Monthly Archives: April 2016

St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts

Linda Pouliot to perform at St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts

linda pouliotBERLIN – On Sunday, July 17th, starting at 2:00 pm, St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts will be welcoming Berlin native, singer/songwriter, Linda Pouliot! Tickets are $12.00 (adults) and $8.00 (those under 18) and are available at the arts center office or via our website, www.stkieranarts.org for a small service fee. This event is being sponsored by a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts.

Accompanied by some of the Seacoast area’s best musicians, the trio will present; Edith Piaf’s, “ La Vie En Rose,” Charles Aznavour’s, “Parler Moi D’Amour,” songs of Lucienne Delisle, Charles Trenet, Lucienne Boyer, Nana Mouscouri and an array of original songs as well. If you do not speak French; no worries, songs will include an English translation and beautiful melodies which are sure to please!

From the time of her first professional jazz/blues performance in 2009, Ms. Pouliot has been inspired by the response to French songs. Growing up in Berlin, New Hampshire, Ms. Pouliot’s Sunday mornings included listening to WMOU, the local radio station, broadcast songs by such artists as La Bolduc and Edith Piaf. Memories from those days inspired her to write the song, “La Tradition Du Beau Dimanche.” She is thrilled to have performed at the Franco Americaine Center for the Arts in Lewiston, Maine and at La Kermesse Franco Americaine in Biddeford where she is scheduled to perform again this year.

With the help of Seacoast Jazz Society President, Charlie Jennison, Ms. Pouliot is happy to be involved in the preservation of Classic French songs. “I’ve never been to Paris, but Paris lives in my heart. My father served a tour of duty there during World War II, and although he brought back with him tragedies of war that affect so many of our soldiers and their families, he brought back something very special too“, Pouliot explains. “My mother had a deep appreciation for the arts. I learned Edith Piaf’s music from her and my brother and I inherited the love for a culture, rich in music, art and tradition, which makes us who we are.” Ms. Pouliot is dedicating this performance to her family and is anxious to share her love of French Heritage with everyone in this community; a community she quickly claims as her “hometown.”

For more information about this concert, to purchase tickets, a membership or loyalty cards or to make a donation to the annual or capital improvement funds in support of our Seven to Save project, please contact the Arts Center at (603) 752-1028; visit www.stkieranarts.org or www.facebook.com/stkieranarts.

Upcoming Events:
Saturday, August 6th at 7:00 pm – Chicago Total Access, High-energy, band covering the music of Chicago
Saturday, September 10th at 7:00 pm – Zostak, Classic Rock by a Class Local Band

Programming at St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts is made possible by the support of community corporate sponsors, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund, The NH State Council on the Arts, Plum Creek, The Wyman Family Fund, The Rydin Family Fund and The Doris Benz Trust.

Judy Collins

Judy Collins to Perform at Randolph, Vermont’s Chandler Music Hall Sunday, May 15 at 7pm

Judy Collins, the endlessly prolific singer, songwriter, author and activist, will celebrate her newly released studio album with an intimate concert at The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, Vermont on Sunday, May 15 at 7p.m.  Tickets,starting at $30, can be purchased online at www.catamountix.org or by calling Catamount Arts at (802) 748-2600. This event is presented by The Rutland Herald and A&R Entertainment.

Heralded as the “Ageless Wild Angel Of Pop” by The New York Times, Judy Collins is known for her sublime vocals, personal life triumphs, and firm commitment to social activism. An award-winning singer-songwriter, her iconic rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame and “Send in the Clowns” won “Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards.

The new release ‘Strangers Again’ (Wildflower/Cleopatra), her first studio work since 2011, was released in September of 2015 and climbed to #1 on Amazon’s music chart. In this album, Collins is golden voiced and soaring over fresh interpretations of songs by Leonard Bernstein and Sondheim, Randy Newman and James Taylor. She invited a number of special guests to join her: Jackson Browne, Jimmy Buffett, Don McLean, Jeff Bridges, Glen Hansard, Willie Nelson and more.

