The Absorbing Animations of Sachio Cook
Jan09

The Absorbing Animations of Sachio Cook

Fine TooningOne morning in early October, I was flipping through local events online to assemble our calendar listings. That process becomes a bit of a blur sometimes, but my eye stopped short on a striking color cartoon — part of an announcement for an animation exhibit that month by Sachio Cook at the Hosmer Gallery in Northampton.In the drawing, a wide-eyed woman crawls on her hands and knees through a forest, searching for...

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Cinemadope: Is Spielberg Corny?
Jan09

Cinemadope: Is Spielberg Corny?

There are times when I look back on my youth and shake my head at my younger self. Mostly, it’s when I think about the dreck that was on in the after-school hours on the local UHF stations: sugar-cereal cartoons that were a 12-year-old’s forbidden fruit. It is with a heavy heart that I try to estimate the amount of time I spent glued, wide-eyed, to episodes of ThunderCats.But there are other stories from those days that have stayed...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: When Brad Pitt Was the Pits
Jan09

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: When Brad Pitt Was the Pits

Recently, I visited the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington where my sister and her family helped to lavishly decorate the rooms with Yuletide trimmings. Yet my mind was not on sugarplums. Instead, it was on the movie I knew I was going to review for this column, which is set in a very unfestive place.Brad Pitt currently stars in — and has received high critical marks for — the new movie Allied. But while I’m sure the...

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Cinemadope: Three films about hummus, bagels and blintzes
Jan03

Cinemadope: Three films about hummus, bagels and blintzes

When it comes to film, the Christmas and New Years weeks are not usually a great time for filmgoers, with the exception of a few blockbusters and carefully planned Oscar-hopeful releases. Studios and theaters know that we’re all too damn busy rushing out to buy a last minute gift or go to another holiday party, so they push openings back for much of their best fare. What does get sent out is largely the cinematic equivalent of all...

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Halos & Horns: Our 2016 List of Who’s Been Good or Bad… or Worse
Dec27

Halos & Horns: Our 2016 List of Who’s Been Good or Bad… or Worse

How Does This Work?Who on earth do we think we are, doling out judgement left and right? Find out here. The List HALOS // The People of East Longmeadow — For creating a seven-member Town Council in the wake of a coup on the now-defunct three-member Board of Selectmen. This March, two board members teamed up to overthrow the chairman and hire a new police chief and town administrator. During the annual town election in April, East...

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Advocate Sessions: Video every Friday
Dec05

Advocate Sessions: Video every Friday

Giant Talent. Tiny Stage.For more than 40 years now, the Advocate has covered politics, local news, and entertainment from an alternative angle. But nothing runs through our newsprint’s black, white, and red veins more powerfully than independent music.We’ve been shaped, in deep ways, by the punk, folk, rock, and counterculture ethos that evolved over decades of American upheaval. Today, in certain ways, our future is as unstable as...

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Cinemadope: Denzel Washington stars in August Wilson’s Fences
Dec27

Cinemadope: Denzel Washington stars in August Wilson’s Fences

Month of August Despite his legendary status in American theater, August Wilson is not a name one hears attached to many film projects. The self-taught dramatist, who dropped out of high school after being falsely accused of plagiarism, left behind an astounding body of work — including plays like Jitney and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — when he passed away at age 60 in 2005. His work changed the way the experience of black Americans was...

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For the Kids: New Year’s Morning Music Party
Dec27

For the Kids: New Year’s Morning Music Party

Sleeping In? That’s So 2016Get those kids out of bed (it’s not like they stayed awake until midnight, anyway) and let them dive into a new year the fun way: with puppets and breakfast. Hilltown Families and the Flywheel Arts Collective are continuing the beloved “Morning Music Party” series for another year with a breakfast bash featuring food, dancing, and diversions for kids. After a free breakfast of fresh pancakes, juice, and...

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Cinemadope: Wild Things
Dec19

Cinemadope: Wild Things

Director Garth Jennings has had an interesting, if short, career. Coming out of the gate with an adaptation of the Douglas Adams cult classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 2005, his first big film grossed many millions, starred people like Zooey Deschanel and John Malkovich, and opened its first weekend atop the North American box office. It seemed like a good start, even if you weren’t a fan of the Adams book.Two years...

