Archive | March, 2008

In My Queue – ‘The Notebook’ and ‘Wristcutters’

31 Mar

Today I’d like to start a new feature here on Scene Now, called In My Queue (yes, I’m a Beach Boys fan; could you tell?:)).

I’m a Netflix subscriber so I thought I’d tell y’all what’s on my queue and what I’ve been watching.

Last week I rented “The Notebook.” Ohh, bad choice for me. I’ve heard so many people say they love this movie, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Basically the story follows Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams), a young couple with a couple of hurdles to overcome.

It wasn’t a bad movie at all  — in fact, it was beautifully made. I just wasn’t sure why I should care about Noah and Allie. Didn’t care about them in the beginning, didn’t care about them in the end (I know, it’s like I have no heart, right?). There were some really romantic scenes, but everything felt fast for me. Maybe I need to read the book?

Which brings me to this week’s selection, “Wristcutters: A Love Story.”

I noticed in the trailer for “Wristcutters” that a reviewer said something like, “this is one you’ve never seen before.” And that’s so true. I saw another reviewer called it “‘Wizard of Oz’ for suicidals,” and that’s a good way to describe this film.

After Zia (Patrick Fugit) kills himself, he’s send to this kind of afterlife populated by people who have committed suicide. He learns the girl he killed himself for has killed herself, too, so he sets out with his buddy Eugene (Shea Whigham) to find her. I’ll be vague and say hilarity ensues. Shannyn Sossamon, Tom Waits and Will Arnett also star.

This is a movie you’ve got to have a morbid sense of humor for – it’s not described as a “black comedy” for nothing (think “Heathers”-esque). You’ve got to be able to find the satire in all of the suicide, you know? And there are a lot of nice touches – for example, the soundtrack features artists who’ve killed themselves, like Del Shannon and Ian Curtis.

I had a few problems with the movie, but at the same time, I’m not sure I could really justify them – I mean, there really hasn’t been a movie like this, so can I really complain about a few silly plot points?

But here is why I am writing about both “The Notebook” and “Wristcutters” – whereas I didn’t care much about the couple in “The Notebook,” I cared a lot about the folks in “Wristcutters.” I felt like I didn’t learn enough about Noah and Allie to care whether or not they ever worked out their relationship in “The Notebook.” Yet, I really didn’t learn much about Zia before he went on his journey, yet I cared a lot about how he ended up. Maybe I just identified with him and the other characters more.

Too, I liked the premise of “Wristcutters” better than “The Notebook.” I’d heard “The Notebook” was a tearjerker, so anytime I feel like I’m being bullied into crying/feeling for a character, I’m immediately turned off.

So I enjoyed “Wristcutters” way more than I did “The Notebook.” “Wristcutters” isn’t for everybody – again, you have to have a morbid sense of humor to really find it funny. Again, though, this isn’t to say “The Notebook” is a bad movie – I’m just not one for tearjerkers. But if you love them, you’d love “The Notebook.”

Here’s the “Wristcutters” trailer:

Other recent things I’ve seen via Netflix were “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset.” You’ve probably seen these already, or at least the first one, in which Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are 20-somethings touring Europe together and they fall in love in the course of about a day. Both the original and the sequel had problems, but I enjoyed them both. I about threw a fit at the end of the second one, but I understood it, too. I won’t say more so I won’t ruin it.:)

For some reason I’ve been on a big romantic movie kick lately. Next week, though, I’m getting “Fido,” which is certainly not a romance! Can’t wait to see that one – and tell y’all about it. 🙂

To see what’s available to rent tomorrow, check out our dear Melanie’s blog – Oxford Film Freak.

Talk back – what have you rented lately that you loved or hated? What are you excited about renting?

Mid-day Update: New music, new blogs

31 Mar

Some happys to brighten your afternoon:

Tupelo’s own Cockfight Club has their first single off “Green Fairy Tales” up on their MySpace page. Just click on the link to hear the new song!

Also, I linked to a country music blog I just found – The 9513. They do a great job of writing about lesser-known artists as well as country radio staples, if you love country music (and who doesn’t?), you might want to check it out.

New feature still coming! Check back late this afternoon!

What’s Going On – U2, Idol, new shows

31 Mar

Merry Monday, Scene cats.

