Monthly Archives: February 2015

On Tuesday, March 3, Vote YES on the Arts

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One of the most important parts of Catamount’s mission and outreach to the community is providing scholarships and greatly reduced tuition to arts education classes for local children and elementary-aged students. In order to fulfill this mission, Catamount depends on the generosity and support of area citizens and voters. All of the $5000 requested in this year’s St. Johnsbury Town Meeting Appropriation will go toward providing these scholarships and to fund programs available to all the children in the community. Support for the appropriation will also help Catamount to secure even more funding for arts education. Please support Catamount and the children of our community by voting YES for Catamount’s 2015 appropriations request on Tuesday, March 3.

Meet our new Presenting Partner – St. Johnsbury Academy FBLA

logoCatamount Arts is pleased to announce our new presenting partner, the St. Johnsbury Academy chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda. You can check out their events on our website here.

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) education association with a quarter million students preparing for careers in business and business-related fields.

FBLA-PBL, Inc. is funded by membership dues, conference fees, corporate contributions, and grants. FBLA-PBL is recognized by the Association for Career and Technical Education, International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education, National Association of Parliamentarians, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Business Education Association, and the U.S. Department of Education.

FBLA-PBL’s National Awards Program recognizes and rewards excellence in a broad range of business and career-related areas. Through state-based competition at the spring State Leadership Conferences, students compete in events testing their business knowledge and skills. Top state winners then are eligible to compete for honors at the National Leadership Conference each summer.

The St. Johnsbury Chapter has been recently revived by Abby Murphy and Sarah Emery. The club is thirteen members strong with over 90% competing in the upcoming State competition.   We are grateful to the community for their support and encouragement.

Our First Annual Oscar Celebration

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This Sunday evening, February 22nd starting at 6:30pm, the Kingdom Taproom and Catamount Arts are hosting our 1st Annual Oscar celebration. Catamount has or will have screened all but ONE of the films nominated this year for best picture.

We will offer swagbags as giveaways to the first 75 people who RSVP. The capacity is 95 so please get your RSVP in! And it is FREE!! You can RSVP by calling Amy Stetson at (802) 748-2600 ext. 101 by February 18th.

In addition there will be fantastic door prizes, including gift certificates, merchandise, and big surprises! Come casual or come glamorous!! ANYTHING GOES!! More importantly just come!!

It is nice and cozy in The Taproom so don’t let the cold keep you in.

If you can not be there please spread the word and invite your friends, film buffs, etc.

Diplomacy – A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Diplomacy is based on a play by Cyril Gely, and, in many respects, it feels like a play brought to film. This is, however, probably the movie’s biggest weakness, as it moves very slowly at times. Despite this though, the film is very well acted and does feature some very interesting uses of editing and directing.

Set during World War II, Diplomacy tells the story of the relationship between Dietrich von Choltitz (played by Niels Arestrup), the German military governor who is currently occupying Paris, and Swedish consul-general Raoul Nordling (played by Andre Dussollier), as Nordling attempts to convince Choltitz not to bomb Paris.

Diplomacy features some very good acting by the two leads, especially Dussollier as Nordling who looks very stern and strong throughout most of the movie. The majority of the film is set inside the office room where the two main characters are talking. At first, it seemed like the film would primarily be a one-room movie, but after the first forty or so minutes, we see some action happening outside, as soldiers are fighting for their lives. The shift is unexpected, but works in the film’s favor.

The film doesn’t shy away from the violence of war, and showed it in a very realistic manner, even if only for a few scenes. The others thing I appreciated about the film is the musical score, which at times was very effective, being both chilling and dramatic. The sets were excellent and made the film look like it was actually occurring during the 1940s in France.  Overall, I’d say these positive attributes as worked together to make this film very enjoyable.

Overall, the film could have benefited by giving the audience more time to breathe, but if you’re a fan of war movies, I definitely recommend seeing this film.

Wild – A Review

Film reviews by Daniel Davis are an internship project in partnership with Lyndon State College. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer and not of Catamount Arts.

