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Kicking the Tweets
Tuesday
Nov192013

A CHRISTMAS STORY 30th Anniversary Screening!

Hey, Everyone! On Wednesday, December 4th at 7:30pm,* the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton, IL will present a special 30th anniversary screening of A Christmas Story

As if seeing Bob Clark's holiday classic on the big screen for only a dollar isn't outrageously cool enough, author Caseen Gaines will be in attendance, signing copies of his brand-new book, A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic. Oh, and he'll be joined by Ian Petrella, who played "Little Brother Randy" in the film!

As an added bonus, Gaines and Petrella will lead a prizes-packed audience trivia contest immediately following the show!

Be sure to visit the Studio Movie Grill's Web site for tickets and additional information.

It's guaranteed to be a night so exciting, you won't be able to put your arms down!

*As of this writing, the autograph signing is scheduled to start at approximately 6:30pm.

Monday
Jul152013

Indiegogo Campaign: Welcome to Hell!

What happens when an Internet movie critic decides to "nut up or shut up" and make his own damn movie? You can help the world find out by contributing to Glenn Randall Buettner's Indiegogo campaign for Welcome to Hell!

Yes, the host of YouTube's B-Movie Bunker* is getting ready to shoot his first independent short film, which finds Satan giving a grand tour of damnation to his newest unscrupulous visitor. It should be a lot of fun, and Glenn could really use your help in bringing his vision to life!

As with all Indiegogo campaigns, Welcome to Hell will receive all pledged contributions on its closing date, which is just around the corner on Friday, August 2nd. Perk levels include downloads and DVDs of the completed film, as well as producer credits and perhaps the world's most unique shout-out!

With just over two-and-a-half weeks to go, Glenn is almost half-way to his $500 goal. Let's put him over the top, shall we, and see what a die-hard student of cinema can do behind the camera? For more information, check out the Welcome to Hell campaign video below, and visit Indiegogo to contribute. Thanks, everyone, and take care!

*Even if you can't pony up some cash for Welcome to Hell, why not subscribe to Glenn's Naked Hobo Productions channel? There, you'll find more "B-Movie" goodness than you can shove in a bunker!

Friday
Apr122013

Indiegogo Campaign: BAILOUT 2!

Hey, Everyone! Cast your mind back to episode five of the KtS Podcast, on which I interviewed director Sean Patrick Fahey and producer John Titus about their American-financial-crisis documentary, Bailout.

The movie follows Titus and a group of friends on a Vegas-bound road trip, where they blow all the money he saved by not paying his mortgage for several months--money he sees as supporting a corrupt institution. Along the way, they meet people whose fortunes were wrecked by swindle and circumstance, and ask the audience to consider their role in changing a rigged system.

During our conversation, Sean mentioned that he'd like to follow up with an examination of how troubled European markets have adversely impacted the United States.

Well, less than a year later, a sequel is in the works, and you can help make it happen!

Over the next few weeks, Bailout 2's Indiegogo campaign will raise funds to send RT's Max Keiser and a new group of comedic raconteurs on a cross-continent adventure through hard-hit areas like Greece, Ireland, and Cyprus. They'll explore the roots of various financial disasters that are gradually (and not-so-gradually) making their way to our shores, and look at what other countries have done to claw their way back from the brink of ruin.

Campaign perks range from signed DVDs and posters to official producer credits to dinner with Max Keiser! The biggest perk of all, though, is helping fund what is sure to be a fun and fascinating movie made by passionate, talented, grass-roots filmmakers. If that sounds enticing, check out the Bailout trailer below, then head on over to the Indiegogo page to learn more about Bailout 2.

Note: You can also learn more about the original Bailout (and order the DVD) at USABailout.com.

Thursday
Apr042013

Projecting Grief

A Tribute to Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

Even Roger Ebert's death is a testament to great storytelling: in a plot twist few of us saw coming, the seventy-year-old bastion of modern film criticism died just two days after posting a touching hiatus announcement in the Chicago Sun-Times. He said doctors had discovered even more cancer in his body, and the aggressive treatments he required warranted taking a "leave of presence"--handing over the regular movie-reviewing duties to a rotating cast of hand-picked favorites, while occasionally returning to write about the jucier pictures.

He also mentioned ongoing developments in the "Ebert brand", which didn't interest me all that much. He was a man, after all, and not a commodity. But in the Internet Era, I guess we're all just ones and zeroes, the marketed and the marketed to.

For a few moments, I wondered about Ebert's career, and if he would have achieved living-legend status had he come of age as a critic today. Or would his never having started as a professional reviewer in 1967 denied his beloved career the cache it has now, relegating "film critic" to the same status as "collectible-candy-wrapper expert"?

