Gillespie Life


Enigmatic Gyllenhaal shines in near-perfect thriller 'Nightcrawler'

You’ll probably need more than one viewing to fully appreciate the incredibly cerebral “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a neurotic loner who stumbles into a career as a “nightcrawler” — a freelance television cameraman tasked with filming crime scenes and car accidents.

Though its trailer focuses more on the action, “Nightcrawler” is a fairly “talky” film, with Gyllenhaal’s Lou getting most of the movie’s best — and most ominous — lines.

Lou’s insistence to his intern that he “will never ask you to do something that he would not do himself,” is a common enough phrase used in business taken to a bone-chilling and intense level when viewers actually learn what Lou will do to be first and best at filming a crime scene.

The faint at heart will not appreciate some of the imagery depicted in the gruesome scenes that match the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality of the television news programs the film is centered around.


Serviceable thriller 'John Wick' overcomes various obstacles

Nothing much is surprising about the latest action thriller “John Wick,” except for the fact that it isn’t completely terrible.

The plot is raw and unoriginal — vengeful assassin Keanu Reeves takes out a lot of bad people after they steal his car and kill his dog, a final present from his dying wife.

Every indication points in the direction of an absolute bust of a movie. The trailer is downright comical in the worst possible way.

It shouldn’t make sense that “a vengeful Keanu Reeves” is something anyone really wants to see, given what poor quality Reeves has put out over the last decade.

Yet somehow, despite all the tell-tale red flags of a poor movie, “John Wick” overcomes them all and is actually a pretty serviceable traditional action film, reminiscent of a more modern homage to “The Boondock Saints,” a film about vigilante killers who don’t really have, or need, a good reason to kill the bad guys.


Pitt, Lerman lead strong cast in gripping WWII drama 'Fury'

If “Fury” is any indication of the direction cinema is headed for the rest of 2014, it’s a good time to be a film fanatic.

Coming off the release of David Fincher’s terrific thriller “Gone Girl,” it was hard to imagine Hollywood providing any level of consistency in the quality of filmmaking heading into the final few months of the year, but the action epic “Fury” puts out a tremendous effort just short of remarkable.

Director David Ayer, best known as the writer of “Training Day” and the director of “End of Watch,” provides a nearly perfect fictionalized account of a lone American tank stuck behind enemy lines in World War II Germany.

Interestingly enough, “Fury” is the first movie since 1946 in which an actual German “Tiger” tank was used in filming instead of a prop one.


Local P.E.O. making an impact

Three Hill Country girls joined the freshman class at Cottey College in August. Taking a break from moving into dorm rooms in August were Jaida Brown (in front) and in back, Con-nie Pressler, Cottey chair-man for the Chapter IB of the P.E.O. in Fredericks-burg; Felisa Ramirez; Betty Stutz, president of Chapter IB in Fredericksburg, and Daniela Vargas. — Submit-ted photo


Chapter IB of the P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) members in Fredericksburg are on a mission.

They are trying to help local women of all ages further their education by sponsoring students to Cottey College and by offering financial assistance through grants, loans, awards and scholarship programs.

But they need to get the word out about their various projects and how they can benefit women.

“We are always searching and looking, but it’s still hard to spread the word,” said Betty Stutz, president of Chapter IB.

In addition to owning Cottey College, the P.E.O. helps women through its Program for Continuing Education, Educational Loan Fund, STAR Scholarship and Scholar Award.

The programs are designed to help women — from high school seniors, to those pursuing a doctorate, as well as those who have decided to return to school.


It's Native Plant Week

Native Plant Society of Texas-Fredericksburg Chapter has tended this native plant garden on the grounds of the Pioneer Museum complex. The garden is an example of diverse, colorful native selections.

By Raeann Reid


Native Plant Week, Oct. 19-26, is a time to pay homage to the many beautiful and useful plants that for centuries have made their home here in the Texas Hill Country.

In celebration, the Fredericksburg Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) invites you to pay special attention to the native plants around town. In addition to being beautiful, these plants require less water than non-natives, attract and sustain local wildlife, require little or no soil amendment, are natural to their ecosystem and help to maintain biological diversity.

Consider taking advantage of the cool, wet weather to plant natives in your landscape. Plants transplanted from one-gallon or larger containers will have time to establish roots to survive the winter and be thriving before the summer heat.


