gene Wilder’s Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is a treat as the American grandson of the infamous scientist ending up in Transylvania, where he discovers the process to reanimate a dead body that goes all kind of wrong.

As its title suggests, Tod Browning’s “Freaks” (1932) is like nothing else you’ve ever seen. This peculiar film tells the story of a group of sideshow performers in a seedy carnival.

Olga Baclanova plays a scheming trapeze artist set on stealing a small inheritance from one of the little people performers, played by Harry Earles of the famous Dancing Dolls.

Drawing on his own experience as a carny and circus performer, Browning made the wise, though risky decision of casting the film with real sideshow performers; people
with real physical disabilities, including conjoined twins and amputees.

The aptly-named “Freaks” is a bizarre and gritty film with the kind of stark realism that is highly unlikely to be made by any major studio in today’s world. Imagine the controversy it would generate.

Fans of the anthology series from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk will find four intriguing episodes of “American Horror Stories” third season having premiered on Hulu on October 26 that is being promoted as a Halloween extravaganza.

While some of the stories tie back to the main series, others provide distinct horror tales by interconnecting storylines from earlier seasons. Watching the horror anthology series FX’s “American Horror Story Four-Episode Huluween Event” on Hulu should do the trick.

On Hulu and Disney+, “Goosebumps” is a horror comedy series developed by Nicholas Stoller and Rob Letterman based on the popular book of the same name by R.L. Stine. The series stars Justin Long and Rachael Harris.

In the “Goosebumps” series, a group of high school students embark on a journey to investigate the tragic death of a teenager named Harold Biddle. While unearthing dark secrets surrounding the mystery, they unwittingly unleash supernatural forces on their town.

Notwithstanding their personal issues and rivalries, the teenagers must all work together to finish what they started. In doing so, they begin to learn more about their families’ secrets, which eventually leads to the answers to their questions.

AMC Networks’ annual “FearFest” is whipping up scares that started the beginning of the month, and every week AMC+ and Shudder have rolled out a new horror movie which began with the fan favorite “V/H/S” franchise.

“V/H/S/85,” the next installment in the infamous found footage anthology series, is an ominous mixtape blending never-before-seen snuff footage with nightmarish newscasts and home video to create a surreal mashup of the forgotten Eighties.

In the Shudder Original “The Puppetman,” a convicted killer on death row maintains his innocence saying it was an evil force controlling his body as he slaughtered his victims.

The killer’s daughter begins to suspect that there may be some truth to her father’s claim when those around begin to die in brutal ways. All hope rests on her shoulders to break The Puppetman’s curse.

The night before Halloween brings “Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor,” wherein a group of cold case investigators stay at the Carmichael Manor, the site of the unsolved murder of the Carmichael family in the Eighties.

After four nights, the group was never heard from again. What is discovered in their footage is even more disturbing than anything found on the Hell House tapes. It seems Shudder lives up to its name for the frights of its Halloween films.

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

Artwork by Meyo Marrufo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. — Join Middletown Art Center on Saturday, Oct 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. for Basket Patterns with Meyo Marrufo.

It’s part of the Water Basket workshop series designed to support Native people in bringing expressions of their innate cultural heritage into public space and non-Native people in learning about Pomo cultural heritage.

Artist Meyo Marrufo will discuss basket patterns, and participants will engage in painting.

The workshop is free, including materials and supplies and open to the public.

Advance sign up is requested at www.middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket.

“Basket designs have more than a pretty face!” said Marrufo. “Come explore some of our designs and where they are found within the cultural landscape. Learn about basket designs and create your own artistic interpretation.”

An enrolled member of the Robinson Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, Marrufo is a visual artist and visual storyteller, bead artist, weaver, regalia maker, active member of the Pomo Weavers Society, and Environmental Department Director at Guidiville Rancheria.

A solo exhibit of Marrrufo’s art, “Birds, Baskets and Other Thoughts,” is currently on view at MAC.

Her work has been exhibited widely in Northern California and curated “Gathering Time” at the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah and “We Are Still Here” at the Sonoma Museum last year.

Her work was first featured at MAC in the Earth Sky and Everything In Between exhibit last year and has since been part of several regular group shows at MAC.

She presents and lectures widely on Pomo culture and traditional ecological knowledge, or TEK, and practice.

The Water Basket project aims to raise awareness of Pomo cultural heritage and the rich legacy of Pomo basketry unique to this region and renowned worldwide.

The workshops are designed to support both Native and non-Native people in submitting design proposals for 360° murals for the water tanks on Rabbit Hill.

