Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Pop Culture Page 2 of 51

Any trends or popular fads may be described, whether it would be something like the hula hoop or the pet rock or simply new slang.

Blasts from the Past

Cecile DeFrance, female star of “Hereafter” and me, after the Chicago premiere of Clint Eastwood’s new film.

With John C. Reilly at the Chicago Film Festival.

William F. Nolan & Connie Wilson. Austin, Texas, Horror Writers Conference.

Connie Wilson & Deidre Sommerville with the Silver Feather Award.

Author Jane Smiley, winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for her Novel “1,000 Acres” and me at lunch in Honolulu at Spellbinders Conference.

Antonio Villaraigosa, the Mayor of Los Angeles since 2005 and Chairman of the Democratic Party.

A few seconds before this was taken, Dennis Massoud cautioned me about touching the sand on the sides of the “chair.” Quantas Airlines sand sculpture in Sydney, Australia

Book signing in Australia.

Craig and I at a restaurant in Darling Harbour with our friends Don and Cath Zartarian.

Four-year-old twin granddaughters Elise (left) and Ava (right) Wilson, to whom the book is dedicated. (They’ll be helping me write them, from now on.)

With Harry Connick, Jr., backstage at the Chicago Theater on my birthday.

Illinois Women’s Press Association Silver Feather Award (2nd win in 3 years).

With Rob Reiner in Chicago at the Icon Theater on June 18, 2014 preview of new film “And So It Goes.”

With Liv Ullman.

With New York Times Best-selling author Jon Land.

Rolling Stones, July 23, with the daughter, down front.

Haskell Wexler and me, May 22, 2012, Grant Park, Chicago

Jerry O’Heir (Lenny in “Middle Man” and Jerry Gergich on “Parks & Recreation”) at the Chicago Film Festival.

At Lake Okoboji, less than one week from delivering daughter Stacey in 1987.

(Left to Right) Scott Beck, Connie Wilson and Bryan Woods at SXSW (Austin, TX) on March 10, 2018.

Opening Night of the Windy City Film Festival in Chicago, as a Screenplay Finalist.

(l to r), Connie Wilson, Patrick of the omnipresent hat, and Meiling Jin, CEO of Studio Meiling Productions, LLC.

San Antonio Film Festival.

Belmont Town Hall Press Room at the Belmont Town Hall Meeting, 2008, Nashville, Tennessee, 2008.

Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Yes, I go all the way back to Lincoln), Too bad his beard is falling off!

Press, inside of the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado at the DNC in 2008.

New Year’s Eve in New York City’s Times Square.

Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. (And isn’t that Johnny Depp on the left?)

Hawaii Spellbinders’ Conference.

Elise (L) and Ava (R) at the Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago.

Midwest Writing Center Writer of the Year Award.

Scott, Mom and Stacey,

SXSW Film Reviews to Come: Looking Back at One Year “Sheltering in Place”

“Lily Topples the World,” SXSW Online Film Festival, 2021.

Today is March 13th, Saturday, and it sticks in my brain pan as the day that my husband and I went out to see “The Way Back” at a local cinema. The place was deserted and, when I asked about upcoming films, the news was not good.

By that weekend, we were “sheltering in place” and we were going to be sheltering in place for one full year. My hair appointments became non-existent, My nails grew out and became a problem. I was giving hair cuts to my husband. I would not enter a movie theater for 7 months to see “Tenet” at the Regal Cinema (now closed) in Moline, Illinois.

During that long Covid-19 year my husband and I would contract the virus and be sick for two weeks (in October). We would venture out perhaps twice (once to a drive-in) to see movies, but the flow of new films would cease, so the sacrifice that no movies means, to me, as a bona fide movie buff, was slightly mollified by the realization that there were very few new good films coming out. All of us were glued to our respective television sets, and that is where I would cover the Chicago International Film Festival, the Denver Film Festival, Sundance, and, this coming week, SXSW, virtually, online.

