Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Win tickets to: Fresno Filmworks

This month, Fresno Filmworks presents “Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter.”

It sounds like one-trip of a film; inspired as it was by an urban legend of a Japanese woman who, after discovered a VHS copy of “Fargo,” leaves Tokyo in a hunt for the movie’s buried treasure. The film has two showings (at 5:30 and 8:45 p.m.) tomorrow. After the 5:30 showing, filmmaker David Zellner will join the audience for a film discussion.

And we have passes to give away.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post. What urban legend do you have a suspicion might be real? This is a super short contest. You have until 5 p.m. tonight to enter. Winners will be picked at random and notified via email and able to pick up tickets at the Fresno Bee (1626 E. St.) during normal business hours.

Watch the trailer for the film (and get full contest rules) on the jump.

Read more

‘The Breakfast Club’ is old and so am I — 10 more classics turning 30 this year

The Breakfast Club” turned 30 on Feb. 15 and now I can’t get that song out of my head.

To celebrate the anniversary, the South by Southwest film festival kicked-off the week with an screening of film (which got press for days. Well, for one day, at least).

The movie will also screen at select theaters this month (including Edwards on March 26 and 31).

I get it. The film is classic and the characters are archetypes and the whole things is quotable pretty much from beginning to end. Then, there’s that song. Still, 1985 was a great year for film. Like, better than might remember.

Here are 10 other films that turn 30 this year (as chosen by me, based mostly on my nostalgia).

Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

It’s Valentine’s Day … You may or may not have plans.

1. Tower District Mardi Gras Parade
If the parade is anything like this flier … Holy crud, watch out.

2. Love, Comedy and Poetry
It’s not love if you can’t laugh together.

3. “50 Shades of Grey
Who cares if the movie is terrible? Am I right?

4. “A Streetcar Named Desire
For background.

5. Blimprov Presents
Be warned: One couple’s story will become the basis for the night’s show.

Plus a bonus five concert picks.

Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

You probably shouldn’t see “The Boy Next Door.” So …

1. Elvis tributes
Elvis has been dead for close to four decades and still gets a pair of kick-ass birthday parties. You have to respect that.

2. Fulton 55 four year anniversary weekend
Four years? Seems like the downtown club has been around longer than that.

3. Urban Hop
Come get schooled on downtown Fresno. Seriously, there is free stuff and you’ll be in a big group.

4. Roy Orbison
Because it’s suddenly on my mind: Have you heard Celine Dion’s version of “I Drove All Night?”

5.1915-2015: Tradition, Legacy, Culture
The first of many events planned to help raise awareness about the Armenian Genocide of 1915. One-point-five million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turkish government.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


If a weekend at the movies seem boring …

1. Rush Day/Ozmosis Holiday Happy Hour
Beer + coffee. Need I say more? OK, Tioga-Sequoia + Cafe Corzon. More? Mike Oz + New Rock 104.

2. From Indian Lakes
Indie-rock fans will want to keep an eye on this band. This’ll be your chance to see them before they blow up.

3. Crescent Concert
Eva Scow curates a world-rhythm jazz concert.

4. A Peter White Christmas
Your holiday favorites rendered in smooth jazz.

5. Christmas Light Displays
Let the spirit of the season wash over you in a wave of twinkling lights.

For music-specific options, by sure to check out our weekly BANDGEEK post.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Gas is cheap again. So you could always skip town. Or …

1. Downtown Fresno Ice Rink
You’re skating on thin ice mister.

2. Central California Auto Show
Auto nerds need conventions too.

3. “Levitated Mass
This film ask the question, “Can a giant boulder be art?”

4. “Birdman
Restore your faith in American film making.

5. Fundraiser Benefit Concert for Perry Hodge
Perry Hodge has been a vital part of Fresno’s music scene since the 1980s. Here’s a small chance to repay the man.

And a bonus five for music fans.

Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


1. CalaGala
The reason for the season.

2. “Phantom of the Opera”
Silent horror film + pipe organ + Warnors Theatre = a step into the past. Seriously. When the theater screen this last year, 1,000 people showed.

3. Movember kick-off shave party
It’s not just for hipsters.

4. Offal Dinner
Can’t decide between the cow’s feet and the pickled tongue? Splurge and have both. It’s Halloween.

5. Arrogant Bastard Day
Drink up me hearties, yo ho.

Here’s bonus five for fans of live music.

1. The Purple Ones
2. Ape Machine
3. Flyleaf
4. Sleepover Disaster
5. The Cured

For a full list of music-specific choices see this week’s Bandgeek post.
And this is relevant for a few more hours at least.

Call for entries: Swede Fest 14


Organizers of Fresno’s Swede Fest have opened submissions for the fourteenth edition of the low- or no-budget parody film festival, taking place 5 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Tower Theatre.

