Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.
- DFW-area filmmaker David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) will team up with Robert Redford for the crime movie The Old Man and the Gun, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Old Man and the Gun, based on a 2003 article in The New Yorker by David Grann, tells the true story of lifelong bank robber Forrest Tucker, who died in 2005.
- On Saturday night, Austin-based filmmaker Yen Tan won the Texas Grand Jury Prize at this year's Dallas International Film Festival for his movie Pit Stop (Debbie's review). Fellow Austin-based filmmaker and UT lecturer Kat Candler also won a DIFF grand jury prize for her short Black Metal. Black Metal and Pit Stop both premiered at Sundance this year, were both produced by Austinite Kelly Williams and both have local actor Jonny Mars in the cast. DIFF also recognized the Austin-shot film Good Night (Debbie's review), which premiered at SXSW Film this year and also co-stars Mars. The drama was written and directed by Sean Gallagher (Elizabeth's interview). Finally, Tomlinson Hill, directed by former Austinite Lisa Kaselak, received the DIFF Silver Heart Award. Tomlinson Hill explores the legacy of slavery from the perspective of one black and one white descendant of a Texas slave plantation. Jonny Mars does not appear in the film.
- Legendary producer and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Phantom of the Opera) has acquired the rights to the 2003 Richard Linklater film The School of Rock to adapt it into a Broadway musical, IndieWire reports.
Austin filmmaker James Christopher is directing Twitchy Dolphin Flix's new mockumentary-style features The XXXX Saga: Rise of the Beaver Slayer and The Porn Movie Massacre (no, they're not pornos). Check Slackerwood for his updates as the production continues.
Being an indie filmmaker can -- to put it nicely -- test you. It can throw wrenches into your plans, disrupt your routine. As they say, "Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it."
The crew behind the Quad X Saga has weathered their share of issues: lost locations, productions issues, revolving cast members. When I had to step in as a police detective due to a casting issue, the rest of the cast and crew rallied like a team and so far it's gone off without a hitch.
On this weekend, we rolled into three long days. I mean long. A parade of actors flew in from out of town to get some screen time. Mike Donis arrived from Toronto to play Detective Bill England, and we saw the return of Daniel Cano from Houston as documentary filmmaker Christopher Shearer. My old Army buddy Eric Adair rolled in from Maryland to play maniacal porn director Marcus and brought along Rebecca Meyer to join in the fun.
It's another so-so week for new releases, with one notable exception: To the Wonder. Terrance Malick fans shouldn't miss the great director's latest meditation on love and life; I also recommend it for adventurous filmgoers unfamiliar with Malick's sometimes enigmatic style.
Austin has two film festivals to choose from this week. The Austin Jewish Film Festival starts Saturday night and runs through next Friday, primarily at Regal Arbor. Read Chale's preview for more info and some recommendations.
For fans of Latino and indigenous films, the Cine Las Americas Film Festival kicks off on Tuesday and runs through Sunday, April 21. Now in its 16th year, the festival features a wide variety of movies from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, including the latest narrative films by breakthrough directors, studio releases, documentaries, short films, entertaining animation series, and youth films. Film passes -- a bargain at $80 -- are available now.
So have you heard that Google Fiber is coming to Austin?
Of course you have -- you're a film fan. Whether you create, study or just watch movies, you engage in the one art and entertainment form that chews through network bandwidth and hungers for more.
On Tuesday morning, Google and the City of Austin held a joint event confirming the worst-kept secret in city history: Google will build a gigabit speed, fiber-based Internet access network in Austin. The company will be the fourth entrant in the Austin residential wireline broadband market, joining Time Warner Cable, AT&T and Grande Communications.
Here's what we know so far: The service offerings will be similar to what Google does in Kansas City, their first fiber market. That includes a gigabit broadband service ($70/mo), gigabit broadband with high-def TV channels ($120/mo) and a megabit broadband service (free for 7 years, with $300 install fee). Note: Those are Kansas City prices. Google has stated multiple times the Austin pricing is uncertain -- except for the free service, which they assure us will indeed be free.
The always-popular Austin Jewish Film Festival is back with a selection of stimulating films. The fest starts tomorrow night (Saturday, April 13) and runs through Friday, April 19 at Regal Arbor. Tickets and festival badges are still available, and some noon screenings are free.
Austin Film Society is co-sponsoring two of the fest's movies this year:
- The Other Son (pictured above) (Lorraine Levy, France/Israel, 2012) is a powerful, yet hopeful, portrait of two young men -- one Palestinian, one Israeli -- switched at birth. They learn to transcend cultural, national and religious boundaries after they meet. [screening info]
- Out in the Dark (Michael Mayer, Israel, 2012) joins the growing list of well-made Israeli films exploring gay life in Israel. In this film, we see the difficulties of love between a young Palestinian student and a slightly older Israeli lawyer. In a well-acted but tough role as a homophobic cop, new Austin resident Alon Pdut proves his ability to inhabit unflattering roles, just as he did in The Long Journey, which AFS and AJFF screened a few weeks ago. [screening info]
Watch the Out in the Dark trailer below:
The esteemed filmmaker's latest feature is in every way a Malick film, bearing his unmistakable stamp with its dreamy vibe, spiritual explorations and heavenly visual style. To the Wonder is gorgeous, complex, tragic, sometimes confounding and, like all of Malick's work, definitely not for everyone. I mean this as a compliment.
