You can check out my cover story in this week's paper on Memphis-connected filmmakers Ira Sachs and Kentucker Audley, who are both involved with multiple films at this year's festival, most notably new features — Sachs' Keep the Lights On and Audley's Open Five 2 — that are provocatively personal. I also touch on a quartet of selections rooted in Memphis cultural history, including the two highest-profile screenings tonight. Separately, colleagues Chris Davis and Greg Akers join me to highlight a handful of potentially overlooked festival selections.
The gala screening tonight of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Playhouse on the Square, 6:30 p.m.), the fine new documentary portrait of the great Memphis ’70s band, is sold out, but there's plenty more to choose from.
Daylight Fades, a handsomely staged, locally shot 2010 vampire feature from director Brad Ellis and his Memphis-based Old School Media crew, gets a DVD/Blu-ray release today, with an encore theatrical screening to celebrate the release.
The DVD release party will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m today at the Booksellers at Laurelwood, followed by a “final cut” screening at 8 p.m. at Studio on the Square.
The screening is $10 or free with a DVD purchase.
Our feature story on the film's initial release is here.
At a “Peep Show” hosted by filmmaker and longtime festival supporter Craig Brewer Thursday night, Indie Memphis announced the slate for its 15th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, which will be held at multiple locations in and around Overton Square (with Playhouse on the Square the fest's home base) from Thursday, November 1st through Sunday, November 4th.
The festival will also welcome the return of Memphis-bred filmmaker Ira Sachs, who will be on hand for the local premiere of his new film Keep the Lights On, which will screen along with a career retrospective that will include Sachs' two Memphis-shot features, The Delta (Saturday, Brooks Museum, 2 p.m.) and Forty Shades of Blue (Friday, Studio on the Square, 6:45 p.m.), his star-studded period piece Married Life (Sunday, Studio on the Square, 7:15 p.m.), and a program of his short films.
For a full schedule and ticketing information, check indiememphis.com, where the schedule should be posted, in parts, over the coming days.
Here's a quick, early look at some of the high profile selections and potential highlights:
These are the feature screenings for each night of the festival, which will each be shown in early evening screenings at Playhouse on the Square
Thursday: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (6:30 p.m.)
This documentary portrait of the legendary Memphis band of the ’70s had a private, work-in-progress screening earlier this summer that I reported on then and will have its official Memphis premiere to open the festival.
The Indie Memphis Film Festival will begin on Thursday, November 1st. But in the month leading up to the festival, Indie Memphis has two great events on tap.
On Thursday, October 4th, at A. Schwab’s on Beale, filmmaker Craig Brewer will host an “Indie Memphis Peep Show” to preview this year's festival. In addition to live music and a performance from the Sock It To Me Burlesque Troupe, the Peep Show will unveil this year's Indie Memphis lineup and show trailers and clips from some of the films.
The event, which is scheduled to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., is restricted to Indie Memphis members, but a one-year membership is available to anyone for $50, which includes a “Festival Tripper” pass, which provides access to most films at this year's festival.
Alloy Orchestra Returns
My favorite Indie Memphis screening over the years was a double-bill of the silent classics The General and Man With the Movie Camera with live musical accompaniment from the Boston-based Alloy Orchestra.
Well, the Alloy Orchestra is coming back for a one-off Indie Memphis event on Wednesday, October 17th, at the Paradiso theater. The three-man band will be providing a live score for a screening of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent sci-fi classic Metropolis. The screening will take place at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 or $12 for Indie Memphis members. “Early bird” tickets — at a $2 discount — are available through October 4th.
For more info on all things Indie Memphis, see indiememphis.com.
I subbed for Chris Herrington last week on The Chris Vernon Show. I had filled in for Herrington in the past when Vernon broadcasted on a different station, but never on his new show on 92.9 FM/680 AM.
How my appearance last week came about was weird. Tuesday night I had a dream that Herrington and I were composing dueling "Movies" lists. The topic: Time travel films. The dream's plot was us going through a video store doing research for time travel movies, while people were trying to kill us. The one movie I knew would make my list was The Final Countdown, and Back to the Future was my back-pocket movie in case I couldn't think of four more I'd rather include.
Weird dream. Wednesday morning I tweeted the plot out. Vernon replied that Herrington couldn't come on the show that afternoon and would I like to come on in his place and give my time travel list?
It can truly be said: Chris Vernon has made my dreams come true.
The "Movies" list: Time travel.
(Note: I declined to include Back to the Future, because c'mon. You've already seen it.)
The Romance of Loneliness, the debut feature of Memphis-based filmmaking team Sarah Ledbetter and Matteo Servente, premieres tonight with two screenings at Malco's Paradiso theater.
The first screening, which will be preceded by an in-theater concert from Deering & Down, is sold out, but as far as we know there are still tickets left for the second screening, at 9:15 p.m.
After tonight's premiere the film — a drama shot last year that centers around a group of related women, including Memphis musician/actress Amy LaVere and veteran Hollywood supporting player Lynn Cohen — will open Friday for a week-long run at Studio on the Square.
The Flyer talked to Ledbetter and Servente about the project. You can read that feature in this week's edition, on the streets today and online tomorrow.
Last week, for my regular “Movies” segment on The Chris Vernon Show, I ignored box office and went with another kind of topical theme, tying the list to the start of football season — or, at least the start of the NFL season, which is the only football season I really care about. The top four picks here were obvious and unavoidable. I struggled with the fifth slot, and ended up going with a childhood nostalgia pick I probably haven't seen in at least a couple of decades:
5. Wildcats (1986): Goldie Hawn is the daughter of a famous football coach who longs for her own chance to patrol the sidelines and leaves her job as a girls' track coach at a ritzy high school to take a football coach job no one wants at a rough school. Notable for being the big-screen debuts of both Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson: Yes, six years before White Men Can't Jump, they got their starts together as teammates in another sports comedy.
