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USA Film Festival Picks

by Stephen Becker 28 Apr 2010 6:44 AM

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:


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:


Photos: USA Film Festival


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.

  • I’m going to throw my 2-cents in and recommend His Name is Bob. Bob is a lovely man who graces the streets of Lower Greenville and his beloved Deep Ellum. He’s always got a smile and a story to tell.

  • The bumper sticker said it well: “Focus on Your Own Damn Family.”

    8: The Mormon Proposition, reflects the efforts of those that created it and us that are in it, to hold OUR (now former) church accountable for the pain they knowingly inflicted on OUR families.

    – The documentary IS NOT about disagreeing with the church’s moral standards or their right to spend their money on issues they feel are important.

    – It IS about hypocrisy; how a church (that says it is all about “being honest in our dealings with our fellow men”), knowingly created and funded dishonest ads to promote their own moral agenda; and (by their own admissions) hid their involvement. The Church stated in their own documents, that if the voters knew the extent of the church’s involvement, it would negatively impact the vote.

    – This documentary does not claim that the LDS Church did this alone, even though at its strong urging, its members (only 2% of the voters) donated over 70% of the money contributed and over 90% of the volunteer efforts.

    We would hope the displeased members of other groups, be they Catholic, Protestant, African American, Latino, Baptist…, would hold their leaders accountable as well.

    Anyone feeling to criticize it should see it first. You will find as Variety’s review states: “8” actually spends more time trying to humanize homosexuals than to demonize those who hate them.

    Opens in selected cities June 18th, and on VOD. Available on DVD July 6th.

    Watch the NEW trailer:

  • 10th Annual Shortie Digital Film Awards
    Presented by MHZ Networks
    Sponsored by CRSTE

    Join us to celebrate and premiere youth-created media from around the world!
    On May 23rd at 2 p.m. at La Maison Francaise in Washington, DC!
    RSVP by sending in your name and number of people in your party to [email protected] by May 20th.

    The Shortie Awards: Film & News Festival is the premiere film festival for students ages 7 to 18 and their teachers!

    Entry Categories: Live Action: Narrative, Documentary, Experimental, PSA, Music Video, or Other

    Animation: Stop-Motion, Claymation, Machinima, Digital, or Other Daily News Program

    Age Categories: 7-10, 11-14, 15-18, and K-12

    Established in 2001, The Shortie Awards: Student Film and News Festival recognizes original digital media productions created by student filmmakers, ages 7-18, and their teachers. The Shortie Awards focuses on nurturing imagination and choice making in students.

    The Shortie Awards is part of MHz Networks’ Education Department. The event grew out of the Department’s EAT (Education Arts and Technology) program for young filmmakers in the Washington D.C. area and has since blossomed into a national and even international event, featuring submissions from all over the world.

    Check out for more information.

  • His Name Is Bob is getting close to sell out. Buy your tickets before it is too late. Currently the only showing in the Dallas/Ft Worth area.

    Thanks so much for the pick!!!