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It’s a Wonderful Time… for It’s a Wonderful Life
Dec19

It’s a Wonderful Time… for It’s a Wonderful Life

Attaboy, ClarenceWhen it comes to holiday classics, I’m partial to the festive antics of Die Hard (“Now I have a machine gun — ho ho ho!”). But many kids and families — and, on wistful days, certain single adults — lean toward Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life. Capra clearly needed a restorative break from the early 1940s, when he was directing wartime propaganda films, and this rather shamelessly wide-eyed, gooey-hearted...

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Cinemadope: Going Rogue
Dec05

Cinemadope: Going Rogue

It was about a year ago that I stole away for a late night screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the long-awaited “Episode VII” that returned fans to the world of droids, lightsabers, and The Force. It had been an especially anticipated film due to the terrible disappointment of the films that preceded it in the Star Wars filmography: the mostly atrocious prequel trilogy that squandered one of popular science fiction’s greatest...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Red Riding Hood
Dec05

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding HoodI hadn’t flown on a plane in almost 30 years. So when my family and I took our first vacation trip to Florida, naturally I was a bit nervous. The flight down was fine. Once there, our activities ranged from watching the grand fireworks finale at Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle to attending a concert by seniors pushing 80 in a trailer park. Both priceless.After a harrowing return trip through security involving a can of hot...

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Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)
Nov28

Winter Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Jan-Mar 2017)

A Spirited Debate One of two things will happen to you when confronted with the bold and brassy acts of clairvoyance that Rebecca Anne LoCicero whips up onstage. One will be a sense of reluctant amazement. The other will be a deep, head-shaking skepticism. LoCicero has been working in the New England area, nationally, and worldwide for more than two decades, and the funny, occasionally outrageous impromptu readings she performs on...

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Cinemadope: All Together Now
Nov28

Cinemadope: All Together Now

Whatever your thoughts are about the outcome of last month’s election, it seems fair to say that a Trump presidency will be less welcoming of — if not downright hostile to — many of the world’s cultures. As a film writer, that leaves me feeling both deflated (will foreign films find it even more of a struggle to distribute stateside now?) and, paradoxically, a bit hopeful. Film often captures something in us that we didn’t know was...

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Cinemadope: Animal House
Nov14

Cinemadope: Animal House

Anyone who has invested enough time in reading a great book series will recognize the feeling: as the end of the final installment approaches, a mix of elation and emptiness starts to creep in. Soon the story will come full circle, and when it does, there will be nothing more to read. These days, it is perhaps a feeling more commonly felt during Netflix marathons — “what will I do when I finish Stranger Things?”Fans of the Harry...

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Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Someone should have said oh-no to ‘Omoo’
Oct31

Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide: Someone should have said oh-no to ‘Omoo’

The old adage “you can’t tell a book by its cover” still rings true. However, does this advice apply to movies and their titles? Let’s partake in a little quiz and see if you can guess the film’s plot by its moniker.Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla. Hands up if you think this is a story about Dracula in the big city running afoul of a raging primate. In actuality, it’s a not-so-gripping tale of a horrendous Jerry Lewis...

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Cinemadope: Continental Divide
Nov07

Cinemadope: Continental Divide

Strike up a conversation about foreign film with most American film buffs, and the discussion will almost certainly travel East, over the Atlantic, on a European course. Those buffs with enough wind in them might even reach the Middle East and parts of Asia, but few take the detour south to Africa. It’s a bias that I suspect many filmgoers don’t even realize they have, but one that keeps some great films from finding an audience.This...

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Top 12 Halloween Events in the Valley This Weekend
Oct24

Top 12 Halloween Events in the Valley This Weekend

Calling All HallowsAdmit it: we’re a happy Valley because we’re all a bunch of freaks. And Halloween seems to be the time of year we most like to let those flags fly. The night is a dark, blank canvas for creative expression and demonic possession. That’s why it proved hard for us to spotlight one event this week. So we dedicate this page to a bunch of ungodly fun that we’ll have to check out, or curse ourselves for skipping. Here are...

