May 082013

By Colleen Glenn

 Ellis (Tye Sheridan), Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) strike an unlikely friendship with a wanted man, Mud (Matthew McConaughey).

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) strike an unlikely friendship with a wanted man, Mud (Matthew McConaughey).

Every now and then, a film comes along that feels authentic and startlingly fresh. This rarity happened twice this spring, as two such films graced the screen at the Kentucky Theatre during April/May: Mud (dir: Jeff Nichols) and The Place Beyond the Pines (dir: Derek Cianfrance).

Although the Kentucky Theatre had to cancel its special premiere of Mud when Oscar-nominated, Lexington native actor Michael Shannon’s shooting schedule on HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” changed, you should  still get down to the Kentucky to see the film. The theatre, currently in the expensive process of converting to digital projection, still needs funds to support this transition, and Mud will not disappoint.  Continue reading »

Apr 052013

By Cameron Lindsey

Netflix is singlehandedly changing the way Americans watch television, and I am talking about something more than making us stay awake for days watching seasons of The X-files.

Back in early 2012, a little eight-episode show called Lilyhammer aired on our trusty video subscription service, where it received little attention. The show originally aired in Norway and stars one of Bruce Springsteen’s guitarists, Steven Van Zandt, who you might remember from back in the day on The Sopranos. The show centers around Van Zandt’s character, a former mafia boss, who relocates to Norway as part of a witness protection program. Sounds okay, right? You can still watch every episode of the show on Netflix, so check it out if you like.

But more importantly, remember the name Lilyhammer. That way, when you get a trivia question in 2025 that asks, “What was Netflix’s first original show before they changed television forever?” you can jump up and say, “I know this one.” Continue reading »

Feb 012013

By Cameron Lindsey

Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained has created quite the storm. People have complained about the movie’s mindless violence, its overuse of certain racial epithets, and its general comic handling of the institution of slavery. Readers, I would like to tell you that Django has all of this and more. However, unlike those critics, I would like to claim that Tarantino’s latest movie is just what American viewers need to see right now.

Before getting into all that, though, first a cheat sheet for all you readers who want to feel involved with the race, violence, and slavery conversations circulating around the film but who do not actually want to watch the movie. Remember these four randomly generated conversational nuggets for when everyone starts talking about it at that next party or get-together: Continue reading »

Dec 052012

A cinematic trifecta

By Cameron Lindsey

Raise your hand if you want to see a movie about Abraham Lincoln’s rise to the role of president, his famous Gettysburg Address, his assassination, or his brief stint as a vanquisher of the undead. If your hand is raised, you may not want to see Stephen Spielberg’s new movie Lincoln (though the recent Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer might appeal to those who raised their hands to the last point).

No, Lincoln is not an easy flick about our favorite anecdotes surrounding the sixteenth president of our fair Union. Lincoln is, however, a captivating legal drama that gives a more honest account of the, as it turns out, not so honest Abe. Continue reading »

Nov 072012

By Dave Cooper

The 2012 Wild and Scenic Film Festival rolls into Lexington’s Kentucky Theater on Tuesday, December 4 with a great lineup of 13 inspiring short films.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which began in 2003, combines stellar film-making, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling to inform, inspire and ignite solutions and possibilities to restore the earth and human communities while creating a positive future for the next generation.  Selections from the 3-day festival in Nevada City, California, go on tour and are hosted by local environmental organizations. In this way, the festival reaches over 100 cities annually, the largest environmental film festival in North America. And thanks to the folks at Kentucky Heartwood, it’s coming to Lexington.

Highlights of this year’s film festival include: Continue reading »

Oct 032012

Outside of the biggest blockbuster films, Lexington is oftentimes skipped over when it comes to attracting a diversity of films here.  In the spirit of wishing upon a star, I want to initiate a new series of Films We Would Like to See (in Lexington) in the hopes that someone might actually work to ensure these upcoming films get a release here:

Films we would like to see (in Lexington):

Promised Land (USA: Gus van Sant, 2012)

Stoker (USA/UK: Chan-Wook Park, 2013) Continue reading »

Oct 032012

By Michael Dean Benton

The Kentucky Theater, one of Lexington’s most beloved cultural centers, will celebrate its 90thanniversary this October. Originally opening in 1922, the theater is one of the oldest cinemas still in operation, surpassing even the world famous Los Angeles Grauman’s Theater (also built in 1922 but not actually opened until 1927).

