Short Cuts

Last Saturday found Tobe Hooper in absentia and John C. Reilly quite the opposite

<i>The Criminal</i>: John C. Reilly at the Paramount
The Criminal: John C. Reilly at the Paramount (Photo By John Anderson)

Who Survived and What Was Left of Them Dept.: Last Saturday's "Ultimate Chainsaw Experience" down in Kingsland at the (new-ish) site of the legendary Texas Chain Saw Massacre house (now a "family restaurant," wink, wink) went off with only a few minor hitches and nowhere near the screamadelic orgy of unrelenting bloodbathery some had feared might take place. "Short Cuts" was otherwise engaged, but Alamo Drafthouse overlord Tim League tells us that the event, which reunited almost the complete cast of the classic nail-gnawer, sold out despite threatening rain clouds and the nonappearance of director Tobe Hooper, who was originally scheduled to fly in from his home in Cali. "It was pretty bad, actually," says League of Hooper's no-show. "There was no reason given, but I think that he thought Ed Neal [who memorably played the film's deranged hitchhiker] was going to kick his ass." The longstanding rift between director Hooper and much of his original cast and crew stems from the perception – in League's view, not entirely justified – that Hooper turned a pretty penny on the legendary 1974 Austin-lensed film and its video and DVD sales while everyone else received nada dinero. "Ed actually won a $300 bet that Hooper was going to chicken out," adds League, "but it's one of those famous things where I think everybody got screwed by the distributors. It all boils down to money." In other ginchy 'Saw notes, scream queen Marilyn Burns apparently refused to get in the van with Ed Neal when League and company arrived at her hotel to pick her up prescreening. "We borrowed a van that looked just like the one in the film," says League, "and when she came outside there was Ed in the van acting like a total freak, and she wouldn't get in. It was all too much like the film, so we found her another ride." Life imitates death! Yeah, baby!

Criminal Justice Dept.: Those that didn't make it to Chain Saw were massed over at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday evening for the Austin Film Society's screening of Gregory Jacobs' directorial debut, Criminal, a splendid remake of the Argentinian caper film Nine Queens. Jacobs and amiable star John C. Reilly (Boogie Nights) were on hand for a post-screening Q&A and the requisite post-show shindig. Reilly enthused about Jacobs' puzzle-box script-work, saying it was "just air-tight when I read it. That was one of the special challenges of making this movie, too, because the plot is so tight and everything is so interconnected that every scene we shot would make it to the screen. There was nothing that could come out, because if you did, the next scene wouldn't make any sense!" The Mamet-esque story, which follows Reilly's professional con artist through a day with young grifter Diego Luna, is indeed as tight as – in the memorable words of one exiting audience member – a dead nun in the desert, and Reilly, Luna, and co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal were all in ripping good form, as was director (and former Austinite) Jacobs. More, please.

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Tim League, Tobe Hooper, Marilyn Burns, Gregory Jacobs, John C. Reilly, Diego Luna, Maggie Gyllenhall, Ed Neal

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