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October 11, 2010 at 6:55am

5 Things To Do Today: Get your brain on today

Ulrich Schnauss will perform at The new Frontier Lounge in Tacoma Oct. 11. Photo courtesy of Noelani Malley

MONDAY, OCT. 11, 2010 >>>

1. Even if electronic music "isn't your thing," you'll no doubt find German über-producer Ulrich Schnauss' tidal waves of sentimental nu-gaze awe-inspiring and profoundly soothing at 9 p.m. inside The New Frontier Lounge.

2. In Kittredge Gallery's Small Gallery is a video work by Portland photographer, filmmaker, and installation artist Vanessa Renwick from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Her video, shot in 35 mm black and white film, both mourns the loss and celebrates the former vitality of The House of Sound - places, stories and histories of Cascadia, with scores by musicians living in the Pacific Northwest.

3. A state income tax specifically designed to take more money from the rich?  That's the idea behind Initiative 1098, which if passed would institute a state income tax on Washington's most wealthy to pay for education and health programs. Rich guys like Bill Gates Sr. are in favor of it. Other rich guys, like former U.S. Sen. Slade Gordon, are against it. At 6 p.m. inside Philip Hall at UW Tacoma, they'll debate the issue.

4. Leave it to liberals to use the economic collapse to point out there might be a better way of doing things than the capitalist orgy and TV dinners we've grown up on. Award-winning political cartoonist Ted Rall is just such a whacko, and his new book, The Anti-American Manifesto, is as pinko and commie as it sounds. Rall will discuss his work at 6 p.m. inside Orca Books in Olympia.

5. The Jake B Band will fill The Swiss with blues beginning at 8 p.m.

LINK: More arts and entertainment events in the South Sound

October 10, 2010 at 9:36am

TFF Sniff 2010: Witness The "Grit" Factor today

Josh Adams and Scott Perry's film "Valuable" screens this afternoon inside the Washington State History Museum.


Roll the word "grit" around in your head; what happens? For me other descriptors float up beside it: rough, coarse, unattractive. But use the noun in a context of discussing Tacoma - and Tacoma filmmaking - and its connotations shift. Grit still means unpolished, but now it recognizes potential, a diamond in the rough. True "Gritists" acknowledge their rawness, and revel in it.

Today, as part of the Tacoma Film Festival, the Washington State History Museum hosts Go Local's Grit City Flicks at 4:15 p.m. Six short works, six teams of filmmakers using whatever means to bring to life half a dozen divergent ideas.

It took directors Josh Adams and Scott Perry three years to complete Valuable. The main drama unfolds in a forest, and with the two of them as sole crew, trudging equipment across long distances took its toll. But their labor paid off; Perry describes Valuable as "a very haunting surreal puzzle film like ... Memento with the passion of an early Werner Herzog film."

Plus, how many indies will you see at this festival show real ammunition going off?

Yet Grit stands for more than testosterone-fueled anarchy. The Color of Fred profiles a local artist, while Kris Crews' The Persistence of Beauty touches on a universal theme: family coping with loss. The work came out of The Grand's 72-Hour Contest last year and has that unscripted feel, particularly in the unselfconscious performance of Crews' real-life daughter.

20 Seconds from director Bryan Johnson originated from the same competition; it more than makes up for its rough look with a winning time travel yarn. Mr. Radio also casts an eye into the past. By using antiquated cameras to recapture a 1920s aesthetic, David Derickson created a movie with Grit lovingly stamped onto every frame.

Now we come to A Glitch in the System, which I co-wrote and shot several scenes. I can't write objectively about my own project, so my inquiry goes out to you readers: Does Glitch possess that certain je ne sais grit? I invite you today to critique the critic.

LINK: Today's films

LINK: TFF goes local

LINK: TFF on twitter

LINK: TFF website

LINK: We wrote a TFF cover story

October 10, 2010 at 9:24am

5 Things To Do Today

A strange crowd will gather at 7 p.m. tonight inside Tacoma's Acme Grub Cage.

SUNDAY, OCT. 10, 2010 >>>

1. The Tacoma Cult Movie Club presents "what the $%@! is that?" - a night of outlandish monsters films, as well as the typical trailers, educational shorts, a chapter from a serial, and of course, their own personal form of life support, the raffle. It all goes down at 7 p.m. inside the Acme Grub Cage in Tacoma.

