While those that know me know I’m an Android owner and user (but still love my Mac’s! So calm down Apple Fan boys/girls!) it is far from being the easiest/friendliest mobile OS to love regarding updates. Want to know why? This covers it pretty darn well
So cramming three films into an evening after a full day of work on about three hours of sleep is a bad idea, who knew? I’ve done it before but usually away form home and with out work intruding upon my day. Thus it’s always strange when these things happen at home. Its harder to focus. But on with the day two wrap up, which I’d like to subtitle “A Tale of two indie Rom coms”
Why “A Tale of Two Indie Rom Coms”? Easy really, I spent the majority of my day in theater 3 at the AMC Mainstreet watching two radically different romance films. First up was QWERTY. I had picked QWERTY as one of my must see feature picks after last weeks media night and catching the films trailer. The film which screens again on Saturday at 8PM at the AMC Ward Parkway 14 comes directly from the school of films like The Puffy Chair, The Freebie and the also Chicago based Hannah Takes the Stairs.
The film opens with Zoe (Dana Pupkin) whose a bit of a social outcast but a hardcore word nerd with a love of sock monkeys and the game Scrabble. While shopping at a department store Zoe encounters Marty (Eric Hailey) whom in an act of defiant outrage over a pair of mens underwear being priced at fifty dollars is making a scene that will quickly find the department store security guard jobless. The two meet in that serendipitous moment and quickly engage in a romantic relationship.
Said relationship is oft rocked by the fact that both Zoe and Marty have had suicidal thoughts. Marty more so than Zoe due to his fractured upbringing and his general hatred of others. Things get tough at a spot in the film and the script and director Bill Sebastian do a good job of the viewer not really knowing how things might play out.
The chemistry between the leads with Dana Pupkin as Zoe and Eric Hailey as Marty is fantastic and feels truly authentic. Once the Scrabble competion comes into play a quirky and eccentric cast of characters also join the fold. The entire film has an undeniable charm and wit that is infectious even given some of the darker elements of the characters. While QWERTY isn’t breaking any new ground it comes from a group that is obviously ready for the next level with a production that is done very well.
Thinking about it a bit more, and the fact that the film makers were able to get the rights to use the Scrabble name. I’m shocked that Hasbro/Mattel who seem obsessed and hell bent on making any of their properties into films (Hello Battleship), that the toy and board game maker didn’t glom on to QWERTY. Flip the title to Scrabble: A Love Story, which would really work. Though given the films script by Juliet McDaniel (who has an excellent Mini bio on IMDB) has some rather raunchy and subversive elements I could see why they might defer, but shame on them for not taking the chance. Then again its not to late. HEY HASBRO AND MATTEL get on it!!
On the exact opposite end of QWERTY was the film Love Stalker. Dubbed an “Unromantic comedy” the film features a thirty something year old named Pete, the films co-writer and co-director Matt Glasson who is a womanizer on his way to his “golden number.” That is to sleep with the number of women to match the final two digits of the year of your birth. Sorry dudes born in the aughts, your life is either easy, or paved to sexless hell if living in the world of Love Stalker.
Pete spends his days sleeping at his cube and his nights on the prowl for any woman that will talk to him. One night while out and about he meets Stephanie (Rachel Chapman.) Stephanie is a BTWA which is some kind of misogynist nonsensical bro code system Pete has established to identify women at bars, in this case big tits, woman alone. He misses the chance to approach Stephanie but happens to bump into her a few days later.
Turns out Stephanie is a relationship advice columnist for a local website and already has Pete figured out. The short of it is that Pete falls hard for Stephanie thinking she is the one and ends up stalking her, since he is so in love with her.
Love Stalker'sstrongest element has to be its script. Which is at times hilarious as Pete isn't much of a guy to cheer on, and then down right absurd once crossing over to the stalker realm. The film is overly long and while I did buy Pete falling for Stephanie the stalker bit just seemed to go to far. Then I guess that's the thing with stalkers, they are hard to understand. The film really feels longer than it really needs to be. A couple of Pete's Jen 1, 2s or 2.5's or perhaps Stephanie sub plots could be cut to trim up the film and give it a more graceful run time. Ultimately I did like the fact that there is some character growth by the end of the movie, that is if you can hold out and make it there.
Closing out night two of the fest for me is something I always enjoy about film fest being a short attention spanned one time youth of the eighties, shorts programs! This particular shorts lineup was titled After Dark. The lineup was all horror shorts which is always up my ally. All in all it was a solid lineup. Following is a tweet sized review of each.
Simple, elegant and menacing. This smart short does lots with its short run time and is impressive as such.
Another impressive outing for its short 7m runtime. A baby-sitter gets a lesson on halloween. Loved the use of creepy kids, ala The Shinning. Don’t scream…
Oh Predaturs, you have some good ideas going on but some are poorly executed and led me to laugh out loud along with others in the theater. From the school of so bad its good. (You can view this by clicking here NOW.)
