Screen Play

Austin Film Festival Reviews


Shadow of the Vampire

(Q&A with director Merhige) Director E. Elias Merhige is the man behind the 1991 arthouse freakout Begotten, and though he's been AWOL for the past decade, this recounting of the creation of F.W. Murnau's classic Nosferatu should put him back in the dark limelight. With John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as vampy Max Schreck, there's no telling how bizarre things may get, though advance word is very, very good. Even former Andy Warhol Dracula Udo Kier is on hand, presumably chewing up the scenery. Boo, scary. (Thu, Oct 12, 10pm, Paramount)

Horror Night

(Q&A with Tobe Hooper)

"All that bad karma has to go somewhere," says film director Wes Craven in The American Nightmare, the Independent Film Channel-produced documentary about horror movies of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Directed by Adam Simon, this new film examines the way in which the turmoil present in American politics and culture during those years influenced and was reflected in the seminal horror films of this period. One-on-one interviews with film mavericks George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, and Craven form the crux of the movie along with commentary by such observers as Women and Chainsaws author Carol Crowder and all-around film maven John Landis. Homegrown Austin filmmaker Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) will be on hand for a Q&A following The American Nightmare and prior to the screening of Chainsaw. Other classic horror films being shown at this all-night Friday the 13th event include: The Tenant, Dead-Alive, Toxic Avenger, The Hunger, Alien, and -- of course -- Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D. (Fri, Oct 13, 8pm, Westgate)

State and Main

Philip Seymour Hoffman is the can't-miss kid. After turns in three of last year's most talked-about films (Happiness, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley), the actor scorched Broadway as both leads in True West, nailed the most memorable scenes in Cameron Crowe's very memorable Almost Famous, and now inspires critical blushes in State and Main, David Mamet's Hollywood spoof about a film crew ascending on a small Vermont town. Hoffman plays the stuttering screenwriter, who falls for the local bookstore owner (played by Mamet's wife, Rebecca Pidgeon). The impressive supporting cast also includes Sarah Jessica Parker, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, and Charles Durning. (Sat, Oct 14, 7pm, Paramount)

Next Stop Greenwich Village

(Q&A with Paul Mazursky)

With its hard-edged sweetness and nostalgic exactitude, this 1976 film is one of our favorites by filmmaker Paul Mazursky, the director who is also responsible for Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, An Unmarried Woman, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. It tells the semiautobiographical story of a Brooklyn boy who moves to Greenwich Village in the early Fifties to become an actor and escape his domineering Jewish mother (Shelley Winters, in one of her best performances). The film also features a host of exciting young newcomers like Christopher Walken, Antonio Fargas, Jeff Goldblum, and Ellen Greene. (Sat, Oct 14, 7:20pm, Arbor)

Dirty Harry

(Screenwriter Dean Riesner in attendance.)

The great Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Killers) directed this first entry in the long-running Clint Eastwood series, but it seems like less people have seen the original than its rank-and-file postscripts. Very much of its time (1971), this is the best of the series, with a cool Lalo Schifrin score and über-badass Harry Callahan on the trail of the Scorpio killer. Pure adrenalin from start to finish. (Sun, Oct 15, 7pm, Paramount)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

After triumphing with such English-language classics as Sense and Sensibility and his penetrating portrait of American suburbia The Ice Storm, international chameleon and American immigrant Ang Lee returns to his Taiwanese roots for this opulent martial arts film that combines the story of a heroic warrior with an epic romance. Breathtaking action sequences (choreographed by The Matrix's Yuen Wo-Ping), spectacular landscapes, and an emotionally complex story of the love and friendship shared by leads Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh make this an audience-rousing epic. (Wed, Oct 18, 7:20pm, Arbor)

Slap Shot

(Q&A with Ogie Oglethorpe and Hanson Brothers)

George Roy Hill's 1977 tour de farce is still the capstone to his awesome body of work with Paul Newman (the pair also worked together on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting). Here, Newman plays Reggie Dunlop, elder member of the lousiest hockey team in history. Thanks to a renewed interest in extreme violence and raunch, Reg and the outrageous Hanson Brothers score on as many literal and metaphorical levels as you can think of. Sublime in its use of profanity and sternum-rattling body checks, it's a comic masterpiece that holds up more than two decades later. (Thu, Oct 19, 7pm, Paramount)

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