For most movies, you might as well wait till they come out on videotape. Goldmember's scatological jokes are just as hilarious at home, and Harrison Ford's Russian accent in K-19 sounds equally fake on DVD. But some films merit a trip to the movie theater. Ironically, the films that are worth the discriminating viewer's time share one of two fates: The picture has been displaced from the box office for years by the time it receives notoriety, or the film gets so little press it's gone before you know it ever arrived. But the Angelika Film Center has devised a way out of this dilemma with its "Sensational Cinema" series, which aims to screen cult movies, cinematic masterpieces and overlooked gems. Since the program's inception in January, the Angelika has featured Manhattan, Annie Hall, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Shaft, Master of the Flying Guillotine, Borstal Boy, Taxi Driver and A Clockwork Orange, among dozens of other classics and niche movies. So raise a toast with your Coke and popcorn to the Angelika for returning some excellent films to the big screen for one more go.
Beautiful, big-skied Laramie, Wyoming, was the place where gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered. It's also the backdrop for Moises Kaufman's powerful docudrama, The Laramie Project, based on interviews with 60 townspeople who lived in the Midwestern town. This past January, at Stages Repertory Theatre, Rob Bundy directed eight of Houston's most appealing actors through the story. To the audiences' amazement, the tiny talented group rendered all 60 characters with astonishing grace. Each character was sketched in quick, lithe strokes of words and mannerisms. And each resonated with truthful poignancy or gut-punching brutality. Especially memorable is Drake Simpson's motor-mouthed bartender, and Corby Sullivan's Andrew Gomez, a saggy-pantsed punk who shared a cell with Shepard's killer. Rutherford Cravens was unforgettable as the plain-spoken taxi driver who said, "Never fuck with a Wyoming queer." Kelli Cousins, Kara Greenberg, Daniel Magill, Ann C. James and Connie Cooper also worked with precision timing and moving generosity. This group of eight brought a whole town to life, giving each character the plain dignity and tender mercy that everyone deserves.
Beautiful, big-skied Laramie, Wyoming, was the place where gay college student Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered. It's also the backdrop for Moises Kaufman's powerful docudrama, The Laramie Project, based on interviews with 60 townspeople who lived in the Midwestern town. This past January, at Stages Repertory Theatre, Rob Bundy directed eight of Houston's most appealing actors through the story. To the audiences' amazement, the tiny talented group rendered all 60 characters with astonishing grace. Each character was sketched in quick, lithe strokes of words and mannerisms. And each resonated with truthful poignancy or gut-punching brutality. Especially memorable is Drake Simpson's motor-mouthed bartender, and Corby Sullivan's Andrew Gomez, a saggy-pantsed punk who shared a cell with Shepard's killer. Rutherford Cravens was unforgettable as the plain-spoken taxi driver who said, "Never fuck with a Wyoming queer." Kelli Cousins, Kara Greenberg, Daniel Magill, Ann C. James and Connie Cooper also worked with precision timing and moving generosity. This group of eight brought a whole town to life, giving each character the plain dignity and tender mercy that everyone deserves.
Pearl Harbor wasn't even in the running, and though VH1's Warning: Parental Advisory had a certain kitsch value, we had to go with this charming little independent flick. Rob Gladstone and Jason Fischer were working at the same brokerage firm, but deep down they wanted to make movies. So, with a measly $50,000 in hand, they teamed up with starving actress Dionne Jones and made a film about a broker named Fischer who really wants to make movies. The film got accepted into WorldFest, where audiences appreciated the irony, despite the low production values. As an interesting aside, before making the film, Fischer had worked as a trader at three consecutive firms, all of which closed down due to investigations by the SEC. When he joined the fourth, the largest and most prestigious in the country, he thought he had finally found stability. That company turned out to be Enron. He should have plenty of material for movie no. 2.

Pearl Harbor wasn't even in the running, and though VH1's Warning: Parental Advisory had a certain kitsch value, we had to go with this charming little independent flick. Rob Gladstone and Jason Fischer were working at the same brokerage firm, but deep down they wanted to make movies. So, with a measly $50,000 in hand, they teamed up with starving actress Dionne Jones and made a film about a broker named Fischer who really wants to make movies. The film got accepted into WorldFest, where audiences appreciated the irony, despite the low production values. As an interesting aside, before making the film, Fischer had worked as a trader at three consecutive firms, all of which closed down due to investigations by the SEC. When he joined the fourth, the largest and most prestigious in the country, he thought he had finally found stability. That company turned out to be Enron. He should have plenty of material for movie no. 2.

