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!

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“Tom Petty: “Somewhere You Feel Free” Premieres at SXSW on March17, 2021

Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free” documentary premieres at SXSW Online on March 17th. Photo of Petty and Producer Rick Rudin by Robert Sebree.

The Tom Petty documentary “Tom Petty:  Somewhere You Feel Free,” directed by Mary Wharton, depicts his career and his personality using film shot by Marlyn Atkins between 1993 and 1995, during the taping of the “Wildflower” album.

At that time, Tom would have been in his mid-forties and a long way away from his untimely death after just completing the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour on October 2, 2017.

Tom’s daughter Aida is listed as an Executive Producer. There will not be undue focus on his death, as that sad event was 24 years in the future when the unused film was discovered and refurbished for use in this story of Tom Petty’s views on life and work.

One thing that comes through is that he was an easy-going guy with a good sense of humor. Aside from conflict with one long-time band member who left after many years (without saying good bye, according to Wikipedia.org), he got along well with his bandmates. There are concert shots and  songs performed in the recording studio that Petty had set up. Other scenes are in a room literally crammed with a variety of guitars.

Petty’s move away from record producer Jeff Lynne, who had produced most of the Heartbreakers albums, towards Rick Rubin is addressed.   Tom says, “You don’t want to stay in just one little circle all the time.” He had spent 20 years with the Heartbreakers with Lynne producing and, although Rubin had been told that his desire to work with Petty was not going to bear fruit, it did when Petty, himself, called Rubin up about collaborating.

At one point, a band member says, “How can there be this many good songs from one person?” Petty sold over 80 million records and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He described (Wikipedia.org) his desire to become a singer/songwriter as stemming from meeting Elvis Presley when he was 10 years old and referred to the Rolling Stones as “my punk music.”

Never close to his somewhat abusive father, Tom dropped out of high school at seventeen to play bass guitar and dated his desire to have his own band from when he saw the Beatles appear on “Ed Sullivan.” Petty says he knew he could do that, and adds, “I didn’t have any choice. I just did it.  I feel very fortunate, because it all worked out.”

While he began in 1976, by 1979 he had a hit with “Don’t Do Me Like That.” Born on October 20, 1950, Tom was married for 22 years to Jane Renyo. Their daughter Adria relates how she knew her parents were splitting up when she heard the songs he was working on for “Wildflowers” in 1994. In fact, Tom and Jane split up in 1996. It would be five years before he would remarry Dana York in 2001.

One period that is glossed over in the documentary came after the recording sessions that provided the basis for the film. From 1996 to 1999 Tom Petty had addiction issues to heroin. He made a decision to break that cycle on his own and went into treatment.

Petty had just finished the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary Tour when he died on October 2, 2017.  His wife said he was in a lot of pain from a hip that was fractured and needed surgery. Tom had put off the surgery until the end of the tour, since so many other musicians were counting on him.

The autopsy on Petty’s body showed he did have a fracture. It also showed these drugs in his system: fentanyl; oxycontin; acetylfentanyl; temazepam; alprazolam; and citalprum. He also suffered from emphysema. He smokes, non-stop, during the film, which makes that seem likely.

I saw Tom Petty “live” once, in a concert in Moline, Illinois at the Mark of the Quad Cities. He was in his prime. I was a fan, but not a fanatic.

One interesting later career tid-bit that came out of researching his career: 12.5% of the profits from Sam Smith’s album “Stay With Me” had to be paid to Petty for using much of “I Won’t Back Down” in Smith’s song. The statement from Petty was: “All my years of songwriting have shown me these things can happen. Most times you catch it before it gets out the studio door but in this case it got by. Sam’s people were very understanding of our predicament and we easily came to an agreement”.

Liz Cheney Speaks Out & Further Editorial Remarks on 1/16

The Capitol, Washington, D.C.

From Bret Stephens of the New York Times on 1/16/2021:

“If Conservatives want to have a moral leg to stand on as they condemn  a siege of a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, or a police station in Minneapolis, they have an obligation to impeach Trump now.

The institutional case is clear:

  • The president attacked the states, in their right to set their own election procedures.
  • He attacked the courts—state as well as federal, in their right to settle the election challenges brought before them.
  • He attacked the Congress, in its right to conduct orderly business free of ear.
  • He attacked the vice president, in his obligation to fulfill his duties under the 12th Amendment.
  • He attacked the American people, in their right to choose the electors who choose the president.

