Calendar: October 12-18, 2018

October 13th, 2018

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!

10/13: Alaric Rocha (producer, Blue Bassoon Pictures)
10/18: Dave Domal (producer/actor, MONSTER)

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

60 Years AgoFriday, October 3, 1958: Showman and entrepreneur Louis K. Sher of Columbus, Ohio, helps Champaign mayor Virgil Lafferty cut the ceremonial ribbon outside the Art Theater to celebrate its grand opening. Formerly the Park Theater and one of the few local movie houses not sold by the Alger Brothers to the Kerasotes theater chain earlier this year, the Art is a member of Sher’s growing Art Theater Guild, which turns neglected venues into destinations for those movie viewers who want more sophisticated fare and have less patience for the hustle and bustle of the typical first-run theater. Their celebration includes Richard Packer, the first Art general manager, and Andrew Moraetes, a fellow manager from the nearby Illini Theatre that also belongs to the guild, as recalled in The Art Theater by Perry Morris, et al. A capacity crowd fills all 511 seats at the Art to watch the premiere attraction, THE RED AND THE BLACK (LE ROUGE ET LE NOIR), a 1954 French-Italian period drama from filmmaker Claude Autant-Lara with Danielle Darrieux and Gérard Philipe in the lead roles that is based on the nineteenth century novel by Stendahl and released by the Distributors Corporation of America. According to a cover story run by Boxoffice magazine four years later, the formula for success by guild president Sher includes a generous renovation of each venue, concentration on a single feature per engagement, free coffee and soda for sale in lieu of popcorn or a snack bar, and fine art hung on lobby walls to affect a relaxing atmosphere. Sher would expand the guild’s reach to more than 50 locations, dabble in Broadway shows, and produce exploitation films for his own distribution arm, Sherpix.

 

LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunication, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Champaign Movie Makers* meeting, “Film Music with Eric Watkins,” WILL-TV studio (10/15, 7 p.m., free)

@ Wyndham City Centre Hotel, Springfield, IL
Central Illinois Film Commission* meeting, “‘The Dark Side’ with guest speaker Tamara Pritchett,” Grill Breakfast Room (10/18, 7 p.m., free)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
BLAZE (10/12 on), MANDY (10/13-10/14, 12 p.m.), Member Screening: MCQUEEN (10/15, 7:30 p.m.), Migrant Solidarity Series: THIS IS HOME: A REFUGEE STORY (10/16, 7 p.m.), Shocktober 2018: GANJA & HESS (10/12, 10 p.m.), “All-Nite Horror Marathon IV” feat. PATRICK (1978), THE DRILLER KILLER (1979), NEKROMANTIC, PSYCHOS IN LOVE, and HEAVY METAL MASSACRE (10/13, 10 p.m.), and PROM NIGHT (1980; 10/17, 10 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, CINDERELLA (2015; re-release), COLETTE, FIRST MAN, GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, NIGHT SCHOOL, THE NUN, SMALLFOOT, A STAR IS BORN, VENOM (10/12 on), HALLOWEEN, THE HATE U GIVE (10/18 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: SUMMER VACATION, SKYSCRAPER, HOTEL AREMIS, EIGHTH GRADE, DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT, A PRAYER BEFORE DAWN, THE 100 (s5), more! (10/9 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, COLETTE, FIRST MAN, GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN, GOSNELL: THE TRIAL OF AMERICA’S BIGGEST SERIAL KILLER, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, HELL FEST, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, NIGHT SCHOOL, A SIMPLE FAVOR, SMALLFOOT, A STAR IS BORN, SHINE, VENOM, WONDER (10/12 on), REAR WINDOW (10/14, 10/17), “Michael Jr.: More than Funny” (10/18, 7 p.m.), HALLOWEEN, THE HATE U GIVE (10/18 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, Pine Lounge (10/12-10/13, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Reel Deals: BEETLEJUICE (10/16, 10/18, 7 p.m.)

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: October 5-11, 2018

October 6th, 2018

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!

