September Movies at the Kimball

September Kimball

It’s another month, so time for a new round up of the indie / arthouse films coming up at the Kimball Theatre! This month, we have movies about billionaires attempting immortality, romance in WWII, biopics on Yves Saint Laurent, Brian Wilson, and Big Bird (well, kinda), films for kids (or maybe just the young at heart), films about bikes, and even an Elvis movie. There’s a LOT of films this month!

Thanks again to my personal movie expert (and spouse!), Scott Graves, for the outlines below:


Self/less – Ben Kingsley plays a billionaire facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer in the science fiction identity thriller Self/less. Or rather, Kingsley plays him for awhile, until he escapes his diagnosis by having his consciousness transferred into Ryan Reynolds. Strange visions after the change throw him into a dangerous investigation, uncovering a corporate conspiracy with shades of Philip K. Dick novels and John Frankenheimer’s Seconds. Directed by Tarsem Singh (Immortals, Mirror Mirror, The Cell), the cast also features Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game, The Good Wife on CBS), Natalie Martinez (Under the Dome, also CBS), and Michelle Dockery (PBS drama Downton Abbey). Self/less is playing at the Kimball from September 1st through the 6th.


Saint Laurent – Detailing several episodes in the life of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, this film directed by Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures) follows last year’s Yves Saint Laurent into the market for YSL biopics. Starring Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising) as the Christian Dior protege through the heady years of the late 60s and early 70s, through career heights and depths, before reflecting on his final years (played by Helmut Berger of The Damned, Conversation Piece). Saint Laurent shows September 6th to the 12th.

Love and mercy

Love and Mercy – If California surf rock is of more interest than European fashion, Love and Mercy chronicles the life and work of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, played in parallel narratives by Paul Dano (Ruby Sparks, Little Miss Sunshine, L.I.E.) during his creative peak years and by John Cusack (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Being John Malkovich, Better Off Dead) in middle age. The biopic covers the younger Wilson’s relationship with his overbearing father, Murry (Bill Camp), the recording of Pet Sounds (try not to think of the similar scene from Walk Hard), and his breakdown, while Cusack’s Wilson lives in seclusion, dominated by controversial therapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, following closely on his appearance as Jerry Heller in Straight Outta Compton) until he meets Melinda Ledbetter who eventually becomes his wife and manager. Love and Mercy is screening at the Kimball from the 7th to the 13th.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Cult arthouse fare from the early years of this century, the first two films in the Harry Potter saga tell of the boy wizard’s first two years in an oppressive British boarding school before the headmaster’s brutal discipline leads to a violent revolt that may be more fantasy than reality in a searing indictment of the British class system… wait, no, I’m thinking of something else. These movies are the first two in the HP story with Quidditch, everyflavored jellybeans, flying cars, basilisks, polyjuice potion, vintage Hermione hair, and about 9 dozen Weasleys. The Sorcerer’s Stone is at the Kimball on September 12th and 13th, and the Chamber of Secrets on the 19th and 20th.


Shaun the Sheep – This stop-motion animation feature follows the adventures of the titular ruminant, first seen in Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit adventure A Close Shave. After his antics afflict his farmer with amnesia, Shaun must venture into the city and crosses paths with an animal control worker in order to set things right. Shaun the Sheep screens from the 14th to the 20th.


Breaking Away/American Flyers/Bicycle Thief – Colonial Fondo weekend (September 25th-26th) brings this trio of films related (more or less) with cycling. Breaking Away is a coming-of-age story featuring the rivalry between four “townies” and the college kids in Bloomington, Indiana. Come for an early appearance of Dennis Quaid and Dennis Christopher’s only significant role (apart from his lead in underrated horror film Fade to Black) as a young man obsessed with Italian cycling, stay for Paul Dooley’s hilarious turn as Christopher’s frustrated car salesman father. Sharing a screenwriter, American Flyers, chronicles two brothers, one brain aneurysm, and a brutal bicycle race across the Rocky Mountains. It stars Kevin Costner (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham) in the first sports film of his career, David Grant and Rae Dawn Chong, and features early appearances by Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing) and Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle). Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief (Bicycle Thieves in Italian), a seminal work of Italian Neo-Realism from 1950, tells of a father and husband who gets a much-needed job posting advertising signs, but may lose it after his bicycle is stolen. A persistent fixture on Sight and Sound magazine’s list of the best films of all time, The Bicycle Thief is a rich depiction of the desperations of urban poverty and the complex commitments of work and family.

This is just one of the things Williamsburg is doing to celebrate the Fondo and biking in general- have you seen the bike sculptures around town?

Big Bird

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story – This documentary chronicles the life of Caroll Spinney, the 78-year old cartoonist and puppeteer who has portrayed Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since their debut in 1969. Combining archival and newly shot footage, I Am Big Bird shares behind-the-scenes details of Sesame Street as well as important moments in the life and career of the man who brings to life its resident Bird and Grouch. I Am Big Bird shows from September 20th to 26th.


Love Me Tender – The September entry in the Kimball’s “Classic” series, Love Me Tender marks the big screen acting debut of the King in a period Western musical. (I wouldn’t say that this is a classic, but hey, whatever floats your boat). Richard Egan (A Summer Place, The Revolt of Mamie Stover) stars as Vance, the eldest of the Reno brothers, who returns home from the Civil War to find that his sweetheart (Debra Paget, The Ten Commandments) has married his youngest brother (Presley), left behind to care for the family farm. Vance and his other brothers are wanted for robbing a Union train days after the war ended, while Clint is racked by jealousy when he discovers that his wife Cathy still loves Vance. Love Me Tender can be seen at the Kimball on September 27th. (Tickets to this show are only $4!)


Testament of Youth – Based on the first volume of Vera Brittain’s memoirs, Testament of Youth dramatizes her struggles (played by Alicia Vikander of Ex Machina and the recent Man from UNCLE film) as she is admitted to a college at Oxford in 1914 only to leave her studies after her brother Edward (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service), fiance Jon Snow… I mean, Roland (Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones), and friends are conscripted and sent to the Front. Brittain becomes a nurse, serving soldiers in Europe and at home, including German soldiers. The cast is filled out with many familiar faces: Dominic West (The Wire), Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves), Hayley Atwell (ABC’s Agent Carter), Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral), and Miranda Richardson (The Crying Game, Blackadder). The Kimball is showing Testament of Youth from September 28th to October 4th. In case you missed it when it was first released a few months ago, here’s another chance to see it.

Tickets at the Kimball are regularly $8 – less than you’ll pay at many other movie theaters- and they have concessions, too (including beer!). If you call ahead, you can get a book of tickets for an even lower price per ticket.

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Bluegrass, Butterflies, and Bassoons in the ‘Burg this weekend

Well, it’s the first weekend of August- the beginning of the end of summer (womp womp). There is a lot of music, dancing, and art going on this weekend- so get in your kicks while you can! I’ve only highlighted a very small portion of the events going on this weekend below. You can find all the rest- including about half a dozen live music shows per night- on the calendar.

Blue Moon Contradance at the Waterman’s Museum– Friday 7/31, lesson at 6:30

This is totally not the actual tent you will be dancing under. But it will still be lots of fun and pretty, you'll see!

This is totally not the actual tent you will be dancing under. But it will still be lots of fun and pretty, you’ll see!

I like to tell people that contradancing is just about the most fun you can have sober. It’s like line dancing in that the steps are all laid out so you know what to do. It’s a little geometrical, as there are patterns to figure out. And you get to spin around! Wheeeeeeee!

The Norfolk Contra Dancers are having their Blue Moon dance Friday at the Waterman’s Museum in Yorktown. It’s a beautiful setting right on the river. Carrot Tree will be serving Blue Crab with fixins starting at 5pm, but participants are also encouraged to bring potluck dishes. Tickets are only $10 and I guarantee you will have fun! Will it be hot? Yes! Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

Plus, the Wampler Brothers will be playing that night at the Water Street Grille in case you get hot or tired but still want some tunes.

