Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Recently I was invited to a random house party by these old dudes and their conspicuously young girlfriends, whose scent of last year's stripper perfume was still on them by the way, when they saw me walking down the street with an eighteen pack of the Silver Bullet. During one our many animated discussions, the home owner asked what I did for a living and I told him that I write music and movie reviews online; this led to a long blank stare and a reply from him of "Shit! Well I work for a living." Well said sir, well said.

And this is exactly the same struggle Riggan (Michael Keaton) is going through as he is trying to gain respect on Broadway with his adaptation of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Riggan's life is strikingly similar to that of Keaton's as he used to be the character Birdman; a comic book superhero whose franchise raked in hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. He turned down the option to be in the uninspired sequels of this movie and in doing so he essentially contributed to the demise of his own career. So now all he's left with is a divorce, a daughter whose fresh out of rehab due to the fact that he was never home, and the reality that he is soon going to be a forgotten afterthought in regards to significance within the acting community. He sees this play as his last chance to remain relevant and at the same time do something that's creative and really matters in his profession.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (AGI) makes what turns out to be a gripping and ambitious film as the entire story is shot in what appears to be a single shot format (it's not btw) where one camera is used to follow all of the characters around as they try and take on the challenges of putting together a successful Broadway play. You are taken through the ups and downs of having to replace an awful actor right before their first preview showing because he was hit in the head with a stage light; and you also experience the actors dealing with their own insecurities as they are about to live out their life's dream of being on Broadway while at the same time dealing with a myriad of issues which include on set romances, cynical critics, and just jackassery in general from people associated with the play.

Keaton does an excellent job as he shows you a range and a side of him that you've never really seen before. He came close at times when he played Bruce Wayne but when playing a super hero's alter ego you are really strapped as an actor, especially when it's in Tim Burton's cartoonish and surprisingly dated Batman. I still love that movie by the way "You wanna get nuts?!?! Come on, let's get nuts!!!" But in this movie he's almost morose as he is clearly on his last leg and trying desperately to hold everything together while it seems like everything that can go wrong is going wrong. He is constantly fighting the voice in his head that is telling him to give up and go back to making Birdman movies, and at times you are not sure what's real and what's fantasy as he sometimes allows himself to escape and enter the world of Birdman.

And I have to give Inarritu credit for giving Keaton some pretty iconic scenes, one of which includes him frantically running through Times Square in his tidy whities while people are giving him props because of who he is. I also have to give Inarritu a nod for making Birdman's voice sound exactly like Christian Bale's voice when he played the caped crusader; a kind of tongue in cheek jab at Keaton's replacement in that franchise.

Ed Norton almost steals every scene he's in as he represents the stage communities negative view towards Hollywood actors trying to make it on the stage. They see themselves as the real actors and the only ones who can truly bring art to the crowds.

In the end this movie is funny, entertaining, and depressing all at once, and any movie that can make me feel that many emotions in a two hour period definitely gets a rating of very FRESH!

Friday, October 24, 2014

John Wick

Even though my buddy won't admit it publicly, I know for a fact that deep down inside he really wants to be Keanu Reeves. And I don't mean Neo or even Johnny Utah Keanu, I mean he wants to be the real Keanu; a guy who's really not that great at his job but still gets a lot of money and love for doing it anyway. All he would have to do in his free time is be a bit of a recluse, learn how to surf, and play guitar in a terrible band named Dogstar. This actually sounds kind of money now that I'm typing it out. But I won't give him too hard of a time for this because there was a time when I wanted to be Scott Weiland of the Stone Temple Pilots. Yes I know he's white and on heroin but dude can sing and dance like a madman! I even came close to dying my hair blond once but then Sisqo all of a sudden became popular and that immediately killed that idea.

The point of all of this is that my buddy gets just a little too excited when Keanu comes out with a new movie; we were talking about John Wick for a full two months before it was released and there were amazing movies like Gone Girl, Fury, and The Equalizer that were all coming out before it hit the theaters. At first all I was expecting was a glorified B movie at best but then I started seeing all this buzz about it and my expectations started to soar. Well as my friend Larry David would say, curb your enthusiasm sir, curb your enthusiasm (yes, yes even I hated that joke).

