Calendar: October 23-29, 2020

October 23rd, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

10/25: Becca Whitaker (staff cartoonist, Bachelor Pad Magazine, Champaign, IL)
10/26: Joseph F. Alexandre (filmmaker, WARRIORS OF THE DISCOTHEQUE, JFA Films, Los Angeles, CA)

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

15 Years AgoWeek of Monday, October 24, 2005: Opteryx Press of Champaign begins shipping and store placement of MICRO-FILM 7, the imprint’s flagship journal. Articles cover the Lars von Trier “challenge” documentary THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS, the Ron Santo biographical film THIS OLD CUB, current productions from Haxan Films (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT), regional indies such as FIVE YEARS and QUALITY OF LIFE, the passing of Sarah Jacobson (MARY JANE’S NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE), and more. This 64-page issue is the last print edition of MF to date. [R]

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ online Zoom
C-U Cinefile virtual meeting (10/23, 10/30, 4 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online Zoom
Urbana Free Library and Urbana Arts & Culture Program present “The Magic Lantern II” animation experience feat. EKAH, virtual event (10/26, 6 p.m., registration required) Information

@ online Zoom
Illini Film & Video virtual meeting (10/26, 8 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online
56th Chicago International Film Festival presents FINDING YINGYING*, virtual streaming (through 10/25) Ticket purchase

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
THE ADDAMS FAMILY (2019), THE EMPTY MAN, MONSTERS INC., 2 HEARTS, HONEST THIEF, THE KID DETECTIVE, THE NEW MUTANTS, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, TENET, UNHINGED, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA (10/23 on), THE BOSS BABY, HOCUS POCUS (10/23-10/25)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
CUT THROAT CITY, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, AMULET, TREMORS: SHRIEKER ISLAND, THE OWNERS, SWITCHED, THE VANISHED, BLUE RIDGE, NOS4A2 (s2), more! (10/20 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Throwback Films at the Union” feat. PULP FICTION, Illini Union Ballroom, 2nd floor (10/23, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Grab snacks and dig DA BIG ZIP

October 18th, 2020

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Got time for a quick hit this afternoon, dearest Sunday sleepyheads? Our hard-working friend Nick Alonzo of Cluck Films has a new cinematic joint effort with their Chicago area collaborators to share, and you can be one of the first to see it from the comfort of your own home! DA BIG ZIP, Alonzo’s fourth feature eked out on the micro-budget level, will play one of its first gigs later this afternoon at 3 p.m. Central time as a selection of Seattle’s CannaBus Culture Film Festival, which began yesterday, Saturday, October 17, and will finish up later today, Sunday, October 18. “We recently won ‘Best Comedy Narrative’ at the New York Hip Hop Film Festival and we’re talking to them about distribution,” Alonzo tells C-U Blogfidential in an e-mail conversation from earlier this week. “[I am s]uper happy about the reception of the film and feel like it’s my most successful work to date” as it follows the whimsical SHITCAGO (2015), contemplative THE ART OF SITTING QUIETLY & DOING NOTHING (2018), and thought-provoking DECAF DON (2019) in an outpouring of narratives that express the writer/director’s social concerns and distinct sense of humor.

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DA BIG ZIP is an Alonzo-described “stoner noir” that follows what happens when a rapper and drug dealer named Oz and played by Noah Alonzo loses a fanny pack filled with weed and cash. “I think it’ll introduce a new fresh take on the stoner comedy genre,” they continue, “[as] it challenges the viewer by doing a lot of insane editing tricks to tell a very funny and dramatic story.” The main cast includes Alina Oria, Mario Anthony, Juan Hernandez, DECAF DON lead Dennis Episcopo, and the filmmaker, who offers praise to their sibling for the on-screen turn. “My brother has actually acted in all my films so far,” they explain. “[H]e does a fantastic job in this and I really hope he pursues acting sometime in the future.” Although all of their long-form storytelling so far has serious underpinnings, they feel DA BIG ZIP will provide a neat diversion now that people will be able to see it after the original April 20 premiere was canceled due to the pandemic. “It’s fun, full of laughs, and something that I hope leaves a good impression on audiences,” concludes Alonzo. Cluck Films will return to production this winter on da fifth big endeavor, and we at CUBlog are stoked to see what they have in store for us.