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Now Haunted: The Springfield Museums
Oct24

Now Haunted: The Springfield Museums

Day ScreamingGhosts are scary. Zombies are scary. Being surrounded by too many kids in Disney princess costumes is scary. If you’d rather run into any of these frightening folks in the daytime rather than in the late night hours, check out the Springfield Museum’s Halloween celebration. On Saturday the Springfield Museums will host a “haunting,” featuring an interesting round of Halloween-themed entertainment....

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Cinemadope: Food for Thought
Oct24

Cinemadope: Food for Thought

We in the Valley may have an above-average awareness of food co-ops. Take a Sunday drive around Western Mass, and you’ll find co-ops dotting the landscape, serving local communities and offering an alternative to the big box grocery chains that might not find it profitable to serve some smaller towns at all. But even the savviest of co-op members might be surprised by Steve Alves new documentary about the phenomenon.Food for Change...

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Staff Picks: Reap the benefits of the fall harvest at Northampton Restaurant Week
Oct24

Staff Picks: Reap the benefits of the fall harvest at Northampton Restaurant Week

Hell Night at The Quarters • SundayHell Night returns to The Quarters on what many people consider “Devil’s Night,” the night before Halloween. There will be horror movies viewed on a projector all night as well as five hours of DJs spinning the best of all metal genres. Spicy food and drink specials are on the menu as well. Hosted by The Quarters and Promotorhead Entertainment. 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. 8 Railroad St., Hadley.  — Jennifer...

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Cinemadope: The Vermont Yankee Story screens Sunday
Oct17

Cinemadope: The Vermont Yankee Story screens Sunday

Yankee No HowLive in the Valley for any length of time, and you’ll soon know of Frances Crowe. The diminutive white-haired woman is something of a local celebrity, thanks to a life spent in activism, where her infectious cheer is matched by her uncompromising (and equally infectious) commitment to living an ethical life, and to calling out institutions that promote conflict, oppression, or harm. At age 97 — and after who knows how...

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Cinemadope: The Nanny’s Gaze, discovering the secret world of little known Chicago street photog Vivian Maier
Oct10

Cinemadope: The Nanny’s Gaze, discovering the secret world of little known Chicago street photog Vivian Maier

A lifetime ago — maybe two lifetimes now — I was an art school student. I was a hard worker but probably too concerned with what others thought of my work, and even then I knew that was a problem. That feeling seemed confirmed by the work being done by a classmate of mine: a shy, unassuming young woman who flew so far under the radar that she was skimming the grass. Her art — when I finally got to see her most honest work, and not...

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Fall Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Oct-Dec 2016)
Oct03

Fall Arts Preview: Top Valley Events (Oct-Dec 2016)

Olive’s Indie Sound GardenEvery time the electronic looping pedal wings back around and resets, some new element enters the songs played by Olive Tiger: maybe cello, or violin, or a hooky new techno beat. This  inventive band, based in New Haven and Brooklyn, calls itself “folktronic indie rock,” which pretty much sums it up. The songs on the band’s debut album Until My Body Breaks, which came out in September, tap an orchestral...

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Scary Movie Club: The (New) Blair Witch
Oct03

Scary Movie Club: The (New) Blair Witch

 Spoilers ahead!In this newest installment of the Advocate’s Scary Movie Club, two staffers — horror movie buff Jennifer Levesque and total wimp Hunter Styles — made the trek back into the proverbial woods for Blair Witch, the new sequel to 1999’s The Blair Witch Project.Shot on a shoestring budget of $60,000, the original Blair Witch movie — about a trio of young historians hefting Camcorders who disappear in the Maryland woods in...

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Cinemadope: Going Wilder
Sep26

Cinemadope: Going Wilder

When the world lost Gene Wilder a month ago, it was a bit of a surprise to many — he hadn’t appeared onscreen in quite a few years, preferring to devote himself to the books he wrote later in life. But if it was a surprise, it also stung. For myself, and I suspect for many other creative types of my generation, Wilder seemed like a kindred spirit: someone who had a great many of the same hang-ups as the rest of us, but who had somehow...

