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.
Updated April 9, 2013.
Slackerwood was everywhere at SXSW Film this year. Here's the master list of all our guides, features, interviews, reviews and whatever else we wrote (or photographed).
Continuing from Part One, here's Slackerwood's entirely frivolous gallery of red-carpet and post-screening Q&A photos from SXSW 2013. I've topped this page with one Austin-area star I know you'll recognize. Willie Nelson was on the When Angels Sing red carpet ... he plays a key role in the family-friendly holiday movie from Tim McCanlies.
Slackerwood's coverage of SXSW 2013 has focused on Austin and Texas independent films and filmmakers, which were plentiful at the film fest this year. In addition, we watched and reviewed other interesting indie features and documentaries, as well as some short films.
But today, I'm wrapping up our coverage with frivolous red carpet and post-screening Q&A photos of the Beautiful People -- the stars, and I don't necessarily mean Austin celebrities either. That's Olivia Wilde pictured above, on the Drinking Buddies red carpet, and I am consumed with envy for the dress she's wearing. (Yes, those are little airplanes.) Let's take a little break and look at some pretty pictures of stars at SXSW taken by our intrepid photographers.
Having said that, I'll kick things off with an independent filmmaker: Joe Swanberg, who brought his first feature (Kissing on the Mouth) to SXSW in 2005, the first year I started going to and writing about SXSW. This year he was at the fest with the movie Drinking Buddies (Rod's review), which stars Wilde, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, among others.
Dallas writer/filmmaker Clay Luther made his feature directorial debut at this year's Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) with Cry, a drama that explores several timely topics including bullying and homophobia. Luther effectively portrays the complexity of his main characters and avoids the formulaic and simplistic Hollywood ending.
Cry focuses on two neighbors on the opposite ends of life -- Cable (Bill Flynn) is a despondent widower who has lost the will to live and is estranged from his daughter, and Carson (Skyy Moore) is a high-school student who is bullied by fellow basketball player Micah (Erick Lopez).
Carson may not have experienced life, but he has suffered the death of his mother and lives with his openly homosexual uncle, Jeremy (Del Shores). Although Carson has his girlfriend Grace (Cherami Leigh), he's emotionally troubled from the almost daily beatings he receives from Micah. It is inferred that Micah and Carson had been best friends, but a significant event caused an estrangement. As Carson struggles with his personal drama, a tragic event connects him to Cable, who also finds his life a challenge to live. Resolution does not come easy for either of them, but through their relationship they find the will to take the necessary steps towards contentment.
Director Stephen T. Maing's documentary High Tech, Low Life depicts a period of time (2008-early 2012, I think) in the lives of two Chinese bloggers as they attempt to circumvent censorship in China, aka "The Great Firewall." We are first introduced to "Zola," a 26-year-old produce seller from Hunan Province who likes to post stories that state media won't and other reporters can't. He says, "The truth is, I don't know what journalism is... I just record what I witness."
This is a marked contrast with "Tiger Temple," a 57-year-old retiree based out of an apartment in Beijing, inspired to start a blog in 2004 after witnessing and documenting a murder in the street. Tiger Temple rides his bike long distances to cover stories upon request/small donation, and tends to get emotionally involved. After finding homeless folk in Tiananmen Square, forgotten by the country that had removed them from their rural homes decades ago, he starts raising funds on his site to provide them with housing.
Here's the latest Austin film news.
- Phase 4 Films will release Boneboys, filmed in Austin and Taylor, in select cities and theaters on Sept. 6. Writer/producer Kim Henkel, who co-wrote the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, teamed up with two former Texas A&M University- Kingsville students, co-directors Duane Graves and Justin Meeks, on the low-budget horror comedy about a family of cannibals. Boneboys had its U.S. premiere at last year's Austin Film Festival.
- Robert Redford has signed Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater to direct an adaptation of Bill Bryson's travel memoir A Walk in the Woods, the LA Times reports. The movie, about Bryson's attempting the Appalachian Trail, could begin shooting in the fall. Redford, who's producing the film, will also co-star in it with Nick Nolte.
- Delaware-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Alamo Drafthouse Cinema have teamed up again for the sixth annual Off-Centered Film Festival. Beginning April 18, the three-day movie, beer, and food feast -- with a hip-hop theme this year -- will feature a sing-along, rap battle competition, DJs and a short film competition. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Texas Craft Brewers Guild.
- Austin Film Society will host a memorial screening of prolific Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco's film Venus in Furs on Friday, April 19 at The Marchesa (6226 Middle Fiskville Road). Despite its title, the 1969 film isn't based on the novel. Instead, it tells the story of a jazz trumpeter who, while digging up a buried horn on a beach, discovers a woman washed ashore. Venus in Furs will screen from a rare 35mm original release print to honor Franco, who died last week at his home in Malaga, Spain.
Yes you read that right -- in honor of the 50th anniversary of contributing sponsor Mary Kay, the traditional red carpet at this year's Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) opening night was replaced with Mary Kay's favored pink. The evening featured a public service announcement-style video produced by the Dallas-based company to promote their "Don't Look Away" campaign, which focuses on ending domestic violence.
In addition to the film stars and filmmakers to walk the carpet, which you can see after the jump, several festival dignitaries were also in attendance including Dallas Film Society (DFS) CEO Lee Papert and DFS board chair Lynn McBee. Emmy nominee and Dallas television series producer Ken Topolsky was accompanied by Janis Burklund, Director of the Dallas Film Commission (seen above), and spoke about the receptiveness of the Dallas residents to film and television production in their community.
Evil Dead. This week, these two words are all that matter to horror fans, as the long-awaited reworking of the cult classic The Evil Dead hits theaters. (Actually, two other words matter just as much: Bruce Campbell. I'm not into horror flicks, but yeah, he is the coolest.)
For the rest of us, there is the homegrown comedy Somebody Up There Likes Me (pictured above). Fellow River City film fans, I beg, urge and implore you to see this terrific Austin movie. Sadly (and unsurprisingly), the Friday night show with director Bob Byington and star Nick Offerman in attendance is sold out. But worry not -- there are plenty of other screenings. You also might like the Slamdance 2012 awardwinning feature Welcome to Pine Hill, screening at 9 pm Monday at Stateside.
True cinephiles won't want to miss this week's Austin Film Society Essential Cinema Plus series, which presents four recent films by legendary avant-garde filmmaker James Benning. Screening on Saturday at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz are 13 Lakes and Ten Skies, which document landscapes and skyscapes. On Sunday at the AFS Screening Room is the war, focusing on Russian activists. The series wraps up Monday at the AFS Screening Room with Stemple Pass, a study of the isolation of nature. Benning will attend all screenings; following 13 Lakes and Ten Skies, AFS Artistic Director Richard Linklater will conduct a Q&A with the director.