2. The 97-year-old schooner Adventuress is owned and operated by the nonprofit organization Sound Experience, which has spent the last two decades educating, inspiring and empowering youth and adults to care for Puget Sound. From 9 a.m. to noon it will be docked at the Jerisch City Dock in Gig Harbor for a public sail and free dockside tours.

3. To most Americans impressionist art means the art of a small group of late 19th century French artists. But an expanded definition of the movement includes earlier and later works, plus art from other parts of Europe and even America. The Movement of Impressionism: Europe, America, and the Northwest at Tacoma Art Museum offers an impressive sampling of this expanded movement from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Read our full review here.

4. Dockside Bistro and Wine Bar hosts pianist and composer Scott Cossu along with drummer Steve Banks and violinist Jessica Blinn. Scott's trio from 7-10 p.m.

5. Olympia's swing dance night with authentic swing music happens every Sunday at the Urban Onion Ballroom with dancing at 7:30 p.m. and a free beginning swing dance lesson at 7 p.m.

LINK: More arts and entertainment events in the South Sound

October 9, 2010 at 10:54am

TFF Sniff 2010: today's films

"Roll out, Cowboy"


"His name is Chris Sand. He grew up in Ronan, Montana on the Flathead Reservation.  He now lives in a house in Dunn Center that he bought for $1,000.  He's a truck driver when he has work, which he currently does not.  He has a bulging disc in his back from a lifetime on the farm.  He's also one of the most original and inventive musicians anywhere.  He's a cowboy who raps." Weekly Volcano scribe Mark Thomas Deming wrote this paragraph as part of an interview he did with Chris "Sandman" Sands in 2009.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Lawrence grabbed a camera and documented the life of this rapper who looks like Woody Guthrie but sings like Dr. Dre. The resulting film, Roll Out, Cowboy, screens tonight at 8:15 p.m. inside The Grand Cinema as part of the 2010 Tacoma Film Festival.

Also on the TFF docket today are family shorts, documentary shorts, the Academy Awards nominated The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, late night shorts and much more. Click here for today's full schedule.

LINK: TFF goes local

LINK: TFF on twitter

LINK: TFF website

LINK: We wrote a TFF cover story

October 8, 2010 at 2:02pm

TFF Sniff 2010: Popes, Robots and All That Jazz

"Weedle's Groove" screens at 7 p.m. Sunday inside The Grand Cinema.


OK, so maybe the Tacoma Film Festival got off to a chilly start with its Opening Night selection (read my review here), but this little snag won't deter us. We shake it off and soldier on. Like the Rooster himself, our town has true grit. This weekend alone, The Grand has in store a few dozen entertaining features, shorts and events you can't miss. I'll give you my day-by-day play-by-play of the highlights.

Friday, Oct 8

DIY filmmaker Linas Phillips has made a splash at SIFF in recent years for down-to-earth docs like Great Speeches from a Dying World. His rambling road trip narrative Bass Ackwards (6:30 p.m., Grand Cinema) starts off with its hero (played by Phillips) as a lonely wedding videographer, a subject to which many independent artists can surely relate. The writer-director flies in from New York to talk about a film TFF Program Director Emily Alm calls a "Pacific Northwest gem."

I love to see talented folks returning to TFF each season with new work. Patrick Neary tackled claymation in 2009's Otis v. Monster and triumphed with a Best Regional Film award. This time we get two vastly different works that showcase his range as a cinematographer - the black-and-white Mr. Radio and a colorful baseball comedy called Calvin Marshall (7 and 9 p.m., Blue Mouse Theatre).

Since many festival entries arrive into town with no star power, I look to a film's story first to interest me. Coffka (8:45 p.m., SOTA) scores with its sheer originality - a man has three days to find true love, or suffer swift death. Meanwhile, writer-director Glenn Allyn has discovered his own passion for our humble city.

"I moved here from Chicago seven years ago. I think T-Town has more in common with Chi' (must be all the Catholics) than does Seattle, which I appreciate," Allyn says.

Saturday, Oct. 9

You can sleep in Sunday; Saturday, make it to The Grand by 10 a.m. for a free workshop delivered by "short film guru" Warren Etheredge. Even if you don't make movies, the spectacle of a professional critic publicly tearing into an artist's work makes for classic entertainment.

Family Shorts commence at noon at the theater, with a lineup including Sparks in the Night, the truly fantastic winner of last year's Seattle Times Three-Minute Masterpiece Contest. Ben Kadie was only 13 (13!) when he crafted the intricate effects for this comedic caper.

