The Iron Giant may not have been a box-office success upon its original 1999 release, but the animated film based in 1957 Maine has come to be loved and appreciated by many in the years since. The quirky, heartbreaking sci-fi tale pairs the beauty of its hand-drawn animation with a powerful message.
Hogarth (Eli Marienthal, American Pie) is a young boy in fictional coastal town Rockwell (presumably named after this Rockwell) who stumbles upon a ginormous alien machine one night. Hogarth befriends the giant, who has lost most of his memory, and attempts to pass knowledge on to the larger being. Harry Connick, Jr. figures into the voice cast as a hipster scrap metal collector/artist who supervises some of Hogarth and the giant's interactions.
Meanwhile, Hogarth's widowed mom Annie (Jennifer Aniston) rents out a room to government agent Kent Mansley (Christopher McDonald, Thelma & Louise), sent to the town after reports of metal monsters and strange happenings make their way to Washington. As Hogarth tries to teach the giant that he can choose to be what he wants (instead of what the machine may have been designed for), Mansley is determined to prove the dangerous existence of the imposing metal figure.
Last month while at Sundance Film Festival, I spoke with local filmmaker Kat Candler -- seen above at the Sundance 2014 premiere -- about directing her feature film Hellion. which makes its regional debut in the Festival Favorites section at SXSW on Sunday, March 9, at the Topfer Theatre at ZACH. Check out my Sundance review of Hellion here.
This was the third year in a row that Candler and Austin producer Kelly Williams (Cinema Six, Pit Stop) made the trip to Park City in support of their film projects. In 2012, the filmmakers attended the fest for the premiere of the short version of Hellion. Last year, the gripping dramatic short film Black Metal debuted at Sundance and was even selected for the Sundance Festival's online Screening Room. Williams also received a fellowship to the 2013 Sundance Creative Producing Lab, where selected producers receive creative and strategic support as well as direct funding for development and production.
This year brought even more attention to the talents of Candler with the feature-length movie Hellion, starring Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis and in his acting debut, Dallas-based Josh Wiggins. The supporting cast includes actors from the original short including Deke Garner and Jonny Mars in this emotional drama about a widower and his sons who are grieving for their deceased mother in their own destructive manners.
Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.
- The Fifth Annual RxSM Self-Medicated Film Expo will take place March 6-13 at various locations around Austin. The free festival will feature more than 130 movies at four venues that honor "edgy, boundary-expanding storytelling," like the East Texas-shot documentary Little Hope Was Arson (Elizabeth's dispatch), which played at last year's Austin Film Festival, and native Dallasites Luke and Andrew Wilson's Satellite Beach, a short drama about the journey of two space shuttle transports. You can RSVP for the festival, which kicks off at the Spider House Chapel (2908 Fruth St.).
- Speaking of AFF, their annual Oscar Prediction Contest is now open and will close on Sunday, March 2 at 6 pm, the start of the award show's telecast. The top five entrants who most closely predict the winners of the 86th Annual Academy Award winners will each win a Lone Star Badge to this year's festival and conference.
- The Alamo Drafthouse's South Lamar location and popular bar, The Highball, both of which closed in January 2013 (Rod's dispatch), will open this summer in the newly redeveloped Lamar Union complex at the previous address, according to Austin Movie Blog. The Highball, which will be adjacent to the movie theater, will feature karaoke rooms, a ballroom with dance floor and stage, a lounge area and an outdoor patio.
Austin Film Society's terrific Godard vs. Truffaut series closes out this weekend with a 35mm print of Love On The Run. It plays tonight and again on Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa. Also playing Sunday is an collection of The Films Of Vincent Grenier. Co-presented with Experimental Response Cinema and the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, this presentation will feature the filmmaker in person. There's more Avant Cinema scheduled for Monday night with the rarely screened Anti-Clock from 1979. On Wednesday night, Richard Linklater is bringing us a 35mm print of Warren Beatty's Reds, which he says is on his all-time personal Top 10 list. Finally, Essential Cinema has the 2012 documentary Uprising on Thursday night.
