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Interview: Mark Duplass and Charlie McDowell, 'The One I Love'

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Duplass and McDowellOne of my favorite movies so far this year has been The One I Love. I was going to preface the film's title with a summary of its genre -- for example, "the delightful romantic comedy" or "the taut suspense thriller" but as you know if you've heard anything about the movie, the less said the better. It defies genre, and is just as twisty as last year's smart horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods. Check out Marcie's vague but heartfelt review for -- well, not details exactly, but at least a recommendation.

Director Charlie McDowell and actor/producer Mark Duplass were in Austin last month to promote the movie, which opened in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar last Friday and will continue through next Wednesday, at least. You can also catch it on various online VOD outlets. As you probably know, Mark and his brother Jay Duplass used to live in Austin, back in their Puffy Chair days, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to sit down with these gentlemen and talk about the film ... to the extent that is possible without spoiling it. We also talked about release strategies and at the end, Austin itself.

Slackerwood: The biggest question on my mind is ... how do you talk about this movie in public, in interviews and so forth?

Mark Duplass: We've become experts. We talk a lot about the themes of the movie, and we talk about the process, and we talk a lot about what it's been like -- trying to market a movie with limited information in a marketplace where you're just trying desperately to get people into the movie theater, so you're saying more and more and more and more ... and how can you do it when all you can say is very little? All kinds of ways to talk about it.

Get Ready for aGLIFF 2014 This Week

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agliffThe Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (better known as aGLIFF) kicks off Wednesday night, and over 100 films from a variety of countries and genres will screen through Sunday. Most of the festival will take place at the recently remodeled Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, and badges and individual passes are both still available.

The lineup is designed to showcase some of the most noteworthy LGBTQ films from the recent festival circuit and includes opening-night film Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, Centerpiece Film Regarding Susan Sontag, narrative closing-night film Appropriate Behavior and a Friday night secret screening.

Whether you're a badgeholder who wants to catch as many movies as possible or a casual participant just planning to attend a screening or two, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Location: With the exception of the closing night films, which are at the Stateside Theatre, all other screenings will take place at the Alamo South Lamar. It still looks like a bit of a construction mess over there, but the new parking garage (accessible from Treadwell Street) is open. Get there early to allow time to navigate the situation -- it may take longer than you'd think to park and get inside.

Interview: Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, 'The Dog'

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The Dog posterBy now you have had the chance to see The Dog, one of Drafthouse Films' most intriguing acquisitions this year. If not, you can watch it online via Amazon or Vimeo. Released in theaters last month, the documentary covers the remarkable character John Wojtowicz, aka "The Dog," inspiration for the 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon about a man who robbed a bank pay for his male lover's gender reassignment surgery. I saw the movie during SXSW earlier this year.

Stunned after watching the intimate portrait from Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, I made my way to meet them during SXSW, at the end of a hotel hallway across from another room where (ironically) Snoop Dogg was also meeting the press. Here's the transcript of our two-on-one interview.

Slackerwood: John Wojtowicz died in 2006. What work or shooting on the film have you done since then?

Frank Keraudren: The first four years we shot John exclusively, maybe a little bit of his mother. After that, we had this blueprint of the film, which was a long monologue with a lot of empty spots on the screen. We had already looked up other people that we wanted to find. It took a long time to track down people, but after John passed away we interviewed all the other people who appear in the film. He knew we were going to talk to them. He was perfectly fine with it, but I think while he was alive a lot of them had been antagonized by him to the point that they didn't really want to deal with him. So that dictated the sequence of events, and it allowed us to flesh out the film and explore scenes like the prison sequence we couldn't really build without finding George, who was the third wife that he married in prison, and stuff like that.

Slackery News Tidbits: September 8, 2014

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Here's a roundup of the Austin film news from the past week or so:

  • On Tuesday, the Harry Ransom Center at UT opens its latest exhibit, "The Making of Gone with the Wind." The Austin Chronicle has some background about why the HRC has the materials to make it a strong exhibit. Back in the day, I read everything I could get my hands on about the movie and while I no longer adore Margaret Mitchell's novel or Selznick's cinematic epic, I still can't wait to get to the HRC.
  • Fantastic Fest update: There are so many Fantastic Fest news updates that I can't keep up with them. Check out the film fest's news feed for the latest info. (Yes, I'm lazy. Look at the name of the website. Truth in advertising.)
  • Hollywood Reporter tries to untangle and sort the as-yet-unreleased Terrence Malick projects and figure out what we might get to see soon.
  • Speaking of Fantastic Fest: If you have a short or feature screening at the fest and you live in Austin or Texas -- or you shot here, or your lead actor/actress is from here -- drop me a line so we remember to write about your movie. Thanks!

Review: The Last of Robin Hood

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The Last of Robin Hood posterA gorgeous period piece about great movie stars in decline. Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn. Susan Sarandon in a stunning performance. References to one of my favorite novels, Lolita.

So why did The Last of Robin Hood leave me completely cold and even slightly disgusted?

This story about Flynn's last days and his relationship with Beverly Aadland, whom he met when she was 15, feels pointless and even occasionally dull. Perhaps it's meant to be another installment in a series of Realistic Portrayals of Stories from Hollywood Babylon, along with The Cat's Meow ... but that movie had style, humor and character depth that this movie lacks. Filmmakers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland portrayed teenage characters much more successfully in their previous feature, Quinceanera.

