Movies | St. Louis Public Radio


This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - The Shady Oak theater has bowed to the wrecking ball. While some may see this as a time for goodbyes, I suspect that those who actually patronized the theater paid their last respects long ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 12, 2008 - Documentary filmmaker Greg Kohs first saw the Milwaukee-based act "Lightning & Thunder" performing at a biker convention he was filming for Harley-Davidson, and though they never made it onscreen in that project, he was sufficiently impressed to choose them for his next subject. And who wouldn't be? Mark Sardina ("Lightning") and his wife Claire ("Thunder" - and yes, they really do call themselves by those names even at home) were long-time sensations on the state-fair-and-convention circuit.

Movie poster image. Melissa Leo and Margaret Qualley star in "Novitiate," set to open in Los Angeles and New York Friday, Oct. 27.
Provided | Sony Pictures

Contemporary classical music fans all over the country have enjoyed original compositions by St. Louis' own Chris Stark. But he may have found his biggest audience, ever, in a new group: moviegoers.

Stark, a composer and a professor of composition at Washington University, recently finished scoring his first film, a Sony Pictures release, “Novitiate.” It’s the story of a woman who joins a convent.  Margaret Qualley plays the aspiring nun and Melissa Leo, the mother superior, in the film directed by Maggie Betts.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast episode, Willis Ryder Arnold and Nancy Fowler talk with Stark about his work for a major motion picture.

The Lens: Double feature

Jul 20, 2017

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 30, 2008 - Almost immediately after dropping a completely irrelevant and pointless reference to the deservedly obscure film "Wicked, Wicked"  in an earlier post, I learned that the dear archivists at Turner Classic Movies  have actually programmed this disaster for a rare screening.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: John Ford (“The Searchers,” “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” “Stagecoach,” “My Darling Clementine”), Howard Hawks (“Rio Bravo,” “Red River”), Clint Eastwood (“Unforgiven,” “The Outlaw Josie Wales”) and Sergio Leone (“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “For a Few Dollars More”).

Marlon West, who has worked on more than 13 Disney animated features, will return to St. Louis this week to recieve the Charles Guggenheim Cinema St. Louis Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
St. Louis International Film Festival

Marlon West can’t remember a time he wasn’t interested in film, and animation, in particular. After graduating University City High School, he attended Columbia College in Chicago, where he studied film and writing, then moved on to animate Encyclopedia Brittanica films, a Beastie Boys music video and even Michael Jackson’s "California Raisins" commercial.

Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

If you don’t know the name Jill Sobule, you certainly know her voice: she sang "Supermodel," the most famous track from the 1995 classic film “Clueless.” Now, Sobule is lending her songwriting chops to New Jewish Theatre’s production of “Yentl,” which opens this week.

The documentary Major! features Major Griffin-Gracy, a long-time transgender activist.
Cinema St. Louis | Provided

When QFest debuted in 2008, its schedule of LGBT films was more about the “G” than any other letter. Few male or female characters were people of color.

But things are different now, according to Cinema St. Louis’ Chris Clark.

“The true minority of all, honestly, is white, gay men,” he said.

Artist Davide Weaver examines an installation-in-progrress at his "Star Wars Toys" art exhibition at the City Museum.
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

If the “The Force Awakens” has reignited your passion for “Star Wars,” you might be interested in an art exhibition at St. Louis’ City Museum.

Courtesy Don Marsh

If you’re a Star Wars fanatic, your thrusters are probably already in hyperdrive in anticipation of the release of the next installment of the franchise, “The Force Awakens,” which opened Thursday night. It is hard to imagine the films without the entire subculture of cosplay, props, toys, videogames, books and action-figures that come with them.  But, alas, there did exist a time before wookies and droids and Han Solo. That’s where “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh comes in.

In 2010, Marshall the Miracle Dog was rescued from deplorable conditions in southwest Missouri.
(Courtesy: Jay L. Kanzler)

After its world premiere at the St. Louis International Film Festival, "Marshall the Miracle Dog" is ready for another St. Louis showing.

Meet St. Louis’ Forgotten King Of The Movies

Nov 13, 2014

The St. Louis International Film Festival, which opens tonight, will pay tribute to the man considered to be the first movie star. Today, he's largely forgotten.

The truish story told in "Kill Your Darlings" -- a dark miasma of poetry, sex and violence set in the 1940s among the writers who would later be called "the Beats" -- takes place entirely in New York. But it began in St. Louis.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: ‘The Counselor’