A welcome quick hit after Predaturs 35 minute run time. Simple, creepy and suspenseful with a quick laugh or two thrown in. Enjoyed the heck out of it.
Slasher Kings: First Gig
Brilliant and clever this meta movie does something one could only do in the indie world where intellectual, copyright, and trade marks are easily disregarded.
The Curse of Yig
Such a dense story for its runtime. It feels like its non stop dialog in this take of H.P. Lovecraft’s tale. Well acted and well done being a period piece.
I don’t think the folks fo Wellsville Kansas will appreciate Nailbiter. I say this based on the fact that Nailbiter makes the town seem to be filled with extremem weather fulled monstrous freaks. Though I might be getting ahead of myself. You see that is the hard thing about horror/thriller films, its ever so easy to give too much away. Being that I like to stay as far away from spoilers I’ll do my best to do so here.
Adorable story of a little LA boy who built his own cardboard arcade, and how an Internet flashmob made his day.
This morning on my drive in to work I caught wind that KCUR (89.3FM) here in Kansas City was going to have the local filmmakers behind one of my picks for must see for the KC Film Fest Producer Jill McKeever and Director Kevin McKinney on their show Central Standard. I wasn’t able to tune in as I was at work but the show is now up as a podcast over at KCUR. I’ll give it a listen and post some thoughts in an updated post later. The film screens this Friday at 8:30PM at the AMC Mainstreet and again on Saturday at 3:30PM at the AMC Ward Parkway 14. If you caught it on the air, or since via podcast let me know what you thought in the comments.
So I didn’t think I’d end up writing about Middle of the Map but here I am two days after the fest end and I can’t help but do so. I didn’t attend the fest inaugural kick off last year which featured some acts I wanted to see. My reason for staying home was a pretty lame one that revolved around feeling as if I was in a bit of a SXSW hangover. This year when I saw one of my favorite bands, and the group behind one of my favorite albums of last David Comes to Life, Fucked Up was on the lineup I couldn’t say no. The three day pass at the ridiculously low price of $35 was a no brainier considering I had paid that at the door to see Mike Doughty perform for two hours, just one week prior at Knuckleheads.
Flash forward to Thursday night for what was the fest official kick off and I was lucky enough to catch an act I was a fan of back in the early aughts. Thats hardcore act The Esoteric. I had both of the groups label albums which I truly enjoyed, 2005’s With the Sureness of Sleepwalking as well as 2006’s followup Subverter. I got into the band during my days when I could be found at a local venue damn near any night of the week. Oddly I never caught the group during that span, something that after Thursday I was happy to make up for. The groups rather quick set was hampered by a bad bass cabinet that ate likely a song or two from the set list. Or perhaps not, there is no way of knowing for sure. I just know I was happy to finally put to rest the fact that I hadn’t seen the band and hope its not too long before another show.
The rest of the lineup at the Recordbar was reunion filled in more ways than one. Both on stage and off all night long I witnessed old friendships being rekindled. Wives and children being introduced to friends and old band mates. The whole venue felt like a scenester get together, and the feeling was palpable. Hell I even got in on the act myself pumping into a friend or two I hadn’t either seen in months, or in another case several years.
As for the rest of the show my friend Greg who is a walking encyclopedia of the Kansas City music scene well beyond his years covers it much better than I can. His recap of day one can be found at both Lost in Reviews and his own blog Riot on the Plaza. Be sure to give the write a read as I doubt you’ll find a more comprehensive wrap up than his.
The only other act I have to mention is one Greg didn’t make it to see…though he wasn’t alone based on the sparse turn out, American Catastrophe. I don’t know if it was the reunion draw at RecordBar for Molly McQuire. Or the national touring act draw of Hooray for Earth at Riot Room, who did sound good for the song or two I caught. Either way The Union’s basement was empty when the local group took to the er, stage at the venue. American Catastrophe was a group I saw countless times around the release of their first EP Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir. It’d been around five or so years since I last saw the act. Durring that time the groups built a larger catalog of newer material that was all that the set Thursday night was seemingly made up of. I enjoyed the heck out of it and can’t wait to see it released at some point, if not already, info seems spares.
From my view point Thursday night was a smashing success, and there were still two days to go.
Friday night I ended up checking out fairly early after cramming bits of six bands into about five hours. Lots of running around, plus mixing of beer styles = I was in rare form and ended up fading WAY earlier than I should have and missing several acts I wanted to see. The one act I did catch that had the biggest impact on me was easily Phantasmagoria out of Detroit, look them up. I also enjoyed the Soft Reeds new material I was able to catch at RecordBar.
