Film

Friday, August 2, 2013

Outflix Film Festival Announces Lineup

Posted By on Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 4:43 PM

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Who knew this would be the late summer and early fall of Divine in Memphis? A few weeks after the late cult legend drag queen appears at the Brooks Museum in John Waters' Pink Flamingos, she'll be featured in the documentary portrait I Am Divine, screening as part of the annual Outflix International LGBTQ Film Festival at Malco's Ridgeway Cinema Grill.

The lineup for this year's Outflix Festival, which runs September 6th through 12th, was released today.

In addition to I Am Divine, a few other potential standouts:

Bridegroom: A doc about a California man barred from his partner's funeral.

Any Day Now: Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt play a gay couple in the 1970s fighting a biased legal system for custody of an abandoned teenager who's come to live with them.

Continental: A documentary about a New York City bathhouse in the early ’70s.

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Valentine Road: A documentary that looks into a 2008 murder at a California middle school.

Hot Guys with Guns: A re-imagining of the buddy cop formula that makes the standard odd couple ex-boyfriends.

A preview party for the festival, at Evergreen Theatre on Thursday, August 29th, will feature the screening of Interior. Leather Bar., a 60-minute feature co-directed by and co-starring James Franco that speculates about missing material from the landmark ’70s gay-themed film Cruising.

We'll have an expanded preview of the festival closer to its opening.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Dozens: August Film and Music Calendar

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 7:17 AM

Twelve things to look forward to this month:

Pink Flamingos: If you dare.
  • Pink Flamingos: If you dare.
1. The Big Lebowski at the Orpheum ( Friday, August 2nd): Filmmaker Craig Brewer will introduce and discuss Ethan and Joel Coen's funniest, warmest, and perhaps most undeniable film. Brewer goes “Beyond the Screen” at 6:30 p.m. The film starts at 7 p.m.

2. The Hi-Tone Relaunches (Saturday, August 3rd): After a soft opening earlier in the summer, the main stage at the new Hi-Tone is christened in a double-bill of two newish, rootsy local bands, Dead Soldiers and Bottom of the Bottle. J.D. Reager has more here.

3. Pink Flamingos at the Brooks (Thursday, August 8th): John Waters' 1972 midnight-movie outrage goes respectable with a local museum screening. If you want to watch a 300-pound transvestite eat dog shit at a fine-art museum, this is your chance. You can make your own pink flamingo lawn ornament at 6 p.m. and stay for the film at 7 p.m. for this “Art & a Movie” event.

4. The Oblivians at the Hi-Tone (Friday, August 9th): The living-legend Memphis garage-punk trio play their first local show since the late summer release of their 16-years-in-coming reunion album Desperation. Chris Davis profiled the band in this recent Flyer cover story. I reviewed the album here.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

On Again? MLK the Movie

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Forest Whitaker: The man who would be King?
  • Forest Whitaker: The man who would be King?
The Martin Luther King Jr. biopic titled Memphis, helmed by Paul Greengrass, has been percolating and not percolating for a couple years.

Now it's taken another step closer to reality, according to The Wrap.

The headline news is that Forest Whitaker (an Oscar winner for his portrayal of MLK-antithesis Idi Amin) is in talks to step into the role of King.

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Local Web Series Headshop Premieres

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 1:55 PM

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Craig Brewer's $5 Cover was the canary in the coal mine, and another MTV production, Savage County, followed. This weekend, a new Memphis-shot web-based film series premieres in the form of Headshop, a series that follows nine characters whose lives intersect around a local headshop where a new designer drug is being sold.

The series features a primarily local cast and crew and was filmed at locations such as the Tennessee Brewery, Mollie Fontaine's Lounge, and the Arcade Restaurant.

A free screening of the first two episodes tomorrow night at the Ridgeway Four. Reception at 6 p.m. followed by screening at 6:30 p.m. There will be a Q&A with the series' writer/director Giri Swamy afterward.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Justin Timberlake, Oscar Host?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 9:13 AM

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File this under rumors, but according to the National Enquirer (okay, file this under speculation), Justin Timberlake is in talks to host the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony.

Maybe the Oscars folks are sending this out as a trial balloon to see what people think. If so, then the Timberlake Oscars show could become reality. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. (See E! Online, for example.)

And why not? Timberlake can sing, dance, tell jokes, act, play the straight man, ham it up, and hold the spotlight. He's got classy, squeaky clean looks for the oldsters, a devilish edge for the hipsters, and sex appeal and pop allure for the youngsters.

