April 2014

World War I Series Combines Forces of Ransom Center, AFS and Paramount

Still from Grand Illusion

100 years after the start of World War I, three Austin organizations are teaming up to showcase cinema of or about the conflict. The Paramount Theatre and Austin Film Society are joining the University of Texas Harry Ransom Center, which is holding the current exhibition "The World at War, 1914-1918," to host a combined total of 13 films running May through July.

The screenings at the Ransom Center are free (bear in mind it's not a large theater), but tickets are required for the AFS at the Marchesa and Paramount/Stateside shows. Here's the schedule, which concludes with Lawrence of Arabia shown in 70mm:

Mon, May 5, 7 pm, Stateside at Paramount
Grand Illusion (pictured above), 1937 [tickets]
This moving French classic from director Jean Renoir features Jean Gabin among others at a German POW camp.  Screens as a double feature with L'Atalante as part of Paramount's 100th birthday celebration.

Cine Las Americas 2014: Closing Weekend

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My schedule unfortunately prevented me from seeing everything that I wanted at Cine Las Americas (CLAIFF) last  weekend, but I was still able to catch films here and there. Saturday morning took me to Alamo Drafthouse Village for Bobô, a Portugese film from writer/director Inês Oliveira. The movie is about Sofia, who has nothing in her life but the memories of her deceased brother and son. Things change when her mother sends her Mariama, a maid who helps make Sofia's life a little easier. The more these two women get to know one another, the more their friendship blossoms, each helping the other in a way they didn't think possible.

It was refreshing to see such a female-driven film, particularly in the writing. I have to hand it to CLAIFF for saluting female filmmakers during this festival, both in their programming and celebration of film. I was able to attend their Women In Film party on Saturday night, and was so excited to talk with fest staff members Keeley Steenson and Jean Lauer. We not only discussed the films we'd seen during the festival, we also talked about our views on female representation in Latino culture.  It certainly made for a fun and educational Saturday night (two words I don't often combine to describe a Saturday night.)

AFS Essential Cinema Examines 'The Creative in Crisis'

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Alex in Wonderland

By Erica Todd

For May, the Austin Film Society's Essential Cinema series turns to the topic of creative block. "After 8 1/2: The Creative in Crisis" is guest curated by Kimberley Jones, the Austin Chronicle's managing editor. The five films she programmed delve into the creative process for writers and directors of stage and screen. The real-life directors of each movie present elements of their past experiences in show business via the protagonists who are, to varying degrees, their alter egos.

The series begins with 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963) this Thursday, May 1. The acclaimed film about filmmaking centers on director Guido Anselmi, played by Marcello Mastroianni, one of Fellini's frequent collaborators. Melding fantasy, memory and reality, Guido attempts to navigate his director's block and figure out how to proceed with his next work. Fellini's autobiographical work was commended at the time of its release for its depiction of the moviemaking process and its widespread influence is ongoing. As the remaining four films in the series demonstrate, 8 1/2 has inspired subsequent expressions of creative block in tone, content and cinematographic style.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 28, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Austin filmmaker C. Robert Cargill (Jordan's profile) is co-writing the sequel to 2012's micro-budget horror flick Sinister, which stars native Texan Ethan Hawke, with the original movie's director Scott Derrickson, according to The Wrap. Irish director Ciaran Foy will direct Sinister 2, scheduled to begin production in July.
  • Speaking of Cargill (Rod's interview), the sequel to his debut novel, Dreams and Shadows, will be released by Harper Voyager on May 13. The sequel, Queen of the Dark Things, follows the protagonist six months after the events of the first book as he's forced to turn to aid from forces even darker than those he once battled.
  • The Austin Film Festival's early-bird deadline for film submissions is Wednesday. The deadline to submit to the screenplay and teleplay categories is also Wednesday. Late submissions for the screenplay and teleplay categories is May 31, while film submissions will be accepted until July 15.
  • In more AFF news, the Austin-produced romantic dramedy, For Serious, about a lawyer who decides to make a movie to get closer to his indie-actress crush, will screen on Wednesday at 7 pm at Galaxy Highland as part of the organization's Austin Premieres series.

Cine Las Americas 2014: Chicano Love and a Map

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Chicano Love

My second day of Cine Las Americas took me to the Marchesa Theatre. I caught Amor chicano es para siempre (Chicano Love Is Forever), the second film of the three part series "Las Filmas: The Films of Efraín Gutiérrez."  Considered to be one of the most influential filmmakers (if not the founder) of the Chicano film movement in the 70s, Gutiérrez's films explore what life was like for Latin American families during this time.

Set in San Antonio, Texas, the story follows a young Latino couple in their early years of marriage. What starts as a sweet, innocent romance slowly changes with the onset of work, college and marital stress.  It takes its toll on our protagonist (Gutiérrez), but instead of turning to his wife for help, he seeks solace in beer, time away from home and the arms of another woman.  Shot on 16mm film, the print shown was blown up to 35mm, making it the only 35mm screening this festival.  (We were informed that this is the only known copy of this film, so that was also a treat.)

Movies This Week: April 25 - May 1, 2014

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Only Lovers Left Alive

Some specialty festival events started this week that should be on your radar. The 17th annual Cine Las Americas festival runs through Sunday. Movies are playing at four venues, including the Marchesa and the Alamo Drafthouse Village. If you didn't get a film pass, you can buy individual tickets at the venues if the films aren't at capacity. The seventh annual Off-Centered Film Fest is also going on through the weekend. Special events include a 35mm screening of Jackie Chan's Drunken Master and Harold Lloyd's 1923 silent classic Safety Last

The Marchesa will be tied up with Cine Las Americas screenings through the weekend, but Austin Film Society has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Richard Linklater returns on Wednesday night for his Jewels In The Wasteland series. He'll be presenting Ingmar Bergman's Fanny And Alexander in a 35mm print of the original 188-minute theatrical version. This screening will wrap up part two of the series and we look forward to an announcement with what films the third wave will bring. In the meantime, another great series is about to begin as part of Essential Cinema programming. "After 8 1/2: The Creative In Crisis" will begin with Fellini's 1963 masterpiece 8 1/2 on Thursday night.

