deadCENTER Film Festival is back with the usual mix of rock and topical documentaries, just this side of Sundance picks and shorts from film students from across the land and here in Oklahoma. Film festival founder Lance McDaniel brings his new film Light from the Darkroom, while other deadCENTER success stories returns with bigger and better films. Grab a schedule and flaunt your cultural capital by taking a date to a flick. Or get lost in the movies yourself.
Below is one critic’s choices of films he is looking forward to this year.
Last Days in Vietnam 5 PM Saturday at Harkins & 3:30 PM Sunday at Harkins
Director Rory Kennedy follows up “Ethel” a moving portrait of her parents, Robert and Ethel Kennedy, with this not often told story of US soldiers and diplomats saving the lives of their South Vietnamese allies during the last days of the occupation of a deeply unpopular war. There is a great resurgence of interest in this time period, from Broadway send-ups of the Johnson White House to AMC’s Mad Men. Rory’s father Bobby was one of the first Senators and Presidential hopefuls to see that the war was making irrevocable damage of the country’s spirit. It will be interesting to see what kind of stories of American valor in the face of this that Rory Kennedy has saved from being lost to history.
Hellion. 8 PM Friday Oklahoma City Museum of Art
Emmy winning actor Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad heads this gritty feature helmed by Kat Candler, who won The Best Narrative Feature at the festival last year. This one also played at Sundance and stars the perennially Oklahoma-sounding, vixen Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear; Natural Born Killers; August: Osage County). A Southeast Texas family is in dysfunctional trouble. High drama, metal music, motor cross, and Aaron Paul’s dreamy rasp will surely play a part. Get there early, this one will attract good buzz fast.
This May Be the Last Time 8 PM Saturday Oklahoma City Museum of Art. 4:30 PM Sunday
Holdenville native Sterlin Harjo shows that music runs river deep and mountain high. Like Last Days in Vietnam, the documentarian aims to save something for history, the Creek songs of his ancestors. Harjo presents Muskogee, Creek and Seminole hymns, a unique style of singing that blended European music with plantation gospels and indigenous music. Told through a first-person voice-over by Harjo, the film travels through rural southeastern Oklahoma to uncover the stories of these songs and meet the people that keep it alive. Also, expect these songs to sound haunting and great with audio work by Royce Sharp that was praised in The Hollywood Reporter’s review of this heartfelt picture.
Frank Thursday 8:30 PM Harkins & 3 PM Sunday Oklahoma City Museum of Art
It’s pretty hard to pass up two Oscar nominated actors. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) head up an indie rock band on the run. One of them won’t take off his mask, quite an interesting way for Fassbender to follow up one of the strongest supporting roles executed in years period. The intrigue is there. I would guess a strong soundtrack and enough off-kilter laughs to satisfy.
Comedy Shorts 7 PM Thursday Harkins & 7:30 Saturday Harkins
The best way to sample a variety of talent is through the shorts. In my experience covering the festival the comedy ones are usually the most rewarding, featuring local and national filmmakers. There’s love and family stories. There’s a story of medical intrigue from France. And of course a humorous take on the zombie craze, Life’s a Bitch and Then Your Dead featuring okie native and deadCENTER alum Brand Rackley and directed by Bryce Holland.