Gillespie Life


Superhero problems: How ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron' forces viewers to question themselves

What exactly do we as viewers want out of superhero movies anymore?

Last weekend’s release of the cinematic blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has moviegoers questioning themselves and everything they know about the emerging titan genre of cinema.

It’s almost as if it’s not enough for a quality superhero movie to be engaging and thrilling and witty with quality direction, a good script and compelling performances.

Nothing seems like it’s going to come close any time soon to the apex of the genre, Christopher Nolan’s cinematic experience, “The Dark Knight,” but when it comes to true fantasy superhero films, things don’t get much better than BOTH “Avengers” films.


Film fest spotlight: SEC Ready

By Matt Ward  —
Nobody’s calling the University of Texas the big brother of Texas A&M University anymore.
Not that anyone in Aggieland ever did.
With the move from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference two years ago, the Aggies have officially separated themselves from the perceived shadow of the Longhorns and are well on their way to long term success in the SEC.
It’s why Aggie faithful have always believed themselves to be “SEC Ready,” which is also the title of a feature documentary produced by TexAgs Films that will screen tomorrow at the Hill Country Film Festival.

Stonewall Peach Queen applications now available

Applications are now available for high school coeds interested in vying for the title of Stonewall Peach Queen.

The new Peach Queen and her court will be chosen during the annual Stonewall Peach JAMboree and Rodeo, June 19-20.

Applications are available on the sponsoring Stonewall Chamber of Commerce’s website at and clicking on the “Peach JAMboree” tab.

Completed applications must be returned by Monday, June 1. Applications postmarked after June 1 will not be accepted.

The completed applications should be returned to the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce, Attn. Peach JAMboree Queen’s Contest, P.O. Box 1, Stonewall, TX 78671.

A photograph for use in the newspaper should accompany each application.


Rising star captivates audiences in 'Age of Adaline'

Don’t look now, but Blake Lively is a movie STAR deserving of capital letters and could very well become a future Best Actress award winner.

“The Age of Adaline,” an otherwise pedestrian film, is nothing short of a coming out party for the young actress. Sure, Lively doesn’t have the film credits and accolades on the mantle like Jennifer Lawrence, but few young actresses can captivate an audience like Lively does in “Adaline.”

From the moment Lively appears on screen, every little thing she does is mesmerizing — a true vintage Hollywood performance evoking Audrey Hepburn. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to avid Lively fans, who had to be blown away by her transformative performance as a drugged out harlot in the spectacular heist film “The Town.”


Film fest spotlight: The Origins of Wit and Humor

Les (front, played by a compelling Joe Hursley) is distraught over a recent breakup in Christian Gridelli and Hunter Norris' debut feature film, "The Origins of Wit and Humor." Co-starring Steve Lemme of "Super Troopers," the movie will screen during the Hill Country Film Festival next weekend at Fritztown Cinema. — Submitted photo

By Matt Ward

Good comedy is hard to find. Movies that consistently make us laugh without being formulaic and/or cliché are fewer and farther apart.

Originality in the genre — whether it’s Oscar winners like “Birdman” and “Grand Budapest Hotel” or small independent efforts — should be equally celebrated.

It’s thrust into this environment that Chicago-based filmmakers Christian Gridelli and Hunter Norris find themselves with their debut feature, “The Origins of Wit and Humor,” a multi-layered comedy playing at next weekend’s Hill Country Film Festival.

Love of the craft


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.


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