Wick is basically an ultra-violent version of Dude! Where's My Car?. Wick is played by Keanu and the film opens up with him mourning the death of his wife. He apparently retired from the hitman game to enjoy his life with her but not long into their marriage she gets sick and dies of a disease that they don't really give you many details about. To help him cope with her death, his wife gives him one final gift in the form of a cute little puppy so that he will still have something to love in this world besides his badass car. The puppy grows on Wick and he finds himself immediately attached to it but one day as he is on his way to get food for the dog, he runs into these Russian gangsters, led by Iosef Tarasov (Game of Thrones' Alfie Allen). Iosef decides that he likes Wick's car and invades his home later that night to take it. In the process he and his gang rough up Wick and kill his dog. Obviously Wick doesn't take kindly to this and he decides to temporarily get back in the game to get revenge.

I have no problem with simplicity of the story because it reminded me of all the old school kung fu flicks that I used to watch as a drunken post college grad; "you killed my father, prepare to die!"; oh wait, that's Princess Bride. But still, that's all action flicks really needed back in the day, a simple reason for the protagonist to get revenge so they can go out and wreck shop on a bunch of scrubs; and that's exactly what Keanu does in this movie. I actually think he was just sitting around bored and was looking for an excuse to shoot people in the head because 90% of the deaths that occur are from his beating them senseless right before putting a bullet in their head. Actually the best death scene in the movie comes from him pulling a Russian gangster by his beard as he puts two, not one, but two bullets in his dome. I'm ashamed to say that that scene had me laughing out loud in the theater.

There were also a few additional nuggets on freshness that included a hotel for hitmen, a pseudo Staying Alive intro for Keanu as he enters a club to kill bad guys, and a pretty tight little clean up crew that looks like it was led by the dad from Frasier. But what was easily the freshest moment of the movie belonged to the terrible song they played right before each action scene which sounded like indie Nu-metal and had some clown singing "We got guns! We got guns! We only shoot strangers not the ones we love!" It's so awful that you can't help but love it.

What's not fresh is the fact that after all the time they spend building up how much of a badass Wick is, he kind of gets punked a lot in this movie. Outside of shooting people in the head, he doesn't really do anything all that fresh, and when you have a plot this simple you better make up for it with some over the top action scenes with your hero spouting out awesome one liners. "Yeah, well I'm taller!" Also, why include an awesome Russian bathhouse VIP club scene and have all of the girls wearing tops? We all know that in Mother Russia prostitutes don't even wear tops to their weddings, so there's no way in the world they'd wear them to entertain Russian mob bosses in a pool.

I liked this movie but didn't love it. In the end I got exactly what I expected from the outset, and that's a fairly entertaining B movie. I rate this movie as barely FRESH.

Friday, October 17, 2014


I have learned over time that the power of the mustache apparently has no limits! With the exception of the Hitler stache, this wonderful hair growth on the upper lip can add unexpected levels of freshness to your life and to the lives of those around you. Just look at what Tom Selleck did for Hawaii and short white shorts, he made it ok for white dudes everywhere to walk around showing off their bulge even if their best friend happened to be a big angry black man who also showed off his package; girls flocked to him and that amazing beast on his face anyway because they wanted a taste of hairy masculinity! So grow yourself a stache and bulge up white America; bulge up!

Why am I talking about mustaches? Because I hated Colin Farrell and everything he did until he finally manned up a grew a porn star stache himself for Michael Mann's Miami Vice. Once I experienced the awesome sleaziness he brought to Sonny Crockett's character, I couldn't help but be on board with that movie and every single one of the stories that revolved around his plowing through the young starlets of Hollywood. The power of the stache converted me!

Now I am nowhere near ready to say that I am a Shia LaDouche fan but the mustache he is rocking in Fury almost made me forget the fact that he is by far the douchiest actor in Hollywood right now. He plays the Bible beating member of Wardaddy's (Brad Pitt) crew; a 5 man outfit that mans a tank in war torn Germany during the Allied Force's final push to end World War II. As a matter of fact, his nickname is Bible and he fires the cannon rounds for what is to become a legendary tank in this war.

