The latest from the Oxford American's SoLost series is from footage series director Dave Anderson got last year during the shoot for Jeff Nichols' "Mud" in south Arkansas. Good interviews with Nichols, Paul Sparks (who plays main bad dude Carver in the film and Mickey Doyle on "Boardwalk Empire") and Sarah Paulson (who plays Mary Lee, Ellis' mother).
Paulson, in particular, has nice, insightful things to say about Nichols.
He has a real old soul...He's very gentle, but specific. Very much in command. He's very self-possessed, which I think is an interesting quality for a man so young and a relatively new filmmaker. All that does, for me anyway, is inspire great confidence that I can trust whatever he's wanting or needing in a scene from me and trust that it is the exact right thing... I'd do anything for Jeff Nichols. He could ask me to do any part — big, small, toothless, peg-legged — I'd do it.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau just released the lineup for this year's Movies in the Park, the quite popular series of free outdoor film screenings that take place at Riverfest Amphitheater long about dusk on midsummer Wednesday nights.
This year kicks off June 12 with "Twilight: Breaking Dawn," which concerns vampires and werewolves or something, if I'm not mistaken. The lineup is heavy on feelgood and popcorn-flick fare — "Remember the Titans" (June 19), "The Notebook" (June 26), "The Dark Knight Rises" (July 3). That's to be expected, for sure. Gotta give the people what they want, and what they want is the crowd-pleasing blockbusters. But wouldn't it be funny if, just for one year, Movies in the Park went really weird? Like, way-off-the-rails arthouse/trashy B-movie/exploitation-type weird?
What if the Movies in the Park schedule was like:
June 4: "Blue Velvet"
June 11: "Holy Mountain"
June 18: "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song"
June 21: "Suspiria"
June 28: "The Harder They Come"
July 5: "Weekend"
July 12: "Weekend at Bernie's"
July 19: "Pink Flamingos"
July 26: "The Hills Have Eyes"
Aug. 2: "Fellini Satyricon"
Actually, looking at that list reinforces what a gigantic failure that lineup would undoubtedly be (though it would be amazing to watch "Holy Mountain" outside on the big screen surrounded by a cross-section of Central Arkansawyers). Probably better to just stick to "The Zookeeper" (July 10), "Finding Nemo" (July 24) and so forth. The press release with a full (and real) schedule is after the jump.
According to this item in Deadline Hollywood, Arkansas native Jeff Nichols will direct an upcoming feature for Warner Bros.
"Midnight Special," written by Nichols, will star the young director's muse, the intense Michael Shannon. Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr. says the film was described to him "as a contemporary science fiction chase film." As Collider points out, Nichols had discussed his desire to make "a 1980s John Carpenter movie." Personally, I've got my fingers crossed for a combination of "They Live" and "Big Trouble in Little China."
(Side note: Shannon was great in all of Nichols' films, but seriously, if you haven't seen it, watch "Let's Go To Prison." The movie really isn't that good, but Shannon plays a murderous inmate who's so terrifying he makes Anton Chigurh look like Stanley Spadowski. So if you're into that sort of thing, there are probably worse ways to kill 84 minutes.)
1. Graham Gordy, his face mostly obscured in the shadows, is in a really crucial scene with Reese Witherspoon's character.
2. A Smoke Up Johnny song plays in a scene with Neckbone (Jacob Lofland of Yell County) and his uncle Galen (Mike Shannon), who's into punk rock. And the Beach Boys.
3. "Brother" Andy Warr is in a scene outside of a mobile home for a split second.
4. Little Rock police officer Matt Hoffine plays a cop on the take.
Anyone notice anything else?
For Mr. Nichols, “Shotgun Stories,” “Take Shelter” and “Mud” are an Arkansas trilogy, a meditation on family, masculinity and environment, especially fertile subjects in the South. They are what he explored as he first considered becoming a filmmaker. “ ‘Mud’ kind of puts a period on the end of it for me,” he said.
Though the first two films made negligible dents at the box office, they gave Mr. Nichols enough of a name around Hollywood to move projects. “Mud,” which was shot around DeWitt, had a budget of around $12 million, enabling him to upgrade his camerawork.
“I wanted it to move like a river,” he said of the camera. “I wanted constant fluidity. Mud” — the man — “was always supposed to be in motion.”
But the movie was told from the searching, craning viewpoint of 14-year-old Ellis. “You think about the Mississippi River, it moves at two to three miles per hour, but it’s also one of the most windy rivers in the world,” Mr. Nichols said. “And that was like a director’s concept that I had going into the movie.”
“I don’t think that’s just film-school-director stuff,” he added. “I think those are actually the subconscious building blocks that an audience puts together themselves.”
Yesterday, the Little Rock Film Festival announced the slate of 19 "Made in Arkansas" films that will screen at the 2013 LRFF. Three of the films are feature-length (including director Juli Jackson's "45RPM," the trailer of which can be seen above), while the rest are shorts. Topics run the gamut, including a short about bigfoot hunters ("Foot Hunters"), a profile of Little Rock homeless outreach advocate Aaron Reddin ("The Van") and a feature-length documentary about the rise and fall of football golden boy Mitch Mustain ("The identity Theft of Mitch Mustain"). Check out the full list here.
All the films chosen for the "Made in Arkansas" category will compete for the LRFF's Charles B. Pierce Award for Best Film, as well as Best Director and Best Actor/Actress awards. The Little Rock Film Festival runs May 15-19. For more information, visit their website.
LITTLE ROCK FILM FEST: 'BLOODY MAMA'
7 p.m. River Market Tower. Free with LRFF pass.
This looks cool: a rooftop screening of a Roger Corman flick that was filmed in the Ozarks and stars Shelley Winters, Robert DeNiro and Robert Walden, who will be in attendance.
Set in the 1920s, "Bloody Mama" concerns Ma Barker (Winters), a sweet old lady from Arkansas who just so happens to carry a machine gun and be a psychotic criminal mastermind. Oh, and she has four miscreant co-conspirators as sons, including drug addict Lloyd (DeNiro), recently released convict Fred (Walden), Arthur (Clint Kimbrough) and Herman (Don Stroud).
It's all violence and mayhem and gunplay on the highways and back roads as Ma Barker leads her awful brood on a multi-state crime spree that can only end in carnage.
Looks they've lined up an official U.S. theatrical debut of "Ain't in it for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm." The documentary about the Phillips County native and musical legend will premiere April 19 at Cinema Village in New York "before showing in select cities," according to AM Magazine. You might recall that April 19 is the one-year anniversary of Helm's death.
After the jump, check out the trailers for the film. It looks awesome. Filmmaker Jacob Hatley basically lived with Helm and crew up in Woodstock, N.Y. for more than two years, filming the whole time. A lot of the film involves Levon sitting around his table telling stories, which sounds like something I could listen to for about two billion hours before getting tired of it. If you've read "This Wheel's On Fire," (which you really, really should have) you already know that the man had a true gift for storytelling.
OZARK FOOTHILLS FILMFEST
Various times and venues in Batesville. $3-$25.
The multi-day Ozark Foothills FilmFest returns to Batesville, with another intriguing lineup of short and feature-length narrative and documentary films, lectures and panel discussions.
Of the latter, an interesting one will surely be "The Female Face of Indie Film," which includes, among others, Arkansas native Juli Jackson. With help from a grant from the festival, Jackson made "45RPM," a road movie shot in Arkansas about an obsessive record collector and a young woman trying to find a deeper understanding of her family.
Another big highlight includes a screening of Josef von Sternberg's silent 1927 proto-gangster flick "Underworld," accompanied by live music from the Alloy Orchestra, the trio that also played at the festival in 2011 and includes Mission of Burma founder Roger Miller. They band is "The best in the world at accompanying silent films," according to film critic Roger Ebert.
Also, music geeks should check out "The Lost Souls," a 54-minute doc about The Lost Souls, a Jacksonville-based quartet that cut some legendary garage rock singles back in the mid-1960s. Filmmaker Harold Ott is also the man behind the "Lost Souls" series of compilation CDs, featuring tons of long-lost garage rock ravers from the Natural State.
LITTLE ROCK HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Various times. Argenta Community Theater. $40 pass. $7 for individual screenings.
This writer has never been one of those happy-go-lucky types drawn to rom-coms and Woody Allen movies. Though my taste for gore has diminished over the years, back in the dark days of teenagehood, I liked my movie characters like I like my steaks: bloody and relentlessly pursued by a sneering man with a knife.
I still get in the mood for a horror film these days, which is what makes an immersion in the Little Rock Horror Picture Show so cool. The horrid genetic mistake the Little Rock Film Festival keeps chained in the attic, the LRHPS is three days of blood, terror and mayhem, and a hell of a lot of fun.