Sure, they ripped off the name, idea and even the marketing plan from a New York-based nightclub chain that sets up clubs inside old beauty shops, but the beautiful ones over at Tifosi Beauty & Day Spa couldn't pass up the chance to bring this kind of unorthodox hobnobbing to Houston. By day, Tifosi was just another spa located next to an Arby's. But on Saturday nights, the spa transformed itself into Beauty Bar Houston, where customers could get their hair and nails done while getting sloshed on margaritas, sampling appetizers from Mo Mong and listening to DJ Lushus Brown on the makeshift patio. Unfortunately, the bar part of the spa was open for only a few weeks. Reportedly, both the TABC and the Texas Cosmetology Commission felt the salon-saloon combo was not such a beautiful idea. But the folks over at Tifosi say they may find a way for the Beauty Bar to make a comeback in the fall. It should -- it was one of the few places in town where you could get hammered and still come out looking good.
Sure, they ripped off the name, idea and even the marketing plan from a New York-based nightclub chain that sets up clubs inside old beauty shops, but the beautiful ones over at Tifosi Beauty & Day Spa couldn't pass up the chance to bring this kind of unorthodox hobnobbing to Houston. By day, Tifosi was just another spa located next to an Arby's. But on Saturday nights, the spa transformed itself into Beauty Bar Houston, where customers could get their hair and nails done while getting sloshed on margaritas, sampling appetizers from Mo Mong and listening to DJ Lushus Brown on the makeshift patio. Unfortunately, the bar part of the spa was open for only a few weeks. Reportedly, both the TABC and the Texas Cosmetology Commission felt the salon-saloon combo was not such a beautiful idea. But the folks over at Tifosi say they may find a way for the Beauty Bar to make a comeback in the fall. It should -- it was one of the few places in town where you could get hammered and still come out looking good.
The Aurora Picture Show is the Holy Grail of microcinemas, one of a handful of tiny theaters sparsely scattered around the country, showcasing noncommercial films and video. The right reverend Andrea Grover, the Aurora's executive director, is possibly the hardest-working person in the self-sacrificing world of nonprofit arts organizations. At the Aurora, the congregation files into the wooden pews of the homey converted church for a program that could include anything from Goshogaoka (a one-hour film shot in six ten-minute segments documenting the practice session of a Japanese girls' basketball team) to the country's only deaf filmmaker festival. In the rare event of technical difficulties, a round of church bingo breaks out. The popular annual "AV Geeks" series presents vintage education and training films like More Dates for Kay, a 1952 hygiene and etiquette film for young women, and The Lunatic, a cautionary tale from 1972 starring a roving syphilitic hippie. This year's Aurora awards dinner on October 10 will honor the work of pioneering video artist William Wegman, who will be in attendance. No word yet on whether his dogs will show, but we've got our paws crossed.
The Aurora Picture Show is the Holy Grail of microcinemas, one of a handful of tiny theaters sparsely scattered around the country, showcasing noncommercial films and video. The right reverend Andrea Grover, the Aurora's executive director, is possibly the hardest-working person in the self-sacrificing world of nonprofit arts organizations. At the Aurora, the congregation files into the wooden pews of the homey converted church for a program that could include anything from Goshogaoka (a one-hour film shot in six ten-minute segments documenting the practice session of a Japanese girls' basketball team) to the country's only deaf filmmaker festival. In the rare event of technical difficulties, a round of church bingo breaks out. The popular annual "AV Geeks" series presents vintage education and training films like More Dates for Kay, a 1952 hygiene and etiquette film for young women, and The Lunatic, a cautionary tale from 1972 starring a roving syphilitic hippie. This year's Aurora awards dinner on October 10 will honor the work of pioneering video artist William Wegman, who will be in attendance. No word yet on whether his dogs will show, but we've got our paws crossed.
At the stroke of midnight from Monday to Friday, KCOH jock Paris Eley spins part of an electrifying sermon from legendary Memphis Baptist preacher Jasper Williams. As his congregation shouts out words of agreement, the Reverend Williams dwells at length in stunning rhythmic cadence on the nature of midnight, saying things like "rats and mice come out of their holes, looking for cheese -- at midnight," "the party is at its peak -- at midnight," and "Midnight is a most strange and peculiar hour." Eley then segues the song into something appropriate -- for a long time it was Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour." And then the show is off and running, five and a half hours of music fused with musings. Eley has that rare voice that seems to smile all the time, and between cuts of vintage Southern soul and contemporary blues, the DJ, nicknamed "the Prophet," expounds at length on philosophy, world religion and history. Eley should know a lot about history -- he's made plenty himself. After serving as KCOH's program director in the early '70s, Eley spent a quarter-century as a record exec for Motown, CBS and Atlantic and participated in the Harvard Black Music Studies of 1972 and 1997. Four years ago, Eley returned to KCOH, and the wee hours in his hometown haven't been the same since.

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