'Ugliest tree, prettiest wood'

A turquoise star inlay, with additional decorative items, is a specialty of Robert Lerma, of Mesquite Wood Gallery near Alice. Lerma’s son, Carlos Lerma, of Brownsville, also works with mesquite wood, spe-cializing in furniture. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke


Charlie Roberts of San Angelo has been working with mesquite for four decades. His artistic pieces include round mesquite frames that are inlaid with other woods and even turquoise.

Roberts was one of 55 artists at the 22nd Annual Texas Mesquite Show, held Friday through Sunday at Marktplatz, overflowing its spaces under the Adelsverein Halle and the adjacent pavilion. Thousands of curious onlookers came to see this Texas wood being used in all manner of artistic pursuit, from furniture, to decoration to kitchen items.

“It’s the ugliest tree and the prettiest wood,” Roberts said.

Al Carr, the festival director, joked that people call him “the rainmaker,” as it has rained 15 of the 22 years of the show.

Still crowds were strong, and a lot of vendors sold out completely.

Carr said he will use $500 of the show’s proceeds to donate to the Fredericksburg High School’s industrial arts program.


Fincher's "Gone Girl" a cinematic spectacle

That subversive grin smeared across Ben Affleck’s face has been plastered all over television and social media for weeks now as “Gone Girl,” the David Fincher adaptation of the best-selling Gillian Flynn novel, hit theaters at the beginning of the month.

It’s a smart marketing ploy and an ingenious casting choice by Fincher to center his film around Affleck, whose natural charm mixed with the public’s general disdain for anything he’s been involved in before “Gone Baby Gone” make him the ideal guy you’re supposed to hate in a film where Affleck’s character is believed to be involved in the disappearance of his wife.

Fincher has often made smart casting choices that underlie the nature of the character by using public perception of the actor in his favor, most notably Justin Timberlake as Napster founder Sean Parker in “The Social Network.”


Bierschwale-Rees relies on long-term ties

The staff of Bierschwale-Rees includes (from left) Cammie Crenwelge, Tessa Welch, Todd and Karen Willingham and Renee Cruz. Not pictured is Christie Zenner. — Standard-Radio Post/Richard Zowie

By Richard Zowie


For Todd Willingham, insurance runs in the family. His father and brothers also work in the insurance business.

And now, for eight years, Willingham has owned Bierschwale-Rees Insurance and has served as its president since 2008.

The agency is located at 1105 North Llano Street, and their number is 830-997-7693.

Willingham’s wife, Karen, one of his five employees, is from Fredericksburg. Her family was good friends with the prior owner, Frosty Rees.

“We’d been coming here [to Fredericksburg] for 20 years,” Willingham said. “I come from an insurance background, so it was kind of a natural fit. Frosty Rees was looking for a partner at the time and everything worked out very well.”

Willingham said Bierschwale-Rees is the second-oldest continually-operating business in Fredericksburg, and that their success hinges on developing long-term relationships with insurance companies and customers.


Corden leaps into stardom in 'One Chance'

James Corden is going to be a big star.

The 36-year-old Brit will soon take over for Craig Ferguson as host of CBS’ The Late Late Show and plays a sizable role in the musical “Into The Woods,” which opens in theaters Christmas Day.

Movie goers can get an advance peek at one of Europe’s best kept secrets beginning Friday as Corden’s latest film, “One Chance,” opens in limited release.

Corden stars as Paul Potts, a small-time cell phone salesman who attempts to hit it big as an opera star. The film is based on a true story as Potts was the first winner of the “Britain’s Got Talent” competition and has gone on to star in a number of top operas internationally.

There’s not really much to “One Chance” that hasn’t been seen in some form or other before. It’s your standard biopic in every single way.

Only one thing makes “One Chance” worth seeing: Corden.


Local resident wins Highland Games championship

By Austin R. Eck

A stone’s throw away in Scotland, Mike Dickens won his age group in the 2014 Scottish Highland Games Masters World Championship, which took place in Inverness, Scotland.

Dickens, who played college and high school football, was looking for a way to stay in shape after college, but running was not cutting it for him.

“It didn’t meet the competitive desires I had,” Dickens said. “It didn’t have the intensity, and there wasn’t the strength component that I was used to.”

When Dickens and his brother went to a renaissance festival in Austin, they witnessed a Highland Games tournament.

“These guys were doing demonstrations, and they were throwing stuff — one looked like a telephone pole and stones,” he said.


Subscribe to RSS - Gillespie Life