When a teenager suddenly finds himself reunited with his estranged criminal family, his life spins out of control until he's forced to decide his place within the Animal Kingdom.
"J" Cody (James Frecheville) has no memory of his dysfunctional extended family, whose criminal background keeps them under surveillance. A sullen and quiet young man, J has no clear place in their world or any power in it. His grandmother Janine (Jacki Weaver) is cheerfully indulgent and prone to barely appropriate displays of affection with her unstable sons (Luke Ford, Ben Mendelsohn, Sullivan Stapleton). When rogue police take action against one of their own, J is pressured to choose between his family and the law.
Few of the characters in Animal Kingdom have any redeeming qualities, and what few there are usually mask a darker purpose. Director and writer David Michod made sure every character had a dark side. Animal Kingdom may bring to mind the Nash Edgerton feature The Square and Spider, the short that played with it, and for good reason: Spider and Animal Kingdom were both written by Michod. But unlike those films, there's not even any redeeming circumstances.
By 2008, after three fantastic years (2005, 2006, 2007), Fantastic Fest was no longer a fledging fest. There were definitely growing pains as the fests popularity grows. And why wouldn't it? The fest was based at the best theater in the world with world-class cinema that was well, fantastic on so many levels.
My favorite part about 2008 was the special online screenings, with a mix of shorts and features available for online viewing through B-Side. It made it possible to see more films that I would have otherwise. I got to see the disturbingly entertaining documentary; I Think We're Alone Now, profiling two Tiffany stalkers. Yes, that Tiffany, and yes, it was a recent documentary.
I love the docs at Fantastic Fest, they're very interesting, and I hope to see more. That's not to slight the Austin-based documentary about our youngest auteur, Emily Hagins, Zombie Girl: The Movie. Emily is currently working on her third feature film, My Sucky Teen Romance (which deserves kudos for the best title this year). And then there was Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! a doc about Australian filmmaking in the late 70s through the 80s, which played along with the Ozploitation film program featuring some of the same, from Mad Max to Turkey Shoot.
TO: Fearless Slackerwood Contributors
FROM: Most Fabulous Editor
SUBJECT: Newly announced Fantastic Fest 2010 opportunities
Folks, we've just received a press release from Fantastic Fest about another movie they've added to the lineup -- Buried, which stars Ryan Reynolds as a guy who wakes one morning to find himself, well, buried, and has to figure out where and why and how to get out. Reynolds and director Rodrigo Cortes will be in attendance at the screening, which will take place on opening night at the Paramount after Let Me In. Of course a couple of us will cover the red carpet, and I'm looking for especially good photos of Ryan Reynolds ... and yes, this is one of those occasions where you can send the best close-ups directly to me. Especially if he's a bit sweaty in the Texas heat. Ahem. Okay.
But that's not why I'm contacting you right now. In addition to the splashy gala screening during Fantastic Fest, Rolling Roadshow is holding a special screening of Buried in Austin on Saturday, September 18 called "Rolling Roadshow for One." I'd like it if you all would immediately head over to the Facebook invitation page for this event and sign up, even though only four people will be selected for the screening. I figure if all of you sign up, we have a good chance of someone being picked, and then we can get a review posted right on time for this movie as well as a fascinating feature about this unique Rolling Roadshow event.
Austin Film Festival has just announced the first films in its lineup for the October festival and conference, and several are from Austin and Texas filmmakers. The "Early 10" also includes some movies from Hollywood filmmakers and actors.
Fair Game, directed by Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith), will have its regional premiere at the fest. The action thriller based on Valerie Plame's autobiography stars Sean Penn and Naomi Watts ... and also San Antonio native Bruce McGill, who was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame this year. Actor Dax Shepard (who was in the Austin-shot comedy Idiocracy) makes his feature filmmaking debut as the writer and co-director of Brother's Justice, in which he plays an actor named Dax who decides to become a martial-arts action star.
Texas-connected films include Rainbows End, I Didn't Come Here to Die and Dig, all of which are having their world premieres at AFF this year. I Didn't Come Here to Die was shot locally; Dig was shot partially in Austin as well as in South Texas.
Full details on all of these films after the jump. Austin Film Festival runs from October 21-28 this year. We're looking forward to finding out AFF's complete lineup, which should be announced in mid-September.
Let's catch up on the latest Austin film news, shall we? Here we go:
- The Hollywood Reporter has some updates on Robert Rodriguez's upcoming film Spy Kids 4, claiming that Jessica Alba may star in the film as the stepmom of the new spy kids. Whatever happens with casting, the movie may start shooting here in Austin next month. And oh, yeah, it's in 3D (eyeroll).
- Two features from local filmmaker Bob Byington are now available on Netflix Watch Instantly: Harmony and Me (my review, Don's DVD review) and RSO [Registered Sex Offender]. RSO has also just been released on DVD -- look for our review later this week.
- On the way home from dinner last night, I heard an ad on local radio station 101X for Fantastic Fest, urging listeners to buy fest badges as well as a special "gala pass" that will supposedly get you into all the big splashy fest screenings and events at the Paramount. I then got home and found out that the Fantastic Fest film badges (the ones for the whole fest) are now sold out. You can still buy badges for the second half of the fest or for daytime films ... no word yet from the festival on these mysterious "gala passes" but we'll keep you posted.
