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Posts tagged: film

A far better than normal ‘Norman’

The soon-to-be-released “Norman” is a Spokane rarity – a locally filmed movie getting outstanding reviews and major film festival awards.

“Norman” is a coming-of-age story about a high school loner who pretends to be dying – although his father is actually the one with cancer. Some plot twists turn his world “upside down and then ultimately right side up.”

“Norman” will debut on screens Oct. 21 in New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle and, yes, right here at the AMC River Park Square.

It took a long time for the movie itself to come of age. It was filmed in June 2008 in Spokane by North by Northwest. It was directed by Jonathan Segal and stars Dan Byrd (“Cougar Town,” “Easy A”), Emily VanCamp(“Everwood,” “Brothers & Sisters”), Richard Jenkins (“Eat Pray Love”) and Adam Goldberg (“Entourage”). It features a soundtrack by Andrew Bird.

The Hollywood Reporter said this, “‘Norman’ has some big things going for it, not least of which is the stupendous central performance, one of the most intelligent and deeply felt big-screen portrayals of a troubled teen in the last several years.”

Variety called it “poignant and understated.” It has picked up awards at the San Diego Film Festival, the Rhode Island Film International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival.

It has now been chosen for the AMC Independent series, which brings indy films to AMC screens. You’ll see the roaring Spokane Falls and you’ll see some familiar local talent in this film too, including Bobbi Kotula, Jerry Sciarrio and Kevin Partridge.

Bing Film Series begins with ‘Some Like It Hot’

The fall film series at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague, has been set:

  • Sept. 27, “Some Like It Hot,” the great 1959 Billy Wilder classic with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.
  • Oct. 11, “Giant,” the 1956 James Dean-Elizabeth Taylor epic.
  • Oct. 25, “Charade,” the ultimate '60s caper thriller, with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
  • Oct. 29, the Halloween Show featuring “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (the 1949 version narrated by Bing Crosby), “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” and the 1978 Jamie Lee Curtis screamfest, “Halloween.”

All shows are at 7 p.m. except the Halloween Show, which starts at 6 p.m.

This beautifully restored 1915 movie house is a great place to see these classic films. The series is also a great bargain. It's free.

However, a $5 donation is suggested, with proceeds going to the Advocates for the Bing Crosby Theater, which has been instrumental in supporting this great old theater.

‘River Sorrow’ to open at Magic Lantern under new name

“The River Murders” opens Friday at the Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main Ave., but you may remember it under a different name: “The River Sorrow.”

This Ray Liotta-Christian Slater-Ving Rhames thriller was filmed as “The River Sorrow” in Spokane last fall. It still carried its old title at the Cannes Film Festival in May when it had its premiere and gala party. Yet sometime between then and now, it had a title makeover.

The director, Rich Cowan (“The Basket”) of Spokane’s North by Northwest production company, said that Sony now owns the movie and they changed the name for marketing reasons. They didn’t consult with Cowan, who is still partial to the original name.

The movie will play for a week at the Magic Lantern, but it won’t have a wide theatrical release.

In fact, the DVD release is scheduled for Tuesday. It features a number of local actors – Wes Deitrick, Nike Imoru, Kelly Eviston and Patrick Treadway, to name just a few.

Check out the great ‘Badassdom’ trailer

“The Knights of Badassdom” trailer debuted at the Comic-Con convention in San Diego two weeks ago — and it makes me more convinced than ever that this could be that most elusive of creatures — a Spokane-filmed movie that might actually be a hit (if only a cult hit). It's funny and loaded with nice touches.

Big buzz for ‘Badassdom’

The Joe Lynch  movie, “Knights of Badassdom,” filmed in Spokane last summer, is getting some priceless national publicity.

Entertainment Weekly gave this indie-comedy-fantasy a full page treatment in its “First Look” section in its July 22 issue, with photos of stars Summer Glau, Ryan Kwanten, Steven Zahn and Peter Dinklage.

EW said the cast is “sure to get the fanboy seal of approval.” Here's the link to the EW piece and photos.

Lynch, on the film's website, called it “another moment of serendipity for this crazy flick.” 

The movie's trailer will be unveiled at Comic-Con this week. The movie still doesn't have a release date, but with this kind of buzz, we can expect some new urgency.

Spokane-filmed ‘The Ward,’ by popular ‘demand’

John Carpenter's horror flick, “The Ward,” which was filmed in Medical Lake and Spokane, became available through various cable on-demand services today. It stars Amber Heard as a woman in a mental institution. And guess what? This mental institution is not what it seems.

This movie has not exactly received stellar  reviews, but so far it has been treated more kindly than many other locally filmed movies. It has a 48 percent positive score among reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian, a British paper, called it a “well-made film, with some finely crafted shocks and a steady pace that almost seems stately in these days of fast-cut horror.”

Many of the reviews are from the UK, where it has apparently been released in theaters. Most agreed that it was not Carpenter's best work, but it still had flashes of the legendary Carpenter style.

