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Movies

Glynis Brooks is a Harriet Tubman impersonator based in St. Louis.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

There’s good reason the U.S. Treasury Department selected Harriet Tubman as the new face of its $20 bill. Tubman lived one of the nation’s most remarkable lives. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped by making her way to Pennsylvania — on foot. And then she returned, again and again, to rescue family members and other slaves via the Underground Railroad. 

Gerry Marian, who plays the organ at Chase Park Plaza Cinemas, looks at the screen while rehearsing. This weekend, Marian will perform an original live score during showings of "The Phantom of the Opera." Oct. 22, 2019
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On a Thursday evening at the Chase Park Plaza Cinemas, the 7:10 screening of new Disney film “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is still a good 20 minutes away. But in a sense, the night’s special feature has already begun. 

Attired neatly in a white sportcoat and dark pants, seated at an electric Conn 652 organ just off to the side of the screen, Gerry Marian plays “One,” from the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line.” 

For these few minutes a night, he pumps life into a vanishing art form. Audience members are still quietly shuffling into the theater, holding popcorn and sodas. Some are paying close attention to the pre-show music. Others chat or look down at their phones. 

Marian’s nametag displays his one-word job title: organist. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2013 - 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.

'Waltz with Bashir': astonishing and heartbreaking

Jun 23, 2019

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 19, 2009 - The stunning Israeli animated film "Waltz with Bashir" begins with a nightmare, a nightmare it never really escapes.

An Israeli man who had been a soldier during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon dreams, time and time again, that he is being pursued and attacked by a pack of crazed dogs. He asks one of his former comrades, Ari Folman, what he thinks the dream could possibly mean. It seems to be associated with the war. Folman, as he begins to examine his memories, realizes with horror that he remembers almost nothing about the war, even though he had participated in the invasion of Beirut. It is as if most of that portion of his memory had been excised, lobotomized.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 22, 2010 - As you may have read by now -- in, among other places, the Sunday New York Times -- "All Good Things" is a dramatized version of the true story of Robert A. Durst, the scion of a wealthy New York real estate family who was suspected of killing his wife and two of his friends.

The Movement for Black Lives hopes to increase voter turnout among African-Americans across the country by texting "WAKANDA" to 91990.
The Movement for Black Lives

Civil rights activists are tapping into the success of the "Black Panther" film to encourage blacks and other minorities to register to vote before the 2018 midterm elections.

#Wakandathevote is a national campaign created by the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 50 organizations around the country dedicated to social activism. The campaign was organized by Rukia Lumumba, Jessica Byrd and St. Louis activist Kayla Reed.

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.

SLIFF: 'Song Sung Blue'

Dec 17, 2017

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.

The Lens: Western roundup

Jul 17, 2017

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
Wikimedia

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.

On Movies: 'Nebraska' beautiful but cold and dull

Dec 2, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 2, 2013 - "Nebraska" is so well made, so beautifully filmed and, in the main, so well acted, I really wish I had liked it more. But this portrait of men and women stuck in a rut on the Great Plains seems cold and dull, particularly when compared with such rambunctious previous movies by Alexander Payne as "Sideways" and "The Descendants."

On Movies: 'Kill Your Darlings' misses the joy

Nov 27, 2013

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 first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 15, 2013 - Cairo 678 (2010) 9:30 p.m., Saturday Nov. 16 | Plaza Frontenac.

"Cairo 678," directed by Mohamed Diab, could easily >have become a fiery polemic about sexual harassment, given how endemic the problem is in Egypt. Instead, it is a sensitive, complex, riveting look at how pervasive harassment deadens women -- exacting a devastating toll on them and also on their relationships with others, both men and women. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 1, 2013 - CHOO-it-tell  EDGE-e-o-for.

That's how you pronounce the name of the star of "12 Years a Slave."

No need to memorize it. You'll get to hear actor Chiwetel Ejiofor's name pronounced -- and mispronounced -- dozens if not hundreds of times between now and  March 2, 2014, when the Academy Awards are handed out in Hollywood. Ejiofor would seem to be a lock for at least a nomination as best actor for the range and passion of his brilliant, heartbreaking performance as a free black man in mid-19th century America who was dragooned into slavery.

 

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 25, 2013: ‘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, Oct. 18, 2013 - "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.

The message is obvious: Knowledge is power, and as more people have knowledge, the more power they will have, especially the power to challenge entrenched and opaque governments. A remarkable montage of scenes of global protest dramatically underscores this point.

This article, first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 18, 2013 - 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 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.

On Movies: 'Captain Phillips' doesn't rule the seas

Oct 11, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 11, 2013 - 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.

On Movies: 'Captain Phillips' doesn't rule the seas

Oct 11, 2013

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.

On movies: Can't say enough good about 'Enough Said'

Oct 4, 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 4, 2013: 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.

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