The organizers of our local film festivals don’t like it when we talk about the film fest wars. I get where they are coming from. Even though the USA Film Festival and the Dallas International Film Festival go head-to-head every April, competing to snag the best films off the film festival circuit (not to mention the largest donations from local cinematic arts patrons), the only real winners are you and me, Dallas movie lovers, who keep getting more opportunities to see all the important movies that come out each year.
Well, last year there was a new addition to the crowded local film fest market (which includes the DIFF and USA, as well as the Dallas Video Festival, Thin Line Film Festival, Lone Star Film Festival, Asian Film Festival, Texas Black Film Festival, Arab Film Festival, and more). It’s called the Oak Cliff Film Festival, and it was launched by the filmmakers/film presenters who run the Texas Theatre (Aviation Cinemas). The quartet put together a solid lineup in their first year, and they’re going to give it another go around this year. I commend them. Putting together a film fest is hard work. It takes perseverance It’s exhausting. Sometimes it knocks you down and you have to get up and keep on going. Anyway, that’s what I think the entertaining new bumper for the film fest (above) is about. Well, that and the fact that if you are going to market, brand, and promote a film festival, good luck going up against a passionate crew of talented young filmmakers. They’re probably going to win.
We already knew that Bradley Cooper had signed on to play former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was senselessly killed in February by a fellow veteran, in the motion picture adaptation of Kyle’s autobiography, American Sniper.
Today it was announced that some director named Steven Spielberg is going to helm the project. He’ll be making this instead of the movie he’d been planning to do next: Robopocalypse
So look for the Legend of Chris Kyle to make an appearance at the Oscars in 2015.
“Opening night of Giant at the Majestic Theater, as crowds wait to enter the theater,” November 1956.
Share your own Ghosts of Dallas.
What better way to celebrate Dallas Arts Week than by stealing some masterpieces? In this week’s game, Art Thief, you’ve got to race against time to crack the code and make off with works by the masters. I managed to steal two paintings by Raphael before being apprehended in my attempt to take the Mona Lisa.
This week’s Friday Fun is inspired by the fact that this is Opening Day at Rangers Ballpark and the first day of real movie-going at the Dallas International Film Festival.
Try your hand at Bugs Bunny Home Run Derby. You’ve got to hit five home runs to advance to the next inning. It’s more difficult than it seems at first to be. That Tweety Bird has got a wicked curve.
And for your viewing and listening pleasure, enjoy one of the best moments from the greatest baseball movie ever made, Bull Durham. We should all believe in the need for a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter.
You may know the name of British artist Richard Patterson for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you were enthralled with his defense of the opening ceremonies of last summer’s London Games. Perhaps you’ve read his musings on FrontRow. Maybe you caught his exhibition at the Goss-Michael Foundation in 2009. More than likely, though, you know him because Patterson is an accomplished and renowned painter who has been residing in Dallas now for some time, a member of that pivotal generation of British artists that is known by the clumsy moniker “YBA.”
I said painter, but as you all know, Dallas does funny things to people who move here and stick around for a while. In Patterson’s case, he has been dabbling in video of late. The result is a series of video pieces Patterson is calling “Six Short Stories.” They are screening tonight at 8 p.m. at the Texas Theater for one night only. Admission is completely free.
Why can’t you miss this screening? Well, for one, because the work is hilarious, fascinating, moving, deeply intelligent, and beautiful. It is also likely the only chance you’ll ever get to see Patterson’s videos (in part because of all sorts of confusing copyright stuff that tends to give gallery dealers headaches).
So what to expect? Pushed to describe his work, Patterson calls the videos “dream-like vignettes” and feigns British self-deprecation:
[It is] A film with scant originality and little authenticity featuring fast cars, bare breasts, inflatable furniture, the music of Allegri and Michel Legrand, death, the Jaguar Mk2 and much, much more… Don’t bring your children.
Also, following the screening, I’ll be participating in an onstage conversation with Patterson, and after we gab, a DJ set by Wild in the Streets will take us all into the night. See you there.
“Cast of the movie The Girls ofÂ Pleasure IslandÂ (Dorothy Bromiley,Â Audry Dalton, and Joan Elan) feed the ducks at the lagoon at Fair Park,” May 3, 1953.
Share your ownÂ Ghosts of Dallas.