Saturday I camped at the Riot Room as I knew the posted capacity of 240 would be reached pretty early in the evening for a pretty strong lineup that was predominately local with two regional/national acts thrown in. I didn’t make it to the venue until The Casket Lottery’s set. I enjoyed the group and will be giving them a deserved listen since it sounds like they have a new record out. Up next was the relatively new local group Reflector. I enjoyed the early part of the groups set, they lost me a bit midway through but drew back in toward the end. Not bad for a newish group that I think covered the extent of their material durring their set.
The Appleseed Cast is another act I’ve heard of countless times but never heard before. A majority of their songs are instrumentals, which is something I’m always fond of. I enjoyed the groups sonic stylings though it was certainly a tempo change from the preceding acts. Chicago, IL act A Lull was up next. At this point the line for the Riot Room was nearly half a block long as the venue had hit capacity two acts prior to the headliner Fucked Up. A Lull sounded good, but I’ll be honest here it wasn’t really my thing on this particular evening. Further the group felt like the odd group out amongst the heavier leaning lineup. The five piece from the wind city handled their responsibilities however and made way for Kansas City hardcore act Coalesce.
Coalesce seemed to devide a crowd that was seemingly either there to see them, or the headliner Fucked Up. A rowdy pit formed in front of the stage for the group. By the time the show was over I had seen their guitarist climb the rafters of the Riot Room and play the better part of a song while hanging upside down. The energy that the group brought to the stage was a good warm up for the band I had ultimately signed up for the entire fest to see, Tronto Canada’s Fucked Up.
Fucked Up is a group that is easy to misunderstand. Their name alone gives one pause. With a name like Fucked Up one automatically assumes they are in for some heavy shit. Which to be sure is true, but Fucked Up takes things to another leave for the hardcore/punk genre. I think they released a 7” or the like somewhere along the way called Epics in minutes. If you dive into a Fucked Up record expecting the usual punk trappings of less than three minute songs blasting quickly away you’re going to find yourself confused and lost. The group has songs that go on for as long as fourteen minutes if not longer. The thing here is the group is not just doing it to do it either, they pull it off. The group with three guitarist Mike Haliechuk, Josh Zucker, and Chris Colohan that are kept in rhythm by drummer Jonah Falco and bassist Sandy Miranda are each amazing talents that take what could easily be a giant wall of ugly noise and make something utterly elegant out of it. Mix it the indomitable yell of Damian Abraham on vocals, who in person matches the beastly like sound of his lyrics in stage presence and you have a recipe for something that confounded the ever living shit out of me when I was first introduced to their outstanding record, 2008’s Chemistry of Common Life which wouldn’t seemingly leave any playlist for a good year or two.
Saturday marked the third time I’ve seen the band, and first since the release of one of last years easy picks for record of the year David Comes to Life. David Comes to Life was a showcase for the band that continues to mature and fine tune their sound. So much so I had some concerns that the material on the record may have a hard time coming across with the same impact live as it does recorded. Thankfully my fears were assuaged in a set that drew heaviest from David Comes to Life but also featured fan favorite Police off the groups earliest of 7” releases and several tracks from Chemistry of Common Life. As a fan of the group I didn’t leave disappointed and I don’t believe that anyone that managed to find their way into the packed and extremely hot Riot Room did either. For as aggressive as Fucked Up’s music may be, and as heavy as the content of their songs is their live show is possibly one of the most energetic and positive things one can see, that you can’t help but leave feeling that everything is going to be okay.
So all in all year two of the Middle of the Map fest from my perspective was a smashing success. The fest added in a bit of film, and The Forum which sounds as if it will grow in the next year and I hope the music fest does as well by possibly adding a Sunday afternoon, or if coinciding with Good Friday next year including some day showcases on Friday as well. I tweeted and took some instagram photos several times and insinuated that it felt like a Micro SXSW, which it truly did. I just hope the fest can continue to grow in light of Saturday’s tragic ending for some and grow next year.
The Kansas City FilmFest (formerly known as the Kansas City Film Makers Jubilee, or still is depending on where you read) gets under way just one week from day. The fest which runs April 11-15th takes place predominately at the AMC Mainstreet and has also expanded to the newly remodeled AMC Ward Parkway theater. Adding the Ward Parkway is a smart move by fest organizers AMC as the theater chain recently spent what I assume are substantial piles of cash and time reinvigorating the theater. Gone are the old sloping floors and folding seats circa mid to late nineties. In are swanky red powered leather recliners in every all new digital theater at the 14 screen cinema which as best as I can recall, was one of the largest in the midwest when it opened in my days as a pre-teen. I think I spent many a weekend blowing my disposable income at this place so its nice to see somewhere I have fond memories of getting a badly needed but deserved recharge.
The fest showed some sneak peeks of films at its media night on Wednesday April 4th and I got a chance to sneak preview clips and trailers from 16 of the shorts and 11 of the features to help plan my schedule and get a feel for the fest program this year. This was super handy seeing as the Filmfest site is pretty devoid of information for the films screening. I’m hopping this is something that the organizers get a chance to update in the days ahead leading up to the fest for those that are planing on attending to aid in the scheduling making.
