Ever walk out of a movie and think, "I guess that was all right, but it wasn't what I expected"? Thanks to movie reviews, "buzz" and well-meaning friends, your expectations for a film are formed long before you reach the theater. The hype reaches its peak in February, when Oscar nominations shepherd everyone's moviegoing (Cold Mountain, anyone?), which makes the impending debut of the St. Louis chapter of the Key Sunday Cinema Club a welcome breath of fresh air.
The Key Club, which started in Washington, D.C., in 1992 and has since spread to eight other cities, provides sneak previews of yet-to-be-released foreign and independent films (the titles of which are kept secret, but that's Omar Sharif, pictured). Key Clubbers can then discuss the films' merits (or possible lack thereof) with moderators Diane Carson (also an RFT contributor) and Jeff Smith, and guest critics or filmmakers. Members see these films before their friends -- or even most critics -- do, so there are no preconceptions about quality, just pure movie enjoyment.
The Key Sunday Cinema Club meets at 10 a.m. on select Sundays (beginning February 15) at Plaza Frontenac Cinema (210 Plaza Frontenac). Subscriptions to all seven films of the season are $115 by check or $120 by credit card. To join or to receive more information, call 1-888-467-0404. -- Niles Baranowski
Show Us Your Teats!
Dogs like Mardi Gras, too
A rainbow assortment of poodles, boxers and shih-tzus, greyhounds dressed like presidential candidates and even the occasional Mardi Gras-clad cat, duck or pig -- have you wandered into an Orwellian wet dream? Nah, it's time for the annual Mystic Krewe of Barkus Parade in Soulard! Registration for the Beggin' Strips-sponsored parade starts at 10 a.m. at Clementine's (Allen Avenue and Menard Street); at 1 p.m. the parade barks, bleats and snorts its way toward the Soulard Market Park. To show off your pet of choice, bring a $5 donation to benefit the Open Door Animal Sanctuary and, of course, a poop bag. For a parade map and more information, visit www.mardigrasinc.com. -- Amy Helms
The Big Question
Paper Slip makes it multiple-choice
"Do you remember how we first met?" These seven words turn men into stammering, slack-jawed children, toeing nervously into the carpet while they struggle to remember even her name, as this woman they believed they loved transforms into the Inquisitor General, demanding times, dates and locations of something that happened more than a World Series ago. The question pops up with alarming frequency this time of year, my friend; do you have an answer? Do you at least have a gift ready for when you can't answer? Tickets to Paper Slip Theatre's How We First Met might not be a bad idea (and they're only $10). Ed Reggi's crack team of improvisers will ask you and what's-her-face the dreaded question and then create on-the-spot theater about the origins of the greatest love you will ever know. And with shows at 8 p.m. on both Friday, February 13, and Saturday, February 14, you have two chances to show her you care, even if you don't remember how you found her. The HH Studio is located at 2500 Sutton Avenue; call 314-647-8030 for info. -- Paul Friswold
Big as Life
You may feel disoriented for a moment when walking past the window of Kayak's Coffee. Washington University student Lauren Nagel has installed a group of her pastel illustrations, all of which depict scenes of crowds at street intersections, on buses, etc. The pieces of art are huge -- in fact, they're life-size, and for a split second, you may be fooled into thinking the illustrations are real. Way to trompe l'oeil, Ms. Nagel (276 North Skinker Boulevard at Forest Park Parkway, 314-862-4447). -- Byron Kerman