10/4: Cody Prough (filmmaker, KNOCK, KNOCK)

 

MFHQ MEMO | (Not Quite) From Chambana with Love

As very few of our dearest readers and friends of the local cinema know, your humble editor has been living away from the Twin Cities for more than a year due to parent care. Writing this from a dining room overlooking a screened-in porch and sizeable yard, neither of which could ever be installed at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters, I have been feeling even more out of place than usual during this semi-exile. It dawned on me a few days ago that I have been a resident of the Bubbly City for a quarter century as of this week, when my brother helped me move belongings from a basement apartment in a farmhouse a few miles outside of Normal to my friend’s place in a complex on the far west end of Champaign. I have now outlasted both of them and, improbably, thousands of other individuals who have come and gone from the area in these 25 years, yet it often feels like I’ve also flown the coop even though I continue to visit the C-U once a month and write to you about our movie culture every single week. Have you noticed? Should I just relocate until this situation is resolved? It’s clear that I don’t have much to celebrate on this “Chambanaversary” since a peculiar asterisk hangs over it all. What does my geographic shift and random trepidation have to do with what goes on at C-U Blogfidential? If we’re being honest, it matters plenty. Feel free to read between the lines right here to see how it all plays out as we continue doing what we do. Cheers.

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
JULIET, NAKED (10/5 on), FIRST MAN preview screening (10/8, 8 p.m., free), ANDREI RUBLEV (10/9, 7 p.m., w/discussion), Shocktober 2018: THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW w/shadow cast (10/5-10/6, 10/10-10/11, 10 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
MOANA (re-release), A STAR IS BORN, SHINE, VENOM, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, HELL FEST, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, NIGHT SCHOOL, THE NUN, A SIMPLE FAVOR, SMALLFOOT (10/5 on), FIRST MAN, GOOSEBUMPS 2: HAUNTED HALLOWEEN (10/11 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
THE FIRST PURGE, SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO, LEAVE NO TRACE, THE CATCHER WAS A SPY, THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, TALES FROM THE HOOD 2, BLUE IGUANA, DEATH RACE: BEYOND ANARCHY, PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH, SUPERNATURAL (s13), more! (10/2 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
CRY ME A SAD RIVER, A STAR IS BORN, SHINE, VENOM, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, HELL FEST, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LITTLE WOMEN, NIGHT SCHOOL, THE NUN, THE PREDATOR, SEARCHING, A SIMPLE FAVOR, SMALLFOOT (10/5 on), NEITHER WOLF NOR DOG (10/6, 10/8, 10/11), The Metropolitan Opera: Aida (10/6, 11:55 a.m., simulcast; 10/10, 6:30 p.m., recorded), HALLOWEEN (1978; 10/7, 10/10), THE DAWN WALL (10/8, 7 p.m.), DOCTOR WHO: New Season Premiere (10/10-10/11, 7:30 p.m.), FIRST MAN (10/11 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. THE FIRST PURGE, Pine Lounge (10/5-10/6, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Spurlock Museum, UIUC, Urbana, IL
AEMS presents AsiaLENS Documentary/Film Series feat. ART IN SMOG (10/11, 7 p.m., free)

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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Of picks, pans, and “Potato” puns

October 5th, 2018

Regular visitors to C-U Blogfidential know that we are absolute suckers for a good story involving some of the historic high points from our community’s cinema past earning a reprieve in the present. It is also clear that we can be hopeless romantics when friends once belonging to our seminal Champaign-Urbana scene in the Nineties and Aughts make their welcome return to the fold, however brief it may be. For today, we have yet another angle on the retrospect front in that a former resident has resurrected his cartoon nom de plume used in a long-gone publication to playfully brand his on-line movie critiques. Who could have predicted it? We don’t know and we’re not complaining.

Paul Young’s alternative weekly newspaper, The Octopus, grew fast and built a sizeable roster to cover the culture, politics, and art in our immediate region. When the movies received their own section once The Octopus began publishing weekly in August 1996, knowledgeable writers like Chuck Koplinski and Stephanie Spiro chimed in on the new releases from blockbusters to boutique titles hitting town “for one week only.” There just had to be one contributor in the new configuration who did not submit reviews quite like the others, of course, offering up breezy capsule comments on films just entering the home video market. Sometimes he hunkered down on a single title, more often he snacked briefly on two, three, or four movie morsels, and occasionally he doled out the droll listicle. What seemed like a stunt when it first appeared in the August 30 issue and praised SCREAMERS with Peter Weller – “The Couch Potato Video Critic”? Four-potato rating system? – turned into a dependable entertainment fully loaded with snarky humor, a big heart, and an honest appreciation of the storytelling form when he felt a flick got it right.