Wild is a very strong story about a very independent women.  Directed by Jean-Marc Valle, the movie is nothing overly complicated in terms of story, but it’s boosted by a great performance by Reese Witherspoon, and some good supporting performances, especially from Laura Dern as her mother in flashbacks, which help make Wild a worth-while sit.

Wild is based off the story of Cheryl Strayed (as played by Reese Witherspoon), a woman who finds her life in shambles, after the death of mother years and the not-so recent fallout of her marriage. Setting out on a quest, Cheryl Strayed travels a 1,100 solo hike in an attempt to recover from her recent tragedies.  With her huge backpack, Cheryl goes on a journey of recovery that will ultimately lead her to both a new path, and a new self-respect for herself, and other people.

The acting in Wild is the film’s main focus point and the primary reason to see the movie, as Witherspoon is very powerful in this role, and much of the reason why the film is so successful. When the film opens, this first words we hear her mutter in the film are “F__ you!” as she throws a can down, after having been in the wild for so long and finding it very difficult. Although the high pitched scream was most likely enhanced in the editing room, Witherspoon shows a lot of raw energy. Even in the flashbacks, some of which, like the ones featuring her mother and her playing her character as a teenager, feature great acting, especially when Cheryl tells her mother that “you’re the center of me”. A really nicely delivered quote that shows the strong relationship she had with her deceased mother.

About only 60% of the movie is actually set in the “wild”, more specifically, the Pacific Crest Trail, where Cheryl is traveling. The other 40% or so of the film, is told in flashbacks, as we learn what led Cheryl to take up this huge hiking trip in the first place. In these flashbacks, we meet Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi, played by Laura Dern, who died from an unfortunate sickness. The flashbacks help establish who Cheryl is as a character, and make her all the more interesting.

Some of the editing techniques in the film are interesting. Like in the scene where Cheryl blows a whistle, Jean-Marc Valle (who also edited the film under the alias “John Mac McMurphy”) uses a technique to make the scene sound quiet, but with a brimming sound in the background. It’s a very well done technique and helps to enhance the scene.

Wild is a very standard adventure drama that seems to be made just to give Witherspoon another Oscar nomination (in that regard it succeeded). However, once you get past that, you might find the film actually has some more substance than your average movie, due to the strong acting performances, and overall, I recommend seeing it.

In the Gallery – Matt Brackett – Dark Waters/Grateful Daughters

Catamount Arts is pleased to Dark Waters/Grateful Daughters, an exhibition of work by Boston painter Matt Brackett.  On view in the main gallery from February 13-March 22, 2015, the exhibition will be the first show curated by newly appointed gallery director Katherine French.  There will be a reception for the artist on Friday, February 20 from 5:30-7:30 pm.  All are welcome to attend.

About the Exhibition

Dark Waters/Grateful Daughters tells a complicated story of self-doubt, mortal fear and artistic solace.  Loss had been a common theme for the artist Matt Brackett, but the onset of serious illness brought him a host of unsettling images.  Then with improving health, Brackett’s paintings revealed graphic evidence of his recovery—flowers emerging from once frozen ground during spring thaw.

The earliest paintings in Catamount Art’s current exhibition date from the economic uncertainty of 2008, which also coincided with the birth of Brackett’s first child.  Following the death of his grandmother and loss of his family’s ancestral home, the painter welcomed childcare as a way of becoming engaged with a new generation.  However, fewer hours in the studio resulted in the loss of creative time and Bracket struggled over this.  Immersed in his daughter’s picture books, he began to see animals appear in stream-of-conscious drawings in which he and his wife were transformed into bemused creatures, trying to make sense of changing circumstance.

At first Brackett resisted animal metaphor, but a serious cancer diagnosis and birth of a second daughter caused him to embrace the menacing beasts who inhabited a place remarkably similar to his grandmother’s former home.  Yet, instead of finding comfort in this familiar landscape, these animals were both threatened and threatening: sheep inexplicably threw themselves off cliffs; fish rose gasping for air; snakes twisted in agony on a deserted beach.

