The Dallas International Film Festival is back for 2015 and this year's slate seems to be the biggest one yet. Although I can name more than five films that I want to see at this year's DIFF, there are definitely a few that stand out among the many selections. It looks like I will have a full schedule of laughs, cries, thrills, popcorn, and movie theater beer. To quote the 20th century poet, Fred Durst, "Bring it on!"
We've picked a few brains from the Dallas film world to see what everyone's looking forward to this year. It seems our friends are most interested in a film made by Dallas-based artists, Some Beasts, as well as Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made a documentary about a fan remake of an Indiana Jones movie. See what else the Texas Theatre's Barak Epstein, the Angelika Film Center's Adam Conway, and our trusty writers Merritt Martin, and me, Stanton Brasher are excited about seeing this year.
Texas Theatre Partner Barak Epstein's Best Bets: Some Beasts 7 p.m. Friday, April 10 4-10/15 at the Angelika This is a Dallas made feature film many people have been anticipating for along time. Cameron Nelson is one of the good guys. Be there for the premiere.
Turbo Kid 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 10 at the Angelika; 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 17 at Texas Theatre I'm ready to pre-game for Fury Road in June by checking out this New Zealand made bmx-ridin-post-apocalyptic-80's-synthtastic-gorefest!
RAIDERS! 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 10; 9:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at the Angelika It's the story of 3 kids who took 30-something years to make their own shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark and its one of the best docs of the year so far.
World of Tomorrow - Part of Animation shorts. 5:15 p.m. Sunday, April 12; 10 p.m. Monday, April 13 Don Hertzfeldt's new film, which is being compared to Chris Marker's La Jetee, is right up there with Rejected and It's Such a Beautiful Day, as some of his best work .If you only have 17 min to spend at DIFF this year, this is the film to see.
The Blues Brothers 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18 at Texas Theatre. James Faust and company are pulling out the stops with this night - Blues Brothers on 35mm with freakin John Landis in attendance, followed by a live performance by a 9 piece Blues Brothers cover band. There won't be a bigger party in Dallas in April.
Angelika Film Center's Adam Conway's best bets: Fitzcarraldo 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 17 This film was a labor of love, to say the least, for German director Werner Herzog, who is known mainly for his documentary films. His quest to make a film about an Irishman who wants to build an Opera house in the middle of the jungle mirrors his own insanity in the fact that he chose to do everything practically on-location, in the middle of nowhere. So check out this great new digital transfer of his film, then if you have time, track down the making of documentary Burden of Dreams and see to what lengths a filmmaker will go to make his dream a reality.
Turbo Kid 11:59 p.m. Friday, April 10 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 17 This midnight film is a cross between Mad Max and teen films of the '80s, like Dirt Bike Kid and Rad. It had me at "set in a Post-Apocalyptic 1997." The filmmakers go to great lengths to make sure all details are period accurate and there are tons of nods and winks to other films: Just see if you can name them all.
Slow West 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 17 5:30 p.m. Sunday, April 19 This is an unconventional western made by a Scottish filmmaker and starring Kodi Smit-McPhee as a Scottish aristocrat looking for his lost love in the American West. The real treat is who he encounters along the way: a mysterious traveler played by Michael Fassbender and a bounty hunter played by Ben Mendelsohn. You should watch the film for their performances alone.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made Friday, April 10 - 7:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11 - 9:15 p.m. This documentary chronicles two friends' quest to remake their favorite film, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, shot for shot...and the 30-year journey it turned into. This is a must for any lover of film.
The Lego Movie 11 a.m. Saturday, April 18 I know most people have already seen this, but the real treat is that filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will be in attendance for a Q&A after this special screening, which follows their acceptance of the Tex Avery Award at the DFS Honors.
Arts writer Merritt Martin's picks: 7 Chinese Brothers 10:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12 Anytime you see Austin-based indie film director Bob Byington's name pop up at DIFF, it's a good bet. Byington has an impressive ability for delivering dry humor over heavy themes and some of my favorite DIFF casting film after film. This time, Jason Schwartzman takes the drunken lead as Larry, who is trying to keep or get--depending on how you relate--his shit together. His dog (like, Schwartzman's actual dog) co-stars and Olympia Dukakis plays his grandmother, which is already enough for us, but then we get Stephen Root and Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio)...and then BONUS: one of my favorite DIFF draws, Alex Karpovsky (yes, the guy from Girls, but let's not talk about that).
Do I Sound Gay? 10:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 12 Film festivals are perfect opportunities to watch documentaries--especially when your spouse, roommate, best friend, or you generally pick good old fiction at the box office on a regular night. Every year, I look forward to the chance t o take in as many as I can, and Do I Sound Gay? might be the one that excites me most this year. For his first feature film, director and journalist David Thorpe examines the cause of his anxiety--"sounding gay." He meets with friends, has appointments with a speech pathologist and vocal coaches, and holds discussions with David Sedaris, Dan Savage, George Takei and Tim Gunn, all who most could identify by their well-known voices alone. He also examines social response, a history of harassment, and what it takes to accept one's vocal identity and self.