One flick to definitely catch this year is "Roadside," the latest film by Arkansas filmmaker Eric England. The closer of the festival, it's the story of a couple trapped in a stalled car by a psychopath with a rifle. Sounds like the feel-good hit of the year. You can see the schedule and buy tickets here.
After the jump, check out the LRHPS teaser.
Established in 1988, the Library of Congress' National Film Preservation Board selects up to 25 films every year that are ”of enduring importance to American culture." The Doc Channel blog thinks "Paradise Lost" fits the bill:
If there’s any film that fits that description right now, fiction or nonfiction, it’s Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky‘s Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills. The 1996 documentary has lead to the release of three wrongfully convicted men through its influence and its continuation into two sequels (the third of which was nominated for an Oscar last year). It’s also been a huge inspiration to other filmmakers and legal causes over the years. So, when the 2013 NFR titles are announced this December, I think it should be among the 25.
Interested in helping the effort? You can find the address to e-mail your nomination to the National Film Preservation Board here. The deadline for nominations is September 1.
The blood and guts behind the Little Rock Horror Picture Show released their slab of out-of-state films today, with the second-annual festival opening with the untitled Scooby-Doo-meets-slasher flick formerly known as "Saturday Morning Massacre." Check out the trailer here.
The festival will also feature four panels on aspects of horror film making, including writing, directing, producing and acting. The closing night film will be "Roadside," Arkansas native Eric England's new thriller about a pair of travelers tormented by an unseen psychopath while trapped in a stalled car. England's old school slasher flick "Madison County" won the audience award at last year's LRHPS. Following the screening of "Roadside," there will be a festival after-party at White Water Tavern featuring a performance by Foul Play Cabaret.
The LRHPS will run March 22-24. Tickets can be purchased at the Little Rock Film Festival's Eventbrite.com site.
Other out of town flicks coming for the festival (hit the links for trailers):
The Mansion (USA)
The Burlesque Assassins (Canada)
Dead Weight (USA)
Motivational Growth (USA)
Jug Face (USA)
Look out behind you, Little Rock Horror Picture Show! Hot Springs will be shambling into the horror film festival mayhem this fall with the new Hot Springs Horror Film Festival. Screenings will be held in the newly-reopened Central Theater the weekend of Sept. 26-29.
The HS Horror Film Festival website recently went online, and is now accepting online film submissions through withoutabox.com (there's a link to submit on the website). We're working on getting more details about the braaaaaains! behind the operation now.
ARGENTA FILM SERIES: 'UNDEFEATED'
7 p.m. Argenta Community Theater. Free.
If your heart was warmed by Sandra Bullock's turn in "The Blind Side," then a sound bite oft-repeated in similar varieties to describe Oscar-winning documentary "Undefeated" might be all you need to hear: "It's 'Friday Night Lights' meets 'The Blind Side' and the whole movie is true" (as George Stephanopoulos said on ABC).
If you actively avoided Bullock's role as a Southern Belle savior of a gentle black giant, plenty of other critics have begun their reviews with an acknowledgement: We know this might sound like inspirational treacle, but it's really good! How to reconcile the two takes? I don't know; I haven't seen the film. But I do know that filmmakers T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay embedded with the woeful Manassas High School football team in north Memphis for about a year and turned 500-hours of footage into a 113-minute documentary.
With that much material on a football team made up of kids from a forgotten part of town, hungry for a future that may never come and led by a white volunteer coach they call Big Daddy Snowflake, there's bound to be some lasting moments. I'll interview Coach Bill Courtney (Big Daddy Snowflake) in a post-screening Q&A. Like all of the films in the Argenta Film Series, the screening is free, but an RSVP at lrff.eventbrite.com is required.
Deadline reports that Tina Fey will be working with "Pitch Perfect" director and Fayetteville native Jason Moore on the upcoming comedy "The Nest," which is about a pair of sisters who, upon learning their childhood home has been put up for sale decide to spend one last weekend together, bonding and feuding and then patching things up and so forth, as sisters often do.
Moore, who directed on the Broadway productions of "Avenue Q" and "Shrek the Musical," made his film debut with "Pitch Perfect." As Deadline notes, the musical comedy was a sleeper hit, grossing more than $108 million worldwide, on a cost of $17 million.
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