Wednesday, February 10, 2010
North Texas movie news and notes: Wednesday-before-Fat-Tuesday edition
Pinin' for Pontchartrain? Bring Mardi Gras home this week with a pair of thought-provoking documentaries.
We'll start out this week with news of local (and points slightly south) film happenings, then transition into full-blown Mardi Gras mania mode with a couple of deep south documentaries on DVD that explore hidden facets of that well-loved pre-Lenten celebration.
I'm operating under the assumption that you, like me, think it would be pretty cool to actually be in New Orleans for the epic partying on tap in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, but have come to the conclusion that a) your job, b) your significant other relationship, and/or c) your commitment to sobriety and moderation in all things is/are more important. (You FOOL!) So I'm providing a way for you to travel there vicariously.
Women In Film.Dallas (WIF.D) brings cinematic script expert Bobette Buster to town all the way from SoCal for a talk called "Telling Your Story."
Buster's program will feature insider tips on connecting with one's audience, whether we're talking about filmmaking, corporate website design, honing a marketing message, or creating an engaging character.
The success of her instructional abilities is witnessed by the fact that students of the course she teaches at USC routinely find their films ranked among the top box office draws and industry award winners. (Or, she might be a mediocre instructor and it could all be coincidence. Though we're not betting on it.)
Buster's presentation is set for February 18 at 7 p.m. at Positive Space, and is free to WIF.D members; non-members pay $15; in either case, RSVP is a must: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Referring to it as "the ultimate convenience,” Studio Movie Grill founder and owner Brian Schultz announced reserved seating options for his Dallas and Houston SMG locations. (Personally, I think there are numerous other candidates for the title of "the ultimate convenience," but since none of them that come to mind are fit for mainstream reportage, I won't be pressing the issue.)
Designed to coincide with the big openings of Valentine's Day and The Wolfman this Friday, a person (or group) can pre-purchase their movie ticket(s) online or at the theater and select their seats from available remaining slots on the seating chart. These special premium tickets each come with a $12 food & drink coupon.
Since the description provided by the SMG folks seems to me a bit refractory* (as in "through a glass darkly"), here's an actual case drill-down:
Say you're planning to attend the The Wolfman show this Friday at 7:20 p.m. (Go ahead, say it. I'll wait.) A reserved seat ticket (with $12 food/drink coupon) will cost you $21.50 (adult admission), while a non-reserved seat ticket for the same show will set you back $9.50. With the lower-priced option you get first-come, first-served seating, and no food/drink credit.
In other words, if you're planning on buying at least $12 worth of food or drink off the menu (which is about as easy as rolling off a spicy chicken strip), shelling out for the reserved seat option is an absolute no-brainer.
Texas Frightmare Weekend stuff:
In addition to the announcement of Romero's Survival of the Dead as headliner for the TFW Film Fest (see rough-out trailer, below), Loyd Cryer also wants you to know about the 3rd annual zombiewalk. The zombies will begin their slow, if not stately, shambling between 8 and 10:30 a.m. on May 1, originating from the Blue Star Shell at 114 & Freeport Pkwy., and terminating (you'll excuse the expression) at the Sheraton Grand Hotel -- site of this year's Texas Frightmare Weekend big event.
Trailer for Survival of the Dead
Also happening at this year's Frightmare: a reunion between Ghoultown (whose music has been described elsewhere as "the ultimate embodiment of tequila drinking hillbilly rock") and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (aka Cassandra Peterson). These two -- um -- entities got to know each other (collectively speaking) at TFW 2008, and the result is a CD/DVD limited collector's edition digipak (2,000 copies and, to quote the raven, "no more") called Mistress of the Dark.
We're pretty sure there's music and video involved in the mix, but you might want to order this package just for the super-cool cover art. And the chance to have Elvira herself sign your copy makes it an even nicer buy.
Playing at the Angelika Dallas both tonight and Thursday at 7 p.m. is a "filmed live" performance of Terry Pratchett's Nation, as performed at the UK's National Theatre on January 30.
Adapted by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Melly Still, the play is "an exhilarating adventure story of survival and self-discovery featuring live music, dance, and extraordinary puppets, suitable for ages 10 and older."
The performance will be presented on the big screen in high-definition. NT Live: Nation will also play at the Angelika Plano on Sunday at 2 p.m., and next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Trailer for NT Live: Nation
Oscar-nominated foreign film A Prophet (Un prophète) will play at Landmark Magnolia and Angelika Dallas on March 12, and at the Modern in Fort Worth on March 19. Sadly, this will occur after the actual Academy Awards, but regardless of whether this film from France beats out contenders from Israel, Peru, Argentina, and Germany, judging by the trailer you may want to catch this thrilling flick regardless.
OVERHEARD: "I washed your shirt, but I can't get out the bloodstains."
Trailer for A Prophet
Beeswax, by Texas director Andrew Bujalski, was supposed to open at the Angelika several months ago and was pulled from the lineup for reasons known only to corporate management. In similar fashion, it's been reinstated on the schedule and will now open this Friday.
Director/writer Bujalski set the film in Austin, and it has a definite Austin feel to it, right down to the laid back vibe and the huevos rancheros. The narrative comes across as naturalistic, free-flowing, and seemingly unscripted; the actors appear not to be acting, but simply going through a day in their lives.
Bujalski, an Austinite and SXSW favorite, was also involved with Funny Ha Ha (as writer/director/actor) and Hannah Takes the Stairs (as actor and writer of "additional material"). And, for the record, he enjoyed Avatar.
Trailer for Beeswax
Speaking of Austin and SXSW, making its U.S. premiere there in the Spotlight Premieres category will be Leaves of Grass, starring Edward Norton, Edward Norton, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson, Melanie Lynskey, Richard Dreyfuss, and Susan Sarandon.
(Yes, I listed Edward Norton twice -- he plays twin brothers in the film.)
And finally, here are the two Mardi Gras-themed films referenced at the outset.
Mardi Gras: Made in China (dir. David Redmon) premiered at Sundance in 2005; it asks the rhetorical (and literal) question: Where do those beads come from, anyway? And should we care? (HINT: We should.)
According to Ashley Sabin (Redmon's publicist and partner), the DVD is available through "Netflix, Amazon, carnivalesquefilms.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, BestBuy.com, Borders.com, CircuitCity.com, BlockBuster.com, retail outlets, and local video stores."
Trailer for Mardi Gras: Made in China
Also available through Netflix (including via streaming option) is one of my favorite films from SXSW in 2008, Order of Myths. This documentary, set in Mobile, Alabama, explores the separate-but-equal Carnivale celebrations and parades put on by the black and white populations -- simultaneously but in parallel. Over the course of Margaret Brown's remarkable narrative we encounter skeletons in closets and -- amazingly -- witness the tentative, first-ever coming together of the two celebrations.
Trailer for Order of Myths
* "Studio Movie Grill’s concept is effortless. Just pre-purchase your movie ticket on-line or at the theater with a $12 Food & Drink Coupon (which will be included in ticket price) and get a RESERVED SEAT at no additional charge. The coupon can be redeemed immediately and a Reserved Seat of your choice will be awaiting you."