Butterfly Festival at the Williamsburg Botanical Gardens- Saturday and Sunday 9-5

Butterfly FestivalHave you noticed all the butterflies around town lately? Here’s your chance to learn more about them and view many beautiful varieties. Together Williamsburg Botanical Garden and Virginia Master Naturalists Historic Rivers Chapter are presenting a Butterfly Festival at Williamsburg Botanical Garden this Saturday and Sunday. Walk through the Butterfly House and hold and feed a variety of butterflies that are native to Virginia. There will be information about what plants can attract butterflies to a garden and about the decline of the Monarch butterfly population and what you can do about it. At 1 and 3 pm, bring your kids, because the first 10 families to attend programs at that time will get a live pupa they can take home and watch as it transforms into a butterfly! For more information, the WY Daily has an article about the event.

Art in the ‘Burg– Saturday 10-4

Art in the Burg

Art in the ‘Burg is a new bi-weekly art festival featuring Historic Triangle artists and craftsmen hosted by Colonial Folk Art. It’s held in Williamsburg’s Art District (yes, it really exists, it’s around Lafayette and Richmond Road between Extraordinary Cupcakes and the Dunkin Donuts; 110 Bacon Ave for your GPS).

Summer of Freedom Music Festival– Williamsburg Symphonia

VSO Matoaka

This weekend, the Symphonia is playing a bunch of outdoor concerts at Lake Matoaka Ampitheater. The most affordable concert is Sunday at 11:30 am- Peter and the Wolf for the kiddos ($5 for lawn tickets). They’re also doing a night of romantic songs on Friday and a movie music concert on Saturday for $25 a person. Buuuuuuut if you want to wait for a FREE outdoor symphony concert, the VSO is playing at Lake Matoaka on September 3 and at Yorktown the Saturday of Labor Day weekend . . .

Want more? Check out the free admission at PFAC this weekend, or the kids fishing tournament, or the programs free for residents over on the calendar page. There is really so much to do in Williamsburg! Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.

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What’s Happening in Williamsburg this weekend- July 24-27

Well it looks like it’s gonna be a pretty nice weekend! The perfect opportunity to enjoy all there is to do in Williamsburg:


6pm: Yorktown Music Jamboree at the Waterman’s Museum featuring the LCV projectCarrot Tree will be selling blue crabs and other sides and drinks- no cover, but donations are gratefully accepted!
6pm: Uncorked Friday at Saude Creek– a beautiful setting, and you’ll get to hear all sorts of different music from area musicians! Tasting and food available, but you can also bring your own picnic
8pm: Zumba Glow Party at En Pointe Dance Academy! $10 in advance, $15 at the door, $3 per child for childcare
8pm: Jacob Testa and the Gang at Aromas
8pm: Timeline Jazz Quartet at the Williamsburg Lodge– good beer, good cocktails, good food, and good jazz- it’s a classy scene
8pm: Absolute Acoustic at Cogan’s
8pm: The Travelin’ Hillbillies at Yorktown Pub (time approximate)
9pm: TypeCast at Bourbon Street

8am-noon: Farmer’s Market! eggs, melons, corn, tomatoes, plums, peaches
11am-2pm: Silt is running its first Burgers Out the Back Door event- this high-end farm-to-table restaurant is selling burgers, fries, and a soda for $15. This is a great opportunity to check out this place at an affordable price!
noon-4pm: the Muscarelle is open and they have paintings by Florentine masters and exhibits curated by arts students- $10
2-5pm: Wine Tunes at Saude CreekBBQ, music, and a beautiful setting! BYO picnic if you’d like
5pm-midnight: Oceans and Ale‘s Summer Luau! This looks fun, music by Signal Fire (“reggae rock”) and Kona Beers will be featured- I always have a great time when I go to this place. No cover, but they do recommend that you make reservations.
8pm: Jeremy White at Aromas
8pm: Good Shot Judy plays at Triangle (have you been there yet? It’s great!)
8pm: London plays at Cogan’s– I have to recommend that you follow their Facebook page, because their promo pics are so ridiculous, they will really brighten up your feed! For example:

8pm: Hector at Water Street Grille in Yorktown- please click on this link if only to see this guy’s hair. It’s epic.

noon-4pm: the Muscarelle is open again!
2-5pm: Music & Wine at Saude Creek– again, the Scottish Pig will provide the Q and Ron Fetner will provide the tunes
5pm: Lou Vangieri performs outdoors in Yorktown. Grace Episcopal Church has this sweet little Sunday night free concert series going on throughout this summer. Picnicking encouraged!
6pm-9pm: AnneMarie Sewell performs at Triangle
around sunset, or about 8:30: Hook plays on Prince George Street– Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams star in this 90s adaptation of Peter Pan (a Gen Y childhood classic!)