This encapsulates just about everything that comes out of the paintbrush, pen, or word processor of “industrial artist” Gerry Kissell, who doubled down as the “Couch Potato” alongside other Octopus staff such as your eventual humble editor. Working as a CNA and at other odd jobs while living in Champaign, Urbana, or Savoy for much of the decade, Kissell used the newspaper as a creative outlet while pushing to build a portfolio of science-fiction and pop culture samples. The former U.S. Army EMT has settled in Missouri and stuck to his guns since leaving Champaign County roughly 20 years ago; an extensive list of accomplishments include cover designs, comic book pencils, inks, and coloring (Iron Sky, Code Word: Geronimo), screenplay writing, movie poster illustration, research and development of soldier-centered media with other veterans such as Hollywood’s go-to consultant Dale A. Dye (PLATOON, JFK), and an ongoing rapport with Sam Raimi associate Josh Becker (XENA, LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY) that includes promotional pieces for the latter’s period drama that is currently filming in Michigan, WARPATH.

Much to our surprise, Kissell has added back “The Couch Potato Critic” to his arsenal of current projects after fielding an overture from the Web site Film Dumpster. You can follow their “Review” page to see Kissell’s takes on the latest films including THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, and WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? The same plus various Internet flotsam and jetsam in the cinema vein can be found on his Facebook account. We believe this is basically word recess for its author when he’s not tackling the heavy-duty, bread-and-butter work on his plate, yet it’s an agreeable way to learn what our ol’ potato pal considers “good taste” in the here and now.

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Calendar: Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2018

September 28th, 2018

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)
10/2: Mike Prosise (actor, SUPER AMAZING MAN VS. DR. EVIL, Pens to Lens 2017)

 

LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Independent Media Center, Urbana, IL
EMPOWERED* pilot episode premiere (10/3, 7 p.m., free)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE WIFE (9/28-10/2, 10/4), National Theater Live: Julie (9/29-9/30, 11:45 a.m., simulcast), Late Night: LET THE CORPSES TAN (9/28-9/29, 9:30 p.m.) and MANDY (10/2, 10/4, 10 p.m.), Shocktober 2018: Kick-off event – Shocktober Film Festival (10/3, 5-11:30 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
HELL FEST, NIGHT SCHOOL, SMALLFOOT, TANGLED (re-release), CRAZY RICH ASIANS, FAHRENHEIT 11/9, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, THE NUN, PEPPERMINT, THE PREDATOR, A SIMPLE FAVOR, WHITE BOY RICK (9/28 on), A STAR IS BORN, VENOM (10/4 on)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, UNCLE DREW, IZZY GETS THE FUCK ACROSS TOWN, HOT SUMMER NIGHTS, GOTTI, THE SEA GULL, TRENCH 11, THE GIFTED (s1), 9-1-1 (s1), more! (9/25 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
HELL FEST, LITTLE WOMEN, NIGHT SCHOOL, SMALLFOOT, ASSASSINATION NATION, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, FAHRENHEIT 11/9, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, THE NUN, PEPPERMINT, THE PREDATOR, SEARCHING, A SIMPLE FAVOR, WHITE BOY RICK (9/28 on), PADDINGTON 2 (9/28-9/30, 10 a.m.), YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (9/30, 10/3), FAT BUDDIES (9/30-10/3), Studio Ghibli Fest: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (9/30-10/1), Roger Ebert Symposium feat. A BEAUTIFUL PLANET (10/1, 4:30 p.m., free, IMAX), THE TRUMP PROPHECY (10/2, 7 p.m.), ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW (10/3, 7 p.m.), SHINE, A STAR IS BORN, VENOM (10/4 on)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME, Pine Lounge (9/28-9/29, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ National Center for Supercomputing Applications, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Roger Ebert Symposium, “Empathy for the Universe: Storytelling and Data Visualization,” NCSA Auditorium (10/1, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., free to public w/registration), continued offsite with screening and discussion of A BEAUTIFUL PLANET in IMAX, Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL (10/1, 4:30 p.m.)

@ Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, IL
“Vachel Lindsay: Poet, Artist, Visionary” exhibit, M.G. Nelson Family Gallery (through 9/29)

@ The Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL
Reel Deals: GET OUT (10/2, 10/4, 7 p.m.)

