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Saturday, June 27, 2015

What I'm Watching: Under the Skin

Posted By on Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 9:00 AM

The dark room and the viscous ooze in Under the Skin - CANAL+
  • Canal+
  • The dark room and the viscous ooze in Under the Skin
Under the Skin showed up on many 2013 best-of lists, but I was unable to catch it when it played in local cinemas. Having finally gotten around to seeing it on video, I regret not watching the film on the big screen. It’s utterly gorgeous on my pretty good TV, and would have been more so on a movie screen.

Many of the images in Under the Skin are nothing less than stunning — all the more so for being, often, so very strange. The opening of the film is one of the most peculiar I’ve seen recently, in that it gives absolutely no context for the images presented. Those images, accompanied by a series of keening electronic sounds, are rounded, brilliantly lit shapes moving slowly against a totally dark field. It’s impossible to know what they are, but they sure are pretty to look at. The moving shapes soon coalesce into the form of a human eye — or an excellent facsimile thereof. In this way a key theme of of Under the Skin is introduced: the act of seeing, and the idea that things are not what they seem.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Style Patrol: Should We Lay Down This Burden?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 4:00 PM


Here's a sentence from a recent New York Times best-selling novel. (Character names have been redacted.)

I lay [Character X] on the beam and lash her into place.
And two more sentences from the same book:

I lay uselessly, unsure of what to do, when the [Y] decides for me.

… I lay in my pallet, staring at the pitted stone of my roof...

What's "wrong" with these sentences? Or is anything wrong at all?

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Video: "Ellie" by Pours

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM

  • Courtesy of Pours
  • Pours
Word on the street is that local electro-indie duo Pours recently finished up a new EP. Said street word was validated this week when the band unveiled a new video for a song from that project, "Ellie." Curiously, the street has been oddly quiet on just when, precisely, that EP might reach our eager ears. Damn you, street.

Anyhoo, stay tuned for more info on that. In the meantime, dig on some fresh jamz.

Ellie (Official Lyric Video) from Pours on Vimeo.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cambridge Arts Council Announces Silo Mural Finalists

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 1:50 PM

  • File: Jim Deshler
Four finalists have been chosen for the Cambridge Arts Council's project to adorn two dilapidated silos with colorful murals. As Seven Days reported in April, the $15,000 project has not been uncontroversial: Some residents of Jeffersonville (a semiautonomous village within the Town of Cambridge) have objected to the proposal to paint the murals, likening the project to "graffiti."

Plenty of locals, however, have voiced their support of the project, taking to Front Porch Forum to endorse the beautification the silos, which many view as eyesores. The $15,000 project is funded by the Vermont Arts Council's Animating Infrastructure grant program.

Controversy or no, the CAC has selected four finalists, all of whom will present their concepts to, and take questions from, the community on August 8. The finalists are:

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Anaïs Mitchell Contributes Verse to Peter Mulvey's "Take Down Your Flag"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 at 12:21 PM

  • Courtesy of Anaïs Mitchell
  • Anais Mitchell
Last Friday, Wisconsin songwriter Peter Mulvey wrote a song called "Take Down Your Flag" in response to the mass shooting at Emmanuel African Episcopal Methodist Church in Charleston, S.C. He played it that night in Northampton, Mass., while opening for Ani DiFranco. The next night, Mulvey's friend, songwriter Pamela Means, played the song in Providence, R.I., while Mulvey played it in Lowell, Mass. The day after that, DiFranco herself played it in concert.

In his song, Mulvey specifically sings about Susie Jackson, one of the nine victims on the shooting. When a friend suggested he write eight more verses — one for each of the other victims — Mulvey called on his songwriting pals to help him out. And so DiFranco, Means, Erin McKeown, Mark Erelli, Vance Gilbert, Ralston Bowles, Tod Weidner, Herschel Lee Brown and Vermont's Anaïs Mitchell each contributed verses.

Here's Mitchell's verse, written in memory of DePayne Middleton-Doctor.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

On Screen This Week: Pirates and Cyborgs

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 2:25 PM

  • Kino Lorber
  • Güeros
On Vermont screens this week, you’ll find everyone from senior citizens to pirates (sort of) to cyborgs. Oh, and sharks! Whether it’s acceptable to use the term "everyone" to refer to a cyborg is something we’ll leave to the grammarians, roboticists and ethicists. This is an article about movies.

Wednesday, June 24

At South Burlington's Palace 9 Cinemas, the film that kicked off the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s gets the royal treatment. Steven Spielberg's Jaws, still toothy after all these years, is 40 years old, and the Palace 9 is hosting a celebration of this important film and its legacy. Shown in its original aspect ratio and with an introduction from the folks at Turner Classic Movies, Jaws screens twice, at 2 and 7 p.m.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

What I'm Watching: Safety Not Guaranteed

Posted By on Sat, Jun 20, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Safety Not Guaranteed - FILMDISTRICT
  • FilmDistrict
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
In preparation for my recent interview with Colin Trevorrow, I watched the director’s first feature, the 2012 indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed. I had been meaning to see it for a couple of years, but never quite got around to it. My interview with Trevorrow was scheduled for a Thursday afternoon; I started Safety Not Guaranteed on Wednesday evening. Deadlines are great motivators.

