Arts & Life

Stories from KUNC, NPR & others on Life, Religion, Arts, Culture, Movies, Books, Theater, Entertainment & more...

IFC Films

Mary Harron’s Charlie Says centers on three of the women from the Manson gang in prison in California, long after they’ve committed those horrendous murders. Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins live in cells on death row as the film begins, not because they’re to be executed, but because the prison doesn’t know how else to segregate them from the rest of the inmates.

Broken plates
Stacy Nick / KUNC

It all began with a flashing image: a blank wall with a plate smashing against it.

For more than a year, Aria Tru would see that image just before having a seizure.

"I finally figured out it was my body's way of trying to break the tension that was about to happen," Tru said. Later, the Boulder-based life coach told a friend about the images.

"And we laughed and we realized, you know there's probably a lot of people that need to break some tension and maybe a lot of people that want to break some plates," she said.

And so, Women Breaking Plates was born.

Crew member
Amanda Andrews / KUNC

Step off the beaten path near Breckenridge's Illinois Gulch area and you're likely to find an unexpected site.

Tucked away amid a cluster of trees is a construction crew building a large wooden structure. The estimated 15-foot-tall sculpture depicts a friendly troll made of scrap wood. He's named Isak Heartstone, after the heart-shaped stone placed on his chest as a finishing touch.

Magnolia Pictures

The press notes for Matteo Garrone’s Dogman place the movie in a seaside village near a city. But it’s certainly not the seaside village you have in your head at this very moment. This place looks like a wasteland, with no view of the sea, and a few battered apartment blocks clustered together. There aren’t many people around, and when a few do gather, it’s hard to figure where they come from.

Magnolia Pictures

It seems that just about any person, place or thing you can think of may already be the subject of a documentary. In other words, there are too many documentaries and many of them ought to be in print, because their makers don’t know what to show and seem to forget that these many documentaries are in fact movies. And for the most part, Ask Dr. Ruth might be better  written than filmed.

John Meissner
Stacy Nick / KUNC

When John Meissner strolled into Greeley antique shop Lincoln Park Emporium recently, it didn't take long for a display of postcards near the counter to catch his eye.

"These are amazing because you never — see this is like, new 'old' stock," Meissner said, flipping through the rack. "So they're perfect."

The cards, placed next to some boxes of candy, depict a variety of Colorado tourist spots. They're all from Denver's Sanborn Souvenir Company. The cost? 25 cents apiece.


A few weeks ago, I did a report for NPR on a film that came and went in these parts in just a week. It’s an astonishing movie from the Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke, called Ash Is Purest White. It takes place over 17 years in the lives of two people in the low-level criminal underworld of China. Qiao, the woman, swaggers with arrogance through a disco and mahjong club, while Bin-ke, her guy, lords it over other low rent crooks. It’s temporary.

Simon Mein

British director Mike Leigh builds his movies more than he writes them. He starts with one or two actors doing improvisations, and then works outward to bring in more actors improvising more characters. In one of his present-day pictures, an actor might say, “I take driving lessons,” so another actor will be brought in to create a driving instructor. Leigh might spend six months or more developing a film in this way. And he did that with his new film Peterloo, which is unlike such films as High Hopes, Secrets and Lies, or Happy Go Lucky because it’s based in an actual event – and it has 160 characters. It’s a big film.

Strand Releasing

Good food movies leave you hungry — and sometimes a lot more than that. Back in 1987, when the press screening of Babette’s Feast at Cannes let out at only 10 in the morning, roughly 2,500 ravenous film critics were unleashed upon a town that had nothing available but croissants and coffee until lunch was ready in another two hours. Nearly every film Les Blank ever made fills the audience with the richness of food and community.

Just last year, Ramen Heads left its audience craving bowls of ramen just as soon as humanly possible. But Eric Khoo’s new movie Ramen Shop doesn’t get you to that hungry spot. It founders on the question of just how food equals love.

Cohen Media Group

Agnès Varda died just two months shy of 91 years old. Her long career changed the cinema. She made her first film in 1954, and she herself appeared this past February at the Berlin film festival with her last film, an autobiographical piece called Varda by Agnés.  I knew her, and she changed how I saw and thought about the cinema.