I am Press at SXSW, again, and the films I will be seeing from March 16-20 will include the following, (with reviews here and on The Movie Blog.com and perhaps a few on QuadCity.com):

Tuesday- March 16th

“Demi Lovato: Dance with the Devil” (Credit: OBB Media @ the SXSW Online Film Festival 2021.)

“Hysterical – top female comics perform in a special.

“The Oxy Kingpins” – a documentary.

“Aretha” – a documentary about Aretha Franklin

“Lily Topples the World” – young girl sets up blocks to “fall.”

“Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil” – the story of Demi Lovato’s close call with death from a drug overdose.

“The Thing That Ate the Birds” – horror

Wednesday, March 17

“Recovery” –

“The Return: Life After Isis”

“Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free” (documentary)

Waze & Odyssey” with appearances by George Michael et, al.

Not Going Quietly – feature film

United States vs. Reality Winner – a documentary about White House leaks

Offseason

Thursday- March 18

“Swan Song” (Credit Chris Stephens, SXSW Online Film Festival 2021).

“Swan Song” – I actually have already seen this one, about a hairdresser called out of retirement in the nursing home to do a dead friend’s hair. The dead friend is Linda Evans (“Dynasty”). The hairdresser is German actor Udo Kier. The co-star is Stiffler’s Mom, from “American Pie,” Jennifer Coolidge.  Todd Phillips directs.

“The Lost Sons” – fascinating documentary about a boy kidnapped at birth from Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago only to be returned to his parents  2 years later. Or is the boy found in New Jersey really their son? A fascinating documentary with many twists and a Chicago setting.

“Cruel Summer” – Jessica Biel’s project; teen-aged cast.

“The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Mary Johnson – one of the few feature length films

“Violet” – a Justine Bateman project

“Alone Together” – a documentary about Charlie XCS

“Sound of Violence”

“The Spine of Night” – animated, with voices by Patton Oswalt and others. The last 2 are “midnight fare,” meaning scary films.

Friday, March 19th

“Late Night Girls Club” – Samantha Bee and Amber Ruffin

“Cruel Summer” Q&A”

The festival does not end until Saturday, but my husband and I are scheduled to get our second Pfizer shots on Saturday and Sunday, which is his birthday. We are making a true celebration out of it, staying at the VanZandt hotel downtown in a pricey room and dining out with the son and daughter-in-law, so no closing night film for me. Check back at WeeklyWilson.com for reviews of the above.

Vaccination for Covid-19 Becomes a 4-month Task

Twenty-three million Americans are now completely vaccinated against Covid-19 and 70 million have had the first (of two) shots. I am among the seventy million who just received the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine, today, at 12:30 p.m., at an HEB grocery store in Austin, Texas.

Stephen K. Austin Sonesta Hotel, 701 S. Congress Ave., Austin, Tx.

Sonesta Hotel, formerly the Intercontinental Hotel in Austin, Texas.

We have been placing ourselves on various lists (State list, HEB, CVS, Walgreen’s) for months now. I even got a local doctor, thinking that might help (it didn’t).

I finally took to tweeting to various entities and wrote an e-mail to HEB, since the state website seemed completely unworkable. That site would ask you to select a pasword, which we did. When we’d try to check back in to see if there was any vaccine available (usually not), it would not accept our passwords, even though we knew what they were. We would then be forced to say “Forgot password.” The site would say it was going to send us an e-mail (to our e-mail boxes), an e-mail which never arrived.

I pinned my hopes on HEB, which has performed brilliantly during the pandemic for well over a year. Their Favor delivery service has been phenomenal, and far better than similar services in the Midwest. Today, I spent 20 minutes sitting in a chair waiting for my name to be called outside the pharmacy inside the HEB store at 2701 E. 7th St. in Austin, Texas. Later, I wrote to HEB, “You may have literally saved my life.”