By the spring of 2013 Brackett was recovering from surgery and optimistic about his treatment.  Walking his oldest daughter to school as the weather warmed, he was struck by budding trees and flowers emerging after winter.  “It seemed sentimental to be moved by such familiar signs,” observed Brackett when “not long before I had wondered “whether my life would last long enough for me to see my young daughters enter grade school.”  Final works in the show are floral images painted using his daughters’ favorite colors, revealing a painter’s gratitude “for the universe’s astonishing generosity.”

 About the Artist

Representational painter Matt Brackett graduated with a BA in painting from Yale University, studied at the Chautauqua Institution, and has held residencies at both Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Exhibiting widely, Brackett has enjoyed solo exhibitions at Boston’s Alpha Gallery and Danforth Art, as well as group exhibitions at the Brattleboro Museum, the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery.  He has been featured in New American Painting and is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the George Sugarman Foundation.  Brackett’s work appears in the permanent collections of Danforth Art and Wellington Management, as well as numerous private collections in the England, Germany, India, and the United States.

For more information on the artist and his work, see www.mattbrackett.com.

 

Point and Shoot: A Review

Marshall Curry’s Point and Shoot is a documentary detailing the story of Matthew VanDyke, a man from the states, who on a motorbike set out to find his own adventure and his own manhood. His journey took him through various places, such as Africa, Arab, Afghanistan, and eventually, what turns out to be what the bulk of the film, leads to his involvement with the Libyan revolution of 2011. Point and Shoot is a very well made documentary, about a very unusual character, Matthew VanDyke. Like most good documentaries, it works because the main character is fascinating to learn about.

Matthew VanDyke suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and often washes his hands because he has an obsession with being clean. He also has a fear of really harming people. When we first meet him at the beginning of the film, he’s talking about the equipment he brought on his journey. Afterwards, we cut to clips of his childhood, nicely intercut with interviews of him. We discover he had a very odd and not so pleasant childhood. Raised by his mother, after his parents divorced when he was 3 years old, Matthew became a bit of a weirdo, a loner having no real friends in school, and continued to live with his mother well into his twenties. The reason why Matthew decided to leave the country and set out on his journey was to make his own path, and become an adult, not just to his mother, but also to his girlfriend, Laura Fischer, whose relationship with him is a big part of the film. Not only did Matt accomplish his goals and grow-up, but he also discovered much more about himself then he really expected. According to Matthew himself, the greatest thing he encountered on his journey was a spiritual hippie named Nouri, who ends up becoming his best friend.

There are some nice directing choices in Point and Shoot. For example, there’s a well done montage when Matthew is traveling from place to place, where we see him exploring the various cities and countries. Another good shot is when we see Matthew driving through various grasslands on his motorcycle. The way the scene is cut and paced is perfectly done. Another interesting and well done set of scenes are when Matthew is being taken prisoner. These scenes are done in a stylized sort of animation with the camera being very grainy, perhaps done by the director in an attempt to show things from Matthew’s point of view.

Despite my praises for this documentary, there is one major problem I had with the film. It really falls apart in the final act when Matthew is finally freed from prison. What would seem like a logical place to end the film, it instead dragged on as we see Matthew continue to work in Libya. While I understand the filmmakers intent, and the documentary itself isn’t very long (running around 83 minutes in length including credits, it felt somewhat tacked on and unnecessary. Aside from that, the film itself, while not perfect, is a very good and interesting watch.

Point and Shoot is well made, and shows us the story of a very fascinating character. Matthew VanDyke, who was a loner in his own country, but in his journey to Libya he found a place where he was accepted and made friends. His story is one of true courage, and the documentary does a good job of showing that. While I can’t recommend the film for everyone, especially since the subject matter is very violent, but I can say that the film, as a whole, had me very fascinated and it was very entertaining to watch.