Sunday, April 27, 2008

Winners at the Indie Spirit Film Festival

Best horror film - “13 Hours in a Warehouse”
Best foreign language film - “Punch”
Best student film - “First Memories”
Best foreign-produced film - “The Stone Angel”
Best Native American film - “Standing Silent Nation”
Best short film - “English Language (With English Subtitles)"
Best documentary - “Vaccine Nation
Directors choice award - “The Bilbee Boys
Best feature film - “Minotauro"

Indie Spirit Film Festival

I've had a pretty busy weekend, but I did manage to catch a few flicks at the new Indie Spirit Film Festival. Although I only saw one film on Saturday, that seemed like the fun day to me - a bunch of strange films in strange locations scattered around the Springs. Sunday was all at the Pikes Peak Center, which was fine, but kind of huge for the size of the event. I didn't make it to the opening film on Friday, "Everyone But You," but director/star Eric Shiveley did bake me some cookies. Tasty!

- Saturday night, we went to the freediving documentary "Sink Faze" (I wanted to see the horror flicks, but my wife wasn't into it). Actually, calling this a documentary is pushing things a little - this is to freediving (scuba diving without an air tank) what a Warren Miller flick is to skiing. It didn't really try to explain the sport, or much about who the people were, it just presented the 2006 record-setting freedives. Still, the filming was pretty good and the sport itself is offbeat enough to make for compelling footage.

- Sunday, I went to "305," a "300" spoof by David and Dan Holechek. I'd been talking to the twin brothers, both Air Academy grads now living in Los Angeles, for the last couple months (I actually saw a link to the Youtube short the movie was based on and posted it to the TV Talk blog before I knew there was any local connection). I was interested to see whether the feature film would be as funny as the short. It wasn't, but it came pretty close. For a low-budget, green-screen spoof, I thought they did a pretty good job. The audience was laughing, which, as David Holechek said afterward, is the most important thing. "305" is out July 7 on DVD.

- Lastly, I saw "Minotauro," on the strong recommendation of festival co-founder Matt Stevens. This is, I swear to god, "El Mariachi" meets "Like Water for Chocolate." Wrap your mind around that one! It's not nearly as silly as "Mariachi," or as affected as "Chocolate," but there's some nice cinematography, good performances, and I found the final scenes moving. Now that I think of it, "Pan's Labyrinth" is probably a better comparison. The mixture of shoot-'em-up and family relationship drama was uneven in places, but on the whole it was well worth seeing.

Three films ain't much given that they screened more than 80 at the festival. If you saw something you liked, post a review in the comments section and I'll tack it onto this list.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Win Ben Stein's money

I saw an early screening of the new don't-call-it-creationist movie "Expelled" up at Focus on the Family last fall. It wasn't the final version, so I couldn't properly review it, but I'm guessing it was pretty close to what's in theaters today.

So I've been reading all the reviews of the movie and they all seem to be missing the point to me. All the reviewers are trying to weigh in on whether Ben Stein and company make a compelling argument for intelligent design - or at least make a compelling case against evolution.

But that, it strikes me, is not really the point of the film. "Expelled" is simply a right-wing version of "Fahrenheit 911" and "An Inconvenient Truth." There are even a bunch of scenes that are lifted whole from those films.

So the proper question, in my mind, is not how convincing it is to people who are unconvinced, it's how forcefully it speaks to the faithful.

Michael Moore's movies were never designed to win an argument - they were built to rouse the believers (in fairness, that may be less the case with Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth," although a lot of right-wing blogs would argue the point).

And viewed by those lights, I'd say "Expelled" works pretty well. It's over-the-top, it's relatively funny, it's righteously indignant. Michael Moore would be proud, assuming he has a sense of humor about these things.

I thougt the section equating evolutionists to Nazis was over over-the-top (I believe that's called Godwin's law). And the interview sections dragged at times. I think the producers have been desperately trying to gin up controversy about the film as a promotional tool, which is right out of the Moore playbook, too.

But will "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" entertain folks inclined to agree with its premise? I think it probably will. And, just as importantly, will it enrage folks who don't agree with it? Definitely.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kimballs Twin Peak changes formats

Matthew Stevens, general manager for Kimballs Twin Peak Theater, sent out an announcement today that the theater would be changing its format, moving away from the indie and arthouse fare for which it's known and focusing on the more commercially viable horror, slasher and zombie flicks:

Dear Movie Fans,

It is my duty to inform you that as of this Tuesday, we will be saying goodbye to independent and foreign films in Colorado Springs. Kimball’s Twin Peak will be closing its doors to re-open on Friday, April 4 with some revisions to our format.

To counter the lag in ticket sales, we have decided to turn to more mainstream tastes and to that end we have decided to focus our energies on horror, zombie and high action slasher films. You can count on us to provide the very best in alien abductions, the walking dead and escaped convicts. As always, we will endeavor to bring you the best this genre has to offer.

In addition to the change in films, we have initiated changes in the wine bar as well. We will no longer be stocking micro brewed beers and will instead be offering a wide variety of canned, domestic products including, but not limited to, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Budweiser, Coors and Miller Genuine Draft.

In honor of the occasion, we will be kicking off the weekend with a marathon of classic films in the style to which you can all become accustomed:

Witchcraft 8: Salem’s Ghost
Terror at Tate Manor
A Feast of Flesh
Big Foot

Vampires vs. Zombies
I, Zombie: The Chronicles of Pain
Zombie Prom

Polterchrist: The Movie about Jesus and Murder
Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland

We look to your continued loyalty to help us in this transition. Thank you for the years of patronage and we look forward to seeing you all in the future.

Thanks and see you at the movies,
Kimball and Matt

P.S. – April Fool!