Writer and director David Ayer has done nothing but make solid movies ever since he got his break in Hollywood and all you have to do is look at Training Day, Street Kings, and of course Fast and the Furious if you need proof of this. He is known for making dark and gritty films that rely heavily on brutal and unforgiving violence to tell his story and that trend continues here with his latest effort in Fury.The film's opening scene has Pitt leaping from his tank and savagely killing what appears to be an SS Officer after his assistant driver was killed in battle; immediately setting the tone for what to expect from this unique tale of war violence.

At first I was a little worried because the first hour of the film is stuff you have already seen or read about countless times before. You have the young and scared idealist in Norman (Pitt's replacement driver), the battle tested and forever changed in a negative way soldiers in Grady and Gordo (Bernthal and Pena), and of course the seemingly crazy and secretive leader in Pitt. They all must get Norman up to snuff as he has absolutely no desire to kill anyone and his apprehension may ultimately get them all killed.

It isn't until they take a small town in Germany where the film's originality starts to shine and you begin to experience Tarantino like tension when Pitt and Norman run into two German women who are hiding out in their home. I won't ruin this scene for you but it's at its conclusion where Norman finally realizes what he's been thrust into and he then begins to undergo the same changes Grady and Gordo have.

The crew then undertakes a dangerous mission where they are outnumbered and are facing superior artillery and must decide if they are going to stand their grand to complete this important mission or do the smart thing and run.

The scene in the small town alone makes this movie worth seeing. It by itself encapsulates everything you need to know about the war and what it does to people and their lives. Pitt says so much without hardly saying a word in that scene but he does make me sick to my stomach in that at age 50, he is still in better shape than I am. There are a few cool battle scenes in the film's last act and you find yourself cheering as the crew is running out of ammunition and starting to panic when Pitt calms them down by letting them know "Bullshit! We still have hand guns and the .50 cal". Haha hell yeah you do Pitt!

I rate this movie as very FRESH and I suggest that you pop in.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Judge

Hollywood makes me sick to my stomach when they put their collective devious minds together and blatantly decide to produce a money grab movie. Now I know that you can argue that 95% of the movies that are released these days fall under this category but there are times when they don't even try to hide their intentions at all. The Judge starring Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall clearly falls under this category. I can just hear the discussion in the board room now "Hey! We need a movie that will make old people with money show up to the theater this fall. Toy Story 8? Nah, Paramount already has that slated for next summer. We need something that mixes As Good As It Gets with Dutch. I got it! Will put Robert Downey Jr. in a movie with Bobby Duvall. Everyone loves Ironman and women still think he's sexy. Plus old people love Bobby D. because he always plays the wise and slightly cranky old man who cackles with his mouth wide open every 5 minutes. You're right! It worked in Phenomenon and Downey's perfectly fine with making crap movies in between his Marvel pics! Let's do it!"

The Judge is the tired old story of the father that was that way too hard on his kids and the emotional distance that's created between them as a result of it. So you can immediately detect the tension that exists between Downey and his father Duvall when Downey has to return to small town Indiana to attend his mother's funeral. Downey is a big time lawyer in Chicago who is known for using his fast talking, sharp wit, and large vocabulary to get his mostly guilty clients off the hook. And he hides behind his work and his success to forget his upbringing and his past mistakes.

As he tries to recreate some semblance of traditional family interaction between him, his brothers, and his father, he learns that his dad is about to be brought up on charges for vehicular homicide; an accident that took place on the night of his wife's funeral. So as he decides and Duvall reluctantly agrees to allow him to become his lawyer, old family issues come to the forefront, secrets are revealed, and skeletons come out of the closet.

I will give this movie credit for having some teeth to the story as certain things are brought to light that can't help but move you emotionally. And I believe that all families can identify with at least one of the many issues that Downey is facing in this movie, so there's that. Also both Duvall and Downey actually try in this movie and neither one of them quite makes a caricature of themselves with their performance; which was my biggest concern going in.

It's just that the score is corny as hell and only people over the age of 65 will connect with it. The courtroom scenes are a little too My Cousin Vinny and I didn't even realize that Billy Bob Thornton was still alive! I still can't believe that he got to bang Angelina Jolie at her peak.

