Category Archives: Culture

Celebrating the Films of Military Actor R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018) Who Passed Away This Week

r lee ermey

Die-hard drill instructors, jailbreaking football coaches, and corrupt backwoods sheriffs. It was all just another day of work for former Marine Corp. drill instructor-turned-actor R. Lee Ermey, who died earlier this week. Ermey was an incredibly dynamic character-actor with an instantly recognizable face and rambunctious personality. The Kansas native joined the Marine Corp. in lieu of jail time after he’d been arrested twice by the age of 17. He began his career serving as a drill instructor in San Diego during the early 1960s before eventually being sent on a 14-month deployment in Vietnam. He was injured during his tour in 1969 and was sent to work as a staff sergeant in Okinawa before being medically discharged in 1972, ending his hopes of a long military career. After moving to the Philippines to attend college, Ermey married and began taking odd jobs in television commercials before landing his first film role as Sgt. Loyce in a movie called The Boys in Company C, which followed five young Marine Corp. recruits from their bootcamp training to their deployment in Vietnam. Continue reading

‘Make Music Day’ Is Back With 4,500 Concerts and Free Events Nationwide This June

make music day

If you’re looking for more to do this summer than walk to the pool or have an occasional beach day, why not plan a trip around the annual Make Music Day festival this June 21st? Make Music Day is a worldwide event that features concerts, impromptu jam sessions, music lessons, and free events in more than 800 cities across 120 countries. Last year, 4,138 free concerts and events were held in 53 cities across North America in coordination with additional celebrations in cities around the world. All were held on June 21st. As impressive as that is, the organization is looking to one-up itself this year by adding more than 350 additional events to the line-up! That means plenty of destinations to choose from for a midsummer weekend road trip. Fête De La Musique was first started by France’s Ministry of Culture. It was held on the summer solstice in 1982 and since then has become an annual worldwide phenomenon, a celebration of music where all are welcome to participate or merely take in the atmosphere. Check out Make Music’s local links for Minneapolis and Chicago to find events happening in an area near you this summer, and get out and sing on June 21st!

Special 40th Anniversary Screenings of ‘Grease’ Open In Theaters This April

grease

Director Randal Kleiser’s big-screen adaptation of the Broadway hit Grease is celebrating its 40th anniversary this April. To celebrate the occasion, TCM Big Screen Classics Presents and Fathom Events are hosting special screenings of the Oscar-nominated film in theaters across the country. Although Jim Jacob’s and Warren Casey’s original Broadway production received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Choreography (Birch), Best Actor (Barry Bostwick), and Best Costume Design, it was Kleiser’s film adaptation that would go down in history as an American pop-culture icon, with John Travolta (Pulp Fiction, Face/Off) and Olivia Newton-John (Xanadu, Two of a Kind) in the roles of greaser Danny Zuko and good-girl Sandy Olsson. The film received several Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor (Travolta), Best Actress (Newton-John), and Best Original Song for Frankie Valli’s “Grease” and John Farrar’s “You’re The One That I Want,” neither of which is featured in the original musical. John Farrar’s “Hopelessly Devoted To You” also earned the film an Oscar-nomination for Best Original Song. For the anniversary event, special screenings will be played at select theaters on April 8th, April 11th, and April 14th. To find showings near you, visit Fathom Events at the link below and enter your Zip Code on your preferred date, and enjoy the show!

TCM Big Screen Classics Presents and Fathom Events

‘Scarface’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ Cast Reunions Set For 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

Anniversary celebrations became something of a staple at last years Tribeca Film Festival after audiences were treated to (and blown away by) a special 45th anniversary cast-and-crew reunion of Francis Coppola’s mafia epic, The Godfather. This year, however, audiences will be treated to not one, but two cast reunions from two equally impressive cinematic icons, Brian De Palma’s Scarface and Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. De Palma and actors Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer are set to reunite for a special screening of Scarface at the Beacon Theater on April 19th. The same venue will also host a screening of Schindler’s List on April 26th, along with a discussion panel with director Steven Spielberg and actors Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Embeth Davidtz. The 17th annual Tribeca celebration will also host Tribeca Talks: The Directors Series and Tribeca Talks: Storytellers with directors and actors like Alexander Payne, Laura Poitras, Bradley Cooper, Spike Lee, and Alec Baldwin, as well as a Tribeca Talks: The Journey panel highlighting Sarah Jessica Parker. Tickets for the 2018 celebration are on sale now.

Art A Whirl Weekend @ 331 Club

Location: 331 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis
When: Fri-Sun, May 18th-20th (Fri: 5PM-Close, Sat: Noon-Close, Sun: 1PM-Close)

Art A Whirl weekend has become a huge yearly event for many residents of the Twin Cities. The non conforming art festival now sprawls across innumerable art galleries, some official while others are inside homes transformed into show rooms. The 331 Club is in the thick of the Northeast Art District, and proves to be one of the best places to take a break from the art galleries for some live music and beer. This year the 3 day party will feature performances from Charlie Parr, Hastings 3000, Mark Mallman, FOG, Gay Witch Abortion, All Tomorrow’s Petty, and Beasthead among many, many others. Entrance for the Art A Whirl festivities is free, but you’ll need to be 21+ to party. Click the link below for more information and set times.