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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ED gives HEART to the Art today

September 26th, 2018

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At last, we hope to finally understand what the Art Film Foundation (AFF) has in mind for solidifying and expanding the Art Theater’s service to the Champaign-Urbana community as its first executive director, Porshé R. Garner, Ph.D., settles into her role. A few weeks after announcing her hiring, AFF will host an introductory session with Dr. Garner at the Art later tonight, Wednesday, September 26, 7:30 p.m., for the public to get to know her better and watch her personal film favorite, the Tribeca-MGM television production HOLIDAY HEART (2000) starring Ving Rhames, Alfre Woodard, and Mykelti Williamson, directed by Robert Townsend (THE FIVE HEARTBEATS), and adapted by award-winning dramatist and University of Illinois alumna Cheryl L. West (Pullman Porter Blues, Akeelah and the Bee) from her own play. Its story, about an aging drag queen named Holiday Heart (Rhames) who becomes a friend and surrogate parent to neighboring teen Niki Dean (Jesika Reynolds) as her mother Wanda (Woodard) falls back into a drug-addled lifestyle, features a central protagonist in Niki whom Dr. Garner can emphasize with, according to e-mail announcements from AFF.

Previously, Dr. Garner worked for a decade with Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), an empowering collective that teaches African-American girls in C-U to use the arts to explore their realities and possibilities, and recently earned her doctorate in Education Policy Studies and graduate minor in Gender and Women’s Studies from UIUC. The screening will be followed by a discussion session when she will presumably talk about the film, her work at AFF, and future initiatives. Attendees have the opportunity to “match their admission” whether they buy tickets on-line or at the front counter of the Art, in essence doubling the ticket price and donating the upcharge or more to the non-profit. May everyone have a good first night with Dr. Garner; we’ll always pull for our favorite little movie house to provide the best in quality programming at 126 W. Church St. in Champaign that engages and challenges us.

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. Your humble editor just re-read The Art Theater: Playing Movies for 100 Years by Perry Morris, Joseph Muskin, and Audrey Wells, and can more easily see how the paramount goal of a community-driven venue like this one is to give its loyal audience what it needs. He will find it interesting to see how Years 101 to 105 and beyond are remembered if an expanded and revised edition ever goes to press.

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Oscar nominated UI alumni gone

September 24th, 2018

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For the past year in Champaign-Urbana, we have been regularly prodded with public relations reminders that the University of Illinois is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding in 1867 as a land grant university, the Illinois Industrial University. We congratulate them for their commitment to preparing the civil servants, leaders, and visionaries of the next generation, but it is also a cue for us to think about all the former UIUC students who have grown up and left their marks in entertainment and the arts since leaving these here Twin Cities. What this leads us to acknowledge is how many of them we’ve never received an opportunity to know. As an example, we skimmed through this on-line collection hosted by the News-Gazette of salutes from UIUC “famous formers” and – little surprise – recognized very few of the names or faces tagged in the “Media” and “Arts” categories. The same goes for this informal survey posted to the UIUC Web site last winter that concentrates on graduates working in film and television. We’ll presume that many more individuals partake in “the biz” than are accounted for here.

Two alumni neglected in those sources have left us during the summer months, previously carving out disparate careers that dealt with the act of creatively shaping the written word for the screen. More recently, The Hollywood Reporter noted the death of screenplay author, instructor, and workshop mentor Thomas Rickman on Sunday, September 9, at the age of 78. Raised with few modern comforts in Kentucky among a distinctive culture in the South that would heavily inform his storytelling, Rickman attended UIUC as an English graduate student in the late Sixties and co-founded the Depot, an experimental theatrical space in downtown Urbana’s former train station that now houses the Celebration Company. Subsequent enrollment in the fledgling American Film Institute of California helped encourage him to take up professional scriptwriting after making a couple of well-received student film shorts. He would peak a decade later with the smash Burt Reynolds vehicle HOOPER (1978) and the biographical COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER (1980) starring Sissy Spacek as country music legend Loretta Lynn.

Rickman’s work on the latter brought him an Academy Award nomination in early 1981 for best adapted screenplay, while fellow UIUC alumnus Richard Alan Greenberg earned his own Oscar nomination in 1988 for his contributions to the science-fiction action film PREDATOR (1987) with superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger. Greenberg, a Chicago native who passed away on Saturday, June 16, at age 71, became famous in the industry after finishing his graduate school and teaching years at UIUC and UI-Chicago to join business-minded brother Robert in New York City. Following a handful of underwhelming commercial assignments, as told to The Art of the Title in a wide-ranging interview, the siblings formed R/Greenberg Associates and lucked into the challenge of designing dynamic titles for the opening crawl of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE (1978), pulling off a bold and memorable sequence. This led directly to the game-changing motion title work of ALIEN (1979) and cemented their path for the next 20 years, a run that ended in the late Nineties after Richard stepped away from an R/GA satellite office in Los Angeles and Robert shifted the company focus towards new media and digital branding.

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Calendar: September 21-27, 2018

September 22nd, 2018

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!

9/21: Lisa Cerezo (webmaster, New Art Film Festival)
9/23: Austin McCann (former general manager, The Art Theater)
9/27: Robert Hubbard (contributor, MICRO-FILM)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE WIFE (9/21 on), Art House Theater Day: FOREIGN BODY (9/23, 7 p.m.), Member Screening: SUMMER OF 1993 (9/25, 7:30 p.m.), Introduction of Art Theater executive director Dr. Porché R. Garner feat. HOLIDAY HEART (9/26, 7:30 p.m.), Late Night: DEEP RED (9/21-9/22, 10 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
FAHRENHEIT 11/9, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG (re-release), CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, THE NUN, PEPPERMINT, THE PREDATOR, SEARCHING, A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK (9/21 on), THE TRANSFORMERS event (1986; 9/27, 7 p.m.)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, DAMSEL, HEARTS BEAT LOUD, BILLIONAIRE BOYS CLUB, SIBERIA, LOST CHILD, FAHRENHEIT 451 (TVM), AMERICAN HORROR STORY (s7), THE LOOMING TOWER (s1), more! (9/18 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
ASSASSINATION NATION, FAHRENHEIT 11/9, THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, LIFE ITSELF, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, THE MEG, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, THE NUN, PEPPERMINT, THE PREDATOR, SEARCHING, A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK (9/21 on), PETER RABBIT (9/21-9/23, 10 a.m.), LABYRINTH (9/23, 9/26), National Theater Live: King Lear starring Ian McKellen (9/27, 7 p.m., simulcast)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. INCREDIBLES 2, Pine Lounge (9/21-9/22, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, IL
“Vachel Lindsay: Poet, Artist, Visionary” exhibit, M.G. Nelson Family Gallery (through 9/29)

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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BAD in good company at Redbox

September 18th, 2018

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While putting together our SHOT report from a few weeks ago, we happened upon a Facebook announcement from Robin Christian of Dreamscape Cinema in Champaign that BAD COMPANY, his company’s bioterrorism action film that was originally produced in Piatt County in July and August of 2013, would street on the same day as the vintage student adventure – Tuesday, August 28. This included placement in Family Video locations across North America and additional exposure in Redbox kiosks nationwide thanks to the connections of MTI Home Video, the long-running genre label that picked up the rights to BAD COMPANY from sales agent Artist View Entertainment. Other than securing international distribution for the project, previously called LOWLIFES, this clears the deck for Dreamscape as all the studio’s completed features are now in commercial release with most available via Amazon streaming. You can access the older catalog – SHEEBA, DISCONNECT, ACT YOUR AGE, MY DOG THE SPACE TRAVELER, and the VOD-only DISPOSABLE – at this Amazon search result.

Starring up-and-coming talents like Booboo Stewart (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST), Giselle Bonilla (FREEDOM WRITERS), Kyle Massey (THAT’S SO RAVEN), Madelyn Deutch (THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN), and Quinton Aaron (THE BLIND SIDE) as well as veteran actors like William Atherton (DIE HARD), Christopher Judge (STARGATE SG-1), Tzi Ma (THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE), and Mark Derwin (THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER), the film follows a group of teenagers that is enrolled in a disciplinary boot camp and becomes isolated when a rogue militia invades the immediate countryside. Troop members who survive an early search-and-destroy sweep by the invaders must put aside their pasts and band together in order to thwart a scheme to disable the nearby nuclear plant. Other than aiming to produce a yarn that is exciting and colorful, Christian took inspiration from the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy in Rantoul and their serious mission to help wayward youth turn around their lives so they may be productive or even heroic in the face of adversity.

The disc reproduces the film adequately – we can’t help but be impressed by the look of sequences involving woodlands and farm country, lushly captured by veteran cinematographer Bruce Logan (TRON, JACKSON COUNTY JAIL) – yet is barren of extras other than removable subtitles and trailers for MTI fare. (A similar fate befell this year’s other commercial releases of locally filmed features, CONSUMED and BEFORE ‘I DO’, although SHOT benefited from landing at a collector’s label that regularly supplements its titles with bonus content.) You can segue to the official Facebook page for a closer look behind the scenes or locate any fan site devoted to buff TWILIGHT star Stewart for a peek at the actor in character and then, maybe, something else BAD COMPANY. Christian’s current ensemble has recently wrapped the next Dreamscape production, a bull shark-in-the-Midwest-river saga called BELOW, and is now filming pickup shots in Illinois and Missouri. We’ll talk about that a bit more in an upcoming post. Until then, be alert when the cornfields surround you…

~ Jason Pankoke

p.s. William Kephart, we hardly knew ye in this movie and it’s not because you went uncredited in your cameo. Snif.

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Calendar: September 14-20, 2018

September 14th, 2018

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!

9/14: Tanino Minneci (actor, DUSTY RUSTY, Pens to Lens 2018)
9/14: Kimberly Conner (producer, Predestined Arts & Entertainment)
9/14: Jason Huls (producer, Ten Wing Media)
9/19: Paul A. Brooks (producer, Into the Night Motion Pictures)
9/19: Eric Pankoke (webmaster, C-U Blogfidential)

 

PASSINGS | You Will Be Missed

9/3: Thomas Rickman, 78 (screenwriter, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER/TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE)

 

CONFIDENTIAL ALMANAC | Dates in Film Culture History

80 Years AgoSaturday, September 10, 1938: After assuming ownership of several movie theaters in the Champaign-Urbana market including the Park, Colonial, and Princess, the largest local project for the La Salle, IL-based Alger Brothers chain comes to fruition in partnership with A.J. Balaban of Chicago. The Co-Ed Theater, located on Green Street within easy walking distance of the University of Illinois and an underserved campus population, opens its doors this afternoon to host a full house for its grand opening show that includes news reels, a Betty Boop cartoon, and the comedic First National/Warner Bros. feature WOMEN ARE LIKE THAT starring Kay Francis and Pat O’Brien. This venue differs from the existing Alger properties in that it is their first theater built from the ground up, despite incorporating basic infrastructure that was already present on the north side of the block between Sixth and Wright streets, and it will premiere the best in first-run fare while the others bring back second-run attractions “at popular prices,” as described in The Art Theater by Perry Morris, et al. Chicago architectural firm Monberg & Wagner drew up the plans to accommodate 900 seats in an Art Moderne setting, accented by UI-inspired plaques and an orange-and-blue lighting scheme, while the William C.F. Kuhne Company of Rantoul erected the structure as detailed in numerous reports by the News-Gazette and Courier newspapers. The Co-Ed would briefly close between 1958 and 1959 after Edward and Howard Alger decided to leave the exhibition business, selling it to Kerasotes Theatres along with most of their other locations.

 

LOCAL FILMS, ETC. | Support Your Media Storytellers

@ Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunication, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Champaign Movie Makers* meeting, “Lighting Recreation,” WILL-TV studio (9/17, 7 p.m., free)

@ Wyndham City Centre Hotel, Springfield, IL
Central Illinois Film Commission* meeting, “Cinematic Success Series: Bishop Stevens,” Grill Breakfast Room (9/20, 7 p.m., free)

 

NOW PLAYING | Champaign-Urbana Area

@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST (9/14-9/17, 9/19-9/20), MADELINE’S MADELINE (9/14, 9/16, 9/18), MARLINA THE MURDERER IN FOUR ACTS (9/14-9/16, 9/20), SKATE KITCHEN (9/15, 9/19-9/20), Bergman in Three Acts: FANNY & ALEXANDER (9/17, 7:30 p.m., theatrical cut), DECONSTRUCTING THE BEATLES: 1963 YEAH! YEAH! YEAH! (9/18, 7:15 p.m.)

@ AMC Champaign 13, Champaign, IL
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (2017, re-release), THE PREDATOR, A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD, THE MEG, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, THE NUN, PEPPERMINT, SEARCHING (9/14 on)

@ Clark Park, Champaign, IL
Clark Park movie night and camp out feat. MOANA (9/15, 7 p.m.)