Dakota Fanning plays young Beverly, whom Flynn nicknames Woodsie, his "little wood nymph." He falls for her, she succumbs after an unbelievably rough start ... and more unbelievably, the relationship is aided and abetted by her mother, Florence (Sarandon), a stage mother who is willing to overlook a little statuatory rape to gain her daughter stardom, riches and prestige.

The story opens with Beverly arriving back in LA after Flynn's death "in her arms" in Vancouver, facing a vicious pack of press. Florence is approached by a biographer, and most of the movie is told in flashback with her voiceover. This method works terribly -- the voiceover is painfully obvious, and it's impossible to tell whether we're seeing the story as Florence would tell it, or if it's meant to be more objective.

Review: The Identical

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The Identical

Firmly ensconced in the Great Depression, a young destitute couple is faced with a tough choice -- how to survive with two newborn sons when they can barely feed themselves -- in the drama The Identical. William Hemsley (Brian Geraghty) finds the answer at a evangelical tent service as the preacher Reece Wade (Ray Liotta) reveals that his wife Louise (Ashley Judd) is barren. The Hemsleys give one of their sons to the Wades with the promise that neither boy is to know of the other until after their biological parents pass away.

Blake Rayne debuts as the twin brothers who live very different lives. Drexel Hemsley achieves fame and fortune as a rock and roll star. Ryan Wade grows up under the ever watchful eye of his preacher father and patient mother. He tries to please his father by becoming part of the ministry, but he knows that it's not the true calling that he hears and shares with his estranged brother -- that of music.

Movies This Week: September 5-11, 2014

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The One I Love

It's one of those rare weekends where there are basically no wide releases entering the marketplace. OK, there's an Ashley Judd movie aimed at the faith-based crowds, but that's all that is headed for the multiplexes (ensuring another easy week at the top of the box office for Guardians). That has left an especially adventurous week of bookings with lots of smaller titles hitting town, including the latest from Roman Polanski that we had assumed was never going to play in Austin. Before I show you the new releases, let's take a look at this week's specialty programming.   

While the Paramount 100 will continue on, the official Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is coming to a close this weekend with the Texas-based epic Giant (which Don just revisited in Lone Star Cinema). Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean star in this classic drama which will run in 35mm on Saturday evening (complete with a party for Film Fan Members) and Sunday afternoon. 

Over at the Marchesa, the Austin Film Society is debuting a new digital restoration of Orson Welles' Othello this week. It will play Sunday afternoon and again Tuesday night. AFS also has a one-off screening of a new IFC release called War Story on Sunday. Catherine Keener stars in this selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival which is also available on cable and digital VOD. This month's Essential Cinema series features "Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, Selected by Martin Scorsese." On Thursday night, master filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1987 film Blind Chance screens from a digital restoration. 

Review: Frank

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Frank

Few films explore the creative process as insightfully -- and bizarrely -- as Frank.

A strange, genre-defying mix of dark and slapstick comedy, Frank follows Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), a struggling British musician whose life is forever changed when he joins an avant-garde pop band with an unpronounceable name, the Soronprfbs.

As the band spends months recording a new album in a remote cabin in Ireland, Jon discovers his bandmates are enormously talented and predictably oddball. Singer and theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a snarling terror. Drummer Nana (Carla Azar) says almost nothing (we sense this may be a good thing), and bass player Baraque (François Civil) is a snooty Frenchman who apparently speaks only in insults. But the oddest of the lot is Frank (Michael Fassbender), a charismatic but emotionally disturbed lead singer who, afraid to face the world directly, wears a giant papier-mâché head at all times.

Review: The One I Love

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It's so hard to not know what a film is about these days. Trailers, social media, even overhearing a conversation can ruin a film in an instant for a person. But one thing that caught my attention about The One I Love is that I not only had no clue what it was about -- no one else seemed to know either. It's hard for me to figure out how to review this film without giving too much away, because I feel that that is what makes it so unique. The element of surprise is one that can so easily be ruined, so I'll try my best to watch my details.

Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) have been married for several years. The film opens with a lovely anecdote by Duplass about how the two met, and how they fell in love instantly. But, like most couples, they've hit a wall in their relationship. They need something to "renew" their spark. Per the suggestion of a marriage counselor (Ted Danson), they seek out a long weekend retreat in the mountains of California. Just the two of them... or so they believe.

Site News: Slackerwood Goes Independent, Again

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Slackerwood, by John Gholson

For more than two years now, the Austin Film Society has been publishing Slackerwood. It's been an excellent relationship for everyone involved, and I've enjoyed the collaboration.

However, it's time for a change. As of September 1, 2014, I've taken over the reins again as the publisher of Slackerwood. AFS decided earlier this summer that it would make more sense for the nonprofit to pursue its own editorial voice, so we've worked out a very amicable separation.

I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to have had the Austin Film Society publishing Slackerwood for more than two years. AFS staff members have been extremely supportive and enthusiastic. In fact, I hope they'll continue to help us with previews and event coverage. I also want to thank ex-AFS-staffer Agnes Varnum, who met with me in a coffeehouse nearly three years ago to start hatching the collaborative scheme.

Now, what's on the horizon for Slackerwood? After weighing options available to me for possibly securing funding, I realized I'm first and foremost a writer. I love writing and I love editing articles to bring out the best in them -- these endeavors are an enjoyable use of some of my spare time. (And I love watching movies, but I don't have to tell you that.)

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