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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Fridays openings II: Life and times in L.A.

We've covered the mainstream openings below. Now let's tackle the Magic Lantern, which opens only a single new movie. But that movie is something special. It's titled "Tangerine" and may be like nothing you've ever seen.

And that's not just because it was shot entirely on a pair of iPhone 5s.

Set in Los Angeles on a typical Southern California Christmas Eve, amid the flow of traffic mostly along Sunset Boulevard, "Tangerine" follows a transgender prostitute, just out of jail, as she prowls the night in search of her two-timing pimp. Along the way, writer-director Sean Baker introduces us to a cast of characters whose desires and dreams are no less real than any mainstream American.

Here are some of the critical shout-outs.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: "As one character observes in 'Tangerine,' Los Angeles is 'a beautifully wrapped lie.' Baker has created a fitting homage to artifice and the often tawdry, tender realities that lie beneath."

Christy Lemire: " 'Tangerine' is a great Los Angeles movie and a great indie and a great reminder of the possibilities of creativity during a time when everything is a sequel or a reboot or a comic-book spectacle."

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: "Little is as it seems in 'Tangerine,' a fast, raucously funny comedy about love and other misadventures."

Caution: Click on the embed below only if you aren't easily offended.

Friday’s openings: Woody and a Streep weeper

Another summer blockbuster, Woody Allen's latest and a Meryl Streep weeper highlight the coming week of movies. Friday's openings are as follows:

"Fantastic Four": Rebooting a series with mostly 20-something faces, this update of the Marvel superhero quartet stars Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell. Hear that millennial roar!

"Ricki and the Flash": Meryl Streep stars as a veteran rock star who is forced to deal with the family she deserted. Her solution: Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.

"The Gift": When an old acquaintance shows up, a man's happy life begins to unravel. This is why it's unwise to drink overmuch at office parties.

"Irrational Man": A depressed philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) finds new life through action, and the consequences reverberate through his small college town. Allen's film is being called a cross between "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Match Point."

"Dark Places": A quarter century after the fact, a woman (Charlize Theron) agrees to revisit the house where her family was butchered. Can you say, "Uh-oh"?

You know the drill by now. Go. See a movie. And enjoy.

See who’s playing at Bartfest 2015

The Bartlett announced the full line-up of the second annual Bartfest today with 18 beloved Northwest musical acts, including local favorites Marshall McClean Band and Mama Doll.

“Our lineup speaks for itself—talented, burgeoning artists whose ties to the Pacific Northwest (whether by location or fanbase) bring a unique brand of authenticity to their sound,” according to a press release.

The two-day festival, Oct. 9-10, will occur on two stages as neighboring venues, The Bartlett and Nyne Bar, in downtown Spokane. The Bartlett is an all-ages venue, and shows at Nyne Bar are all ages until 8 p.m. during the festival. Weekend passes, $30, are currently on sale at bartfest.com.

The Bartlett is also reprising its curated poster exhibit, which pairs local graphic designers, illustrators and artists with featured headliners to create a unique show poster. The posters will be displayed at multiple venues during the festival, with a Poster Exhibit Launch Party at the Bartlett on Thursday, Oct. 8 for weekend pass holders. Print sale proceeds will benefit the Spokane chapter of The Songs for Kids Foundation.

For line-up and festival details, visit bartfest.com.

Bartfest 2015

Wednesday’s opening: Acting sheepish

Looks as if AMC River Park Square is going to open a movie on Wednesday. "Shaun the Sheep Movie" is a stop-action animated film that comes to us from some of the guys who worked on such similarly made projects as "Chicken Run" and "Madagascar." It's based on the UK television series, which was a spinoff from the "Wallace and Gromit" cartoons.

Friday's final openings will be announced later. But among them, expect to see the "Fantastic Four" reboot. 

Eggs: The devil made Kelly make them

My pal and former Spokesman-Review colleague Leslie Kelly has enjoyed (mostly) a varied career since leaving Spokane's paper. She worked for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and has slaved away in various positions as a freelance food writer while living with her husband John within a shadow's length of Seattle's Space Needle.

Just recently, though, she snared a position for the website allrecipes.com. And, she reports, she's never been happier — which is a refreshing thing to hear from a writer in this era of low-paid web journalism.