  • Neal McCoy is releasing a greatest hits record later this year. His new single, “Rednecktified,” will be on there – anyone else watch him on the Opry this weekend?

Check out Scene Now later today for a new feature!

On Location: Memphis, part 2

31 Mar

By Melanie Addington

I have to take a moment before I tell you about day four festivities to excuse my blunder in calling the fest by its old name. Memphis International Film Festival has rebranded itself this year to On Location: Memphis. It may seem like a slight issue, but it is important to actually call the fest that this awesome group of people I met worked so hard on by the correct name.

Now, things started hopping in the evening of day three as the rain subsided and people showed up in droves to check out Osso Bucco, a funny little mobster comedy played out over the course of a veal dinner in a snow storm.

Unfortunately I skipped out halfway through the film to check out the feature winner Low and Behold. The film has minor cinematography issues but the stunning performances make up for it. The story line is heartbreaking and some of the footage of the devastation that Katrina left of New Orleans was captivating and intense. The film was such a personal look at a real event and yet written in such a way that the themes are universal and the story could have been set anywhere. No one from the film came to the fest so they showed the award to the audience and then began the film. That was disappointing but since the ending of the film shook me up so bad I was glad I didn’t have to sit through a Q&A but could instead escape to the bathroom to stop crying.

 Afterwards I went to the final after party which was held downtown at the Bridges. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door but it appears to be a semi-convention center. The design of the building is amazing and there is even a cool rock climbing wall. Unfortunately, the wall was off limits, although it would have made for a much more lively party if half-drunk filmmakers had been allowed to start scaling walls.

A great Memphis band, the Mudflap Kings, performed in the downstairs while most of the partygoers enjoyed the free beer in the upper inside deck. I’d heard the first two parties were a great time and I was looking forward to wild fun. But my heart wasn’t in it and after trying to mingle for about an hour with the somewhat small crowd, I decided to check out early and head to my hotel.

This morning (around 11 a.m.), I woke up fresh and started the final fest day. I headed to the Brooks Museum to check out the Liberty and Justice series that the president of the fest, Michele Howard-Flynn, had helped to get started this year. I was excited to check it out as they were playing some good films that we’d had at the Oxford Film Festival before such as The Clinton 12 and Willie Francis Must Die Again. The film I was going to check out was Race to Execution. As the home of the Civil Rights Museum, Memphis is the perfect place for such a series to start a great dialogue.  When I arrived no one was there but the film began anyway. I watched the movie with one board member and the projectionist. Saddened that no one had arrived at the fest I asked how the turnout was the day before and was told by a volunteer that they had so much trouble filling the seats that they had stopped charging people to just get them into the theater. It’s a shame that the community didn’t respond as they missed out on an amazing two day series of great Civil Rights films.

After the film I headed over to the Malco Studio and ran into the cool guys from Rattle Basket and talked to them about their film and their experience at Ground Zero the night before. They are a great bunch of filmmakers and seemed to really be enjoying Memphis, so much so that they are considering shooting their next film in the region. I look forward to checking out their film this week.  I then saw my friend Erik Jambor of Indie Memphis, the other Memphis film festival.

After quickly catching up with him, I ran in to see Of All The Things, a fun documentary about a long ignored songwriter Dennis Lambert. Despite enjoying the film, I felt completely depressed that I really never pay attention to who writes these amazing songs that I love. I mean, Lambert wrote some of the classic tunes we all know and love, including the Four Tops “Ain’t No Woman Like the One I’ve Got.” Seeing the movie, although touching that he finally got a chance to perform his works, made me realize just how much I take for granted the lyrics I hear. Afterwards Jambor and I sat in on the screening of The Little Pumpkin and The Cake Eaters. Both films are sweet sentimental stories about family and was a nice relaxing way to end the fest.

Exhausted from two long days of movies, I headed back home to Oxford. Luckily, not for long though, as the Crossroads Film Festival starts Thursday in Jackson, Mississippi. Stay tuned for live blog coverage from all four days of the fest! Until then, I will be doing reviews of the films from On Location: Memphis over at my blog www.oxfordfilmfreak.wordpress.com.

A look back at Rock for a Cause

30 Mar

As promised, I went to a show this weekend – Rock for a Cause at the Powerhouse in Oxford – and I return bringing photos.