Collins began her impressive music career at 13 as a classical piano prodigy but the hardluck tales and rugged sensitivity of folk revival music by artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger seduced her away from a life as a concert pianist. Her path pointed to a lifelong love affair with the guitar and pursuit of emotional truth in lyrics which has influenced so many artists. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.

Collins, now 76, is as creative as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She has appeared everywhere from Sesame Street to HBO’s Girls, performed at a presidential inauguration and released two live DVD/CD specials in the past three years which were also broadcast on PBS. She performs over 100 shows a year.

The VVitch: A Review: An Unsettling Horror

The VVitch (2015) is a horror film in the truest sense. It doesn’t try to scare the audience by using jump-scares. It isn’t excessively gory, at least not until the end, and it tries to build up the horror and mystery, instead of throwing it in the audience’s face first. The VVitch isn’t so much of an unexpected surprise, as it is a masterfully made horror film. Like most well-made horror films, it isn’t even solely about the horror itself, as much as it is about a bunch of issues affecting everyone else.

                The VVitch is set in New England, in 1630, and tells the story of two devote Christians, William (played by Ralph Ineson), and Katherine (played by Kate Dickie), who live in the wilderness with their five children. When their youngest son is taken from them, and killed, they begin to turn against each other as they suspect that somebody in their midst is in fact practicing black magic.

What I largely liked about this film was its build-up in establishing the setting and atmosphere. By having The VVitch set entirely in the woods, director Ralph Eggers is able to create a much more complicated atmosphere by the grey perfect cinematography and many of the scenes being shot with no sound except chilling and intense music. These types of scenes, particularly when characters are being struck down by the witch, create a lot of real tension as the main characters grow increasingly paranoid and their growing insanity becomes all the more believable.

The actors’ performances added greatly to the film’s believability. In particular, Ralph Ineson, who plays the father, gives a very “dry performance” in tone, especially since he has to deliver a lot of Shakespearian-styled dialogue that was the norm for the time period. So, seeing him turn completely ballistic by the end, was insanely great. Also of note, is Anna Taylor-Joy, as the eldest daughter who is accused of being a witch, is great in her role.

                The VVitch has a very slow pace, lacks modern day horror convention, and contains some pretty graphic images of characters, a dog and baby being killed, which I thought was a bit unnecessarily shocking, But, that aside, The VVitch is a very well-made horror film that works. It’s definitely recommended, unless, of course, you have a weak stomach.

PoemTown St Johnsbury Events

Beth Kanell

[Above] Beth Kanell led a poetry “conversation” with the theme of “Listen” on Thursday, Apr. 14 at Café at Gatto Nero Press.

On Wednesday, Apr. 20 and Apr. 27, there will be noontime readings at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. Library staff will read a few poems, then others can read poems in an open mic format. Refreshments are served.

Don’t miss the PoemTown St. Johnsbury poetry slam on Thursday, Apr. 21 at 7pm at Kingdom Taproom in St. Johnsbury. Poets perform original poems and are judged by members of the audience in a raucous, fun competition hosted by Vermont’s Poetry Slam Champion Geof Hewitt. Bring two original poems to compete.

Youth: A Review

Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth is a considerably strong movie about the human embodiment and age, and a celebration of the internal spirit. The film works well thanks to being well-made, well edited, and well-acted.

Set in a hotel, Youth tells the story of two elderly friends, Fred and Mick, who are on vacation in an elegant hotel near the Alps. Fred Ballinger (played by Michael Caine) is a retired composer and conductor, and Mick Boyle (played by Harvey Keitel) is a (still working) movie director. Fred has some issues with his daughter’s attitude (played by Rachel Weisz), and Mick is just bewildered by the crazy people who are in the hotel, particularly Jimmy Tree (played by Paul Dano), a method actor who is constantly bewildered when people only remember him for his role as a robot. Mick is struggling to try and get his last intended film made, and is trying to get aging diva, Brenda Morel (played by Jane Fonda) involved. Meanwhile, Fred is retired from his musical career, but is considering performing again after he is approached to perform his song “Simple Songs” in front of Queen Elizabeth at Prince Philip’s birthday concert. Both stories meet and go, but are pretty effectively told.