It's not exactly easy to find her efforts on the site. But this link will take you to a recent story she wrote about deviled eggs. Click on it and learn something. Here's a link to some of her other stories.

Excuse me while you read. I'm heading for my kitchen to see if I can't replicate one of those deviled-eggs recipes. 

We’re giving away 3 pairs of weekend passes to BUMBERSHOOT 2015

This month’s BIG NIGHT OUT is actually a BIG WEEKEND OUT at Bumbershoot in Seattle, Sept. 5-7. Enter to win a pair of 3-day wristbands so you and a friend can enjoy a long weekend of music, comedy, dance, theatre, visual arts and much more (travel and additional accommodations not included).

Since 1971, Bumbershoot has drawn artists representing the best in music, film, comedy, spoken word, dance, theatre, performance, and visual arts to Seattle Center every Labor Day weekend! Over one hundred acts are scheduled, including music by The Weekend, Faith No More, Ellie Goulding and Hozier; comedy by Hari Kondabolu and Bridget Everett; author podcasts and panels with Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter; and much more. This year’s event also introduces Youngershoot, which offers entertainment and activities for the under 21 crowd and their caregivers.  

Visit Big Night Out: BUMBERSHOOT to enter to win. Contest closes Aug. 20; we’ll randomly pick and announce 3 winners on Aug. 21. See Rules for complete details. Check out Spokane7.com/contests for more ways to win great prizes this summer!

Bumbershoot Poster

 

Fund launched to aid KZZU’s Ken Hopkins

Ken Hopkins, part of the popular morning show “Dave, Ken & Molly” on KZZU 92.9 FM, was badly injured in a bicycle wreck on July 13 and has lost feeling in his body from the chest down.

According to KHQ, Hopkins was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, which happened after his bike slid on gravel and he fell.

His co-hosts, Dave Sposito and Molly Allen, and fellow station employees helped put together a GoFundMe page with the aim of raising $50,000 toward Hopkins’ expenses. In two days, the site raised more than $35,000.

“I do have full use of my arms, hands and neck muscles and am hopeful for the return of other functions once the damages heal and swelling returns to normal,” Hopkins wrote on the GoFundMe page. “The list of rehab goals are staggering just to be able to reach the No. 1 goal of transitioning back into my own home but I do list one of my highest priorities as returning to the morning show and radio station that I have been privileged to be part of for the last 30 years.”

In addition to the GoFundMe campaign, Dutch Bros. stores in Spokane, owned by State Rep. Kevin Parker, on Friday will offer all 16-ounce beverages for $2, with $1 of that dedicated to Hopkins and his family.

To donate to the Hopkins fund, click here. For updates, check out KZZU online or the Dave, Ken & Molly page on Facebook.

Binge Watch: “UnREAL”

“UnREAL” has been called one of the “the best TV shows you’re not watching” this summer. And it’s not surprising if you haven’t heard of it, as a weekly drama on Lifetime. And no one would blame you for dismissing it out of hand, as the series follows the production crew and cast of a fictional “The Bachelor”-type reality show.

Stay with me, though, because “UnREAL” is upfront about the ridiculousness of reality dating while creating characters whose identities aren't so easily defined as hero or villain. The show follows producer Rachel (Shiri Appleby), fresh off an on-set nervous breakdown and break-up, as she returns for the latest season of “Everlasting” to see if she can manufacture a love story between British playboy Adam (Freddie Stroma) and his league of potential brides without selling her soul.     

You don’t have to like reality television to enjoy “UnREAL,” especially since most of your prejudices against the genre may be affirmed: it’s not real; the participants are out for fame, not love; the only people who are more screwed up than the contestants are the people running this circus. 

And if you are a “Bachelor” diehard fan, you might be interested to know that “UnREAL” is based on a short film, “Sequin Raze”, written and directed by former “The Bachelor” producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, who co-created “UnREAL” with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” veteran Marti Noxon. The tried and true tropes of reality dating shows are so subtly documented that only faithful viewers (including all us hate-watchers) may notice them.

The series confronts some of the touchy subjects that its “real-life” counterparts handle without much grace, like race relations, antiquated gender politics, mental illness…even death. It gets really dark.