His appearances on Saturday Night Live, including a few weeks ago, when he was inducted into the "Five-Timers Club," is pretty good evidence that he could pull it off. Maybe even settle in to rotation hosting duties and put Billy Crystal out to pasture.

And maybe JT, the pride of Millington, brings along the Tennessee Kids, his backing band for his performances in support of his new album, The 20/20 Experience. Would this make Timberlake the first NBA owner to host the Oscars? Bob Hope didn't own a piece of the Rochester Royals, did he?

Following the unfunny, misogynistic — well, really, pan-offensive — hosting turned in by Seth MacFarlane this year, the Oscars need to go in another new direction. Timberlake would be a home run.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 4: Director and Picture

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Previously on Herrington & Akers on the Oscars:
Day 1: Supporting Performances
Day 2: Screenplays
Day 3: Lead Performances

Best Director
Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook).

David O. Russell
  • David O. Russell
Chris Herrington :
Will Win: With Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow surprisingly left off the short list, I have a hard time seeing anyone but Steven Spielberg winning here. If I had to pick a spoiler: David O. Russell, only because I suspect Silver Linings Playbook might steal the night.

Should Win: I love Lincoln, but I think it might be the least director-driven good film of Spielberg's career, with screenwriter Tony Kushner and lead Daniel Day-Lewis vying for authorship. (Not to mention the casting director.) So I'll vote here for Michael Haneke, whose precise framing and bold rejection of sentimentality elevate Amour.

Got Robbed: My picks for the two best directing jobs of the year were left out. That would be Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. Anderson reminds us — at a time in the (d)evolution of the medium when we really needed to be reminded — what real film can look like in the hands of a real director, especially with an opening section that stands as the best stretch of filmmaking I saw last year. But Bigelow's absence here is a joke. I admire Bigelow's unsettling bookends, the intentionally hum-drum precision of the (anti-)climactic raid, the way she carries the narrative through-line across a decade and nearly three-hours of run time, and the subtle way the film tells a personal story of a woman trying to launch a pet project in a male industry. It seemed like every end-of-year prestige picture pushed three hours, but none was as worthy of its length as Zero Dark Thirty.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 3: Lead Performances

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Previously on Herrington & Akers on the Oscars:
Day 1: Supporting Performances
Day 2: Screenplays

Greg Akers: A couple times now you've mentioned reasons why you think you're terrible at predicting Oscars. Untruth of that assessment aside, I would compare picking categories based on relative merit akin to guessing the NBA All-Star Game starters based on worthiness. It's a fool's game. The starters are the most popular players, even if they don't deserve it.

Best Lead Actress
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

Akers: First, this is a really great category. I at least like and in some cases love every performance. I would be very happy if my fifth favorite won. This seems to be a two-way race between Chastain and Lawrence. Stat alert: The winner of the Golden Globe has won the Oscar 14 of the last 17 years. Chastain and Lawrence each won the Golden Globe this year in their respective categories. Riva won the BAFTA, but that has only mattered 8 of the last 17 years, and every time the BAFTAs were right, so were the Golden Globes. It's a trend, yo.

Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook"
I'm leaning to the side that Jennifer Lawrence Will Win. The narratives that she wins are either that she gets caught up in a Silver Linings Playbook feeding frenzy, or at the least capitalizes on Chastain being hurt by the controversy around Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain has a tougher row to hoe. (Question: Agrarian metaphors: uselessly obscure at this point in popular American culture?)

Should Win: On the other hand, I think Jessica Chastain has the edge in terms of merit. She's simply amazing. I couldn't help but think of her as having a Sarah Connor-type trajectory, with Chastain taking her character, Maya, from the weak-stomached (some might say well-adjusted) CIA smarty to the badass, take-no-prisoners crusader. In a scene toward the end of Zero Dark Thirty, Maya even dons aviator sunglasses, a knowing reference made by Kathryn Bigelow to Connor in her ex's, James Cameron's, Terminator 2. And Chastain (and screenwriter Mark Boal) really nail Maya in the last scene in the film, as the character sits alone contemplating her achievement and the toll it took (personally and beyond) to get there. "What's next" is the perfect question to ask, and I love how Chastain handles it. "What price victory" is the question the film doesn't ask but implies. Why does nobody talk about the ending to Zero Dark Thirty when discussing where it sits on the sliding scale of righteousness/repugnancy?

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
  • Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour"
As for the other nominees: Silver Linings Playbook is an actors' movie, and Lawrence gets the best of it in the film as Tiffany, a prickly-pear, slutty widow with a heart of gold. She's going to be great to watch for years to come. Riva is hard to watch (in a good way) as the dying Anne in Michael Haneke's hard to watch (in a good way) Amour. Wallis is fierce, a ball of energy, as Hushpuppy, and I still can't get over that she was only 6 when they made Beasts of the Southern Wild — only 5 when she got the part. We both have 8-year-old daughters; I'm picturing them back when they were 5 or 6, with a performance like that. Crazy. I love Watts, too, in her brutally physical performance in The Impossible. In practical terms, having to spend weeks in the water on the set ... Watts is impressive.

Got Robbed: I don't think Keira Knightley has ever been better than as the title role in Anna Karenina. For that matter, I should've mentioned the film as getting robbed for Adapted Screenplay. A friend says he was glad when Anna Karenina threw herself under a train. (Spoiler-alert for a plot point from a novel more than a century old?) I just don't get the dislike and relative forgotten-ness of the film. That's a really good movie.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars, Day 2: Screenplays

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM

We're back with Day 2 of our four-day lumberjack match over this year's Oscar nominations. Yesterday, Greg and I split on Best Supporting Actor picks while throwing some attention to under-recognized performers such as Ann Dowd and David Strathairn.

Today, we wade into the written word with the two screenplay categores:

Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty.

Chris Herrington

Zero Dark Thirty
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Will Win: This is where the apparent Zero Dark Thirty backlash confuses me most. My minimal contact in Oscar handicapping suggests this is the category where the film is most likely to win, but shouldn't Mark Boal's CIA-aided screenplay be the aspect of the film that most troubles the film's opponents? Would a win here while Kathryn Bigelow goes unnoticed for director be dissonant? Just misogynist? In my confusion, I'm calling it for Michael Haneke for Amour, which has arguably the most overall strength of the nominees. And screenplay seems like the area where artier faves are more likely to prosper.

Should Win: A close call among five really good films. I think Moonrise Kingdom is dependent on Wes Anderson's visual sense and Django Unchained runs out of ideas down the stretch. Amour, I think, is rooted most strongly Haneke's precise direction and his melded performances of his two great leads. Flight is a ballsy screenplay, opening with a bang and then burrowing into something darker and more personal. But even though I question the degree to which it privileges a CIA perspective, my vote goes to Boal for his relentless, reported screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty.

Got Robbed: Lots of good candidates here: The surprisingly adult sex comedy undercut by mediocre direction in Hope Springs. The daring, beat-of-its-own-drummer campus comedy Damsels in Distress. Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On, at once diaristic and sweeping up a whole subculture. The weighty, mysterious The Master. But I'll place my vote for Looper, which renews and elevates a popcorn subgenre while dreaming up one of the screenplay moments of the year by putting Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt at a table together, where they avoid talking about time-travel shit.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Herrington & Akers on the Oscars: Day 1: Supporting Performances

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables
  • Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables"
The Oscars are here, and, as usual, Chris Herrington and Greg Akers are here to provide 8,000 words of commentary — who will win, who should win, and who got robbed — about an industry event that isn't nearly as important as the art in the artform, and about a ceremony that will last just a little longer than the runtime of The Hobbit. So get in the cockpit of this Oscars jumbo jet. Herrington and Akers are drunk and coked up and flying this plane upside down.

Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

Greg Akers: Will Win: In the biggest lock of the night, Anne Hathaway gets her first Oscar. All of the actresses are good, but the reason Hathaway is a lock: Because. A butterfly flapped its wings in China in October 2007. I don't know. But Hathaway is a locomotive carrying nitroglycerine and blowtorches. (I actually don't know the science involved in this analogy.)

Should Win: Despite how sleepy Les Misérables made me, there's no denying how utterly riveting Anne Hathaway is. When Fantine dies (spoiler alert), they should just roll the credits. She's the life of the film. As for the others, Amy Adams has been nominated for four Supporting Actress Oscars and one day will win one or two of the things. She's excellent in The Master, particularly that one scene. You know the one I'm talking about. Sally Field is as good as she's been in ages and keeps Mrs. Lincoln from falling into a pop-psychology crazy lady ball-and-chain. I liked Helen Hunt okay in The Sessions, and would've liked to have seen even more of the subplot between her and her husband (a rough-looking Adam Arkin). As for her sex scenes, I couldn't — Hunt's nudity aside — keep my eyes off John Hawkes. I liked Jacki Weaver a lot, too, but she was given the least to work with of the four main actors (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro).

