By Alan Scherstuhl
By Chuck WIlson
By Amy Nicholson
By Chris Klimek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Stephanie Zacharek
A. (Anonymous)The Dream Team they ain't. In Daniel Bowers' mockumentary, support-group outcasts work together to overcome their unique mental defects: a physiologically blessed young man who faints every time he becomes aroused, a lesbian who believes she is an Italian bicycling champion, a dog lover with a compulsion to run over things in the street, a grown man prone to throwing child-like tantrums and a leader with no formal psychological training who is addicted to wearing tight pants (and who's got the permanently numbed toes to prove it). When a new, bad-boy, detergent-and-cologne-huffing member with a fetish for wrestling masks comes onboard, he nearly disrupts the natural (dis)order of things before falling into a downward spiral that results in his arrest at a Laundromat. But even in the aftermath of a tragedy, the group lives up to its motto, "A's never turn their back on anyone." Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25.
Tapestry of ShadowsAfter a volley of gunfire claims two children's lives in as many weeks, young, idealistic minister Vincent Purejoy vows to reverse the relentless cycle of violence that grips his St. Ann neighborhood. At first, Purejoy is paralyzed by memories of the young girl who was killed by crossfire as she played in the minister's front yard. He silently stares out his front window, transfixed and contemplating what he should have done and what he will do. "What do you do when you're trapped between vengeance and virtue?" Purejoy wonders. Then, armed with only a video camera, he takes action by recording drug deals and turning the evidence over to police. His family and congregation fear for his life, worrying that, in his quest to restore safety, Purejoy will be the neighborhood's next casualty. Tapestry evolved from a play that David Martyn Conley (Vincent Purejoy) wrote and directed at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Screens at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 23. Kristie McClanahan
This Is a Business If Office Space had only one cubicle, three employees and no industry, it would resemble Tom Stern's philosophical comedy, This Is a Business. A restless ne'er-do-well named Turtletaub decides to become his own boss by starting A Business. He rents a meager office space, employs two eccentrics as his assistant and salesman, and gets to work. Unfortunately, his business is plagued by the fact that he doesn't know what his business does. He only knows that it is a product or a service, and that "it will be good for everyone." The film's concept is original and strong, yet, like The Business itself, it focuses too much on bizarre subplots and not enough on the nihilistic work at hand. Despite diversions, This Is a Business takes consistent comedic jabs at commerce and plays philosopher to anybody who's wanted to do something, but just didn't know what. Screens at 7 p.m. Monday, July 24. Kristyn Pomranz
A Triumph of ValorMax Sommers, the preteen filmmaker behind A Triumph of Valor, was touched by September 11, 2001. At the beginning of his 80-minute documentary, he says, "I will never forget 9/11. It seemed like the whole world had changed. When my grandparents were young, a similar event occurred. But this one actually did change the world." Sommers is talking about the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor the infamous day that got America involved in the second World War and in order for this budding filmmaker to more fully understand the impact December 7, 1941, had on the lives of so many then-fresh-faced American soldiers, Sommers and his dad brought the video camera along to the local Battle of the Bulge meetings, which are monthly get-togethers for the aging veterans of this great World War II battle. While astounding numbers of American soldiers died fighting in that particular campaign, many more lived to recount their war stories. Walter Gaterman, William Houle, Walter Mohrmann, Elmar J. Potzman, Bill Vogel, W. Kent Stephens and Bill Pilger, all local survivors, tell their tales from a reminiscing soldier's perspective and the details haven't faded with time. In order to make these narratives come alive, Sommers and his father took a trip overseas for modern-day footage of locations such as Normandy and the Ardennes region of Belgium, places the Bulge veterans saw when they were in combat so many years ago. These recent views, combined with historic images and familiar period music, give the seven veterans' accounts more weight and importance especially since so many of our World War II heroes, and their living histories, are dying each day. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 23. Alison Sieloff
Welcome to Soul City: A Hip Hop OdysseyA well-shot, lyrical documentary, Welcome to Soul City turns the microphone, the narration and the vision over to the St. Louis hip-hop artists mainly MCs who are making music not primarily for the fame or glory, but because they've got something to say. Unlike, say, Lil Jon (God bless him), who can build a hit out of a relatively simple sing-song rhyme, the underground MCs represented on Soul City are wordsmiths interested in cadence, flow and, most important, message. The hourlong documentary is long on rhymes but short on academic analysis. Rather, it seems director E. Dante Hinkle's goal is to provide a podium for the rappers and DJs to explain their craft, to sound off on the art of rhymes and, most prominently, to show the audience their rhyme skills. At times, however, Hinkle gives the artists including Nato Caliph, Kash, Ace Boogey, Black Spade and Reminise too much face time without addressing why it is this talent remains so overlooked. Save for a two-word explanation ("no unity"), this issue remains the elephant in the room. Still, Welcome to Soul City is a smart, well-crafted profile of the embarrassment of riches St. Louis contains. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 26. Randall Roberts
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