The season finale of “UnREAL” airs on Lifetime on Monday, August 3 at 10 p.m. Previous episodes are available through On Demand, the Lifetime App or mylifetime.com (cable subscription required for episodes 1-5).

Are you watching “UnREAL”? What do you think of reality dating shows? Let us know in the comments!


Image via Lifetime

Friday’s openings: Add ‘Amy’ to the list

I laid out the week's mainstream movie openings below. The Magic Lantern, meanwhile, is opening one of the more intriguing, and better-reviewed, films ever to play the art-house theater. "Amy," Asif Kapadia's documentary about the late British singer Any Winehouse, owns a 97 percent approval rating on the movie-review website Rottentomatoes.com.

If you never heard of Winehouse, well … just know that she had loads of talent, was a critical darling, led a troubled life and — like many tortured talents before her — died young. In 2011 at age 27.

Some of the more impressive comments about the movie follow:

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: "In Kapadia's assured and careful hands, the film becomes less a portrait of a tragic artist, whose downward spiral was exacerbated by opportunistic family members and colleagues, than a discomfiting mirror held up to her audience."

Jordan Levin, Miami Herald: "You don't need to be a fan of British singer Amy Winehouse to be moved by the documentary 'Amy,' a devastating examination of the deadly effect that celebrity culture, media and drugs can have on artists."

David Edelsein, New York Magazine: "Amy is alternately thrilling and devastating, throwing you back and forth until the devastation takes over and you spend the last hour watching the most supernaturally gifted vocalist of her generation chase and find oblivion.

Get free passes to Spokarnage for a Big Night Out

Get out your elbow pads…it's roller derby time!

We're giving away two weekend passes to Spokarnage: A Killer Roller Derby Tournament and a $50 gift card to Zola for our monthly BIG NIGHT OUT! Contest closes Friday, July 31 so enter now!

Spokarnage is the third annual roller derby tournament hosted by Spokannibals and Spokane Sports Commission at the Spokane Convention Center. Cheer on the 24 competing derby teams while enjoying a beer garden, motorcycle display, vendors, and live music! This tournament is one of the largest derby event on the West Coast.

Zola is a downtown Spokane hot-spot for live music, great food and some of the city's best happy hour specials.

See Rules for complete contest details.

Bookish: Get a Pet with Dr. Seuss

Twenty-five years after the publication of the perennial graduation gift Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, a new book by Dr. Seuss is hitting shelves today.

Although legendary children’s book author and illustrator Dr. Seuss, whose real name is Theodor Geisel, passed away in 1991, several unpublished manuscripts were discovered by Audrey Geisel, his wife, and Claudia Prescott, his secretary and friend, during a house remodel in 2013 (hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar…). Random House plans to publish at least two more books based on the uncovered materials in the future (source PRNewswire).

What Pet Should I Get? features the same children depicted in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish as they visit a pet store in search of the perfect pet.

Book Notes At-A-Glance
Title: What Pet Should I Get?
Author: Dr. Seuss
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 28, 2015

For local author events and book news, visit The Spokesman-Review’s Literary Calendar.

The week’s openings: ‘Impossible’ but true

The mission might be impossible, but Hollywood just keeps Cruising along … if you know what I mean. That lame play on words is about the best I can do to intro the week's mainstream movie openings. Anyway, here they are:

Wednesday

"Vacation": Ed Helms plays Rusty Griswold, the son played by Anthony Michael Hall in the 1983 comedy "National Lampoon's Vacation," who wants to make his own family-bonding trek to Walley World. Can you go home again? We'll find out.

Friday

"Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation" (IMAX and standard; no 3-D): The IMF team faces its greatest foe, the Syndicate, which is bent on destroying Ethan (Tom Cruise) and friends. Expect to see some stuff blown up real good.

"Twinsters": When two young girls, adopted decades before, connect on social media, they discover their new-found relationship is closer than either could have ever imagined. A documentary that Variety calls "absorbingly personal."

"Aloft": Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly portrays a woman who encounters the son she'd abandoned 20 years before. Maybe love does mean saying you're sorry.

As for the Magic Lantern, I'll list the openings when they become available.

Last chance to see Skrillex at Shambhala Music Festival

Today is the last day to enter to win a pair of tickets to the Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo River Ranch, British Columbia, August 7-10, 2015!

