Going to Towne: Some Picks for Your Friday AFI Dallas Film Festival-Going Pleasure

Patrick has posted his bang-up slide show from last night's AFI Dallas International Film Festival kick-off, which comes with the most adorable photo of Rinko Kikuchi you'll find anywhere and several others of Adrian Brody. Patrick also grabbed this one of writer-director Robert Towne, who will be at the AMC NorthPark at 7 tonight for a special screening of Chinatown, followed by a talk moderated by the great Richard Schickel. The event's sold-out, but there will be a rush line for them's hoping for a last-second seat. Because either you bring the water to Dallas, or you bring Dallas to the water.

As the slide show more or less recaps last night's affair in 32,000 words, no need to look back then -- we're better off at this point pointing out the must-sees on today's schedule. Chief among them is Dallas native David Lowery's St. Nick, the story of a young brother and sister on the run in The Middle of Nowhere, Texas, which the Malick-in-the-making describes on his blog thusly: "It's like Where The Wild Things Are, only without the monsters." Fair enough. It screens at 4:15 p.m. at the Magnolia and should resonante majestically on a gloomy, cold-front Friday.

Also worth a look-see is Gigantic, an incredibly divisive indie romcom starring There Will Be Blood's Paul Dano as a Manhattan mattress salesman and Zooey Deschanel as the cutesy-kooky daughter of a sumbitch millionaire (John Goodman) who falls for the guy. My Village Voice Media colleague Nick Pinkerton hates the thing, calling it nothing more than a "another limpsy indie comedy for the heap." Me, I think it has its charms, most of which rhyme with Schmooey Schmeschanel. The film makes its U.S. premiere tonight at 7:15 at the AMC NorthPark.

Midnight moviegoers do have something rather extraordinary in store for them: Paul Solet's extraordinary Grace, about a pregnant vegan injured in a car accident who wills her stillborn child back to life ... yup. It's a disturbing piece of work, one that ranks right up there with Rosemary's Baby -- if it were doused in a bit more gore. For a sneak peek, check out the official Web site; the baby's milk bottle full of blood should provide you with all the info you need to make your decision before heading out in the wee small hours for the Magnolia midnighter.

There are myriad good docs from which to chose tonight, chief among them Prom Night in Mississippi and Rock Prophecies. But locals will likely be most interested in HAZE, about the 2004 death of Dallas's Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. at the University of Colorado f following a fraternity hazing incident involving the forced consumption of whiskey and wine. It screens at 4:30 at the Magnolia.

But a personal favorite for tonight would have to be Noah Buschel's The Missing Person. Sadly, the fest guide and most review of the film blow its revelation, the key plot point that turns this deadpan modern-day noir (starring Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon as down-on-his ass private detective) from something almost surreal into a poignant snapshot of a real-life event. I hope you know as little about it as possible before going in -- its slow reveal is what provides the devastating punch that's softened, only slightly, by a hopeful ending. And its cast, which also features the Oscar-nominated Amy Ryan (seen most recently as Michael Scott's lost love on The Office). Buschel's a last-minute addition to the festival's roster of visiting filmmakers, and he'll stick around following the 10:30 p.m. screening at the AMC NorthPark for a Q&A, which I may moderate if I can stay awake that long.

And it's only the first day of the festival.

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