The movie runs way too long and they try and tackle one too many issues in this movie. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not anywhere near being good. I'd save this one for a family movie night over the holidays. I rate it as kind of WEAK!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dracula Untold

I have said this a million times on this site, so you are already aware of the fact that I love all things vampires. This means that I will see almost anything that doesn't involve the evil blood suckers sparkling like diamonds in the daylight. And I'm especially drawn to the films that have horrible slow covers of actual fresh songs in the previews. Speaking of, why is this such a trend now? I have heard terrible versions of Nirvana's Something in the Way and Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World in multiple trailers and I'm ashamed to admit that they're surprisingly effective on me! Seeing Dracula with his hair flowing in the wind with an acoustic version of Black Hole Sun blaring in the background had me pumping my fist with excitement! Sadly though, the only time I was pumping my fist during this movie was when I was shouting angrily at the screen like Beetle Bailey! "Why you!!!!"

Dracula is a short story about Vlad the Impaler, a fierce war hero who is played by The Fast and the Furious' Luke Evans. Vlad grew up in a time when the Turks were in control of most of the known world and they were notorious for ruling with an iron fist. They would routinely take the young boys of their conquered lands and brutally train them to become ruthless killers in their massive army. And during the process of their training some kids would die while others would become these cold hearted monsters. Vlad was unfortunately one of these children and he turned out to the most skilled of them all. As he grew into a man he was able to escape this lifestyle and he eventually grew into a family man who ruled his kingdom in peace.

That is until the Turks somehow lost a thousand of their men to something mysterious in the mountains. So in order to replenish what had they lost, the king of the Turks decides to come for Vlad's kingdom and his young. Knowing that his army is no match for the Turks', Vlad reaches out to the dark force in the mountains for help. And as it turns out that dark force just happened to be the one and only Dracula. Dracula decides to help Vlad by giving him a 3 day trial; during these 3 days Vlad will have all of the powers and strength of Dracula but he will also have his thirst for human blood. If he gives in to that thirst, he will then take over the curse of being Dracula for eternity. So it's up to Vlad to defeat his enemy and not give in to the thirst so that he can remain human and enjoy life with his family.

I wont lie, that's actually a pretty badass premise. The problem however lies not in the story but in the director's awful use of CGI. I was expecting to see Dracula running around biting people's heads off and ripping limbs to and fro. But no, instead you just see him turn into these bat looking creatures that just simply fly through people. And apparently the force of the bats hitting the enemy is enough to kill them. Pretty weak if I must say so myself. When one man takes on 1000 soldiers, there should be blood and Ice Cube playing in the background. Bow Down fools!!! It sucks they failed miserably on this because the entire movie depends on the freshness of these battle scenes and sadly none of them are even close to being fresh. So his extremely hot wife at least gets naked right? No! It's a stupid PG-13 vampire movie.

There were two unintentionally cool moments in the movie; one belonging to Vlad's random Igor/Gollum and the other going to the random hot wenches that he decides to turn into vampires because every Dracula needs hot wenches. That latter needs no further explanation but his Igor just pops up out of nowhere and immediately submits to him. He sounds just like Igor does and for whatever reason he worships him and offers him blood. He does however have a rather fresh and key moment later on in the movie.

In the end this movie is totally forgettable but I wouldn't be surprised if it came on USA a year from now and I watched it hung over simply to laugh at it. This movie is really WEAK!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I've never really been one to believe in ghost stories and the like but I did recently stay in a mansion in Cape Cod that has been there for well over 100 years. And before we all moved in for the week the owner let us know that they had received complaints from past guests about the place possibly being haunted. Now I know that so far this story sounds like total BS but believe me when I say that it's true. I personally thought that the owner was just full of it and I simply blew it off as his lame attempt to add to the mystique of the grounds.

But in only our second night there a buddy of mine was having a casual and sober conversation with a female friend of ours when all of a sudden the front door of the house slammed shut on its own. We had it opened so that the fresh air could come in through the screen door. And as my buddy tried to open it again, he said it felt as though something was causing resistance on the other end as he struggled to pull it back to its original position. Again, I simply blew it off as their falling for the owner's nonsense.