For a violent movie about the drug trade along the Mexican border, "The Counselor" is mighty chatty. For long stretches of time, in between routinely effective action scenes, the characters philosophize about life and fate and matters of the heart, not goofily like Truffaut's affable thugs in "Shoot the Piano Player" or focused on trivia like the miscreants in any number of Quentin Tarantino movies, but seriously and to the point.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "The Fifth Estate" begins with Egyptian hieroglyphics and breathlessly careens through the history of the written word -- there's calligraphy! there's the printing press! -- before culminating in the internet, the cyber revolution, Julian Assange and the invention of WikiLeaks.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The opening shot of "Wadjda" is, like the movie as a whole, simple but effective, funny but serious. We see shoes, the toes peeking out from beneath the long, dark robes worn by a group of Saudi Arabian schoolgirls. There are several dozen girls, and several dozen pairs of shoes, and all the shoes are virtually identical -- plain black slippers. Then comes a surprise -- a pair of high-top purple-laced canvas sneakers, Chuck Taylor style.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The scene is riveting: a 500-foot-long ship, stacked high with freight containers, is pursued at 20 knots through the open sea by a small motorized wooden fishing skiff. The battered open skiff has outboard motors bolted to the stern and a handful of men in ragged clothes aboard, waving automatic weapons as they are tossed about by waves.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Early on in the beautifully written, superbly acted romantic comedy "Enough Said," Albert (James Gandolfini) and Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), who have just met, are having dinner at a nice LA restaurant, well-appointed but not fancy.

They are chatting with nervous but bantering humor. They sit bathed in old-fashioned soft, romantic music. Suddenly, in the middle of the meal, the lights get darker and the music gets louder and becomes more insistent and drummy, as if programmed to fit the presumed changes in the demographics of the restaurant as the evening turns into night. The music, in a word, becomes younger.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum may or may not make another Republican bid for the White House. But at the moment, he’s taking his Christian zeal into another direction: the movies.

Over the summer, Santorum became the chief executive of EchoLight Studios, a Christian film company based in Dallas.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There's an exhilarating, shocking, painfully human movie about international Formula One auto racing out there. It played here in 2011, and it was called "Senna." The documentary tells the story of Brazilian champion driver Ayrton Senna and focuses on his memorable and dangerous duels with French champion Alan Prost in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The J. D. Salinger story is not over, after all. When he died in 2010, at the age of 91, the famously reclusive author of “The Catcher in the Rye” left behind a decades-old question: What had he really been doing for the past 40 years? Rumors swirled about Salinger writing every day. Was he hiding unpublished masterpieces? Why so secret? The first answers are just now arriving.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In one of his celebrated letters of advice to his son, Lord Chesterfield cautioned the lad about sex, noting that the pleasure of the carnal act was "momentary," the expense was "damnable" and the position was "ridiculous."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The press notes for most films are pretty standard stuff, heavy on the hype about how much fun the cast had working together, but "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," as the strange title might suggest, is not an ordinary film and the press notes aren't close to ordinary, either. They feature a fascinating and refreshingly frank interview with the film's writer-director, David Lowery, an independent filmmaker based in Texas.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The movie officially called "Lee Daniels' The Butler" has its faults, but the only major one is the ungainly title, the result of what A.O. Scott of The New York Times rightly called "a ridiculous film industry food fight." The kaleidoscopic new movie I'll choose to call by its original name -- take that, Warner Bros. -- more than makes up in passion and exuberance what it sometimes lacks in continuity and focus.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "Blue Jasmine" can be funny; at times painfully so. But it would be a mistake to go into the film thinking you are about to see a typical Woody Allen comedy.

True, like most good Allen movies, "Blue Jasmine" is a witty psychological gabfest about people who are too smart for their own good. But the fine and complex new film is a lot more than that.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: I hope you'll pardon me for taking this movie personally, but perhaps it's time for human beings to stop thinking it is a good idea to keep large mammals with large brains in captivity -- even if the human beings actually think the intelligent mammals are enjoying themselves performing tricks for people. The keepers can say that they don't mistreat the creatures all they want, but the point is that, for an animal born to be wild, captivity itself is a form of mistreatment.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "... when you think about why, in the African-American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away." -- Barack Obama, July 19, commenting on the Trayvon Martin case

Early on the morning of Jan. 1, 2009, at the Fruitvale station on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART policeman. Grant was with a group of friends in a packed car returning to Oakland after celebrating the New Year in San Francisco when a scuffle erupted that spilled out of the car into the station. Grant and several of his friends were arrested.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The "way, way back" is the third row of seats in an old-fashioned long-frame station wagon, the row that faces the rear window. That's where 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) sits, brooding beneath his well-trimmed early Beatles haircut, as the movie opens. The vintage Buick is headed for the beach, and in the driver's seat is Trent (Steve Carell), a nasty piece of work who seems to take pleasure in demeaning Duncan.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "The Lone Ranger" After about two very long hours of disjointed and befuddling action, much of it conducted in the dark, the screen seems to brighten, the lenses open up, the camera grows wings and the soundtrack comes to life with a blast of familiar music. A tall man in a slim black mask, his hat the color of pearls, leaps into the saddle of a beautiful white stallion and takes off in pursuit of the forces of evil. With a flurry, trumpets charge into the familiar notes of "The William Tell Overture."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "Dirty Wars" is a disturbing documentary about America's clandestine use of drones, long-range missiles and deadly midnight raids for what are called "targeted assassinations" in Africa and the Middle East. The attacks are theoretically directed at known terrorists, but sometimes -- often, the filmmakers contend -- innocent people are killed. In one case that drives veteran war correspondent Jeremy Scahill on an obsessive investigation deep into zones of death, two pregnant women are among the casualties of a raid.