The big question regarding CineVegas' 10th-anniversary lineup: What would they do for an encore, after last year's opening-night "Ocean's Thirteen" bash, complete with star-studded red-carpet premiere and Darfur benefit?
Wisely, CineVegas honchos realized they couldn't possibly compete. Instead, the entertainment capital of the world's resident film festival has opted for opening- and closing-night attractions that focus on the showbiz's endless allure.
Opening CineVegas June 12 at the Palms' Brenden Theatres: the world premiere of "The Rocker," a comedy featuring "The Office's" Rainn Wilson as a has-been rock drummer who was kicked out of his own band years ago — and takes a second shot at rock stardom with his nephew's group.
Closing CineVegas June 21: "The Great Buck Howard," with John Malkovich as the title mentalist. Colin Hanks (yes, his dad's named Tom) co-stars as the title character's new assistant, but the Hanks connection goes further — not only is papa Tom in the cast, but his Playtone production company is behind this movie, which debuted at January's Sundance Film Festival — where CineVegas artistic director Trevor Groth is one of the programmers.
Another Vegas connection for "The Great Buck Howard": Las Vegas Academy grad Matthew Gray Gubler, who joins Steve Zahn, Emily Blunt, Ricky Jay and a host of others in the cast.) Steve two-time Oscar-winner— and Colin Hanks (yes, his dad's named Tom) as the title character's new assistant.
In between, the CineVegas lineup features the usual eclectic array of world premieres, sneak peeks at upcoming indies that already have distribution, cultish "Area 51" attractions and a new focus on documentaries, two of which focus on legendary figures: Hunter S. Thompson ("Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson") and Las Vegas Sun editor and publisher Hank Greenspun ("Where I Stand").
The Greenspun connection with CineVegas goes even deeper, of course: Daniel A. Greenspun, Hank's son and chairman of Greenspun Media Group, owns CineVegas with his wife Robin, who's festival president.
But enough corporate backrgound — let's get to the movies!
Here's a rundown on this year's CineVegas attractions, as featured in the festival's announcement of its 10th-anniversary lineup. For more info, call CineVegas as 992-7979 or click on www.cinevegas.com. (Passes and ticket packages are already on sale.)
Additional CineVegas news — honorees, special events, etc. — will be announced shortly, so stay tuned to the Review-Journal (and your humble correspondent) for all the details; and check Thursday's R-J for a story with even more schedule details.
Here's the lineup:
A collection of highly anticipated world premieres
Big Heart City
Director: Ben Rodkin (USA, 2007)
An indolent gambling addict attempts to pick up the pieces after the unexplained disappearance of his pregnant girlfriend.
Director: Rachel Samuels (USA, 2008)
A stylish noir fever dream of blues music, seduction, and murder set in a visually dazzling fantasy of the early 1930’s.
Happy Birthday, Harris Malden
Directors: Juan Cardarelli, Ben Davidow, Nick Gregorio, Eric Levy and Matthew Sanchez
Harris Malden has an obvious secret. He fakes his facial hair.
Director: Josh Fox (USA, 2008)
A ferocious ensemble blurs the lines between documentary and feature film, staging a guerilla filmmaking assault on one of America’s favorite beach towns.
She Unfolds by Day
Director: Wolf Belgum (USA, 2008)
What began as documentary becomes fiction. What began as fiction becomes a study of nature.
South of Heaven
Director: J.L. Vara (USA, 2008)
A man returns home from serving his country, and must search for his missing brother who is caught up in a crime spree in the Wild West.
Your Name Here
Director: Matthew Wilder (USA, 2008)
America's greatest science-fiction writer (Bill Pullman) awakes to discover himself, like one of his characters, trapped in an alternate reality ... and then another ... and another ... and …
Documentary features capturing subjects who defy odds and expectations
Director: Aaron Rose (USA, 2008)
Feature documentary film celebrating the independent and D.I.Y. spirit that unified a loose-knit group of American artists who emerged from the underground youth subcultures of skateboarding, graffiti, punk rock and hip-hop.
Chelsea on the Rocks
Director: Abel Ferrara (USA, 2008)
A portrait of New York's legendary Chelsea Hotel.
Director: Nicola Collins (USA, 2008)
Against the background of the East End of London England, first time filmmaker Nicola Collins explores the fascinating complexity of the lives of her father and his friends; infamous criminals that shaped their war torn environment into a violent underworld.
Hi My Name is Ryan
Directors: Paul Eagleston and Stephen Rose (USA, 2008)
Hi My Name is Ryan gives a glimpse into the life of Ryan Chadwick Avery, the milk and cookies connoisseur, the photo booth artist, the fake mustache aficionado and the punk rock performance artist who was rightfully dubbed the Clown Prince of the downtown Phoenix art scene.