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Staff Picks: Get your haunted house on
Sep28

Staff Picks: Get your haunted house on

  DementedFX Haunted House • Starts Saturday,It’s that time of year when all the Halloween-infused happenings pop up. If you’re into getting scared and are going to hit up a haunted house this season, this is the one to go to. In it’s third year, and a whole new location, DementedFX is sure to make your heart race and terrify you enough to make you feel like you’re in a scene from a horror movie. For more...

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Scene Here: The Force … Is Getting Sleepy
Oct03

Scene Here: The Force … Is Getting Sleepy

More than 100 people stake out a plot of land at Pulaski Park in Northampton on this crisp Wednesday night for an outdoor screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. At the event kicking off this year’s Northampton Film Festival, people dress as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, and the rest while kids from preschool to pre-teen do battle with light sabers and pose with a “real-life” Stormtrooper. As the trumpet flourish that begins the SW theme...

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Brace Yourselves: Nostalgia is Coming
Oct03

Brace Yourselves: Nostalgia is Coming

Fall in LoveNow that I spend a good five minutes a day sweeping dry leaves out of our back entry, I think it’s safe to finally say it: autumn is upon us. And I’ll take it, dry leaves and all. Nestled between the smothering humidity of our summer and the desiccating chafe of winter winds, autumn in New England — and especially in the Pioneer Valley — is a perfect restorative, filled with the explosive colors of natural beauty but also...

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Go: Northampton Film Festival, Sept. 28 Through Oct. 2
Sep19

Go: Northampton Film Festival, Sept. 28 Through Oct. 2

Northampton Film FestivalSept. 28 – Oct. 2 For four days, at locations across Northampton, the modern film festival will be redefined with free public screenings of films, virtual reality experiences, games, and participatory film projects.Tickets are $10 for a day pass and $25 for the whole festival. Event locations include Pulaski Park, Union Station, A.P.E. Gallery, Thornes Market, First Churches, and the Parlor Room. For...

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Sunday: For the Love of Spock film screening
Sep12

Sunday: For the Love of Spock film screening

Live LongThis photo from the ’60s was so cute, we couldn’t not share it. It shows Adam Nimoy enjoying time with his dad, Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy. In 1966, his father originated the role of Mr. Spock, the human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise — a character that franchise creator Gene Roddenberry once called “the conscience of Star Trek.” This year, Adam released For the Love of Spock, a documentary he wrote and...

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Cinemadope: Transitions
Sep12

Cinemadope: Transitions

When your life seems fairly well set in its ways, change can be hard. Actually, change can be terrifying. You might have a family that you love and a job that you look forward to, and something can still seem not right. Accepting that — in other words, accepting our own messy and complicated self — and taking the steps to explore those feelings, requires a brave soul. And to have it all work out in the end very often requires the help...

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At Amherst Cinema: An actor dives into a reporter’s death
Sep06

At Amherst Cinema: An actor dives into a reporter’s death

There’s a famous scene in Network, Sidney Lumet’s 1976 film about the state of the television industry, in which veteran newsman Howard Beale (Peter Finch), bitter about his impending dismissal in the face of declining ratings, announces to his audience that instead of fading away he will go out with a bang – by killing himself on air in an upcoming broadcast. It doesn’t quite happen that way in the film (without Beale continuing on,...

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Staff picks: Get out there and hang with the Dude
Sep07

Staff picks: Get out there and hang with the Dude

Retrofaire 2016 Open Air Market • Saturday Fan of vintage fashion, jewelry, hard-to-find music gear, vinyl records and live jazz? The Northampton Arts Council presents the third annual RETROFAIRE, held in the space between Thornes Marketplace and the Northampton parking garage. Sidewalk chalk art, yo-yo shows, outdoor wine café and oyster bar as well! 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  — Jennifer Levesque BrewFest in Holyoke • Sept. 9-10 The...

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Cinemadope: A Queen and Her Kings
Aug29

Cinemadope: A Queen and Her Kings

A musician’s life is never easy. I’m not talking about those of us who pick up the guitar now and then, or even the many who, long after it becomes clear that they will likely not move beyond the coffee house or bar circuit, still pack up the Volvo to head out for a weekend gig. I’m thinking instead of those people for whom performance is a necessity — people who from early on have been driven to sing, dance, blow a horn, or beat a...

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