This week on the big screen
Austin screens benefit this weekend from a trio of fine films fresh off the festival circuit. Three Sundance premiers are beginning regular runs in town and each offers something completely different. From talking cats to fire-breathing cars, let's take a tour of the best independent entertainment Austin theaters have to offer this weekend and the week beyond.
This Weekend at Violet Crown
Arriving Friday at Violet Crown is the sophomore feature from indie darling Miranda July (Me and You and Everyone We Know) which premiered at Sundance and subsequently played SXSW. Narrated by Paw-Paw, a dying cat waiting at an animal shelter for Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) to bring him home, The Future is a tale of letting go of the things preventing people from living their lives to the fullest. When Sophie and Jason find out that Paw-Paw may not die after adoption and may actually thrive, they see the 30 day wait before he comes as their last chance to freely explore the profound truths of their own lives and each other's. Expect a poignant, personal examination of modern life and relationships filtered through July's absurdist quirks. (The Future also opens Friday at Regal Arbor Cinemas.)
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
Another Sundance and SXSW hit is opening this weekend in Austin. Bellflower is the intense story of Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and his transition to manhood via an emotionally and physically destructive relationship with Milly (Jessie Wiseman) and the changing dynamic with his best friend Aiden (Tyler Dawson). What sounds like your typical indie debut turns out to be one of the most truly refreshing no-budget features to come along in some time. When I saw it at Sundance, I was blown away by the sheer passion on display on screen. Evan Glodell not only writes, directs, and stars in Bellflower, he built the flamethrowers, the "Medusa" car featured in the film's marketing, and even the cameras used to film the movie. The obvious scratches on the camera lens that appear throughout the movie are a constant reminder that a film full of truths such as those found in Bellflower is created more by steadfast determination, persistence, and ingenuity than money.
This Weekend at Regal Arbor Cinemas
The new based-on-a-true-story film The Devil's Double (which also premiered at Sundance) opens Friday at the Regal Arbor. In it, Dominic Cooper plays Latif Yahia, an Iraqi army lieutenant who is forced to become a body double for Uday Hussein, Saddam's son. Shadowing the wild and sadistic Uday, Latif witnesses the extravagances and shocking violence within Uday's world. Greatly embellished or not (and most likely it is) The Devil's Double promises to be a disturbing peek at what is bred of a mixture of psychosis and unlimited access to money and power.
Beyond the Weekend
Playing Monday (8/15) through Thursday (8/18) is Cold Fish, the latest from Japanese director Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Love Exposure). Based quite loosely on the real life incident dubbed 'The Saitama Dog Lovers Serial Killings', Cold Fish sets its tale of a desperate business owner being drawn into the lives of a murderous husband and wife team in the world of exotic fish. It's the best thing that will be playing on Austin screens in the next week- if you can stomach it, that is. The film is extremely violent, but Sono's refusal to shy away from the bloodshed and madness makes it a pitch perfect study of serial killers. I reviewed Cold Fish when it played last year's Fantastic Fest and it comes with my highest recommendation.
On Tuesday (8/16), Alamo Drafthouse's signature Terror Tuesday series (weekly at the Ritz, tickets are only $1) presents one of my personal favorite horror films, The Hitcher. The film chronicles Jim Halsey's (C. Thomas Howell) encounter with a psychotic hitchhiker played by Rutger Hauer. Featuring some scenes of nearly unbearable tension, some of bloody horror, and others of exciting action, The Hitcher is a well-rounded film for the genre-loving crowd and promises to be a favorite of Terror Tuesday attendees.