Got Robbed: I never get to do this, so I can't resist naming the same person three times: Anne Hathaway, this time in The Dark Knight Rises. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman is an Occupy Wall Street-type crusader who is as driven to bring down corporate criminals as Bruce Wayne/Batman is to defeat the physically violent. The two extremists pair up and form a perfect whole to right society's wrongs, provided they can moderate each other's approach. The film seems at first blush to be thematically schizophrenic but really it's just willing to present multiple perspectives and see where it goes. It mostly works. If only Christopher Nolan had given more time to Hathaway.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Memphis Grizzlies: The Movie

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Who would play Zach Randolph in a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies?
  • Who would play Zach Randolph in a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies?
History was made last Saturday. Every week on Memphis Sport Live (Sports56/87.7 FM), hosts Kevin Cerrito and Marcus Hunter play "Hang Up and Listen," where they take a sports-related question from a listener, who has to say the magic phrase "I'll hang up and listen" and then do just that.

What happened last Saturday is that they got the best question in the history of the segment. Adam called and said, "The budding new superstar of the Grizzlies, Tony Wroten, it's been said he looks like Don Cheadle. So if you have a movie about the Memphis Grizzlies, who's going to play each of the starting five and Coach Lionel Hollins? I'll hang up and listen."

That, friends, is how it's done. What a great question. When my wife and I heard it, we basically high-fived and went into action, pulling up pictures of the roster online and brainstorming a cast. Cerrito, Hunter, and producer C.J. Hurt made their cases for key roles, and I went on air about 30 minutes later and presented my own cast.

You can hear it all here, on the MSL podcast.

Below is my official cast for Memphis Grizzlies: The Movie. After much thought, I've made two changes to the lineup first given on air. Alert IMDb.com! The roster is presented as a slideshow, with the actor to the left, the Grizzly to the right, and my comments below. I also added the cast for the front office. Who will play John Hollinger? See the slideshow to find out. (Also see who original MSL caller Adam, a.k.a. @ajr7926, says should play Robert Pera.) And very special shout-out to Matt Wiseman, who made photographic mash-ups happen.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Live From Memphis

Posted By on Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 9:39 AM

In an announcement posted on the front page of their popular web site, the pioneering arts community organization Live From Memphis announced last week that it will be ceasing operation. “The bottom line is that our site has far outgrown our resources to run it,” the announcement reads in part. “We had the passion, just not the financial support.”

Livefrommemphis.com launched in 2001, but the roots of the organization go back to the late 1990s when Christopher Reyes, an avid electronic music fan, saw a performance of bluegrass band the Mudflaps at Murphy’s in Midtown. “They did this acoustic fucking jam of the century, and I was like, ‘Oh My god! This is amazing!’ There was only 20 people in the room. It changed my perspective on music,” Reyes said.

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Reyes recorded Memphis bands playing live — at first only audio, then later adding video to the mix — and posted them online. His goal was to connect the many talented artists of Memphis with a larger audience, and the project grew to include Memphis film, art, and culture as well as music. “Eventually — and I didn’t realize this right off the bat — it became about the interaction between the artist and audience. There had to be an event where the audience could really get together with the artist,” Reyes says.

One of Reyes’ earliest innovations was the Creative Directory, an online space where talented Memphians of all kinds could create profiles and post their credentials and resumes so people and business requiring their services could easily find them. In the days before MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn took social marketing mainstream, the directory proved to be a valuable asset to Memphis creatives.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Big Star Doc Could Get Theatrical Run

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

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New York-based indie film distributor Magnolia Pictures announced last night they'd acquired the North American rights to Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, a documentary about the cult-classic Memphis band of the Seventies.

This match-up isn't much of a surprise given that one of the film's producers, Danielle McCarthy, is a publicist for Magnolia, but it's probably good news for local fans who missed the film's two sold-out screenings at last fall's Indie Memphis Film Festival, where the film won the Best Documentary Award. A release from Magnolia says the company plans a theatrical release for the film later this year. Many Magnolia titles — most recently A Royal Affair, Compliance, and 2 Days in New York — get theatrical runs in Memphis, so you would think Memphis would likely be on the itinerary of any kind of run the film gets.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oscars 2013: Best Picture Predictions 2.0 (UPDATED)

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Ben Affleck in Argo
  • Ben Affleck in "Argo"
By now you've heard what everybody in town is talking about: The Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday!

