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Vol. 30 No. 20 (Subscribe) (Contact: micah[at]reeldistraction.com) Friday, July 25 2014
News: SXSW 2013 03.27.13
:: Day One ::

Day one of my ninth consecutive SXSW is in the books! (As an aside, people kept referring to this year's SXSW as the 25th anniversary of SXSW film. It wasn't. It was the 25th SXSW film. Totally not the same thing. NEXT year we'll celebrate the 25th anniversary.) It started a bit later than I wanted though. I worked from home today as a time-saving method, and was hoping to get out of town by noon. Unfortunately, work took longer than expected, and I ended up not getting on the road until around 2. Which means I got to Austin just as traffic hit, and made the odds of me making it to the 6:30 screening of Upstream Color at the Stateside pretty slim. Luckily the badge pickup process was as smooth as always (I didn't even have to use the new satellite option they opened this year). I was in and out of the ACC in 10 minutes. Took longer to walk around to where the badges are located than to actually get the badge itself. Good job SXSW! (Incidentally... they moved the location of the Vimeo!!).

So I booked it over to the Stateside and was given an overflow ticket in the 20s, which basically meant I wasn't going to get in. I waited for a few minutes just in case, but decided to go to my second option, The Act of Killing, at the Ritz (thanks to the awesome SXSW app, I was getting live updates of whether that film was close to selling out, and it wasnít).

SXSW Description: In a country where killers are celebrated as heroes, the filmmakers challenge unrepentant death squad leaders to dramatise their role in genocide. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit.

Notes: Made it to the Ritz just before the intro started. Theyíre doing this thing this year where they show some Ritz movies in both theaters at the same time. This was one of those screenings, and I picked 2, which ended up being less than half full. I guess everyone was at UC or Burt Wonderstone. The director told us that he wasnít going to say ďenjoy the filmĒ because it wasnít that type of film, but that he would say that he hoped we had a powerful experience. And I damn sure did.

First of all, The Act of Killing is just a brilliant piece of documentary work. The filmmakers wanted to tell the stories of victims of the countryís brutal regime change, but kept getting blocked and hassled by the government (the same regime that did the killing in the 60s). So in a brilliant move, they decided to let the killers - men who seem to love to brag about what they did - be the subject of the film. They apparently worked with 40 killers before finding the one they focused the film on. And this guy is gold from a doc standpoint. Proud and charismatic and conflicted and hurt and charming and terrifying... they couldnít have picked a better subject. The film is about him working through his - guilt isnít really the right word... something closer to PTSD may be more like it - issues with his past is what the film is about as much as anything, and I was never able to get a firm handle on how much of his initial braggadocio manner and his latter more sorrowful demonstrations were put ons for the camera. I assume both were, at least to a degree. I have a feeling Iím going to be thinking about that guy for a while. The director said afterward that there can never be too much empathy in the world, and that he thinks one of the benefits of the film is to remind us that good guys/bad guys is a fake dichotomy... every horrible act and every great act in history was done by a human... and that he wants audiences to see a bit of themselves in this mass murderer, and to think about the implications of what that means.

In a film filled with ďI canít believe they captured such a perfect momentĒ moments, the highlight comes midway where a supporting actor in the film-within-a-film shares with his co-actors a particularly personal story. Itís a crystallizing moment, and one of the most memorable scenes Iíve ever seen in a doc.

Itís apparently been playing to great reception in its home country, and there are stirrings of perhaps a real change. The director described it as being a emperorís new clothes type situation where something has finally been voiced that everyone already knew, and thereís now no un-saying it. Apparently even the main guy respects what the film is, and has vowed to stand by it.

Anyway, just heart-wrenching powerful stuff. Loved it.



Up next I trekked to this yearís new venue, Topfer, to see something that I really didnít have much interest in, but that I needed to go to if I wanted to make it into VHS 2 at the Topfer later that night. Noah and Jenny and Brian were there, so I got to hang out with them. Later John and Jacob showed up, so it was a night of friends.

Weird thing about the Topfer: if you order a beer they put it in a cup with a lid and put a straw in it. Weird.


Weird.

SXSW Description: Mitchell (Josh Duhamel) and Carter (Dan Fogler), life-long friends who have drifted apart, are on a road trip when their old pickup breaks down, leaving them stranded on an isolated desert road. Nobody can pick apart a man like his best friend, and as the relentless elements of the desert grind them down, they start to attack each otherís life decisions with unwavering brutality. As they question who they are and who they could have been, their agitation leads to physical confrontation and ultimately knife-wielding madness, and what begins as an inconvenience becomes a very real life or death struggle.

Notes: So... Scenic Route... wasnít bad. Itís pretty much a two man show, and the characters go through various permutations of friendly, angry, really angry, and really friendly. There were a few moments of violence that for whatever reason really made me flinch. Perhaps because so much of the film was talking, that the parts with some physical contact seemed all the more brutal.

Thereís a lot of dark humor, and more than anything the film is a 50/50 mix of a talky 30something film fest midlife-crisis buddy movie and a flick like FROZEN, where a few characters are trapped somewhere bad with little chance of survival. I liked both of the leads, but admit that during the last 20 or so minutes the film seemed to overstay its welcome a bit. Iím not a huge fan of the way the film ended either... there were several potential stopping points earlier on that could have worked more effectively.

Looking back I keep thinking about funny moments, which is weird, because I didnít really think of it as a comedy when I was watching it. The scene where the schlubby friend wakes up unexpectedly and discovers what the fancy friend did during his lapse in consciousness really made me laugh.

So yeah... on the whole not bad.



Last film of the night, V/H/S 2 was shockingly poorly attended given how crowded VHS was at SXSW last year. Before the movie I spent some time talking comics with John, and we had some volunteer join our conversation to let us know that Batmanís ďDeath of the FamilyĒ storyline name was an homage to ďDeath in the Family.Ē Which... thanks kid.

We eventually got into the theater and after about a 20 minute delay, the film started rolling. Oh... I meant to say this earlier. This year instead of doing new bumpers before each movie, theyíre showing best ofs from the last 20 years. Which is AWESOME, because thereís always some dull bumpers each year, and hopefully this time theyíve cut all of those out. I also have been experiencing mental muscle memory with the bumpers so far: as soon as I saw a girl in tall striped socks walking through the woods, I muttered ďIím all outdoorsy now,Ē just seconds before the girl said the same thing to her mom on the phone via flashback. That bumper was from two or three festivals ago, and I still remember that line. Weird.

SXSW Description: Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his abandoned house and find another collection of mysterious VHS tapes. In viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be terrifying motives behind the studentís disappearance.

Notes: Anyway, VHS2... so... yeah. Really pretty great. Definitely a lot more fun (intentionally so) than the first. The filmmakers afterwards very much downplayed the logicalities of the wrap-around, but the general gist is that thereís an underground community that collects snuff-esque tapes, and the two main characters end up in the house of one of those guys and watch some of this collection. People complained after the first film that something like a Skype conversation wouldnít end up on a tape, but the filmmakers made a good point: anything can be put on tape, and these collectors have decided to do so (a) because analog emits electromagnetic pulses that futz with your body chemistry, and (b) they want to avoid detection online. Good enough for me.