Concrete Love: The Böhm Family 5 p.m. Sunday, April 12 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 14 Another documentary, but I just can't help myself. Gottfried Böhm is one of Germany's most well known, if not also important and beloved living architects. Influenced by greats Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, Böhm has created many churches, museums, centers and public buildings all over Germany. His wife, Elisabeth, an architect, assisted him, and their three sons are architects as well. Concrete Love follows the Böhm dynasty as it tries to stay structurally sound after a tragedy. It's German with subtitles, so bring your readers but be prepared to be distracted by the buildings, renderings, and some tears.
Radiator 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15 4 p.m. Thursday, April 16 Tom Browne makes his directorial debut with a film tackling the one topic we're all trying to avoid: parenting our parents. If the trailer is to be trusted--and let it be clear, I'm one who likes to fly blind beyond a trailer viewing and a quick internet search when choosing my DIFF films--Gemma Jones and Richard Johnson have always been a married couple (I don't care who they're with in real life), with perfectly depicted moments of hushed tones and flare-ups. We will simply follow along (taking notes) as their son (Daniel Cerqueira) is frustrated, compassionate, sad, angry, and all those things, figuring out what the hell he's supposed to do with the declining and difficult adults who so clearly need him. There are clearly laughs to be had, but they're tempering something heavy...and with an impressive layer of dust and clutter.
Fresh Dressed 9 p.m. Friday, April 17 5 p.m. Saturday, April 18 I can't even wait for this doc on hip-hop influenced fashion in the 1980s through the 2000s. Journalist Sacha Jenkins takes a look at how trends grew and imploded, and at how racism and classism was so clearly a motivator for design and style. As Armani suits transitioned to B-Boy/B-Girl street styles and on into accessible luxury, hip-hop fashion transitioned with the music and the art. Interviews include Pharrell Williams, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Dapper Dan, Andre Leon Talley, and others.
Film Writer Stanton Brasher's Best Bets: Raiders!: The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made 7:15 p.m. Friday, April 10 and 9:15 p.m. Saturday, April 11 at the Angelika Raiders! made its debut at this year's SXSW to rave reviews. In fact, it was one of the festival's most buzzed about movies. I am kind of over documentaries at the moment. However, I will make an exception for this comedic entry about a group of friends who did a shot-for-shot remake of the George Lucas classic, Raiders of the Lost Ark. As kids in the 80s, they completed almost the entire film, except for one tricky shot. Now, as adults pushing 40, they set out to complete their fan film.
Don't Look in the Basement 2 Midnight, Friday April 10; 10:15 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the Angelika The 70s had some of the most influential horror films of all-time. That's why it is no surprise to see remakes of classics like Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street. Not many films, however, are treated to an actual sequel over 40 years later. Don't Look in the Basement 2 deals with the legacy of the first film. The only known survivor of the massacre at Stephens Sanitarium returns to find that not much has changed. It looks bloody and brutal, which is why it is taking up a midnight slot at this year's DIFF.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14 at Cinemark West, Plano I honestly don't know much about this film. This dramedy about two high school boys who befriend a girl with leukemia is based on a popular YA book of the same name. Seriously, this film is intriguing because of the sheer star power behind it. The cast includes Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Olivia Cooke, Jon Bernthal, and Connie Britton. Based on the actors alone, who wouldn't want to see this film? The last time Offerman brought a film to DIFF, Kings of Summer, it made my top ten list for the year. Hopefully, lightening can strike twice.
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Divine Access 7 p.m. Monday, April 13; 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 14 at the Angelika Dallas This looks like an extremely interesting comedy. Billy Burke plays Jack Harriman, a man who has recently become a celebrity for debunking one of those sleazy TV evangelists. Using his new found fame, he hits the road on a tour to tell the truth, but he has other forces pulling him in different directions.
The premise reminds me a little of Steve Martin's Leap of Faith but Divine Access had me at Patrick Warburton and Gary Cole. Both of these actors can make anything hilarious. If we could get them working together more often, that would be just great.
Turbo Kid Midnight, Friday April 10 at the Angelika; 10:30 p.m. Friday, April 17 at Texas Theatre. This was my favorite film at SXSW 2015. If you are a huge nerd, like myself, this will be one of your favorite films of the year as well. In the post-apocalyptic future of 1997, the earth has been destroyed by acid rain and the water has been rendered undrinkable. As H2O becomes the common currency, one man has taken control of all the life liquid in the land. That is, until The Kid stumbles across some high tech weaponry. Along with his quirky companion, Apple, The Kid sets out to right what is currently wrong.
Turbo Kid was shot as if it were a low budget sci-fi film from the 80s right down to the color scheme and the cheesy-yet-inspirational hair metal. Blood, violence, gore, and action abound in this dark science fiction-comedy.