On the morning of Feb. 28, 1958, a school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students ran over an embankment and plunged into the Big Sandy River in Prestonsburg, Ky. Twenty-six kids and the bus’ driver lost their lives in the crash, forever altering the small, close-knit Floyd County town’s inhabitants.
Michael Crisp’s appropriately somber documentary, The Very Worst Thing, meticulously re-creates the events surrounding the accident via vintage radio recordings and photos and modern-day interviews with people — from a survivor of the accident to those who want to keep the victims’ legacy alive — connected to that day more than 50 years ago.
How many times have you found yourself with an idea that could change your community for the better? If you had an opportunity to make your idea a reality, would you take it?
These are two of the questions at the heart of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Big Idea Challenge. The Foundation asked Cincinnati locals to submit ideas for improving their communities.
After receiving more than 200 entries, the foundation narrowed the contest down to 21 finalists in all, each with dreams of bringing education, culture, green living, wellness and thriving local business to the community.
CityBeat film critic tt stern-enzi is one such finalist. He hopes to launch WatchWriteNow, an after-school film club devoted to the development of critical thinking and creative writing skills.
“WatchWriteNow started thanks to my work as an independent contractor with Lighthouse Youth Crisis Center and a few Cincinnati Public School after-school programs,” stern-enzi writes in an email interview. “The impetus was to bring filmed content in to high school students, to let them critically discuss works that might be accessible to them in ways that subjects in the classroom might not be.”
stern-enzi hopes to improve education within the community by teaching film appreciation and the critical skills to express it in writing to local high school students. The concept is similar to an overseas program called Film Club UK, which was started by critics and filmmakers in order to bring film and critical discussion into classrooms — not just as an after-school activity but as part of the curriculum.
stern-enzi was inspired by his own high school AP English teacher, Cleve Latham, at the McCallie School for Boys in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“Mr. Latham let me talk about Blue Velvet after I saw it multiple times during its opening weekend back in 1986. To see a teacher grant that degree of respect and authority to a film, to allow an AP class to crack that ‘text’ open for analysis was the trigger for what has become not just a career path for me, but a real life's passion. And I want to be able to pay that forward for at least one of the students I encounter now.”
Now through Sept. 27, the foundation is asking the public to vote for their favorite Big Idea finalist. One winner in each category — Strong Communities, Cultural Vibrancy, Job Creation, Environmental Stewardship, Educational Success, Health & Wellness and Economic Opportunity — will be chosen based on the number of votes received.
“This can't be accomplished without community involvement,” stern-enzi writes, “which is why the voting format for the challenge is so exciting. If we want projects like this as part of the Greater Cincinnati landscape, we must be prepared to support the foundational efforts to get them off the ground.”
The winners of The Big Idea Challenge have plenty of resources to make their dreams a reality.
In addition to cash prizes of $500 to $1,000, the foundation will also find a nonprofit organization to implement the seven winning ideas and provide grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to spring the ideas into action.
One of the finalists will also be selected to receive a grand prize, contributed by the members of the Foundation's governing board.
Voting for The Big Idea Challenge wraps up Friday, and winners will be announced in October.
Knight and Day, the action-comedy extravaganza starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, supposedly tanked at the box office last weekend, pulling in “only” about $20.5 million despite opening on a Wednesday (that's two extra days with which to build up its box-office tally, for those not keeping track of such things).
The James Mangold-directed movie was made for $107 million, we've continually been reminded, it has to do better than that in its opening weekend! Right?
Nowhere has that sentiment been more obvious than at the multiplex, where a smattering of offerings have been pretty solid (Bridesmaids, Fast Five, Kung Fu Panda 2, Super 8, X-Men: First Class) and a smorgasbord have been solidly (if not heinously) flawed (Bad Teacher, Cars 2, Green Lantern, The Hangover Part II, Larry Crowne, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Thor and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, to the pinpoint the most obvious culprits).
Remember when Mickey Rourke was one of the most compelling actors on the planet? Sure, one must go back more than two decades, but there was a time when his wry smile, knowing eyes and playful, sexually charged persona made Rourke both a cult figure — the French still adore him — and an actor of rare emotional depth and unpredictability.
Many people have complained in recent years (including Scott Renshaw in his review of Everybody’s Fine below) that Robert DeNiro is not the actor he used to be. Maybe, maybe not.
This time I was struck by how different Jaws is compared to the sleek, sequel-laden, CGI-driven summer fare of today. Watching a drunken Quint (a thoroughly convincing Robert Shaw) stomp aroundJaws' grimy, pathetic boat — which is a character unto itself — is welcome aesthetic shift from the alienating pixelated mayhem of Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Captain America and the like.
While I recognize and appreciate the undeniable creative juice expended in their creation, I admit to a blind spot when it comes to comic books (aka graphic novels to the genre’s serious devotees). I outgrew the form shortly after the death of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew, which went out of print after a 20-issue run in the early 1980s. (Don’t ask how much I spent on a recent, eBay-procured mint copy of the first issue.)
Which brings me to Watchmen, probably the most anticipated movie our young, quality-deprived year to date.