So, before getting to today's AFI Dallas International Film Festival quick picks, this locally related film note: Former Dallas Observer film critic and all-round good egg Matt Zoller Seitz sends word that he's been commissioned by the Museum of the Moving Image to do a five-part online video series breaking down the works of one Wes Anderson. The first "chapter" bowed yesterday: "The Substance of Style, Pt 1: Wes Anderson and his pantheon of heroes (Schulz, Welles, Truffaut)." And it's well worth a look and listen -- though, as noted previously, I'm a sucker for anything with clips from A Charlie Brown Christmas and, why of course, Bottle Rocket. So, that out of the way ...
There's also this note from the AFI folks concerning a special event not previously penciled in: On Friday at 1:45 p.m. at the Magnolia, the fest will indeed screen, as AFI heads had hoped, Peter Bogdanovich's never-before-screened director's cut of the vastly underrated Texasville, after which the filmmaker will be onhand to discuss the 1990 sequel to The Last Picture Show. The event's free, which means you may wanna start lining up, oh, now, given the long rush lines at the fest's entirely sold-out screenings.
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So, speaking of which, on to tonight's must-sees. (Except you, Dave.)
If you're planning on seeing Guillermo Arriaga's The Burning Plain at the Magnolia at 4:30 and you're not already seated in the theater or in the rush line, you're way too late. Which isn't to dissuade you from seeing the film when it's released in September: Last night's packed-house NorthPark screening revealed yet another time-folding, mind-bending, heartbreaking Arriaga concoction; fans of Babel and 21 Grams will find in The Burning Plain a familiar format in which characters and their intentions are revealed slowly and subversively. If it's a bit cold to the touch -- Arriaga has a way of distancing the audience from his subjects using perhaps one too many flashback tricks -- it's still a smartly, wrenchingly told tale about the damage parents inflict upon and pass along to their children.
Besides, you'd best line up early at the NorthPark for the 7 p.m. debut of Doug Pray's Art & Copy, in which the director of such estimable docs as Hype! and Surfwise peels back the slick surface of some of the more famous ad campaigns (Just Do It, the Apple 1984 TV spot, I Love New York, Got Milk, etc.) to find the inspiration and artistry beneath. In a town filled with ad agencies, Art & Copy's sure to play to a cram-packed house; no doubt the Richards Group already bought up the joint. Pray will attend for a post-screening Q&A, and the guy's a genuine delight -- as insightful and passionate as the movies he makes.
But, as I noted in this week's paper version of Unfair Park, my pick of the entire festival is Robert Siegel's Big Fan, which is anything but "hilarious," as the Sundance folks noted in their program earlier this year. I won't tout its brilliance yet again, but suffice it to say: If you're a fan of The Ticket or any other sports-talk station 'round town, you'll never listen to your radio the same way ever again. Siegel will attend tonight's screening at 9:45 at NorthPark, after which he and I will chat and take audience questions; the film's star, Patton Oswalt, will join us following tomorrow's screening, which begins at 7 p.m. at NorthPark.