October 21st, 2011. It’s Day Two of the Austin Film Festival and Caroline Thompson is in town to receive the Distinguished Screenwriter Award for a career of achievement including “Edward Scissorhands,” “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” “The Secret Garden,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Black Beauty,” “Corpse Bride,” and “City of Ember.”
As we sit down for a chat in the comfy lounge of the historic Stephen F. Austin Hotel, I’m struck by Ms. Thompson’s confident yet unassuming demeanor. Sporting geek-chic glasses and a jaunty muave scarf, she is not only friendly and approachable but eager to share. This is “the screenwriter’s festival”, after all, and it is (sadly) rare that writers in the film industry receive the level of attention and respect they are given at AFF.
After a brief chat about our fair city, the beauty of the Paramount Theater, and some fun around town, we jump right in to a conversation about the work, the wisdom she’s earned along the way, and the whimsy she’s given us all.
DW: First off, congratulations on your award.
CT: Thank you. It’s kind of a treat out of nowhere.
DW: In addition to the awards banquet, there’s a screening of Edward Scissorhands tonight so I thought we’d start with him. It’s 20 years later…
CT: 21 years. Edward came of age this year. (laughs)
DW: What does it feel like to have your first screenplay become a beloved classic? Would you ever have guessed that it would happen that way? Read the rest of this entry »
My picks from the Austin Film Festival are four strong. I saw more but I liked these the best.
Three of which are gonna be Oscar contenders( or should be).
“The Road, The Messenger and Precious…..” all blew me away.
Now, the way I do this festival is to not do any research on the premise or the stories of the films. Sometimes I am tipped off by the buzz, sometimes not. And yes, sometimes I win and sometimes I see some bad stuff, but I never have any expectations. Surprise of greatness is an awesome experience in film watching.
First was “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire.” This screened to a sold out Paramount audience. There is truly no better way to screen a film. I don’t believe there was a dry eye in the house when the credits rolled. God, it was brutal. This girl’s life was so sad and harsh but there was love that climbed out from the darkness. Truly inspiring. The writing and the cast were so tight that I felt like I was watching a documentary more than once. You will hear more about this in weeks to come
“Pocket Full of Soul” did it for me. It was a documentary on the harmonica. It was music to my ears. I learned more about a subject that I know a “little” about.Man I wish I could play that thing. I do love that sound.
Next up was“The Messenger.” The buzz about this was huge. It was co-written and directed by the screenwriter of “I’m Not There,” the Bob Dylan film. It starred Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster as” death notice officers” for the Army. The folks that deliver the bad news. Both of these guys were great. Ben Foster just shined. I’m gonna say best actor but who knows we have a few months. The pace was slow. The acting was the gift here. “The Road” played to a full house at the Paramount.I liked this the best. It was bleak but very fine tuned. I found out that night that it was from a novel. Post apocalyptic wandering father and son, Viggo Mortenson and Kodi Smit Mcphee dodge cannabals and search for food on the never ending path to a warmer place. I normally avoid films with kids as main actors, expecially these type of films. I had no problem here. Everything worked. This was well done . This film is sure to garner some awards. Bring a sweater when you see this one.
That was my Austin Film Fest 09 see yall next …………………….
I love the Driscoll . For the past many years,the heart of this fest has been at the Driskill. Aside from a few scattered interviews, this fest is my main reason for being there. Surrounded by the buzz of screenwriters, (as the screenwriting conference takes place there) really charges me. Head on over a check it out. They still have film fest passes for sale. The films go on all over town, all week. It is a great deal and it has always been so. For the first many years of the paper, before I knew about credentials, I would buy a film pass. Check out the schedule here. To me the vibe is easier going than SxSw. If you dig movies this is your fest!
And you know what that probably means.. yet another festival! Today marked opening day of the Austin Film Festival. The Opening night film was the much anticipated W. Oliver Stone spoke at the festival last year and we got to hear about some of the ideas that he had for this film and now he has brought the finished product for us to preview. Bree will be posting a review soon, but to tide you over, here is video of the red carpet interviews that I did with James Cromwell and relative newcomer Jennifer Sipes.
[fa:p:id=2113795312,j=r,s=s,l=p]AUSTIN DAZE: Your current film,Reservation Road, is a family drama. I understand your next project returns to global political issues. Can you tell me more about it?
TERRY GEORGE: It’s a biopic based on the life of Sergio Vieira de Mello. He was a Brazilian UN Diplomat who was killed by the first Al Qaeda bomb in Baghdad. And Sergio had all through his life worked for the UN but with no attachment to any country. Read the rest of this entry »
I have had a girl crush on Mary Stuart Masterson ever since, well, I was old enough to have a girl crush. I wore out my VHS copy of Some Kind of Wonderful as a teenager, saved my money from working at Whataburger to buy a drum kit, and painted it pink. I then found I keep better rhythm typing than banging. We are all better off.
My heart pounded when I found out she would be at the showing of The Cake Eaters, which she directed. It is the story of a terminally ill 15-year-old girl named Georgia, who wants to explore her sexuality with a boy that works in her school cafeteria. His name is Beagle. What a dog this boy is…. just kidding. He is actually too nice of a boy really.
So did I mention that I absolutely love Mary Stuart Masterson? It was all I could do during the Q & A session to not ask her where she got those fabulous shoes!
Oh, yes the movie…. Georgia is stricken with FA (http://www.mdausa.org/disease/fa.html), a disease that limits her ability to walk. The story moved a little slow for me, but the characterization was excellent and the acting was incredible with Bruce Dern anchoring the cast.
Which brings me back to girl crushes, because I have to admit I have also had one on Laura Dern for as long as I can remember. If I could invite four people to dinner, it would be Mary Stuart Masterson, Laura Dern, Jessica Lange and Ann-Margaret. Girl crush Heaven.
I subtitle this film; “Peer Pressure and People Pleasing will get you in to a whole lot of Trouble, Darling.”
Tracy Orbison is a naïve young man who writes poetry, is addicted to food, has no self-esteem and thereby allows himself to be completely manipulated by pretty much everyone he comes into contact with. My reaction was that those people were a drag, but unfortunately, that is probably how this scenario would play out in real life. We live in a world where sincerity and trust often receive harsh punishments, so we all have to be careful. Apparently Mr. Orbison missed that day of class.
His need for approval is enhanced by his weight problem, and winds up getting him falsely accused of sex crimes and fired from his job. Not a good day. Still, the movie ends with you feeling hopeful for him, the charges are dropped, and you hope he finds a meeting of Codependent’s Anonymous.
William Baldwin plays a real slime bag, and does a wonderful job of it. Insert your own joke here.
Are we blessed or are we blessed? The Austin Film Festival brings us some of the best in independent cinema every fall. I only wish I could take the whole week off and see everything that I would like to.
[fa:p:a=72157594267830938,id=292609754,j=r,s=s,l=p]AUSTIN DAZE: When Hill Street Blues came out did you know that you had changed the face of TV?
DAVID MILCH: I think the blessing of Hill Street Blues had to do with not looking at the big picture. At that point, I was just glad to have a job. It was the first writing for television that I had ever done so I was just trying to learn my craft. Read the rest of this entry »
[fa:p:a=72157594267830938,id=292610317,j=r,s=s,l=p]AUSTIN DAZE: How does directing this film compare to acting?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: I really like directing a lot more because I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t like the hair and make – up – well I don’t mind make – up but I would prefer my own. Read the rest of this entry »
AUSTIN DAZE: What is the Austin Film Festival and how long has it been around?AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: This is the 13th year. We are an 8 day festival and have 150 screenings. Read the rest of this entry »