But then soon after this occurrence and admittedly a few beers into the night, I saw what I thought was a bright and flickering porch light on the other side of a door in the house (there were literally 7 to 8 doors in this place). And soon after I saw the light we heard two distinct knocks coming from that door. My buddy laughed and dared me to answer it, so I did. I opened the door and discovered that it wasn't a porch light or even a door to the outside, it was a door to one of the many bedrooms in the house. The room was pitch black and it had another one of our friends in it who was already asleep for the night. And he had been out for a while! Now I'm not saying that Annabelle was in the house or anything, I'm just saying I started taking inventory and realized that I was the only black man in the house, meaning it was high time for my ass to get out of there!!!

And this is why I can't understand why people in these horror flicks try and stick things out. The second I bring an ugly looking doll into my home and a satanic cult happens to break in that very night to admire it, that's the same night that I throw up the deuces and say "Peace! I'm out!" But no not Mia and John Gordon; they decide that after the break in which involved an attempt to kill their unborn child, they were going to go back into that house to try and live a normal life. I guess they were just going to ignore the fact that one cult member cut her throat and bled all over Annabelle, the antique doll that John had bought as a present for his wife.

Well wouldn't you know it, the same night that Mia returns home from the hospital is the very night televisions start losing reception, sewing machines and record players turn on and off by themselves, and Mia starts seeing visions of little girls running around the home. Even after they realize that something is off and throw the doll away, Annabelle somehow moves with them to their new place. And the second they unpack her, she steps her game up a bit and physical harm starts to take place.

First of all it's creepy to me that Mia is played by an actress whose name is Annabelle Wallis because that's the name of the evil doll that this film is centered around. But I can overlook this weird fact because Mia is certainly pretty to look at. Second this movie is supposed to be the back story of how Annabelle became the carrier of evil and serves as a prequel to The Conjuring in that regard, but sadly it's nowhere near as scary as that movie was. Its scare tactics rely way too much on household appliances and feels more like a Paranormal Activity movie with its cheesy setups that yield disappointing results. It's not until you reach the third act of the movie where physical contact is involved that you finally begin to feel creeped out. But the sad thing is, is once they reach the film's climatic scene you can tell step for step what is going to happen as the writers and the director follow the How to Make a Horror Movie 101 class and shamelessly give you one of the most predictable endings ever!

I went in actually looking forward to seeing this movie but towards the end of it I was looking forward to leaving more than anything else. I rate it as kind of WEAK.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Best and Worst of Austin City Limits

The problem with Austin being one of the coolest cities on the planet is that it brings all sorts of clowns into town that ruin everyday life for us locals. I know you may argue that ACL isn't everyday life but in actuality it is. There is a music or film festival in this town almost every month and that's part of the reason why everyone wants to move here. The problem with that is, is that people don't realize that we actually go to music festivals to hear the music; its not just another excuse to get really wasted or get high. So that's why it was so annoying to see people run to and crowd a stage area just so they can could get together and talk loudly to one another about the dumbest crap imaginable during a performance. Is determining who has the better fantasy team or Keds collection really that important? Maybe I should have broken out my British Knights from 1992 so they could really see what was up!

Ok now that my old man rant is over, it's on to the best, worst, and unnecessary moments of ACL.


The Best Moment

This one is easy as it clearly belongs to Outkast and their so fresh and so clean performance which had everybody dancing and losing their minds that night. Both Big Boi and Andre 3000 looked to be having fun as they came out on fire with Bombs Over Baghdad and ATLiens, immediately letting everyone know that they were far from falling off after a thirteen year absence from the stage together. It's hard to beat two hip hop legends walking around and rhyming in a giant digital cube when they have the giant booties of beautiful black women twirking in the background. Well I just assumed they were beautiful, I never got around to seeing their faces. Also 3000 was his usual weird self rocking a Make Love Like War T-shirt while wearing a weird black jumper and blonde wig on his head. The fact that I got to hear Roses and International Player live was worth the price of admission alone.

The Worst Moment

This goes to Chvrches and their ridiculous name spelling as well as the stupid backwards sevens on their keyboards and beat machines. Because I chose to see them I was stuck on the side of the festival where 70% of its attendees were, so I also had to see Sam Smith (who was actually pretty good) and missed the majority of St. Vincent's awesome set! I came to see rock stars, not some scrubs stand around and press random buttons on a machine with a look on their face as if they are doing something really awesome. After only seeing 15 minutes of St. Vincent I was reminded that ACL actually allowed weird and talented people to play distorted guitar on stage and dammit I liked it!