Months ago I briefly interned on director Heather Ayres' Betty, and it makes the list of Late Night Shorts (10:15 p.m., Grand), along with Shallow Copy. Will the latter deliver on its intriguing sci-fi premise with only a $1,000 budget? Jesse Watson, who helmed the project, called his three-day shoot "one of the most amazing experiences of my life."

Sunday, Oct. 10

Start your morning with a 10 a.m. brunch at the Tacoma Art Museum, where Etheredge will hand out awards to festival standouts. Then how about taking in a doc on little-known Catholic figure Pope Joan (2 p.m., Grand)? The script based itself on a novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross, who will answer viewers' questions.

You might have trouble deciding which local fave to end your night on: Tacoma wunderkind Isaac Olsen's epic noir Quiet Shoes (6:30 p.m., WSHM), or a loud romp and stomp through Seattle's '60s soul scene in Wheedle's Groove by Jennifer Mass (7 p.m., Grand)?

The creative potential pouring out of screens this weekend has me jazzed. And don't worry - I'll cover Sunday's Grit City Flicks in a separate article tomorrow.   

LINK: TFF goes local

LINK: TFF on twitter

LINK: TFF website

LINK: We wrote a TFF cover story

October 8, 2010 at 8:34am

TFF Sniff 2010: "Cold Weather," cool reception

TACOMA FILM FESTIVAL REPRESENT: A junior college student chases his lifelong dream to play in the Major Leagues despite his lack of athletic ability in the film "Calvin Marshall" screening at 7 and 9 p.m. inside the Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma.


Picture a large room with walls of rich mahogany, heavy furniture and ornate rugs decorating its polished floors. Glide inside and you find rows of tables topped with fancy hors d'oeuvres. Musicians sit off to the side, sweet Mozart emanating from their violins.

Take your mind out of 18th-century Europe - The Grand Cinema hosted this swanky scene last night to kick off the city's biggest party for independent moviemakers, the Tacoma Film Festival. (I hadn't noticed until now the posh milieu in which Annie Wright kids complete their tutelage. Why did I leave my monocle at home?)

Among the considerable attendees I recognized several faces from past journeys in the local film sphere. Director Andrew Finnigan showed up, whose short The Stairwell won Audience Favorite last year. I PA'ed for a day this summer on a feature of his currently in post-production, which hopefully graces movie screens at TFF 2011.

I also ran into Isaac Olsen (Quiet Shoes) and Bryan Johnson (20 Seconds), two filmmakers skilled at giving the City of Destiny an endearing makeover in every work they produce. And Randy Sparks made it to the gala as well. He and I began writing A Glitch in the System a year ago, and this weekend our efforts finally see the celluloid light of day.

Pity the dramatic feature opener, Cold Weather, wasn't as enjoyable as the mixer that preceded it. The premise did sound promising: a Portland factory worker gets a chance to play sleuth when his ex-girlfriend goes missing. Yet viewers have to wait almost half of the film's 96 minutes before the plot decides to reveal itself. And despite a somewhat tense climax involving a stolen briefcase, many scenes either end abruptly or possess no true ties to the main story. The post-screening Q&A with star Cris Lankenau didn't offer much revelation. With uninteresting characters painted in dreary hues slouching towards an unsatisfying resolution, Cold Weather looks and feels like a Northwest winter: too long, and no end in sight.

Don't fret - The Grand has crammed the next seven days with plenty of better films. I'll go over what you shouldn't miss this weekend later today.

For a list of today's films, click here.

LINK: TFF goes local

LINK: TFF on twitter

LINK: TFF website

LINK: We wrote a TFF cover story

October 6, 2010 at 7:08am

TFF Sniff 2010: The Story

"Bass Ackwards" screens at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 and 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, both inside The Grand Cinema.


The 2010 Tacoma Film Festival kicks off tomorrow night. The Rev. Adam McKinney wrote a Weekly Volcano cover story on the festival, which included a few recommendations. Here's an excerpt:

Four years ago, The Grand Cinema (specifically, now-former managing director and artistic director, respectively, Erik Hanberg and Shawn Sylvian) took it upon themselves to start up the Tacoma Film Festival. In the years since TFF's inception, it has grown exponentially. Now, films are submitted from all over the world, resulting in a seven-day barrage of every kind of film you can imagine.

Coming hot off the heels of the recent 25 New Faces of Independent Film Festival, The Grand Cinema is beginning the process of making a name for itself, not only locally but nationally, as a theater that cares about independent filmmaking and is dedicated to bringing it to as many people as possible. The hope is that, as the years go on and more TFF's and 25 New Faces Festivals are put on, that the film community of Tacoma will grow and spread and a wonderful intermingling of Tacoma with the rest of the country will begin to occur.