We are slated to travel to Mexico near Easter and the thought of travel at this time is scary and travel without a vaccination is terrifying. We already had Covid-19 in October, but getting the vaccination, as many of you know, has been an arduous process.

So, I kept pestering anyone I could think of to pester, with tweets, phone calls and e-mail. After writing about this to HEB, I called one of their stores and asked to be connected to the pharmacy. I held for a “live” person for a long time, but after we spoke she said there was one spot, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28th (today). As she was making that appointment for me, another opened up and she said she only had 8 minutes to fill it, for my husband, who was booked on Saturday, Feb. 27th. This means that our second shots will take place on or near his birthday (March 21st).

It also means that I got the Big Bright Idea of driving downtown and getting a hotel room nearby for one night. We dined at the Roaring Fork and made it to our appointments and I have included pictures of the Stephen K. Austin Sonesta Hotel, which used to be the Intercontinental Hotel at 701 Congress Avenue (until a month ago.) I had always wanted to see the rooms in this hotel, since it is Grand Central Station during the normal SXSW Film Festival.

Enjoy!

 

 

Mariachi Band Protests @ Ted Cruz Home

Rush Limbaugh Dies; Leaves Legacy of Hate & Divisiveness

In the wake of Rush Limbaugh’s recent death, “Newsone” compiled a list of some of Limbaugh’s most offensive remarks. A companion piece to these quotes would be the article in the most recent issue of “Rolling Stone.”  He did more than anybody to create the conditions for an ever-more-radical GOP that drove straight around the bend when Trump took the wheel.

Rush Limbaugh Did His Best to Ruin America

Without further ado, here are some verified Rush Limbaugh quotes:

  1. “Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?
  2. “Right. So you go into Darfur and you go into South Africa, you get rid of the white government there. You put sanctions on them. You stand behind Nelson Mandela — who was bankrolled by communists for a time, had the support of certain communist leaders. You go to Ethiopia. You do the same thing.”
  3. “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it.”
  4. “The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.”
  5. “They’re 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares?”
  6. [To an African American female caller]: “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”
  7.  “I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.  They’re interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well.  I think there’s a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn’t deserve.”
  8. Limbaugh’s many attacks on Obama.

Limbaugh has called Obama a ‘halfrican American’ has said that Obama was not Black but Arab because Kenya is an Arab region, even though Arabs are less than one percent of Kenya. Since mainstream America has become more accepting of African-Americans, Limbaugh has decided to play against its new racial fears, Arabs and Muslims.

Despite the fact Obama graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law school, Limbaugh called him an ‘affirmative action candidate.’ Limbaugh even has repeatedly played a song on his radio show ‘Barack the Magic Negro’ using an antiquated Jim Crow era term for Black a man who many Americans are supporting for president.

Rush Limbaugh made racist attacks on four of the most admired and respected people of African descent in the past one hundred years, in Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Colin Powell and Barack Obama. He  claimed that Joe the Plumber, who isn’t even a plumber is more important in this election than Colin Powell, a decorated military veteran who served honorably in three administrations.

  1. “We need segregated buses… This is Obama’s America.”
  2. “Obama’s entire economic program is reparations.”

THE TWO CONTESTED QUOTES

We ran these two quotes as part of our original list of ten. However, in the fall of 2009, this post surfaced in the debate that followed Limbaugh’s dismissal from an investment group attempting to purchase the St. Louis Rams. NewsOne has, as yet, not been able to determine the veracity of these quotes. We note the following for the record:

  • These two quotes were both sourced from a book by Jack Huberman called “101 People Who Are Really Screwing America,” published by Nation Books in 2006. The author of this book, in turn, claims that he procured these quotes from a source which he has refused to reveal “on advice of counsel.”
  • Rush Limbaugh has vigorously denied that he said these things.