This week’s Sundance Film Festival is something of a seminal moment for Dallas filmmaking. Three films playing at the festival have strong roots to Dallas, including Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, and Yan Tan’s Pit Stop. We’re celebrating on FrontRow with seven days of profiles looking at the people behind the strengthening Dallas film scene.
What’s remarkable about this year is not just that Dallas filmmakers have films at what is arguably still America’s most important film festival, but that they have some of the most talked-about films in competition. Carruth’s movie is his long-awaited follow-up to Primer, which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize back in 2004. Lowery is Dallas filmmaking’s rising star, whose short “Pioneer” (2012) raised lots of eyebrows on the festival circuit last year. His Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which stars Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) and Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), had its world premiere over the weekend, and Indiewire called it a “triumph of visual poetry.”
As things grow increasingly dire, Lowery gradually chisels away at the scenario and constructs an extraordinary paean to ghostly southern imagery imbued with a lyricism reflective of his grand literary ambitions. Lowery has mentioned Robert Altman’s revisionist western “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” as a key inspiration, but “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” equally suggests a less spiritual take on Terrence Malick’s cosmic visions of men and women dwarfed by natural wonders much sturdier than any of their flawed pursuits.
In other words, get ready to be as sick of hearing about Lowery as you are beginning to get sick of hearing about Ben Fountain.
We’re a couple of weeks into 2013, and I hope you’ve been able to keep on top of your resolutions. Especially if they include the daunting tasks of working out and eating healthier. It’s always interesting how busy the gym gets in the beginning of January, but I’m curious to see how this coming week is going to fare. I’m predicting far more available parking spaces.
If you’re in the mood to laugh, head over to The Texas Theatre tonight, where local booking group Parade of Flesh has brought together Tim Heidecker (The Comedy) and Neil Hamburger (an eccentric character played by Gregg Turkington) for a night of comedic genius. Also along for the ride is DJ Douggpound, who is not only a fitting third addition to the night, but has also somehow revived Devo’s incessant “Whip It” one-hit wonder into a more modernized version, entitled “Pound It.” I’ve never been a fan of Devo, but Douggpound’s take on their style strangely verges on the edge of cool.
Switching gears to a more serious occasion, this year will mark the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. To honor his lasting legacy, broadcast journalist Charlie Rose is sitting down with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Rory Kennedy (two of Bobby Kennedy’s 11 children) at the Winspear tonight for a discussion of their family legacy in our country’s political history.
The last time we saw Sid, he was dropping out of Navy flight school, getting his marriage proposal rejected, and killing himself in a motel room. If that’s a spoiler for you, sorry; the movie’s 30 years old.
Since then, Sid (actor David Keith) has spent his time in more than 100 titles, but his latest role is “actor/activist who came to Dallas today to talk about dog DNA, specifically Poo Prints, which, yes, is a real thing.”
Krista wrote about Poo Prints Dallas back in our October issue, but the basic gist is this, in her words:
“When a resident with a pet signs a lease, the dog’s cheek is swabbed. This sample is sent to the BioPet Vet Lab in Tennessee, which extracts the dog’s DNA and keeps it on file. When a waste sample is found [ed: in a public place, lawn, etc.], Welch puts it in a container with enzymes, shakes until it’s the consistency of a “milkshake slurry,” and sends it to the lab. Within five days, the DNA is analyzed, and, with 99.9 percent certainty, the culprit is identified.”
Dog DNA has become Keith’s pet project, travelling the country to extoll its virtues, which include genetic disease research, veterinary medicine advances, and the closure of puppy mills. It’s a leap from using DNA to identify jackasses who don’t pick up their dog’s crap, but Keith seems comfortable with it.
“DNAÂ is the silver bullet that protects humans – and the animals that protect us – from the impurities in life,” he said to council members, not at all sounding like late-night television huckster.
Councilwoman Delia Jasso urged Keith and Poo Prints Dallas head Cedric Moses to speak with Dallas-based animal rights groups, effectively saying “Please leave and talk about dog poop to someone else.”
Actor Val Kilmer, in town this week for a Dallas Film Society appearance, is intrigued by Mark Twain as the quintessential American, as a “maverick” writer who reminded us that “we’re all silly, and who found a way to call us … on our folly.” So Kilmer’s put together a one-man play, “Citizen Twain,” which he debuted in L.A. earlier this year and wants to bring to North Texas in March or April.
