Sidewalk Film Festival 2012: Eating Alabama...

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     The sky was steel grey and every few minutes let loose with a smattering of large, sparse raindrops. Yet despite the threat of the storm, the line of people beneath the lighted billboard of the historic Alabama Theater on 3rd Avenue North in the theatre district of downtown Birmingham continued to lengthen, extending down the sidewalk and wrapping around the last building on the corner.      Fittingly, they were all hungry – hungry for a taste of one of the most talked about documentary films of the 2012 Sidewalk Film Festival – Eating Alabama, a project directed by filmmaker and University of Alabama Documentary film professor Andrew Beck Grace, about ten minutes away from making its statewide premiere.      According to their event pamphlet, the Sidewalk Film Festival “is an annual production of...

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Mike Wiley: Reliving History and Recreating Performance Art...

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     If you have the opportunity to see Mike Wiley perform, don’t try to predict what you’re going to see. Your guesses will probably be incorrect, besides the guesses that you will be entertained, moved, and glad you went. Those will certainly be spot-on.      Wiley’s performances are one-man historic shows, but that description does his art form little justice. Take his interpretation of Tim Tyson’s Blood Done Sign My Name. The set? An old-fashioned barber chair and a stool on a bare stage. The costuming? Plain shirt and pants. The cast? Mike Wiley.      You might wonder what you’ve signed on to, and then the stage brims with characters, all coming from this larger than life acting company of one. In a seemingly effortless shift in voice and manner, Wiley portrays everyone –...

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The Vault: Nashville (1975)...

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      In the realm of pop culture, the South tends to get a rather bum rap. When I mentioned to friends of mine that I was working for a Southern culture magazine, most of them started laughing and asked if I’d be writing about Deliverance every month. It feels that no matter how much I trumpet about the sheer beauty of Breece D’J Pancake’s short stories or the stark, cold magic of Winter’s Bone, people still have these stereotypical images of wackadoo accents, guns and God. The purpose of the Drawl Vault is to highlight areas of Southern pop culture that people may not have experienced. Our first nomination to The Drawl Vault is the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville.     Nashville is a wide-ranging, glorious mess that takes a look at humanity...

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Movie Review: Talihina Sky...

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Talihina Sky is the true story of Kings of Leon’s rise to stardom in true Behind the Music style, complete with home videos and “I knew them when…” interviews. Whether it’s a clever marketing ploy or incredibly coincidental timing, the documentary’s release on Showtime not only followed the release of the Kings’ sixth studio album, but also the unexpected cancellation of their tour. With rumors rapidly circulating about irreconcilable conflicts within the group and a possible break-up on the horizon, I, like most KoL fans, went looking to the film for insight. The documentary tells an all-too-familiar Southern story. The Followill boys had a true Bible-belt upbringing as the sons (and nephew) of Pentecostal preacher, Ivan, and his conservative wife, Betty Ann. The family spent years on the road in the deep South, where...

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