Gillespie Life


New skate park will give youth a place of their own

Billy Coulon, co-owner of Evergreen Skateparks, takes flight in a practice session at the Fredericks-burg skate park. Evergreen Skateparks began construc-tion on the park in January, which should open in mid-May. — Photo courtesy Marc Bennett

By Joshua McKinney —

Old Fair Park is changing.

The distinctive city facility, home to Little League baseball and pickup soccer games, will be home to a type of athlete new to Fredericksburg:


Area youth will finally have an opportunity to legally grind, flip and ollie in a public space with the upcoming grand opening of a yet-to-be-named skate park.

Until this point, riders of all ages were practicing their moves in the gym and drain ditches at Hill Country Evangelical Free Church, where associate pastor and youth minister Kelly Graham opened church doors to a crowd with nowhere to go.

The facility — constructed by the Fredericksburg Morning Rotary Club for $325,000 — will be donated to the City of Fredericksburg following the completion of construction.

A growing problem


Dame Helen Mirren again captivates audiences with 'Woman in Gold'

where movies just seem to run together in a way that makes them devoid of anything special or unique.

Though Hollywood isn’t quite out of this annual funk, the cinematic landscape is starting to escape from the winter wasteland where films go to die and emerging in a spring season that gives moviegoers hope for a quality 2015.

“Woman in Gold,” despite its flaws, is one of those films that viewers can hang their hopes on, thanks in large part to the acting prowess of Dame Helen Mirren.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular moviegoers that her dynamic on-screen talent can mesmerize viewers to believe the unbelievable and ignore flaws within the filmmaking.

Morgan Freeman — and to a lesser extent Meryl Streep — have this same ability.


Film fest spotlight: ‘Mount Lawrence’

Filmmaker Chandler Wild dips his tires in the Pacific Ocean after bicycling 6,700 miles from New York City to Homer, Alaska. His journey is chronicled in the documentary "Mount Lawrence," which will be shown at the Hill Country Film Festival later this month. - Submitted photo

By Matt Ward —

Wake up, bicycle until you can’t really move anymore, set up camp, go to bed, then repeat ad nauseam for the next five and a half months.

It’s a formidable challenge for anyone, let alone a filmmaker attempting to chronicle the journey every step of the way, but for Texas native Chandler Wild, it was something he felt compelled to do in order to process his father’s suicide several years earlier.

The end result of this cycling odyssey spanning 6,700 miles and over 700 hours of footage — Wild’s “Mount Lawrence” — is perhaps the most compelling independent documentary in quite some time and definitely the most visually spectacular.

It follows the young director as he takes off from New York City with a friend on bicycle, bound for Homer, Alaska, and a date with an unnamed mountain he would hike and rename after his father.


Film fest spotlight: 'Sunny in the Dark'

Hannah Ward's performance as Sunny, a homeless girl living in the crawlspace above a young therapist's apartment, in the film "Sunny in the Dark" earned her a Best Actress nomination at this year's Hill Country Film Festival, slated April 30 through May 3. — Submitted photo

By Matt Ward —

Sometimes life gets too tough and you want to shut the world out.

Imagine being able to close out everything and everyone as soon as you get home from work, only to realize you’re not as alone you think.

It’s the premise for a horror film, right?

Not exactly.

Try Texas-based independent drama.

Dallas-based filmmaker Courtney Ware will bring the Texas premiere of her feature film debut, “Sunny in the Dark,” to this year’s Hill Country Film Festival.

“‘Sunny in the Dark’ explores the tension between our greatest fear and our greatest desire, and that is to be truly known,” Ware said. “The really unique thing about our film is that there is this sort of your worst nightmare of this woman who’s living in the crawlspace above you and she’s spying on your every move taking notes and watching every moment of your life.”

World building


Art house insanity on display with Gosling's 'Lost River'

Almost a year following its world premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, “Lost River,” the directorial debut of mercurial talent Ryan Gosling has finally wandered onto screens across America via video on demand.

It’s likely that the loud chorus of boos that the film received from the Cannes audience has shelved the film for this long, but it’s important to remember that Cannes audiences also took Harmony Korine’s South Beach odyssey “Spring Breakers” — a film that holds up surprisingly well in retrospect — to task.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if critics will continue their boisterous disapproval as “Lost River” finally makes its way over to America, but a word of caution: Don’t lose sight of the forest for all of the trees when it comes to this film.