From Liz Cheney, third-ranking House Republican, following the insurrection of January 6th:

“On January 6th, 2021, a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes.  The insurrection caused injury, death, and destruction in the most sacred space in our Republic.

Much more will become clear in coming days and weeks, but what we know now is enough.  The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack.  Everything that followed was his doing.  None of this would have happened without the President.  The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. (*Trump did not intervene for 2 full hours.) There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.

I will vote to impeach the President.”

Editor’s Note: Far-right sites “buzz” has been about further insurrection to take place on 1/17. What? Where? Unclear at this time, but a man was apprehended trying to enter the Capitol area with 500 rounds of ammunition for his fire-arm and fake Inauguration documents.

 

Traveling Down to Texas: Day Two

Road to St. Louis.

Day Two of the Trip to Texas is upon us.

I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. posting the previous post. That gave me time to watch all of the Sunday morning news shows that I had taped, which I had not had a chance to watch before our departure for Chicago.

Being in Chicago at my place there also allowed us to watch “The Undoing” (final episode), “Fargo” (final episode) and make a meal from things in our freezer at home that would otherwise have been thrown out. Therefore, we had pork chops, green beans, left-over chicken (from Thanksgiving, when we cooked a 5 lb. chicken instead of a turkey.

The weather turned colder overnight and there was 5 inches of snow predicted for Northwest Indiana. Because we hadd food with us, we didn’t leave the condominium in downtown Chicago. It has been said that one out of every fifteen residents of Chicago tests positive for Covid-19. I asked two of the other residents of my building if anyone there in the South Loop had tested positive and they said no one had.

Sunset

But, he added, “I don’t know that they’d tell us if anyone had.”

We left at 12:30 for St. Louis and arrived about 5:30 p.m.

We have now finished watching “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” at my brother-in-law’s house, where we are missing Wendy (left us on April 18th).

Praying for good weather the rest of the way to Texas.

“Stormchaser” Is Well-done Short Film by Gretl Claggett

Stormchaser”

Filmmaker Gretl Claggett both wrote and directed a short film/narrative pilot called “Stormchaser.”

I’m not sure which Midwestern state is portrayed in this 27 minute film, but the license plate said Missouri, so I’ll take a wild guess that it was, indeed, Missouri.

Gretl’s indie film, which might morph into a pilot if all goes well, won the AMC Networks’ Best Female Creator Award at the Stareable Fest 2020 and is traveling throughout the festival circuit now. She will be my guest on my podcast Weekly Wilson on November 19th at 7 p.m. (CDT) talking about this film and her burgeoning career. The film will be screening at Film Girl Film Festival in Milwaukee November 13th through November 20th.

So, what is the plot of “Stormchaser”?

I expected it to be up-close-and-personal information on tornadoes and their devastating effects on those trapped in them.

Not the case.

“Stormchaser” is about Bonnie Blue (Mary Birdsong of “The Descendants”), who grew up chasing tornadoes with her dad and now is making a statement for female empowerment. She’s trapped in a  demeaning job as a sales person for Flip Smith’s shingles and siding business, where “Flip the Switch” is the go-to phrase for the sales people.  (Nice acting on the part of Stephen Plunkett, who has been recognized at several film festivals.)

The film begins with a young Bonnie sliding into the cab of the truck next to her father as they seek to chase a tornado, described as “a gift from the infinite universe.” They encounter “a great river of air” and are off to the races.  Later, a radio preacher is heard burbling about “a visual manifestation of turmoil just beneath the surface.” By that point, the turmoil has pretty much broken through to the outside world.

Oddly enough, I wrote this review in my basement (hoping I would not lose power and the internet while working) during a tornado warning for the Chicago area and  Illinois on 11/10/2020, which lasted until 3 p.m. It is a classic gesture of serendipity that I was actually hunkered down in my basement avoiding the possible consequences of a tornado while watching “Stormchaser.”

The film becomes a story about a woman of a certain age—only female in a male-dominated workplace—standing up for her rights. She’s disconnected, up against a recession, and facing down a boss (Stephen Plunkett of “The Mend”) who deserves everything that comes to him in the course of the film.

Mary Birdsong (“The Descendants”) portrays Bonnie Blue and does a fine job. Plunkett won Best Actor awards for his role as Flip Smith at the Grove Film Festival (New Jersey) and the cast won Best Ensemble Cast at the Richmond International Film Festival. Plunkett also was nominated as Best Actor at the Idyllwild Film Festival.