The 18th annual festival of electronic music and eclectic art is SOLD OUT— this may be your last opportunity to experience the three days of over 300 musical acts on six unique stages, including Mix Master Mike (of the Beastie Boys), Skrillex, DJ Jazzy Jeff and many more.

Enter to win Tickets to Shambhala Music Festival and visit Contests for many more exciting opportunities to win fun prizes from Spokane7.  

Stockholm: Sun, sights and a sunken ship

Above: The stern of the Vasa, stored in its gigantic warehouse museum. Photo by Mary Pat Treuthart.

Sea cruise 2015 continued: Then, finally, the sun came out – just in time for us to emerge from our cruse-ship cabins and see … Stockholm.

And this much was clear: Even two full days, which is all the time we were given for St. Petersburg, wouldn’t be near enough to explore everything the Swedish capital has to offer.

This time we opted for a Hop-on/Hop-off boat service. Showing just how ignorant I am about Baltic geography, I discovered that Stockholm is known as a “city of islands.” In fact, this is how Rick Steves describes it: “One-third water, one-third city, surrounded by woods, bubbling with energy and history, Sweden’s capital is green, clean, and underrated.”

I couldn’t agree more. And the same holds true with Steves’ other sentiment. “If I had to call one European city home, it might be Stockholm.”

I’m ready to move there tomorrow.

As to the city’s being “one-third water,” that, if anything, is an understatement. And it’s a fact that was hidden from us as we arrived at the cruise-ship piers in the dark of night.

So it just made sense: We would take the boat around the city center and stop off whenever the mood struck us.

This allowed us to see much of the Old Town, if hardly anything of the outlying area. We did see the City Hall, the Royal Palace, the National Museum and so on. But before getting off and walking around Old Town, and having lunch, we had to check out the Vasa.

Never heard of it? Well, the Swedish navy wishes it had never heard of it either. It was in 1628 that the brand-new but top-heavy warship, Vasa, capsized and sank just 40 minutes into its maiden voyage – settling in the mud of Stockholm’s harbor. And despite a bit of Swedish hand-wringing, and an inquiry that held no one accountable, there the Vasa sat for some three-plus centuries.

Then in 1956, the wreck was discovered and – through a complicated, careful process – was raised. Now it sits in its own museum, a vast warehouse that includes multi-media displays (including a documentary film) and the preserved ship in some, though hardly all, its former glory.

I’m certain that Stockholm has things that will appeal more to those into art, music, archaeology, natural science, history, etc. But the Vasa Museum is bound to appeal to anyone whose tastes run to maritime history, if not disasters – if not all our inner little boys.

I liked it even better than the place where we eventually had lunch, Barrels Burgers & Beer, which served one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten – though this being Sweden, the price was enough to make me wonder whether I was being ask to fund the country’s health-care system all by myself.

Then, after a short walk through the city center on this suddenly hot and sun-baked day, we experienced another treat, one that might serve as a high point for this entire cruise: Sailing out of Stockholm, for more than four hours we passed through a series of islands – known as the Stockholm Archipelago – before emerging back into the Baltic Sea.

As we progressed through them, the islands gradually grew smaller and more barren until we passed a final outcropping of land, marked by a lighthouse.

I remember feeling like the Vasa. I didn’t want to leave Stockholm either.

Real life is more than just a headline

By now you’ve likely read about the bombing that took place a few days ago in Suruc, a Turkish town on the Syrian border. The authorities have arrested a suspect, and news reports are explaining the complexities involved in the case.

My wife and I were in Istanbul shortly after the bombing and witnessed demonstrations that took place in that city’s Taksim Square. Thousands of placard-carrying protestors marched past the hotel where we were staying, their chants filling the air for hours.

Unwilling to engage my inner Tom Clouse and join the crowd, I remained a bystander, watching. And it was only later, when the maitre d’ of the hotel restaurant where we were eating hurriedly began closing windows that we learned the demonstration had turned violent.

“Pepper spray,” he said.

BBC and other services reported that the police employed firehoses, too.

The next day, not a sign of the event could be seen. Life resumed as normal, and we caught a ride to the train station so that we could travel to the western Turkey city of Eskisehir.

Of course, nothing will ever return to normal for the people who lost loved ones in Suruc. The world can be such a willfully violent place.

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