So the wrap is easily the least interesting segment of the film. But all four main shorts are really damn strong. The first (involving a guy with an ocular implant) really had me on edge... mostly through pseudo-jump scares and loud noises, but still... effective. The second (there are zombies) was really damn funny and had some great gags. The third was the longest, and looks at an insane Indian (I think) cult. Great payoff to that one. And the fourth was kind of an amalgam of the first three... funny (ďsheís gonna shit out of her vagĒ) jump-scary, and really solid climax.

Unlike most anthology flicks, there are no segments that are likely to be universally regarded as the best or a real dud. Itís solid all the way through, and Iíd be excited to see more installments presented with this format. Hooray horror anthologies!


From the hilariously drunken post-film Q&A. I like these guys.

Thatís it for day 1. Iím checked into my recently remodeled Motel 6 (all they had was smoking, which is a stinky bummer) and itís about 4 am now.


Only a few stains on the comforter!

No idea what Iím seeing tomorrow, but Iíd better call it a day.





:: Day Two ::

Day two is in the books but - look at that - itís already 3:30. Fucking DST. Letís knock out these six real quick.

SXSW Description: Lensed in colour and b/w by Seamus McGarvey, the film explores Harry Dean Stantonís enigmatic outlook on his life and his unexploited talents as a musician. ďPutting the focus on the music rather than his person helped to engage him and capture a part of him that few people have seen. We wanted to create an atmosphere that is true to Harry, moving along with him, in his mind, at his pace, rather than to follow a linear or biographical orderĒ (Sophie Huber, director). With excerpts from Alien, Paris Texas, The Straight Story, Missouri Breaks et al., and interviews with David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry.

Notes: First up was Partly Fiction, a doc I missed yesterday about Harry Dean Stanton. Itís in b&w and primarily uses really fucking close-up shots of Harry taking about (or around) his life while sitting in his house or the back seat of a car. The resulting effect is one of remarkable intimacy... while at the same time Stanton always seems reluctant to completely open up; thereís almost always a bit of a guard between him and the viewer. Except, maybe, for when he sings, which is a good third of the film. He mostly (entirely?) sings other peopleís songs, and they almost always are about longing for wanting to return Home. (His rendition of Blue Bayou is particularly haunting). Thatís a theme that comes up time and again in the spoken portions of the film. Less a traditional biodoc and more of a quiet, melancholy look at a true legend toward the end of his life (though he still seems full of life and unseen energy in a frail sort of way). I quite enjoyed it.

Funny story: Violet Crown and Ritz are doing this thing where films are shown in two theaters at the same time. The couple next to me got that all wrong, and thought the theater we were in normally was two separate theaters. They were all confused about how that one room could be split into two, and that resulted in them pushing the theater wall next to them to see if it felt moveable. The husband even warned the wife to not push too hard, and then he described in detail a scene from BRAZIL where the main character does a desk tug of war with a co-worker on the other side of a dividing wall.



Next I had to book it to the ACC. Whedonís adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing was literally the only thing that looked remotely interesting in this spot. So I was OK if I missed it, but figured Iíd try rather than just sitting out for two hours. So when I arrived the line was super long (I was #420) and it was kinda misting. Luckily some company passed out panchos to those of us waiting outside. Even though I didnít need it in *this* line, I REALLY ended up needing it later in the day.

Also passed out during the line were National Geographic sponsored slap bracelets via a squad of young spandexed girls. The bracelets have a Girl Talk logo on them, and I guess NG is hosting that concert as part of an We Can Be As Dumb As The History Channel And VHS Werenít The 80s Cool type rebranding. Later in the week I saw a NG-branded DeLorean. Have at it, guys.


For the record, the spandex squad fucked up the moving line by handing bands to everyone who should have been walking toward the theater.

Also, while I was waiting in line, a young woman came up to me and asked if Iíd like to hear about Rackspace. I politely said ďno thanks,Ē and got the craziest stinkeye Iíve ever gotten from a promoter at a fest. I guess she was really excited about her (employerís) product.

SXSW Description: Shakespeare's classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon's film, "Much Ado About Nothing". Shot in just 12 days (and using the original text), the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a dark, sexy and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.

Notes: Eventually we got in, and after some brief introductions (Whedon and his cast apparently rode here on a bus from LA yesterday, and they had a HUGE reserved section) the film started. I had no idea what the story of Much Ado was about, have never read it, and have never seen any of the adaptations. And so I think I was perfectly poised to fully enjoy the film. Iíve seen other comments about the quality of his adaptation, or whether it was necessary to set it in modern day (without, as far as I can tell, changing any of the words), but because the story was entirely fresh to me, I was enthralled throughout. I laughed more than Iíve laughed in a theater in a while, and the drama/suspense portion of the play was entirely effective. Fillion has some great scenes as a dimwitted cop (she called me an ass!) and the actors who played Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedick (Alexis Denisof) were really fantastic. In fact, the cast was great all the way around (apparently most are from other Whedon projects, but I only recognized the brother from Firefly... and Fillion, of course... I didnít even realize that Claudio was from CABIN). Itís great that this thing was shot on a vacation during (or just after?) Avengers, and that a packed ACC audience showed up to see a Shakespeare adaptation just because it was directed by Joss.


The Ado team.



SXSW Description: Two highway road workers spend the summer of 1988 away from their city lives. The isolated landscape becomes a place of misadventure as the men find themselves at odds with each other and the women they left behind.

Notes: Next was Prince Avalanche a film I didnít know much about other than that David Gordon Green directed it and Paul Rudd was in it. Iím always interested in what DGGís doing, even though I havenít seen all of his stuff, and none of his films are as good in my mind as the amazing All The Real Girls. And Ruddís one of those guys that makes even a bad film bearable. But this... man... I just really didnít dig it. Yesterdayís Scenic Route was a much better ďtwo dudes bond and yell at each other in natureĒ movie. Rudd and Hirsch were just fine, but their backstories and interplay rang false. Weíre supposed to be moved by various emotional moments, but because the film played so flat, nothing felt earned. I chuckled a few times, but mostly was waiting for the film to end. I didnít hate it, but itís my least favorite thing Iíve seen so far this fest.


Rudd was doing something adorable here, Iím sure.



The next slot I had two competing entries for: either a doc about bartending craft cocktails (which I was worried would be off-putting and pretentious) or a rom-com by Swanberg about people who work at a craft brewery. Iíve actually only seen one Swanberg film (LOL), but I figured I was more interested in a doc than a fictional film, even though I obviously prefer craft beer over craft cocktails. And although I saw really good things about the Swanberg flick (Drinking Buddies) after it got out, Iím very glad with the choice I made.

SXSW Description: The bar is three customers deep and the bartenders are in the weeds at the greatest cocktail party since before Prohibition. Two bartenders try to achieve their dreams through bartending. An injured Marine turns his goals to becoming a principal bartender at the best cocktail bar in the world. A young man leaves his white collar job to buy the corner bar in his hometown, and years later he struggles to keep it afloat. Featuring the worlds most renowned bartenders and access to the most exclusive bars in New York, this is the story of the comeback of the cocktail and the rebirth of the bartender. Featuring commentary from Graydon Carter, Danny Meyer and Amy Sacco.

