Tags: Brian Vacek, film, movie, Review, SLIFF
The St. Louis International Film Festival is a great time to enjoy yourself and take in a new film or two. That is, if you happen to be a casual movie-goer. If you’re a fanatical cinephile, its a stressfully delightful gauntlet run through an international smorgasbord of films that consumes your every waking hour and drives your loved ones to insanity. I walk the latter path.
I’m new here at Highway 61, but I’ve been blogging for some time now over at The Film Walrus where I babble incoherently about movies when I should probably be cooking, cleaning and socially interacting. I’m going to babble about movies here, too. With good reason: there’s so many films at SLIFF that no single person could see them all.
So you’ll probably be seeing a sustained spurt of my reviews over the next few weeks as I dash between the Tivoli, Plaza Frontenac and Webster making my sleepless eyes bleed and belatedly typing up my opinions. While these will be too late to do you any immediate good, most of these films are already available on DVD or in theaters or will be soon. I encourage you to seek out any films that sound interesting and, of course, you should do your own exploring of SLIFF’s offerings while the festival rages on.
If you need a quick tour guide, though, to sift through the many, many choices, I offer some advise: be eclectic. See features, documentaries, shorts, etc. See films from countries you know nothing about. Take a chance on a new director. Take in a mix of genre fluff and art house.
And keep an eye out for me! Here’s my schedule for this year:
Fri the 14th: Vanaja, Interkosmos with The Juche Idea, Shadowland
Sat the 15th: Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Slumdog Millionaire, Alone
Mon the 17th: All for Free, Special
Tues the 18th: Opera Jawa, Heartbeat Detector
Wed the 19th: The Pope’s Toilet, Stranded
Thurs the 20th: Of Parents and Children
Fri the 21st: The Custodian, Timecrimes
Sat the 22nd: The Trap, The Class, Yesterday Was A Lie
Sun the 23rd: Little Heroes, From Inside, The Wrestler
Tags: activism, Lauren Kirkwood, LGBTQ, Prop 8
The Saint Louis weather brought on one of the coldest afternoons of the season to Proposition 8 protesters at the Old Courthouse on Saturday November 15. Despite from the numbing air, the rally against the California amendment to ban gay marriage brought over 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight allied participants from the community.
Last May, California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage on the grounds that a ban would discriminate based on sexual orientation. It would violate human rights. On November 4, California voted to ban gay marriage and end the near six month reign of love and equality.
Saint Louis activists brought homemade signs and waved rainbow flags in an effort to create collaboration and awareness in a peaceful stance against hate. Religious and State officials from the region took to the podium including; St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, Missouri State Senator Joan Bray, St. Louis City Comptroller Darlene Greene, Rabbi James Stone Goodman and Reverend Susan Drake. High schoolers Crosby Franklin and Alexa James spoke genuinely to the crowd about indifference, family bonds, love and the prospective future of gay marriage.
Though the protest was about focused primarily around Proposition 8, my thoughts were of Missouri. Missouri overwhelming voted against gay marriage in 2004. I echo Alexa James, “It’s 2008 people, come on.” Where is the love in the heart of the United States?
Tags: Blog, Blogger's Night, Bloggers, comics, SLSO, Symphony
Last night was Blogger’s Night at Powell Hall, and I found myself among the esteemed guests. I asked my friend, and music review blogger, Patrick Vacek, to come with, which lead to interesting results. As one that doesn’t particularly frequent the symphony, I was worried that Patrick and I (emphasis on the I) would stick out like the unwashed hipster bums that we are.
So when Pat and I showed up, under dressed, and just as excited about the prospect of free drinks as seeing the performance, we hadn’t considered exactly who the regular attendees of the symphony are – old eccentrics & academic bums. One of my favorite moments was when an older woman sitting next to me turned and cheerfully asked if Pat and I were college professors, and why we were taking notes. After explaining to her that we wrote for a blog, and having her ask me “what is ablog? ” Patrick and I felt like some sort of undercover agents from the culture wars, in the den of high class, until later that night when a crazy old man jokingly berated us about how scandalous the performance that night had been. Afterward, we went out for drinks down the street with other bloggers, and it hit us that we actually had a niche, and a culture we fit into – that people on the other side of the screen actually exist, and blogging isn’t all just shouting into the aether. I’ve posted a comic about it here. All in all, it was a pretty awesome night.
— Concert review —
When I initially heard about bloggers night at Powell Hall, it was in connection with the SLSO Guitar Festival, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – unwashed nerds lining up for something like Metallica’s S&M? Well dressed journalists coming out to see an orchestra composed entirely of Fender Telecasters, Gibson hollow bodies, and Flying V’s? A pit full of violinists wailing on power chords? I mean, what is a symphony guitar festival? Dare I hope, a rock opera? It turns out the answer wasn’t anything that cool.