I did something a little different this week on my “Movies” list for The Chris Vernon Show. Rather than do five video recommendations based on something new in theaters, I previewed the five fall releases I'm most anticipating.
This list is restricted to titles opening in September, October, and the first two weeks of November. I'll come back before Thanksgiving with a separate holiday-season preview.
5. Seven Psychopaths (October 12): Writer-director Martin McDonagh earned a huge cult following for his 2008 debut In Bruges, a dark comedy about a couple of assassins stuck in the title city. This follow-up tracks a gang of oddballs caught up in the Los Angeles criminal underworld. With Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, and Christopher Walken, among others.
Are you excited like we’re excited? You know how football people don't shut up about football even when it's the off-season? That's how we are about the Oscars.
It would be foolish to try to predict what the 2013 Best Picture nominees will be, especially since it’s likely most of the films that make the cut haven’t even been released yet. Maybe Oscar bait like Steven Spielberg's Lincoln will actually be un-nominatable crap.
But since when did foolishness stop us?
So here's our annual exercise in early award-predicting.
The prediction of nominees goes 10 deep, but there's no way to know if the real final nominee list will include as many as 10; could include as few as 5.
2013 Best Picture Oscar Nominee Predictions 1.0 (In order of certainty):
After an unexpected 8-month hiatus, the Nothing To See Here podcast returns to the interwebs this week with a brand new home - the Shut Up And Listen network - and a dynamite first guest, actor/comedian (and Memphis native) Chris Parnell.
NTSH creator/host Kirk Rawlings spoke to the Flyer this week about re-launching the podcast and more.
Memphis Flyer: Tell me how the idea for doing this podcast started.
Rawlings: Two years ago I got heavily into podcasting as a listener. I had a new job sitting on my ass in a cubicle all day so I needed something to kill time after having gone thru all my music. They were pretty great on many levels. They helped kill the time, but they helped in a lot of other unexpected ways. It was refreshing to hear people be themselves instead of some stuffed version for radio, television, or print. So, I wanted to try it.
The landmark hip-hop and graffiti documentary Style Wars screens at the Brooks Museum of Art tonight, with co-director and graffiti chronicler Henry Chalfont on hand to address the crowd. Pre-film festivities, which start at 6 p.m., will include a break-dancing exhibition and Hot 107's DJ Superman on the wheels of steel.
For more on the film, see our review.
Here's a taste:
This week's “Movies” list topic for the Chris Vernon Show is very similar to last week's: What can I do? Summer is all about action movies.
Last week was “Man on the Run,” based on the remake of Total Recall. This week, the theme doubles up for “Lovers on the Lam,” based on current box-office leader The Bourne Legacy, where Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz are on the run together. (Okay, they aren't lovers — yet.)
I usually try to throw the radio audience a bone and have at least one or two semi-recent films on the list. I strongly considered the current Moonrise Kingdom, but with five unassailable classics of the genre all pre-dating the Carter Administration, that just wasn't possible here:
5. Gun Crazy (1950): Classic “B” movie sometimes known as Deadly is the Female. Directed by Joseph Lewis and starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins as a married couple who go on a wild crime spree, in which the wife, an Annie Oakley-style shooting ace, turns out to be the most dangerous and aggressive part of the team. A technical marvel considering the budget, full of superb long takes.
Memphis-bred filmmaker Ira Sachs (The Delta, Forty Shades of Blue, Married Life) has returned this year with his fourth feature, Keep the Lights On, a decade-spanning love story that also deals with drug addiction.
The feature, which Sachs co-wrote with Mauricio Zacharias, has done well on the festival circuit, debuting to strong notices at the Sundance Film Festival in January, winning the Teddy Award as best LGBT-themed feature at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, and winning the Grand Jury Award for Outstanding U.S. Dramatic feature last month at Outfest, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
Keep the Lights On begins a theatrical run on September 7th via Music Box Films. Though the schedule has not been confirmed, look for the film — and Sachs — to be in Memphis for the Indie Memphis Film Festival in early November, where it will likely screen as part of a retrospective of Sachs' work.
Learn more about the film here.
5. Minority Report (2002): Like Total Recall, this futuristic man-on-the-run film is based on a Philip K. Dick story. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this one stars Tom Cruise as a cop who arrests people for future crimes they might not even know they're going to commit, until he finds himself implicated and on the lam. I'm not sure how great the mystery plotting is — I don't remember it very well, at least — but the action pacing and futuristic visual design are first-rate.
For this week's “Movies” List, which I first counted down this afternoon on The Chris Vernon Show, I did the best films featuring lead performances by young children. This topic is based on the indie sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild, which opened in Memphis last week (my review here) and which boasts a very strong central performance from Quvenshané Wallis.
Wallis was five or six years old when Beasts was filmed, so, with that in mind, I limited myself here to performers who were 10 or younger when the movies were shot. Middle-schoolers and teens can have their day another time.
5. Ponette (1996): Four-year-old Victoire Thivisol plays the title role as a girl trying to make sense of her mother's death through her interactions with her father, her aunt, her young cousins, and her school mates. I haven't seen this since it's 1996 release, so I'm not sure how well it holds up, but I remember it as an unusual, wrenching, but non-exploitative experience.