@ Family Video, Champaign-Urbana, IL
OCEAN’S 8, SUPERFLY (2018), DISTORTED, GOLDSTONE, INNER DEMON, HOUSE OF PURGATORY, THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS (2017), THIS IS US (s2), more! (9/11 on)

@ Goodrich Savoy 16, Savoy, IL
THE PREDATOR, A SIMPLE FAVOR, UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION, WHITE BOY RICK, ALPHA, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, CRAZY RICH ASIANS, GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD, THE MEG, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT, THE NUN, OPERATION FINALE, PEPPERMINT, SEARCHING (9/14 on), SHERLOCK GNOMES (9/14-9/16, 10 a.m.), Sight & Sound Theatre presents Moses (9/15, 12:55 p.m., recorded), Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin boxing rematch (9/15, 7 p.m., simulcast), STEEL MAGNOLIAS (9/16, 9/19), DRAGONBALL Z: BROLY THE LEGENDARY SUPER SAIYAN (9/17, 7 p.m.), THE DAWN WALL (9/19, 7 p.m.), DIGIMON ADVENTURE TRI: FUTURE (9/20, 7:30 p.m.)

@ Illini Union, UIUC, Urbana, IL
Illini Union Board presents “Weekend Films at the Union” feat. JURASSIC PARK: FALLEN KINGDOM, Pine Lounge (9/14-9/15, 7 p.m., free w/i-card)

@ Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, IL
“Vachel Lindsay: Poet, Artist, Visionary” exhibit, M.G. Nelson Family Gallery (through 9/29)

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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IFV offers UI students filming fun

September 11th, 2018

We like to mark the occasion when the Illini Film & Video (IFV) student club at the University of Illinois gets underway each academic year in the hopes that young people will feel compelled to join in. It is a resource for budding media-makers whose tastes lean towards the comedy and drama of storytelling – that does not mean documentary, diary, nonlinear, or industrial are off limits – at a flagship university that, once again and always, has no film production track. UIUC undergraduates are the target audience for this organization, which met for the first time during the 2018-2019 frame last night, Monday, September 10, at 7 p.m. in Room 1022 of Lincoln Hall, and their organizing peers will give members room to practice with the process and express their ideas and problem-solving. It is usually not the only RSO of its kind on campus but it is the long-standing one; IFV will begin its third decade of activity in the near future.

Students with little to no filmmaking under their belts are just as welcome to attend the weekly meetings as are graduate students with thesis projects in the works and campus employees with professional gigs on their plate. This year’s officers, Saloni Nahar (president), Prashanth Vemuri (vice president), Kevin Konrath (secretary), Yanyi Xie (marketing director), Zhi Luo (outreach), Alex Gong (treasurer), John Carlson (equipment manager), and Deborah Agoye (web manager) can help in pointing out opportunities within and outside of IFV. That said, the club always attempts to provide a mix of events to encourage participation that may include hands-on workshops, guest speakers, challenges like the annual 48 hour contest, club fundraisers such as on-site taping at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, student film showcases like the new Golden Corn Movie Festival, and C-U excursions to see movies and such.

We don’t need to pitch the virtues and ever-brewing potential of IFV as their officers are capable of the same. What we can do is reiterate how amazing it is for this club to persist for nearly 20 years. We know from research that groups invested in cinema creation have run their course at UIUC from time to time. Two examples are Cinemaguild, whose B-film SHOT (1973) received a surprise Blu-ray release last month, and the Illini Photo Players, a drama club whose filmed “school spirit” film PRO PATRIA (1916) not only combined the efforts of students, faculty, and administrators but stands as the oldest (albeit lost) narrative Champaign-Urbana film that we know about. Their output provides us with time capsules today but the groups themselves only existed for brief periods during their prime. In comparison, IFV’s prolific tenure is a singular achievement that we hope will never be taken for granted by the university or alumni.

Those interested in Illini Film & Video or mentoring should write illinifilmandvideo [at] gmail [dot] com to be added to their mailing list. One can also like the Page or join the Group on Facebook, although your familiarity with current club members  would be wise for the latter. If you simply want to enjoy their output, visit the IFV YouTube channel at any time. We have embedded one recent example here, the clever sci-fi thriller LIFESAVER (2018) directed and written by Dushan Ranasinghe, executive produced by Alexandria Willis, and starring the winning Katherine Bokenkamp.

~ Jason Pankoke