Art A Whirl @ 331 Club

90th Academy Awards Ceremony Falls Flat Despite The Efforts of Jimmy Kimmel

kimmel oscars

Jimmy Kimmel has become something of a favorite when it comes to awards show hosts in Hollywood, but even his calm and collected approach to comedy wasn’t enough to make the 90th Academy Awards any easier to watch. To no one’s surprise, the event was littered with awkward moments, transparency montages, and overrated acceptance speeches, the latter of which Kimmel tried to spare us by enticing winners to keep their speeches short in exchange for a new jet ski. The host even joked about the crystal-laden stage, commenting that “each of the 45,000 Swarovski crystals on the stage represents humility,” even though the site was really enough to make anyone working an honest 9-to-5 cringe. Despite presenting some well-deserved wins for Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Gary Oldman, and Roger Deakins, the “brilliance” of the event was overshadowed with failed Star Wars skits, a hotdog-throwing prank, and several desperate attempts to whitewash the #OscarsSoWhite, #MeToo, and #TimesUp movements.

In regards to the latter, a special pre-filmed segment featuring interviews with Hollywood elites discussing equal representation in the business was presented by Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Selma Hayek, who urged viewers at home to make movies about their own life stories. Lupita Nyong’o and Kumail Nanjiani also took an opportunity to address the Dreamers, reassuring those who were watching that “Dreams are the foundation of Hollywood, and dreams are the foundation of America.” The best take on the present state of Hollywood, however, came from Kumail Nanjiani, who commented that, “Some of my favorite movies are by straight white dudes, about straight white dudes. Now you can watch my movies and relate to me. It’s not that hard. I’ve been doing it my whole life.” In the end, a lot of jokes were made about the laughable spectacle that is Hollywood, but in the end we’ll see how much change actually occurs before the Oscars return next March. A full list of winners can be seen here.

Ryan Coogler’s ‘Black Panther’ Is A Cultural Phenomenon Because We Made It So

A week after its release in theaters across America, director Ryan Coogler’s new Marvel comic-adaptation, Black Panther, is still setting box office records. The film is the 5th highest domestic debut of all time, and the highest grossing February release in history, with a staggering $202,003,951. It earned more in just 3-days in theaters than any other film featuring a black director and predominantly black cast with an impressive worldwide opening weekend gross of $350 million. The success of the film has not only shattered age-old myths surrounding the “unpopularity” of all-black ensemble movies in Hollywood. It is also changing the way Hollywood, and America at large, view films that deal primarily with black and African American culture. But why is Black Panther such a big deal for America and not simply just another superhero movie with a hero who happens to be black? Continue reading

Will Disney’s Bid For Fox Properties Mean Another Monopoly For The Cable Industry?

disney fox merger

Walt Disney Pictures has come a long way from making full-length animated features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Peter Pan. In the 21st century, the company has reinvented itself with live-action blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, state-of-the-art computer animated films like Cars and Frozen, and adaptations of children’s literary classics like Roald Dahl’s The BFG and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (out in theaters this March). In recent years, Disney has expanded into more lucrative markets like comic book blockbusters (ie. Marvel comics) and, of course, the Star Wars franchise. The latest Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi, hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office sales barely three weeks after its US theatrical release. With a plethora of material to work with, and plenty of money coming in, one would think Disney is far passed its tipping point, but that might not be the case at all. Continue reading

Vinyl Is Finally Taking Back The Music Industry As CD Sales Plummet

vinyl

I’ve been saying it for years: vinyl is the way to go and Millennials are finally catching on! Best Buy announced this week that its stores will stop selling CDs (compact discs) altogether this July 1. Meanwhile vinyl sales have been steadily rising over the last few years, becoming, once again, a high-demand item for music retailers who have been struggling to compete with digital streaming services and music downloaded from the Internet. According to The Guardian, vinyl sales saw a 53% increase between 2015 and 2016, the highest sales numbers for vinyl since 1991. Although vinyls have always been kept around by independent retailers like Half Price Books and local stores like Cheapo Records and Electric Fetus here in Minneapolis, retailers like Best Buy and Target have caught up with the trend. As some begin to drop CD sales, none seem to have any plans to stop selling vinyl. Continue reading

Annual Spoken-Word Poetry Competition, Louder Than A Bomb, Gives A Voice To Young Poets

In 2001, shortly after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th, two Chicago-based educators, Kevin Coval and Anna West, decided to create an outlet for young high school students to express themselves through spoken-word poetry. Nearly 20 years later, Louder Than A Bomb has grown from a small number of local high school teams to a full-scale competition made up of 120 teams from high schools all over Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The success of the program has inspired educators to form spoken-word poetry competitions in 13 cities across the country, and even in Canada. Today, Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB) prides itself on being the largest youth poetry festival in the world. The success of the program, as well as the students and educators involved with organizing it every year, was the subject of a 2011 documentary, Louder Than A Bomb, by filmmakers Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel.

Jacobs and Siskel followed four individuals competing in the 2011 competition to paint a portrait of youth outlook on world events, social climate, politics, and their own personal stories. The film not only received praise at the Chicago International Film Festival, but also at film festivals all over the country, including Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Portland. Prelims for the upcoming 2018 festival are being held at Columbia College starting on February 21st-22nd. You can check eligibility rules and sign your team up on the Young Chicago Authors website. Louder Than A Bomb is available on Amazon Prime, and if you have an account I would definitely add it to your Watchlist.