The announcement comes just in time for Halloween, which means you may have your costuming done. That’s two birds with one stone.

For consideration in the festival, films must be no longer than four minutes and suitable for all ages and entered by 11:59 p.m. Nov. 17.

Swede Fest, is an internationally known festival loosely based on Michael Gondry’s 2008 film “Be Kind Rewind,” and spawned several satellite festivals on the East Coast. A “sweded” film is a summarized recreation of a popular movie. It takes the best (and often the worst) of Hollywood and combines it with the creativity and ingenuity of the biggest film fans. The results can be epic, as in the case of Dumb Drum’s series of scene-for-scene movie-trailer recreations.

Swede Fest is free and open to all ages thanks to the generous sponsorship of Fresno Filmworks, The Tower Theatre and Geekwise Academy.

Check out previous festival submissions.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Aside from revisiting the Civil War

1. Zappcon
Geeks (and nerds) of the world united and take over.

2. Zumba Under the Stars
Everyone is getting fit without you.

3. Breakfast Ride to Kearney Park
Don’t worry, you’ll get to the park before the first Civil War shots are fired.

4. Lunafest
The documentary “Viva,” seems particularly interesting. It tells the story of 82-year-old punker Viva Hamnell.

5. Glorious Junk Days
One man’s trash and all that.

An added bonus for those seeking music-oriented events:

Read more

Reel Pride pick: ‘Lilting’

There’s still a lot more to go of the 25th year of Reel Pride, Fresno’s gay and lesbian film festival. (It opened Wednesday.) A full slate of films continues at two venues through Sunday. In today’s 7 section, Rick Bentley and I reviewed a couple of the films playing this weekend — and for me, my experience was golden. I highly recommend “Lilting,” which plays 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tower Theatre. I give the film an “A” grade:

This riveting, defiantly quiet gem of a film is a highlight of the festival. Director Hong Khaou, in his self-assured feature-film debut, spins a spare tale set in London of a grieving Cambodian-Chinese mother living in a retirement home who is thrust into an unlikely and tenuous relationship with her son’s equally grieving English lover.

Weaving together themes of coming out, cross-cultural sparring and guilt over aging parents, Khaou crafts a determinedly intimate tone both in terms of visuals and storytelling — but he also has a minimalist streak. (We never learn the occupations of the son and his lover, for example.) Richard (played by Ben Whishaw in a hunched, bracing and sensitive performance), is determined after his partner’s death to forge a connection with the strong-willed June (the veteran Chinese actress Cheng Pei-pei, a potent cinematic force), who doesn’t speak English.

Read more

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


Now that we have all that MLB drama behind us, we can go out and enjoy the weekend, right?

1. Love a Local
Peeve’s Public House celebrates its first year in business. So should you.

2. ClovisFest
Get up extra early to see the hot air balloons inflate and take off from the Rodeo Grounds.

3. Highland Gathering and Games
“I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518, in the village of Glen Finnen on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal.”

4. Reel Pride
For those who think that Fresno is a backwards town that won’t ever be truly progressive, Reel Pride celebrates 25 years and is the sixth oldest gay and lesbian film festival in the US.

5. Hanford Blues and Roots Festival
A bay Area blues revue + the CVBS Allstars.

For music specific ideas, check out BANDGEEK!

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

nightsWhile you’re figuring out which of the neighbors to snitch on first …

1. Zappa Plays Zappa
For fans of off-the-wall quirky, but thoughtfully composed, rock-and-roll-as art.

2. Wayans Brothers Live
Put the four Wayans brothers together and you have a comedy empire. Here, they do stand-up comedy together for the first time.

3. Audie’s Olympic Tavern
Great rock shows scheduled for tonight AND tomorrow. Take your pick, or go to both.
4. “Life Itself
Thank Fresno Filmworks for bringing this to town.

5. Fig Fest
Fresno owes everything to its figs, which we honor by eating.

For a full list of weekend music options, check out this week’s BANDGEEEEEK!

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


You could copycat Neel Kashkari and act homeless for the weekend. Instead, how about …

1. Guardians of the Galaxy
People who I trust tell me this movie lives up to the hype.

2. TNMT night at the Grizzlies
Nostalgia is a power thing.


3. Mrs. Park’s Regency Rout
For fans of Jane Austen. Party like it’s 1799 — or 1809, or whenever the England’s Regency era was.

4. Restaurant Week
Buy local (food).

5. Rudy Parris at Old Town Saloon
Rudy Parris is one of three local artists poised to become a bonafide star. See him now, at a bar, for free. You’ll thank yourself later.

For music-specific events, don’t forget our weekly BANDGEEK! concert roundup.

