Seventies Slackers, Bikers & Psychedelic Japanese Animation: All That and Much More in Our Retro Guide to the 2016 Atlanta Film Festival

Posted on: Apr 2nd, 2016 By:

10294346_10153376281298424_3819900343571644880_nCinephiles rejoice! Now in its 40th year, the Atlanta Film Festival (ATLFF) is back in bloom from Friday April 1 through Sunday April 10. ATLFF has long been known for a huge line-up of more than 200 diverse and offbeat features, shorts and documentaries from local to international filmmakers, and this year has one of its most exciting line-ups to date with some gems to warm our Retro heart.

Because it can be challenging to wade through such a wide-ranging schedule, we’ve taken the time to sort out some productions that you, our Retro readers, might particularly find of interest including a number of cult and classic revival films screening for free. We’ll also be running social media coverage and reviews of some of our favorites, so be sure to check back. And because we can’t mention everything, be sure also to check out the full festival schedule because there are lots more great films you won’t want to miss.

All screenings below are at the festival HQ at the Plaza Theatre, unless otherwise indicated. 

dazed-and-confused-movie-poster-1993-1010327275 Friday April 1

Opening night brings a red carpet of stars at the Atlanta premiere of THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING directed by Rob Burnett and starring Paul Rudd, but we know our readers will be more ready to get back to the 70s with a rare chance to see Richard Linklater‘s hilarious comedy DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) at 9:30 p.m., followed by Lips Down on Dixie as they present their extremely popular midnight performance of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975). Although a Plaza staple for years, the show gets even better when seen with a festival crowd of fervent movie fanatics.

DudeDesigns_FCB_WEBSaturday April 2

Things get badass crazy with the world premiere of FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS (2016) at 9:30 p.m., which kicks off the MORPHINE DREAMS horror/weird series. The homegrown 1970s-style neo-exploitation feature promises to be even more over-the-top than its precursor DEAR GOD! NO! (2011) (Read our Retro Review here).  Just about everyone involved with this feature is a dear friend to ATLRetro and lots of the cast and crew will be there, including star Lawrence R. Harvey (HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 & 3), so we wouldn’t miss it even if we might have to cover our eyes once or twice. Read our Kool Kat of the Week interview with Director James Bickert for a pretaste of the ultraviolent insanity (WARNING: not for everyone!). Just $10 but buy in advance as we betcha it’ll sell out. Facebook event page here.

Gwilliam_Poster_11x17_v03Also on Saturday: Get your bizarro horror fix started early at Noon with THE WOOL shorts segment which includes the award-winning GWILLIAM by Kool Kat Brian Lonano and more of what the ATLFF describes as “other-worldly fibers.” 1979 (do we detect a theme here?) is the setting for GOOD OL’ BOY (12:30 p.m.), about the challenges of assimilating into a new culture for a 10-year-old boy who moves with his Indian family to an American small town and has a crush on the girl-next-door. everybody-wants-some-posterThen EVERYBODY WANTS SOME! (2016), Richard Linklater’s new “spiritual sequel” to DAZED AND CONFUSED set in the world of 1980s college life, screens at 7 p.m. Actors Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin and Blake Jenner are scheduled to attend. Also at 7 p.m. and free with RSVP at the Hill Auditorium at The HighRUBY IN PARADISE (1993), Ashley Judd‘s film debut as a Florida girl struggling to escape her working class life and achieve her dreams during Pensacola spring break, gets a rare return to the big screen as part of a retrospective of director Victor Nunez‘s career. A PECULIAR NOISE (2015) at 7:30 p.m. (7 Stages), is a sentimental documentary of the DIY underground music scene in the college town that spawned such alt-favorites as The B-52s, R.E.M. and Pylon. Director Jorge Torres-Torres is scheduled to attend.

CcufcVTW8AER7JQSunday April 3

Festivities kick off at noon with a 25th anniversary screening of Southern foodie comedy classic FRIED GREEN TOMATOES (1991) (free with RSVP). If you’re hungry afterwards, for just $20, there’s a Food on Film after-party at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center from 2-4:30 p.m. CONCERTO, at 5:15 pm (7 Stages), is a documentary about brothers Christopher Rex (Principal Cellist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1979) and Charles Rex (a first violinist with the New York Philharmonic since 1981) who struggle to overcome a childhood at the hands of a disturbed but brilliant composer father. At 6 p.m., head to the Rialto Center for the Arts to revisit the explosive 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings where Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment in HBO Films’ docu-drama CONFIRMATION, filmed in Atlanta.