The Unnecessary Moment

This belongs to the people rolling out the double wide baby strollers. It's bad enough that grandpa is out there sitting in the back in his lawn chair but at least he's not hitting my shins with his 20 foot wide baby stroller that's carrying two kids who got in for free and are eating all of my tasty Torchy's Tacos! They're kids, get them some damn Gummy Bears and a baby sitter and leave me to slowly kill myself with cholesterol and cheap beer in peace.


The Best Moment

This goes to Interpol and their rocking 50 minute set. Both their sound and their performance were flawless as they knew exactly what the festival crowd wanted to hear, the hits. They only played three songs off of their amazing new release and mainly stuck to their first two albums which featured favorites like Narc and Say Hello to the Angels. They needed no light show as their stage presence and casual coolness kept you glued to the stage as you were dancing your tail off. The best moment happened when this girl came up to me and told me that she had cried three times during the first half of their set. We're getting married next week.

The Worst Moment

I have to say that I love Lana Del Rey's recorded stuff but man it's REALLY boring live. She is definitely easy on the eyes and her oddball behavior almost makes you expect to see her randomly shank one of her bandmates on stage but after about 20 minutes of hearing her croon, it basically turns into listening to a Sounds of the Orca cd. You remember those sleep aid albums that were really popular a few years back? Well I think she heard one too many as a teenager and a light bulb went off in her head. "Hey! I can make money using this style!" The best part was seeing all of the women freak out over her performance while the boyfriends or dates they dragged with them to the stage all had the "I better be getting laid tonight for this" look on their face. Still love you Lana, just ignore the fact that I'm getting married to the Interpol fan and hit me up sometime.

The Unnecessary Moment

I should make this Chi'lantro's Kimchi Fries and the fact that they made me queasy but I am going to give this moment to bad batch of Molly that was apparently going around Saturday night. You could tell all weekend that half of the festival was tripping or rolling on something but Saturday literally had me fearing for people's lives. After an amazing Major Lazer set which had one the biggest dance parties I've ever seen at ACL, I saw dozens of kids and adults all passed out on the ground in the  chalk outlined dead body pose and none of them appeared to be breathing. I had to go up to each one of them just to be sure that they were alive. The good news is that were all in fact still alive, the bad news is that each one of them sounded like the wounded Ewok at the end of Return of the Jedi when I tapped them to see if they were ok.


The Best Moment

I missed Pearl Jam that night to see Interpol's incredible and game changing set at Stubb's but I heard that PJ closed out it out like a true festival headliner should. But before I left, I was at their stage and what I predicted would happen actually did. All of the old fogies were camping out early while the kids were heading on over to dance to Calvin Harris. The Great Divide happen right before my very eyes and I couldn't contain my laughter. What was great is that my buddy is such a PJ freak that he went out and bought a traveling pee cup so that he wouldn't have to lose his spot near the stage. Yes, you just read that. It's a paper device that you put in your pocket and when you pee in it, it turns your pee into a gel. It was both the grossest and most awesome thing I had seen in quite some time.

The Worst Moment

This belongs to the frat family. My buddy's girlfriend rejected the portable pee cup and decided that it was a better idea to go use an actual restroom. Well on her way back she had bought two beers, one for her and one for her boyfriend. But this ridiculous looking frat boy made her give him one of the beers in order to get by him so she could return to us. Needless to say this almost led to an all out brawl just an hour before PJ's set, especially when his frat boy brother and retired frat boy dad came to his aid. In the end I diffused the situation and we did get her beer back but we should have thrown some pee gel in their face just to let them know what time it was.

The Unnecessary Moment

I know that this moment happened on Saturday but I think it sums up our culture right now. Its the fact that literally 90% of the festival was there to see Iggy Azalea's performance. We got there about 5 minutes into her set and we couldn't get within 500 yards of the stage. I don't know if its the fact that so many people actually like her terrible music, the fact that I shamefully like two of her songs and wanted to dance to them live, or the fact that I was just happy that I could eventually get close enough to the stage to see her outstanding ass; but whatever the reason, we are all going to hell for being stupid stupid people. Get her a bigger stage ACL and please require that people take a music theory class before being allowed to attend the festival next year.