Here the link to the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film is scheduled for a limited theatrical release on July 8 and will go to DVD and Blu-Ray sometime after that.

Is ‘brain-damaged’ a movie critic compliment?

Here we go again: Another Spokane-made movie, direct to DVD, complete with atrocious reviews.

“The Big Bang,” the Antonio Banderas movie shot here in fall 2009, came out on DVD last week and the critics have been merrily brutalizing it.

Andrew Barker of Variety called it  “unintelligible,” scattershot” and “a Lynchian neo-noir that takes intellectual and aesthetic risks it has no reasonable attempt at pulling off.”

Stephen Holden of the New York Times called it “a low point for Mr. Banderas, who is painfully miscast as a tough guy and whose Spanish accent has never been more of an impediment.”

Other top critics called it “trash,” “budget-bin” and “bleary.”

Leave it to Rex Reed of the New York Observer to muster the most vituperation, calling it “brain-damaged, inept, unsupervised and moronic.”

Check out a collection of reviews here, on Rotten Tomatoes.

What? You say you don't trust those snooty film reviewers? The general public hasn't been kind either, with a 2.5 star audience rating (out of five) on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.5 rating out of 10 on IMDB.

I would see this movie for myself , except I still haven't recovered from the trauma of watching three other Spokane filmed movies, “Give 'em Hell, Malone” with Thomas Jane , “Wrong Turn at Tahoe,” with Cuba Gooding Jr., and “Lies & Illusions” with Christian Slater. 

And that was more than a year ago.

Jack Black to star in film of Jess Walter novel

Spokane novelist Jess Walter's latest book, “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” has just been picked up as a Jack Black movie vehicle, re-titled “Bailout.”

The screenplay was also written by Walter, and the director will be Michael Winterbottom. Filming is scheduled to begin in August.

This news came of the Cannes Film Festival and was reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Here's the link.

‘Thunderballs’ issues a mullet-casting call

The Spike TV sitcom pilot, “Thunderballs,” will start filming in Spokane next week and the casting call speaks volumes about the show.

For one thing, they are seeking someone to play the “Olympia Beer Bikini Girl.”

The show is about a group of 30-something guys on a bowling team and, like every show on Spike, it is aimed at the male market.

Or should we say, the dude market.

Here are a few of the fictional bowling teams being cast locally through Big Fish NW Talent:

The Mullets (plus a Mullet Mom and Mullet Baby).

The Super Vixens.

Ballbarians.

The Blue Ballers (a team of cops).

The Sunset Towers Assisted Living Slingers (an elderly team).

The Gutter Gals.

North by Northwest will be filming the pilot into the middle of May. If the pilot gets picked up, expect to see plenty more of the Super Vixens and the Gutter Gals.

Oh, one more thing. The child cast as the Mullet Baby must have a real mullet. No wigs.

Spokane Jewish Film Festival opens Saturday

The Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival has become an annual tradition in the area.

Larry Weiser, a Gonzaga University law school prof, has been organizing this for several years. This year he assembled three films for screening at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC), 2316 W. First.

Here's the lineup:

 “Saviors in the Night” — Saturday, 7:30 p.m.. The story of courageous Catholic farmers who hid Marga Spiegel and her family from the Nazis.:

“Black Over White” and “These Are My Names”– Sunday, 2 p.m. The first is a documentary about the popular Israeli music group, the Idan Raichel Project, and their tour of Ethiopia. Music takes the center stage, but there are also revealing scenes about identity and heritage amongst the musicians. The second is a short film about Ethiopian Jews.

“Seven Minutes in Eden” – Monday, 7:30 p.m. The story of a young couple on a bus, bombed by terrorists. The young woman attempts to stitch her life back together.

Tickets are $8, available at the door or at this site.

‘Biggest Loser’ appearance at Spokane Club

Ali Vincent, who won “The Biggest Loser,” will be delivering her inspirational story at the Spokane Club on March 10, 6 p.m.

She lost 122 pounds to become the first female winner of “The Biggest Loser.” She'll talk about the power of setting goals — and maybe a little bit about  healthy, balanced eating.

Tickets to this event are $25, available by calling the Spokane Club at (509) 838-8511. Seating is limited.

‘Grizzly Adams’ creator dies

Charles E. Sellier Jr., 67, the producer and creator of “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and dozens of other TV shows and films, died Monday at his home in North Idaho.

“Chuck” Sellier had a lengthy  TV-film resume including such popular films as “In Search of Noah's Ark,” “Chariots of the Gods,” “In Search of the Historic Jesus” and “The Bermuda Triangle.” All of those are listed among the top 50-grossing independent films. Recently, he and his  locally based production company, Grizzly Adams Productions, had produced dozens of religious-oriented films and TV shows, including “Ancient Secrets of the Bible” for CBS and “Miraculous Messages” and “The Case for Christ's Resurrection.”

He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the children's show, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in 1980. He was also the author of a number of books based on his films and TV specials.

The family requests that Sellier be remembered through donations to his passion, the ABC Foodbank, which serves Athol, Bayview and Careywood, Idaho.

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