Debbie Cerda's blog

Review: Everybody's Fine


Everybody's Fine with Robert DeNiro

I'm not a fan of movie trailers. I like a short teaser, but three-minute trailers -- for example, the Edge of Darkness trailer currently playing in theaters --  that appear to reveal the entire plot bother me. Even more so are the misleading trailers. Yes, you need to entice folks in to the theater, but I'm quite baffled at the main trailer for Everybody's Fine, the American adaptation of the 1990 film Stanno Tutti Bene with Marcello Mastroianni. This trailer reminded me of the recut trailer for The Shining, depicting a happy-go-lucky about a boy and his dad. How could such a somber film be portrayed as a joyful coming home movie?

Much like Massimo De Rita's original screenplay for Stanno Tutti Bene, everybody's far from fine -- widower Frank Goode (Robert De Niro) realizes that his only connection to his children had been his wife, so he sets out to visit each of them. Things aren't as they seem, as the viewer sees that his adult children are hiding the truth from their father. A sibling in trouble, drug use, divorce, an illegitimate child -- these are all issues that have been kept from Frank's view. But were they? The implication is that his wife may not have always shielded him, but rather he chose to ignore the signs. His journey is not just revealing of his children's secrets, but also an opportunity for self-examination.

Spirit Award Noms Include Austin Connections


Dia Sokol, Producer for Beeswax

The 25th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards were announced on Tuesday, and two Austin-related projects were honored with nominations:

  • Christian McKay was nominated in the Best Supporting Male category for his portrayal of Orson Welles in local filmmaker Richard Linklater's latest feature, Me and Orson Welles. You can see photos of McKay and Linklater in our photo essay from the Me and Orson Welles red carpet in Austin.
  • Dia Sokol, producer of Beeswax, was nominated for the Piaget Producers Award. Beeswax was filmed locally and starred many local filmmakers in acting roles. Jette reviewed the movie at SXSW this year; the above photo, with Sokol in the middle, was taken at the SXSW Q&A for Beeswax.

Austinites may recognize many other titles on the list, which you can read in full after the jump. A number of the nominated films played at SXSW or at Austin Film Festival this year. Beeswax director/editor Andrew Bujalski now lives in Austin, and can be seen below with SXSW Film Director Janet Pierson, who was also featured in the film.

Tonight: Free Screening of 'Money-Driven Medicine'


Money Driven MedicineWith so much debate about the state of America's health-care system, the documentary Money-Driven Medicine: What's Wrong With America's Health Care and How to Fix It is quite timely. This documentary was produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) and based on Maggie Mahar's acclaimed book, Money Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much.

Texan Lisa Lindell, a burn victim, is featured in the documentary. A kick-off screening of Money-Driven Medicine was held in late October at the U.S. Capitol for members of Congress and staff and health-reform advocates.  Lisa and her husband, Curtis Lindell,  traveled from their Houston home for the screening and received a standing ovation.

Tonight (Dec. 2), you can see the documentary for free in Austin at 7 pm, at the Millennium Youth Center Complex located at 1156 Hargrave Street. A Q&A with Consumers Union and the Center for Public Policy Priorities will follow the screening.

Photo Essay: 'Me and Orson Welles' Red Carpet

Christian McKay, Richard Linklater, and Zac Efron at the Me and Orson Welles Red Carpet

Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater premiered his latest film Me and Orson Welles at the Paramount Theater on Monday. Linklater joined stars Christian McKay and Zac Efron at the event, as shown above. The screening was a benefit for the Texas Filmmakers’ Production Fund, which Linklater started in 1996 to assist emerging Texas filmmakers, and which has awarded over $1 million since then.

Zac Efron's presence created quite a commotion at the premiere. Even more exciting news regarding Me and Orson Welles -- Christian McKay has been nominated for his portrayal of Orson Welles in the "Best Supporting Male" category of this year's Spirit Awards.

Austin Theaters Support 'Eat Local Week'


Fresh Poster

Two of Austin's most-loved theaters are showing their support for the community with special screenings during Edible Austin Eat Local Week. Kicking off December 5, this week provides opportunities for Central Texans to explore and celebrate the abundance of local food by eating out and shopping at participating area restaurants and markets. Money raised by participating businesses will go towards YouthLaunch's Urban Roots, a youth development program that uses sustainable agriculture to effect change for 14- to 18-year-olds, and to nourish East Austin residents who have limited access to healthy foods.

On Saturday, December 5, the Paramount Theatre presents a special screening of the powerful and inspiring food documentary Fresh, which has been compared to the eye-opening Food, Inc. Joel Salatin, who is featured in the film, will join Fresh director/producer Ana Sofia Joanes for an audience Q&A after the screening. Ticket prices are $15, $25 and $100. The limited $100 tickets include reserved seating and admission to a pre-screening reception with Joanes, Salatin and other featured guests in the State Theatre lobby. The reception will feature Austin's top chefs preparing locally sourced food tastings and local beverages. The event will also provide opportunities to meet and connect with many of Austin's local food nonprofit and support groups. Tickets are on sale now.

