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Hills alive with ‘Sound of Music Sing-a-Long’

Looking for something fun to do with the family during Christmas week? Dress 'em up in lederhosen and start rehearsing “My Favorite Things.”

The “Sound of Music Sing-a-Long” has been booked into the INB Performing Arts Center, Dec. 30, 7 p.m. This is the 1965 movie classic, shown complete with subtitles and audience participation.

Lots of audience participation. Think of it as a kind of clean-cut, well-scrubbed version of “Rocky Horror.” The audience helps sing all the songs, and also acts out  in other ways. Every audience member receives a “Bag of Musical Moments,” full of props to utilize at key moments in the film.

There's also a costume contest for the most clever and outrageous outfits.

The sing-a-long began in Manhattan in 2000 and then went on to a big Hollywood Bowl event in 2001. It has since swept the country. Tickets are $20, $25 and $30 and will go on sale Nov. 18 through all Ticketswest outlets (800-325-SEAT, www.ticketswest.com).

Movie: Birdwatchers are crowing about The Big Year

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The Big Year, a humorous film based on the more tedious true story (and book of the same name) is flying high at movie theaters across the country. The movie follows birders devoting 12 months to setting a record for logging as many bird species as possible ACROSS NORTH AMERICA.

The flick is getting all sorts of reviews by birdwatchers.  I like this Inland Northwest Birder's comment by  Catherine Albright Temple of Clarkston:

Caught the movie “The Big Year” this afternoon. Very enjoyable, feel good movie. My husband noticing that I was really getting into it leaned over and said ” Don't even think about it!” :)

The cast includes Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin.

“The release of this type of film with this type of talent indicates that birders have finally arrived,” says Woody Wheeler, a West Side naturalist, on his Conservation Catalyst blog.

“In the last decade, bird-themed films like Winged Migration, March of the Penguins and the Parrots of Telegraph Hill surprised the film industry with their popularity,” he writes. “These films demonstrated that there is a large market sector, or demographic, that cares about birds and natural history.”

Although its about a special breed of birdwatchers, the film has a potential audience that might surprise the uninitiated, Wheeler notes:

  • According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 48 million Americans consider themselves “birders.”
  • The purchase of optics, feeders, bird guides and other supplies has become a major industry.
  • Birding books have been best sellers, including The Big Year by Mark Obmascikand the Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley.

Northwest birders have zeroed in on where the movie was filmed.   Here's a note posted today by Inland Northwest Birder Thor Manson in Oliver, British Columbia:

…Most of it was filmed in B.C. The inland drier looking scenes were filmed in the Okanagan Valley.  For example, the scene where they are supposed to be at Patagonia Lake State Park in Arizona is actually a place called the Vasuex Lake Nature Center, which is about 5, or 6 miles north of the town of Oliver. 

The pelagic departure scenes were filmed in Tofino, which is on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the scenes that are supposed to represent Attu were filmed around an area called Tombstone Territorial Park, which is located not too far from Dawson City, Yukon. 

The Big Year show times in Spokane:

‎2:20‎ ‎6:40 p.m.‎

‎Here's one of the more favorable reviews by movie critics:

Rated 3.0 out of 5.0 Chicago Sun-Times - Roger Ebert

Birders. You call them birders. Calling them “bird-watchers” is insulting, like calling a Trekker a Trekkie. They are aware that some people find …

Oct. 12, 2011 Full Review

 

A ‘Vision Quest’ benefit for Garland restaurants

The Garland Theatre, 924 W. Garland, is hosting a showing on Saturday at 10 a.m. of the 1985 coming-of-age movie “Vision Quest” as a benefit for two restaurants just down the street, Ferguson's Cafe and the Milk Bottle.

Both restaurants were badly damaged in a recent fire. The theater suggests a $5 minimum donation.

The choice of “Vision Quest” is fitting. Both restaurants served as locations for this movie. It stars Matthew Modine and Linda Fiorentino, but it also features two other performers who were not yet stars, Forest Whitaker and Madonna.

Theories sought

www.traileraddict.com

I've always heard that this movie was wildly popular in Spokane 40 years ago. So I have two questions.

Did you see it?

Why do you think it was a bigger hit here than in many other places?

When did you lose interest in Bond films?

www.compellingfeeling.com

A) When I was 10. B) When I was 30. C) When the stars started being actors I've never heard of. D) When I started acquiring STDs. E) I haven't yet. F) When someone I admire cringed about my announced plan to go see one. G) Other.

Readers’ favorite movies with ice-skating

Dana Freeborn mentioned 1961's “Snow White and the Three Stooges,” 1970's “Love Story,” 1983's “Curtains,” 1996's “Happy Gilmore,” and 2005's “King Kong.”

And Kristi Kurle wrote, “I think girls will say 'Ice Castles' and guys will say 'Miracle on Ice,' but my favorite is 'The Cutting Edge.'” 

‘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.

Barefoot Bandit movie worth up to $1.3M

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) — The young man dubbed the Barefoot Bandit after a cross-country crime spree brought him folk outlaw status has reportedly signed a movie deal worth as much as $1.3 million with 20th Century Fox. 

The Daily Herald reports that the money will be used to help pay the minimum $1.4 million that 20-year-old Colton Harris-Moore owes in restitution to the victims of his two-year-long crime spree, which included the theft of a small airplane in Bonners Ferry.

Seattle entertainment lawyer Lance Rosen negotiated the deal on Harris-Moore's behalf. He says it's an unusual amount of money to be paid for anyone's life story rights.

Harris-Moore pleaded guilty in June to seven federal felony charges. Sentencing is set for October; he's expected to receive 5 to 6 years in prison He still faces state court charges.

Past coverage:

June 8: Fed balk at sale of Barefoot Bandit story

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.

