Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tonight: silent movies at the Warnors


It’s hard to imagine a more glorious place to see a silent movie than the Warnors Theatre. A new season series kicks off tonight with a screening of  the Charlie Chaplin 1925 classic “The Gold Rush.” In a story in today’s Life section, Rick Bentley tells us what to expect. The program will include  local silent film expert Nate Butler as emcee, and local film educator John Moses will present a brief history about the movie.

You’ll get to hear music and sound effects from the theater’s historic Morgan organ, purchased almost a century ago.

All this for a ticket price that seems ancient in itself: just $3. Sounds like a great way to spend an evening.

Here’s the rest of the series schedule:

  • “The Phantom of the Opera” (1925), Oct. 17.
  • “Hot Water” (1924), Nov. 21.
  • “Big Business” (1929), Dec. 19.
  • “The General” (1926), “The Iron Mule” (1925) and “The Great Train Robbery” (1912), Jan. 16.
  • “Pollyanna” (1920), “What Drink Did” (1909) and “The Narrow Road” (1912), Feb. 20.
  • “Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World” (1925), “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) and “The Impossible Voyage” (1904), March 7.

All screenings will begin at 7 p.m.

Reel Pride kicks off tonight

Tonight’s opening festivities for the 24th Fresno Reel Pride Festivities include an appearance by the area’s own Michael Willett, star of opening night film “GBF.” Willett is a veteran of productions with Good Company Players and Clovis West High School. The Bee’s Rick Bentley talked to Willett for a story in today’s Life section.

I love this photo of Willett with Emily Pessano in the 2007 GCP production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”


Here’s a shot of Willett in “GBF”:

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Update: Mystery of J.J. Abrams teaser trailer revealed

UPDATE, Sept. 9: Today, Entertainment Weekly posted an update on the J.J. Abrams mystery trailer revealing that it’s for a new book. Here’s a bit of the book description from EW: basically about the relationship between a grad student named Eric and a college senior named Jennifer. They trade notes in the margins of a (fictional) 1949 novel by a mysterious author named V.M. Straka. S.contains the novel within the novel;

And here is the second half of the trailer, which includes a look at the book cover:

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Win tickets to: Fresno Filmworks double feature

GimmeTheLoot-poster-web-275x425 Fresno Filmworks has built an audience by filling the void created by the city’s cineplex monopoly. The group screens first-run films (both international and American, both feature and documentary) that would otherwise get delegated to the Netflix cue (or Amazon Prime, I suppose). The films tend toward the unconventional (for those with blockbuster tastes) and the venue is no multiplex. JohnnyX-poster-web-275x425

Like, you can order a scotch in the lobby. And drink it. In the theater.

For June, Filmworks is pushing even those boundaries some, with its first ever double feature. That’s two different independent films in one night. The award-winning independent comedy “Gimme The Loot,” will screen at 5:30 p.m., followed by the campy B-movie throwback “The Ghastly Love of Johnny X,” at 8 p.m.

As a bonus, “Johnny X” director Paul Bunnell, star Will Keenan, costume designer Kristina West and executive producer Mark Willoughby will be on hand after the screening to talk about the film.

As a double bonus, there will be an after-party at The Voice Shop. Admission is free with a ticket stub from either program. There will be music, snacks and a cash bar.

Filmworks has generously offered us tickets to give away to our readers. To enter, simple leave a comment below telling us what’s the best movie you’ve seen Filmworks present (I particularly liked “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”). The contest will close at noon, June 13. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email.

We will give out one pair of tickets to each show, so be sure to tell us which you’d like to see.

You can read more about each film over at the Filmwork’s Film Forum blog. Check out the film trailers (and the full contest rules) below.

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Super fun two Spocks commercial

My brother shared this video (actually, Audi commercial “Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy: “The Challenge” that was posted May 6 on YouTube) with me on Facebook and I just had to share it with you. It made this sci-fi girl happy. Plus, it gives me an excuse to tell everyone how much I loved “Star Trek Into Darkness.” It’s AWESOME! Beehiver Rick Bentley shares that enthusiasm, read his “A” review here. You can also watch video interviews with cast members Simon Pegg, John Cho and Alice Eve here. Enjoy.

Simon Pegg king of big sci-fi franchises

Simon PeggActors are fortunate if they are part of one large film franchise. Not only does it often mean multiple paychecks but there is a notoriety that comes from being associated with such endeavors.

I had the chance to interview Simon Pegg in San Francisco for his upcoming portrayal of Scotty in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” During our talk, I pointed out that his role in the relaunch of the “Star Trek” franchise, coupled with appearing in the long-running British science fiction series “Doctor Who,” makes him the only actor to have appeared in the two biggest sci-fi franchise on the planet.

He portrayed a character called The Editor in the 2005 episode of the British series “The Long Game.”

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Win tickets to the Fresno Film Festival

Homepage-Fest13-275x380The 9th Annual Fresno Film Festival kicks off tomorrow night at the Tower Theatre. The festival, presented by Fresno Filmworks, runs the full weekend, with five feature-film presentations, more than a dozen short-film screenings and a number of post-screening discussions and other fun stuff for all you cinephiles.

Our movie critic Rick Bentley screened two of the features (“Paris-Manhattan” and “Blancanieves”) and word around the office is they were stellar. You can read his reviews in tomorrow’s 7 Section.

In the mean time, we have tickets to festival to give out to couple Beehivers (that’s you). Because the festival starts tomorrow, this is a quickie. Leave a comment on this post. Tell us why your love Fresno Filmworks (or haven’t yet been introduced). We’ll pick two winners at random. Contest will close at 4 p.m. today and winners will be notified by email. NOTE: These are actual physical tickets, so winners will need to come down to The Bee’s front lobby by 5 p.m. tomorrow to pick them up.

No repeat entries, please. Check your email tonight to see if you’re the winner. Complete rules are on the jump.

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Ready for big summer movies? ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Star Trek’ trailers will get you in the mood

It seems like this is the week of cool new movie trailers. I shared the one for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” earlier this week. A couple other big names released new trailers this week. Maybe it’s just the geeky fangirl in me, but I’m super excited for what’s dubbed summer movie season. There’s a lot of action coming our way, so be on the lookout for Rick Bentley’s summer movie preview in print this Sunday.

“Man of Steel”

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