[Commence rioting, looting, Roger Rabbit-ing, and generally acting a fool.]

[Ten minutes later.]

Revealing the nominations will be none other than Oscar-show host Seth MacFarlane and acting hawtie Emma Stone. Now is not the time to discuss MacFarlane's qualifications (or lack thereof — snort) for hosting. First, we've got to get the nominees officially on the record, which will happen at 7:30 a.m. CST, on many reputable television channels, internet web pages, and Twitter.

So, what movies are getting nominated for Best Picture?

In August 2012, I took a crack at the 10 nominees for Best Picture. That was, mind you, back before I or anyone else had seen most of the movies. So you'll forgive my couple of missteps, which were based on the trailer or the buzz I was conjuring in my mind months before they'd be released. My list from August is at the end of this story, for transparency purposes.

Here's my brand-new list, which will no doubt be entirely accurate. So sleep in on Thursday, because I've already spoiled this for you:

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Argo Leads Southeastern Film Critics Association's Annual Awards

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 12:01 PM

The Southeastern Film Critics Association, which comprises 47 members in nine Southern states, including, locally, myself and the Commercial Appeal's John Beifuss, has announced its winners for 2012.

Argo leads the way, topping the overall Top Ten and winning Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Second place Zero Dark Thirty, scheduled to open in Memphis on January 11th, finished second in the Best Picture race and was runner-up in three other categories — Director (Kathryn Bigelow), Actress (Jessica Chastain), and Original Screenplay.

Ben Afflecks Argo tops the Southeastern Film Critics awards for 2012.
  • Ben Affleck's Argo tops the Southeastern Film Critics awards for 2012.

Third place finisher Lincoln also took top honors for Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Ensemble, while finishing second in Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Supporting Actress (Sally Field), as well as Adapted Screenplay.

The Louisiana-set indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, which finished sixth overall, won the organization's annual Wyatt Award for best Southern-themed film.

I'm going to hold off on revealing my SEFCA ballot until after my own year-end picks are revealed at the end of the month, but for now I will say that I voted for exactly half of the SEFCA Top Ten.

Full results:

2012 SEFCA AWARD RESULTS
TOP TEN

1.    Argo 
2.    Zero Dark Thirty 
3.    Lincoln 
4.    Moonrise Kingdom 
5.    Silver Linings Playbook 
6.    Beasts of the Southern Wild 
7.    The Master 
8.    Les Misérables 
9.    Life of Pi 
10.    The Dark Knight Rises

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Indie Memphis Awards: Antenna, As I Am, Open Five 2 are among the winners.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Co-creators and leads Caroline White and Kentucker Audley in Hometowner Feature winner Open Five 2.
  • Co-creators and leads Caroline White and Kentucker Audley in Hometowner Feature winner Open Five 2.

C. Scott McCoy and Laura Jean Hocking's full-length music documentary Antenna and Alan Spearman's South Memphis-set short doc As I Am were double-winners at the 15th Indie Memphis Film Festival, which presented its awards at a closing ceremony Sunday night.

Antenna won Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and a Special Jury Award for Local Significance from the Hometowner jury. As I Am took in two Hometowner awards, Best Documentary Short and the Audience Award.

The ceremony was hosted by producer Savannah Bearden and featured video clips from the local Corduroy Wednesday filmmaking group, which spoofed the upcoming presidential election with a fictional election for Indie Memphis executive director. Filmmakers G.B. Shannon, Edward Valibus Phillips, and Ben Siler portrayed challengers to "incumbent" Erik Jambor, who went above and beyond this year by overseeing the biggest and best Indie Memphis yet despite having his first child — a daughter, Simone — just two days before the festival began. (Simone made a cameo at the ceremony, in the arms of mother happy mother Robin Salant.) Helping in the expansion is primary sponsor Duncan-Williams, Inc..

"I've told Erik, we're going to continue to make this bigger and better every year," Williams himself announced at the ceremony's outset.

antenna_still-1.jpg
Ryan Parker and G.B. Shannon picked up the first award of the night for Best Hometowner Short Film for their work Pretty Monsters, making it the consecutive wins in this category for the duo following their 2011 prize winner Fresh Skweezed.

The most memorable acceptance speech came from Kentucker Audley and Caroline White, the "stars" and co-producers of Audley's intensely personal Open Five 2, which won the award for Best Hometowner Feature.

"I think I'm the only person on the stage that likes the movie," Audley cracked after White was struggling for words to explain the film.

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