What’s your favorite movie featuring…

…at least one swimming pool scene.

www.366weirdmovies.com

www.cotedetexas.blogspot.com

www.howigit.com

www.swimteamparent.wordpress.com

www.unrealitymag.com

www.doctorlawyerpriest.com

www.coolspotters.com

www.moviereviewland.blogspot.com

www.thismighthurt.wordpress.com

www.giftandhometoday.blogspot.com

Play “The Dirty Dozen” Spokane game

Consider a few of the key characters in the 1967 action feature. What, theoretically speaking, are the chances they could have come from Spokane?

Let's use a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 meaning “Totally plausible that this guy could have come from Spokane.”

I'll go first.

Major Reisman (Lee Marvin): 6. Effective, no-nonsense, bit of a swagger. Just like a lot of Lilac City guys.

Joseph Wladislaw (Charles Bronson): 3. That's not one of our bigger ethnic pools. Maybe if he had been Joseph Swenson.

Robert Jefferson (Jim Brown): 3. Same issue. Though it would be great to claim him.

Victor Franko (John Cassavetes): 2. Seemed jaded and streetwise in a non-Spokane way.

Pedro Jiminez (Trini Lopez): 2. Probably not. We don't have many lemon trees. After all, we were even less diverse in 1944.

Archer Maggott (Telly Savalas): 1. Didn't they make a point of having him be from the South? Still, you could almost see someone from Spokane having that name. Would run a pest control service.

Vernon Pinkley (Donald Sutherland): 7. Seemingly a goofball, but not without substance. We produce that kind of guy in spades.

Samson Posey (Clint Walker): 9. Here's a Spokane guy, for you. Big and quiet. The “Aw, shucks” type. Just wants to be left alone. But don't mess with him. “I don't like to be pushed.”

OK. your turn. 

www.badbanana.typepad.com

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.

John Wayne mocking leads to assault

 A homeless man was sentenced today to 15 months in prison after he attacked another man with a claw hammer for making fun of John Wayne.

Joel S. Parsons, 42, had been charged with first-degree assault but agreed to a plea agreement for second-degree assault with a deadly weapon enhancement.
 
According to court records, Parsons met Kevin Murphy on Dec. 24 through a mutual friend at the Salvation Army. Murphy allowed Parsons to stay with him at his apartment on West 8th Avenue in Spokane.

They were walking to get beer Dec. 30 when Murphy informed Parsons that he could only continue to stay in the apartment if he agreed to continue sexual relations.

Parsons became angry and said he would not pay for rent with sex, according to the records. The two men returned to the apartment and Murphy put in a John Wayne movie that Parsons began to mock, so Murphy told Parsons to leave.

That's when Parsons struck Murphy in the head with a claw hammer.

Murphy told Parsons he was going outside to get some fresh air but instead went to a neighbor, who called police. Murphy suffered as many as eight blunt force wounds, many of which had cuts from the hammer's claw.

“I lost control of my emotions,” Parsons said today. “As soon as I saw the blood, I dropped the hammer. I'm sorry for what I did.”

The sentence imposed by Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno was the least amount of time available. Parsons had no criminal record.

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.

Ever consider booing the audience?

Went to see “Bridesmaids” over the weekend at RPS.

There's a scene where the woman at the center of the story is at her mother's home watching the 2000 Tom Hanks movie, “Cast Away.”

She reacts emotionally to a wrenching scene involving the born-of-isolation friendship between Hanks' wreck-survivor character and a volleyball named Wilson. Many in the audience laughed.

Can only assume those folks have not seen “Cast Away.”

Photos from ‘River Sorrow’s‘ Cannes premiere

We found an online photo album from Monday's Cannes Film Festival beach party for the premiere of the Spokane-filmed “The River Sorrow,'” directed by North by Northwest's Rich Cowan. It looks like a glamorous event, with stars Sarah Ann Schultz and Gisele Fraga. Here's a link to the photo album.

On a more sobering note, the movie did not get a stellar, to say the least, review from the Hollywood Reporter. The words “amateurish,” “lousy” and “quagmire,”are not words you want to see in the review of your movie. Here's the link to the Hollywood Reporter review.

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.

An interview with Spokane-filmed ‘Big Bang’ director

The New York Times ran an interview on Wednesday with Tony Krantz, director of another Spokane-filmed thriller, “The Big Bang,” starring Antonio Banderas. Here's a link

The Times said the movie is “undoubtedly one of the stranger films to make it to theaters this year,” and compared it to some of David Lynch’s movies.

The movie will be released today in New York and L.A. only. That will probably be the extent of the theatrical release. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on May 24

A Spo-Cannes party on the Riviera

Spokane will be represented at the Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera on Monday.

That’s the day that “The River Sorrow,” filmed in Spokane by North by Northwest, will have its European premiere and an after-party in a giant tent on the beach.

Star Christian Slater will be there, along with director Rich Cowan of North by Northwest. It also stars Ray Liotta and Ving Rhames. This murder mystery/thriller has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

An American release date is scheduled later this summer, but that could change depending on how well the movie is received at Cannes.

We're expecting Cowan to check in with updates— unless his head has been turned by sun and stars.

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.

‘Thunderballs,’ filmed in Spokane

North by Northwest has just signed a contract to film, “Thunderballs, ” a sitcom pilot, for the cable TV channel Spike.

It’s about three 30-something guys on a beer league bowling team. As North by Northwest’s Rich Cowan points out, “Spokane should be a good city for that.”

The pilot will be filmed in May and if it gets picked up by Spike network, the entire series will be filmed here.

Will it have stars? Casting is still under discussion, but Cowan predicts it will have some “recognizable” names. It will probably use some local actors and extras as well.

North by Northwest, a Spokane production company, has filmed dozens of movies, but this will be the company's first foray into television.