Heading to Alamo Ritz, a free 35mm screening of Disney's 1986 Flight Of The Navigator takes place Saturday morning for Kid's Club and they've also got the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup screening today, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday afternoons. If you're looking for a big-screen musical, look no further than the Ritz on Sunday night for Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's It's Always Fair Weather. The Alamo's Slightly Off Cinema Sundays partnership with IFC is happening at the Lakeline location on Sunday night (obviously) with the original Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle. Accept no substitutions. 

The Paramount 100 is serving up a 35mm double feature of blonde bombshells on Wednesday night. First up, 1932's Blonde Venus is a pre-code musical with Marlene Dietrich [Jette: She wears a gorilla suit for one number, you really don't want to miss this]. It's paired with Mae West and Cary Grant starring in 1933's She Done Him Wrong.  

Movies We've Seen

Blue Ruin - Freshlly tagged this week as "Essential Viewing" over at The Dissolve, Jeremy Saulnier's darkly comic thriller was a big hit at Fantastic Fest last year. Jette caught it at the fest and her review said "some parts of Blue Ruin are not for the squeamish but let's face it, I am the squeamish and I would watch this movie again tomorrow. I had to look at the floor for a few seconds in one scene, but it was worth it for such a vivid, energetic movie." (Alamo Slaughter Lane)

Only Lovers Left Alive (pictured above) - The extraordinary Tilda Swinton attended SXSW for the first time earlier this year to promote her role in this new drama from Jim Jarmusch. Not surprisingly, the film's pacing is on the slow side, but many are calling it Jarmusch's best film in years. Marcelena reviewed it for us and says while it may be "quiet and simple," she found the movie "different and refreshing." (Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema) 

The Railway Man - Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in this true story of a British Army officer (played by Firth) who became a POW during World War II. Debbie has an in-depth review of the film where she says it's "a touching and thought-provoking tale of suffering, endurance and forgiveness." (Regal Arbor)

Also Opening In Austin

Alan Partridge - Steve Coogan has been portraying his Alan Partridge character on the BBC going back to 1991. This big-screen adapatation was released in the UK last fall where it opened at number one under the longer name Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Even though it may not crossover to much stateside success, a sequel is already in the works. (Violet Crown Cinema, also available on VOD)

Brick Mansions - One of Paul Walker's final films, this is an English-language remake of the French thriller District 13 and is produced by Luc Besson, who co-wrote the original film. (wide)

The Other Woman - Nick Cassavetes directs this revenge comedy that stars Cameron Diaz, This Is 40's Leslie Mann and rapper Nicki Minaj. (wide)

The Quiet Ones - Legendary British horror production company Hammer Films was resurrected a few years ago and had a big hit in 2012 with The Woman In Black. Jared Harris plays a college professor who is trying to generate a ghost. (wide)

Watermark - Named "Best Canadian Film" of 2013 by the Toronto Film Critics Association, this environmental documentary examines our dependence on fresh water and the consequences of its use. (Regal Arbor) 

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

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The allure of a seductive yet terrifying monster has always been the hook for me in vampire films. Usually an attractive immortal being who (in the sexiest way possible) preys upon its victims, leaving you both turned on but also scared out of your mind. I was prepared to see this happen again in Jim Jarmusch's latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive. Surprisingly though, it wasn't the case.

I'm not sure that I would classify this movie as a vampire film, but rather a romance story. I found myself longing for the type of relationship that Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) share. Two creatures of the night that have been together for centuries, the film shows us what life is like for them in the modern world.  And it's not what you'd expect: it's quiet and simple, although the two have more money than most average households. (I guess financial gain is a perk of being a vampire.)

Review: The Railway Man

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Poster 'Railway Man'A particular subgenre I've enjoyed from an early age thanks to my father's influence is war movies, including the classics -- The Bridge on the River Kwai, Kelly's Heroes and The Dirty Dozen topped our list -- with a particular fondness for prisoner-of-war tales including Victory and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. I find the stories of brave servicemen who overcome torturous emotional and physical conditions to be inspiring testaments to courage and bravery.

Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, the movie The Railway Man portrays such a character, Eric Lomax (Colin Firth). It's based on the real-life story of a British army officer and radio engineer who was captured with his unit during the fall of Singapore in 1942. The prisoners of war were used to build the railroad from Burma to Siam through rough terrain, under brutal conditions.

The Railway Man begins with a chance encounter on a train between Eric Lomax and Patti Wallace portrayed by Nicole Kidman. After decades as a bachelor, Eric finds himself in love with the engaging Patti. After a whirlwind romance, they marry and settle into what would seem to be a quiet perfect life. However, Eric suffers from night terrors as he relives his wartime experiences including torture from Japanese officers, aided by their interpreter Nagase (Tanroh Ishida).

Patti seeks the aid of Eric's good friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard) to help her husband face his emotional demons -- not an easy task, as Finlay was also in Eric's unit and suffered from their captors' abuse. The men are bound by a code of silence, expected to endure and move on.

The story of their imprisonment is told in a series of extensive flashbacks with the young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and a young Finlay (Sam Reid), nicknamed Uncle. Unbeknown to their captors, the men had smuggled in the parts to a radio which they reassemble in order to receive news from home. When the radio is discovered, Eric takes full blame and is subsequently tortured to confess what the Japanese believe is the true purpose for the radio.

Ready, Set, Fund: Texas Women Making Movies

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carlyn hudson

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and fundraising endeavors related to Austin and Texas independent film projects. 

This column has long been well nurtured and championed by Debbie, but moving forward you'll see other Slackerwood contributors pitching in to highlight various crowdfunding activities going on in the local film community. It's my pleasure to present this month's slate, which includes a few excellent projects spearheaded by women. 

First up is a film-in-the-making called The Big Spoon. Currently seeking funds on Kickstarter, this "unromantic comedy" is planned to film in Austin this summer and will pull together several familiar names for its cast and crew. The project is also specifically dedicated to supporting the work of women in film and features a largely female production team.