Notes: Hey Bartender is much more about the history of bartending, the psychology and mental tolls of bartending, and how the art of cocktails has emerged in the last 20 years. I know very little about the latter, and was slightly surprised that the film doesnít spend much time talking about *why* craft cocktails are so great. We see lots of scenes of top-shelf bartenders making special drinks with care, but thereís never a square discussion of why it matters or why people like these beverages beyond the superficial reasons. It would be like a doc about brewers where they talk a lot about *what* making good craft beer means to them, and not *why* a beer from a great brewer is better than a beer from a mediocre brewer.

But thatís not really a dig because thatís ultimately not what the filmís about... it really plays in three parts; a low-end bar ownerís struggle to keep afloat, a high-end barís struggle to be the best, and one of the bartenders from that barís struggle to get a top spot at the bar. Those stories are compelling, and even though the doc doesnít focus on the drinks, it made me really want to spend some time drinking various concoctions at local cocktail bars. I acutally got a taste of that recently on the cruise, where I spent most evenings ordering a rotation of the various 20s cocktails they had available (mostly Bee's Knees and Old Fashioned).


This pic features two of the best bartenders in the world if you buy this docís story.



SXSW Description: "I Am Divine" is the story of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, from his humble beginnings as an overweight, teased Baltimore youth to internationally recognized drag superstar through his collaboration with filmmaker John Waters. Spitting in the face of the status quos of body image, gender identity, sexuality, and preconceived notions of beauty, Divine was the ultimate outsider turned underground royalty. With a completely committed in-your-face style, he blurred the line between performer and personality, and revolutionized pop culture. "I Am Divine" is a definitive biographical portrait that charts the legendary iconís rise to infamy and emotional complexities.

Notes: Next I headed to the Ritz for my last two films of the night. The first was a doc about Divine, I Am Divine. I'm generally aware of the high points of Divine's career (at least film-wise... I had no idea he had such an extensive touring and record career) but don't think I've seen any of his movies. I really have been meaning to bulk on on my Waters. In any event, despite my lack of first-hand experience, I was completely wrapped up in this doc. He's such a compelling personality, and the footage and interviews they're able to piece together made for fascinating viewing. It's one of the best-presented docs I've seen in a long time. Internet's acting screwy right now, so I can't look and see what else this director has made. I'd be shocked if this was his first doc. Another big hit for this year's festival.



WARNING: The SXSW description below kinda has SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS that I wish I didn't know before I went into the movie. Read at your own risk.

SXSW Description: Lisa Johnson is one day shy of her sixteenth birthday. And she will be forever. She and her family are dead and doomed to repeat that fateful last day before they were all killed in 1985. Only Lisa has ďwoken upĒ and realizes what is going on. She starts to feel as if she is being haunted, but the ďghostĒ turns out to be Olivia, a very much alive girl who lives in the house in the present day with her own family. With her help, Lisa discovers that the house once belonged to a serial killer who kidnapped teenage girls and burned their remains in a hidden furnace room. When he died, he became a Haunter - a powerful, evil spirit able to possess the living.

Notes: Last film of the night was Haunter a horror flick by the director of CUBE, Vincenzo Natali. I think I went in knowing too much based on the SXSW summary... it really gave everything away. I was still able to enjoy the film (quite a bit), which is a blend of various haunted house flicks without being overly reliant on or duplicative of its inspirations. The film is scary (mostly due to jump scares and the really creepy appearance of its bad guy) but definitely aimed at a younger crowd. There's no blood or language that I can think of, and Abigail is a very young main character. But the film doesn't feel like a childish PG-13 nu-horror throw-away at all. It definitely has an edge to it. Natali remains a director that I will continue to be curious about.

And thatís it. As I was in line for Haunted I started seeing that we were going to get a massive rainstorm around midnight. Luckily I was inside when it started, but the half-mile trek back to my car was definitely soggy. The pancho I got earlier today was much appreciated. Iíd buzz market the company as thanks but itís in my car right now. I always enjoy the spectacle of the Drunken Apocalypse that is 6th at 2am on a weekend. Turns out that seeing waterlogged club rats running around trying to get back home makes the Drunken Apocalypse even more amusing.


So wet. So fun. My favorite SXSW night this year.

Now itís 4:20. Again, stupid DST. Time to crash before tomorrowís 11:15. Urg.





:: Day Three ::

Day three was a short one, movie wise, due to a kerfluffle at the Ritz. But it was four solid movies. 2:45 now, and I donít have to be at a movie until 1:45 tomorrow. Luxury! Here we go!

SXSW Description: Pug, a wisecracking 13 year old living on a dangerous Westside block, has one goal in mind: to join The 12 OíClock Boys; the notorious urban dirt-bike gang of Baltimore. Converging from all parts of the inner city, they invade the streets and clash with police, who are forbidden to chase the bikes for fear of endangering the public. Pug looks to the pack for mentorship, spurred by their dangerous lifestyle. He narrates their world as if explaining a dreamscape, complemented with unprecedented, action-packed coverage of the riders in their element. The film presents the pivotal years of change in a boyís life growing up in one of the most dangerous and economically depressed cities in the US.

Notes: Up first was 12 OíClock Boys, a doc that sounded really interesting, especially given my love of The Wire. Itís about a young kid - maybe 12 or 11 when the doc starts - in Baltimore that gets filmed for three years. He really wants to join the dirt-bike gang Twelve OíClock Boys. Apparently in Baltimore, every Sunday, a few hundred teens and 20s take to the streets on dirtbikes and four wheelers and just cause general havok fucking things up for everyone else. Becoming part of that group is this kidís dream, and because heís the main character, we have to invest in that goal.

Of course, itís really hard to do that, at least for me, because the gang seems like a bunch of self-centered assholes who revel in causing trouble for troubleís sake. Thereís little to no focus on what those guys do outside the biking, and if itís just that, then I guess on the whole they arenít that bad. They never deal drugs or engage in violence during the doc... they just ride roughshod throughout the town. But Iíd be shocked if they were law-abiding citizens throughout the week that just choose to shake things up a bit on the weekends. If they are, then I apologize Mr. Superman and Mr. Wheelie Willy.

Then again, even if theyíre model citizens six days a week... the main character in this movie, Pug, idolizes them and seems to be focused on joining their biking gang to the detriment of everything else. He says he wants to be a veterinarian, but itís hard to see how thatís even a possibility. With him specifically, I found myself frustrated on his behalf. I just recently listened to a This American Life podcast about Harper High School (oh man, I feel like a douchey shit just for typing that) and this film felt very much like a part of that ďWhat Do You Expect Them To Do? Succeed? How The Hell Can They Do That When Theyíre Barely SurvivingĒ narrative. Or, to put it differently, Pug very much felt like one of the kids during the school season of The Wire that picked the streets. Heís so young and his environment is so shitty, I absolutely canít blame him.

But what I really want to blame is his mother, who comes across terribly in the doc though she doesnít seem to realize it. She and Pug showed up for the Q&A, and as she sauntered on stage she grabbed the mic and gave an wandering speech about how ďit was a hard three years but we finally made it.Ē Most of the questions from the audience were to or about Pug, but she grabbed the mic and answered for him time and time again, turning the story on herself. At one point she moaned about how it was ďillegalĒ for cops to chase the bike gang, but they did anyway. I wanted to shake her and try to make her understand that although the cops had a well-reasoned *policy* against chases (they tended to injure innocent citizens), doing so wasnít illegal, and that the only people engaging in illegal activities within the context of the film weíd just seen were the crew her kid was lusting after. All throughout the movie she gave Poor Me speeches about how she just couldnít control her pre-pubescent child, and man... it just drove me crazy. The Q&A ended with her bragging about how she was about to get a bunch of women riders together to start their own scooter-based gang, and fuck you very much lady.


The Q&A before CoCo showed up to upstage everyone.

Ok. That said. The doc was really fascinating. It was an intimate look at a subculture that Iíd never be able to pierce on my own, which is an unexpected theme at this South By. Definitely worth watching... just donít be surprised if you leave feeling very conflicted.



Before the next feature I tweeted this picture and said ďOne of the things that doesnít get discussed much about SXSW is the controversial Nerd Petting Zoo.Ē I ended up getting close to as many RTs as Iíve ever had before, so I thought Iíd document that meaningless fact.


Jokes.

SXSW Description: Malcolm Ingram ("small town gay bar") returns with a new documentary that takes viewers back to sexually-charged NYC 1968, when the notorious Continental Baths opened its doors. This groundbreaking den of debauchery transcended sexuality and became a beacon to the hip, beautiful and infamous. The Continental brought high and low culture to its cabaret stage weekly, becoming instrumental in the careers of icons like Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, LaBelle and many others. The film tells the tale of a keystone in the sexual revolution that contributed to a level of mainstream gay acceptance and sexual freedoms the likes of which has never been seen since.

Notes: Next was Continental, a slot-filler doc about a famous gay bathouse in NYC in the 70s. It was directed by Malcolm Ingram, and although I havenít seen any of his other docs, I was familiar with him from when I used to listen to Smodcast. Funny side story... I saw him walking around town earlier today and casually noted ďthat large guy needs a bigger t-shirt... I can see the bottom of his gut right now.Ē It was only during this filmís intro that I realized thatís who Iíd seen earlier in the day.

As for the doc, this is yet another example of this yearís crop of captivating docs about insular communities. Iíd never heard of the Continental before, and my initial reaction to seeing the description of the film was ďso what?Ē. But the bathhouse itself has a crazy interesting throughline (I had no idea Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, among others, had very influential starts here), and the story of the guy who owned and started the thing was even more interesting. In fact, the film is easily as much his story as it is the Continentalís, though the two are definitely intertwined.

One of the post-film questions was from a guy who felt like the owner (Steve Ostrow) was taking credit for things he didnít rightfully deserve to take credit for. Malcolm really took offense to that insinuation, and repeated a few times that Steve was honest about his role (but not sole role) in a number of influential events (most notably a changing of opinion and law about homosexualiuty in NYC) and that he continued to this day to work for and with that community. It would have been great if Steve had been able to come for the film and the Q&A. Heís definitely an fascinating guy that I never would have known about if it werenít for this film.

Fun Fact: this doc featured talking head sequences from Michael Musto and Holly Woodlawn, both of whom were in I AM DIVINE last night.

Also Fun Fact: Thereís a photo that shows up during the film of one of the interviewees with Obama. I wonder if heís been told yet that heís in a doc about a gay bathhouse. Someone should tell Fox News.



SXSW Description: Each year, 60,000 people from around the globe gather in a dusty windswept Nevada desert to build a temporary city, collaborating on large-scale art and partying for a week before burning a giant effigy in a ritual frenzy. Rooted in principles of self-expression, self-reliance and community effort, Burning Man has grown famous for stirring ordinary people to shed their nine-to-five existence and act on their dreams. Spark takes us behind the curtain with Burning Man organizers and participants, revealing a year of unprecedented challenges and growth. When ideals of a new world based on freedom and inclusion collide with realities of the ďdefault world,Ē we wonder which dreams can survive.

Notes: My third of the day was another counterculture doc, Spark: A Burning Man Story. I didnít realize that was going to be my day when I woke up. But this was definitely one that I was looking forward to based on the trailer, even though I historically have little patience for ďletís all make a new type of perfect civilization, manĒ hippies. But I know so little about Burning Man, and honestly am curious about what it would be like to spend a week in that madness... and the trailer promised a glimpse of the bureaucracy behind the event... that I just couldnít pass it up. Even though that meant that today would be a five-film day rather than a six-film day. Due to a McConaughey panel (?!?) in the Vimeo, this film straddled the line between the 4 and 6 slots. But I was OK with that.

And I really donít regret picking this as one of todayís features. It was probably my least favorite of the three docs I saw, but thatís only because the first two were so strong. This was right up there with those two, and I liked that the film was evenly split between the eventís history, itís current struggles (in 2012 it got so big that it had to lottery off tickets, and in so doing it pissed of TONS of regulars... sounds a lot like FF), and a dialogue-free travelogue of the 2012 festival. The latter in particular really made me think that Iíve been right in wanting to attend. The idea of just wandering across this massive desert and heading toward camps and structures that look like they might be interesting is really appealing to me. In a very distorted sense, thatís what I always enjoy about SXSW each year. Each year, thereís always at least one time where Iím wandering down Sixth, watching a half-dozen or more spectacles of absurdity (hula-hooping bikini girls, hellfire-preaching dudes, staggeringly drunk couples, drink-special-hyping bros, attention-seeking bands, and more!) and I know that no one I know specifically knows where I am, and I can wander into five different theaters and see movies that might never come out, or I could park myself in a bar and watch the world unfold. Itís no doubt entirely unlike what people who go to Burning Man say they experience, but Iím just saying... I get the sentiment.

Though, full disclosure, a huge other part of me wanted to slap/ask the starry-eyed artists just what the hell they were doing blowing most of their year building a structure/artthing that was just going to be out there for a week and then taken away. Like... Iím never less with the 99% than when I have to watch them do musical fiery art about how 99% they are.



Next I had two hours to kill before Milo. I would have preferred to see Spring Breakers, but since it was getting out 30 minutes before Youíre Next, and since the venues were way too far apart, and since Iíve wanted to see YN since it screened at FF 2011, and since it isnít coming out out until August, and since SB is coming out in two weeks, I decided to skip SB and see Milo, which would get out in plenty of time for me to head to the Topfer. But since I had two hours, I decided to walk around Sixth, get food, and hang out. I grabbed some Peruvian from a food truck, saw that the line was still under 50 people, then headed to a bar that had free play video games.


Recommended.

I hooked in to an Area 51 machine and double gunned my way to what I think was the final battle (Iíd never made it that far before) when all of the sudden an employee walked it and said ďsorry guys, weíre turning off the games.Ē Dammit! I have no idea why they did that. The bar wasnít packed at all, so it wasnít a crowd-control issue. And their sign outside advertised free games, so thatís their whole gimmick. Bummer.