Oh and here’s something else- the above list is NOT comprehensive- check out the calendar for the full listing.

Aaand, here’s some stuff from the Facebook feed you may have missed this week:

A statement from the artist that designed the bicycle sculptures currently in Williamsburg:

Why bicycles? “I have a vested interest in making bicycles an expression of my concerns for life, including my own, and for society. As art vehicles, bicycles will help change the behavior of individuals, which is very fundamental for civilization to continue existing, and also so that other important things will not run out, like oil.”

Save the date- September 5 (that’s the Saturday of Labor Day weekend)- free Virginia Symphony Orchestra concert in Yorktown!

VSO 9-5

Top Places to Paddle in Hampton Roads

Butterfly Festival coming up August 1&2 at Williamsburg Botanical Gardens!

Butterfly Festival

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Las Bicicletas

You’ve seen them around town. But- what are they? I’ve started giving them nicknames, myself.

Stand Up Bike

Stand Up Bike

Robo Bike

Robo Bike

Praying Mantis Bike

Praying Mantis Bike

I looked it up (thanks WYDaily!) and found out that they are part of a traveling art exhibit. May was bike month in Williamsburg, and this coming October the UCI Road World Bike Championships will be held in Richmond (there will be related bike events in Williamsburg, too).

The sculptures were created by a Mexican artist, Gilberto Aceves Navarro. Basically, he thinks bicycles are a crucial element to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels- and he also loves the feeling of being on a bike- the freedom, the wind in your hair, the possibilities of where you’ll go. So he made paintings of figures riding bikes to convey that feeling, and then they were enlarged, cut out of metal, and made into sculptures. It’s all explained in this video:

TEASER HD from Las Bicicletas on Vimeo.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes from the video if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing:

I conceived the bicycles this way: as a way to relate families and their environment. People work in somewhat inhumane, enclosed spaces, so my interest was to give them a more humane connection to the environment. How do I represent this in a formal artistic proposal? By finding ways to make bicycles that look like bicycles, but are not exact portraits, yet convey the idea of a bike. They are vehicles of happiness, vehicles of health. Their shape gives me peace, because it’s smooth and without bumps. . . . Being as old as I am now, I can’t ride my bike 14 hours a day anymore, but I can do what I am doing, thinking how can the bicycles help us have a better existence.

Las Bicicletas

For more details about the project and where it goes when it leaves Williamsburg in October, check out the website: Las Bicicletas.

Little Biciletas

Do you have some favorite bicycle memories? Mine is here (at the bottom). Do you have any suggestions for nicknames for any bikes? Post them on the Facebook page!

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Thunderbirds are Go! at Colonial Williamsburg

No, not those Thunderbirds– I’m talking about the Native American kind. Step aside, Etsy and fake tribal patterns from Forever 21- let the original masters show you how it’s done.

Imagine living in a pueblo during the Great Depression. Your family has earned money for generations making and selling jewelry to both fellow native people and tourists alike. But now . . . there’s no money for the precious stones and metals. What do you do?

Thunderbird 1

The jewelry makers of the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico responded to this shortage by doing what artists do naturally- taking inspiration from the world around them. Instead of precious stones, they used plastic from LP records, car batteries, and anything else that had the desired color and could be manipulated into jewelry.


This weekend, “Thunderbirds: Jewelry of the Santo Domingo Pueblo” is opening at the Folk Art Museum of Colonial Williamsburg. You’ll be able to see how the artists kept their traditions alive and provided for their families by creatively transforming the resources at hand.

Bonus! Saturday there’s a lecture by the curators themselves, Roddy and Sally Moore. If you want to learn the story behind this jewelry, it’s a must-see. You’ll need either your Good Neighbor Pass ($10 for the whole year) or a Museum Admission ticket ($13).