Introducing: THE SCOOPYS!

scoopy-awardHigh school filmmakers and cinema buffs, take note! The Fresno Bee has partnered with the Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) and are proud to announce:

THE SCOOPYS: The Fresno Bee Student Film Festival.

Fresno County high school students are invited to showcase their cinematic talents by entering their original videos in our festival. Not only will entrants be able to compete in 5 categories for 10 different awards; not only will every qualified entry be showcased at the festival and displayed on the Tower Theatre’s silver screen on May 3; BUT in addition, each qualified entry will be aired on television! This is an incredible opportunity for young filmmakers to see their work in two major formats.


CREATE an original video in any of the following categories.

• Animated Short (2 minute max)
• Documentary (5 minute max)
• Music Video (3 minute max)
• Drama (5 minute max)
• Comedy (5 minute max)

ATTEND the festival on May 3 at the prestigious Tower Theatre, where all entries will come to life on the big screen.

AWARDS will be given to winning films, casts and crews in the following categories:

• Best Drama
• Best Comedy
• Best Music Video
• Best Animated Short
• Best Documentary
• Best Performance
• Best Editing
• Best Director
• Best Ensemble
• Best In Show

Know a high school student who would be interested? Share this link — which has all the festival details — to help them get started on their path to cinematic fame and fortune.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

If you’re going to brave the bad air

EnglishBeat_credit_Bryan_Kremkau (1)1. The English Beat
Two-tone ska legends + plus Fresno ska legends.

2. Tower Beer Run
This is not a real race, although some with attack it as such no doubt. Get a $1 race bib and partake in $1 beer samples from two dozen Tower District establishments.
3. Sarah Chang
The Fresno Philharmonic turns 60. Violinist Sarah Chang help celebrate with a show that includes the Bruch Violin Concerto, which she first performed at her audition for the Juilliard School. She was five.

4. Catch up on Oscar nominees
With the Academy Awards around the corner, the local movie houses are full of Oscar-nominated films including “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Bet you didn’t see that coming.

5. Fresno Partnership City Council Candidate Forum
Before you roll you eyes and say “boooooring,” keep in mind that life isn’t all fun and games. This is specifically for candidates in districts 1 and 7, but it’ll be good primer for anyone interested in local politics

As a sixth (and the event I will for sure be at) there is this.

7 picks for 7 days

Here’s this week’s 7 picks for 7 days, a list of things to do Today (Jan. 17) through Thursday (Jan. 23). This week’s choices includes celebrated musical theater, high-flying actions sports, beer tasting and live music.

7 picks for 7 days: Jan. 10-16

I’m getting back on track with the 7 picks for 7 days feature, a list of fun things to do over the next week. This week’s version — picks for today through next Thursday — offer a variety of entertainment, from acclaimed movies to new TV shows, theater and music.

Pick of the weekend: ‘The Great Beauty’ at Fresno Filmworks


My week didn’t exactly turn out as expected. Like so many other people, I was felled mid-week by one of those stupid viruses cavorting around our city– and my work flow was thrown off. I didn’t have the chance to write a local review of an amazingly beautiful film titled, appropriately enough, “The Great Beauty,” which screens tonight only. I’ll leave it my esteemed colleague Kenneth Turan, writing in the Los Angeles Times — and whose review we picked up in today’s 7 section — who describes the film thus:

One of Italy’s most impressive contemporary filmmakers, director Paolo Sorrentino has a superb sense of how to fill a wide screen and, working with his longtime cinematographer Luca Bigazzi, a wizard with camera movement, his visuals display the intoxicating richness of color 35-millimeter film in a way few contemporary ventures can match.

For me, I was tremendously moved by those visuals. (Rome seems to flow into us, and it preens and aches as a big, slightly sad, but still fiercely triumphant, space.) The emotional content of the film is just as striking. In the midst of plenty, we have a knack for wanting what we intuitively sense is missing from our lives.

This Fresno Filmworks offering gets my highest recommendation.

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

While you’re counting down to “Les Miz.“…

1-10-14-21.) “Her
This a a big weekend for lovers of independent/artsy films. Fresno Filmworks, the Fresno Jewish Film Series and the megaplexes all have offerings. Spike Jonze’ newest seems wacky cool and is getting raves from people I trust. So …

2.) Audiepalooza
Audie Paron does his annual birthday-bash music fest. The three days of local (and locally loved) music starts at 6 p.m. tonight.

5things-1-103.) James Garner’s Johnny Cash tribute
If you missed seeing Cash when he was alive.

4.) 2014 Tweed Ride
Old-time bicycle ride around downtown and Tower District. Seems like my kind of fun. Penny-farthing not required.