Slip on over to the official website for DA BIG ZIP to learn more and keep tabs on future festival play, while you can visit Alonzo’s personal website to find direct access to the prior features as well as shorts and music videos. Following our recent story on the enduring comfort zone that is Mother Murphy’s in downstate Normal, our warm fuzzies for ganja-infused culture will culminate soon with a bounce back to the days when Champaign-Urbana’s Chef Ra ruled the airwaves and relished the high times to come.

~ Jason Pankoke

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Calendar: October 16-22, 2020

October 16th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

10/18: Mike Everleth (publisher, Underground Film Journal, Los Angeles, CA)
10/20: Lana Wildman (staff, Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, IL)
10/22: John May (filmmaker, Tabletop Studios, Madison, WI)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana Mendota with Love Multiplicity

If you need any more proof about how local film culture might find its footing on the internet for the interim, look no further than the “Local Films & Events” section immediately below. We’ll try our best to share accurate information and links to official sources in case you would like to partake.

A good instance of problem solving on a low budget is provided by Zach Tindell and his group at Dead in Decatur, who clearly had to think outside the clamshell case so their annual show could still go on. At first, they cancelled the Dead in Decatur International Film Festival since a pandemic is not a good time to gather an audience in a compact public space, like they did last year in the gallery of the Decatur Area Arts Council. And yet, it returns later today, Friday, October 16, starting at 4 p.m. and running through the end of Saturday, October 17! Content blocks will stream at Twitch, known as a hosting site for live video game broadcasts and other real-time streams, and a concurrent chatroom will be abuzz at Discord for those who want to keyboard jabber as they take in the fresh indie frights. Click here to reach the Facebook event page for Dead in Decatur and click here to pop up their entire schedule as a graphic.

University of Illinois lecturers and New Art Film Festival filmmakers Alison Davis and Angela Aguayo will join the esteemed Jay Rosenstein a few days later in moderating the second Ebert Symposium of the fall on Thursday, October 22, starting at 5 p.m. This webpage summarizes their intended discussion on the modern documentary and social change with producers Sacha Jenkins (WU-TANG CLAN: OF MICS AND MEN), Dawn Porter (JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE), and Kirby Dick (THE BLEEDING EDGE), as well as providing links to the YouTube and Facebook accounts where the forum will be livestreamed.

One such film is the highly anticipated FINDING YINGYING, a selection of the 2020 Chicago International Film Festival that can be viewed by ticket and pass holders from now until Sunday, October 25. Make the purchase today and you will have access later tonight to a livestreamed talk with director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi, producer Brent E. Huffman, and cinematographer Shilin Sun. Organizers suggest that viewers should begin YINGYING, which recounts the disappearance of a UIUC international student and her family’s struggle to discover the complete truth about it, by 7:10 p.m. so that it finishes right before the panel begins at 9 p.m. Do your best to make time and maximize these opportunities, folks.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ online Twitch & Discord
4th Dead in Decatur International Film Festival, virtual event (10/16, 4 p.m.-midnight; 10/17, 12 p.m.-midnight) Facebook event

@ online Zoom
C-U Cinefile virtual meeting (10/16, 10/23, 4 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online YouTube
For Art’s Sake streaming event, “MOTHLIGHT (Avant-Garde series #3)” (10/16, 7 p.m. on) View

@ online
56th Chicago International Film Festival presents “FINDING YINGYING* livestream filmmaker Q&A” (10/16, 9 p.m., free w/ticket purchase to stream film) Information