Women In Cinema will be hosting a "Casting and Directing Actors" panel on Monday night. Kat Candler (Hellion) will be moderating the panel, which is expected to feature Casting Director Vicky Boone (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Tree Of Life), Director Katie Graham (Zero Charisma), Director Emily Hagins (Grow Up Tony Phillips) and Actress Katherine Wilis (Friday Night Lights). This special event happens from 7-9pm on Monday night in the CMB Building, Studio 4D on the UT Austin campus.
Alamo Drafthouse Ritz has special screenings this week of John Waters' Cry-Baby (in 35mm on Sunday night), Jess Franco's Succubus (in 35mm on Monday night) and Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (in 35mm on Wednesday night). The Alamo Village is down to their last Miyazaki retrospective title before The Wind Rises opens next weekend. You can see Spirited Away in 35mm daily through next Thursday.
Attendees at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival will finally have an opportunity to watch the coming-of-age family drama Boyhood, written and directed by local writer and director Richard Linklater over a period of a dozen years. Shot for a total of 143 scenes in intermittent 39 days, Boyhood was well received at Sundance Film Festival last month where it debuted even before the credits were completed. Linklater -- seen above with Boyhood stars Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette -- seemed quite pleased that the movie had reached its own maturity.
Filmed from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood covers 12 years in the life of a family with a focus on the young Mason (Ellar Coltrane) and his older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). They must deal with the impact of their divorced parents' decisions and actions while maturing into their own individuals who can determine the course of own lives. Read my Sundance review here.
This month's TAMI Flashback installment features three short films for children. But grown-ups may find them entertaining also, because they're so wonderfully odd.
For TAMI fans of a certain age -- middle age, that is -- Mission Possible: Bike Safety may evoke childhood memories of cruising the neighborhood on a way-cool Schwinn Sting-Ray. Actually, cruising is the wrong word -- in that era, any self-respecting kid rode like a bat out of hell. Traffic laws were for cars, right? And bicycle helmets were 20 years away. It's a wonder any of us survived into adulthood.
A goofy imitation of the Mission: Impossible TV series, Mission Possible: Bike Safety is a well intentioned but probably pointless attempt to teach kids about bicycle safety. Shot in Austin in 1975, the film features a Mission: Impossible-style team of careful, law-abiding kids who must teach bike safety to two reckless children, Dirty Larry and Careless Carol. Larry (whose face is actually dirty) and Carol are the terrors of Austin's Allandale Neighborhood and the Village Shopping Center on Anderson Lane, running stop signs on their battered bikes and nearly mowing down pedestrians.
Awards season is in full swing, and the Austin Film Festival, known for its recognition of screenwriters, announced last week that Academy Award-winning writer/director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) will receive this year's Distinguished Screenwriter Award, joining past award recipients Harold Ramis and Robert Altman, among others. Sheridan will accept the award at the fest's annual awards luncheon on Oct. 25 and will also speak on panels during the 2014 conference.
Other confirmed panelists at the 21st annual AFF and Screenwriters Conference, which will take place Oct. 23-30, 2014, include writers and producers from such television series as Breaking Bad, Girls and Seinfeld and movies like Fight Club and Donnie Darko. Some of these industry insiders will be present for meet and greets and roundtables during the conference, as well. Read the full list of 2014 panelists at the bottom of this article.
But you don't have to wait until October to stay up to date on the movie industry. This Saturday, Beau Willimon -- creator of the Netflix Original Series House of Cards -- will discuss the show's creative process at 2 pm at the Harry Ransom Center through AFF's Conversation in Film Series.
Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and fundraising endeavors related to Austin and Texas independent film projects.