The first song – Mark-Anthony Turnage’s A Prayer Out of Stillness – was the guitar – related piece of the evening.
The song had four movements, and featured a cello Bass/electric bass soloist, in front of the string section – the wind instruments, and some percussion (including piano) were conspicuously absent. The song began with the strings playing tense chords, while the soloist quietly plinked around by himself, seemingly playing a different song, unaware of the orchestra behind him, and not caring if anyone heard. This went on for a while, until something unexpected happened.
Everything went dead quiet, and the orchestra paused while an electric bass was brought out, and exchanged for the cello Bass.
The question I kept asking myself after that point was, if every other rock band ever can handle a roadie walking up and trading guitars with a performer, often mid-song, why does the symphony have to stop everything while someone hands them a bass? If that wasn’t enough to take my attention out of the performance, they repeated this ritual 3 more times, between every movement – a habit which really sealed shut what was a strangely arranged, and uninteresting piece.
If the constant stop – and – switches weren’t enough, the second movement made the bass part seem even less connected to what the rest of the orchestra was playing, culminating in the third movement, where both cello bass and electric bass soloed while the rest of the orchestra just took a break.
The fourth movement tied everything back together, but not in a tension – and – relief sort of way… it seemed more like the composer hadn’t figured out what they wanted to do until the fourth movement. Not in a coherent way, anyhow.
The second song – Steven Mackey’s Beautiful Passing – was much more interesting, with a violin soloist front and center for the entire piece, making things very interesting. Not only was the soloist incredibly talented, but the wild way that she jerked around, like a woman possessed, as she played, made violin seem dangerous and sexy.
The third song – Stravinsky’s The Right of Spring – was amazing. The song was epic in a way that one expects an intense orchestral piece to be, full of polyphonic tension and resolution, highs and lows that make your mind wander so scenes of beauty and violence. The music was accompanied occasionally by words projected behind the orchestra, describing youths frolicking in a field, until holy men come and sacrifice a young woman to the god of spring.
The thing that struck me the most about this last piece, was that my mind kept wandering to things like Loony Tunes, and Star Wars. Maybe I’m just a pop culture junkie raised on cartoons and fantasy, but when I hear classical music, these are the things that come to mind.
All in all, the concert was pretty awesome, and although the first song left me thinking dreading the next two, and thinking that the composers had a screw loose and didn’t know what they were doing, the second two performances were awesome and well worth the price of an actual ticket.
Although according to SLSO’s resident blogger, Eddie Silva, the symphony offers 50 free tickets for every performance, all you have to do is show up early and ask for ’em. I guess I’ll be going back sooner than later.
As noted by user bassplayerKat, John Patitucci was playing a BASS. not a CELLO. As one with limited knowledge of orchestral instruments, I didn’t really know the difference. Corrections have been made.
Tags: Body Art, STL Old School Tattoo Expo, Tattoos
Today marks the last day of the Saint Louis Old School Tatoo Expo, hosted at the Holiday Inn downtown. It’s not too late to swing by, the expo stays open until 8pm tonight. Check out their website here.
My friends and I have wanted to see the expo for the past few years, and this time we finally broke down and dropped the 15 bucks on an entry fee. The expo was neat, and although it wasn’t quite what we expected, there were a lot of cool artists displaying impressive work there. Having been though, I wouldn’t recommend attending unless you’re on the market for a new tattoo artist.
I stopped by yesterday after the Prop 8 protest with a few friends of mine, and we snapped a few neat pictures.
This weekend kicks off the beginning of the 17th annual Saint Louis International Film Festival, an amazing event which showcases shorts and independent films from all over the world, as well as amazing work done right here in our backyard. I’m going with a friend to see Shadowland, a feature length horror movie shot in Saint Louis last summer. I’ve heard mixed things, but this is a film that several of my friends worked on, so I’m going out to give it a chance. Also something to keep an eye on is Streetballers another Stl-made feature, about street ball players going to school in Saint Louis.
Personally, I’ll be watching out for the some of the shorts programs, which usually pack a lot of fun into a little time.
In addition to the festival mainstays, which will run through Sunday, Nov 23rd, SLIFF has a new component this year – IndieFest. In a competition that went from Oct 27 – Nov 12, 15 films were put up online to view and vote for, with the winners to be shown on the final day of the festival. Voting is over, but It’s not too late to attend the free screening at Webster University, November 23rd at 6pm.
In other news, fellow blogger Patrick Vacek and I will be classing it up for Blogger’s Night at the Powell Hall, for their Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s Guitar Festival. More info at their site, or you can watch this video here.