So I finished my beer and headed to the Ritz, and got Q card 113. Which was fine given that the theater seats 241. But once the line started moving it was moving SLOW. And I started hearing bad rumbles from inside. And ultimately the line got cut off literally just before me (if that asshole had turned off the games three minutes earlier I would have gotten in). Apparently the Milo people reserved (and filled) upwards of 70 seats. A third of the seats in the venue. Which... I donít know. Fuck that. Really.

But whatever. Iím beyond lucky to be able to come to this fest each year. And I wandered around, had another beer (this place had a pint for $3 or a pitcher for $5... I picked the former because I had to drive, only to realize the latter was basically two pints... it was this awesome mini-pitcher that people drank right out of... beer and mixed drinks.... so awesome!), found an incredible candy-necklace cock-ring vending maching, watched an amazing Irish(ish) band from the UK perform on the street (and bought their CD for $10), then headed to the Topfer for a super early line-up for Youíre Next.




It was a fun evening.




HEY, SPOILER. IíM NOT GOING TO SPOIL THE FILM, BUT I WENT TWO YEARS WITHOUT KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE, LIKE AT ALL, AND YOUíRE LIKELY TO ENJOY IT MORE IF YOU DONíT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT IT EITHER. SO DONíT READ THIS IF YOU HAVENíT SEEN THE MOVIE. SERIOUSLY. EVEN THE SXSW SUMMARY BELOW HAS MORE INFO IN IT THAN I KNEW GOING IN AND I WOULDN'T READ IT IF I WERE YOU.

SXSW Description: One of the smartest and most terrifying films in years, "You're Next" reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror. When a gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers descend upon the Davison family reunion, the hapless victims seem trapped... until an unlikely guest of the family proves to be the most talented killer of all.

Notes: Lots of friends were in line (and I met a few new ones), so I was never bored. And eventually we made it in. So... this film... I heard AMAZING things about Youíre Next when it screened two years ago. And I was planning on seeing the second screening, as I recall, but the studio cancelled it because I donít know some fucking dumb reason. But given the super strong reaction, I really expected there to be some overy twist or gimmick, like in CABIN. So for the first third of the movie was kind of defensively watching, waiting until its True Form was revealed.

But it turns out that its Real Form isnít a bit of misdirection at all. This is a home invasion movie mixed with a slasher flick that is ENTIRELY based in reality. At least for a while. Itís a movie that looks at what would happen if the bad guys in this sort of movie were equally matched with their victims. And itís funny. And not dumb. And gory. And thereís a late-third synth-fueled Wronged Woman Gets Revenge sequence that had the theater rolling with applause.

I ended up really loving the movie, and I now want to rewatch it to see if the first half, which seemed kind of by the numbers at the time, plays better upon reflection. I mentioned to BK via text afterwards that the weird thing about the movie is that its best strength is that it doesnít fuck anything up. The plot isnít particularly innovative, and the kills are well executed but nothing earth-shattering. But it just delivers EVERYTHING we expect and want in this sort of flick. And the fact that most horror films I watch donít deliver these expectations shows how much shit we put up with as lovers of this genre.

I liked Wingardís segment in VHS 2 (the cybernetic eye one), as well as his A Horrible Way To Die feature a few years back. I need to see his POP SKULL and his few other directorial features now, I suppose, if only before background. Because it seems like it has really great things ahead of him. Hopefully he can deliver before Big Money Hollywood fucks him up.


The YN crew.

So it's 4, again, but tomorrow is such a late start (other than some work I have to do before my first movie), that I hope it won't matter. Other than Rewind This! tomorrow I really am not sure what I'm watching. I'm crazy excited for that one, though. See you tomorrow!





:: Day Four ::

Last full day of SXSW is done. Itís 3:20 and I have an 11 tomorrow. Type fast!

So I decided not to see anything in the 11am slot today because I wanted to be fresh for Rewind This!, and because I had to get some work done before I could start my day. But even still, my 10 am alarm cam REALLY early. If I were at SXSW for the full time, Iíd definitely have to skip certain mornings and midnights. I think. Maybe. One day weíll see. Hey, have I mentioned this was my view from my hotel room all fest long?


So damn classy.

Anyway, I got to the Paramount about 45 minutes early, picked up my Filmmakerís Guest ticket, and hung out in front of the theater with other such guests. I was interviewed for this film two years ago, it features a subject very dear to me, has interviews with lots of my friends, and the filmmakers are all my friends. I say that both as full disclosure and to explain why this film was among my top two or three most anticipated films of 2013, and easily my most anticipated film of SXSW this year.


So excited.

SXSW Description: An exploding industry without rules! Backyard filmmakers with zero budget and a surplus of dreams! Unchecked global piracy! The race to control media consumption! Videotape changed the world and laid the foundation for todayís digital culture. Low cost equipment created unprecedented opportunities. Major studios and small indies operated on an even playing field for the first time ever. The story of the home video revolution is a tale of both technological advancement and human ambition. VHS vs. Beta! Porn invades the home! Direct to-video madness! It's all here, along with a rogues gallery of directors, rental employees, XXX vets, box artists, collectors, and more. Join the pizza party!

Notes: There was a Pizza Party/Summer Camp vibe outside the theater, and once we got inside that feeling continued to grow. Josh took the stage for a quick introduction, and then the movie rolled.

I knew that I was one of the first talking heads to pop up, but Iíd been interviewed so long ago that I really couldnít recall most of what I had said. I was just hoping I wouldnít say anything particularly embarrassing, and Iím glad that I had nothing to worry about on that front. One of the filmís first (of many) laughs comes from me talking about Bubba Until it Hurts, a movie Iíd just picked up around the time of the interview, and that I still delight in looking at from time to time. There were two of us, in fact, that went out of our way to discuss that tape, and a short segment of the film bounced between the two of us praising it.

Take a step back. I really had no idea what shape the film was going to take. I knew that it had changed quite a bit from what the trio originally expected, and so I was very curious to see what theyíd ended up with. And itís very much not a chronological ďHereís how VHS got started, warred with Betamax, won, declined, and resurged.Ē Josh said over post-movie drinks that he had intentionally stayed away from that sort of rigid format. Instead, the film flows very naturally from one themed segment to another. Like, thereís a point in the film where a bunch of subjects are talking about the format wars, and then without even realizing there was a specific switch, people are talking about VHS cover art. The way I described that just now reads kind of jarring, but it didnít feel that way at all. Instead, it feels more like the kind of fun mid-festival Movie Obsessives Talk Movies sessions that takes place each year at SXSW and FF (and I suppose any other time you get that many of us together in one place) where the conversation ebbs and flows from one film-related topic to another.

This may change on subsequent viewings, but on this first go-through, it felt incredibly fast paced (but without feeling rushed or like certain topics got the short shrift) Itís just over 90 minutes, but I couldnít believe when the end-credits started rolling. I think a large part of that was that I was constantly looking to see which of my friends or industry stalwarts were going to pop up next (as well as to see whether I had any other segments left).