@ online Zoom
Illini Film & Video virtual meeting (10/19, 8 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online YouTube & Facebook
UI College of Media presents Ebert Symposium Series, “Documentary Film and Social Change,” moderated by Angela Aguayo, Alison Davis, and Jay Rosenstein, featuring Kirby Dick, Sacha Jenkins, and Dawn Porter (10/22, 5 p.m.) Information

@ online
56th Chicago International Film Festival presents FINDING YINGYING*, virtual streaming (10/14-10/25) Ticket purchase

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
2 HEARTS, HONEST THIEF, THE KID DETECTIVE, THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, HOCUS POCUS, MY PEOPLE MY HOMELAND, THE NEW MUTANTS, TENET, UNHINGED, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA (10/16 on), YELLOW ROSE (10/16-10/19, 10/21), THE CROODS (10/16-10/18, 10/20)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD STORY, THE DOORMAN, GRANT, CATS & DOGS 3, YUMMY, BEFORE THE FIRE, TALES FROM THE HOOD 3, ASHFALL, SEIZED, VIKINGS (s6 v1), more! (10/13 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Throwback Films at the Union” feat. PRETTY WOMAN, Illini Union Ballroom, 2nd floor (10/16, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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ISU video crew high on ‘Mother’

October 14th, 2020

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In the course of cross-checking details and sources for my upcoming (and long-intended) post about the late James “Chef Ra” Wilson, it was surely a rainbow of karma that pointed me to the following video. Probably created for class work a la MAKING A MURAL, the award-winning short completed by Illinois State University undergraduates earlier this spring while in quarantine, ANYTHING BUT NORMAL briefly explores how a singular local business can survive in a modernized shopping district. Opened by Betty Anderson and Charlotte Radka (née Murphy) in 1968, Mother Murphy’s Rock-n-Roll Emporium is the seminal “head shop” of downstate Illinois that serves the offbeat needs of counterculture leaning students and residents. Between 1990 and this year, Mike Williams and his wife Becky operated the hippy mecca from its second floor location at 111 W. North Street in Normal where it shares space with its younger retail brother, Shockwaves, a supplier of skater gear. One can’t help but feel pretty cozy when awash in the relaxing sights, sounds, and scents of the conjoined stores, even if it’s not quite one’s scene.

After receiving a mention in the December 2018 issue of High Times magazine as one of the longest-lasting joints of its kind in the United States, Mother Murphy’s turned to face the strange changes necessary in order to continue serving its loyal clientele. The Pantagraph and other news media reported in December 2019 that both endeavors were listed for sale by the Williamses, who wished to retire and preferred handing them over to young upstarts instead of liquidating the assets. The same month, ANYTHING BUT NORMAL appeared at the YouTube channel of “Fell Hall Productions,” named for the location of the School of Communication on the ISU campus. (A postscript at the end of the piece mentions this turn of events and may have been added at the last minute.) Good vibes would soon coalesce in late February when Noah Anderson, Colton Walsh, and Griffin Burns announced through the Mother Murphy’s Facebook page they had assumed ownership of Shockwaves and the Emporium. Despite the unfortunate timing of the changeover with the beginning of our coronavirus crisis, the trio is actively sustaining the shops by offering new products and responding to customer suggestions.

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Calendar: October 9-15, 2020

October 9th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

10/12: Debra Domal (arts editor, Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana, IL)
10/12: Chris Folkens (author, Directing Your Debut, Christopher Folkens Enterprises, Los Angeles, CA)
10/12: Phil Hall (author, “The Bootleg Files,” Cinema-Crazed.com, New York, NY)
10/13: Alaric Rocha (instructor, The Los Angeles Film School, Los Angeles, CA)

 

PASSINGS | You Will Be Missed

10/6: Angie Heaton, 50 (actress, POSTER CHILDREN: ZERO STARS, Champaign International Pictures, Champaign, IL)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana with Love Brevity