I owe my passion for and understanding of the movies to two men: Roger Ebert and my high school Film Studies teacher, Richard C. Jones. Both loved watching, dissecting, and discussing films with people whose minds had yet to be blown by their wisdom. As a kid, I would eagerly await the Friday paper and jump right to Ebert's column for a witty takedown of that weekend's boneheaded new releases (or even an endorsement of something worthwhile). I took that foundation with me to Mr. Jones's class, and for a solid year was blessed to have two brilliant, warm, and humorous voices guide me through the classics.

A few years later, I had the privilege of meeting Ebert at a critics' screening of The Fifth Element. I couldn't believe we were breathing the same air, much less sitting a few feet from one another. After waffling and whining to my girlfriend in the minutes leading up to showtime, I got it together just enough to approach him. He was kind, engaged, and curious about me, and accepted my stammering flattery with a coolness that suggested I wasn't the first sweaty teenager to say "Hello".

(I met Gene Siskel at the same screening. And while I won't use a memorial piece to speak ill of the dead, I'll gladly do so if you hit me up in person.)

Over time, I would meet my hero again at book signings and see him on-stage at his Overlooked Film Festival in Urbana, IL (now called "Ebertfest"). Even as cancer and the ensuing surgeries robbed him of the ability to speak and made him, frankly, uncomfortable to look at, he was always ROGER EBERT--a smooth and insightful writer who proved that the human body is just a shell for the wild spirit within us all. As an out-and-proud atheist, I doubt he'd agree with that particular analysis, but he always made me feel connected to a larger something-or-other after every encounter.

I don't use the word "hero" lightly. When I made the ludicrous decision to become a film critic, Ebert was my guy--not necessarily in terms of style, but in the way he always put himself on the page; the way he made it okay to look at movies subjectively, rather than pretend that they were watched by cold, divinely selected arbiters of taste who didn't bring actual life experiences into the theatre with them.

Mostly, I admired his ability to bring me along for the ride of his pieces, even if I didn't agree with some of them. I used to joke that all the near-death experiences in recent years had made him so appreciative of life that he'd allowed himself to love some pretty heinous trash. But even where our tastes didn't align, I could rarely argue with his arguments' merits.

Sidebar: Earlier this afternoon, I was excoriated on a podcast. Those of you who follow this site are aware of some recent Internet drama involving my reviews and the producer of Swamphead. Well, that producer has a weekly talk show, and on last night's episode, he took a couple minutes towards the end to tear my abilities as a film critic to shreds. He didn't mention me by name (not that it would have mattered if he had), but in those profane, horrific moments, I felt about as low, angry, and sad as I had in a long, long time.

I seriously considered throwing myself off of something tall, but then I read about Ebert's passing. Emotions being a mystery and all, the news kind of cheered me up. Not that I'm happy he's gone, but thinking about Roger Ebert has always made me happy. He's weathered decades of criticism, parody, and hatred, but still went out on top--loving his job, living his passion, and not letting hurt feelings get in the way of writing.

So, yes, unsurprisingly, my non-obituary for Roger Ebert wound up being mostly about me. But I can think of no greater tribute to one of the century's greatest thinkers, writers, and supporters of the arts than to soldier on in the face of doubt and to never forget how cool it is to sit in the dark and watch movies all day.

Tuesday
Mar052013

Chicago Premiere! SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME

UPDATE: Thanks to a weekend of sold-out shows and the generosity of one very hard-working star, The Music Box is delighted to announce that Nick Offerman will be on-hand for one last Q&A at today's 2:30pm screening!

These $10 tickets are disappearing, so drag your ass out of bed and pre-order yours now!

Fellow Chicagoans! The coolest thing blowing into town this week is not our four-thousandth winter storm.

No, it's The Music Box Theatre's Somebody Up There Likes Me premiere event!

Bob Byington's quirky comedy is about the charmed life of one Max Youngman (Keith Poulson), who appears to be blessed with a dry sense of irony, accidental good fortune, and eternal youth. Over a period of three-plus decades, Max, his best friend Sal (Nick Offerman) and his second wife Lyla (Jess Weixler) stumble through infidelities, divorce, therapy, and poverty in a breezy series of surreal jumps forward in time.

What makes this weekend's screenings so special? Well, if being the first to see this new indie comedy isn't enough, how's about attending a special Q&A with star Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation)?!

That's right, Mr. Offerman will be on-hand after each of the four premiere screenings to interact with fans!

Showtimes are 7:30pm and 9:45pm on Friday, March 8th and Saturday, March 9th. Tickets are going fast, so pre-order yours today!

For more information, head on over to the film's event page at musicboxtheatre.com!

The Music Box Theatre is located at 3733 N. Southport Ave. Chicago, IL 60613. For showtimes, call (773) 871-6604.