- Speaking of the Paramount, the historic Austin theater is running a contest this week and next to encourage you to join their "Mobile Film Club," in which you would receive text messages about their Winter Film Series and other movie-related events. You join the Mobile Film Club by texting the word FILMGOER to 70626. In return, if you join by September 1, you receive a free pass to one Paramount Theatre film, and are entered in a drawing to win a Movie Night for yourself and 49 friends.
I wasn't at the Dobie Theatre last night when Landmark showed movies there for the last time. I did go to the theater on Saturday and took some photos during the daytime, which I'll share a little later this week. It was unfortunate that the theater closed during the same weekend that hundreds of students were moving into the dorms above it, but many local Dobie lovers still persisted in getting to campus for one last movie there.
Among the faithful was Austin filmmaker/film lover Tate English, who saw the last movie at the Dobie last night, and snapped a couple of photos of the Dobie's final message to Austin on its marquee. You can see the other side of the marquee after the jump. If you're on Facebook, you can also see Tate's entire Facebook album from his last evening at Dobie. Thanks again to Tate for giving Slackerwood permission to publish these pictures.
This week's big news is that Landmark is closing the legendary Dobie Theater after Sunday's shows. A lot of reminiscing has been going on, most of which is about memories predating the theater's Landmark days, back when it was an independent theater. Our own Jette was interviewed about it on News 8 Austin after her post waxing nostalgic earlier this week. Surprisingly, two new films are opening there today, and a whole lot of films opening or returning to Austin big screens.
Cairo Time -- Described on IMDb as a "A romantic drama about a brief, unexpected love affair that catches two people completely off-guard," its stars (Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig) are the main attraction for me. (Dobie)
Farewell -- Looking up this French spy thriller, I was surprised to see the likes of Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) as "Femme jogging" and an international cast, it makes me wonder if it's worth seeing. Since it's the same director who directed Kruger in Joyeux Noël, an acclaimed film with an international cast, it certainly piques my interest. (Arbor)
Life During Wartime -- Todd Solondz (Palindromes, Welcome to the Dollhouse) wrote and directed this dark comedy about families and secrets in a manner I suspect only Solondz can make equally horrifying funny and beautiful. Ciaran Hinds as a convicted pedophile? Wow. (Dobie)
Who is Jack Rebney?
After seeing Winnebago Man, I'm still not entirely sure. But in a way, not knowing Rebney may be a point of this documentary, which sheds barely a flicker of light on one of the Internet's most famous cult figures.
Rebney is better known as The World's Angriest Man, whose famously foul-mouthed rants during a 1989 taping of a Winnebago sales video have made him an Internet legend. In a collection of outtakes (compiled by the video crew without Rebney's knowledge), he leaves no F-bomb undropped and no Judeo-Christian deity unblasphemed, as he angrily curses at the heat, the flies, the crew and himself. Rebney's creative use of vulgar epithets borders on an art form, and his screw-this-job tirades have made him a hero to frustrated workers everywhere.
The outtakes began circulating via crudely copied VHS tapes in the early 1990s. When the Internet matured enough to allow trading videos and posting them on websites, Rebney's rantings quickly became a cyberspace sensation. And then came YouTube -- and the rest, as they say, is viral video history. But although Rebney had an Internet connection, apparently he had no clue about his unlikely fame.
I didn't watch Nanny McPhee when the movie was released in 2005. Frankly, I found the image of the lovely Emma Thompson done up with hairy moles and snaggletooth quite frightening. However, after seeing Nanny McPhee Returns this week, I learned my own lesson from Nanny "little C, big P" McPhee -- don't judge a book by its cover. Award-winning actress and writer Thompson reprises her role as screenwriter and star, but this time she's also the executive producer, which might explain some of the big names in Nanny McPhee Returns. However, it's not just the stars in the cast that make this film enjoyable. Thompson's screenwriting skills provide the youngest members of the cast with well-developed characters.
Based on characters created by Christianna Brand in the Nurse Matilda series, the central plot of Nanny McPhee Returns focuses on the same formula. An unintentional single parent is pestered by misbehaving children, and Nanny McPhee arrives to teach the children five lessons. Maggie Gyllenhaal portrays Isabel Green, a mother overwhelmed by her three children as well as their two spoiled cousins who come to stay with them to avoid bombs falling in London (it's set during WWII). Mr. Green (Ewan McGregor in a cameo appearance) has been away fighting in the war, and the family is in danger of losing the farm. Mrs. Green works in the local shop where she has to clean up after the forgetful elderly Mrs. Docherty (Maggie Smith).
Last Sunday night, I went to Alamo Ritz for this month's Cinema Club screening, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek. Cinema Club is a monthly(ish) series that focuses on older films, with a discussion of those films afterward. A special guest is invited who has expert knowledge of the film being shown, and the discussions are often lively and interesting.
This month's Cinema Club special guest was Joe Bob Briggs, as you can see in the center of the above photo. You might not associate the drive-in movie critic of Grapevine, Texas with Preston Sturges movies, but he knew all about Sturges' work for Paramount and the ways in which Sturges managed to push this surprisingly racy-for-its-time movie -- about a young woman who finds herself pregnant after a night with a lot of soldiers -- past the Production Code office. I love Preston Sturges films and 1930s screwball comedies in general, but I definitely felt the limitations of my own film knowledge during the post-movie discussion. I didn't mind; it's a pleasure to learn new things about movies from someone like Joe Bob Briggs.