In To the Wonder's striking opening montage, we're drawn into the white-hot romance between Neil (Ben Affleck), an American traveling in Europe, and Marina (Olga Kurylenko), a Ukrainian divorcee raising her 10-year-old daughter, Tatiana (Tatiana Chiline) in Paris. After a whirlwind affair, Neil invites Marina and Tatiana to live with him in a place rather unlike Europe -- his native Oklahoma.
The We and the I, the latest feature film from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind), is a glimpse at a bus ride home on the last day of school in the Bronx. Flirtations flicker, bullies torment, obnoxious guys are obnoxious and friends tease and giggle with each other.
There is not much of a constant adult presence in the movie (except for the bus driver, played by a real-life MTA driver), which leaves the teens to be themselves -- or at least however they want their peers to see them.
Gondry brought over his sketch of an idea for The We and the I to an afterschool program, The Point, after a screening of his movie Be Kind Rewind there. The kids he found through the program not only acted in the eventual film, but also collaborated on it. Indeed, most of the teenagers in the film play versions of themselves.
The We and the I premiered at Cannes in 2012 but didn't reach the U.S. until about a month ago. Now you get a chance to catch this vibrant and original film when it is shown at Stateside Theatre this Monday night, April 15, as part of their Stateside Independent series. [ticket info]
For more details about the movie, read Don Simpson's review from local film website Smells Like Screen Spirit. And watch the trailer below:
Programming a short film before a feature can be a hit or miss at times, and I enjoy selections that complement one another. A solid well-crafted short can warm up an audience and set the tone for the feature presentation ... as demonstrated at the Dallas International Film Festival this week with a pair of Austin films.
The short film S/ash by Austin filmmaker Clay Liford -- pictured above with executive producer Farah White and Ashland Viscosi -- is the best foreplay that I could imagine to experience before The Bounceback, the latest movie from writer/director Bryan Poyser and co-writers Steven Walters and David DeGrow Shotwell. Neither film is for the prudish, but if you enjoy titillating humor and some impropriety then you're in for a special treat.
Filmmaker Quentin Dupieux has already acquired a cult following the likes of which is rarely seen so early in a career. Recently he visited Alamo Drafthouse Village in Austin for a double feature of his first feature-length films, Wrong and Rubber. When he asked who in the audience of the sold-out screening had already seen both movies about to be shown, more than a quarter of the theater eagerly raised their hands. This is no doubt in large part due to the fame he's garnered as his experimental-electro alter ego, Mr. Oizo. While Dupieux is still a budding name in film, Oizo has been heard around the techno scene for over 15 years. A history like that is bound to breed some seriously dedicated fans.
Once the closing credits for Wrong rolled, host Eric Vespe (aka "Quint" of Ain't It Cool News) called Dupieux on stage to the sound of enthusiastic applause. Dupieux was completely at home in the spotlight, and immediately took ownership of the Q&A. At once playful and sarcastic, he repeatedly provoked surprised barks of laughter.
When Dupieux was asked if any events depicted in Wrong were based in reality, he shrugged. "I tried to make a film that was half true, and half stupid." In response to probes about the fictional book that appears in the film, Dupieux murmured coyly, "I haven't read it." His answers were all brief, and spiked with a biting wit. Yet despite his bumptiousness, it was hard not to like him. Yes, he's an erratic driver, but damn if it isn't a fun ride.
In a moment of technical difficulty, the mic Dupieux is holding started to fade in and out of static feedback. He handed it off to a theater manager, and took the interruption as an opportunity to approach a couple of patrons in the front row. "Can I?" he smiled, already plucking pieces of popcorn from their bowl and tossing them into his mouth. Without missing a beat, he jumped right back into goading the audience for more questions. Dupieux proves a master trickster, and we're all at his mercy.
The Dirties won Best Narrative Feature and the Spirit of Slamdance Award at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival, and made its way this week to the Dallas International Film Festival. While producer and cinematographer Jared Raab was in Dallas, writer/director and lead actor Matthew Johnson was at a screening at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival (VTXIFF).
The Dirties revolves around two friends who share a passion for movies, Matt (Matthew Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams). They are subjected to constant bullying while working on a movie for a high-school class project. After their initial film fails, the boys decide to create a revenge movie around their real-life antagonists, whom they refer to as "The Dirties." While Owen reconnects with a childhood sweetheart, Matt becomes obsessed as the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur.
Johnson and writer/producer Matthew Miller drew inspiration for The Dirties from the 1992 French satire Man Bites Dog, a dark portrayal of what happens when a documentary film crew becomes involved in the actions of their subject, a ruthless criminal and killer. The pair also studied home videos of bullying from Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to develop a more realistic view rather than the stereotypical Hollywood over-exaggeration.