This week we're a little preoccupied with South By Southwest, which kicks off today and runs through next week. Several Cinematical staffers (including yours truly) are moseying along the streets of Austin as we speak, and we'll have a heapin' helpin' of mighty fine SXSW coverage here for the next seven days.
In the meantime, there's plenty of indie-related film merriment for you to enjoy elsewhere in the country -- including a few flicks opening today in limited release:
- Snow Angels is the latest from David Gordon Green (All the Pretty Girls, George Washington), a contemplative drama about a town rocked by a tragedy. Cinematical's Kevin Kelly didn't think too highly of it at Sundance last year, but James Rocchi loved it.
- CJ7 comes from Kung Fu Hustle madman Stephen Chow, and it's a family-friendly comedy about a kid whose new toy turns out to be an alien. It (the movie, not the alien-toy) is already a big hit in Asia.
- Married Life is a 1940s-set drama about a man who plots to poison his wife rather than divorce her. Makes sense to me. Cast includes Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, Rachel McAdams, and Patricia Clarkson.
- Paranoid Park is Gus Van Sant's latest, and it's not as plot-free as Last Days, nor is it as mainstream as Finding Forrester. Our Monika Bartyzel hated it when it premiered at Toronto.
Austin: As mentioned, South By Southwest launches today, more or less taking over Austin's cinema scene. If you're anywhere near the capital city of Texas during the next week, you ought to be checking it out. It's always a blast. Keep an eye on Cinematical for our coverage.
Boston: Put on some leg warmers and get ready to gag me with a spoon, because the Brattle Theatre has a series called "The 80s Rock!" running tonight through next Thursday, with big-screen showings of some truly choice Reagan-era movies, all of them related in some way to rock music: Rock 'n' Roll High School (which actually came out in 1979, but never mind), Desperately Seeking Susan, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, This Is Spinal Tap, Roadie, Repo Man, Class of 1984, Purple Rain, Flash Gordon, Streets of Fire, and Stop Making Sense.
Brooklyn, N.Y.: Holy crap! Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira turns 100 this year! And he's still making a new movie every year! And BAMcinématek is celebrating with a month-long retrospective! And de Oliveira himself will be on hand for a Q&A tonight! Wow. When I'm 100, I plan to have been dead for at least 20 years.
Chicago: You can relive the silent days of the movies -- I mean the days when the movies themselves were silent, not the audiences, as the latter has never happened -- at the Music Box Theatre this weekend. They're showing My Best Girl (1927) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday as part of the matinee series.
Cleveland: Hmm. Apparently SXSW isn't the only big film festival happening this week. There's also the 32nd Cleveland International Film Festival, which launched last night and runs through next Sunday. More than 130 features and 160 shorts are part of the program, including a retrospective of John Sayles films. OK, I guess if you can't come to Austin, Cleveland's fest looks like a pretty solid alternative.
Denver: Military Intelligence and You is a parody in the style of a 1940s Army training film, obviously using the current conflict in Iraq as the target of its political satire, with newly filmed vintage-looking scenes interspersed with actual footage from old training films. It will run for a week at the Starz FilmCenter starting today.
Los Angeles: The heist movie is as old as cinema itself (see The Great Train Robbery, 1903), with this weekend's wide release The Bank Job only the latest in the genre. American Cinematheque is celebrating bank robbers with four classic flicks this weekend at the Aero Theatre: The original Italian Job (1969) and Who's Minding the Mint? (1967) tonight, with Italian actress Margaret Bly on hand for a discussion between movies; and The Killing (1956) and The Asphalt Jungle (1950) on Saturday, with Killing star Coleen Gray in person.
Portland, Ore.: The Northwest Film Center launches two retrospectives this week. First there's a tribute to Robert Altman, with screenings of M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, and Kansas City this weekend, to be followed by other Altman gems throughout March. Then there's a series of films by Thomas Vaughn, longtime director of the Oregon Historical Society and an accomplished documentarian in his own right. Sunday's contribution is The Crimean War: A Clash of Empires, chronicling the bloody 1850s European war (the one that gave us Florence Nightingale).
Seattle: Graphic design and motion pictures go together like sans-serif fonts and 1970s magazine layouts. (Am I right, folks?!) ByDesign 08 is a series of films highlighting the intersection of graphic design and movies, presented by the Northwest Film Forum and the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The centerpiece is Helvetica, the fascinating (and surprisingly entertaining) documentary from last year about that venerable, ubiquitous font. Long live Helvetica!
Washington, D.C.: What's the DIFF? It's the 10th annual D.C. Independent Film Festival, held on the George Washington University campus and featuring an eclectic mix of totally independent features, shorts, and documentaries. They've added a music festival, too, so you can get a dose of indie rock while you're at it.
Is there something cool going on in your city? Send me a link! Eric.Snider(at)weblogsinc(dot)com.