Reported Features and Interviews

The Argonaut

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Tough Love – October 19, 2016

The juniors and seniors in Jeffe Huls’ advanced choir class at Santa Monica High School are standing in a circle, watching him like deer in headlights. Moments earlier, Mr. Huls felt the need to inform his class that he will not tolerate any racist, sexist or homophobic remarks. It’s a tense scene. And yet Huls isn’t asking his students to sing a classical European sonata, but instead a more familiar American standard: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” Huls gives one of them a cue to start singing, and before they’ve even reached the second “row,” he waves his fist and cuts them off. “You two, switch places,” he orders. He’s heard enough. These are high school kids, and yet this moment in the new documentary “Big Voice” almost feels like a scene out of “Whiplash,” the Oscar-winning film about a young drummer’s tutelage under a combative jazz instructor who hurls insults and music books at his students. Huls isn’t nearly as extreme as the ruthless teacher played by J.K. Simmons in that film, but he does demand perfection, and he pushes his students to achieve greatness.

Woody Woodpecker

The Secret Life of Woody Woodpecker – September 1, 2016

Woody Woodpecker was one of the wackier and more mischievous cartoon characters of the mid-20th century, so it’s only fitting that one of his cartoons would contain the ultimate animation prank. While watching “The Loose Nut,” a Woody Woodpecker cartoon from 1945, Loyola Marymount University Animation Professor Tom Klein noticed something unusual. When Woody barrels through a door on a steamroller, the ensuing chaos is not random colors and lights but something more abstract. Director Shamus Culhane (billed as James Culhane) had inserted his own avant-garde fine art into individual frames of the cartoon — and never told a soul about his experiment. You can practically hear Woody laughing now.

Ampersand

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New Way To Go: The ‘Hyper Lucid’ Films of Vincent Morisset – December 29, 2015

Morisset’s films belong to an emerging type of filmmaking known as Post-Cinema, another term with broad, yet untapped ramifications. Morisset himself isn’t familiar with the term “Post-Cinema,” and while academics will debate a definition for cinema’s next hundred years, the Post-Cinematic refers to how digital images, really just ones and zeroes, are not really “images” at all. Including everything from Virtual Reality displays inside an Oculus Rift or interactive projections at an art museum, Morisset’s films blend the analog and the digital. They challenge what we think we know about the movies. Morisset uses coding technology and new tools to reflect how we engage with art online in the twenty-first century, but he still wants his films to look and feel like the movies we’re familiar with.

Neon Tommy

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Open Projector Night Gives Filmmakers Two Minutes to Shine – October 21, 2015

Held every three to four months for the past seven years, Hammer is home to Open Projector Night as hosted by comedians and commentators The Sklar Brothers, or the identical twins Jason and Randy. Like an unholy mash-up of “YouTube and the ‘Gong Show,’” as Hammer’s Director of Public Programs Claudia Bestor put it, filmmakers are invited to exhibit any short film up to 10 minutes in length to a room of complete strangers. As with every Open Projector Night, Tuesday evening’s event was uncensored, unpredictable and unwieldy.

Begle

Hoosiers in Hollywood – October 17, 2015

There’s a kid with wide eyes and humble roots in Middle America who travels west with dreams of making it in Hollywood. She crashes on a friend’s couch because she doesn’t know anyone else. She begs for a job and works for free until someone recognizes her talent and she’s hired. It’s the hustle, the grind, the long hours. Shaking hands, making phone calls, sending emails and trading business cards has taken their toll, but she’s finally made it; except this kid will never get her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She’ll never see her name in lights. That’s because she’s the one behind the camera making the stars look good. She’s a Hoosier; Indiana born and bred. Her Midwestern roots have defined her drive and versatility. She still works as hard as anyone, and she’s still living the dream.