Several local film projects that ran successful crowdfunding campaigns are making their regional premiere at this year's SXSW Film Festival including the experimental documentary Yakona from San Marcos-based filmmakers Anlo Sepulveda and Paul Collins, Thank You A Lot from Matt Muir and Chris Ohlson, Jeffrey Radice's No No: A Dockumentary, and Todd Rohal's Rat Pack Rat (pictured above). Yakona also received two Austin Film Society Grants (formerly known as the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund), as did local filmmaker Kat Candler for her feature-length version of Hellion, which also makes its Texas debut at SXSW.
The SXSW Film Conference will feature several sessions that should be of interest to filmmakers who want to learn more about achieving funding for their projects.
"Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations" will feature several speakers from the nonprofit film world and they'll speak about "what NOT to do in your proposals to grants, fiscal sponsors, film labs, and other programs." Independent Film Project Producer and Program Manager Rose Vincelli Gustine will moderate this panel, which includes industry experts such as Sundance Film Fund Director Rahdi Taylor, Independent Lens Senior Series Producer Lois Vossen and Chicken and Egg Pictures Operation and Programs Manager Iyabo Boyd.
Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.
- Local filmmaker Richard Linklater won the Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear award for best director for his long-awaited feature Boyhood, which chronicles the life of a child from age six to 18 and stars native Texan Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, Indiewire reports. University alumnus Wes Anderson's movie The Grand Budapest Hotel, slated to hit U.S. theaters March 7, also won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize (a kind of runner-up to the Golden Bear for Best Picture).
- Drafthouse Films-distributed documentary The Act of Killing (Elizabeth's review) took home the Best Documentary Feature award at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) ceremony on Sunday. The Best British Film award went to the movie Gravity, which stars Austin-based actress Sandra Bullock.
- Variance Films has partnered with filmmaker Chris Eska to bring his feature The Retrieval (Don's review) to theaters this spring, according to Variety. The Civil War drama tells the story of a boy who is sent north by his bounty-hunter gang to retrieve a wanted man.
- The Austin Film Society will host a special screening of From Dusk Till Dawn, about a duo of criminals and their hostages who unknowingly seek refuge in a bar populated by vampires, on Wednesday, March 5 at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre. Tickets go on sale Feb. 26. Actor Fred Williamson, who played Frost in the movie, will speak at AFS's Moviemaker Dialogue before the screening.
I have to be honest, I initially thought Winter's Tale was an adaptation of one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, The Winter's Tale -- I hadn't heard of author Mark Helprin's 1983 novel, adapted into the new movie, until watching the trailer.
It's no coincidence that the movie made its U.S. theatrical debut on Valentine's Day -- a marketing ploy, of course, to get couples to hunker down in the dark for two-ish hours to watch actor Colin Farrell make love look even more confusing than it already is. This says something about Farrell, a chap whose real-life romantic mishaps have made headlines and had heads shaking (lest we forget his public outings with Britney Spears).
And its hard to forget this in the aptly named Winter's Tale because Farrell plays the burglar-with-a-heart-of-gold, Peter Lake, so much like his public persona: greasy, strangely-cut hair and all... with an Irish accent.
There really is no need for Peter to have an Irish accent because he was raised in New York City. The same can be said for the movie's female lead, Beverly Penn (Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay), whose convenient English accent is only briefly explained as a byproduct of her birth across the pond, despite her newspaper tycoon father's (William Hurt) American accent.
But this is just the tip of the unexplained plot point iceberg in Winter's Tale.
This trans-century romance begins on Ellis Island, where baby Peter is left in a model boat and sent afloat into New York Harbor by his parents, who are refused entrance into the country because of his father's supposed illness. Somehow, someway Peter becomes the unwilling scion of the Devil's (Will Smith) minion, Pearly (an over-earnest Russell Crowe). When Peter rejects Pearly as a father figure, he is hunted by even lesser minions and stumbles across a Pegasus-like horse, which he names Horse. How original.
Oh, that's right, writer/director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) is trying to shove theological and philosophical metaphors down audiences' throats. Of course, Horse acts as both spirit guide and guardian angel to Peter, and according to a Google search, there is a difference between the two terms.