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.
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.
Twelve things to look forward to this month: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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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:
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.
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.
2012 SEFCA AWARD RESULTS
2. Zero Dark Thirty
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
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.
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.