5.) Movie Night: Raider’s of the Lost Ark
The first in a seven-week series of movie nights and another mention for Peeve’s Public House.

Five things you should do this weekend

Hopefully, we’ll get to play in the snow.

1.) Indie authors night
A grass-roots mini-book conference at Peeve’s Public House on the Fulton Mall. For self-published authors and/or local book fans, the event will have readings, signings and general literary-business discussions. Musician Glen Delpit (himself a huge book fan) will perform.

2.) Winter Dance Party
For fans of ’50s rock and roll. Or the movie “La Bamba.” The Winter Dance Party was the tour that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were on where they were killed in a plane crash in 1959 (and the music died). This Winter Dance Party, which plays tomorrow night at Visalia Fox Theatre, is a tribute to all three artists and features a Broadway star, a Vegas star and the Big Bopper’s son.

tumblr_mtag0vVcLv1sgktroo1_12803.) Narco Cultura
If you watched “Breaking Bad,” you’ll be hip to narco cultura, the pop-culture phenomenon where the Mexican drug cartels are seen as anti-heroes. It’s a very real thing and it’s documented in this film, which opens today Manchester Stadium 16. Thanks to Roque Rodriguez for the head’s up.

Read more

7 picks for 7 days

OK, so after taking off a couple weeks, I’m back with a new round of 7 picks for 7 days – a list of fun thing to do each day Friday, Nov. 15 through Thursday, Nov. 21. This week’s picks include a hot country band live at the Save Mart Center, a touring Broadway musical at Saroyan Theatre and this month’s silent movie at the Warnors Theatre.

UPDATE: You can win tickets to ‘Son of Rambow’ screening


UPDATE: Winners of the “Son of Rambow” tickets are Kaila and Ron. Thank you to all you responded.

ORIGINAL POST: Fresno Filmworks will present the 2008 British coming-of-age drama “Son of Rambow” at 3 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Tower Theatre. I will be giving away two (2) pair of tickets through a random drawing of anyone who sends a comment about local films to this post. You have until 4 p.m. Nov. 6 to post a comment.

The film from director Garth Jennings tells the story of a young boy named who lives in a strict religious community. After discovering a pirated copy of “Rambo: First Blood,” the boy teams up with his school’s bully to re-create stunts and action sequences from the movie.

The screening leads up to the 12th edition of the Swede Fest that starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the festival is free.

If you don’t win one of the pairs of tickets, advance tickets for “Son of Rambow” cost $5 general admission, and they can be purchased by check or cash at the Tower Theatre box office, 815 E. Olive Ave. Go online to for tickets and details.

Winners can pick up the tickets at the will call table in front of the Tower Theatre before the screening.

The rules and regulations are below.

Read more

Tonight: The Germ viewing party

The Germ film festival is a catalyst for local filmmakers. It’s a reason to create, the little push that could move them from talking about a project to actually getting it done. It lays out a set of criteria (a germ) that the filmmakers can interpret however they see fit.

For instance, the inspiration could be a song (“Tables and Chairs” by Andrew Bird) or photograph (“Near Greenwood, Mississippi” by William Eggleston) or a word (summer). Maybe the film has to be shot on a camera phone, or include at least for characters or a line of dialog in a foreign language. From there, it’s up to the filmmaker.

Since its inception last January, the festival has screened 75 short films and had more than 1,100 different directors, producers, writers, actors and attendees either create work or attend the screenings. That includes me.

The seventh Germ screening, happens 7 p.m. tonight at Windsong
, 7676 N. Palm Ave., Suite 104. This will be the last one for the year.

You can see all the Germ entries on its website.

7 picks for 7 days

October is full of things to do, including these 7 picks for Oct. 17-23. From a silent film at the historic downtown Warnors Theatre to Fresno State Football, a beer festival and a big-time rock concert, these are some of the best bets for your entertainment.

Win tickets to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ screening with Ted Neeley


Ted Neeley, who played the title role in the 1973 film “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and who came to Fresno several times in the live stage version of the show, will be on hand for Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. screening of the movie at the Tower Theatre. Neeley is so firmly associated with the role — which he played into his late 60s on stage — that he’s sort of become the AARP version of the architect of Christianity, along the lines of “What Would Jesus Look Like on Social Security?” Also at the screening: Barry Dennen, who played Pontius Pilate.

Both will participate in a Q&A discussion before the screening and a “meet and greet” with the audience afterward. Tickets to the event are $15.

I’m giving away two pairs of tickets to Beehive readers. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite song from “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Deadline is 10 a.m. Thursday. One comment per person, please. I’ll be informing winners at 10 a.m. via email, so check yours around that time. If you’re a winner, you’ll be able to pick your tickets up at Will Call. Rules are on the jump.

Read more