C-U Biz-en-scène: 12.04.2010

“C-U Biz-en-scène” appears every Thursday/Friday on C-U Blogfidential to give our readers a succinct snapshot of the cinema activity in and near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, USA. Please support the artists and their work, attend screenings and events, and otherwise become active in our esoteric little world!


We’re Right Back after the Commercial Movie Break

Apart from helping Ma JaPan break out the Christmas decorations for the first time in several years, your humble editor succumbed to the willful ennui usually associated with Thanksgiving family visits. The expected television time weighted heavily in favor of the nieces and nephew (read: Disney Channel) with barely any football in sight now that Pappy is watching comfortably from on high. Normally this is not a point where one innocently breaks out the unknown, e.g. the movies of Champaign, Urbana, and the cities beyond, to see what their kin thinks of it, necessitating a resignation to watch whatever someone else puts on the tube. Brother JaPan broke out IRON MAN 2, a workmanlike comic-book tale that didn’t blow us away. Ma JaPan insisted we try something more mature with IT’S COMPLICATED, a decent adultery dramedy that basked in the old pro charms of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and a sorely underused Steve Martin. Luckily, Disney positioned its Pixar stable as primetime offerings from which we gleaned THE INCREDIBLES (yay!) and CARS (semi-yay!), while Saturday night yielded to the horrible puns of Chicago horror host Svengoolie and the second hour of William Castle’s STRAIT-JACKET starring Joan Crawford. And at long last, Ma JaPan and yours truly joined the Indiana Pankokes (yes, with children) on a movie sojourn – to a real small-town theater, not the multiplex – for Disney’s new animated Rapunzel redux, TANGLED, which hit a nice median between Mouse House tradition and Pixar contemporary majesty. Not too dastardly a dip into the Hollywood deep end, we say!


The Illini Film & Video gang behind an upcoming full-length project, called SNOWBOUND for the moment, will be holding auditions later today, Saturday, December 4, 2-4 p.m., in Room 259 of the English Building on the University of Illinois campus. A notice sent through the IFV mailing list describes several open roles seemingly drawn from the “college student archetype” hat (jock, sorority girls, religious, realist, etc.) and provides a plot crunch: “It’s the Nineties, and it’s the Saturday before winter break in a small college. Three groups are driving home and get caught in a terrible snow storm. Since there is only one road out of town, they all get stuck around the same area, which happens to be by a slightly off-campus school building occupied by a single janitor. He allows them in…” and we’ll stop right there to allow your mind to contemplate the creepy possibilities. Any which way, show up this weekend to show ‘em what you can do or write illinifilmandvideo [at] gmail [dot] com to make sure you’re on the radar as potential cast or crew. We’re not lost on the irony that Mother Nature finally dumped snow on the C-U last night, just in time for this. Coincidence? You decide.


Good old-fashioned snooping once again rewarded us at the Secret MICRO-FILM Headquarters, this time confirming that Chicago-based Questar Home Video will be releasing Dreamscape Cinema family drama SHEEBA to DVD on Tuesday, January 18, 2011! Shot in Champaign County under the title CRAB ORCHARD which briefly changed to SO OTHERS MAY LIVE, SHEEBA is the earliest full-blown production from Champaign studio Dreamscape (excepting the super low-budget LINK) and has faced quite an uphill struggle to get this far. It looks to be in good hands with Questar upon reviewing the label’s catalog, although their SHEEBA listing provides no other details such as whether disc extras or a Blu-ray edition are in the cards. We’re sure to hear more as next month approaches and hope this is a good omen that the rest of the Dreamscape stable – DISCONNECT, ACT YOUR AGE, DISPOSABLE – will not take seven years to hit the marketplace as did SHEEBA, which stars Dylan Patton, Ed Asner, and Judge Reinhold.

We also confirmed with filmmaker Ed Glaser that the February 11 date cited in CUBiz two weeks ago is for the DVD release of PRESS START 2 CONTINUE, not a public premiere. However, we’re pretty darn certain that Dark Maze Studios will let us know when Zack, Lin-Ku, Sam, and the rest will resume kicking butt at a screening venue near us!


Many citizens of the C-U had been hitting up their friends throughout November to vote in the “Pepsi Refresh Project” sponsored by Pepsi-Cola brands, wherein a monthly tally of public votes on all manner of community improvement proposals would earn the winners a cash grant to help make their projects happen. We guess the health controversy regarding children and soda-pop product is not a deterrent for the board of the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum to accept Pepsi prize money as they have been gunning for the largest award – $250,000, allotted for “organizations who can dedicate a lot of time and resources” – in the “Education” category. As your humble editor witnessed two years ago as part of the Brainsmart Productions wolf pack that shot (and blew) chunks of WEREWOLF CEMETERY IV on the premises, her auditorium desperately needed all the help it could get. Now that much of the ceiling and balconies have been restored, the Orpheum folks plan to use that $250K to repair the stage floor and light rigging system as well as purchase and install a fire safety system. A goal has always been to open up that dilapidated space as an all-ages performance center; click here for the Pepsi Orpheum profile, watch the video featuring the partially restored auditorium, and vote for them early and often if you would. Despite the fact the November voting has ended, it seems that non-winning entries in all categories – Health, Arts & Culture, Food & Shelter, The Planet, Neighborhoods, and Education – are carried over to the next month, meaning that the Orpheum ranks #158 in December in their category/price bracket. Give ‘em a boost, dearest readers!


Even though CUBiz may be lean on content during the holidays, we certainly won’t lack for things to read, heed, and act upon as proved by the following paragraph filled with links aplenty! We’ll begin with yet another central Illinois celebrity sighting, this of acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis accompanying producers of the Steven Spielberg picture LINCOLN on a tour of historic Abraham Lincoln sites in Springfield two weeks ago, according to the State Journal-Register; given that Day-Lewis’ involvement was announced the very same day, the occurrence feels more symbolic than anything. (At least we can spare the Decatur Herald & Review’s Tim Cain a ticket on the LINCOLN train, should it roll back through Illinois for actual shooting.) We then move from one bright star to the lack of glittering lights – let alone an entire marquee – out front at the Virginia Theater, about which the News-Gazette article parade has yet to subside. At least we now know that the concession areas on both floors will be completely renovated when the Virginia reopens on December 31, if you trust their partly revamped Web site, or January 1, if you believe the most recent article. As for the marquee itself, writer Patrick Wade reproduced on his N-G Weblog, “Voice Vote,” the assessment offered by Ohio’s Wagner Electric Sign Company to the Champaign Park District as to why the Forties-era ornamentation needed to come down from the Virginia façade; the same firm has also presented concept sketches for a replacement they would fabricate. Seth Fein of SmilePolitely skips over the structural issues and offers several suggestions as to how the Virginia could improve its offerings to the C-U, which are all fine in theory (save the tired “alcohol is necessary” mantra) but certainly warrant discussion. Speaking of taxing thoughts, the N-G also reports on this weekend’s Christmas festivities in downtown Champaign which will incorporate Orpheum activities for the little ones, although it pains us to see pictures of a makeshift slalom contraption erected in the auditorium when it would be so more becoming with werewolves or, better yet, movie projection. And finally, Pepsi is also catering to the aluminum-can-to-the-forehead crowd with a Pepsi MAX challenge in cahoots with the Doritos snack food brand, promising $5 million total in award money to 10 finalists and Super Bowl XLV air time to six winning contestants. Here’s the humorous and well-produced entryChiptease” directed by CUBlog pal and UIUC/IFV alum Chris Folkens; finalists will be announced on January 3, 2011, and public voting will extend from January 3 to January 30, 2011, to help choose the six winners.


@ The Art Theater, Champaign, IL: 127 HOURS (12/3 on), BURIED (12/3, 12/4, 12/9, 10 p.m.), KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SEY (12/4, 1 p.m.)

@ The Canopy Club, Urbana, IL: Pizza + Pitcher and Movie – HALF BAKED, HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE, HAPPY GILMORE (12/5, 6 p.m.)


@ The Normal Theater, Normal, IL: WHITE CHRISTMAS (12/2-12/5, 7 p.m.)

@ The Lorraine Theatre, Hoopeston, IL: TANGLED, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (12/3 on)


@ Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Underground Film Festival (12/3-12/5)

NEW! @ Rockit Bar & Grill, Chicago, IL: 2010 Best of the Midwest Awards Gala (12/7, 7 p.m.)


Locally produced movies and events featuring locally produced movies are marked with an asterisk (*). Go see ‘em!


NEW! 12/16: Central Illinois Film Commission meeting
@ Di Piero’s Sicilian Cucina, Springfield, IL, 7 p.m.

NEW! 1/18, 2011: DVD release: SHEEBA*

NEW! 2/11, 2011: DVD release: PRESS START 2 CONTINUE*

2/18-2/27, 2011: Big Muddy Film Festival
@ Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

3/22-3/27, 2011: Ann Arbor Film Festival, Ann Arbor, MI

3/30-4/1, 2011: Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI

4/27-5/1, 2011: Roger Ebert’s Film Festival
@ Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL


“Real Vs. Reel” Movie Series
@ Danville Public Library, Danville, IL, 6:30 p.m.

12/13: ROCKY; 1/10/11: SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS; 2/14/11: HOOSIERS; 3/14/11: A PLACE IN THE SUN; 4/11/11: THE FUGITIVE

NEW! The News-Gazette Film Series 2011
@ The Virginia Theater, Champaign, IL, 1 & 7 p.m.

1/22/11: TOP GUN; 2/5/11: SOME LIKE IT HOT; 3/12/11: THE MATRIX; 4/23/11: TOY STORY; 5/14/11: REAR WINDOW

WILL-TV/Independent Lens “Community Cinema” series
@ Champaign Public Library, Champaign, IL, 6:30 p.m.



AsiaLENS: AEMS Documentary/Film Series
@ Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

12/7: BURMA VJ

Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Main Lounge, Allen Hall/Unit One, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 7 p.m.

12/8: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa

Global Lens 2010: International Films
@ Latzer Hall, University YMCA, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 5:30 p.m.

12/9: SHIRLEY ADAMS, South Africa


As for this week, your humble editor is limiting his efforts to accomplish anything at MFHQ because, quote, “I have a crappy head cold,” unquote. He asks your forgiveness as he leaves you dearest readers an anecdote shy. Cheers.


That’s it for the “business of our scene” this week!

If you have relevant news, opportunities, dates, or promotions that you would like included in CUBiz, please forward the who, what, where, when, and how much to cuconfidential [at] gmail [dot] com.

Compiled by Jason Pankoke



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“C-U Biz-en-scène” no. 19 © 2010 Jason Pankoke/C-U Blogfidential.

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