The Big Spoon is co-written and (will be) directed by Carlyn Hudson (pictured above left), a University of Texas alum and short film director who co-produced Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess as well as Richard Linklater's Hulu project Up to Speed. Hudson was also a segment director for Slacker 2011, and if you've ever attended Cinema East you'll recognize her as one of the series programmer/producers. 

Cine Las Americas 2014: Lessons In Growing

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I'm once again thrilled to be covering this year's Cine Las Americas International Film Festival.  It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first festival I covered as a Slackerwood contributer about a year ago. This year's lineup brought Austin some unique and inspiring films, full of heart and talent from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Chile and many others -- not to mention many films made right here in Texas.

I was sadly unable to attend the fest's opening-night film Tercera Llamada (Last Call), but from what I've read on social media and heard through the grapevine, it was one heck of a way to kick off the week. As per usual though, my festing adventures have taken me to the Alamo Drafthouse Village, one of my all-time favorite festival venues.

My film-fest watching started on Wednesday with the whimsical Brazilian movie O Menino e o Mundo (The Boy and the World), an animated film about a young boy searching for his father, who's left on a train.  I was already hooked on the fact that it was an animated film, but the trailer combined with its flavorful Brazilian soundtrack sold me. (Note: If anyone can let me know where to get a copy, I will gladly purchase it!) The story itself has no dialogue, told solely through the young boy's view of the world. It's full of color, curiosity and an innoncence that made me reminisce about my own adolescence.  By the end, I came to an astute realization: Children long to be adults, while adults long to be children again.

Hill Country Film Festival Highlights Texas

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Intramural

It's time again to start thinking about the Hill Country Film Festival, which runs from April 30-May 4 in Fredericksburg. I just booked my B&B (although is it really a B&B if there's no breakfast? B&NB, perhaps?) and am looking forward to the coziest film festival I've attended.

HCFF is always fun for me because I don't have to rush from venue to venue, the parties are small and people are very friendly, and the audiences always seem to be excited about the movies. The fest is using two theaters this year, but they're not far apart, although it means some tough decision-making is in order.

Austin-shot feature Intramural (pictured at top) is one of the fest's highlights this year. The closing-night film is directed by Andrew Disney, who was at HCFF 2012 with his comedy Searching for Sonny, and written/produced by Bradley Jackson, whose short The Man Who Never Cried screened at HCFF 2012 (both movies on the same day, in fact). Intramural, which debuted at Tribeca Film Festival this week, is about fifth-year college seniors participating in intramural sports.

Lone Star Cinema: The Girl

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Abbie Cornish and Maritza Santiago Hernandez in The Girl

David Riker, who directed independent immigrant drama La Ciudad, helmed a film in 2012 titled The Girl. This seems at first glance a far-too-general name for a movie about immigration, life on the border, motherhood and desperation. Is the "girl" of the title Ashley (Abbie Cornish, Bright Star, Sucker Punch), a young mother struggling to make money so she can get back custody of her son? The viewer wonders as we see her flustered under the keen eye of a social worker, arguing for more shifts at the grocery store, or riding along with her trucker dad (Will Patton, Remember the Titans, TV show Falling Skies) to Mexico.

Ashley becomes convinced that she can be a coyote -- she desperately needs the money this bad idea will bring her. Among the group of people she picks up in a Nuevo Laredo plaza to convey over the border is a young girl, who is definitely the inspiration for the title.  Ashley and the child (we find out three-quarters into the film that her name is Rosa) are thrown together by circumstance, and end up helping each other.

Stuntin' with the Off-Centered Film Fest 2014

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Andy Samberg in 'Hot Rod'Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery returns to Austin for the seventh annual Off-Centered Film Fest at Alamo Drafthouse. This year's theme for the multi-day event is "Stuntin'," dedicated to the daredevil spirit. The opening celebration will be held at Fiesta Gardens on Thursday, April 24 at 6 pm, with an outdoor 35mm screening of the comedy Hot Rod, starring Andy Samberg.

Special guests for the evening event's include The Lonely Island -- Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, as well as Calagione and representatives of the Central Texas brewing community. Ticket sales will also include an option to donate to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG).

"We are extremely pleased to have the support of Alamo Drafthouse and Sam Calagione, and this tangibly demonstrates of the collaborative nature of American craft brewers," said Charles Vallhonrat, TCBG executive director. "This event is a great opportunity to showcase some of the wonderful craft beers that are available in Texas from both Dogfish and our Texas brewers, while supporting the work of the Guild to educate, advocate and promote for Texas craft beer."

Slackery News Tidbits: April 21, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Filmmaker Annie Silverstein has had her student short film Skunk accepted in the Cinefondation section of Cannes Film Festival. It is one of 16 films that will screen, out of 1,631 student movies submitted worldwide. She ran a successful crowdfunding campaign last year to finish Skunk, which was her master's thesis film at The University of Texas at Austin. The film stars local actress Heather Kafka.
  • Texas native Tommy Lee Jones's western drama The Homesman, about a duo who escort three insane women across states, will compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, according to CNN
  • The Austin Film Festival and Travis County Sheriff's Office invite area high-chool students to create a commercial or short movie to raise awareness of issues facing teenagers. Winning entries will be published to the event's YouTube channel and screened during AFF's Student Filmmaking Expo, among other prizes. Deadline to submit is Friday. 
  • In more AFF news, 2013 AFF Official Selection Favor, about a friendship that's tested when one man's fling is accidentally killed in a motel room, will be available On Demand and iTunes on Tuesday. 

Movies This Week: April 18-24, 2014

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Under The Skin

Austin Film Society is serving up one more screening of Beyond The Hills this evening at the Marchesa as part of their New Romanian Cinema series. AFS is offering its members a special sneak preview of local filmmaker Chris Eska's The Retrieval (Don's review) Sunday afternoon. I caught this haunting Civil War drama at SXSW last year and definitely recommend seeing it on the big screen. It will open in Austin in a few weeks, but AFS members can see it free at the Marchesa this weekend with a post-film Q&A featuring cast and crew. Hang out after The Retrieval for an AFS Auteur Obscure pick: Robert Clouse's 1970 film Darker Than Amber, preseted in 35mm. Jewels In The Wasteland is taking a break this week, but will return next Wednesday with Ingmar Bergman. 

If you haven't caught Joe yet (or would just like to see it again), Violet Crown Cinema is hosting a special benefit screening of the film on Sunday evening. Director David Gordon Green and "select cast members" will be in attendance with complimentary cocktails provided by Shiner and Z Tequila. All proceeds from the screening (tickets are just $20) will be contributed to Violet Crown employee Evan West, who was seriously injured during the tragic Red River accident during SXSW.

Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self also screens at the Violet Crown on Tuesday night as part of their Texas Spotlight, series and all ticket sales for this event will also be donated to Evan's support fund. This is the first time the Dallas movie will screen in Austin.

Dallas IFF Reviews: 'Tomato Republic' and 'Cowboys of Color'

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Tomato Republic Rob GowinIn the crumbling small town of Jacksonville, known as the Tomato Capital of Texas, a speeding train is coming -- not the frequent trains residents hear almost continually, but a heated mayoral race.

That's the premise of Tomato Republic, a documentary featurette that premiered at the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), where it won a special jury award. Directed by Jenna Jackson, Anthony Jackson and Whitney Graham Carter, Tomato Republic focuses on the mayoral race between three candidates -- incumbent Kenneth Melvin, outspoken restaurateur Rob Gowin, and Kenneth Melvin, the youngest candidate and first African-American to run for the (unpaid) office.

The town's colorful characters are the most engaging part of this film, whether it's the three candidates or the "Rusk Rocket Scientists," who hang out and gossip at local establishments.

I found myself most amused by the filmmaker and interviewees acknowledging the trains running past the town that would often interrupt the filming. When the trains run so often that football games and high-school graduations are impacted, it's ingenious to integrate that frequent occurrence into a documentary.

Review: Cuban Fury

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Cuban Fury posterWhat better way to charm a lady than to display your dance moves?

Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) leads the cast in British dance-comedy Cuban Fury as Bruce, a middle-management type in a mechanical design office. His boss Drew, played quite creepily by Chris O'Dowd (The IT Crowd, Bridesmaids), constantly picks on him and won't stop with the fat jokes (seriously, enough with the fat jokes). Both men are excited by the entrance to the company of American executive Julia (Rashida Jones, Parks and Recreation, Celeste and Jesse Forever).

Bruce has a secret: He and his sister were once young Latin-dance superstars in their region, until an attack by bullies led him to put up his dancing shoes. To impress Julia, whom he spies taking salsa lessons, Bruce turns to his former dance coach Ron (Ian McShane, Deadwood) for aid. Bruce also gets help and advice from his bartender sister (Olivia Colman, Hot Fuzz, Broadchurch) and new dancing pal Bejan (Keyvam Novak, Four Lions, Syriana).

The plot is fairly predictable, with a few dance-offs thrown in. The choreography by Litza Bixler (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Shaun of the Dead) is fast-paced and fun to watch. The dance battle between Bruce and Drew looks like it took some serious preparation. 

The soundtrack is another of the better-executed facets of Cuban Fury, with Tito Puente classics and more modern Latin pop scoring the action. However, the bordering-on-sexual-harassment humor (along with the aforementioned proliferation of fat jokes) from O'Dowd's character was enough to make me grimace in my seat. 

Review: Transcendence

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Wally Pfister has spent almost fifteen years as Christopher Nolan's go-to cinematographer. From Memento to The Dark Knight Rises, he's been behind the camera capturing incredible action-packed movies. For his directorial debut he chose a cyberthriller and packed it with terrific actors, even getting Nolan to serve as an executive producer. This is all quite an impressive pedigree for a first-time director, but it's also why the finished project, the movie Transcendence, feels so disappointing. 

The story begins in the not-too-distant future with Max Waters (Paul Bettany) wandering around the chaotic streets of Berkeley, California. We learn there is no power and the phones are down thanks to an "unavoidable collision" of mankind and technology. After spending just a few moments in this dystopia, we flash back five years to try and understand why. Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall play Will and Evelyn Caster, a research team and loving couple who specialize in artificial intelligence. 

A series of deadly lab attacks happens across the country while the Casters are in the midst of giving a big donor presentation called "Evolve The Future." The FBI blames the actions on an organization called "R.I.F.T." (Revolutionary Independence From Technology), a group of hackers and activists who believe that artificial intelligence is a threat to humanity.

Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow from The Dark Knight Rises) plays the main FBI agent who meets up at the Casters' lab with fellow researcher Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman). He's the only survivor of their lab's attack because he neglected to eat a piece of poisoned birthday cake that was placed on his desk while he was deep in thought. They all introduce the FBI agent to PINN, a super-intelligent machine that basically operates like Siri on steroids. 

Dallas IFF Review: Produce

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Produce Still PhotoFilmmaker Chris Dowling, an alumnus of the radio-TV-film program at The University of Texas at Austin, wrote and directed family drama Produce, which debuted at the Dallas International Film Festival last week. Although this film deals with some heavy-hearted issues, overall Produce is an engaging and entertaining story that should please viewers.

The opening sequence of a morning routine of breakfast, shower and a bike commute to work at first appears typical, until the camera angle widens and we see the character simply known as Produce (David DeSanctis), who has Down's Syndrome. It's this foundation that sets an important plot point for the film -- Produce is not defined by his condition despite the challenges and prejudices that he faces daily. He wants nothing more than to be employee of the month at the Value Market where he works as a produce clerk. Sadly his manager and co-workers don't respect him or appreciate his strengths.

The character who's the most challenged in Produce is Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha), a former professional baseball player who choked during a game and numbs his shame with alcohol. The real adult in the house is his daughter, 17-year-old Katie (McKaley Miller), often left to fend for herself while her dad is out drinking with his booze buddies. Calvin's self-destructive behavior threatens his relationship with his daughter, as well as a potential career as a baseball manager.

Dallas IFF 2014: Farah White, 'About Mom and Dad'

Farah WhiteIf I had to place a wager on who will "out-Mars" Austin talent Jonny Mars with the number of film projects that one Texan can possibly be associated with in one year, my bet for the top contender is Dallas-based Farah White. At this year's Dallas International Film Festival, White was involved in five films as either a member of the cast and producer.

Hell hath no fury like a Texas woman scorned in Rachel Shepard's About Mom and Dad, a comedic drama of a couple whose decades-long marriage disintegrates. White leads the ensemble Texas cast as Teri, effortlessly delivering many of the film's witty lines including, "There are no sides -- you just need to know that I am right." Dallas-based Brent Anderson stars as dad Eddie, and Austinites Heather Kafka and Jonny Mars also appear in supporting roles in the movie.

White is also executive producer for About Mom and Dad, having acted in and produced Shepard's road journey drama Traveling, which premiered at DIFF 2011. About Mom and Dad stars Reece Rios, Melissa Odom and Texan actress McKaley Miller, and was shot in Marfa as well as the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Cine Las Americas Announces 2014 Lineup

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Cine Las Americas announced their full film lineup last week in preparation for their upcoming festival, which takes place April 22-27. his is the 17th year for the fest, and the list of events includes thought-provoking and unique films from all over the world.

The kickoff will take place Tuesday night, April 22 at 7 pm with the movie Tercera Llamada (Last Call) at the Marchesa Theatre. The story is based on a play written by director Francisco Franco in which a theater group goes through a challenging process in trying to stage the play Caligula for an international theater festival.

The Marchesa is one of four venues for film screenings this year, including the Alamo Drafthouse Village, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center and the Jones Auditorium at the Ragsdale Center of St. Edward's University.

Review: Joe

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Joe posterFilmmaker David Gordon Green has shot two films in Central Texas now (well, three, but only two are out yet), and he gets it. He really does. For both Prince Avalanche and now Joe, he took stories that could be set anywhere and ground them in local rural settings, with characters played by residents who weren't previously professional actors. The most affecting scene in Prince Avalanche was the one in the ruins with Joyce Payne.

In Joe, I felt like I could drive 30 miles and find the unnamed town in which the film was set, with all its characters intact. In such a setting, the lead actors fit in and feel like characters, not stars. Even Nicolas Cage

Cage plays the title character, whose job is leading a team of laborers to clear a forest for development -- hacking at trees with axes that contain poisonous liquids. He's approached by Gary (Tye Sheridan), a teenager in a family of drifters squatting in an abandoned shack. Gary wants to join Joe's work gang, needing money to help his family, because his perpetually drunk-and-enraged father (Gary Poulter) can't do it.

It's a simple story when I lay it out that way, but the story isn't the point here, it's the characters and the way they reveal themselves as the movie progresses, especially Joe. He's oddly passive at times, letting matters run their course in their own way. And yet some people and things affect him like dropping a match in gasoline. Don't even ask about the dog in the whorehouse. (That's a sentence I never expected to write.)

For someone who's seen too many hysterically overdone performances from Cage, his work as Joe is amazing, reminding us that when he's well directed in a well-written role, he's a marvel. He manages to portray a man keeping his passions under wraps and even when he does let loose, it's in a way that isn't histrionic. He doesn't dominate the film, either -- Sheridan holds up against him perfectly in their scenes together. But even in scenes with his work gang, or in a small grocery, the other characters get to shine.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 14, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news. 

  • Congratulations to filmmaker/University of Texas lecturer Kat Candler (Debbie's interview) on her 2014 Dallas International Film Festival's Grand Jury Narrative Prize for Hellion (Debbie's review). Texas native Darius Clark Monroe's movie Evolution of a Criminal also won the Documentary Feature Special Jury Prize for Directorial Vision. The Texas Grand Jury Prize went to Flutter (Debbie's review), with a special jury prize to the East Texas documentary Tomato Republic. Austin filmmaker John Fiege's documentary Above All Else (Don's review, Elizabeth's interview) won a special jury prize in the Silver Heart category. Here's the full list of awards.
  • The 17th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival announced its full lineup last week. The Marchesa Hall and Theater will feature the festival's opening and closing-night movies, international new releases and "Hecho en Tejas," a category devoted to movies made in Texas, including the documentary Las Marthas, about the annual Laredo-based celebration honoring President George Washington, where debutantes dress as American Revolutionaries.
  • Screenings for this year's Cine Las Americas will take place at the Alamo Drafthouse Village and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. San Antonio filmmaker Efrain Gutierrez, whose 1970s microindies are considered to be the first Chicano films, will also be honored during the festival, which takes place April 22-27.
  • Television station AMC has returned to sponsor and judge this year's Austin Film Festival and Conference's One-Hour Pilot Award for the Teleplay Competition. The award is open to any pilot script written in the one-hour format for an original TV series. Finalists will be given the opportunity to meet with a representative of AMC during the event, which takes place Oct. 23-30, or over the phone at a later date. 

Movies This Week: April 11-17, 2014

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Joe 

The Austin Film Society has a very special event tonight at the Marchesa to kick off another week of marvelous screenings. The Sound Of Silent Film Festival will feature short films accompanied by musical performances from Chicago's Access Contemporary Music organization. Several Austin musicians will join ACM for this collaborative and unique evening.  

The AFS spotlight on New Romanian Cinema continues this week at the Marchesa with Cristian Mungiu's critically acclaimed Beyond The Hills on Sunday (presented digitally) and his emotionally devastating 2007 feature Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days (presented in 35mm) on Tuesday. On Wednesday night, Richard Linklater will present Cutter's Way starring Jeff Bridges and John Heard. As is the case for his entire Jewels In The Wasteland series, there will be an introduction and post-film group discussion led by Linklater himself. David Pulbrook's 2012 effort Last Dance will be featured on Thursday night as part of this month's Essential Cinema series. 

Jordan recently wrote a great post looking at the upcoming offerings from the Paramount 100 celebration over at the Paramount Theatre. On Monday night, you can catch a Universal Monsters 35mm double feature with Bela Lugosi starring in Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.  

Chatting with Nicolas Cage, David Gordon Green and the 'Joe' Cast

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Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, and David Gordon Green of 'Joe'

After a series of premieres across the country including SXSW and Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), Joe opens today in Austin at the Violet Crown Cinema and Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter. Based on the novel by Larry Brown, this dark drama reveals the raw and often brutal nature of an impoverished family and what happens when a damaged man becomes involved in the family drama.

The leads of Joe are veteran star Nicolas Cage in the title role and Texas' up-and-coming young actor Tye Sheridan (Tree of Life, Mud) as Gary. Cage, Sheridan and Austin-based director David Gordon Green (Prince Avalanche) spoke to members of the press at a conference during SXSW last month. I also spoke with several cast members at the recent DIFF premiere.

Green said he was attracted to the script for Joe because it struck him as "a great contemporary western, a genre that I’ve always been drawn to." He was already familiar with Brown's novel, and had even worked on a documentary about the author.

Dallas IFF 2014: David and Nathan Zellner, 'Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter'

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Nathan and David Zellner at Sundance

Writing and directing team Nathan and David Zellner (pictured above) have been to film festivals all over the world recently with their latest narrative, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (my review) -- from Sundance in Park City to Berlin, Buenos Aires and Austin for SXSW. This week the film screens at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12.

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter stars Rinko Kikuchi as a lonely young woman disconnected from her coworkers and the traditional culture of Tokyo. Her obsession with the mythical treasure from the movie Fargo leads her on a journey well outside her comfort zone and knowledge, through the United States.

I spoke with Nathan and David Zellner last month when Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter screened at SXSW Film Festival in Austin. Here's what they had to say about the film.

Violet Crown Cinema Debuts Texas Spotlight Film Series

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flutter film posterIt makes welcome sense that a locally owned and operated movie theater would present a program that highlights its home state while also supporting one of its own Austin friends. Violet Crown Cinema has announced a new ongoing film series called Texas Spotlight, which will feature the work of Texas filmmakers and Texas-based films.

Three monthly screenings have been announced so far, and all ticket sales from these initial shows will be donated to a fund for Evan West, a Violet Crown employee severely injured in the March 13 hit-and-run on Red River Street. 

This first trio of films features two newer selections and one retrospective screening, and all three directors hail from Texas (either Austin or Dallas). Tickets are available here

Read on for screening details and descriptions (provided by Violet Crown), and stay in touch for updates about future Texas Spotlight screenings. If you'd like to donate directly to the Evan West fund, you can do so here

  • Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self, April 22 -- When invited by an old friend to speak to a struggling sales team at a conference, Bob Birdnow (veteran Dallas actor Barry Nash) reluctantly agrees. Bob's attempt to say something motivational takes an unexpected turn when, forced off script and desperate, he begins the one story he'd hoped he'd never have to tell. This adaptation of a one-man show won the Ron Tibbett Award for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Indie Memphis Film Festival. (Director: Eric Steele, 2013)
  • Flutter, May 13 -- To treat her son, Johnathan, who suffers from a degenerative eye condition, JoLynn must break society's laws. With her husband away indefinitely, JoLynn struggles to nurture her son in the face of poverty, isolation and incarceration. Flutter explores the truest love on earth -- the love of a mother and child. (Director: Eric Hueber, 2014)
    Note: Debbie recently caught this one at the Dallas International Film Festival and highly recommends it.

Dallas IFF 2014: Meet the 'Copenhagen' Filmmaker and Stars

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Freddericke Dahl Hansen, Mark Raso, and Gethin Anthony of COPENHAGEN

The movie Copenhagen, winner of the 2014 Slamdance Audience Award for Best Narrative (my review), has its Texas screening debut today and Thursday at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF).

In his feature directorial debut, Canadian writer-director Mark Raso takes viewers on a personal journey for Will (Gethin Anthony), a young man who must face himself while seeking clues about his father. He is helped in his search by the young yet mature Effie (Frederikke Dahl Hanssen) who must deal with her own challenges at home.

While at Slamdance, I had an opportunity to speak with Raso, Anthony and Hanssen about Copenhagen. Here's what they had to say about the film.

Paramount 100 Series Reaches the 1930s

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In anticipation of the The Paramount Theatre's 100th birthday next year, The Paramount and Stateside theaters are presenting the year-and-a-half-long "Paramount 100: A Century of Cinema" film series, which celebrates the history of movies from the silent film era to the present day. Movies have been screened in chronological order starting in January. This month marks a shift to the talking pictures of the 1930s

Movies from the 1930s will screen this and next month as double features, showcasing the emergence of the gangster and monster genres, "while telling stories that range in upper-class highs to Great Depression lows":

April 14:

  • Dracula: Bela Lugosi's iconic performance as the Transylvanian nobleman, based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same name. The success of this film ushered in a golden age of Universal horror films and continues to define the look and feel of American horror movies. 
  • Frankenstein: This equally iconic monster, played by Boris Karloff, may be darker and more controversial than Lugosi's. 

What's Streaming: Fools on Film

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I hate jokes and anyone who makes them. Having a sense of humor has always disgusted me, and is one trait in people that I absolutely cannot stand. It's an automatic deal breaker for me when, after just having met someone, they crack a joke or use a bit of sarcasm in an effort to be impressive. If you're one of these people, we probably haven't gotten along very well (and that's probably why I never called or texted you back). It truly is the one thing I can't stand.

... Okay, that was my belated April Fools joke for you all. Who am I kidding? I love joking around with people, and will always be the first to lighten the mood in a room (or at least try to). In keeping with that tone for the month, I found myself watching a lot of films lately that have rather foolish protagonists. Some of them are jerks, some just don't have a clue. Some of them are just too young to know what's right and what's wrong. We've all acted foolishly in our own lives, and sometimes we might not realize it until we see someone acting the same way.

I'm not saying these movies will make you realize you're a fool. But, maybe they'll cause you to reflect on those elements of yourself that you didn't realize you had. Who knows -- you might just make some improvements this month.

Lone Star Cinema: An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story

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An Unreal Dream

If you spent nearly 25 years in prison for a crime you didn't commit, would you be bitter?

Michael Morton isn't. Which is surprising, given that he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, spent almost 25 years behind bars and would remain there today if not for the tenacious attorneys who won his release.

Morton's frightening ordeal is the subject of An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story, a moving 2013 documentary  released on DVD April 1. More than just a recounting of Morton's astonishing and infuriating story, the film is a meditation on faith and redemption.

The film's title is based on a quote from United States Justice Learned Hand: "Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream." But "an unreal dream" is too tepid a description of Morton's suffering; his story is in every way a nightmare.

Dallas IFF 2014: On the Red Carpet with 'Words and Pictures'

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Fred and Mary Schepisi of 'Words and Pictures'The 2014 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) opened last week with the premiere of Words and Pictures, a lovely comedic drama starring Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen as teachers at a prestigious academy who go head-to-head over the timeless literary vs. artistic debate.

As it's shot in Vancouver by Australian director Fred Schepisi and features big-name and critically acclaimed stars, this movie's Texas connection may not be obvious at first. However, Schepisi -- pictured above with his wife and "muse" Mary Schepisi -- proclaims a strong bond to the Lone Star State because his first American film Barbarosa, starring Willie Nelson and Gary Busey, was filmed in west Texas in 1982.

Schepisi quipped during the Q&A that "Texas is the one state that has the same sense of humor as Australia -- I feel sorry for you," but spoke highly of the support from Dallas. Words and Pictures would not have been possible without its producers, who are mostly Dallas-based private investors including Curtis Burch, Derrick Evers and Bob and Judy Gass.

AFS Doc Nights Preview: Blood Brother

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Still from Blood Brother

Blood Brother, which Austin Film Society will screen Tuesday evening at the Marchesa as part of the Doc Nights series, is very obviously a labor of love. Filmmaker Steve Hoover travelled to India with his best friend Rocky Braat, who was returning after a short break to his work volunteering at a rural hostel for mothers and children with HIV/AIDS. For a few months, the director documented the daily life of his friend and the kids he serves.

The documentary may sound at first like a white-guy-goes-to-a-developing-country-to-do-good story (it kind of is one, literally), particularly when Rocky says things like he went to India "seeking authenticity." But Blood Brother is a layered film, and goes far deeper than this initial premise. The film kicks off in medias res, with an older man clutching a near-lifeless child to his chest; Rocky and others are shown racing to take the girl to the hospital. In this manner, Blood Brother grabs your attention from the start. Later on, the viewer learns more about these events and the people involved. 

Dallas IFF Review: Flutter

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WeeWee and Johnathan -- Flutter Still PhotoTo what length will mothers go to protect their children -- or grandchildren -- and what's the definition of a "bad" parent?

That's the core theme of Flutter, the narrative debut for Austin filmmaker Eric Hueber, who wrote this moving family drama as an homage to his own deceased own mother. That personal connection lends to an intimate portrayal of a mother's unconditional love for her son.

Johnathan (Johnathan Huth Jr.) is obsessed with the sea, and battles the imaginary creatures within along with his 300-pound pet pig Wee Wee. Due to an often debilitating condition of of nystagmus and severe glaucoma, Johnathan must take medication to relieve the excruciating pain and pressure that could cause irreversible blindness.

Review: Nymphomaniac: Vol. II

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Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2

My review of Nymphomaniac: Vol. I can be found here. Both volumes are now playing locally at the Violet Crown Cinema and are also available to rent through cable & digital VOD providers, including iTunes. 

While the first installment of Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac focused on Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) graphically retelling the stories of her sexual history as a young woman to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), Nymphomaniac: Vol. II shifts to her adulthood. She's on an endless quest to recreate the enormity of feeling from a spontaneous orgasm she once experienced as a pre-teen, but as the story picks back up, we're at a stage where she basically has lost all sexual desire and, even worse, any pleasure from having sex. Joe has gone numb and can no longer have an orgasm, a loss that nearly destroys her ability to function. She goes on a quest to "rehabilitate her sexuality" and finds that her desires run much darker than she'd ever realized. 

By now she has married Jerome (Shia LaBeouf) and they have a son. Her maternal instinct is strong, but her instatiable carnal needs are stronger. Jerome encourages her to take lovers, but she's not particularly interested in a traditional affair. She begins to see K (Jamie Bell) and enters into a deeply disturbing BDSM relationship with him where she gets off by being punched in the face and beaten with a leather riding crop while being tied down to a couch. There were a few moments during these scenes that made me flinch and much like Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me, there will be some audience members who cannot abide the sexual violence.

Slackery News Tidbits: April 7, 2014

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Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Texas native Darius Clark Monroe's film Evolution of a Criminal, which made its world premiere at this year's SXSW, recently received the Grand Jury Prize at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It also screened at the 2014 Dallas International Film Festival. 
  • Fellow SXSW 2014 selection The Great Invisible (Elizabeth's review), also won at Full Frame, for Best Environmental Documentary. The movie, directed by Austinite Margaret Brown (Elizabeth's interview), follows the effects of the BP oil spill on communities in the Gulf Coast. 
  • Another SXSW 2014 selection, the San Marcos River experimental documentary Yakona (Caitlin's review), will make its local premiere at 9 pm on Saturday at Sewell Park in San Marcos. The free screening takes place during the two-day Inaugural Texas Wild Rice Festival
  • The Austin Film Society announced its recent collaboration with the Sundance Institute on its Artist Services program, Indiewire reports. AFS is one of seven nonprofit organizations the Institute is collaborating with on the program, which focuses on helping independent filmmakers find digital distribution, marketing and financing for their projects. 

SXSW 2014: All Our Coverage

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Slackerwood was all over the SXSW Film Festival this year. Here's the list of all our guides, features, interviews, reviews and whatever else we wrote (or photographed). Check out the @slackerwood Twitter feed for the latest links, news and other info.

Movies This Week: April 4-10, 2014

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Le-Weekend

The Austin Film Society's series on New Romanian Cinema continues this weekend with Corneliu Porumnoiu's When Evening Falls On Bucharest Or Metabolism. It plays this evening and again on Sunday night at The Marchesa. Tuesday night's featured theme is Doc Nights, turning the spotlight on Blood Brother. Steve Hoover's documentary about a young man's trip to India working with HIV-infected children won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at last year's Sundance Film Festival. If you're up for a German WWII epic, Richard Linklater will be presenting a 35mm print of 1981's Das Boot on Wednesday night. Finally, Essential Cinema on Thursday night will be the 2012 Turkish film Watchtower.

