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Movie Ink Picks: Oak Cliff Film Festival 2012

The inaugural Oak Cliff Film Festival begins its four-day festival season this Thursday evening. The programming schedule includes documentaries, feature films, short films, music videos, and events. Here’s a short list of Movie Ink‘s recommended viewing:

WIll Keenan (far right) leads a gang of juvenile delinquents from space in ‘The Ghastly Love of Johnny X’.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (7:30pm, June 14, Texas Theatre)
Writer-director Paul Bunnell’s strange brew of 1950s-style B-grade sci-fi horror, juvenile delinquent melodrama, and pop musical starring Troma veteran Will Keenan as an exiled trouble maker from another planet. A labor of love by Bunnell, painstakingly photographed on the last of Kodak’s 35mm black-and-white Plus X film stock. The cast also includes such vets as Creed Bratton (The Office), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Kate Maberly (The Secret Garden), Paul Williams (Phantom of the Paradise) and the late Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) in his final role.

Sunrise (9pm, June 15, Texas Theatre)
A rare public screening of F. W. Murnau’s (Nosferatu) 1927 silent-era morality tale about a married farmer corrupted by a wanton woman and lead to the brink of murder. One of the great Expressionist films of the era and a major work in world cinema, its ground-breaking cinematography won an Academy Award at the first ever Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Austin-based band My Education will provide a live score during the screening.

Eurocrime! The Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s (7pm, June 16, Bishop Arts Theatre)
Mike Malloy’s documentary feature explores the violent Italian poliziotteschi film movement of the 1970s. Spun out of the popularity American crime films like Dirty Harry and The French Connection, the movement addressed more distinctly Italian issues such as organized crime and red terrorism. Rushed methods of production saw stars performing their own stunts, lots of shot-stealing shots, and a lack of live sound, and often the line between real-life and movie crime became blurred.

Renee Zellwegger in ‘Love and a .45’.

Love and a .45 (8pm, June 16, Texas Theatre)
The festival presents the official 18th anniversary screening of C. M. Talkington’s cock-eyed crime/romance comedy, with the writer-director in attendance. Gil Bellows stars as Watty, a career convenience store robber who forced on the run with his girlfriend (Renee Zellwegger, in her first lead role) with Watty’s crazy ex-partner (Rory Cochrane), the police, and loan sharks on their tail. A quirky cult fave from the ’90s, filmed in and around Austin with an eclectic cast that includes Jeffrey Combs, Peter Fonda, and Wiley Wiggins.

Mads Brügger is ‘The Ambassador’.

The Ambassador (3:15pm, June 17, The Kessler Theater)
Danish filmmaker Mads Brügger plumbs the depths of corruption on the African continent in this funny, haunting, and revealing documentary. Brügger manages to score ambassador credentials and goes undercover, exploring a world where diplomatic accreditation is dispensed for the right fee and a man may cross international and moral boundaries with ease, indulging in secret state-affairs and red-carpet treatment. A stunning satire.

Bunohan (5:30pm, June 17, Texas Theatre)
This Malaysian import presents a complex story of murder, passion, and haunting memories for three estranged brothers and their ailing father — think William Shakespeare’s King Lear with Muay Thai kickboxing — no, really. That said, Bunohan is part of the current wave of intense and intensely personal art house dramas currently permeating the Malaysian cinema.

George Clooney is ‘The Fantastic Mr. Fox’.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:30pm, June 17, Dallas Zoo)
The festival will close with a special outdoor screening of Wes Anderson’s exceptional stop-motion comedy at the Dallas Zoo. An adaptation of Roald Dahl’s novel, it stars the voice of George Clooney as a middle-aged fox who can’t seem to give up chicken stealing, even when the consequences become dire. One of Anderson’s best works, featuring the voices of Meryl Strep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Michael Gambon, Willem Defoe, and Owen Wilson.

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About Gary Dowell

Professional film critic, journalist, Byronic hero.

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