The Kentucky marquee. Photo by Danny Mayer.

Situated on the southern side of the Main Street artery running through town, the theater continues to serve the Lexington community by hosting a wide range of cultural events. It is not hyperbole to say that this region would be a cinematic wasteland if it wasn’t for the recent releases the Kentucky brings to town. Not only has it operated as the primary Lexington venue for international, experimental and independent cinema, it also hosts a number of film revivals, festivals and special screenings throughout the year. In the summer its Classic Film series hosts capacity crowds of enthusiastic audiences either revisiting old cinematic favorites or encountering them for the first time on the big screen. Fall brings the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival, which this year re-introduced viewers to world cinema classics Band of Outsiders (France 1964), Diva (France 1981), Knife in the Water (Poland 1962), and which premiered in Lexington the critically acclaimed Weekend (United Kingdom 2011). Continue reading »

Oct 032012

Current and former residents sound off on the Kentucky Theater.

“If something cool was coming out and I knew it would never screen anywhere else in our neck of the woods, odds were good that the Kentucky would have it.” Carl Root, Tampa, Florida, teacher/student at University of South Florida

“[I]t was an excuse for my friends and I to dress crazily and go to Rocky Horror at midnight and then go to Tolly-Ho afterward. Those midnight showings were, like, the social occasion to be at as a teen.” Leah Dick, Pulaski, Virginia, studying Communications at Virginia Tech University

“It’s my preferred first stop for a quick getaway from work or for a romantic date night—it’s something about that grand theater hall that makes it feel like you’re out on the town.” Martin Mudd, Lexington, KY, teacher at Montessori High School

“I’ve often thought there are some things I would take drastic action to preserve in my community, if ever they were in trouble. I’ve imagined a couple things I would chain myself to in order to save them, channeling Julia Butterfly Hill. The UK Arboretum is one. The Kentucky Theater is another.  While a student at EKU I would drive to Lexington on the weekends to catch films unavailable anywhere else. The KY is community- from the lovely folks who greet you at the ticket booth to Fred always quick to smile and the counter staff who seem to actually enjoy working there. It is a place of music and art and activism.”  Lisa Conley, Sociology graduate student and instructor, University of Kentucky

Sep 262012

A listing of events and commentary on recent film/performing arts news.

By Michael Dean Benton

I am writing an article for the October edition of North of Center about the Kentucky Theater’s upcoming 90th Anniversary celebration and their renovation plans, which includes a move to digital projection in the main screening room.  While preparing to interview Kentucky Theater owner Fred Mills, my colleague Don Boes left a copy of a recent New York Times dialogue between Mahola Darghis and Andrew O’Hehir on “how digital is changing the nature of movies.”  Continue reading »

Jun 062012

By Our man in Amsterdam

A new documentary on the squatters’ movement by João Romão, a Portuguese economist and activist living in Amsterdam, has just been released. Squatted Freedom, a one-hour limited-budget film, combines archival footage and interviews with current and former squatters to examine the history and politics of the movement as well as the wave of recent, violent evictions of squats in Amsterdam.

Squatted Freedom is a fascinating film. The story of the squatters’ movement, past and present, is both captivating and inspiring. Violent confrontations between police and squatters have been taking place since the 1980s and continue into the present. Squatted Freedom reaches its climax during an intense standoff and eventual confrontation between squatters and riot police attempting to evict a prominent Amsterdam squat, a scene which Romão and his colleagues were lucky enough to capture on film.

The film is also a great example of what amateur filmmakers can do with a limited budget and ample commitment. It will be of interest to anyone involved in autonomous, anarchist or other streams of radical left and anti-capitalist activism—as well as for anyone interested in knowing more about the history, culture and politics of Amsterdam.

I recently asked Romão to tell me about the film, the movement, and its significance in terms of contemporary economic and political conditions. Here is part of our conversation: Continue reading »