Filmmaker Gretl Claggett said, “I created ‘Stormchaser’ as a darkly funny allegory, in which the main characters represent different facets of our sociopolitical system, from the Old America and culture of entitlement to the changing face and values of a New America struggling to find its way.”

Tune in on November 19th at 7 p.m. (CDT) when Gretl and I talk about “Stormchaser” and her past and future film projects. 

 

Film Festival Favorite Theme: Losing One’s Mind in “Little Fish”

“Little Fish” at the 43rd Denver Film Festival.

Every year, attending film festivals in Chicago, Texas, Colorado and elsewhere, there is often a pattern that emerges for that year’s films. Sometimes, it’s a similarity of titles. Sometimes, it’s a similarity of theme.

In 1984 there was “The River” and “Places in the Heart,” two movies about families losing the family farm. One starred Sissy Spacek and the other featured Sally Field, with America’s farm crisis taking center stage. That thematic refrain has echoed through the decades.

In 2018, at the Chicago Film Festival, the big theme was drug addiction, with “Beautiful Boy” (Timothy Chalamet) and “Diane” (Mary Kay Place) dealing with the opioid crisis in the U.S.

In 2019, the theme that more than one film covered was Death Row. We had Alfre Woodard’s “Clemency,” with Alfre as a prison warden tasked with carrying out the execution of a Death Row inmate, and “Just Mercy,” with Jamie Foxx as a convicted prisoner on Death Row and Michael B. Jordan working to free this  innocent man.

So, what is the Topic Du Jour in 2020?

Perhaps not surprisingly, the topic is epidemics that come out of nowhere and strike without warning. But what the epidemics cause is different from real-life horror stories like “Contagion.”

This year, the pandemic that is sweeping the multiplex, afflicting people at random is amnesia. In both “Apples,” a Greek film, and “Little Fish,” we have people who are losing their memories and their minds. I didn’t like “Apples,” the film that showed at both the 56th Chicago International Film Festival and the 43rd Denver Film Festival, because it tried to play the theme as humorous, when losing our knowledge of who we are is anything but humorous. Still, in Chicago “Apples won the Silver Hugo for Best Screenplay.

Olivia Cooke

“Little Fish,” directed by Chad Hartigan and based on a short story by Aja Gabel which Gabel and Mattson Tomlin crafted into a screenplay, is a love story between Emma (Olivia Cooke of “Ready Player One” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”) and Jack O’Connell (2014’s “Unbroken” and “Seberg”).

Called NIA, Neural Information Affliction, at first people simply forgot to stop running a marathon or abandoned the bus they were driving in the middle of the street. Over time, more and more people began to forget their loved ones and pilots forgot how to fly and crashed.

The plot focuses on the romance between Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Jude (Jack O’Connell) and their friendship with another couple, Ben (Raul Castillo) and Samantha (Soko). As Ben, a musician, is losing his memories, he strikes out and becomes violent, ultimately destroying his relationship with Samantha.

Emma and Jude are determined not to let his memory loss ruin their relationship. Jude even qualifies for a pilot program that will try an experimental method called Oral Cranium Puncture, where a hole is surgically drilled in the top of one’s mouth into the brain cavity. When Ben is turned down for the experimental treatment because he tests positive for cocaine, he talks Emma, a veterinarian, into trying the method on him herself. That adds drama and intensity to the simple retelling of people losing their minds, but, ultimately, neither film could figure out how to come to a satisfactory “ending.”

Jack O’Connell

The cinematography by Sean McElwee (some nice aerial shots and great scenery) is good, the acting is more than good, and Josh Crockett has done a fine job editing the film, but, ultimately, the failure to stick the landing hurt both “Apples” and “Little Fish.”

Baby Hannah Gets Married (Sept. 6, 2020)

Elise, Jessica and Ava.

September 6th wedding of Hannah & Chris Poffenberger.

Niece Megan Wilson Eddy and daughter Stacey.

Son Scott with his daughters (Ava & Elise) and the bride and groom, Hannah and Chris.

Ava and Elise Wilson.

Ava & Elise Wilson.

Ring bearer.

Figge Museum Reception location.

The bride and groom.

 

Craig, Connie, Scott & Stacey

Scott & Jessica, Elise and Ava

Don, Jr., Describes Dear Old Dad

Suzi Quatro Performances

 

 

 

SPIKE “At the Mike” O’DELL TO GUEST on 6/11

Sign

Route 66 Rest Stop on the way through Oklahoma from Texas to Illinois.

