Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
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See movie listings for show times. Market Street Cinema.
Good news for movie buffs who missed the gorgeous "Tchoupitoulas" at the Film Festival last summer: The film is playing at Market Street. Loosely speaking, it's a documentary that follows three young brothers on a dusk-till-dawn night out in New Orleans. Very loosely: Bill and Turner Ross, the filmmakers (and brothers themselves), are more invested in dreamy impressionism than either reportage or narrative. The camera follows the boys and their adventures but also veers away from the protagonists to dabble in slices of night life. Unhurried and lovingly observant, the Ross brothers capture shot after breathtaking shot of strippers, brass bands, drunks, buskers, drag queens at work and at play. All of it is grounded in the rhythms of the city, both the music — from bounce beats to crappy street bands to traditional jazz — and the voices of the folks that taunt, tease and philosophize in the wee hours. The best voice of all is William, the youngest of the three brothers, who peppers the movie with preteen chatter, both in scene and in voice-over. The languid shots and meandering voice-overs have a Terrence Malick vibe, but the Ross brothers are more funky and playful. The result is a small and quiet movie but its exuberance and lightness are unforgettable. "Tchoupitoulas" was the most fresh and vibrant film I saw last year. Don't miss it this week. DR
OPENING DAY AT OAKLAWN
1 p.m. Oaklawn Park. $2.
With the new year upon us, it's time for my favorite Arkansas tradition, opening weekend at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, which has been one of the premier sites for live horse racing for more than a century. Fancy sun hats! Corned-beef sandwiches! Racing forms! Friday is opening day and Saturday features those famous sandwiches on sale for $0.50, which means they'll go through about four tons of corned beef (they're actually kind of forgettable, but a little ambience goes a long way — that pickled/salty pile of meat has the taste of history). The mix of debutantes and debauchery leads to the best people-watching of the year as drunken gamblers curse their luck and highfalutin families show up to their box seats dressed like it's Easter in paradise. Oh yeah, and the races — horse racing is one of those athletic spectacles that you just have to see in person. Part of it is the sensory overload as you get a chance to see up close just how big and fast the animals are, plus the rapid-fire live announcing over the speakers, dirt flying from hooves, the smell of cheap beer and manure. Most of all, it's the suspense of each race, as experts and amateurs alike track their favorites around the track and murmurs from the crowd grow to a roar when the horses come down the final stretch. Then the lucky few scream in triumph. The first race I ever saw at Oaklawn, I won $300 on a $2 bet. My advice is pick a funny name with medium odds. Note for the true racing aficionados: Legendary jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel is likely to notch his 5,000th career victory this season, just the 26th jockey ever to reach that mark; Oaklawn will give out free commemorative trading cards when he does. DR