Like the designs woven into Pomo baskets, design proposals should reflect the area’s history, people, and ecology utilizing geometric and organic shapes that are symbolic of animals and plants native to the region.

See the full Call for Proposals and learn more about the project at www.middletownartcenter.org/waterbasket.

Water Basket is a collaboration between Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, of California, Pomo artists, Callayomi County Water District, and the Middletown Art Center. It’s funded in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding from the Middletown Rancheria, the Water District, and public support.

Middletown Art Center is a Lake County non-profit dedicated to engaging the public in art making, art education, and art appreciation. Through exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community events, the Art Center provides a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, striving to create an inclusive and accessible space for all.

To learn more and donate to support Water Basket and other MAC programs visit www.middletownartcenter.org or call 707-809-8118.

The MAC is located at 21456 State Hwy 175 in Middletown.




‘THE BURIAL’ RATED R ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Based on a true story, Amazon Prime’s legal drama “The Burial” is likely as any fact-based movie to take liberties with real events, but the outcome is thoroughly enjoyable even if one is familiar or not with the 1999 New Yorker article of the same name about a flamboyant Florida trial attorney.

The colorful person at the center of the story is Willie E. Gray, a personal injury lawyer who rose to legal prominence from his upbringing as a sharecropper’s son. From a rags-to-riches lifestyle, Willie acquired the nickname “The Giant Killer” for slaying rapacious corporations.

Despite being sharply-dressed and sporting a diamond-covered Rolex watch and gold-framed spectacles, Willie has the persuasive courtroom demeanor of a mix of Southern Baptist preacher and circus showman that appeals to ordinary folk.

That Willie (Jamie Foxx) has become so famous and wealthy in victorious courtroom battles has even led to an interview on Robin Leach’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” highlighting his excessive high life, including the pair of shiny Rolls-Royces owned by him and his wife Gloria (Amanda Warren).

Who better to portray this legal giant, who lives in a 50-room Florida mansion and owns a private airliner named “Wings of Justice,” than the talented Jamie Foxx whose charisma and dramatic chops could not have been better utilized to shine in the lap of luxury and the theatrics of courtroom drama?

Meanwhile, in Biloxi, Mississippi, Tommy Lee Jones’ Jeremiah “Jerry” O’Keefe is celebrating his 75th birthday with his wife Annette (Pamela Reed) and thinking about how to leave behind a legacy for his 13 children.

His funeral home business at a few locations around the state has come under pressure from state insurance regulators, and the stress causes Jerry to engage his lifelong friend and attorney Mike Allred (Alan Ruck) to look into selling some of his parlors to a Canadian conglomerate.

The Loewen Group, headed by unscrupulous Canadian billionaire Ray Loewen (Bill Camp), is gobbling up so many burial homes all across Canada and the United States that you wonder if antitrust statutes are being violated.

On board Loewen’s expensive yacht, Jerry reaches a deal that should extricate him from his financial troubles, but the dodgy death industry mogul slow walks, signing the contract and making the payment the Mississippi businessman so desperately needs.

While his attorney Allred is an old school Southern patrician, Jerry is encouraged by young Black associate lawyer Hal Dockins (Mamoudou Athie), to consider a different legal tack by hiring the flashy Florida litigator who has never handled contract law.

The factor of race comes into play because Jerry’s team files a civil lawsuit in Hinds County where the jury pool will undoubtedly consist predominantly of African-Americans and the judge assigned the case is likely to also be Black.

The strategy of the lead plaintiff attorney being a person of color becomes even more crucial when allegations are leveled at the Canadian-owned funeral homes for taking advantage of low-income, mostly Black customers into purchasing overpriced burial services.

The Loewen Group counters by hiring as lead counsel Mame Downes (Jurnee Smollett), a driven, beautiful Black woman with a razor-sharp mind and a pleasing yet perceptive courtroom demeanor that proves at the outset to be more than equal to Willie’s power of persuasion.

In what can only be a strategic blunder, Jerry ends up on the witness stand only to be eviscerated on cross-examination. At this point, Willie and his cadre of Black colleagues are pushed aside for Allred to act as chief counsel.

A few twists and turns in the trial eventually unveil a disturbing reminder that ancient ties in the Deep South prove duly problematic in a climate where racial sensitivities can be truly nettlesome.

In a surprise to no one, Willie gets back in the legal saddle just as things are heating up. He pushes the envelope when manipulating the jury’s antipathy to an unsympathetic defendant by exposing his unsavory practices in the funeral industry and ostentatious wealth gained on the backs of the unfortunate.

Notwithstanding courtroom scenes that occasionally feel not wholly authentic, “The Burial” is a rousing crowd-pleaser that is endlessly entertaining for a dramatized real-life landmark case that resulted in a half-billion dollars judgment for the plaintiff.

Even Johnnie Cochran, for all his theatrics in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, seems inferior to the talents of Willie Gary. The only reason to mention this is when Willie and Mame meet at a hotel bar the TV screen is noticeable for a shot of Cochran in the middle of defending the ex-football player.

The major surprise behind “The Burial” is how it took almost a quarter-century for this compelling story to come to the screen. Apparently, the project bounced around various studios over the intervening years. Fortunately, we now have a film that is most definitely worth watching.

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




'HEIST 88' ON PARAMOUNT+ WITH SHOWTIME

Remember when the major networks produced made-for-TV movies on a regular basis? As they might say, that’s so last century. Since TV movies are all but gone from the networks, cable and streaming services are picking up the slack.

Paramount+ with Showtime are exclusively streaming “Heist 88,” an unbelievable story centered on Courtney B. Vance’s Jeremy Horne, an ostensible criminal mastermind with an innate ability to convince anyone to do just about anything.

The first scene has Horne at a Chicago bank teller’s window requesting the transfer of $80 million to a Swiss bank account, and then a quick flashback to three weeks earlier.

What brings Horne, wearing an ankle monitor because he’s due back in prison, to the Windy City is his brother’s funeral. There, he runs into his nephew Marshall (Bentley Green), an aspiring musician in hock to loan sharks for ten large.

Marshall was always warned to stay away from his Uncle Jeremy, advice he should have heeded since he would soon be drawn into the bank robbery scheme only because of desperation to pay off his debt to unsavory thugs.

Marshall introduces Horne to his three pals working at entry level bank jobs. Each one has some sort of grievance with their station at the job as well as in life. For Horne, they prove to be easy prey for his scheme.

Danny Pugh’s Xavier is a nerdy comic book collector who is brilliant with numbers but has given up on his job at the bank. Rick (Nican Robinson), a loyal employee, has toiled unnoticed in the back room for six years with dreams of becoming a stockbroker.

The beautiful, bright LaDonna (Precious Way) is ambitious but largely invisible to superiors at the First Chicago Bank. However, she overhears her noxious boss relating how the bank will soon be computerized.

This bit of technological news is a key turning point of the plot. The plan to steal millions from various corporate accounts hinges on the complete lack of modern cybersecurity protocols.

Unlike the usual bank robbery, the heist is violence-free. The scheme revolves around wire transfers and telephonic confirmations. It’s not riveting stuff but it proves effective with the absence of computer tracking.

Aside from the four youthful conspirators, Horne gets an assist from his mentor and master safecracker Buddha Ray (Keith David), along with Keesha Sharp’s Bree Barnes, an elegant, smart, political consultant that possesses a criminal mind.

With a running time of less than an hour-and-a-half, “Heist 88” should move at a faster pace befitting a crime thriller where the caper itself should keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Alas, this is not that kind of movie. Courtney Vance’s morally-compromised slickster is mysterious enough that you wonder what tricks he might have up his sleeve if his careful plans ignite into a ball of combustible disaster.

Vance’s Jerome Horne, a charismatic conman, deftly used his wily magnetism to enlist impressionable young bank clerks in his scheme, but the more you think about his allure, it all seems so improbable.

Another troubling aspect of the film, other than how awkwardly the heist plays out, is that someone supposedly as crafty and smart as the master thief doesn’t seem to have a Plan B in place if the stratagem should prove to be flawed.

An aficionado of heist films might be drawn to “Heist 88” out of curiosity that the genesis for the plot is based on the real-life criminal exploits of Armand Moore who had the uncanny ability to lure unsuspecting ordinary persons into his illicit web.

With a background of crimes committed in Detroit, Moore was a career criminal with a knack of conning people with clean records to do his bidding. Just like in the movie, Moore engaged low-level bank employees for an embezzlement scheme.

For an apparently crafty mastermind, Moore proved to be incredibly imprudent when he and his cohorts went on a spending spree for expensive cars and luxury goods. A sensible person knows from watching crime shows that you lay low and don’t draw attention to yourself.

This review is not meant to give anyone ideas; you can get plenty of that watching TV crime shows. Moore almost pulled off the greatest bank heist in Chicago in 1988, but he wasn’t truly a criminal genius. When prison becomes a revolving door, you’re not that smart.

For all its flaws, the film doesn’t make the fictional Jeremy Horne the fool. But maybe, given his evident guile, Horne should have figured out the possibility of the story’s eventual denouement and not be caught flat-footed.

