For Your Consideration ...

Austin Film Festival Preview

ADVANCE (NON-COMPETITION) SCREENINGS


BIG BAD LOVE

W: James Howard and Arliss Howard/D: Arliss Howard; with Arliss Howard, Debra Winger, Paul Le Mat, Rosanna Arquette, Angie Dickinson. (USA, 111 min.)

Actor Arliss Howard roots his directorial debut in the rich Southern fiction of Larry Brown (Howard's brother, James, helped adapt Brown's stories for the screen). Howard plays Vietnam vet Leon Barlow, whose war experiences inspire his unpublished manuscripts; real-life wife Winger produced and plays his ex onscreen. -- K.J.

(10/15, 7pm, Paramount)


THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF

W/D: Christophe Gans; with Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Monica Belucci, Marc Dacascos. (France, 112 min.)

This hugely hyped actioner marks one of the first French films to utilize Hollywood-style CGI effects. Based on folklore, The Brotherhood of the Wolf centers on a nobleman's attempts to hunt down the mysterious, predatory "Beast of Gevaudan" in 18th-century France. -- K.J.

(10/14, 9:15pm, Arbor 2)


THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS

W/D: Patrick Stettner; with Stockard Channing, Julia Stiles, Frederick Weller. (USA, 84 min.)

Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles give bravura performances in this cat-and-mouse study of two women, the corporate ladder, and revenge. This film by first-time filmmaker Patrick Stettner examines how the bonds of trust and camaraderie that form between these two otherwise disparate characters due of their shared sex can turn out to be misleading and false. -- M.S.

(10/11, 7pm, Paramount)


CAHOOTS

D: Dirk Benedict; with Keith Carradine, David Keith, Wendie Malick. (USA, 114 min.)

Creepy is as creepy does, and Carradine's turn as the thoroughly unlikable Matt, a beer-swilling, misogynistic, sometimes construction worker who resurfaces into the life of former high school drinking buddy-now-architect Harley (Keith), is genuinely creepified. Former Battlestar Gallactican Benedict , in his feature directing debut, weaves a powerful headtrip of a film, part neo-noir and part-hellish, midlife car-smash. -- M.S.

(10/13, 7pm, Arbor 2)


CENTURY HOTEL

W: David Weaver, Bridget Newsom/D: Weaver; with Chantal Krevizak, Mia Kirschner, Lindy Booth, Colm Feore.

The 20th century as viewed through the lens of a single hotel room, number 720 of the title. Various characters and storylines from the past and present -- including a WWII vet fresh off the troop transport, a hooker and her once-a-year steady john, and an embattled newlywed couple -- vie for your attention in this ambitions and unique film. -- M.S.

(10/16, 7pm, Paramount)


DEVIL'S BACKBONE

W: Guillermo Del Toro, Antonio Trashorras, David Muñoz/D: Del Toro; with Eduardo Noriega, Marisa Paredes, Federico Luppi, Irene Visedo, Fernando Tielve. (Mexico/Spain, 106 min.)

Set in an orphanage during the waning months of the Spanish Civil War, The Devil's Backbone by the masterful director of Cronos and Mimic, is a spooky psychological drama that revolves around internecine power struggles and one persistent ghost. Also haunting this Spanish-language ghost story is an undetonated bomb and the ubiquitous residue of the war's anguish. -- M.B.

(10/13, 9:40pm, Arbor 1)


DONNIE DARKO

W/D: Richard Kelly; with Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle, Mary McDonnell. (USA, 120 min.)

Donnie Darko is a 16-year-old maybe-genius growing up in the Reagan-era Eighties in this coming-of-age story with a sci-fi bent. After a freak accident, visions of man-sized, bloodied bunny rabbits and other oddities plague Donnie. Bubble Boy's Jake Gyllenhaal (his facial tics and cracking voice a dead ringer for Tobey Maguire) leads an intriguing cast, including Barrymore, Swayze, and little sister Maggie Gyllenhaal. -- K.J.

(10/12, 7pm, Paramount)


GRATEFUL DAWG

D: Gillian Grisman. (USA, 81 min.)