In sum, NewsOne can no longer vouch for the accuracy of these quotes. Nor can we trust Limbaugh, who never denied saying the other eight racist quotes on our original list. We keep them in our post for their news value as a controversial, and perhaps dubious attribution. Segregated, of course. Which should make some  very happy.

  1. “I mean, let’s face it, we didn’t have slavery in this country for over 100 years because it was a bad thing. Quite the opposite: slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”
  2. “You know who deserves a posthumous Medal of Honor? James Earl Ray [the confessed assassin of Martin Luther King]. We miss you, James. Godspeed.”

 

A Touching Tribute to Rush Limbaugh from DJT—-Sort Of

“Weekly Wilson” Podcast of Feb. 18th: Ryan Bliss, Writer/Director of “Alice Fades Away”

Some of you may have noticed the movement from politics to film on the blog, of late.

It has always been my goal to go among three topics: books, film and politics.

In addition, I sometimes convey information about my travels, whether that means Texas or Mexico or Alaska.

While it is tempting to bring up for discussion the feud that is currently playing out between Mitch McConnell and Donald J. Trump, I shall bypass this low-hanging political fruit, for the moment. Or the death today of Rush Limbaugh might send me off on another political thread, but I’m sticking to movies for the rest of February, and then I’ll be taking a break from the Weekly Wilson podcast.

If you are curious about which of the 45 or so podcasts I’ve done are interesting, I’ll be happy to list them for you, but I’m not sure if they remain “up” after my show goes into a hiatus, which may be permanent.

While I’m proud of the shows I’ve managed to put “in the can,” I’m also more than ready to return to writing—possibly a fourth book in The Color of Evil series.

But, this week, I’ll be interviewing the first-time director of “Alice Fades Away,” a film I reviewed here previously, and the week of February 25th I will speak with the Chicago director of “100 Days to Live,” Ravin Gandhi.

So, remember to tune in to listen to the conversation with Ryan Bliss, director of “Alice Fades Away,” on Thursday, February 18th.

James Corden, on January 19th, Salutes the Inauguration with “One More Day” from Les Mis

“Alice Fades Away” Is A Cinematic Vision

Writer/Director Ryan Bliss launches his first full-length feature film “Alice Fades Away” on February 16th, available on iTunes, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft, Vuda, Fandago NOW and other On Demand  DVD platforms.  The trailer is truly creepy and that feeling of dread, complete with appropriate images, lighting and music, comes through in the film, set in 1953. The action takes place in one week, from Sunday to Sunday; the body count is high. (When we hit 6 deaths, I wondered if we would run out of characters before we ran out of plot.)

According to Writer/Director Ryan Bliss, the film is “about patriarchy, legacy and death, but more importantly, it’s about perseverance and strength in the face of fear and power by someone who’s not allowed to have her own identity.” Aside from the reference to death, that theme made me think of Meryl Streep’s character in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” a woman who has never had the opportunity to become her own person, having gone directly from her childhood home to school to marriage. As Alice—who shared some of Streep’s character’s angst, articulated in that film says in “Alice Fades Away”—“I never had the opportunity to choose.”

Alice’s father-in-law, James Sullivan (William Sadler), sends his son Holden (Timothy Sekk) after Alice  (Ashley Shelton)  to bring his grandson Logan (Paxton Singleton) back to him. As explained by the commanding patriarch, “She  took my grandson and  ran off like a coward.”  Sullivan is a powerful man who is used to having things his own way. He and his late wife Margaret disapproved of their son’s choice of a wife. (“What did he see in her? I never figured that out for the life of me.”)

