Gillespie Life


Crank it up to 11: “Fury Road” provides best kind of sensory overload to audiences

Two films espousing feminist ideas broke through in a big way commercially last week, but it’s the movie franchise you’d least suspect that does the best job of celebrating women in cinema.

In fact, it’s just a better movie all the way around.

Don’t look now, but George Miller, the director behind the Mel Gibson-led “Road Warrior” trilogy, is back with a new installment of “Mad Max” and its “Fury Road” is simply one of the three best films so far in 2015 and by far the year’s most feminist.

It’s not earth-shattering if viewers haven’t seen the trilogy before heading to theaters for “Fury Road.” In fact, seeing the film with fresh eyes offers a richer perspective on this visually brilliant epic adventure.

Tom Hardy — further cementing his status as both leading man and character actor — holds his own as the titular “Mad Max,” taking over where Gibson left off in the mid-1980s.


Indie comedy 'Welcome to Me' a refreshing hit

Comedy, as a genre, is a tough nut to crack.

More than any other type of film, the art of making people laugh is inherently more difficult than, say, making people cry. It’s why good actors do drama and great actors have the timing for comedy.

Films like the Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara-driven “Hot Pursuit” don’t help the matter any, especially when that derivative mess of a feature is one of only a handful of movies led by strong, independent women this year.

Since there’s still another week of waiting for Anna Kendrick to save audiences with “Pitch Perfect 2,” avid moviegoers are forced to hit the independent film circuit for good laughs, but even that’s a mixed bag.

Enter Kristen Wiig.

While many viewers will remember her best for her roles on “Saturday Night Live” and breaking into Hollywood with the sensational “Bridesmaids,” it’s in the smaller, independent films that Wiig does her finest work.


Film fest spotlight: "Night Owls"

Adam Pally and Rosa Salazar star in the highly original independent dramedy "Night Owls," from writer-director Charles Hood and co-writer Seth Goldsmith. The film, centered on what goes horribly wrong following a one-night stand, won the Cinema Dulce (best of fest) award at last weekend's Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg. — Submitted photo

By Matt Ward —

A Chipotle in Beverly Hills wouldn’t seem like the ideal spot for crafting top notch independent comedy, but it sure seemed to work for the writing team of Charles Hood and Seth Goldsmith.

What ultimately came from those late night meals/writing sessions was “Night Owls,” which premiered at South by Southwest in March and won the Cinema Dulce (best of fest) award at last weekend’s Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg.

“It’s a crazy, amazing thing to hear people laughing at something you wrote at Chipotle,” Goldsmith said.

Shot all in one location at a house in Topanga, California, “Night Owls” follows Kevin (Adam Pally) and Madeline (Rosa Salazar) after a one-night stand goes horribly wrong.


Local art gallery features Windberg

Dalhart Windberg, the fea-tured artist at Fredericks-burg Art Gallery during the First Friday Art Walk last week, tells stories behind the paintbrush and canvas to longtime fan Debra Sher-man of Fort Worth. — Standard-Radio Post/Richard Zowie

Cattle, cactus, winding rivers and the Gulf Coast comprise many of Dalhart Windberg’s pieces of artwork on display at the Fredericksburg Art Gallery.

Windberg was the gallery’s featured artist for last week’s First Friday Art Walk.

Some asked the renowned Texas artist which is his favorite painting.

“I haven’t painted it yet,” Windberg said, chuckling, “It’s like having an idea, start painting it, having a certain way you want it to look or come out, and nine times out of 10, it never happens. If you’re lucky, you get close to it.”

Those who visited the gallery during the art walk, though, asked him many questions and listened intently to his responses and to his stories behind the paintings.

One painting, a Longhorn in a field of bluebonnets, shows a burnt orange-and-white Longhorn relaxed, sitting in the field, while, in the distance, a maroon bull walks away.


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


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