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Legs, Ladies, and the Law

I continue to take advantage of my talented friends by getting them to write blog posts. In advance of the free lecture on the da Vinci exhibit tomorrow at the Muscarelle Art Museum (6pm), Jennifer Morris has written a preview of the current exhibits (prepare for the most eloquent post ever on this blog):

While everyone else in town is busy watching frilly films about sex and domination (ahem, 50 Shades of Dubiousness), why not spend your time contemplating more complex ideas of beauty and power in art?  Feast your eyes on pre-modern visualizations of long limbs, delicate visages, and female empowerment at William & Mary’s Muscarelle Museum of Art, where joint exhibitions showcase the accomplishments of two Italian luminaries – Leonardo da Vinci, who needs no introduction, and Matilda of Canossa, a progressive 11th-century Tuscan countess who, among other things, revived ancient Roman law in medieval Europe and laid the groundwork for later women’s rights.  If history lessons lull you to sleep, the pictures themselves will do all the talking – and they’re sexy enough to keep you interested, I promise.


Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty (which opens this Saturday, February 21st, and runs until April 5th before reopening for six weeks at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) revolves around Leonardo’s philosophy of beauty and features more than 25 drawings by the Renaissance master.  These delicate works on paper rarely leave Italy and are even less often shown together under a single theme; in fact, some of the objects make their first appearance in the U.S. here.  Fascinated by nature and art and their relationship to the divine, Leonardo sought to capture in his works the transition from potent youthfulness to worn agedness – his chubby babies, ripe maidens, and studies of impossibly muscular legs stand in stark contrast, for instance, to the wrinkled old men with vacant eyes we find in several of the drawings.

It’s especially interesting to see Leonardo’s drawings side-by-side with the eight Michelangelo pieces included in the show.  Dramatically lit and focusing on the contours of the human body, these works demonstrate the two rivals’ divergent approaches to nature and beauty.  While Michelangelo tried to capture beauty more abstractly (look at one of his female nudes, and you’ll quickly see that he was not working directly from observation of women’s bodies!), Leonardo took a more scientifically-driven approach to beauty.  He found it in many places, from the delicate curls of women’s hair and the roundness of a baby’s soft tummy to the bulging haunches of a rearing horse and the intricate, paper-thin wings of a firefly.  Even the furry bat sketched in his Codex on the Flight of Birds bears witness to Leonardo’s unusually advanced understanding of form and motion.

Downstairs, check out Matilda of Canossa and the Origins of the Renaissance (which opened on February 7th and runs through April 19th, when it travels to the Casa Buonarotti in Florence), an exhibition that tells the story of one of the most influential women in pre-modern history. Indeed, buried in the Vatican and depicted posthumously as holding the keys to heaven – the only historical figure besides the popes, and thus the only female, to be shown this way – Matilda is one of the unsung heroes of the proto-Renaissance in Europe.  Besides leading revolts against feudal overlords, she built hospices throughout northern Italy; also a patron of the arts, she restored many important landmarks in the region, including the Tower of Pisa.  Just as impressively, Matilda founded Europe’s first law school in 1088 in Bologna, simultaneously promoting the study of Justinian’s code of Roman law, which gave women property rights.

Matilda: Total Boss.

Matilda: Total Boss.

The exhibition ties Matilda’s life into the history of William & Mary by showcasing letters written by Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe, two alumni of the College’s school of law.  In these letters, Jefferson and Wythe describe the ideal framework for our then-nascent country’s new legal code, basing their discussion on the very same Justinian concepts revived by Matilda in European law and transposed into a modern legal system.  Bibliophiles will appreciate the selection of early modern law books known to have been in Wythe’s personal library, and art lovers will swoon over Bernini’s statuette of Matilda – the only known bronze of its kind by the Baroque master.  It’s evident in this sculpture alone:  Matilda was a total boss.

So come by the Muscarelle and learn about these two protean figures whose influence continues to be felt in important, if sometimes invisible, ways.  For $15 – only a few dollars more than your weekly trip to the movies – enjoy some historical fabulousness and support the arts.

Don’t miss the FREE lecture Friday night, February 20 at 6pm by the man who put this exhibition together, Curator John Spike. The exhibition opens officially this Saturday.  Buy your tickets at the door, or avoid the lines and get them here.

Morris, Jennifer

Jennifer Morris is a law student at William & Mary and has a Ph.D. in art history. When she’s not studying or giving presentations at conferences, she’s probably riding and taking care of her horse- that, or investigating new pastries and tempting beverages.