Review: Ninja Assassin


Ninja Assassin

V For Vendetta director James McTeigue and producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers join forces again to splatter the screen with gore galore in Ninja Assassin. This film is not for the weak of heart or stomach -- be prepared for graphic dismemberment and fountains of blood. Ninja Assassin has displaced Daybreakers on my list for the amount of blood used in a film production.

The story centers around Raizo (Rain), a renegade ninja from the Ozunu clan. The clan is a secret organization that kidnaps young children, training them to become silent killers. After the merciless killing of the female ninja who touched his heart, Raizo denounces his Ozunu family. Skilled in the use of a kusarigama weapon, Raizo takes revenge on his former family by executing them.

Review: Old Dogs


Old Dogs

Just in time for the holidays, John Travolta and Robin Williams team up for the family comedy Old Dogs. The premise of the story is that two longtime friends and business partners find their lives turned upside down when strange circumstances lead to them being placed in the care of 7-year-old twins.

With the encouragement of buddy Charlie (John Travolta), Dan (Robin Williams) gets wild during a night in South Beach which apparently results in more than a 24-hour marriage, hangover and annulment. When Mommy aka South Beach Vicki (Kelly Preston) is ordered by the court to serve two weeks in jail after chaining herself to a tree in protest, Dan offers to take care of the kids. Screwball comedy ensues, Japanese businessmen are both impressed and offended by the antics of the buddy team along with their junior executive, played by Seth Green.

Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon


New Moon

Probably the most anxiously awaited sequel of the year, The Twilight Saga: New Moon is breaking records for pre-sold sellouts as Twilight fans prepare for the second installment in the series. Director Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy) takes the helm of this teen romance/fantasy, with screenplay writer Melissa Rosenberg returning to bring Stephenie Meyer's novel to life.

Bella (Kristen Stewart) and "vegetarian" vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) begin to publicly display their romance, much to the chagrin of her other friends including childhood friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Following a potentially fatal incident at Bella's 18th birthday party, the Cullen family abandons the town of Forks, Washington. Bella is heartbroken and inconsolable, isolating herself completely from all friends -- until Jake helps her refurbish a pair of old motorbikes. Their relationship helps her to slowly heal from the loss of Edward.  However, it turns out that as a member of the Quileutes tribe, Jake has his own secret supernatural powers to deal with, which are tied to the reason why Edward ended his relationship with Bella.

Review: The Eyes of Me


Chas of The Eyes of Me

The documentary The Eyes of Me, which screened at the Cinema Touching Disability Festival earlier this month, presents an extraordinary look at four blind teenagers living in Austin. Their stories unfold over the course of a year at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), a public residential high school. Nationally, over 9,000 students attend similar residential schools. Director Keith Maitland worked closely with the film’s subjects to produce sequences of stylized rotoscopic animation to complement the film’s observational aesthetic. Created from over 250 hours of footage, this documentary captures a visually engaging and textured portrait of its characters’ lives.

"How do you see yourself, when you can't see at all?" The stories of the film’s central characters offer a perspective on growing up, fitting in, and preparing for the future. Forced to confront the world without sight, the high-school students share their thoughts, perceptions and inner-visions of the outer world. 

The Eyes of Me follows their high-school experiences of dating, academic responsibilities, fitting in, family issues and preparing for college over the course of one dynamic year. High school senior Chas wants greater independence, and therefore he leaves the school’s dorms to live independently in his own apartment. His greatest passion is creating hip-hop music. When Chas drops out of school halfway through his senior year, his resolve to chart his own path is tested.

SXSW Film Announces New Competition and Panels


SXSW Film Design Awards

New for 2010, the SXSW Film Conference and Festival has established the annual SXSW Film Design Awards, including a new competition for the "Excellence in Title Design" Award that will feature the best in contemporary title sequence design. All title sequences that exist as part of a completed film finished in 2009 or later are eligible, and includes international submissions. The deadline to submit is December 11, 2009.

Finalists will be announced in early February 2010, and will be showcased at a dedicated screening during the SXSW Film Festival. Contestants will be judged by an expert panel and will also be eligible to be chosen by the public for an Audience Award. Due in part to the success of the 2009 SXSW Film/AIGA Austin Film Poster Award and as part of the Design Awards, SXSW will continue to honor exceptional film posters under the "Excellence in Poster Design" label (open to all accepted films). 

Title sequence submissions are $10 per entry, and can be made via the SXSW Film Title Sequence Competition application form. All title sequences must be hosted online -- YouTube, Vimeo, or personal website. Finalists will be notified upon acceptance and will then need to send a broadcast-quality version of the sequence.

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