Previously screened at the Newport International Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival, Grateful Dawg chronicles the buddyhood between bluegrass (or, more properly, "dawg music") prodigy David Grisman and the late Jerry Garcia. The film features stage performances, candid footage, and (what else?) jam sessions, as well as an unreleased music video from 1991. -- M.I.

(10/13, 7pm, Paramount)


GREEN DRAGON

W: Tony Bui, Timothy Linh Bui/D: Timothy Linh Bui; with Patrick Swayze, Don Duong, Forest Whitaker, Hiep Thi Le, Billinjer Tran, Long Nguyen. (USA/Vietnam, 92 min.)

Set in California's Camp Pendleton during the final year of the Vietnam war, Linh Bui's film examines the plight of hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese refugees as they stream into the outright limbo of the camp while awaiting a new life elsewhere. Whitaker is camp cook/conscience and a part-time artist who helps the new arrivals, in particular a war orphan played by Long Nguyen, to readjust to life on terra firma. -- M.S.

(10/17, 7pm, Paramount)


GYPSY 83

W: Tim Kaltenecker and Todd Stephens/D: Stephens; with Sara Rue, Kett Turton, Karen Black, Paulo Costanzo, Anson Scoville, John Doe. (USA, 92 min.)

In a distinctly offbeat road trip destination, best friends Clive (Turton) and Gypsy (Rue) leave behind Ohio for NYC's "Night of a 1000 Stevie Nicks," a lookalike contest for the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman. Look for Seventies It-Girl Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces, Nashville) as a karaoke diva named Bambi LeBleu. -- K.J.

(10/16, 9pm, Paramount)


LAKEBOAT

W: David Mamet/D: Joe Mantegna; with Charles Durning, Peter Falk, Robert Forster, J.J. Johnston, Denis Leary, Tony Mamet, Jack Wallace, George Wendt. (USA, 98 min.)

Mamet regular Mantegna takes over the directing reins in this screen adaptation of David Mamet's first play. Acting heavyweights Durning, Falk, and Forster make up the mouthy crew of a steel barge; Tony Mamet (David's little brother) plays a first-time deckhand picking up the tools of the trade (and, no doubt, life lessons to boot). -- K.J.

(10/17, 7pm, Arbor 2)


LIAM

W: Jimmy McGovern/D: Stephen Frears; with Ian Hart, Claire Hackett, Anthony Borrows. (U.K., 90 min.)

Catholic guilt and fascist hate color this tale of an impoverished family in 1930s Liverpool. Eight-year-old non-actor Anthony Borrows is a revelation as Liam, the stuttering runt of the family, in this surprising film directed by the ever-eclectic Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, Dangerous Liaisons). -- K.J.

(10/12, 9:15pm, Arbor 1)


LIKE FATHER

W/D: the Amber Collective (Richard Grassick, Ellin Hare, Murray Martin, Pat McCarthy, Lorna Powell, Peter Roberts, Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen); with Joe Armstrong, Ned Kelly, Jonathan Dent, Anna Gascoigne. (U.K., 96 min.)

England's the Amber Collective -- a group of writers/producers/directors who've been collaborating for 30 years -- embark on another socially conscious project with Like Father, a naturalistic portrait of a Northern England mining town that employs non-professional actors to portray characters and circumstances similar to their own. -- K.J.

(10/14, 7pm, Arbor 1; 10/15, 9:30pm, Arbor 2)


LISA PICARD IS FAMOUS

W: Laura Kirk, Nat DeWolf/D: Griffin Dunne; with Kirk, DeWolf, Dunne. (USA, 90 min.)

Lisa Picard, a struggling actress with a modicum of talent, is the subject of this mockumentary. A film crew follows her as she goes on auditions and regularly commiserates with her gay-activist pal Tate, who also longs for an acting career. Cameos from the likes of Spike Lee, Charlie Sheen, Penelope Ann Miller, and Sandra Bullock abound. -- M.B.

(10/17, 9:15pm, Paramount)


MY BROTHER TOM

W: Alison Beeton-Hilder, Dom Rotheroe/D: Rotheroe; with Jenna Harrison, Ben Whishaw, Honeysuckle Weeks, Michael Erskine, Adrian Rawlings. (UK, 110 min.)

