Ann Arbor filmmaker Christina Morales Hemenway premieres "Get Real" comedy at the Michigan Theater

FILM & VIDEO PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Christina Morales Hemenway head shot

Photo courtesy of Dancingstar Productions.

Christina Morales Hemenway got the idea for her new film, Tommy Hollywood and Katie Encino Move to the Midwest to Get Real, in 2005, after she moved back to Michigan following 17 years in Los Angeles. 

The Ann Arbor-raised Morales Hemenway—her parents own Elmo's T-Shirts on East Liberty Street—found so much humor in the expansive cultural gap between Left Coast glamor and Midwestern modesty that she wrote a script that ends up lovingly skewering both sides. (The ad line for the film is, "Think Clueless meets Fargo. A mutually offensive comedy.")

Now, nearly 20 years after the initial inspiration, the comedy more commonly called Get Real has its premiere at the Michigan Theatre on Friday, January 5—which is only fitting.

"Russ Collins [executive director] of the Michigan Theater plays the mayor of the small Midwestern town [the characters] end up in," Morales Hemenway says. (Her 2005 film, Dreammaker, also premiered at the Michigan Theater.)

Filmed in Milan, Ann Arbor, and Brighton, the fish-out-of-water comedy pokes fun at our celebrity-obsessed culture. Get Real is Morales' fifth feature outing as a writer-director and it shifts the focus from the romance of her last film, 2019's Bride +1, to satire and tells the tale of two disillusioned "L.A. airheads" who move to a small Michigna town in a last-ditch bid to save their relationship. Actors Chris Daftsios and Joni Allen play the lead roles, and a large part of the rest of the cast is Ann Arbor-area actors—most of whom have never acted before.

Friday Five: Tru Klassick, JahSun, DACAMERA, Ness Lake, Lily Talmers

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features beat tapes by Tru Klassick and JahSun, drum 'n' bass by DACAMERA, emo-indie-tronica by ness lake, and a melancholic single by Lily Talmers.

Feeling Stranded: Linen Ray Reclaim Their Sense of Hope on ‘By a Thread’ Single

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Rebekah Craft wears a white wide-brimmed hat with a black leather jacket and black-and-white flowered dress. Gabriel Craft wears a white button-up shirt with a black vest.

Linen Ray's Rebekah Craft and Gabriel Craft. Photo by Mike Frieseman.

Despite feeling overwhelmed and heartbroken, Linen Ray refused to give up hope.

The married folk-rock duo of Rebekah Craft (vocals) and Gabriel Craft (drums, backing vocals) tried to stay positive and calm while helping a loved one navigate a mental health crisis.

But over time, it felt like they were carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. There were moments when caring for another became too much to handle alone.

“Trauma will sometimes cause a person to bury their pain and live in denial. For us, it felt so completely overwhelming,” said Rebekah Craft, who hails from Ypsilanti, but is based in Nashville, Tennessee with Gabriel Craft and their family.

“We weren’t exactly living in denial, but when life comes down on you so hard and you feel helpless, you sometimes lose the ability and energy to express your thoughts and feelings. We were grieving and in a dark place.”

In that dark place, Linen Ray reclaimed their sense of hope and channeled their emotions into songwriting. What resulted is “By a Thread,” a vulnerable new ballad that serves as a plea for help and understanding.

Helena Mesa discovers “Where Land Is Indistinguishable From Sea” in her new poetry collection

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Helena Mesa and her book “Where Land Is Indistinguishable From Sea”

Helena Mesa measures the space between places and people through the poems in her new collection, Where Land Is Indistinguishable From Sea. The poems teem with longing, whether from loss or distance or both. 

This longing is sometimes for a person and other times for a place. In the poem “First Year Gone,” the poet speaks to an unreachable person as she undoes her knitting: 

                       You’ve become
a dream, my lips tasting only
damp wool, an ocean bed
drained of seawater, its kelp
drying in summer heat—if only I could 
cross the dry basin
before storms flood the ocean once more.

The impossible task of traversing the ocean bed illustrates how “you remain as far now as you were / when I first knit these rows.” The loss is a drought, and more storms are on their way. 

Another poem, “After Exile,” narrates some attempts to feed another person’s bird after she has left. The bird does not eat: “It understood longing hungers longer / than anyone could hold out / their hand.” Mesa, too, understands what it is like to not have the one thing that a creature needs, the one joy in this all too bleak life. 