Post-film Q&A.

Afterward a number of us commented that the film has the possibility of making people realize that SO MANY films never made the jump out of VHS. Itís a widely known fact among people that obsess about this kind of thing, but I truly believe that 9 out of 10 people who watch movies just assume that everything on VHS is on DVD. I loved the Rockafire doc, but doubt that many people who watched it felt motivated to actually track down their own set of animatrons. But I can really see normal people (or at least the types of people who find and watch interesting-looking docs) seeing this and thinking ďman... I should find my old VCR and maybe look at getting some tapesĒ).

Itís a complete passion project from top to bottom, on both sides of the camera. Josh told us afterward that he wanted to make something that was relentlessly positive, even though some of the things that were being discussed were sad. And on that front the film massively succeeds. Itís impossible to say for sure, but Iím almost certain that Iíd love this movie even if I had no involvement. Iíve walked away from various recent genre docs feeling cold... like Iíd just watch a studio-backed Exploitation For Dummies cash grab. Rewind This is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. On the side where things like Not Quite Hollywood reside.

Fuck it, Iíve rambled long enough. Congrats to the RT team.



After Rewind This most of us decided to skip the 3 oíclock slot and get drinks at the Driskoll. Itís super fancy there, and I felt weird. Plus the beer selection was lame. But it was fun hanging out with everyone. Noah, Max, Jay, and I peeled off the main group eventually and went to Jackalopes for burgers. At the rec of Josh I got the Frito burger, which was great, but gave me severe gut issues later in the evenings. Eventually around 6 we closed out and Jay and I headed to the Paramount for the Hawking doc.

SXSW Description: "Hawking" is the extraordinary story of the planetís most famous living scientist, told for the first time in his own words and by those closest to him. Made with unique access to Hawkingís private life, this is an intimate and moving journey into Stephen's world, both past and present. An inspirational portrait of an iconic figure, Hawking relates his incredible personal journey from boyhood under-achiever, to PhD genius, to being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease and given just two years to live. Despite the constant threat of death, Hawking manages to make many remarkable scientific discoveries and rises to fame and super-stardom. "Hawking" - a remarkable man, and a remarkable movie.

Notes: I had no idea what would be going on after the Rewind This screening, and so I didnít slot anything other than the midnighter. So I more or less picked Hawking on a whim because nothing else looked particularly good. Zero Charisma was a film a lot of people seemed really interested in, but I didnít think the trailer looked great, and I didnít want to have to drive to the Rollins. The post-film buzz on it was really strong, though, and now I kinda wish Iíd gone there. Because Hawking, although about an interesting guy, really just feels like an unremarkable program youíd see on PBS on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe thatís because the necessarily had to use a lot of recreation footage. Iím not sure.



My 9ish slot was first going to be The Spectacular Now, but I decided when Hawking ended that I really didnít want to sit through a high school romance/drama flick (even though I hear it was solid... Iíll see it eventually). So I decided to see whether an hour was enough time to get to my car (oh man... I parked in a lot Iíve never parked in before this morning, and kinda forgot where it was... I lost my car for about 5 minutes and was about to have to hire a pedicab to drive me up and down the general area where I thought I had left it) and drive to Slaughter to see Milo. I got shut out of it last night and it got some favorable comments after it got out. On the way down there, however, my gut seized up worse that I can ever recall. Iím blaming the Frito burger. It was an excruciating drive down, but an appropriate precursor to a film about a guy who has a painful monster living in his colon that he has to crap out from time to time.

This was my first time at Slaughter, and even though I didnít have time to really look around, I loved that the hallways are packed with display cases of labelled 35mm films, as well as scattered Mondo posters. I actually prefer the design of it more than Lamar.

SXSW Description: A man discovers that his chronic stomach problems are due to the fact that he has a demon baby living in his colon.

Notes: So, Milo... I dunno. I was worried when I first read the description that it was going to be too far down that Troma ďThis Movie Is Awesome Because Weíre Doing Something OffensiveĒ path. Iíve seen too many extreme movies to be impressed with your film solely because youíve implemented a butt monster. I know Iím in a minority on that... the two dudes sitting next to me reacted like most people would when the butt monster bit off some guyís dick. They shook with laughter, one covered his eyes, and the other said ďwhat?!?Ē out loud. But thatís why I mostly canít do Troma movies... they use the ďoutrageousĒ content as a crutch to distract from everything else in the film being subpar.

Here, by contrast, the non-butt monster stuff was easily my favorite part. I liked Ken Marinoís husbandly interactions with Gillian Jacobs (sheís completely playing married Britta here). I liked his conversations with he-must-be-practicing-unlawfully psychiatrist Peter Stormare. The band of older women with new Indian boyfriends was funny. So was Warburton as the schmarmy boss (his background gag of ďhey, look what I can do {cue funny dance}Ē killed me) and Huss as an inappropriate fertility doctor. Pretty much the only parts of the film that bored me were Marino having to deal with his butt monster. Itís just... Iíve seen that stuff in Basketcase, and you sir are not Basketcase. Those segments were more along the lines of 90s Full Moon Little Creatures movies, another subgenre that Iím not a fan of.

So I guess Iím saying that I wish there was less butt monster in the butt monster movie that I voluntarily went to see. Iím kind of a dick.



Afterward I skipped out on the Q&A to head to the Topfer for LORDS OF SALEM. I think the only Zombie flick Iíve seen is Halloween, and I had no idea what this movie was about. But I definitely didnít want to see Big Ass Spider, which looked completely SyFy Original quality. Along those lines, I tweeted ďMostly I'm here because I have no interest in BIG ASS SPIDER,Ē which my favorite bar (Common Table) retweeted, making me realize that would be an amazing sentence to have on your tombstone. Imagine the looks of strangers who are wondering the cemetery for decades to come!

SXSW Description: From the singular mind of horror maestro Rob Zombie comes a chilling plunge into a nightmare world where evil runs in the blood. "The Lords of Salem" tells the tale of Heidi (Sheri Moon Zombie), a radio station DJ living in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives a strange wooden box containing a record, a ďgift from the Lords.Ē Heidi listens, and the bizarre sounds within the grooves immediately trigger flashbacks of the townís violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the ďLords of SalemĒ returning for revenge on modern-day Salem?

Notes: Got in, missed the pre-film intro to grab a beer (apparently Zombie said that 50% of the audience was going to hate it), and made it back to my seat as things got stated. And.. .man... hereís my two reaction tweets (which kept getting retweeted afterward):

:: LORDS OF SALEM has it all, if "all" is inept dialogue, ultra-generic plot, ponderous pacing, and laugh-inducing "evil" imagery.

:: Seriously, there's a demon in LORDS OF SALEM that looks like ALF covered in Silly Putty.

So hereís the deal. I found out during the Q&A that a major actor died before the film finished, which meant they had to cut out a lot of his unfinished scenes, which also meant they had to cut scenes featuring other actors and, I assume, important plot points. So that sucks, and what we got probably isnít what he set out to make.

