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Eric Melin

Stories by Eric

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The top 10 films of 2015

Looking back at a madcap year in movies

2015 was an unpredictable year for movies.

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Between 'Chi-Raq' and a hard place

Kevin Willmott on the strong reactions to his and Spike Lee's bold, timely new film and how it has been misconstrued from the start.

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'Mass' effect: How a KU graduate wrote a gangster film starring Johnny Depp

Kansas University graduate Mark Mallouk is having quite a week. On Friday, “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp as notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger — the movie he wrote — opened in over 3,500 theaters nationwide.

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Kevin Willmott talks Spike Lee, 'Chiraq,' teaching at KU

The KU professor and filmmaker dishes on his controversial new project with Spike Lee, his favorite movies and one thing every budding screenwriter should know. Principal photography recently wrapped on the new Spike Lee film “Chiraq,” which he co-wrote with the director and stars John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett and will debut in December, in time for awards consideration. By Eric Melin

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The films of the Free State Festival

This year's film portion of the Free State Festival features locally made student films to major festival darlings and their filmmakers.

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See/Saw Film Festival to take viewers back to childhood

“What does it mean to grow up in the 21st century?” That’s the tagline for the See/Saw Film Festival, April 24-26 at the Lawrence Public Library.

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Predicting this year’s Oscar races

Film critic makes his picks for who will take home Oscars this year and who will be snubbed.

The 10 best films of 2014

This year's list features films about vampires, aliens and teenage punk rockers, plus the most disappointing films of 2014..

The films of the Free State Festival

Because of all the other media and art-related events and activities, it may be easy to forget that the Free State Festival started as the Free State Film Festival. Here’s a preview at some of the movies showing this year.

KU professor spotlights pair of influential filmmakers in new books

Douglas Fairbanks and Peter Weir are two filmmakers who have fascinated Kansas University film studies associate professor John Tibbetts for a long time.

2014 Summer Movie Preview: Sci-fi spectacles take over

With three superhero movies, a monster-movie reboot, and a Biblical epic being released in the last two months, the summer movie season seems to have started extra early this year.

Wolf pack: Women filmmakers come together to mentor youths

When most new organizations first get together, they vote on a committee, draft some policies and have meeting after meeting to decide what to do next. WOLF didn’t do that. It started by making an original short-film anthology.

Spring film releases have summer feel

As the summer movie season becomes more and more crowded, Hollywood’s tentpole movies have started crowding into the spring.

'Jayhawkers' brings a legend back to life

Film tells story of how Wilt Chamberlain changed Lawrence on and off court

Broad, sweeping biographical films that try to sum up a person’s entire life in two hours rarely ever get it right. That’s why the best thing that happened to Kevin Willmott’s movie “Jayhawkers” was not being able to raise the $12 million dollars they needed.

The alternative Oscars

Awarding the best, worst and weirdest achievements in film

In the spirit of awards season, and after some serious reflection on the past year in films, I’d like to present my own particularly dubious set of awards: the Alternative Oscars, if you will. And the winners are … (Warning: Some light spoilers ahead.) By Eric Melin

Eric Melin's 10 best movies of 2013

2013 was an embarrassment of film riches, and the best movies of the year are all over the place in terms of budget, scope, genre and style.

Fall movie preview: Plenty of buzz surrounds upcoming releases

Never fear, Oscar is here, and this fall’s lineup of award hopefuls and risky independent cinema is enough to get any film fan excited. Here’s a look at what’s ahead for the remainder of 2013:

World air guitar champ returns home with rock star status

Lawrence's Eric Melin, aka "Mean Melin," recounts winning the Air Guitar World Championships and how his return home was "pretty much the best moment ever."

For air guitarist, ‘666’ a good sign of face meltings to come

In the world of competitive air guitar, "666" is more than just the devil’s number — it’s a perfect score.

Comedian Doug Benson loves to hate on movies

Comedian Doug Benson loves movies and loves to make fun of movies.

Area talent bands together to make miniseries

Recent Free State High School graduate Grace X. Oliver has spent her summer writing, planning, casting, filming and editing her own TV miniseries — with no budget.

KU grad goes from on-set medic to filmmaker

For Kasi Brown, a Kansas University theater and film graduate, on-set experience managing chaos in Los Angeles as an EMT has uniquely prepared her for her biggest challenge: Making a feature film.

Quick flicks

Film festival features short movies made in 48 hours

Last weekend might have been relaxing for some, but for the teams of filmmakers participating in the Ninth Annual Wild West Film Festival, it was undoubtedly chaos and no sleep.

Summer movie preview: Which new franchises will take flight?

Nobody ever accused Hollywood of being original, so it’s no wonder that so many sequels and reboots are on deck for 2013. The big question is whether any new franchises will be able to separate themselves from the pack this summer.

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Free State Film Festival to showcase movies that get community talking

The Free State Film Festival this weekend includes a lineup f independent movies, short films, discussions, workshops and live theater that should leave people talking. By Eric Melin

Young filmmakers focused on festival this weekend

For the past school year, high school students from across northeast Kansas have written, acted in and produced their own original short films in anticipation of this weekend — and now there’s nothing to do but wait. By Eric Melin

Life story: Lawrence native’s film opens across U.S.