When Carroll (Tommy Beardmore), Alice’s husband, dies violently, Alice flees and the old man unleashes Alice’s brother-in-law, Holden—[a psychopathic ex-prisoner of war, still suffering from PTSD]—to fetch his young grandson back to him because, he says, his grandson Logan is all he has left.  (This seemed inaccurate, since he was speaking to a surviving son.)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

The lighting and images shot by cinematographer David Bouley are truly beautiful. Whether the scene is simply Alice and her young son lying in a field or—-as in Bliss’ previous shorts, “Rot” and “Clover”— framed scenes of a tree in the snow, the images are gorgeous. The most ordinary scenes are beautifully lit and shot with a painter’s eye. The cinematography and the Bliss Farms sets with period radios, guns, cars, and clothing, are really wonderful for a first full-length film effort. The plot shows care and thought have gone into the themes to be explored (although perhaps a few too many major themes are included for a film running just an hour and 16 minutes).

ACTING

The lead character of Alice Sullivan is played by Ashley Shelton. Her father-in-law has described her as having “empty eyes, like she is missing a soul.” When Alice runs away to her Uncle Bishop’s farm (Jay Potter), Alice says, describing herself, “I’m not certain if I’m sane any more. I don’t know how anyone can know that.”

She has taken shelter at Uncle Bishop’s remote rural farmhouse, along with four other fellow sufferers. One is a young boy. The explanation is that he was just left there by his parents, who disappeared. This struck me as odd and unlikely.

Uncle Bishop reminds Alice of a time as a young girl when she callously watched another youngster nearly drown, but seemed to display no emotion (Alice claims not to remember this). After sharing that anecdote, Uncle Bishop demands that the others in the farmhouse—all of whom have endured tragedy of one sort or another– vote on whether to grant Alice asylum at the farmhouse. Ultimately, all but Bishop vote yes. One of the other women in the house, Roxie, is played by Blanche Baker, who is the daughter of Carroll Baker (“Baby Doll”).

When Alice describes the fear that she is being hunted, Roxie (Blanche Baker) says, “We’re not safe, are we?”

Alice admits to the others that they may not be safe.  Uncle Bishop’s prophecy that “Something’s comin’” turns out to be too tragically true.

VERDICT

I loved the cinematography in this first feature film. The sets are also great, with a wonderful ruin on the grounds that has a stairway to nowhere and lovely fields meant to portray New England. The trailer gives you a good feeling for the creepy mood that Writer/Director Ryan Bliss, (with able assistance from cinematographer David Bouley and music from Christopher French), has managed to achieve. The lighting in several scenes, in the old period farmhouse, gives the film a patina that shows skill behind the camera (Bliss also helped edit, in addition to writing and directing).

As with many films, the audience has to fill in a lot of missing parts of the plot. Sometimes, the director gave the audience too much credit for being able figure out plot points out on its own. I would have liked slightly more information about Logan’s and Everett’s (Benjamin Russell’s) ultimate fate. Even Holden’s demise is left hanging and what about Uncle Bishop?  But the mood and pace and general use of wonderful images to tell this story more than made up for a few continuity lapses and some story threads dropped without much closure.

We quit counting fatalities at 6. For a film with only a few main characters, it’s not one where nothing at all happens, which, to me, was admirable.

 

If You Are A Hammer, Everything Looks Like Meat

In the ongoing effort to provide some “lighter side” thoughts, here are a few, courtesy of the Borowitz Report:

  1.  Queen Elizabeth offers to re-annex the United States.
  2. Ivanka Trump applies to become Joe Biden’s daughter.
  3. Obama proposes canceling cable at the White House to get Trump to leave.
  4. Dr. Fauci says alcohol may be an aid during coronavirus briefings.
  5. Scientists say that Earth is endangered by a new strain of fact-resistant humans.
  6. Putin warns that the United States could wind up controlled by Americans.
  7. Kim Kardashian wonders if big-bottomed girls (with 4 kids and 3 marriages) will be in demand in 2022.
  8. Lou Dobbs applies for job at Four Seasons Landscaping.
  9. Canada declares Proud Boys to be domestic terrorists, just as Trump was preparing to give Medal of Freedom to former General Michael Flynn for his service to the group.
  10. Army Hammer announces he and latest girlfriend have become vegans.

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