I will be jetting to Champaign-Urbana this afternoon for a brief stay that will only last a few hours. I need to pick up a month and a half’s worth of mail from the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters. Not very far into the near future, I will return to pick up everything else. More soon on that front, dearest neighbors.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ online Zoom
C-U Cinefile virtual meeting (10/9, 10/16, 4 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online Zoom
Illini Film & Video virtual meeting (10/12, 8 p.m.) Join mailing list

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
COCO, MY PEOPLE MY HOMELAND, SHREK, YELLOW ROSE, THE WAR WITH GRANDPA, THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, HOCUS POCUS, KAJILLIONAIRE, THE NEW MUTANTS, TENET, UNHINGED (10/9 on), 2 HEARTS (10/15 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
THE TAX COLLECTOR, THE SECRET GARDEN, AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS: GIRLS’ RULES, SAVE YOURSELVES!, THE 2ND, INVINCIBLE DRAGON, THE DEVIL TO PAY, TANKS FOR STALIN, more! (10/6 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Throwback Films at the Union” feat. UP, Illini Union Ballroom, 2nd floor (10/9, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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L’episode un C-U: PEORIA plays TV

October 6th, 2020

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Although I haven’t followed a television show from week to week since high school and avoid binge watch sessions to this day, I will sneak peeks if I flip to something on the flat screen that has been given a vote of confidence by friends on social media or positive coverage in the entertainment press. I do recognize that cable channels and subscription portals have been awash with high-quality content since the rise of “Peak TV” more than a decade ago, and it has taken time for the revived medium of serial storytelling to be discussed in serious tones and rewarded well past ratings, avid fandom, and Emmy and Golden Globe statues. My long-standing preference leans towards one-and-done experiences like films, I guess.

There is a newfound attractiveness to the milieu. Hollywood heavyweights from Ridley Scott (RAISED BY WOLVES on HBO Max) and Reese Witherspoon (LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE on Hulu, THE MORNING SHOW on AppleTV+) to Jordan Peele (LOVECRAFT COUNTRY on HBO), Guillermo del Toro (TROLLHUNTERS on Netflix, THE STRAIN on FX), and Jon Favreau (THE MANDALORIAN on Disney+) are freely migrating to high profile, small screen fare as the stigma of network production being an inferior career choice to theatrical features has been all but erased. Their involvement entices viewers to stay glued, investors to take more chances, and talent to apply their creativity in ways that a 100-minute run time doesn’t allow. In other words, serialization is the shiny new sandbox to play in.

You won’t see this breadth of content creation on the opposite side of the spectrum where the local network affiliates, university-based services, and community cable access channels reside with minimal resources and barely-there budgets. Fiction television is still mostly the province of professional studios, which can handle the accelerated shooting schedules that are required to pull off complete seasons with a sense of artistic continuity, reliable delivery, and slick veneer. It doesn’t mean the starry-eyed upstarts of our world should refrain from giving the episodic format a chance if they’re up for the challenge!

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I noticed earlier this year we have a trio of independent production teams in downstate Illinois that are filming narratives for broadcast audiences. Reading up on their goals has proven to be a nice distraction from repetitive headlines about the woes of multiplexes and windfall experienced by video-on-demand providers. From what I’ve seen so far, all three camps are still in the early stages of realizing their respective projects and want to ensure they can extend the lives of their concepts. Sum total of their hard work so far – one pilot, one teaser for a pilot, one prequel series – is currently available to give viewers an idea of where they’re headed, so I thought it might be fun to consider what a “local show” can look like.

