Made on the Margins

For 15 years, the Dallas Video Fest has flickered on the fringe

London Intl. Advertising Awards Always a crowd-pleaser, which is ironic since most of this compilation consists of bathroom-break art or must-skip-TV. Many of these ads have been seen on American television: the Budweiser spot with aliens asking "Whassup?" (stale, but clever); the Fox Sports Net clips featuring, among other things, a slapping contest and a cliff-diver who strikes dry land; and others familiar to prime-time viewing. But the highlights are jarring, including an anti-smoking spot from TheTruth.com that breaks out into a garish musical number "celebrating" Big Tobacco and two drunken-driving PSAs that all but turn you off the booze completely. One's violent and heartbreaking--a perfect narrative, in which a father grieves for a daughter seen gruesomely killed when her drunken boyfriend's car plows into a trailer. The other's darkly comic, as young men and women visit a wheelchair salesman and a plastic surgeon in preparation for a night of drinking and driving; they're planning ahead, sadly. (RW)

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra Spoofing '50s B-movies is a tricky proposition. Why make fun of a medium that's already so inherently amusing? Writer-director-star Larry Blamire's Cadavra pits feuding scientists, alien invaders and an evil skeleton against each other in a race to obtain the rare radioactive element "atmospherium," with a big, foam-rubber mutant and an animal woman running around in there somewhere. Blamire has his deadpan dialogue parodies down pat ("All skeletons are against me--they always have been!"; "Mysterious...and yet still perfectly understandable!"), but he falls in love with the script a bit too much; the endless talking slows down the film's pace. It also would have been better shot on film than digital video and could use a deliberately poor mono sound mix (cf. Ed Wood). Still, the skeleton's a hoot, and the score, credited to the solo-monikered Valentino, is pitch perfect, adding a crucial atmospheric element lacking from similar films. Andrew Parks is particularly retro as the alien "Kro-Bar," and despite the slack pacing, the movie's frequently very funny. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Make Me a Match Desperate Jewish singles don't look much different from desperate singles in general, except they're willing to try just about anything to find a mate, from Web sites (Jewish Quality Singles, among hundreds more) to dating services (including Profiles, which boasts of producing 100 couples and 43 babies) to old-school matchmakers such as Pearl Lubovic and her rabbi husband and Simshon Stock, who's been "nudging people to go out" for 30 years. They'll even travel from as far away as Alaska for the Nationwide Jewish Singles Convention in Dallas, where they indulge in such Jewish delicacies as guacamole. And it's clear from Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman's often fascinating documentary that it's a buyer's market for Jewish males; their religion alone bumps all the overweight or balding (and often, both) men who show up early and often in Make Me a Match to prime-catch status, and they know it all too well. Doesn't help much that Stock's main method for successfully setting up couples is convincing women to wear clothes two or three sizes too tight on dates: "That's how you get him." Genius. (ZC)

The revolution was televised: Ernie Kovacs' rare TV work will be presented by wife and fellow performer Edie Adams.
The revolution was televised: Ernie Kovacs' rare TV work will be presented by wife and fellow performer Edie Adams.
A hole in the head, top: This is, we guess, a scene from Headcheese. Checking out, below: Rhys Ifans and David Schwimmer kill time in  Mike Figgis' Hotel.
A hole in the head, top: This is, we guess, a scene from Headcheese. Checking out, below: Rhys Ifans and David Schwimmer kill time in Mike Figgis' Hotel.

Details

May 16-19. Tickets, ranging from $65 for an all-fest pass including Video Association of Dallas membership to $10-$15 for single-day passes, are available at the door or at www.videofest.org. The opening-night film, Hotel, will screen at 7:30 p.m. May 15 at the Magnolia Theater, 3699 McKinney Ave.
Dallas Theater Center Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd.

Matinee Idyllis Interspliced with B-movie footage produced in the San Francisco Art Institute's Studio 8 film laboratory are scenes of the lab professor's mission to track down his former students and assistants as they play with their cats and watch porn. It proves that the lives of filmmakers aren't always as interesting as the films they make. (SS)

Metrocomplex Stories Compilation Espresso Con Panna : Shot like porn or, at best, a Mexican soap opera, Kevin Nash's Espresso Con Panna explores the intersection of art, commerce, coffee and opera, and gets there just in time for a four-car pileup. There are jealous lovers, tax dodges, pistachio biscotti and, of course, the titular beverage, but what's missing from Nash's romantic comedy is most of the romance and all the comedy. Kung Fu Teenage Bigfoot : Just a trailer for the (presumably) forthcoming film of the same name, Kung Fu Teenage Bigfoot features plenty of slo-mo footage of a hirsute Jon "Corn Mo" Cunningham and more than its fair share of bad puns. No telling if this will actually be filled out into a proper feature, but it's just fine as is, a two-minute glimpse into the life of the last remaining sasquatch. And, more than likely, the basis of another Corn Mo song. eMALE: Daniel Roebuck (The Late Shift's Jay Leno) stars as Dale Fortunato in director Bryan Harston's short about a man who agrees to barricade himself in his loft--no food, no furniture, no anything--and live only on what he can order online. Believing he's "heroic"--that's what he tells whoever will listen--Fortunato is welded inside; if he can make it through the entire year, he'll win $100,000. But thanks to some naughty e-mail and a vengeful soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, Fortunato loses his Internet connection. The whole thing looks and feels like a beer commercial. Only, you know, not quite so fun. Lie to Me : Lonely businessman hires an escort so he can act on the feelings he's had since high school for a classmate nicknamed "Ocean"; the escort who arrives just happens to be the very same "Ocean." Not a bad idea, but not a single good performance, and the camera was apparently operated by a drunken child. Luckily, it's a short that lives up to its name, in and out in 16 minutes. The Tunnel : Ramzi Abed's bit of dime-store David Lynch is a mess of dreams and memories, held aloft by the twin poles of certain death and short-lived love. Abed likely flinches when watching The Tunnel, figuring it's too personal or something like that, that too many of his thoughts and feelings are on the screen, but he shouldn't worry, because who knows what anyone's talking about anyway. And for some reason, American Movie skewer Mark Borchardt and The Toxic Avenger director Lloyd Kaufman are in it. (ZC)

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