Austin Cinematic Limits

What have I been doing lately? I have been stalking Bryan Poyser (Lovers of Hate) on Facebook. Well, it is not technically stalking since he accepted my friendship, right? Truth be told, I am not actually a Facebook stalker, I am merely doing my job. (Really!) I am keeping tabs on the production of Poyser’s latest film, The Bounceback. As I write this, Poyser is entering week three of the Austin-based production which stars Ashley Bell (The Last Exorcism), Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield), Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers), and Addison Timlin (Californication). The primary cast might not be very Austin-centric, but the crew – which includes producer Megan Gilbride, cinematographer PJ Raval, and editor Don Swaynos – certainly is. My love for Lovers of Hate and Dear Pillow knows no bounds, so let’s just say that I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Bounceback.

Poyser is not the only Austin filmmaker lucky enough to be stalked by yours truly. A couple of weeks ago, I ran into the seemingly ubiquitous Alex Karpovsky at Tribeca 2012. Okay, I was not really stalking him, he was hanging out in the press lounge. (Really!) A periodic Austinite, Karpovsky mentioned that he will be in Austin in the very near future to act in Carlyn Hudson’s (Z and Beau) next film. As a fan of Hudson’s segment of Slacker 2011 as well as her short film Z and Beau, I am very excited to find out more about her project with Karpovsky.

In other news, Kat Candler‘s short film Hellion is still getting a lot of festival love (next stops: deadCENTER and the Los Angeles Film Festival); so is Jonny MarsAmerica’s Parking Lot (next stop: Little Rock Film Festival), Bob Byington‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me (next stop: deadCENTER), and David Zellner‘s Kid-Thing (next stop: Rooftop Films). The Clay Liford-lensed Gayby is probably getting the most love of them all (next stops: Provincetown Film Festival, Rooftop Films, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and BAMcinemaFest).

Speaking of film festival love, Cinema Six and Satellite of Love are not getting nearly enough love, folks! Both films celebrated their world premieres at Dallas International Film Festival, but have gotten very little play otherwise. Satellite of Love most recently screened at the Hill Country Film Festival and Cinema Six will be screening at deadCENTER – and with the spring film festival season winding down, we can only hope that some fall film festivals will program these two truly amazing Austin-centric productions. (Austin Film Festival, I am looking at you!) Speaking of which, I am still waiting for Pictures of Superheroes to announce when/where it will premiere. (Austin Film Festival, I am looking at you again!)

On a brighter side of things, I am very happy that Spencer ParsonsSaturday Morning Massacre found a home for its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Featuring some of my favorite homegrown acting talent – Jonny Mars, Ashley Spillers, Paul Gordon, Heather Kafka, and Chris Doubek – Saturday Morning Massacre is a parody about a Scooby-Doo-like team of paranormal investigators. To be perfectly honest, in anyone else’s hands, I would be incredibly skeptical of that premise, but Parsons has a real knack for making highly intelligent and thought-provoking films. That reminds me, The Show Austin is screening Parson’s previous feature – I’ll Come Running (2008) – at the Violet Crown Cinema on Tuesday, May 22 as part of their Austin Auteurs series.

Last but certainly not least, one of my favorite films from 2011, You Hurt My Feelings, has been released digitally on iTunes and Amazon courtesy of Oscilloscope Labs. You Hurt My Feelings is a career-defining role for Austinite John Merriman, who stars as John, the hapless nanny of two young girls – Lily (Lily Collins) and Violet (Violet Collins). This job provides John with a source of income in a dire economic environment and serves as a desperate ploy to win his ex-girlfriend Courtney (Courtney Davis) back. The problem is, Courtney has already moved on to Macon (Macon Blair). Macon comments to John that they are similar enough to be brothers, but there is nothing further from the truth. John is a walking blob of somberness and gentle tranquility; Macon is a playful yet irresponsible drunk, eternally happy and boyishly charming. A bizarre love triangle commences with John and Macon lackadaisically competing for Courtney and Macon vying for John’s friendship.

Impressionistically lensed by Putty Hill cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier, You Hurt My Feelings takes its audience through the emotional kaleidoscope of the four seasons; though visually stunning, the images are just as economically restrained as the wallets of the characters. You Hurt My Feelings internally portrays its characters’ senses of despair and isolation; like a silent film (Merriman probably has less than a page of dialogue, Davis and Blair have significantly less), feelings are never expressed verbally, only via the actors’ rich expressions. Writer-director Steve Collins (a former Austinite) has developed a narrative that circumvents all dramatic plot points – an injury that results in a neck brace, a wedding engagement, an illness and death, countless arguments and break-ups – assuming that the audience will fill in the blanks. Only the emotional aftermath remains.

Cinematic Things To Do in Austin This Week:

5/15 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS’ Essential Cinema Series — SEEFest Austin: Films of Southeast Europe — continues with Alexandru Maftei’s Hello! How Are You? (More info)

5/16 – Alamo Ritz - The Alamo Drafthouse launches BANGARANG!, a new series celebrating all things ’90s, with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles All-You-Can-Eat Pizza Party. (More info)

5/17 – Salvage Vanguard Theater - Cinema41 presents Steve Buscemi’s grossly underrated directorial debut Trees Lounge. (More info)

5/17 – Rolling Roadshow (Republic Square Park) - The Alamo Drafthouse and Austin Parks Foundation present a free screening of Princess Mononoke. (More info)

5/19 – Rolling Roadshow (Kyle, TX) - Alamo Drafthouse and Film School Rejects present this “Summer of 1982″ screening of Road Warrior with a thermonuclear flaming death race among other awesome things. (More info)

5/21 – Alamo Village - Austin Film Festival presents Sironia (with writer/director Brandon Dickerson in attendance) as part of their Esurance Audience Award Film Series. (More info)


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