Last Cup: Road to the World Series of Beer Pong
Director: Dan Lindsay (USA, 2008)
A documentary that follows four individuals as they compete in the 2nd Annual World Series of Beer Pong.
Lost in the Fog
Director: John Corey (USA, 2007)
A cantankerous owner and his blue collar colt earn the right to take on horse racing's finest but the equine gods intervene at the last minute to turn this would-be fairy tale upside down.
LA PRÓXIMA OLA
Highlighting the next wave of Mexican films and directors
Directors: Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán (Mexico, 2007)
Set in the Sierra Tarahumara of northwest Mexico, Cochochi recounts the humble story of two Raramuri boys and their efforts to find a lost horse.
Director: Gael García Bernal (Mexico, 2007)
Actor Gael García Bernal’s directing debut is infused with an infectious, youthful energy, voyeuristically following his complex characters at a house party just outside of Mexico City.
¿Dónde Están Sus Historias? (Where Are Their Stories?)
Director: Nicolás Pereda (Mexico, 2008)
In order to save his grandmother’s property, a small-town man must move to the big city and face a new reality, estranged people and an impenetrable legal system.
A special section of documentaries about the city and the people behind the scenes
Where I Stand
Director: Scott Goldstein (USA, 2008)
Anthony Hopkins narrates the untold story of newspaper publisher Hank Greenspun, whose “Where I Stand” column changed the face of Nevada and the nation.
The best new independent films available for U.S. distribution
Director: Mark Webber (USA, 2008)
Young love, drugs and poverty collide in the city of Philadelphia creating a beautiful tale of hope and the power of coming together.
Finally, Lillian and Dan
Director: Mike Gibisser (USA, 2007)
An awkward, little love story.
Director: David Zellner (USA, 2008)
A recently divorced man tries to find the one aspect of his marriage that still matters to him: his missing cat, Goliath.
Director: Abel Ferrara (USA, 2008)
With a bump-and-grind soundtrack, a terrific (and pulchritudinous) cast and a delightfully improvisatory flow, Abel Ferrara’s strip club comedy, starring Willem Dafoe as the failing club’s indefatigable showman, interweaves multiple storylines with terrific panache.
Director: Jared Drake (USA, 2007)
One day, repressed people begin exploding. Like the rest of the population, George Washington Winsterhammerman tries to ignore the epidemic and live his usual life, but then he suffers his first symptom: a dream.
Director: Jake Mahaffy (USA, 2007)
An independent feature about a man trying to succeed in a business that doesn’t exist.
Advance screenings of high profile independent studio films
The Black List: Volume One
Director: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (USA, 2008)
22 living portraits by leading African Americans on race, struggle and the seeds of success.
Director: Clark Gregg (USA, 2007)
A wickedly colorful dark comedy starring Sam Rockwell about mothers and sons, sexual compulsion, and the sordid underbelly of colonial theme parks.
Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin’ With the Godmother
Director: Billy Corben (USA, 2008)
The true story of multi-millionaire cocaine dealer Charles Cosby, who soon learns that he's in way over his head.
The Cool School
Director: Morgan Neville (USA, 2007)
The story of Los Angeles’ legendary Ferus Gallery and the birth of the West Coast modern art scene.
GONZO: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Director: Alex Gibney (USA, 2008)
A fast moving, wildly entertaining documentary looking into the uncanny life of national treasure and gonzo journalism inventor Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
Hank and Mike
Director: Matthiew Klinck (USA, 2008)
Pink. Pissed. Unemployed.
Help Me Eros
Director: Lee Kang-sheng (USA, 2007)
A young stockbroker is left penniless after a stock market crash and soon indulges in a world of erotic and psychedelic pleasures.
The Last Mistress
Director: Catherine Breillat (USA, 2007)
Set in 19th century France, The Last Mistress chronicles the love affair between a tempestuous Spanish mistress and a distinguished, well-bred French man.
Director: Azazel Jacobs (USA, 2008)
A 30-something man stays in his parents’ downtown loft on a business trip, and finds excuses to stay after his consulting job is finished, instead of returning home to his wife and newborn.
The Rocker (Opening Night Film)
Director: Peter Cattaneo (USA, 2008)
The Rocker tells the story of a failed drummer who is given a second chance at fame. Robert "Fish" Fishman is the extremely dedicated and astoundingly passionate drummer for the eighties hair band Vesuvius, who is living the rock n' roll dream until he is unceremoniously kicked out of the band. Twenty years after his rock star fantasies are destroyed, just when Fish has finally given up all hope, he hears that his nephew's high school rock band, A.D.D., is looking for a new drummer. They reluctantly make him the newest member of the band, giving him a chance to reclaim the rock God throne he's always thought he deserved, and taking the young band along for the ride of their lives.
