Billy Bob Thornton shares the story of his rise from abused child to Oscar-winning writer and movie star with students at LMU’s School of Film and Television By Michael Aushenker If Billy Bob Thornton were an animal, he’d surely be a cat because he’s lived nine lives. As a writer, he co-wrote “One False Move” and scripted his breakthrough film, 1996’s Oscar-winning “Sling Blade,” which he also starred in and directed. As an actor, he’s deftly played roles in everything from dark dramas and indie films (Sam Raimi’s “A Simple Plan,” “Monster’s Ball”), cult-favorite comedies (“Bad Santa,” “School for...Read More
The filmmaker talks about his documentary on capital punishment’s emotional toll during a special screening in Santa Monica By Michael Aushenker As the camera pans across rows of anonymous-looking headstones in heartland Texas, Rev. Richard Lopez somberly explains that on these graves of executed death row inmates, there are “no names on the crosses, only numbers.” A few minutes later, Lopez is in tears over a squirrel he spared from becoming road kill as he realizes how ineffectual he feels with respect to the lives of the doomed men he prays for before they are executed. Leave it to filmmaker Werner Herzog — director of “Grizzly Man,” “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” “Fitzcarraldo” and the upcoming “Queen of the Desert” with James Franco — to coax emotion from a subject by inquiring about a squirrel. “Nobody [else] would’ve asked him that,” Herzog told a packed Aero Theatre in Santa Monica during an Oct. 8 screening of his documentary “Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life.” “I didn’t have a catalogue of questions, only my curiosity” said Herzog, 72, who was interviewed by writer F.X. Feeney and took questions from the audience. The film examines the tragic case of Michael James Perry, who, with a fellow teenaged friend, murdered three people for a Camaro. Eleven years later, Herzog interviews the still-young Perry as he sits on death...Read More
Santa Monica’s 18th Street Arts Center throws itself a 25th birthday bash to help fund affordable housing and studio space for emerging artists By Michael Aushenker They say 40 is the new 30. This weekend in Santa Monica, you might say 18 is the new 25. The 18th Street Arts Center — a visual and performing arts incubator that includes studio space and affordable housing for artists — marks its first quarter century with a two-day benefit party and arts sale celebrating the continued success of its unique cultural and economic mission. The center expects 300 people for Saturday’s VIP party featuring a concert by alt-folk singer-songwriter and former 18th Street resident Phranc, plus self-guided studio tours, video art installations and performance pieces by resident artists. On Sunday, a crowd 1,000-strong is anticipated for its 5th annual Beer, Art & Music Festival, which includes unlimited tastings from more than 40 craft breweries (including the newly opened Santa Monica Brew Works), food trucks, crash courses in art, open studio tours and live music and performance pieces by members. Across both days, a benefit art sale hosted in partnership with Saatchi Art features more than 50 unique works by past and present 18th Street artists. “We play a really important role in supporting artistic diversity on the Westside,” said 18th Street Arts Center Executive Director Jan Williamson, who first came on...Read More
A USC landscape architecture program pop-up exhibit at Bergamot Station explores potential new uses for the city’s most controversial real estate By Michael Aushenker Court battles, competing city ballot measures — there’s no telling exactly what will happen with the Santa Monica Airport. But what could happen in the space if the airport did close as early as next year? That’s the question explored by organizers of “Reimagining Santa Monica Airport – Part 1,” a one-night pop-up exhibit happening tonight at the Bergamot Station Arts Center. Sponsored by airport2park.org (a group lobbying for the airport to be converted into public...Read More
Contemporary costume and casting choices help drive home the timeless themes of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ By Shanee Edwards A war in the Middle East waged by the world’s strongest, wealthiest army sounds like a plot plucked from today’s headlines. But this is “Othello,” a play written 400 years ago that remains just as relevant today on the strength of Shakespeare’s uncanny ability to understand and wax poetic about humanity’s greatest flaws. A new production of “Othello” opening Friday at the Odyssey Theatre uses unconventional costume and casting choices to drive home its themes of jealousy, bigotry, betrayal and violence in...Read More
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