Heading over to the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, the theater is bringing us the Marx Bros. starring in Animal Crackers on Saturday and Tuesday afternoon, a few screenings of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom in 35mm happening from Saturday-Monday, Mark Lester coming for a 35mm screening of Commando on Sunday night and a very interesting project by 'cinematic journalist' Adam Curtis called The Century Of The Self happening on Monday night for just $1!

Review: Le Week-End

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le weekend posterPart romantic caper-comedy, part brutal exploration of a 30-year marriage, Le Week-End uses an endearing sense of mischief to balance life's satisfying highs and crushing lows.

The film stars Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent as Meg and Nick, a British couple celebrating their anniversary in Paris, the site of their honeymoon decades earlier. Though their children are now adults and they should be approaching those golden years of retirement and relaxation, both are wrecked with uncertainty and worry about money, aging and who they are -- in their own eyes and in the eyes of the other. 

Nick has grown clingy around Meg and fears being alone. He's also been keeping a secret from her about the state of his career and seems to be on the verge of a full-on existential crisis. Not too far off, Meg is filled with dissatisfaction but doesn't know what to do to make herself happy. They are quite the pair of overthinkers, and it's clear that taking a weekend out of town together is a risky maneuver unlikely to solve anything. 

Where traditional romantic comedies tend to gloss over the tougher parts of long-term relationships (if they depict them at all), Le Week-End faces the sad, awkward stuff head-on. But while there are several intense Celine and Jesse moments between Nick and Meg, these sometimes melancholy lovers are often pretty Frances Ha-ish, too. They argue, sure, but they're also comfortably playful, affectionate and adorably silly with each other.  

Director Roger Michell (Notting Hill, The Mother) shows off the gorgeous and charming parts of Paris but hints at the dirty little secret of typical Hollywood movies: Real people can't actually afford the romantic experience so often depicted onscreen. If Nick and Meg want to stay in a hotel with a stellar view, shop for fine clothes and eat incredible meals, frugal realism must be casually ignored and their material adventures will need to be charged on the credit card. 

Dallas IFF 2014 Preview: Traveling Across the Globe

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Words and Pictures still photoThe 2014 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) is changing it up a bit this year with the film venues and number of screenings. Although there are fewer screenings per day, it will be easier to make it to consecutive movies centralized at the Angelika rather than catching a shuttle to the Magnolia, which is not a DIFF venue this year.

The film festival opens on Thursday, April 3 at the Dallas City Performance Hall, with Words and Pictures starring Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen. This narrative feature portrays the challenges faced by educators in their attempts to inspire students in art and education in a day and age full of obsessions with social media, grades and status among peers.

I am looking forward to several of the international titles that are premiering in Dallas, including my personal 2014 Slamdance Film Festival favorite and Audience Award winner Copenhagen (screening times), written and directed by Mark Raso. Read my Slamdance review, and check back soon for an interview with filmmaker Raso and stars Gethin Anthony and Frederickke Dahl Hansen. On a side note, when I asked Hansen about her acting influence she named Juliette Binoche.

TAMI Flashback: Everything Isn't Normal in These Workplace Videos

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Everything Looks So Normal!

This article is the seventh in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

"Mary doesn't look like a pusher, and surely doesn't think of herself as one."
-- Narration from the workplace drug use training film Everything Looks So Normal!

Ah, but Mary most certainly is a pusher. She and her co-worker Sue, both hooked on tranquilizers, are among the drug-addled employees of an unnamed corporation in Everything Looks So Normal!, a video long overdue for a TAMI Flashback skewering. Drug abuse in the workplace (or anywhere else) is a serious matter, but cheesily dramatic corporate training films like Everything Looks So Normal! make it hard to take all the toking, snorting and pill popping very seriously.

Made in Houston in 1983, the video centers on two managers at a company that manufactures and sells, well, something. When the bosses notice declines in productivity, one suspects drug abuse. The other dismisses his suspicion; after all, everything looks so normal! The employees don't look like drug users!

Texas Films at Dallas IFF: Landscapes, Cowboys and Music

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Flutter Still PhotoThe 2014 Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) runs from Thursday, April 3 - Saturday, April 13, and features over fifteen films that originated in the Lone Star State. From Texas musicans to epic Southern fables, there's plenty of great Texas-based content stretching from Dallas to the Piney Woods of East Texas to the coastal towns of Taft and Port Neches.

Austin-based writer and director Eric Hueber made his feature directorial debut at the Dallas International Film Festival in 2011 with his documentary Rainbow's End. Originally from Nacogdoches, Hueber studied film at Stephen F. Austin State University and has worked as an editing assistant for director Terrence Malick. Hueber returns to DIFF with the touching family drama Flutter (screening times).

Flutter focuses on nine-year-old Johnathan (Johnathan Huth Jr.), who loves sea monsters and his massive pet pig Wee Wee. His eyes flutter and he is also going blind as a result of nystagmus and severe glaucoma. Johnathan's mother JoLynn (Lindsay Pulsipher) raises him on her own with some help from her husband David's parents. David (Jesse Plemons) is absent, out on the road in search of musical fame as a singer/songwriter. JoLynn makes personal sacrifices for her son that jeopardize her own safety.

Texas Filmmakers: Apply Now for AFS Grants 2014

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afs logoHere's some exciting news for Texas filmmakers: The Austin Film Society has announced that the 2014 AFS Grant Cycle is now open, and the deadline for applications is June 2, 2014. Filmmakers who live in the state can apply for up to $15,000 to cover production, post-production or distribution of their independent narrative, documentary, experimental and short films. 

To help grant hopefuls through the application process, AFS will hold free and open to the public workshops during April and May in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth. Register to attend an AFS Grant Workshop here and take a look at the details below. 

AFS Grant Workshops

  • Austin -- Monday, April 21 at 7 pm in the AFS Screening Room (1901 E 51 Street, Austin, TX 78723).
  • Houston -- Tuesday, April 29 at 6 pm at the Aurora Picture Show (2442 Bartlett St., Houston, TX 77098); co-presented by SWAMP.
  • Dallas -- Monday, April 28 at 7 pm at KERA, Public Television and Radio for North Texas (3000 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, Texas 75201); co-presented by the Video Association of Dallas.