The Great Buck Howard (Closing Night Film)
Director: Sean McGinly (USA, 2008)
Law-school dropout Troy Gable (Colin Hanks) answers an ad for a “personal assistant to a celebrity performer,” not knowing that the performer is Buck Howard (John Malkovich), a "mentalist" infamous for his 61 appearances on The Tonight Show, who has been reduced to a has-been magician in need of a pretty big trick to get him out of this slump.
An underground collection of cult and midnight movies for the most hardcore fans
The Juche Idea
Director: Jim Finn (USA, 2008)
A film about a South Korean video artist who comes to a North Korean art residency to help bring Juche cinema into the 21st century.
Mock-Up on Mu
Director: Craig Baldwin (USA, 2008)
A dense, obsessive found-footage "collage narrative" that braids the threads of post-war California culture - Aerospace, Beatniks, and New Age spirituality - into a conceptual Chinese finger-trap ensnaring L. Ron Hubbard and Lockheed Martin's evil fingers.
Director: Giuseppe Andrews (USA, 2008)
A force named Schoof began its rampage of Earth in a slow, subtle manner and in the end, it will take a scientist, a willing test subject and a group choral to save the galaxy.
Director: Gordon Douglas (USA, 1954)
The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization.
NEVADA FILMMAKING FEATURES
Features produced in Nevada or by local filmmakers
Director: Francisco Menéndez (USA, 2008)
Three cousins (primos) separated as young boys during the civil war in El Salvador, journey to Las Vegas due to their grandfather's failing health. Now the reunited cousins must overcome a love triangle, a lethal gambling debt and familial revenge.
Sonic Youth: Sleeping Nights Awake
Director: Michael Albright (USA, 2007)
A documentary about Sonic Youth shot by seven high school students in Reno, NV on the 4th of July.
Women in Boxes
Directors: Phil Noyes and Harry Pallenberg (USA, 2008)
The first and only documentary that discloses the secret lives of Magic's Better Half: the Magician’s Assistant.
NEVADA FILMMAKING SHORTS
Short films produced in Nevada or by local filmmakers
The 7th Claus (Director: Nick Simon, 2008)
Growing up Vegas (Director: Amber Beard, 2007)
Jack The Ripper (Director: Jonpaul Lewis, 2007)
Lactose Intolerant (Director: David Christenson, 2007)
One Two Punch (Director: Timothy L. Anderson, 2008)
Passenger Seat (Director: Mike Thompson, 2007)
Wedding Day (Director: David Schmoeller, 2008)
The Festival will also feature a selection of student films from the CSN and UNLV programs.
These short films embody the creative nature of independent filmmaking. Some will be shown before features, while others are combined to make feature-length programs.
The Acquaintances of a Lonely John (Director: Benny Safdie, 2008)
Alex and her Arse Truck (Director: Sean Conway, 2007)
Alternate Ending (Director: David Fenster, 2007)
A Catalog of Anticipations (Director: David Lowery, 2007)
Chonto (Director: Carson Mell, 2007)
The Clay Head (Director: Tom Barndt, 2008)
Clear Glasses (Director: Sam Green, 2008)
Cowboy (Director: Matthew Modine, 2008)
The Drift (Director: Kelly Sears, 2007)
The Fence (Director: Allan Steele, 2008)
flok (Director: Andrew Mausert-Mooney, 2008)
Glory at Sea (Director: Benh Zeitlin, 2008)
Home (Director: Kevin Everson, 2008)
Home (Director: Liliana Greenfield-Sanders, 2008)
I’m Pretty, Too (Director: Matt Jespersen, 2007)
Jerry Ruis, Shall We Do This? (Director: Josh Safdie, 2007)
Lección relámpago (Flash Lesson) (Director: Alejandro Lubezki, 2007)
Little Minx Exquisite Corpse: Come Wander with Me (Director: Phillip Van, 2008)
Little Minx Exquisite Corpse: She Walked Calmly Disappearing into the Darkness (Director: Malik Hassan Sayeed, 2008)
Man (Director: Myna Joseph, 2007)
Mr. P (Director: Jacob Vaughan, 2008)
Out of Print (Director: Danny Plotnick, 2008)
Plot Point (Director: Nicolas Provost, 2007)
The Problem with Machines (That Communicate) (Director: Matt McCormick, 2008)
Sick Sex (Director: Justin Nowell, 2007)
Sikumi (Director: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, 2008)
The Sleuth Incident (Director: Jason Kupfer, 2008)
Small Apartment (Director: Andrew Betzer, 2008)
Stars and Suns (Director: Sarah Soquel Morhaim, 2008)
To Kill an American (Director: Matthew Modine, 2008)