2012110720180322562_artikelThe second installment of the MORPHINE DREAMS series at 7:15 pm at 7 Stages, THE FORBIDDEN WORLD (2015), directed by Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson, is seriously crazed with a side of William Hope Hodgson : “A never-before-seen woodsman mysteriously appears aboard a submarine that’s been trapped deep under water for months with an unstable cargo. As the terrified crew make their way through the corridors of the doomed vessel, they find themselves on a voyage into the origins of their darkest fears.” Then rush back to the Plaza if you like crazy Japanese trippy Weird animated horror for MD#3, Eiichi Yamamoto‘s legendary BELLADONNA OF SADNESS (1973), a real event being that it was previous unreleased in the USA. Based on SATANISM AND WITCHCRAFT by Jules Michelet, young and innocent Jeanne is ravaged by the local lord and makes a pact with the Devil. According to the description: “The Devil appears in phallic forms and, through Jeanne, incites the village into a sexual frenzy. In a new restoration using the original camera negatives, this erotic and psychedelic trip of a film springs to life.”

CHEERLEADER

CHEERLEADER

Monday April 4

Get your dose of bubblegum, side ponytails, ’80s music and revenge in the 7 p.m. world premiere of CHEERLEADER, a witty satire of an all-American pastime.  Director Irving Franco and Producer Nathan Marcus are scheduled to attend. Then at 9:15 p.m., THE FOUNDERS goes back to the 1950s and the 13 women who fought male chauvinism to found the Ladies Pro Golf Association (LPGA). Co-Directors Charlene Fisk and Carrie Schrader, Producer Phoebe Brown and Actor Caleb Messer are scheduled to attend.

HandmadeVol6final_medTuesday April 5

At 7 p.m., the COTTON documentary shorts series at 7 Stages includes HOTEL CLERMONT, about residents of the notorious seedy and recently closed Atlanta landmark (yes, we said landmark), and THE NEW ORLEANS SAZERAC, about the quintessential Big Easy cocktail. Released first in 2005, HANDMADE PUPPET DREAMS (also 7 Stages, 9:15 p.m.) doesn’t date back to the 20th century in itself, but puppetry is a Retro art, right? This handpicked selection of puppet film shorts has received tons of international acclaim and just looks friggin’ cool, plus it’s introduced by Jim Henson‘s daughter Heather Henson. Read our Kool Kat of the Week interview with her here.

Bill Genovese in WITNESS.

Bill Genovese in WITNESS.

Wednesday April 6

At 7 p.m., THE WITNESS reopens the famous Kitty Genovese murder, which 38 witnesses watched from nearby apartments and did nothing. Forty years later, her brother Bill Genovese, who was 16 at the time of his sister’s death, digs into the case and “uncovers a lie that transformed his life, condemned a city, and defined an era.” Bill Genovese, Director James D. Solomon and Producer Melissa Jacobson are scheduled to attend.

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MANOMAN, directed by Simon Cartwright, UK

Thursday April 7

Head to the Center for Puppetry Arts at 7 p.m. for WOOD, a screening of international puppetry shorts, followed by a reception in the Atrium and free entry into the new Worlds of Puppetry Museum featuring the Jim Henson and Global Collections, which includes rare artifacts from Henson-related films such as THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982) and LABYRINTH (1986) and a selfie opportunity with Muppets Kermit and Miss Piggy.

LOA

LOA

Friday April 8

During COPPER, a special presentation by the always intriguing Contraband Cinema at 7 Stages at 7 p.m., see contemporary and classic avant garde and experimental shorts with some of the filmmakers in attendance. At 9:15 p.m. also at 7 Stages, director George Koszulinski and other members of his creative team will be on hand for a screening of the “mystical, experimental” Haitian documentary LOA about the life of the Extanta Aoleé, a local houngan or ‘Vodou man.” And ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW screens again at midnight with Lips Down on Dixie audience participation floor show (see Fri. April 1).

MV5BOTA3Mjg2NDQ3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjExNTU3NzE@._V1_UY1200_CR73,0,630,1200_AL_Saturday April 9

In HUNKY DORY, at 12:30 p.m., “Sidney—an artist of many things but an extraordinaire of nothing at all—struggles to live up to the expectations of his glam rock dream.” Director Michael Curtis Johnson, Producers Tomas Pais and Jacqueline Johnson and Actor Chad Hartigan (who also directed “closing night feature” MORRIS FROM AMERICA which screens Sat. at 7:30 p.m.) are scheduled to attendAt 2:30, the GOLD documentary shorts series includes SAULTOPAL, in which Atlanta-based artist Susan Cofer invites Georgia-born filmmaker John Henry Summerour (SAHKANAGA) to spend a year documenting Saultopal, an 1100-acre farm in northwest Georgia populated by Longhorn cattle, gigantic rock sculptures and Carl, her husband in his 80th year, and TOURIST about a Vietnam vet revisiting the nation where he once fought.

41cIba3SqsL._SY355_Sunday April 10

The last day of the ATLFF is pretty Retro-kickass, we have to admit. See David Bowie live again on the big screen as the iconic Goblin King in a 30th anniversary screening of LABYRINTH (1986). Then in the much-anticipated MILES AHEAD at 2:45 p.m., Don Cheadle directs and stars as legendary jazz man Miles Davis. Not a full biopic, it centers on the period of five years in the late 1970s when Davis was holed up in his home with chronic hip pain and a fictional encounter with a music reporter which leads to a quest for a stolen tape of his most recent compositions. There’ll also be some Encore screenings yet to be announced, so keep checking the schedule if you miss a screening and/or it sells out.

Of course, these films represent just a tiny portion of the events, shorts, seminars, screenings and receptions/parties taking place. For a complete list, again you need to check out the official Atlanta Film Festival Schedule. And keep an eye on ATLRetro throughout the fest for coverage on all the fun and films. Enjoy this year’s ATLFF, movie lovers!

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Retro Review: Blast-Off Burlesque Takes a Joyride Back to the Heyday of the ’70s LA Porn Industry with BOOGIE NIGHTS at the Plaza Theatre Sat. Jan. 21

Posted on: Jan 18th, 2012 By:

By Dean Treadway
Contributing Writer

BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997); Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson; Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. Jan. 21; 10 PM; arrive early for a night of innuendo-laden foods, Porn Persona superstar costume contest, prizes, Rollergirl madness and a hilarious stage show with special guest Cousin Dan; age 18 & over only; trailer here.

BOOGIE NIGHTS is one of those films I love in spite of my better judgment.  It’s a resolutely big-screen experience, and Atlanta moviegoers are going to have a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen at the Plaza Theater on Saturday, Jan. 21 when it appears as the feature accompanying Blast-Off Burlesque‘s saucy Taboo-La-La show starting at 10 p.m.

I can recall gendering at the beautiful one-sheet for BOOGIE NIGHTS before it was released in the fall of 1997.  I marveled at its huge cast, and was excited about the subject matter – a trip through the Los Angeles porn industry of the late ’70s.  I didn’t know who the writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson was at that time, having not seen his first feature, the small-time con film, HARD EIGHT, but that would soon change.  The poster, though, with its intricate photo collage of characters from the film, promised an epic portrayal unlike anything ever attempted.  I was extremely thrilled about seeing it.

Burt Reynolds in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

In BOOGIE NIGHTS, we follow its naïve central character, Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), as he is ensnared into a makeshift family of porn filmmakers and performers.  He’s spotted by the patriarchal auteur Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) as he’s performing tricks on the side at his busboy job at an L.A. nightspot.  Impressed by his entire…um…package, Horner invites Eddie into the porn fold, and there his triumphs and troubles begin.  Eddie’s eventual transformation into the XXX-star Dirk Diggler is followed in great detail, but this story is really a kind of connective tissue for all the many other tales the film has to offer. Julianne Moore is a top-tier porn actress battling the courts and her ex-husband over custody of their son while using Horner’s coterie of performers as sort of stand-in children. William H. Macy is a meek assistant director struggling with his wife’s brazen infidelity. John C. Reilly is an amiable second-string performer with a penchant for magic tricks who’s attempting to forge a stronger identity for himself. Don Cheadle is another beaten-down porn star who’s finding difficulty breaking into the world of legitimate business. Heather Graham is the sexy but largely innocent Rollergirl, searching for the family she can’t find at home.  And Horner himself is battling pressures to convert to video rather than film – an idea he finds abhorrent (this is especially poignant now, seeing as how this might be your last opportunity to catch BOOGIE NIGHTS on 35mm).   Throw into this mix Philip Seymour Hoffman as a schlubby sound guy, Luis Guzman as an enthusiastic outsider, Robert Ridgely as a troubled producer, Philip Baker Hall as an imposing moneyman, and Ricky Jay as Horner’s loyal editor, and you can get a sense of this film’s great ambition.