Read the full story here.

LINK: TFF goes local

LINK: TFF on twitter

LINK: TFF website

October 4, 2010 at 11:37am

Tacoma Film Festival 2010 Top 11 Picks

Philip Cowan Pick: "The documentary 'Wheedle's Groove' is a great film for the Grand not only because of its focus on Seattle musicians but also because some of the musicians will be on hand to talk about the film!"


Every year Tacoma Film Festival Executive Director Philip Cowan picks his top 10 movies that festival goers should see. This year he picked 11. Read them here.

The Tacoma Film festival begins this Thursday. Read our cover story on the local treasure here.

LINK: Full TFF 2010 schedule

Filed under: Screens, Tacoma,

September 30, 2010 at 1:02pm

253Heart festival hosts a local film night Friday

"William Shatner Lent Me His Hairpiece (an untrue story)," courtesy of shatnerstoupee.blogspot.com


The 253Heart Music and Arts Film Festival is like the wily little brother of the Tacoma film family, taking place in the shadows of the city's more prominent film fests. But, as 253Heart Film Festival director Joe Rosati sees it, these films are important, and they should be seen - as they're not in either of the upcoming Tacoma or Gig Harbor film festivals.

"They're local films that have not been in any recent festivals and are done by some kids that have their finger on the pulse of current events around town," explains Rosati, who also is a local filmmaker and actor. "Some of them have been around for more than 10 years and are in the local section of Stadium Video."

The 253Heart Film Festival Friday night at the Varsity Grill kicks off the three-day Tacoma music and arts festival being held in various downtown Tacoma venues. More information is available on the festival's Facebook site.

One of the 253Heart films Chekov's Gun screened during the Tacoma Tortured Artists Film Festival in the late ‘90s - the festival Kristen Revis and James Hume, who owned and operated Club Seven Studios, produced from 1997-1999.

The other films scheduled to screen are:

  • William Shatner Lent Me His Hairpiece (an untrue story)
  • A First Time for Everything
  • The Devil's in My Coffee
  • Don't Run Johnny
  • Kris Crews' 2-minute video of Galen Turner's recent bike jump through neon tubing
  • And a video of several local visual artists and musicians centered on a group wall painting venture at Fulcrum Gallery

The film night is Rosati's attempt to connect the local film scene with the community, to pull a few films out of the ether and into the spotlight.

253Heart Music and Arts Film Festival

Friday, Oct. 1, 5-9 p.m.
Varsity Grill, 1114 Broadway, Tacoma

LINK: 253Heart Music and Arts Festival feature story

Filed under: Events, Screens, Tacoma,

September 27, 2010 at 7:52am

5 Things To Do: Fun with trees, BIG art, Tall Timber, Get Low and reggae

MONDAY, SEPT. 27, 2010 >>>

1. The 31st annual training conference of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture gathers near the Point Defiance Park Rose Garden from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to demonstrate the use of a crane to remove a tree, the rescue of workers from an aerial lift truck, climbing techniques and pruning techniques. Equipment vendors will also be on site, representing products such as chippers and stump grinders. 

2. BIG: an exploration, featuring artwork by David Hodge, Chris Sharp, Anne Haley, Phil Roach, Judy Harvey, Karl Krogstad, Chuck Gumpert, Christopher Mathie, Alexis St. John, Ryan Molencamp, Marsha Galziere and Mauricio Robalino, is on display from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. inside the Handforth Gallery at the Tacoma Public Library's Main Branch.

3. Jesse Clark McAbee lectures on "Tall Timber: The Nikkei Experience in Washington's Lumber Industry" at noon inside the Washington State Capital Museum in Olympia. This presentation, through vintage photographs, oral histories, ephemera and historical documents highlights the story of the thousands of Japanese immigrants who worked in Washington's timber industry prior to World War II.

4. Robert Duvall plays a backwoods hermit who figures his time is coming, and enlists the local undertaker (Bill Murray) in planning a big funeral send-off that he will pay for himself and enjoy while he's still alive in the flick Get Low screening at 2, 4:25, 6:40 and 9 p.m. inside The Grand Cinema.

5. Rebel Monday/Industry Night featuring DJ Jason Diamond spinning roots reggae begins at 9 p.m. inside O'Malley's Irish Pub on Sixth Avenue.

LINK: More arts and entertainment events in the South Sound

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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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