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Calendar: October 2-8, 2020

October 1st, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

9/29: Clint Andrae (producer, Looming Castle Productions, Champaign-Urbana, IL)
10/4: Cody Prough (producer, Red Lens Productions, Champaign-Urbana, IL)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana Mendota with Love October

Seemingly brittle as the leaves that predictably crunch underfoot at this time of year, I sure as hell hope we’re not setting up this country for another fall. Vote by Tuesday, November 3, like your neighbors’ lives depend on it. I’ll be turning around my ballot as soon as it arrives in the mailbox across the street from the house on the edge of an American small town where I type out this plea. Also don’t forget to submit your information for the United States Census by Monday, October 5. Tell a little bit about your current living situation and it might contribute to aiding your community and gaining resources that can benefit everyone. Finally, pay close attention when we add events here in the weeks and months to come. As we wondered aloud very recently, online will be the most likely destination for creative arts events until we can more safely congregate. The Ebert Symposium of think-tank discussion between academics and film industry professionals, as an example, returns in the first of three installments next Thursday, October 8; scroll down just a bit to learn about the participants and hit the link for more details. At the same time, please moderate your computer screen time even more so than usual. Breathers will give you crucial moments to be inspired to witness, wonder, and work harder for the world you want to live in. Cheers.

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ online Zoom
C-U Cinefile virtual meeting (10/2, 10/9, 4 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online Zoom
Illini Film & Video virtual meeting (10/5, 8 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online YouTube & Facebook
UI College of Media presents Ebert Symposium Series, “The Movie Industry in a Time of Change,” moderated by Chaz Ebert and Nate Kohn, featuring Michael Barker, Neal Block, Melissa Haizli, Darrien Michele Gipson, Mary Mazzio, Nina Shaw, and Christine Swanson (10/8, 5 p.m.) Information

@ online YouTube
For Art’s Sake streaming event, “MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (Avant-Garde series #2)” (9/25, 7 p.m. on) View

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
HOCUS POCUS, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, RGB, THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, INFIDEL, KAJILLIONAIRE, THE LAST SHIFT, THE NEW MUTANTS, TENET, UNHINGED (10/2 on), COCO, YELLOW ROSE (10/8 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
WELCOME TO SUDDEN DEATH, Z, THE SILENCING, CUT OFF, THE BAY OF SILENCE, EVERYDAY MIRACLES, LET IT SNOW, STARGIRL (s1), PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS (s1), more! (9/29 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Throwback Films at the Union” feat. THE BREAKFAST CLUB, Illini Union Ballroom, 2nd floor (10/2, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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Calendar: Sept. 25-Oct. 1, 2020

September 25th, 2020

Our movie and media Calendar appears every Friday/Saturday on C-U Blogfidential and caters to the downstate region anchored by Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA.

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MILESTONES | Happy Birthday to You!

10/1: Jason Croft (publisher, Bachelor Pad Magazine, Champaign, IL)

 

MFHQ MEMO | From Chambana Mendota with Love Heavy Mettle

Aye, me mateys, my eyes can’t take much more! I guess in this lifestyle spent far away from Champaign County, I can rattle off Talk like a Pirate Day nonsense with ease but I’m really pushing it to publish two articles and a Calendar every week. I also had been hoping to resume the Almanac, which requires a lot of researching and condensing to come up with each entry, and I don’t have enough gusto to hack it along with the rest. I heavily implied it here so I’ll say it again: for the moment, you’ll get what you get from us at C-U Blogfidential. Your humble editor has a load of life maintenance to manage in the coming weeks and we might have to go silent for minor stretches of time in order to meet those needs. If you’re looking for readings that are not the usual news concerns and puff pieces in the local media du C-U and will encourage you to concoct a cocktail, put a platter on the hi-fi, and wink back at your lovely of choice, then Bachelor Pad Magazine might brighten your day! Jason “Java” Croft just released the 13th anniversary number, issue 53, in 100 percent eye-popping color. I will have to admit that my eyes can easily handle a quarterly dose of retro pop culture in this vein, especially since I have returned to the BPM fold for the first time since 2012 as a proofreader. Join us to revel in C-U Confidential’s unofficial “big sister” digest as movie maven Will “the Thrill” Viharo, speakeasy seeker Don Spiro, portrait photographer Erin Riddle, ace home entertainer Kelly Camille Patterson of the Velveteen Lounge Kitsch-en, mixologist Paul Spencer, fabulously savvy Catherine Tomasko, elegant cover model Macee Legree, and a host of pin-up pretties and cartoonist funnies echo the pleasures of yesteryear with one foot squarely set in an ideal tomorrow! BPM is an acquired taste, yet it might be the right flavor for you. It’s okay to be fun and frisky, C-U!