Lawrence native Alonso Mayo’s first feature-length film, “The Story Of Luke” — starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Seth Green, and Cary Elwes — opens Friday in 18 cities across the country, including a 7 p.m. screening at Liberty Hall. By Eric Melin

Oz over the years

A look at some of the forms (successful and not so much) “The Wizard of Oz” has taken over the years. By Eric Melin

A return to Oz

‘Great and Powerful’ a high-tech take on classic, unique universe

“Oz the Great and Powerful,” out Friday, is the second movie Disney has produced that’s set in the mystical Land of Oz, though you may not recognize the studio’s first foray into novelist L. Frank Baum’s fantasy word. By Eric Melin

At annual film festival, silence is golden

Film buffs will get a chance to see silent films almost 100 years old, complete with live music accompaniment, at the 17th Annual Kansas Silent Film Festival on Friday and Saturday at Washburn University in Topeka. By Eric Melin

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Scene Stealers: The best movies of 2012

Most of the best films of the year didn’t exactly catch fire at the box office.

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John Lithgow’s hilarious ‘Stories by Heart’ has deep subtext

Telling stories is essentially what actors do, which means John Lithgow has been telling stories virtually all his life.

Familiar faces coming to the big screen this fall

Gandalf, Bond and Lincoln in most-anticipated films this awards season

The fall is traditionally the time of year studios release what they think gives them their best chance for Oscar gold, and there’s an intriguing crop of movies slated for release for the rest of 2012.

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'Jayhawkers,' local film about Wilt Chamberlain, seeks funding

Thursday is the last day for the upcoming feature film “Jayhawkers” to receive much-needed funding from the community whose story it tells.

Can the ‘Dark Knight’ rise to the top of the summer box office?

Highlights of films still to come out include sequels, superheroes

The first half of summer 2012 has been defined by “Marvel’s The Avengers,” a film that seemed like a gamble, but is now so popular that its made a staggering $1.4 billion worldwide, second only to James Cameron’s “Titanic” and “Avatar.”

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Film festival will try to bridge gap between artists, audience

Award-winning filmmakers both local and national will descend upon Lawrence to be a part of a brand-new event that hopes to bring a sense of community and open dialogue to the area’s music and visual arts scene.

'Avengers' kicks off big summer movie season

The summer movie season starts next weekend, and it starts big.

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'Sweet Little Lies' flmmaker taps Kansas roots, shot part of feature film in Eudora

Filmmaker Joe Saunders took Eudora and made it into Anywhere, USA.

Lawrence girl, 7, to make film debut in "Kick Me"

Tom Ruddy was having his former KU roommate Gary Huggins over for a barbeque at his house in west Lawrence when talk turned to the new independent movie that Huggins is shooting this summer.

Silent Film Festival hopes to capitalize on success of movies making noise this awards season

2012 may go down in history as the year that silent films made a comeback. The two movies with the most nominations this year at the Academy Awards — and the best chance to take home the Best Picture statue — are both tributes to silent cinema.

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10 movies for those who love (and hate) Valentine's Day

Choosing a movie to watch on and around Valentine’s Day is like navigating a minefield. Here are five films for those who want to celebrate the romance of the day with something sweet and charming, and five more films that prove that happy endings are only in the movies.

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Local filmmakers branch out into one-act plays at Lawrence Arts Center

Eight local filmmakers are stepping out their comfort zone, penning one-act plays with a twist at the Lawrence Arts Center.

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Lawrence locations, cast and crew set the scene for 'Sublime and Beautiful'

Welcome to the set of an independent film. The playroom, the wooden model trains and the Christmas decorations are all part of Les and Kendra Kuhlman’s actual Lawrence home, but they are also live sets for Blake Robbins’ directorial debut, a feature he wrote called “The Sublime and Beautiful.”

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10 in 2012: The most anticipated movies of the year

From Batman to Django, Eric Melin looks at 10 must-see movies for 2012.

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The best films of 2011

Eric Melin counts down the best films of the year.

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Americana Music Academy's holiday performance features students young and old

This year's holiday shows have to cover a 25 percent budget gap left by state arts cuts.

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Through A Glass Productions assembles 'Disintegration Man'

Lawrence production company Through A Glass Productions assembled the new music video for Rebecca Pidgeon. With a little bit of advice from her husband, David Mamet.

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Documentarian prepares film on the punk rock days of The Outhouse

Before it became a BYOB strip club, The Outhouse was a bastion for punk and alternative music in Lawrence and the surrounding area. Documentarian Brad Norman's current project "The Outhouse: The Film 1985 - 1998" chronicles those early days.

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Interview: Minus The Bear

Seattle prog/modern rock five-piece Minus the Bear is preparing for a stop in Lawrence as part of their 10th Anniversary Tour. In advance of the show, Drummer Erin Tate was interviewed about being in a band for 10 years, the challenges of playing an album in its entirety every night and the age-old question of Phil Collins- or Peter Gabriel-fronted Genesis.

Footprints film series brings four silent classics to Lawrence Arts Center

See two Chaplin classics and a pair of innovative silent films complete with live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra.