Friday, February 19, 2010

See the best movie of 2010 (so far) and much more at the Macon Film Festival this weekend

The fifth annual Macon Film Festival kicked off yesterday and gets into a real groove starting today, so if you're gonna be in town this weekend, there's really no excuse not to turn out for a few events (you can find the full schedule here.)

The fun things on the menu today include a special screening of "The Candidate" (my single favorite political film, by the way), hosted by Illeana Douglas, granddaughter of one of the movie's stars, Melvyn Douglas. Illeana Douglas will then host a screening of her own latest project, the Web-based series "Easy to Assemble."

That's going on at the Cox Capitol Theatre, while also downtown today at the historic Douglass Theatre, Richmond Riedel's "Target Practice" will be among the movies screened (around 7 p.m. or so, if I got the message he sent me right.) Though you could never call it high art, this debut feature from Riedel about a group of outdoorsmen who encounter a band of terrorists on a camping trip (yes, really) plays out as an updated "Deliverance" of sorts and is just a heck of a lot of fun.

Saturday's Marquee event will certainly be the Q&A session with Macon native Jack McBrayer. It's unfortunate that he can't bring a better movie than "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" to screen, but in the "30 Rock" star's defense, I suppose he really hasn't appeared in that many movies yet (and at least he didn't bring "Talladega Nights"!) The movie isn't awful, though, and the Q&A should be a blast, so if you turn out for this at the Cox Capitol, you'll certainly run into me.

But the real highlight of this year's fest will be Sunday's closing night feature, Scott Teems' debut feature "That Evening Sun," easily the best movie I've seen so far this year. This movie has a number of connections to Macon, with the great Ray McKinnon having visited a previous Macon Film Festival to present his Oscar-winning short film "The Accountant" (a spectacular work) and Macon native and "True Blood" star Carrie Preston also appearing in a key role in "That Evening Sun" as the wife of McKinnon's character.

In fact, the greatest strength (among many) of "That Evening Sun" is its genuinely (and welcomely) Southern ensemble cast led by national treasure (and I mean that wholeheartedly) Hal Holbrook, who, believe it or not, gives a performance even better than his work in "Into the Wild."

He stars as Abner Meecham, who as the movie opens is slowly dying of boredom in a nursing home his son shunted him into. Seemingly on a whim, Meechan decides to seek out the farm that until recently had been his, and as is the fact with many Southerners, was his greatest point of pride.

After somehow making it back there, however, he finds his son has rented it out to a truly mean class of redneck played by McKinnon (the kind of character he revels in playing.) The movie evolves from there as a battle of wills between the two as Holbrook's Meecham takes up residence in a shack once intended for servants and refuses to leave until McKinnon and his family do (living as I do in a cottage - not, note, a shack - that surely once housed servants, that hit home with me.)

I'm probably not doing this great little movie justice with my description of it, but it's just a genuinely Southern tale, the likes of which we haven't seen since "Sling Blade," although "Junebug" came close too. The story, adapted by Teems from a short story by William Gay, just unfolds at a naturally entertaining pace, and I guarantee you'll be riveted as this slowly evolves from extremely quotable (Holbrook is a hoot) to something much more intense. Do yourself a favor and turn out for this Sunday night at the Cox Capitol Theatre.

OK, after all that today, all I have is a trio of clips. First up comes a short bit from the animated "Ricky Gervais Show," which just hit the air on HBO. As you'll see, it's essentially an animated version of the podcasts he shares with partner in crime Stephen Merchant and sidekick Karl Pilkington. Pilkington is a seriously funny dude, but as you'll see from this clip, it doesn't really translate all that well to animation, so I'll be HBO-free until David Simon's "Treme" hits the air, hopefully by April (a quick visit to the IMDB confirms April 11 - huzzah!) Enjoy.

Next up is a featurette of sorts for Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg," set to open with Ben Stiller as its main star April 1. I simply adored "The Squid and the Whale" and even stuck with Baumbach (unlike anyone else I know) through "Margot at the Wedding," but I have a feeling this one is just going to test my patience with the angst of white dudes (I get enough of that from myself, thank you very much.) Anyways, here's hoping I'm wrong and this turns out to be worth turning out for. Enjoy the clip.

OK, with this last one, you certainly can't say I didn't warn you, because it's a sure case of saving the worst for last. Of all the pre-release items that have been spit out to promote Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland" (finally coming March 5), this video for "Underground" by Avril Lavigne is easily the most distressing. I suppose I'm just far too old to enjoy this, but if you dare, click on the clip to see Avril go down the rabbit hole and encounter Johnny Depp. Enjoy, have a great weekend, and if you happen to live anywhere near Macon, please do come out for at least a few Macon Film Festival events. Peace out.



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Thisishollywood said...

Great festival.It is liked by many.Good to find movies such as candidate.I am amazed at how prescient this film was.Remember, this was before Jerry Brown, the real life politician most people will think of as a counterpart to Redford's character, had not yet run for governor and was still unknown outside of California.