Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Destination Shepherdstown and a quick Zombie update

I know I have said this before, so brace yourself, 'cause I'm gonna say it again...

One of the best day trips out there for the general citizenry of Frederick, is to take the 40 to 45 minutes to drive into Shepherdstown, WV. (For the more scenic route, head out alternate route 40 to and turn left at the first traffic light you hit in Boonsboro. It only adds five to ten minutes and it takes you past the Antietam Battlefield).

The main drag, German Street, has a handful of funky shop and top notch restaurants. I highly recommend Three Onions restaurant and martini bar, The Blue Moon Cafe (be forewarned, last time I went, they were cash only), long-time standard The Yellow Brick Bank, and the Bavarian Inn (I have not eaten there, but it has been repeatedly recommended to me).

For desert, any of those restaurants will do, but if you want something cold that and still want to be able to wander along German Street, hit Mimi's Ice Cream at 114 East German Street.

On Sunday mornings the town hosts a farmer's market right behind the library on German.

Most importantly to this post, however, is that this weekend is the Shepherdstown Film Festival at the Opera House.

According to Rusty Berry over at the Opera House, film buffs can expect the following -

In cooperation with the Shepherdstown Film Society, the Opera House is pleased to present the “Shepherdstown Film Festival” on the weekend of June 15 – featuring the area’s premieres of “Amazing Grace”, “The Namesake”, and “Avenue Montaigne”. Admission for each film is $8.00, with that extra dollar going to benefit FOSL, the Friends of the Shepherdstown Library. Advance tickets can be purchased online at or daily at the Sweet Shop Bakery.

Adapted from Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel, “The Namesake” is the story of two generations of a Bengali family transplanted from 1970s Calcutta to New York City. Two veteran actors of India’s “Bollywood” film industry, Irrfan Khan and Tabu, portray Ashoke and Ashima, who move after their arranged marriage from India to America and start a family. Many of America’s ways seem strange to the young couple. Ashima is astounded that gas and electricity work twenty-four hours a day. When their son is born, Ashoke is surprised to learn that the baby cannot leave the hospital without having been given a name – in India, a child’s formal name is chosen by the maternal grandmother, often after several years have passed. Ashoke, an aspiring engineer who reads depressing Russian writers, names the boy Gogol, after his favorite author.

Gogol (played by Kal Penn of the sadly neglected comedy “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”) grows up to be a typical dope-smoking, smart-assed teenager turned architect yuppie, who is embarrassed by his immigrant parents, even though they have become well-off and comfortably ensconced in a Westchester mansion. When he brings home his blonde, WASPish girlfriend from Yale, the family tensions increase.

Director Mira Nair, who was educated at Delhi University and Harvard, first hit the film scene in 1988 with “Salaam Bombay!” which was nominated for an Oscar. She followed that with the critically acclaimed “Mississippi Masala” and “Monsoon Wedding”. “The Namesake” premiered at Dartmouth College when Ms. Nair received the Dartmouth Film Award, which honors outstanding contributions to film and filmmaking. Previous winners include Robert Redford, Liv Ullman, Ken Burns, Ang Lee, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep – that’s quite a group (somehow I see them all working together as PBS airs a Ken Burns documentary about the making of a scorned-woman martial-arts film called “Cringing Tigress, Hidden Dragqueen”, with Redford in the role of a lifetime). Running time 122 minutes, rated PG-13.

“Moving and marvelous!” - Entertainment Weekly

“A tearjerker and sweetly funny – nearly perfect!” - The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Immensely pleasurable!” - The Wall Street Journal

Showtimes for “The Namesake” are Friday at 5:00, Saturday at 5:00, Sunday at 8:00, and Monday at 8:00.

For decades, William Wilburforce (played by Welshman Ioan Gruffudd) battled in the English Parliament to end Britain’s participation in the slave trade. When the abolition bill finally passed in 1807, his peers called his influence on the world as important as that of Napoleon, and the revered statesman was eventually buried in Westminster Abbey. Fifteen years earlier, Wilburforce was only a beginner in politics. Blessed with a beautiful voice, he was called “the nightingale of the House of Commons.” When William Pitt, the Prime Minister, tasked the young man with the job of leading Britain away from a practice that “degrades men to the level of brutes”, Wilburforce had been struggling to find a cause, torn between using his voice to do God’s work or simply to praise Him. The pursuit of abolition allowed him to do both.

Director Michael Apted is one of the most talented and prolific people in film today. An Englishman who studied law and history at Cambridge, he started his film career at Granada Television where he produced what would become the first of his “Up!” series of films in 1964. He selected a group of seven-year-old children and captured their lives on the screen. Believing that the English class system was more prevalent than people might think, and following the Jesuit maxim of “give me a child of seven and I will give you the man”, he revisited the same people every seven years for another film, just finishing “49Up” in 2005 and making plans for “56Up.” His other and very varied credits include “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, which received seven Oscar nominations, “Gorillas in the Mist”, the James Bond film “The World is Not Enough”, and social commentaries such as “Class Action” and “Incident at Ogala.” In “Amazing Grace”, he brings his story-telling skills to the forgotten history of a man who must rank with Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr. Co-stars include some of Britain’s best stage and screen actors, including Albert Finney as the reformed slave-ship captain who wrote the title song, Michael Gambon, and Ciaran Hinds. Running time 111 minutes, rated PG.

“For anyone who has felt morally right and in the minority!” - The San Francisco Chronicle

“An unusually satisfying and inspiring epic from one of contemporary cinema’s best filmmakers!” - Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Informative, compelling, and entertaining!” - New York Daily News

Showtimes for “Amazing Grace” are Friday at 8:00 followed by a discussion led by Washington-area critic Nelson Presley, Saturday at 8:00, and Sunday at 2:00.

When Jessica (the beautiful Cecile de France) leaves the provinces and moves to Paris, she is simply following her grandmother’s advice to live near luxury, even if you can’t afford it. Quickly getting a job as a waitress at a Bistro on the “Avenue Montaigne”, she soon finds herself in another world full of quirky characters, many of who are as amazed with her as she is with them. Character upon character and episode upon episode unfold (watch for the famous American film director played by famous American film director Sydney Pollack) in Paris’ most posh neighborhood Director Daniele Thompson’s comedy of manners that looks at the serendipitous forces that bring people together was France’s official submission for this year’s Best Foreign Film Oscar. Running time 106 minutes, rated PG-13. In French, with English subtitles.

“A fine cast and a joie de vivre!” - The San Francisco Chronicle

“Rarely has Paris seemed more enchanting!” - New York Daily News

“A consistently entertaining comedy that tackles the big themes of life and art!” - Variety

Showtimes for “Avenue Montaigne” are Saturday at 2:00, Sunday at 5:00, and Monday at 5:00.

And now for the undead...

A handful of people weighed in on the great undead debate I posted here several weeks ago, and, based on the way the respondents' answers were weighted, here are the results to date -

1. Night of the Living Dead (19 points)

2. Tie
Dawn of the Dead (2004 - 15 points)
Dawn of the Dead (orig - 15 points)

4. Shaun of the Dead (12 points)

5. 28 Days Later (10 points)

6. Tie
Evil Dead II (5 points)
Army of Darkness (5 Points)

8. Night of the Living Dead (1990, 4 points)

9. Dead Alive (3 Points)

Also receiving votes, Ed and his Dead Mother, Zombi 2, Grindhouse: Planet Terror, Night of the Creeps and Return of the Living Dead.