The 40th USA Film Festival kicks off today at the Angelika Film Center. So you’re probably wondering: “What should I see? If only someone could offer a little guidance.”
Consider your wish granted:
Harry Brown – Michael Caine stars as the title character – a widower who’s had enough of a gang ruining his neighborhood. In a way, Harry Brown is the British Gran Torino, in which only the older guy still has any sense of common decency, and so he must take justice into his own hands to make things right. (The other common link is not being able to understand what these guys are saying half the time – Caine and his Cockney accent and Eastwood and his throat full of gravel.) Harry Brown is worth seeing if for no other reason than to be reminded that Michael Caine can still rough it up with the best of them. In one scene, after torturing a drug dealer to within an inch of his life, Brown tells his victim that he’s about to shoot him in the knee cap if he doesn’t give up a piece of information. “And I don’t think you can take much more of this,” Brown adds. Tarantino couldn’t have said it better. (7 p.m.)
8: The Mormon Proposition – This documentary looks at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ support of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008. The law ultimately overturned the rights of same-sex couples in the state to marry. The film is narrated by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Milk, and is directed by Reed Cowan, who came to Dallas as a Mormon missionary in the early ’90s. (7 p.m.)
His Name is Bob – Filmmakers Lisa Johnson, J. Sebastian Lee and Heather Lee followed an East Dallas homeless man for six years to make this film. Along the way, he tells them about life on the street and the horrible upbringing that put him there. (7 p.m.)
Breaking the Press – Dallas filmmaker Andrew Stevens wrote, directed and co-financed this retelling of the prodigal son story from the Bible. In it, a basketball coach adopts two sons as toddlers. One grows up to be the school’s Dirk Nowitzki while the other is more in the Eddie Najera mode. When the star gets recruited by a bigger school in Dallas, things get a little awkward. How does it end? Read the Bible (or go see the movie). Click here to listen to the KERA radio story about Breaking the Press. (5 p.m.)
Letters to Juliet – This is Amanda Seyfried’s third movie to open this year and it’s only April! In Letters to Juliet, Seyfried, who also stars in HBO’s Big Love, plays an American on vacation in Verona. While there, she joins a group of amateur Dear Abbys who reply to letters written to Shakespeare’s Juliet seeking advice in the ways of love. (7 p.m.)
Click here to view the complete schedule.