But what we got? The dialogue really is laughable throughout, to the point where I couldnít figure out for a while if it was an intentional parody of Art Horror. Even though I havenít seen Zombieís other films, Iíve never heard ďbad dialogueĒ as a critique thrown at him. Maybe it has been. And the plot... itís basically the Evil Record plot of TRICK OR TREAT (1986) crossed with a generic Witches Get Killed And Vow Vengeance Through Their Ancestors thing mixed in. It reminded me of any number of films where these storylines were done more interestingly, which made watching this movie all the more tedious.

Itís the kind of movie that has on-screen titles that start with Monday and go through each subsequent day. You donít know up front how many days youíll see, but I assumed it would be a week. The funniest thing about this screening is that starting with Wednesday, each new day got a new batch of walkouts. It was like people werenít enjoying the movie, were considering just powering through, but when they saw a new day start, it just zapped their will and they tapped out.

Midway through thereís a point where the above-mentioned ridiculous-looking silly-putty ALF monster rises from a throne while ominous music plays, then he waddles over to where the main actress is laying and fucking flaps his tiny stubby arms in a way that looks like itís meant to be scary. That particular moment made me think that Iíd misunderstood the first half of the movie, and that it was about to spiral into intentional spoof territory. But in never does, which makes that one moment all the more inexplicable. Zombie mentioned that scene during the Q&A as his favorite part of the movie because he found it really funny.


Zombie and Goss.

Lets just jump to the post-movie Q&A. Rob walked out and said ďno one else is coming out. The cast went home.Ē He then fielded questions from lots of people who seem to be huge fans of his, which mostly served to make me think that I really feel bad for him having to deal with that fanbase. If tonightís audience was any indicator, that group is the worst of the intersection between dudes that live to mosh and that read Fango like a bible. It was a parade of terrible questions (tops goes to the guy who asked Zombie to talk about how he transitioned from musician to filmmaker, which made Zombie say it was a long and boring story and then start to summarize it, which made the guy interrupt him and say ďI know that part... I watched you from the beginning. On MTV. I saw you in concert on tour. {Zombie (muttering) you asked...} Before you started to tour. Before your first album. During....Ē {random audience member: Cool story bro} {everyone else: laugh} {Moderator (Will Goss): Next question}), all of which Zombie responded to in a way that made me laugh.

He seems like a nice guy who just sort of does whatever he wants without caring what anyone else thinks. I assume heís set financially from White Zombie, and I like the idea that thereís people like him out there that just make movies that they want to make. Thatís 100% what I love about outsider directors from the 70s and 80s. And so even though I thought this particular film was a turd (he talked a lot about how he was inspired by the more esoteric Euro horror films of the 70s and 80s... I donít think he came close to capturing what was great about the best of that subgenre... and this doesnít fit anywhere else in these notes, but his whole ďHail SatanĒ shtick in the film seems super false and interesting only to 15-year-old metalheads who just decided Religion is Bullshit), Iíll be interested in seeing what else Zombie does going forward. The price of filmmakers saying ďfuck what will sell, Iím making what I likeĒ is that Iíll potentially not enjoy a lot of what they make. And Iím totally fine with that.

One additional comment upon further reflection the following morning: itíd be great if unique filmmakers like Zombie could make a large body of work these days for people to reflect on and reject or embrace, in whole or in part, some time down the road. That was a legitimate reality for decades, but the current insta-analyze, loudly-trash mindset (of which I am a part, including my tweets last night) can only serve to either significantly slow down the rate at which a filmmaker can get funding for new films, or to discourage him or her from even trying new things going forward. And thatís bad for everybody. Just an observation.





:: Day Five ::

Last day of SXSW for me featured two good films, a fun ride home with a friend, and a TMBG concert. Letís get to it.

Man... I didnít go to bed until about 5:30 last night, so this morningís 9:30 alarm felt REALLY early. I managed to clean up and stagger downtown with enough time to find an OK seat at the Paramount (I love when my first film of the day is somewhere large enough to almost certainly not sell out). The premise of the doc sounded fascinating, especially since Iíd never heard of Muscle Shoals and its place in the music industry.

SXSW Description: Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama is the unlikely breeding ground for some of America's most creative and defiant music. The music of Muscle Shoals changed the world and sold millions of copies. At its heart is Rick Hall who founded FAME Studios. Overcoming poverty and personal tragedy, he brought black and white together in Alabama's cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations while giving birth to the Muscle Shoals Sound and The Swamper
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Advert: Monty Python's And Now for Something Completely Different 02.27.13

Monty Python And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) - If the Motion Picture Industry Dies... Monty Python Killed It (Worse Than The ďHoly Grail")

Such a basic ad, but it makes me laugh.

The film - which consists of re-shot skits from the first two Python series - was primarily created as a way to introdce American audiences to the group. This particular ad was for a re-release after Holy Grail came out a few years later.

The only trailer I can find has embedding blocked (those fuckers), so you'll have to click here to watch it.

From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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Advert: Torso, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Dolemite, & Super Dude 02.27.13

Torso (1973), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Dolemite (1975), & Super Dude (1974)

Well damn, Elliott Theaters... kudos for lining up a fantastic horror double feature at one theater and a fantastic blaxploitation double feature at the other. Goes without saying, but I wish we had options like this today. Gun to your head, which theater do you pick? For me, seeing a Rudy Ray Moore flick on first(ish) run with a contemporary audience is a no-brainer.

From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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Advert: Pick-up, The Sister-in-Law, Stepmother, Intimate Playmates, & Swinging Swappers 02.26.13

Pick-up (1975) (Get in kid, thereís always room for one more...), The Sister-in-Law (1974) (She kept it all in the family!), & Stepmother (197?)

First off, I'm not entirely sure which Stepmother is being mentioned as the third film as there are (as you might expect) several exploitation (mostly sexploitation) films with that name.

Second off, and more importantly, the main reason I'm running this R-rated ad is so that I can show you this X-rated one for Intimate Playmates (1974) and Swinging Swappers (1973):

Oh man. The second ad promises that the theater would be "cleared after regular feature," but given that all four films were screened at a drive-in, I'm not to sure how seriously that rule was enforced. In any event, I love the story that these two ads tell. Imagine living in a Mississippi city in the 1970s and having the option of watching three R-rated exploitation films at a drive-in, and then being able to stick around for a midnight-starting double feature of X-rated films. At a drive in! Seriously... that's a thing that you could do in the 70s that you could never do today. Fucking "modern progress."

From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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Advert: The Twelve Chairs & Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx 02.26.13

The Twelve Chairs (1970) & Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx (1970) - What Makes Mel Funnier Makes Gene Wilder

Oh man. That tagline is almost too much. I can't handle it right now, so I'll just dump you to the trailers.





From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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News: Reel Distraction's 2012 Alternative Oscars 02.25.13
This year's Oscars were fine, as were the ones for 1975, I suppose. But in my ideal world, yesterday's Academy would have said fuck One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Jack Nicholson and honored one of cinema's true (mostly) unsung legends.




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Advert: The Premonition 02.22.13

The Premonition (1976) - Beyond the power of an exorcist... beyond the door of science lies the world of terror for two damned souls!