 

LOCAL FILMS & EVENTS | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ online Zoom
C-U Cinefile virtual meeting (9/25, 10/2, 4 p.m.) Join mailing list

@ online Zoom
Illini Film & Video virtual meeting (9/28, 8 p.m.) Join mailing list
[mailto:illinifilmandvideo@gmail.com)

@ online Zoom
Urbana Independent Media Center 20th anniversary event, “Independent Media: Where we’ve come from and why we need it more than ever!” feat. Tanya Parker, Sarah Lazare, Sascha Meinrath (9/30, 7 p.m.) Day-of portal

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
AKIRA, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, KAJILLIONAIRE, THE LAST SHIFT, LEAP, MADAGASCAR, THE BROKEN HEARTS GALLERY, INFIDEL,THE NEW MUTANTS, TENET (9/25 on), UNHINGED (9/25, 9/27, 9/29, 8 p.m.), WORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS (9/26, 9/28, 9/30, 8 p.m.), HOCUS POCUS (10/1, 6:30 p.m.)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM, MOST WANTED, BECKMAN, BLOOD QUANTUM, 90 FEET FROM HOME, WIDOW’S POINT, TERRIFIED, more! (9/22 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Throwback Films at the Union” feat. TITANIC, Illini Union Ballroom, 2nd floor (9/25, 7 p.m.; free w/i-card)

Events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Additional “Now Playing” and “Coming Soon” listings appear after the jump!

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TubiTV incorporates C-U movies

September 24th, 2020

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When it comes to the major streaming services, I agree with the sentiment shared by other pop culture writers that niche and international films should be better represented. I also realize the media conglomerates have to satisfy the tastes of a general audience in order to make money. So, if one wishes to dive deeper, one has to look past the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vudu, Peacock, Apple TV, Hulu, YouTube Movies, and CBS All Access (about to become Paramount Plus). Criterion Collection launched its own platform to present its library of curated world cinema, while Vimeo on Demand provides an outlet for independent producers to rent their wares that is not swarmed by Hollywood as is Amazon Prime. Other variants exist if one searches a bit and most of them require the viewer to make a purchase. That is expected and all good if the viewer has disposable income.

I emphasize greatly with my fellow citizens whose finances continue to wither because of insufficient employment in the pandemic era. Many of us simply don’t have the cash flow to afford first-run movies and many other amusements. (Conversely, swarms of parents have now dropped $20 to $30 in premium fees on cue for the privilege of streaming TROLLS WORLD TOUR and MULAN with their children.) So, we’ll always have cable television and its insane price tiers, free YouTube interrupted by awkward breaks, free Vimeo filled with shorts and experiments, free Daily Motion for flotsam and jetsam to wade through, and free-with-membership access to collections like Kanopy through our public libraries. The overwhelming effect can be the equivalent of surfing 57,000 streams (and nothin’ on) and this doesn’t even account for movies ripped to one’s devices or a shelving unit stocked with home videos.