One of the many things that really makes Youth work are the acting performances. There are a lot of seasoned actors in this film really showing their chops. Michael Caine has one of his best roles in this film. As the bitter and aging musician, Fred Ballinger, Caine is mostly restrained, showing much emotion through his raw energy. A lot of the times, especially when he and his daughter talk, there is much believability and genuine heart between the two. Harvey Keitel is also very good as Mick Boyle, a counterbalance to Ballinger, Boyle is more cool and collective, and not as easily depressed. He does struggle with trying to get his work done, but he’s very open about it. This is probably the best thing in years that Keitel has been involved in. Weisz is a nice support as Ballinger’s daughter, and I love her delivery of “You didn’t know the first thing about my mother”. Dano is his usual charmingly weird self. Jane Fonda has brief screen time, and her character is a bit of a nag and a diva, but her introduction sequence, filmed from the back, and then showing her smile in the reflection of a camera, and then finally facing the camera, really personifies her characters’ personality, and is well-done.

The film is actually a very director driven film. Sorrentino really shows his craftsmanship as a filmmaker, with some of the scenes he does here. There are, for example, some really bizarre dream sequences. One involves Fred imagining he is walking around the palace of Queen Elizabeth as the water slowly starts to rise and collapse on him. Another dream sequence involves Ballinger’s daughter, Lena, who is in a commercial with a bunch of cool recording artists. The dream literally ends with her being covered up with flames. Another sequence involves Mick trying to film an actress, and then he starts imagining actresses in different time periods as policewomen, Victorian style women, and even a femme fatale in the black and white stylings of Lauren Bacall. These sequences really don’t add much to the story, but they are great and very enjoyable to watch from a directing standpoint. Another nice directing touch is a montage, early on in the film, of people moving in and around the hotel, as it cuts back and forth to Fred scrunching up a candy-bar wrapper. There’s also nice humor in the film, with lines like “That’s a totally asinine idea”, and “Most insignificant woman in the world”, which made me chuckle.

As a lot of the film is about music, naturally music plays a key role. The Oscar-nominated song “Simple Songs Number 3” is a nice ballad, performed by Korean singer, Sumi Jo, and is bout the simple pleasures and struggles of life. The actual music in the film itself is pretty good, sounding very eloquent and well-layered.

Youth can suffer from some pretentious dialogue, and feel a little overdone in its pacing and directing, and this is Sorrentino’s first English language film, which explains the dialogue. However, once you get past those not so significant misgivings, I think you’ll find a mostly enjoyable film about the human spirit, and how, at any age, we can and do keep trying to accomplish things. It’s certainly a film worth checking out.

Only Yesterday: A Review

Only Yesterday (1991) is an anime from Studio Ghibli, that is only now (finally) being released in many non-Japanese markets. Directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of The Fireflies, The Tale of Princess Kaguya), it tells the story of a 27-year-old worker named Taeko Okajima, who travels to the countryside to meet some friends, while reminiscing about her childhood in the 1960’s. Beautiful, poignant, and full of heart, Only Yesterday is a real winner of an anime film.

One of the things that makes Only Yesterday work so well, is how it presents the main character of Taeko (dubbed in English as an adult by Daisy Ridley, and as a child by Allison Fernadez). Taeko is clearly a confident, calm, and reasonably likeable character, despite being presented as being a bit not so bright as a child. Her relationships with her family are seen in flashbacks, including her understanding mother and stubborn, somewhat unlikeable father, and are believable. As is her relationship with Toshio, a farmer who teaches her how difficult and different city life is to that of country life. The flashbacks, as well as her present day story, really contribute to the characters’ story-arc throughout the film.

Only Yesterday is very unique in how it presents its animation. There are several day-dream sequences, where Taeko, as a child has a pink, yellow, and blue sky background. These sequences are clearly done in an attempt to show her imagination going wild. Additionally, director Takahata, in a rare move in Japanese animation, decided to record the adult sequences first, and then animated them. This was an attempt to give the characters more realistic muscles and facial expressions. Thankfully, it paid off, as the film is gorgeous to look at. Allegedly, this is what led to the film taking so long to be released in the United States as dubbing into English would have been extremely hard given these circumstances.