Following are my top 3 picks from what I screened earlier this evening.
1. Clocked In
As soon as I saw Kansas Cities Iconic water fountain logo and a very plain font of KC DIY pop up on screen I immediately smiled. While I’m the most poser of punk as it gets I still love punk music live and most of its lifestyle but I’m far from practicing it. One part of it I love, and do embrace as often as I can is the idea of DIY. DIY meaning do it yourself. Something I try to do where I can. So needless to say I was hooked from the very start of this thing. Mix in a punk soundtrack and a sparse black and white 3D animated aesthetic that seems to allude to a guy unhappy with his corporate cube walled world and well…I was sold.
2. Incest! The Musical
Going to the exact opposite end from Clocked In is Incest! The Musical. This short which looks to be riffing on Glee is about a brother who is, I hope the title doesn’t spoil it, madly in love with this his sister. I smiled and laughed at several of the quick glimpses of Incest! The Musical as it quickly made my want to see list.
3. Shoot the Moon
Remember a little flick called Requim for a Dream? Remember Harry’s (Jared Leto) mom Sarah (Ellen Burstyn) who was OBSESSED with getting on that game show in the flick? Yeah? Good… Shoot the Moon, Kind of reminded me of that. Though without the drugs and not seemingly as Debbie downer a flick…though we shall see.
Looks like a mumble core-esque (*gasp* dirty word!) romantic comedy when two quirky, on the brink of suicidal individuals meet and fall for each other. Oh and there is Scrabble, seemingly lots and lots of Scrabble.
2. Small Pond
I know next to nothing about this film outside of the few minutes of footage I screened tonight. From that footage alone however I’m intrigued. The film was seemingly shot in Columbia, MO as that cities popular Shakespeare’s pizza seems to be the place of employment for the films main character. It also seems to feature several hipsters discontented with their lives shuffling through with no direction, boozing, not giving a shit, and being selfish people. Wait, has someone been watching me for a while? I kid, but I felt I got what was going on here so I’d like to see if the rest of the ride holds up.
1. Dirty Energy and Corporate FM
Yeah, I’m cheating and throwing two picks in for my “third”.
Dirty Energy: A doc that discuss the BP oil catastrophe that took place in the gulf a few years back. Being that we don’t hear much about said spill at this point It’ll be interesting to see what this doc has to say since that seemed to be one of the points its making from the few minutes of it I screened.
Corporate FM: Seems to be a predominately KC made Doc taking a look at the deregulation that has destroyed independently owned radio and given rise the the Clear Channels, Entercoms, and CBS/Inifinity conglomerates of the world that all sound the same and are more or less programed and in many cases ran by computers.
Film fest pass info can be found here on the KC Film Fest web site. The site also features the schedule and the ability to create an account and plan your schedule. There are also some additional, more special event type venues. Basically anything you need to know should be over there so give it a read.
Are you planning on attending the fest? What are you looking forward to seeing if so? Sound off in the comments below…
I’m a slacker…my Top Ten films of 2011 list is way behind. If your looking for music, head to Lost in Reviews. Odd I post that since I don’t think I’ve ever covered a lick of music here, but I digress. I finally had to come to terms and complete my top ten almost by accident. I finally had a chance to sync up with Shannon and Nat and get a recording of the Almost Locals Only podcast in. The podcast which had seemingly been left for dead, but is obviously not. It’s much like a reanimated monster from a horror film. The heart of which is seemingly beginning to beat once again. Hard to believe I’ve been doing that for three years now along with this writing thing. Tonights Top Ten films of 2011 recording marked the third year running the three of us have shared our thoughts on our top picks. I should warn you that the blurbs included with this post were nothing more than my notes for the podcast. I didn’t really feel like editing them or adding anything to them beyond what I had when I dove into the podcast. I did cover a few items not in these notes on the podcast. Further for Shannon’s and Nat’s list be sure to give it a listen once I get the edit done, or cheat and read the show notes to spoil it all and make me sad that I spend hours editing the podcast into a decent product only to have the seemingly loyal audience of 25 or so give it a listen. If your one of those said listeners I truly and deeply love you. Thanks for listening to me these last several years.
Wow, had I started back to school three years back I’d now be looking at getting a degree. As Toupee would say “what is my life?”
Enough of the personal bull shit I hear you saying, just give us JohninKC’s top ten flick picks of 2011 you goofy bastard. Okay here you go, most mainstreamers won’t like this. The art house crowd will say I’m to mainstream and my family will continue to think I’m so out of touch with reality as judged by these flick picks I’ll still be surprised when they continue to claim me and say they love me. Let me know what you think of the picks and what yours were in the comments.