We recently drove from Austin, Texas, to the Quad Cities, through Oklahoma, Missouri, and Chicago.

The entire landscape seemed dystopian and surreal. Nothing was open except large food chains like Wendy’s, Taco Belle, and McDonald’s, which had lines snaking through the drive-throughs, but signs on the doors saying, “No dining inside. Curb pick-up only.”

Rest stops along the way often had chains around their vending machines with the message “No Vending” posted.

The one pictured in this article had a message within the women’s rest room that said, “The streaks on the inside of the glass are from the disinfectant for coronavirus.”

And this is America by road today, in the year of our Lord 2020.

We spent one night in a small town near Springfield, Missouri. The “free” morning buffets have been abandoned and the Best Western—-which had only one bar of soap in the bathroom, and whose sink was not inside the tub/toilet room—looked like something you’d stop at in an impoverished country, There were only 2 motels in this small town and it had taken us so long to get through dallas (traffic accident) that we couldn’t make it to the bigger town of Springfield, so our choice of motels was a grand total of 2, both of them hard to get to.

When we got to St. Louis, we stayed at my brother-in-law’s house, who recently lost his wife (April 18) and on late-night television the demonstrations began in towns like Ferguson. I watched a clumsy Anti-Fa black-clad member try repeatedly to light a Molotov cocktail to throw through the window of a nice-looking brick pizza place (Luciani’s). A black resident of the city lumbered over and told him to “take that shit elsewhere.” After he tried (and failed) to be able to light the wick, again, he did, finally give up.

BuildingBy the time we got to Chicago the streets were impassable. Police at each intersection kept us from being able to drive to my downtown condo, where my car had been parked for 5 months. I had to show the cop my driver’s license to be allowed to drive to Indiana Avenue.

When we finally reached the Quad Cities we learned that:

  1. An animal of some size had eaten a hole in the side of our house. It took a handyman about 6 hours to fix it.
  2. My toilet would not flush for 3 days until some interior part was replaced. For 3 days you had to take the lid off and pull up on something by hand.
  3. A small lake had begun forming under our kitchen sink. The plumber can’t come until next Thursday.
  4. My neighbors had taken in my microphone boom, which my husband had to assemble for tonight’s podcast. It was supposedly going to be sent back to the sender after 3 days of attempts to deliver. Fortunately, my messages and phone calls averted this and everything arrived.

Tonight’s podcast featuring sci-fi horror author Barbara Barnett went well. We discussed her new release, “Alchemy of Glass” and her previous novel “The Apothecary’s Curse.” Next week’s (June 11th) guest is Spike (“at the mike”) O’Dell, WGN personality for 22 years, followed by New York Times Best-Selling author Heather Graham on June 18th.

FREE BOOKS ON AMAZON FOR THREE DAYS

The New Cover Of the book The Color Of EvilJust a reminder that THE COLOR OF EVIL, book number one in the award-winning series of the same name, is FREE for 3 days: May 15, 16 and 17th. In addition, the second book in the three-book series, RED IS FOR RAGE, is also being offered FREE for those 3 days. This series was named Best Indie Thriller Series of the Year 2018 by “Shelf Unbound” magazine, and book #1 sports a brand-new award-winning cover. The series is also available in paperback and audio book formats.

Get THE COLOR OF EVIL Free

 

Also FREE for the dates of May  15, 16 and 17 are two of the three short story collections based on Dante’s “Inferno” and the crimes or sins punished at each of the 9 Circles of Hell in that classic. HELLFIRE & DAMNATION, books 1 and 2, are going to be FREE for the same 3-day period, in order to give you something to distract you from the problems of the world while sheltering in place, which many of you still are.

Get RED IS FOR RAGE Free

 

We also wanted to mention that the release “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” normally a Christmas-themed book with puzzles and coloring book inserts, is one of the two newest releases of Quad Cities’ Learning and those of you who are true blue Progressive voters would find it a welcome addition to your child’s day, now that schools are not in session.

Get HELLFIRE & DAMNATION Vol1 Free

 

Hellfire & Damnation 2 Cover

Click on the appropriate buttons for purchasing of the four FREE books, or to view “The Christmas Cats Flee the Bee,” a whimsical book for children aged 3 to 11 that also contains beautiful illustrations with the message “Elections have consequences. Choose your leaders wisely.”

Get HELLFIRE & DAMNATION Vol. 2 Free

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