This feature film debut from journalist and documentarian Dom Rotheroe examines the burgeoning relationship between two disturbed teens in a London suburb. DV-adept cinematographer Robby Müller (Buena Vista Social Club, Dancer in the Dark) utilizes hand-held cameras for scenes set in a forest, the staging ground for the teens' sexual awakening. -- K.J.

(10/15, 7pm, Arbor 1; 10/18, 9:15pm, Arbor 1)


NOVOCAINE

W/D: David Atkins; with Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Dern, Elias Koteas, Scott Caan. (USA, 100 min.)

Dental-noir is such a miniscule cinematic sub-genre that it only has one real film to its (freshly coined) name. That's first-time director Atkins' Novocaine, which posits Martin as Chicago tooth-yanker Frank Sangster, who runs afoul of Bonham Carter's conniving vixen while gently probing receptionist Dern's tender cavities. Not a comedy, but darkly humorous, this looks like another résumé-builder for the former King Tutter-cum-renaissance man. -- M.S.

(10/12, 7pm, Arbor 1)


PEACHES

W/D: Nick Grosso; with Matthew Rhys, Kelly Reilly, Sophie Okenedo. (Ireland, 84 min.)

Young Londoners laugh, love, and lag behind their bettor in this seriocomic tale of youth in remission. Ladykiller Rhys is, understandably, obsessed with nailing the birds (or "peaches") while studiously avoiding anything resembling a real commitment. Ostensibly an accurate take on Tony Blair's "new" England, Peaches somehow leaves New Order and any semblance of U.K. speed-garage off the soundtrack, which frankly is a welcome relief. -- M.S.

(10/17, 9:30pm, Arbor 1; 10/18, 7pm, Arbor 2)


SEVEN AND A MATCH

W/D: Derek Simonds; with Eion Bailey, Heather Donahue, Devon Gummersall, Tina Holmes, Adam Scott, Daniel Serafini-Sauli, Petra Wright. (USA, 111 min.)

Shot on high-definition digital (the latest in the ongoing revolution), Seven and a Match brings together seven friends and ex-Yale classmates for one long weekend. The ensemble cast is getting good buzz on the festival circuit, and for those scratching their heads over Donahue and Gummersall, yes, she is the chick from Blair Witch, and yes, he is MSCL's Brian Krakow, all grown up. -- K.J.

(10/16, 7pm, Arbor 1)


30 YEARS TO LIFE

W/D: Vanessa Middleton; with Erika Alexander, Melissa De Sousa, Kadeem Hardison, Tracy Morgan, Paula Jai Parker, Allen Payne. (USA, 110 min.)

After Whitney Houston distanced herself from the project, former television writer Middleton culled much of the talent from the small screen (Morgan is an SNL regular; Alexander and Hardison both went through the Cosby camp). Her big-screen debut follows a group of friends in Manhattan all approaching 30 and grappling with the life evaluations that necessarily come with that benchmark. -- K.J.

(10/18, 7pm, Paramount)


UNDERSTANDING JANE

W: Jim Mummery/D: Caleb Lindsay; with Kevin McKidd, John Simm, Amelia Curtis, Louisa Milwood Haigh. (U.K., 99 min.)

Blind date, British-style: Two men respond to personal ads, but turns out the SWFs are scam artists, looking to milk the hapless guys out of cash, food, and material goods. Can love win over even a con artist? Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting) co-stars in this ensemble romantic comedy. -- K.J.

(10/11, 7pm, Arbor 1; 10/17, 7:30pm, Arbor 1)


WAKING LIFE

W/D: Richard Linklater; with Wiley Wiggins and an ensemble of 74 other actors. (USA, 97 min.)

Richard Linklater's revolutionary new film represents a unique merger of technology and imagination. The live action was originally filmed using a hand-held digital camera, and then the filmmakers and a team of 30 animators used interpolated rotoscoping software to transfer the film images into a completely animated feature that is visually and narratively unlike anything ever experienced before. -- M.B.

(10/14, 8pm, Paramount)

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