Movie Maniac

February 23, 2014

Movie Maniac: ‘Wichita’ the movie in three parts, in three parts of Wichita the city

Tallgrass Film Association, the group that annually produces the Tallgrass Film Festival, presents its first event of the year on Friday night.

Tallgrass Film Association, the group that annually produces the Tallgrass Film Festival, presents its first event of the year on Friday night.

“Fist Full of Fives: A Progressive Movie Screening & Happy Hour” is a fundraiser for TFA that includes a screening of the 1955 Western “Wichita,” divided into three acts to be shown at three different venues.

The film stars Joel McCrea, Vera Miles and Lloyd Bridges, and follows Wyatt Earp as he arrives in the lawless cattle town of Wichita. Seeing the trouble there, he begins to feel morally obligated to bring law and order to the wild town. And we know how wild it can be!

A $15 donation gets you a button for admittance into the venues and for access to drink and food specials.

The film will be shown twice in all, with start times staggered among venues.

To see “Wichita” in its entirety, start out at the Monarch, 579 W. Douglas. The first set of screenings starts there at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the showing of the film’s first act.

Spot’s Party bus will then provide free transportation to the Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, for act two, which starts at 6:15 p.m. Act three starts at 6:55 p.m. at Public at Old Town, 129 N. Rock Island.

The second-round showing of “Wichita” starts at 6 p.m. at Monarch, 6:50 p.m. at the Anchor and 7:30 p.m. at Public.

The party bus will return moviegoers to the Monarch after the last screening.

Drink specials available at the venues include $1.50 draws from local breweries River City Brewing Co., Walnut River Brewing Co. and Wichita Brewing Co. (must have button to receive special).

For more information and to pre-purchase buttons, go to

DVD finds — In my never ending quest to finds movies off the beaten path, I’ve discovered two recent independent releases that I found intriguing. Both are available on DVD.

•  “+1” (to be read as “Plus One”) is a sci-fi tale, of sorts, that flirts with time travel. It follows three college friends who go to a huge party where a mysterious explosion causes a rift in time continuum, causing them to see duplicate versions of themselves from just a few minutes ago. They try to figure out what’s happening without running into their “past” selves. Rhys Wakefield (“The Black Balloon”) stars.

Think of it as “Project X” meets “The Butterfly Effect.” Everything doesn’t always work, and its logic may have holes, but it’s twisty, dark and a lot of fun.

•  Most will agree that “Charlie Countryman” is a weird animal. The film, which played at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals last year, stars Shia LaBeouf as a young man who travels to Bucharest after his dead mother tells him to go there to seek peace. (Yes, he sees dead people).

One the way there, he encounters a friendly traveler who falls asleep on his shoulder, then proceeds to die and tells Charlie that he must deliver a certain doll to his daughter in the city.

Charlie meets the girl, Gabi (Evan Rachel Wood with a thick accent) and begins to fall in love with her, which leads to messy and dangerous complications from her dark, violent past.

The film is dreamy at times, and wanders a bit, drunk on its style. But it’s funny, too. And also flirts with sci-fi a bit (but never explains Charlie’s strange connection to the dead). Be warned, it’s also darkly violent.

“Charlie” has garnered wildly mixed reviews, but I rather liked the film’s adventurous spirit.

If anything, the film reminds us why LaBeouf is a movie star. His performance here is electric and utterly watchable. He clearly relishes this role. The film is worth seeing for that alone (and lets you forget about LaBeouf’s recent off-screen troubles).

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