PopOptiq

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Gregg Turkington and Rick Alverson talk Entertainment and getting inside Neil Hamburger – November 13, 2015

Those in the know of anti-comedy on the par of Tim and Eric will recognize this comedian as Neil Hamburger. But Rick Alverson’s new film Entertainment, opening today in theaters and on VOD, stands apart from the cult cred Hamburger brings with him. It’s not a documentary or a behind-the-scenes look and doesn’t require a prior knowledge of his act. It’s a character study on its own terms. And though Hamburger, never named in the film, is indirectly the subject, Alverson’s film pulls back the layers of this character to reveal the depressed, taciturn and lonely man few see off stage. The film is called Entertainment, but like Hamburger’s act, it challenges the notion of what that word means with an uncomfortable, bleak and even surreal portrait of failed ambition.

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A ‘snapshot’ of Wei-Hu and Oscar nominated short film Butter Lamp – February 9, 2015

For the nomad yak herders who live in Tibet, iconic Chinese images like Tiananmen Square, a scene from the Beijing Olympics, and the cartoon faces at China’s Disneyland, are simply part of the “outside world” and seem to have little to do with their lives. “They are not familiar with those cultures at all,” said Chinese Director Wei Hu. “However it does not mean that the two are separated.” In Wei’s short film Butter Lamp, these locals come face to face with these images, posing in family photographs in front of tourist trap locales while the glorious mountains of their home lay ignored in the background, captured in the film’s remarkable final shot.

HumanCapital

Director Paolo Virzi on Human Capital and people who make you suffer – October 20, 2014

“Human Capital” is a term used to assign a monetary value to an employee based on their knowledge, habits, personality, and creative and physical qualities. According to an insurance company, our lives have value, or in some cases very little. Upon speaking with Paolo Virzi, the Italian director of his 12th and newest film Human Capital, he revealed he had calculated his own. Though he felt his value was awfully low given his age and his health, he’d agree that the real value of a human life is determined by the actions and behavior of humans that can only be considered priceless.

Indiana Daily Student/IDS WEEKEND

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Life in the Movie Business – April 17, 2012

It requires starting from scratch, working long hours, juggling numerous responsibilities and meeting a lot of people. It is an all-consuming endeavor. But IU Cinema Director Jon Vickers wants to change your life and the lives of others. This is the job for him. Vickers put out a similar manifesto before selling his privately owned theater, the Vickers Theater, in Three Oaks, Mich. He warned potential buyers that although the theater was profitable, running it meant heavy lifting in service to the community. For several years, IU lacked an on-campus movie facility. In two years and three seasons, Vickers has worked tirelessly to build a film-loving community in Bloomington. In the IU Cinema, he’s created something from nothing and done all he can to add to an already thriving arts scene.

AriBarackFisher

David Copperfield World Premiere Features Student Composition – February 2, 2012

The image of a man flogging a young boy is not a pleasant sight, but until now, this horrific scene lacked the chilling sound to go with it. Ari Barack Fisher has provided that mood in his full orchestra score for the 1922 silent film version of “David Copperfield,” which will have its world première at 7 p.m. Saturday in the IU Cinema.

Grindhouse

What Makes Good Grindhouse Cinema and Why It’s Coming Back – November 16, 2011

Exploitation films were violent, sexually explicit, offensive to women, stereotypical of African Americans and a whole lot of fun. Today, the drive-ins and inner city grindhouses are closed, and the teenage boys watch their direct-to-video movies alone in dingy basements, but a few cinemas are still clinging to that gory nostalgia.

Reel Chicago

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JBTV’s Music Marathon For a Cause Expands its Reach – November 20, 2013

The Boston indie band Gentleman Hall is just finishing taping a four song set at JBTVstudios in River North. With some time remaining to re-record part of their performance, JBTV founder and executive producer Jerry Bryant says to the band, “The beautiful thing about JBTV is you get a mulligan.” JBTV, the alternative music television show that’s been a Chicago staple for 27 years, is getting its own mulligan of sorts. The show is expanding its production with a larger lineup of bands and reaching out to a wider audience on the web with live streaming of their recent programs.