I know – these photos aren’t the best! But give me time and hopefully I’ll get better. 🙂

On to the show…
I came in about half-way through Yossarian‘s set, and I was impressed. They do this kind of instrumental metal/progressive sound, and gosh they were loud. They were wonderful, though.

Second Chances – also known as Kyle Segars – had the difficult job of following the band. It was just Kyle and his guitar, but he held his own. Everyone loved his cover of Chris Brown’s “With You.”

Avenue Hearts was great too. Their alt.country sound was really relaxing and they had a wonderful Ryan Adams-y noise to them.

I didn’t get the chance to stay for all of Aaron Hall Band, but the little bit I saw was soo good. Definitely one of my new favorites and I can’t wait to see them at Double Decker.

More shows to come…promise!

Inside the Memphis Film Fest

30 Mar

Editor’s note:  Join me in welcoming Melanie Addington, a new blogger with Scene Now.

Melanie is passionate about all things film-related, so she’ll be our movie guru.

She’s been at the Memphis Film Fest all weekend, so here are her updates about the festival.

By Melanie Addington
Saturday, March 29

Day three of the Memphis International Film Festival is well underway. Rain appeared to be a bit of a deterrent for many this afternoon as several of the screenings at the Malco Studio had only a handful of people, mostly filmmakers. Although part of the distraction could have been due to the new Liberty and Justice Series at the Brooks Museum from 1:15 to 5 today as well as the three filmmaker panels at the French Quarter Suites.

One such screening that had a small audience was Adrian Belic’s Beyond the Call. I had the chance to sit down with the Oscar-nominated director and talk to him about upcoming projects as well as what is next for the documentary. He was happy to announce that Beyond the Call will have its theatrical premiere at the Laaemle Grand Theater in April. He is currently working on several projects all over the world but has begun plans for a feature documentary as he follows a family’s escape from Cuba to the United States.

The rain stopped right before the 5 p.m. screenings of Before the Music Dies, Blood on the Flat Track and Broken Fences, so the seats began to fill.

Rather than having an awards ceremony for the films tonight, there will be an after-party at Bridges to begin winding down the fest. Winners of the festival were decided early on and at each screening the award is given to the filmmaker, other than the audience choice award, which will be decided by the viewing audience and announced tomorrow evening. The winners of the 9th Memphis International Film Festival are:

In the Animation category: Raccoon and Crawfish , an 8-minute short film by the Oneida Indian Nation. A moral tale from ancient Native American lore is combined with modern technology to show the battle between a raccoon and crawfish and the fight for hunger and survival. The film played today at 3:30 p.m. in the Animation block.

In the Documentary category: Knowledge is the Beginning, about the West-Eastern Divan orchestra. This film screens tomorrow at 3 pm at the Malco Studio on the Square so there is still a chance to get out and see it!

In the Music Video category: Falling From Mars by Alyssa Campbell, which played tonight at 7:15 p.m. as part of the music video block.

In the Shorts category: Second Line by John Magary, which played in the short series part two today at 1 p.m. The story revolves around a guy living in his FEMA trailer and after his savings is stolen from it, he has to take on work gutting a house. The film also screened two weeks ago at South by Southwest and has been winning a few awards on the festival circuit.

In the Features category: Low and Behold, which plays tonight at 8 p.m. (stay tuned for my review). Runner up feature was Dot.Com.

I’m off now to see the best feature winner and then to the final after party at Bridges. Stay tuned tonight for what happened at the party as well as a review of Low and Behold.

In the Arena, 3/28

28 Mar

BY TODD HUNT

Thanks for the responses to my question in last week’s blog.  A couple of you mentioned TNA Wrestling, which was something we had already been looking into.  That leads me to ask which event you would rather see:  TNA or WWE?

We’re still working on possible concerts for the rest of the year.  Summer is the hardest time to fill for us for a couple of reasons.  Acts tend to play festivals and amphitheaters during the summertime.
Couple the lack of available shows for arenas with the fact that much of our population takes vacations during the summertime, and it’s becomes a much riskier proposition for us to promote concerts during the summer months.  However we’re still looking for an event or two that could work for us.

Thanks to those of you who came out to see the Mudcats annihilate their opening day opponent last Saturday.

Kickoff for this week’s game against Florida is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.  Tickets are on sale now.  Hope to see you Saturday night.

Until next week,

Todd