Trevorrow (the accent is on the second syllable, I learned from the friendly NBCUniversal PR lady) is the latest and surely most prominent example of a filmmaker who has been plucked from the ranks of the indies and brought up to the big leagues. You may have heard of his second film, a plucky little picture called Jurassic World, which pulled in more than half a billion dollars in its first weekend of release.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

The First 50 Pages: The Unexpected Trail

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 4:21 PM

In this monthly Live Culture feature, I review the first 50 pages of a local book — and sometimes, if I feel like it, more.

This month, let's celebrate warm weather by going outdoors with Walt McLaughlin. His latest memoir from the hiking beat is The Unexpected Trail: Taking on the 100 Mile Wilderness (Wood Thrush Books, 172 pages, $13.95).

The author
McLaughlin lives in St. Albans and has been published in Vermont Life, Conservationist and other nature-focused periodicals. He's also written a series of longer reminiscences from the trail, most of them self-published under the Wood Thrush Books imprint. (Here's my 2011 write-up of his Alaska memoir.) Regional publisher North Country Books put out his Adirondack backcountry narrative The Allure of Deep Woods, which my outdoorsy mom assures me is worth picking up.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Artist Crosses Pine, Makes a South End Statement

Posted By on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 at 8:16 AM

Kate Donnelly's rack of ponchos - COURTESY OF KATE DONNELLY
  • Courtesy of Kate Donnelly
  • Kate Donnelly's rack of ponchos
That woman you may have seen crisscrossing Burlington's Pine Street today — or will over the next six days — with a garment rack is not homeless or mentally unstable. The plastic ponchos she's wearing are not a fashion statement, or even a fruitless protest against the seemingly endless rain.

No, Kate Donnelly, known for some previous public performance pieces in arresting costumes, is doing it for South End consciousness. She's wending her way down Pine, between Maple Street and Flynn Avenue and back again, for two hours each day, Monday through Saturday.

"Crossing Pine" is timed to correspond with this week's unveiling of planBTV: South End — a document that summarizes feedback about development, housing, traffic and a variety of other issues, compiled over a months-long series of community discussions. The process has generated vociferous reactions, from concern to animosity, in the arts district. A draft plan will be presented at ArtsRiot on Tuesday, 5-7 p.m., and Wednesday, 7:30-9 a.m.

Meantime, walking on Pine, Donnelly will stop at each crosswalk, don one of her decorated, transparent ponchos, then continue on her way. "By the time I go up and back, I will have crossed the street 18 times and will be wearing 18 ponchos," she explains in an email.

The Burlington artist has employed the simple, everyday act of walking before (check out the video on her blog). She describes this, and her current performance, on her website:

In my last walking performance I explored personal transition from the small, everyday rituals such as going from home to work, to more transformative changes we experience, intentional or not. "Crossing Pine" focuses on the transition of the group or community and on the role the artist plays (intentionally or not) in shaping the character and ethos of a community. What is obscured, revealed or made transitory when a neighborhood undergoes redevelopment or gentrification? What is seen, felt, protected, or left vulnerable? What new framework, patterns and expressions emerge? 

Today, June 15, Donnelly's walking schedule is 7 to 9 a.m. Tomorrow she'll be crossing Pine from 9 to 11 a.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Thursday, 1 to 3 p.m.; Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 5 to 7 p.m. (See a pattern there?)

"Crossing Pine" was funded by a grant from the City of Burlington Department of Planning & Zoning and Burlington City Arts, as part of planBTV: South End.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

What I'm Watching: Inglourious Basterds

Posted By on Sat, Jun 13, 2015 at 9:00 AM

Eli Roth and Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds - THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
  • The Weinstein Company
  • Eli Roth and Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds
I’ll admit that, once in a while, I’m a slave to the suggestions offered up by Netflix. I find it both creepy and oddly reassuring that the company’s algorithms are actually pretty good at predicting, based on my viewing habits, what I’d like to watch next. I hadn’t seen Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds since its 2009 release, and had been meaning to watch it again. When Netflix proudly announced that the film was now available on its streaming service, I went ahead and did what the computer told me to do.

Ever since his 1992 feature debut, Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino has been a polarizing figure. Obviously vastly talented and knowledgeable, he’s also, at times, his own worst enemy, larding his films with an embarrassing surfeit of winking references to high and low culture. Indeed, his double-edged embrace of “trash” cinema and works of “high culture” is itself a meta-reference to Jean-Luc Godard, a large part of whose remarkable oeuvre is characterized by that particular device. Coming up with that kind of knowing, cinematic reference to referentiality is the kind of thing, I imagine, that really excites ol’ QT.

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