A wide variety of films hits Austin screens this weekend and with a welcomely wet forecast it's the perfect time to seek out something other than the standard studio fare. This weekend in particular you should consider seeing the latest from Studio Ghibli, an Oscar nominated Belgian thriller and a documentary looking at the works of one of the world's greatest living artists.
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
While the Studio Ghibli retrospective continues at South Lamar (this week's film, Castle in the Sky, is a story branched out from a reference in Swift's Gulliver's Travels), the Japanese animation powerhouse's latest is opening for a regular run on Friday. Based on the book The Borrowers by Mary Norton, The Secret World of Arrietty is the story of tiny people living in the nooks and crannies of a home in suburban Japan. Their cover is blown one day when Arrietty is seen by Shawn, a 12-year-old boy who lives in the house. The secret world of the borrower family hangs in the balance of the friendship Arrietty and Shawn develop. The film is being praised for its beauty and wonderment and the hand-drawn animation is certainly a welcome change of pace.
The latest release from Drafthouse Films, a winner of several awards at last year's Fantastic Fest and a nominee for this year's Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, Bullhead, also opens Friday. The feature debut of Belgian filmmaker Michael R. Roskam is a noir set against the backdrop of underground cattle hormone markets. Farmer Jacky Vanmarsenille (Matthias Schoenaerts giving a career making performance), himself addicted to hormones, makes a shady deal with notorious trader. When a federal investigator turns up dead and Jacky is forced to confront his traumatic past, he struggles to reel in the damage before effects are too far reaching. Featuring incredible performances, a gripping story and impeccable direction, Bullhead is a dark masterpiece that is likely a bit too edgy to actually take home the statue but is sure to register deeply with audiences.
This Weekend at Violet Crown Cinema
A free-flowing, narration-free tour through the works of German-born artist Anselm Kiefer, Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, opens at the Violet Crown. Keifer builds installations on his property in Southern France that seemingly pay tribute to the annihilation of mankind (hence the title of the film which is taken from a Bible verse) and filmmaker Sophie Fiennes is content with letting her camera drift through the works and silently observe Kiefer and his team at work. It's a quite and beautifully discomforting experience (urban decay has never been so arrestingly staged) that does little to shed light on the meaning of Kiefers work, but it's an intimate, up-close peak at the products of it.
Beyond the Weekend
Violet Crown will host a screening of Incendiary: The Willingham Case next Wednesday (2/22). The film, which has been making waves since its premier at SXSW in 2011, documents the case of Cameron Todd Willingham who lost his daughters to a fire in 1991 and who was subsequently put to death in 2004 for their murders. This was done despite wide agreement that the prosecutions arson evidence in the case was based on bad science. It's an intriguing film sure to inspire at least some anger in anyone who takes the time to listen to the facts presented.