According to local publicist Jo Ann Holt, the actor spent time Friday scouting Dallas venues for the production. He looked at Theatre Too, at the Majestic Theater, at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, whose Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building he admired, Holt said. But he was more excited about the Wyly Theatre, which he liked for its contemporary building and downtown location, and the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which has a flexible-space auditorium.
“I love the Wyly. I can’t stop thinking about the architecture; it’s just too interesting,” Kilmer said, pausing on the Red Carpet before appearing at the DFS’s “Art of Film” fundraiser Friday night at Fair Park. “But today I was even looking at the Perot Museum, because they’ve got a 290-seat theater, and they can simulcast. So I love the idea of [simulcasting the play] to the … hospitals and prisons and schools.”
“Citizen Twain,” the actor said, is a precursor to a film he’s planning about the relationship between Twain and Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science (Kilmer’s a Christian Scientist himself). So if he plays Twain, who would he want for his leading lady? “There’s a lot of very talented actresses,” Kilmer said. “I just talked to Cate Blanchett about it again. I’ve talked to her several times. It’s hard to talk seriously, because I don’t have a budget yet; I’m not financed. But I think Mrs. Eddy was a genius, so you have to think of genius actresses. Which is an interesting list, but a short list. There aren’t that many geniuses, right? I think Cate’s got genius in her.”
Saturday, the film society will screen two of Kilmer’s best-known films at the Angelika Dallas. The Doors shows at 11:30 a.m.; Batman Forever starts at 2:30 p.m.
Today the Magnolia movie theater at West Village opened its newly renovated theaters to audiences. Among the changes is that tickets to all of their shows are now purchased with reserved seating. Your ticket guarantees you a specific seat.
While I generally prefer the flexibility of beating the crowd to get myself my preferred seat at the theater, and to perhaps change my mind about my preferred seat at the last minute, I understand why the Magnolia made this move. On busy nights their upstairs lobby often became a madhouse due to patrons jockeying for position in lines that snaked around and down the stairs, or mobs that swarmed the ticket-taker all at once. There’s not a lot of space up there, and so the reserved seats should allow everyone to relax and not have to get to their seats until just before showtime.
The other part of what the Magnolia has done – converting two of its screens to “VIP experiences” – concerns me. (more…)
It won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Woody Allen, who also directed it. Quentin Tarentino called it his favorite movie of 2011, and it became Allen’s all-time top-grossing flick. But Midnight in Paris star Owen Wilson says at first he wasn’t sure the film would work at all.
“When I read the script, I didn’t quite get it,” the Dallas native told interviewer Gary Cogill last night, before a screening of the movie for several hundred people at Klyde Warren Park. “I remember talking with Wes [Anderson] and saying, ‘Geez, I dunno. It has a time-travel element, and I don’t know how that’s gonna work. Who do you get to play Hemingway, Fitzgerald, all those iconic figures?’
“I think that ends up being one of the most successful parts of the movie, all that stuff. You just go along for the ride, literally …” said Wilson, pictured here on the big video screen in the park’s Muse Family Performance Pavilion. “All the actors [Allen] cast for those guys, it just kind of works. … And even when I saw the movie, I was, ‘Well, you know, it seems, I dunno.’ I have a hard time judging stuff I’ve worked on. When it did come out, some people really seemed to love it.”
Last week Josh Radnor’s second movie, Liberal Arts, opened in theaters. Dallas-native and former FrontRow intern Will Arbery (yes, those Arberys) worked on the film as a body double for Zac Efron and in extras casting. Over on FrontRow, he shares his insight into the starry-eyed world that exists on a film set’s periphery:
There was the old man who showed up because, years ago, he promised his mom that one day he’d be in a movie. There was the woman who started crying when she found out that I was a writer, and told me that she wanted to be a writer once and had a poem in the Library of Congress.Â There was the adult man whose mother lingered near him the entire time. She was a tall silent woman in a striking green Native American dress. People would talk to me like I wasÂ someone, and being no one, I made sure to talk to them likeÂ they were someone. They were. I was their experience, and they were mine. Later, I discovered that the Brooklyn bar scene was cut.
Go read the whole thing.
On September 14, Sarah Jaffe will open the latest venue in the Arts District, City Performance Hall, a $40 million facility developed by the City of Dallas Â for arts groups that don’t fit into the schedules or budgets of the bigger boys on Flora St. But is the building too pragmatic? And will it actually be useful to the arts groups that wanted it? We’re discussing that and more on FrontRow.
And while you’re there, we’re giving away tickets to Some Like It Hot.