As is the case with as all Studio Ghibli productions, the music by Katsu Hoshi is simply amazing. From the beautiful piano tune, to the Western-sounding theme played at the start of the school’s baseball game, and the Oriental-sounding music played near the end, it all works well to help create the overall mood of the film.

Only Yesterday is a very charming and beautiful movie, about growing-up, and really letting go of the past. It was fun to follow Taeko’s story with beautiful animation and music. It’s a film that can be appreciated by both children and adults, and it feels more realistic than fantasy, and the better for that.

PoemTown St. Johnsbury 2016 Events

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April is filled with PoemTown St. Johnsbury events in celebration of National Poetry Month – see the events listing above.

In addition, The Northeast Storytellers are hosting the following events:
Tues, Apr. 12, 2-3pm: Tribute to Robert Frost – Good Living Senior Center’s Poetry and Tea Hour – Main Street, St. Johnsbury
Sun., Apr. 24, 1-3pm: Haiku Workshop – West Burke Library, Junction of Rtes 5 & 5A
Sat., Apr. 30, 2-4pm: Vermont Maple Syrup History & Stories: Depot Square lawn, St. Johnsbury (World Maple Festival)

Trumbo A Review: Writers Life

Trumbo was a bit of an unexpected surprise. Going in to see the film, I was expecting a pretty generic bio of a man’s life. What I did not expect was a nice tribute to Hollywood screenwriters, as a whole. Trumbo isn’t just about blacklisting Communists, which they did in Hollywood for a decade. It is about freedom of speech and tolerance of other people’s political beliefs. Helped by a strong cast and a solid script, Trumbo rises surprisingly above your average biopic to become something quite special.

Trumbo details the story of Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood’s top screenwriters (Spartacus, Roman Holiday) and how he and many others Hollywood artists were blacklisted for their political beliefs. The film details Trumbo specifically, as he struggles to keep his career alive after being publicly criminalized, and turned away by the major Hollywood studios. It successfully portrays the deep affect this all had on his family and friends.

What makes Trumbo work so well, is how these real-life characters are conveyed through the performances of the film’s excellent cast. In addition, in recreating real-life scenes, the film’s director uses archival footage and photographs, post-converted black and white scenes, and digitally inserts the actors into prior footage, which adds to its overall authentic feel. As Douglas Trumbo, Bryan Cranston deserved his Oscar nominations. He’s really, really good in this role. Perhaps the scenes that I found Cranston best in are the ones where he’s interacting with his family, where he seems most natural and believable.

Diane Lane is really good as Trumbo’s wife, Cleo, conveying enough energy for the role of a strong supportive spouse, mother, and co-worker. Louis C.K. plays Arlen Hird, another blacklisted writer and one of Trumbo’s friends, but his looks and mannerisms don’t necessarily fit the 1940’s and 1950’s as well as Cranston and Lane’s do in the film. John Goodman is great as Frank King, one of the Kings Brothers, who ran their B movie film studio. Goodman signs Dalton Trumbo up as a contract writer, and doesn’t let the likes of the Hollywood Alliance get the best of him. His anger and excitement while furiously destroying glass with a baseball bat is believable. Helen Mirren, who plays Hedda Hopper, a former actress turned gossip columnist and well known for her fabulous hats, is one of the film’s lead antagonists. Mirren’s acting is superb, as usual, except for her forced American accent. As a villain, at times, the script makes her come off as being almost a bit of a cartoon monster, which is something I didn’t appreciate all that much about the film.

The director of Trumbo, Jay Roach, who’s known for directing comedies like Meet the Parents and Austin Powers does a good job, but it’s John McNamara’s script that really elevates the adaptation of Bruce Cook’s book, TRUMBO. It’s bits of humorous dialogue like, “Well, what are we gonna do”, and “Do you have to say everything like it’s going to be chiseled”, that lighten up the mostly serious script of the unfair treatment of blacklisted writers and other film artists of this period of Hollywood history.

I quite enjoyed Trumbo, a decent film, and a tribute to screenwriters, who, in general, tend to be overlooked in the Hollywood scheme of things.  This film is not to be missed.