Heather Graham plays a sexy, but largely innocent Rollergirl in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

I still find moments in the film to be quite wonderful.  The widescreen cinematography, by Anderson regular Robert Elswit (who would go on to win an Oscar for his work on Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD), is always vibrant and inventive, as is the ’70s-era source music score (which pairs nicely with a sad circus underscore by Michael Penn).  Anderson writes dialogue for dumb people particularly brilliantly, so there’s always funny conversation going on.  The period detail in the garish art direction and costume design are spot-on.  I love seeing Burt Reynolds tearing into a good role, for possibly the last time, and Julianne Moore is lovingly histrionic here, as she would be in Anderson’s MAGNOLIA as well (both received supporting player Oscar nominations).  As always, I find John C. Reilly to be a hoot as Reed Rothschild, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is sweet as the crewman who gets a crush on Eddie (his tortured confession of this to the unsuspecting Wahlberg is perhaps the movie’s most shattering scene).

Alfred Molina in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997

But I also find that many parts don’t work. William H. Macy is a barely-sketched punching bag of a character. Don Cheadle’s story fails to make a deep impression (note: any time you see a character in a white suit, you can bet that thing’s gonna be covered in blood by the end of the scene). And Graham’s Rollergirl, while extremely cute, also seems thinly-written.   It feels like Anderson just has too much movie here for 2 ½ hours to hold (BOOGIE NIGHTS would have been a much better TV series).

Still, though the film owes a bit too much to the GOODFELLAS style of soaring-then-crashing storytelling (with the onslaught of the 1980s being the rather too-obvious turning point), BOOGIE NIGHTS is required viewing if only for its extremely tense final third, which finds Eddie struggling with a cocaine addiction while trying to launch a hilariously ill-thought musical career (the songs, performed bravely and horribly by Wahlberg and Reilly, include the original “Feel My Heat“ and a cover of the closing song to THE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE, “The Touch“).  Particularly memorable in this segment, too, is one of the great scenes in movie history, where Wahlberg, Reilly and ne’er-do-well Thomas Jane are stuck inside a free-basing coke-dealer’s house.  The gun-toting dealer is played with a maniac’s energy by Alfred Molina; he’s so coked up, he has no idea that these three are planning to rip him off.  With firecrackers being thrown left and right by his houseboy, he holds the guys semi-hostage as he insists on playing “Jessie’s Girl” and “Sister Christian” for them on his stereo.  You’ll never hear these two songs in quite the same way again.  It’s really a marvelously scary moment that puts you right there in this mess and gets your heart pounding.

Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

There are many other things I like about the movie: the stiffly-acted porn sequences, shot on a scratchy 16mm; the wonderful tour through one of Horner’s house parties, done in one long shot that recalls a scene out of I AM CUBA, where we follow a girl as she jumps into the pool out back, all to the tune of Eric Burdon’s “Spill the Wine”; and the final shot of the film, which recalls another Scorsese classic, RAGING BULL, but which ends with, at last, a glimpse of what made Dirk Diggler famous.  I wish BOOGIE NIGHTS as a whole was as good as these individual moments, but it’s certainly something worth checking out, especially if you’ve never seen it on the big screen.  And it remains an important film, if only as the breakthrough for an artist like Paul Thomas Anderson who, with each passing work, only seems to be getting better and better.

Dean Treadway is a longtime Atlanta film analyst and film festival programmer with more than 25 years of published works. His popular film blog is called filmicability with Dean Treadway.  He is also a correspondent for Movie Geeks United, the Internet’s #1 movie-related podcast.

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