Recently I discovered a newer service that is user-friendly, free with ad breaks, and just weird enough to possibly be worth the adventure. Tubi, launched in 2016 and purchased by Fox Corporation earlier this year, is available via numerous platforms as well as the internet and is comparable in feel to brands like Crackle and PlutoTV. After several swims in the pool, I can best describe Tubi as if one ambled into a mom-and-pop store where direct-to-video features, cult movies, moldy oldies, and documentaries outnumbered studio releases by a wide margin. The algorithms bring up titles you have never heard of in every search, but a few surprising gems can be located with a little effort and guess work; it will be worth the extra time to create an account and keep track of goodies that way. Tubi has no organization to speak of that guides you through their offerings by genre but they do hotlink the names of directors and actors, which allows a one-click search method of sorts.

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Being the humble editor of C-U Blogfidential, I had to entertain a hunch or two and my findings can be found below. The first list is of independent films related to downstate Illinois and the second is of features that have played Roger Ebert’s Film Festival. Click on titles to go to the landing pages and play without delay! Video streaming quality is fine with good Wi-Fi, advertising insertions are spaced agreeably, audio options are basic, subtitles are hardcoded, and a suggestion box may partly cover the screen during end credits but you can collapse it and allow your movie to finish out. All these observations stem from browsing Tubi via Mozilla Firefox on both a PC laptop and Apple iMac. The service does not put all its licenses on all platforms; Ma JaPan and I watched Aardman AnimationsEARLY MAN on Tubi using her Roku-loaded flat screen television, but I could not find it on the computer side.

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August and everything NAFFter

September 22nd, 2020

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Fall is a new season, right? I sure as hell hope so, dearest readers, for once again I need a refresher to get past the creeping ennui with a bad habit of stunting my efforts to continue C-U Blogfidential from afar. Unlike the last time I lit a literary fire under my rear, which also happened to picture a group of dusty and metaphoric theater seats, I’m not going to promise any specific actions or tease about what content is in the works and when it might arrive. You’ll simply have to practice due diligence if you are a friend of the site and visit Facebook to see what’s new. Please follow any links of interest right back here and, as always, I hope our posts live up to the standards you expect from CUBlog. With that squared away, here is my latest attempt to resume our unconventional coverage of the film culture du C-U…

Next image you’ll see below is from the inside of the shuttered Art Theater, snapped and shared recently by building owner David Kraft of Kraft Properties in a bid to engineer sales of those seats. Press coverage has confirmed that his broader attempts to attract another renter or unload the property itself for a princely sum has not elicited any serious offers, so he’s clearly ready to depart with what he can; the incoming board of the Lincoln Square Theater in Decatur announced last month they had acquired the Art’s digital projector, sound system, and popcorn machine, for instance. Kraft can’t do much of anything at the location without a money-making tenant (or even the limited money-making of a TENET), so he’s stuck paying bills however he can on an architectural shell designated a landmark by the city of Champaign. It’s his responsibility until further notice, and all the community can do is watch and wonder.

Personally, I’m more than tired of thinking about the Art difficulties past and present. I also don’t have the disposable income to spend on Art bric-a-brac or space at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters to store it properly. I would love to see a small amount of ephemera make it to good homes and maybe receive a respectable display to keep its history alive. After that, I’m taking the “que sera, sera” approach to the situation and will pay renewed attention if a positive turn of events were to develop at 126 West Church Street. The forlorn furniture, then, is not meant as a cue to wring more sentiment over the Art’s fate or to fashionably demonize Kraft on top of the predictable social media criticism sent his way. It merely reflects an emptiness I’ve experienced lately, often when contemplating the state of cinema in the C-U.

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Some version of our scene will emerge in full view once the pandemic is corralled. Of course, I see the evidence that operational theaters and headstrong promoters are bringing movies back to our community. I also witness through my personal connections that creators are meeting and workshopping via Zoom while some have already stepped back onto the set for commercials, shorts, and features. Clubs and classes held through the University of Illinois and other school settings are continuing in modified fashion. This is a solid awakening for all involved, just as long as we respect the tactics for keeping the COVID-19 coronavirus at bay, but pretty much all I can do is watch and wonder. A large part of my malaise is due to being away from my central Illinois habitat for so long and detached from my circle.

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