I haven't seen this flick and can't find a trailer, but the intro scene below (which features Richard Lynch acting creepy, natch) has me mildly interested in tracking it down.



From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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Advert: Lucky Lady 02.22.13

Lucky Lady (1975)

Lucky Lady! Lucky You!
The Action of the ďFrench Connection"!
The Spice of ďCabaret"!
The Suprise and Hustle of ďThe Sting"!
In Fast, Beautiful, Happy-Go-Lucky Entertainment


Hey! Here's the names of some other movies you might have liked and that some of these actors may or may not have appeared in!! Come see our movie and maybe like it too!!!



From the February 20, 1976 South Mississippi Sun.
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Advert: Up! & Emmanuelle 02.21.13

Up! (1976) (Cops!...Joints! and Wild Women!) & Emmanuelle (1974) (The Most Beautiful Picture of its Kind)

From the February 16, 1977 Pasadena Star News.
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Advert: Cheryl's Surrender & Dungeon of Lust 02.21.13

Cheryl's Surrender (1976) & Dungeon of Lust (1976)

I don't know much about either film, but IMDB says Cheryl's Surrender involves "a gang of terrorists attack the American embassy and kidnap the ambassador, his wife and his secretary" and that Dungeon of Lust is about "a man [who] dreams that his girlfriend is kidnapped by white slavers; but is it a dream or a premonition?" This Venus II double feature sounds surprisingly well-plotted for a couple of XXX films.

From the February 16, 1977 Pasadena Star News.
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News: Nicholson Approves Film Without Seeing Script 02.20.13


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I love this minor, breathless, kinda inaccurate, gossipy article about The Shining. Here's the text.

Without ever having read a script, because there is none yet, Jack Nicholson agreed to star in a new Stanley Kubrick movie called "Shining." Nicholson is either intrigued with the idea of making a Kubrick film or with the lure of the loot he's getting to do it. Incidentally, Kubrick, who usually shoots his films in Europe, will make "Shining" in Hollywood, U.S.A.

Not even a single mention of King. Strange.

From the February 16, 1977 Pasadena Star News.
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Advert: Mary! Mary! 02.19.13

Mary! Mary! (1977)

IMDB describes the plot of this film as being "a married man with premature ejaculation problems agrees to sell his soul to solve his problem." Which... just sounds amazing. I want to see this film ASAP.

From the April 5, 1977 Syracuse Herald-Journal.
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Advert: Madam Kitty 02.19.13

Madam Kitty (1976) - Depraved Decadent Damned Nazi Germany 1939

Here's a radio ad for this flick. It's entirely safe for work, but at the same time, I can't imagine this spot running on a modern radio station. Can you?



From the February 4, 1977 Oakland Tribune.
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Advert: The Seven-Per-Cent Solution 02.18.13

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) - One Hundred Percent Entertainment

I watched this movie for the first time last week, and it's legit. On the DVD, the film's writer mentions in a Special Feature that it's a film about Sherlock Holmes rather than a Sherlock Holmes film. And that's about as perfect a description as I could think of. Just a fantastic drama/mystery made all the better by the presence of Alan Arkin and Robert Duvall. So good.

And it pleases/distubs me to see that Gene Shalit was doing this schlocky shit 30 plus years ago.

From the January 28, 1977 Newark Advocate.
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Advert: George! 02.18.13

George! (1972) - Twoís company... Threeís a RIOT!

"A film for the whole family filmed entirely in the Swiss Alps." Was authentic Swiss-Alp-cinematography ever a legitimate selling point for family films?

Also, that dog is terrifyingly huge.

From the January 28, 1977 Newark Advocate.
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Advert: Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy 02.15.13

Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy (1976) - The Worldís Favorite Bed-Time Story is Finally a Bed-Time Story...

Iíve run an advert for the R-rated cut of this film here, and itís substantively identical to this one, so Iím not sure why Iím even pointing it out. Worth pointing out, on the other hand, is that it greatly amuses me that Softcore Musicals Based On Classic Literature was a thriving subgenre in the 70s (see, for example, Rainbeaux Smithís Cinderella (1977), Fairy Tales (1978) and The Amorous Adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (1976). Hereís a trailer:



From the January 28, 1977 Newark Advocate.
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Advert: Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 02.15.13

Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 (1976) - A Whale of a Comedy!

Iíd never heard of this French/Swiss film, which has been described as an "affectionate study of a group of 60s radicals trying to make the transition to the 70s," until I came across this ad. It doesnít particularly look to be up my alley, but the advert is interesting enough, mostly because I seriously question whether the natives used "A Whale Of A Comedy!" to tout the original release. I kinda doubt it.

From the February 4, 1977 Oakland Tribune.
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Advert: Seizure, Revolt of Prison Island, & The Invincible Superguy 02.13.13

Seizure! (1974) (You Cannot Run From Them You Cannot Hide From Them), Revolt of Prison Island (1972) (Sheís One Chick They Canít LickÖ GET THEM SHE WILL!), & The Invincible Superguy (1977)

What an amazing variety of top-billed genre films, plus an impossibly awesome onslaught of mostly kung-fu fillers, like 18 Riders for Justice, aka 18 Swirling Riders (1980):



In fact, of the second-listed films, it looks like the only non-kung-fu flicks were Ed Asnerís The Wrestler (1974) and Fight for Your Life (1977). I wonder how the latter went over in Jamaica. Iíve read reports about how differently it was received in the US depending on whether it was screened to a predominantly black or predominantly white audienceÖ anyone with their thumb on the pulse of 1970s culture in Jamaica care to weigh in?

IncidentallyÖ Revolt of Prison Island? Thatís the only time Iíve seen that alternate title for The Big Bird Cage.

From the May 26, 1979 Kingston Jamaica Dailey Gleaner.
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Advert: Golden Mask & Manchu Tigress 02.13.13

Golden Mask (1977) (He exploded in ĎThe Killerís Game.Ē He excelled in ĎThe Zen Student.í He conquered ĎThe Shaolin Red Masters.í Now See Him At His Best) & Manchu Tigress (197?)

Iím not sure if Iíve ever seen one of Chi Kuan Chunís films, but Iíd love to watch this and the three mentioned in the tagline as part of an all-night martial arts extravaganza. Hereís Chun in action:



Manchu Tigress doesnít show up on IMDB, but the credited Polly Shan Kuan and Lo Lieh are listed as having appeared in 9 films together, so it may be one of those.

And Unglorious Bastard has to be The Inglorious Bastards (1978), but Iíve never seen it with that title. Strange.

From the May 26, 1979 Kingston Jamaica Dailey Gleaner.
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Advert: Cheryl's Surrender & Dungeon of Lust 02.00.13

Cheryl's Surrender (1976) & Dungeon of Lust (1976)

I don't know much about either film, but IMDB says Cheryl's Surrender is about "a gang of terrorists attack the American embassy and kidnap the ambassador, his wife and his secretary" and that Dungeon of Lust is about "a man [who] dreams that his girlfriend is kidnapped by white slavers; but is it a dream or a premonition?" I know these are XXX films, but based on plot alone this Venus II double feature sounds fantastic.

From the February 16, 1977 Pasadena Star News.
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