In the Screening Room

For the Deep Ellum Film Festival, the third time's the charm

Pavarotti of the Plains T.J. Morehouse's documentary about Don Walser, the Lamesa-born yodeler well into his second act, is as touching as it is rudimentary; the thing plays almost like an 80-minute home movie, something to be shown at family gatherings. You wish there were more music: When Walser lands his dream of playing the Grand Ole Opry, the moment flies by as though it were incidental, and there's too much talking over the performance itself. (Had, say, DA Pennebaker made Pavarotti, likely it would have dealt entirely with the Opry gig, from prep to performance, with his life story told in flashback.) But how can one not love a film about Walser, whose giggle is as infectious as his music, a mélange of old-timey country, Western swing and honky-tonk? He's among the most compelling figures in modern country music, borne out by the testimonials from the likes of Willie Nelson and Alejandro Escovedo. (RW) Screens at 11:59 p.m. November 16 at the Angelika Film Center 2.

Pendulum Hard to fathom why the DEFF folk chose this direct-to-Beta bummer, save for the fact it was shot in Dallas. Hell, that's all the more reason not to show it: If you're trying to play up this town's vibrant film scene, what purpose is served by screening James B. Deck's grade-Z thriller starring former model Rachel Hunter? Hunter plays (hah!) Amanda Reeve, a Dallas cop yanked off one murder case (some psycho's slashing up this city's top-notch hookers, and where do they work?) to solve another, involving a law professor with serious ties to the Dallas County District Attorney (James Russo, who looks more like a suspect than a prosecutor). Pendulum plays like Skinemax-After-Dark fodder, complete with lascivious lesbians and enough faux blood and even faux-er acting to fill an entire shelf at Blockbuster. Note: Without the gratuitous slow-mo, the film would run 30 minutes, which is still a half-hour too long. (RW) Screens at 2 p.m. November 17 at the Angelika Film Center.

Various shortsIndefinitely begins with the analogy that marriage is like a fireworks display: wonderful, magical and something no one wants to end. The sentiment also applies to the locally produced short starring Jeffrey Schmidt (Theatre Three and Moonwater Theater Company vet) as Riley, a down-on-his-luck film editor paying the bills with a gig as a wedding videographer who falls for the bride. The fast-moving film's quirky and charming without veering into Matthew Perry territory and ends when you least (and most) want it to. A group of students from Raul Quintanilla Middle School made Black Lipstick, the story of a girl who goes Goth when she feels kinship toward a group of "freaks" her friends are harassing and wonders whether they would treat a buddy the same way just for dressing differently. It turns out they would. In Untimely, which features the restored conquistador mural and lounge of Fort Worth's Ridglea Theater, two old people hook up because of a westbound broken-hearted girl, the quest for an undiscovered comet and a story about tequila being the real fountain of youth. Allen Falkner is a normal guy. He works too hard, has a girlfriend and a degree in computer engineering and plays with children in the park. In The Marionette, he shows how he also likes to have 22 hooks pushed through his skin so his 135-pound frame can be suspended--for fun. In Trailer: The Movie, two filmmakers edit their movie down to only the best scenes (about two minutes' worth), which will make the perfect trailer and a movie for anyone who dreams of screwing people out of $8 ($10.50 in New York City). (SS)

Nick Stahl and Sissy Spacek give remarkable performances in the grief-stricken In the Bedroom.
Nick Stahl and Sissy Spacek give remarkable performances in the grief-stricken In the Bedroom.
Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Armstrong are—and get?—busy in Lantana.
Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Armstrong are—and get?—busy in Lantana.

We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll Director Penelope Spheeris goes to OZZfest so you don't have to, and bless her for that. The director of the three Decline of Western Civilization docs, not to mention Wayne´s World and The Beverly Hillbillies, turns her camera on Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne's love child and comes back covered in muck; such is to be expected when you swim in a sea of metal and misfits, booze and cooz and big tits, middle fingers and nipple rings, cocks and bullshit, fake music and real blood and gene-pool castoffs who get fucked up when they can't get fucked at all. Think of this as a sequel to the second Decline film (The Metal Years, starring KISS and Lizzy Borden and the Blizzard of Oz himself), only without the profundity and surprise; the biggest revelation comes late in the movie, when Ozzy, fronting the reunited Black Sabbath, is seen reading the lyrics off a TelePrompTer, bringing to mind the sad last days of Frank Sinatra. Other than that, We Sold plays a little too much like an industrial film, a label-funded electronic press kit for, oh, Static-X or System of a Down or Deftones or Primus; it's heavy on the heavy rock, light on what goes on once the gobos go off. Shockingly, it's Rob Zombie who provides the best insight when he says, rightly so, that every band on the bill's just doing Sabbath songs--some faster, some slower, but with little else changed. "Thanks for not suing us," Zombie says to the camera with the knowing look of the con artist who's just pulled a fast one and gotten away with it. The kids'll love this movie (more nipples than a nursery); their parents will be appalled (the audience looks like it's made up of teen-agers and the hillbilly family from The Simpsons); and the rest of us will go back, watch Decline I and laugh about the good ol' days when John Doe and Exene Cervenka seemed, ah, dangerous? (RW) Screens at 10 p.m. November 16 at the Angelika Film Center.

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