Ending rather abruptly in what seems to be a contrived situation, “Heist 88” feels like the filmmakers were on a tight budget where the funds ran out and they had to call it a wrap. At least, it's not a three-hour movie that wastes an entire evening.

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




‘EXPEND4LES’ Rated R

Panned almost universally by any critic with a pulse, “Expend4bles,” the fourth installment of the Sylvester Stallone franchise makes no excuses for being what it has always been, namely a B-movie action thriller that cares little about plot and character development.

Given the critical disdain, it seemed almost irresistible to see for oneself how lacking it might be, or is it just a case of reviewers running with the pack mentality, lest one’s cred be irreparably damaged?

What fans of the “Expendables” series are interested to know is whether Stallone, along with Jason Statham and the rest of the gang (there are some new members) are delivering mindless entertainment with a heavy dose of gunplay and explosions.

The answer to the question is that the action, though practically nonstop, is so generic that one’s mind may drift to other better films. With Statham’s Lee Christmas killing an endless army of goons with ease, he risks being little more than an emulator of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick.

In all fairness to Statham, who is usually more than workmanlike in his body of action picture endeavors, his character is the glue holding the exploits together, even when he operates with only the help of retired Thai Special Forces operative Decha (Tony Jaa).

The plot, such as it is, involves the Expendables on a mission to retrieve nuclear detonators that might be used by international arms dealer Rahmat (Iko Uwais) to trigger World War III, but for inexplicable reasons.

Stallone’s Barney Ross remains the senior leader of a team that includes veterans Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren) and Toll Road (Randy Couture), whose cauliflower ear is still a subject of derisive banter.

With Mr. Church no longer available, stepping in as CIA honcho is Andy Garcia’s Marsh, who is now in charge of orchestrating who goes where and how on the mission.

Newcomers to the team of avenging mercenaries include Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, underused as a former Marine; Jacob Scipio as Galan, the son of former Expendable Galgo (Antonio Banderas); and sassy Lash (Levy Tran), a tattooed ninja with unique skills.

The leading female role goes to Megan Fox’s Gina, who is dressed in either lingerie or stylish clothes as if she was a guest on a Kardashian reality show. But she’s a tough cookie – just ask her lover Lee Christmas after a stormy tryst.

At least, Lundgren’s Gunner remains a crazy mercenary who always carries some weird baggage with him. He’s trying to stop drinking, though he seems unable to shoot straight when sober.

Even if some fans may have tired of this genre, “Expend4bles” is nothing more or less than a diversion. With massive gunplay and explosions, there are no pretensions of cleverness.

In the final analysis, the best way to look at this last chapter is with low expectations and to wait until it’s on a streaming service. Take “Expend4bles” for what it is – some wisecracks and an excess of fight scenes that lack the style and punch of the “John Wick” franchise.

‘KEVIN COSTNER’S THE WEST’ ON THE HISTORY CHANNEL

In his varied career, Kevin Costner has been successful in several film genres, and as of late, he’s had a good run with the “Yellowstone” TV series, a dramatic Western about a ranching family in Montana.

Costner’s first foray into television was the “Hatfields & McCoys” on the History Channel, and that is where he is scheduled to return in the future as the host of “Kevin Costner’s The West,” an eight-episode documentary series.

This original program intends to transcend the cliches and myths of the “Wild West” and from a myriad of perspectives capture the spirit of opportunity, adventure and peril through the untold stories that defined the era and continue to shape our country today.

“I am in love with history. I love the rich, heroic and harrowing stories of the West. The people and their stories have always held a fascination for me, but there’s an urgency today to put those times and the men and women who we think we know in perspective,” said Costner.

According to legendary biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, an executive producer for the series, “Kevin Costner’s body of work on the American West has defined him as one of the finest storytellers of this genre and our time.”

Told through extraordinary characters, historical archives, and distinguished expert interviews, “Kevin Costner’s The West” will capture a portrait of the American frontier from the literal trailblazers to the law enforcers and the bloody battles for both land and freedom.

“Kevin Costner’s The West” will mark the History Channel’s fourth overall project with Doris Kearns Goodwin, who produced the 2022 docudrama “Abraham Lincoln,” the five-hours event “Teddy Roosevelt,” and this year’s “FDR” miniseries.

With the strikes that shutdown production for television and film in Hollywood, the release date of the documentary remains uncertain as does its title. “Kevin Costner’s The West” is a working title until further notice.

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

Upcoming Calendar

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05.26.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Lower Lake Daze
27May
05.27.2024
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28May
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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1Jun
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8Jun
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15Jun
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