FTC closes 18th season with a ‘Crime’

After taking a telephone and sticking it in the refrigerator out of fear that Meg Magrath (Heidi Eubanks, right) would tell others about her person-al life, Babe Botrelle (Kristin DeGroot, left) realizes her sister is only trying to help her. The two star in the Fredericksburg Theater Company production of “Crimes of the Heart,” which opened last weekend and will run two more weekends. — Standard-Radio Post/Richard Zowie

By Richard Zowie —

In a season of memorable musicals, comedies and various live performances, Fredericksburg Theater Company is closing its 18th season with an award-winning comedy-drama about family helping family.

“Crimes of the Heart” opened last Friday and will be performed for two more weekends at the Steve W. Shepherd Theater at 1668 U.S. 87 South.

The 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning play will run two more weekends, April 17-19 and April 24-26.

“Crimes” explores the lives of three Mississippi sisters as they each deal with their own problems in the mid-1970s.

Lenny Magrath (played by Ashleigh Goff) is unmarried and facing possible spinsterhood. Meg Magrath (Heidi Eubanks) is back home after a California venture for what turned into an unsuccessful singing career.

Babe Botrelle (Kristin DeGroot), the youngest, is out on bail after having shot her abusive husband.


Rawls competes with pro marksmen

AJ Rawls has only shot competitively for two years but already ranks eighth in 3-Gun Nation’s Regional Junior rankings. Rawls travels all over the United States to compete in shooting contests and camps. — Submitted photo

By Joshua McKinney

The average 13-year-old probably doesn’t spend his or her weekends shooting with Dallas SWAT or U.S. Border Patrol but AJ Rawls isn’t exactly average.

The seventh grader at St. Mary’s School recently competed in WesTex Run ’n Gun contest at Fort Davis with members of both organizations in February.

“It was cool shooting with SWAT and Border Patrol because I want to see how they shoot,” AJ said. “It’s fun and interesting to know how they do it.”

AJ was the only junior at the run-and-gun but shooting with people twice his age wasn’t really the problem.

It was the high elevation — Ft. Davis has the highest elevation of any Texas town at 5,050 feet —  combined with having to run five miles while carrying a pistol, rifle, ammunition and water that bothered the young gunslinger the most.


'Furious 7' a proper sendoff for Paul Walker

“Furious 7,” the latest in the street racing “The Fast and the Furious” franchise, will forever be tied to the tragic death of leading man Paul Walker, who makes his final on screen appearance nearly two years after a fatal, yet unrelated, car accident.

It’s a tragedy tied to a film in much the same way that Heath Ledger’s death looms large over “The Dark Knight,” a film Ledger posthumously won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for as the perfect superhero villain Joker.

Walker’s untimely death hovers in the background of “Furious 7,” never more poignant than in scenes where street racing crew members Tyrese and Ludacris vow never to attend another funeral for a member of their unlikely band of antihero criminals. Family plays a large role both on and off screen in “Furious 7” as stars Walker and Vin Diesel became as close as brothers.


Promising “Get Hard” fails sensitivity test

Things would have been better off if Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell teamed up to develop a remake of the classic Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd comedy “Trading Places.”

It’s the direction that their latest film, the double-entendre heavy “Get Hard,” heads down and the part of the raunchy comedy that actually works.

Aside from some gratuitous rear nudity from Ferrell to “set the mood,” the first 20 minutes of “Get Hard” is actually inspired comedy, filled with thoughtful, well-conceived jokes that skirt the outside edges of decent taste without outright jumping the shark.

Once the plot really takes shape and a straight-laced Hart has to fake a prison record to help a frightened Ferrell prepare for jail time, things go from funny to sad in short order.

There’s no reason for most of what ensues, as every racial stereotype under the sun is broadly reinforced in highly amateurish ways.


Davis keeps watchful eye on Fort Martin Scott

Master of all he surveys, Duke Davis keeps watch over a city historical treasure as keeper of Fort Martin Scott. — Standard-Radio Post/Matt Ward

By Matt Ward —

Duke Davis could well have been the first person to die at Fort Martin Scott in over a century, at least so he thought.

Davis, primary caretaker for the fort, ran afoul of a flak jacket-wearing, knife-carrying prospective criminal on the site one evening several months ago.

“I thought I was dead. I really did,” Davis recalled of the incident.

An insistent — and somewhat belligerent — visitor to the City of Fredericksburg-operated facility on the edge of town along U.S. 290 East took Davis by surprise and immediately went on the verbal offensive, accusing fort caretakers of withholding payment to the site’s original surveyors.

After a brief argument, Davis ended the conversation and retired into the fort’s office inside the welcome center, thinking the incident was over.


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