Religious undertones permeate the poems, especially Eden which appears in several places even though “I did not ask to be an Eden.” “The Lesson” reflects on the concept of God’s presence when “She said, He is everywhere, / even inside you.” While Eve must deal with her shame in the garden after eating the forbidden fruit, the shame becomes a side effect in Mesa’s poem. Exile moves to the forefront, and it is even a foregone conclusion at the outset of sin because “He lived inside her / and felt the thought form.” Another poem calls forth “Lot’s Daughter,” and the poem titled “The want for faith” describes the tenuous nature of faith that allows one “to glimpse / what might be the blurred edge / of a dog chasing a hare / or nothing at all.” Clarity is elusive. 

The longing in these poems brings not just the ache of loss but also the occasional fruit of “sweet persistence.” The poem named “Waiting to Meet in San Francisco” is breathless with hope, and the poet takes the imperative to implore: “Say yes. Say you will / let go, say you’ll never, / say air will catch us both.” The time of day also brings splendor, as “Morning crackles more clearly through the trees.” Brightness seems to cut through the grief and desire. 

Since some loved ones are gone forever and religion does not provide all the answers, Mesa’s poems continue questioning what distance means. Mesa’s parents left Cuba for the United States when they were young, and that drastic move informs poems in the collection. The recurring questions about time and space appear in multiple poems, such as “Catalog of Unasked Questions,” which starts with the lines:  

How far before home
receded beyond the horizon? 
(54 km) How far before It’s too late
to turn back
? (22 km) 

The mileage and time add up. These totals may or may not change the outlook, as the last question of the poem asks: 

              …And how far
Before the distance
No longer felt distant? 
(                            )

Distance is the reality as “Everyone I’ve ever known / lives so far.” Fulfillment remains out of reach given that “The map to reach you pale and wordless” does not offer answers to close the distance. 

Mesa lives in Ann Arbor and teaches at Albion College. I interviewed her about Where Land Is Indistinguishable From Sea

Friday Five: Iggy Pop, Jacob “Spike” Kraus, The Chopped Liver, Christmas, Dead Schembechlers

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week jazz-tinged Hanukkah tunes by Jacob “Spike” Kraus, lo-fi Xmas classics by The Chopped Liver, an industrial-techno mix by Christmas, a violent holiday clash by Dead Schembechlers, and Iggy Pop covering several seasonal faves.

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: HOMEPAGE

AADL 2023 Staff Picks — Homepage

People who work at the Ann Arbor District Library love to give recommendations.

Whether in person at one of the five branches, in the News and Reviews section of AADL's website, or right here at Pulp, highlighting our favorite books, films, TV shows, video games, websites, adventures, and more is just part of the gig.

Like you, we are passionate enjoyers of media and experiences.

This is our seventh year compiling Ann Arbor District Library staff picks—and with more than 40,000 words spread out over four posts, it is the longest edition yet.

To reiterate: We. Love. To. Give. Recommendations.

Here are the creative works and experiences we discovered in 2023 that moved us enough to share them with you. (Not that you needed to twist our arms.)

AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Words
AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Screens
AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Audio
AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Pulp Life

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: WORDS

WRITTEN WORD PULP LIFE

AADL 2023 Staff Picks — Words

AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Homepage
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Screens
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Audio
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Pulp Life

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: WORDS
Books, audiobooks, graphic novels, comics, websites, and more:

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: SCREENS

FILM & VIDEO PULP LIFE

AADL 2023 Staff Picks — Screens

AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Homepage
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Words
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Audio
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Pulp Life

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICS: SCREENS
TV, movies, DVDs, video games, YouTube, streaming, etc.

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: AUDIO

MUSIC PULP LIFE

AADL 2023 Staff Picks — Audio

AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Homepage
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Words
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Screens
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Pulp Life

 

AADL 2022 STAFF PICS: AUDIO
Music, podcasts, CDs, records, and more:

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICKS: PULP LIFE

PULP LIFE

AADL 2023 Staff Picks — Pulp Life

AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Homepage
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Words
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Screens
➥ AADL 2023 Staff Picks: Audio

 

AADL 2023 STAFF PICS: PULP LIFE
Games, apps, sports, outdoors, and any other kind of hard-to-categorize cultural and life activities: