Interview: Claudio Sanchez of Coheed & Cambria (2009)


Half-Hawkwind, half-Warped Tour, when Coheed & Cambria played Austin’s Waterloo Park a few years ago, they added Mother Nature’s own Sturm und Drang , when a massive electrical storm hit during the group’s set in Waterloo Park. Since then, the martial stomp of “Welcome Home” has become ad execs’ favorite guitar track, overdriving promotion for Rock Band and the trailer for the Tim Burton-produced animated apocalypse 9.

The post-prog New York quartet also took to the trend of bands resurrecting a classic album live with the Neverender project: Four-night residencies around the world wherein Coheed & Cambria played its entire back catalog. “It was perfect for us to revisit this massive work, because it will certainly influence what happens next,” recalls vocalist, guitarist, and visionary Claudio Sanchez.

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Interview: Meredith Danluck on The Ride (2010)

therideThe cowboy isn’t dead – he’s working the PBR, the Professional Bull Riders circuit. It’s big business, a 32-date traveling extravaganza with all the pizzazz of pro-wrestling and millions of dollars – as well as lives – on the line. Yet the bull riders portrayed in documentarian Meredith Danluck’s debut feature, The Ride, don’t just strap on some chaps, throw on a 10-gallon hat, and feign John Wayne for the crowd. When they’re not risking life and limb on the back of a half-ton of angry beef, they’re a bunch of humble ranchers and small-town dreamers, tapping into something iconic about the Old West.

Richard Whittaker: How does an East Coast filmmaker, working for Spike Jonze’s VBS.TV online news network, get to travel with the PBR?

Meredith Danluck: I’d gone to the Indy 500 and had such an amazing time. When I got back to New York, our creative director Eddy Moretti and [producer] Jeff Yapp said we should do more Americana stuff like this. We should go to the rodeo; we should go to the Kentucky Derby; we should just explore all these things that are mainstream but are outside of our hipster radar. Jeff had just run into some cowboys at an airport bar, and they turned out to be from the PBR. The next weekend, we flew to Nashville, went to a PBR event, and after that I convinced both Jeff and Eddy that we needed to make a feature. Basically, I just badgered the hell out of them until they said, “OK.”

Continue reading Interview: Meredith Danluck on The Ride (2010)

Review: Otis (2008)

otisDirected by Tony Krantz

Starring: Daniel Stern, Illeana Douglas, Kevin Pollak, Jere Burns, Bostin Christopher

Otis is a serial killer, abducting and torturing that most stereotypical of Hollywood victims, the cheerleader. But he’s also slightly incompetent, and after accidentally killing one of his victims too soon, he kidnaps her replacement with plans to make her his latest plaything. Her very dysfunctional family has a very different idea about that. But like the killer’s clueless attempts at playing psycho, this vengeful but overenthusiastic family brings a cheese knife to a manhunt.
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Review: Four Lions (2010)

fourlionsDirected by Chris Morris

Starring Kayvan Novak, Riz Ahmed, Nigel Lindsay, Adeel Akhtar

Ever since the 2005 al Qaeda attacks on London, there has been a siege mentality in the UK. That makes first-time director Morris’ broad comedy about homegrown jihadists in the post-industrial English city of Sheffield so timely and essential. This extraordinary combination of high farce and lo-fi filmmaking is a textured and incisive examination of what drives ordinary people to become suicide bombers – with added exploding crows for giggles.

Controversial British satirist Morris made his reputation as a ruthless critic of the media and government on TV and radio, As he explained during the films debut at SXSW, even with his reputation this was a difficult project on which to sell backers, noting that  they saw it as “delicious like a lobster and revolting like a locust.”

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Review: The Dungeon Masters

dungeonmastersDirector: Keven McAlester

If a group of friends gets together once a week for years to swap stories and share a meal, they’re sociable. Put a Dungeons & Dragons rule book in the middle of the table, and suddenly they’re written off as socially malformed. Rather than picking apart the world of role-playing games or mocking the players, director McAlester’s documentary takes three gamers and shows how tabletop fantasy fits into their lives.
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Review: Smash Cut (2009)

smashcutDirected by Lee Demarbre

Starring: David Hess, Sasha Grey

Somewhere on his car, Lee Demarbre probably has a sticker that says “WWHGLD” – What would Herschell Gordon Lewis Do?

The man behind zero-budget schlocker Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter has placed the man that turned a cow tongue into a star up on a pedestal in one of Fantastic Fest’s quirkier outings (and that’s saying something).

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Review: Camp Victory, Afghanistan (2010)

campvictoryDirected by Carol Dysinger

The people of Afghanistan, who have endured millennia of invasions, have a saying: “You have the clocks; we have the time.” These words open up this depiction of three years in the forgotten war from a group whose voice is seldom heard – the Afghan National Army.

Dysinger liberates the compromised term “embedded journalism” and uses her incredible access to depict a war of inertia and ancient feuds. As foreign forces come and go, the only constant is the haunting central figure of Gen. Fazil Ahmad Sayar.
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Interview: Axelle Carolyn, Mike Mendez and Ryan Schifrin on Tales of Halloween (2015)

Are you afraid of the dark? "Grim Grinning Ghost", producer/director Axelle Carolyn's segment for new horror anthology Tales of Halloween
Are you afraid of the dark? “Grim Grinning Ghost”, producer/director Axelle Carolyn’s segment for new horror anthology Tales of Halloween

When Axelle Carolyn was a kid, she had a cousin who would tell her the most terrifying urban myths. Now, as one of the 11 directors known as the October Society, through their new anthology horror Tales of Halloween she gets to share a small but perfectly formed spooky tale of her own. She said, “Horror lends itself to bite-size chunks of spookiness.”

The bones of the October Society were laid a few years ago, when Carolyn was living in London and commuting regularly to Los Angeles. There she met a cabal of horror enthusiasts, including Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV), Adam Gierasch (Toolbox Murders), Lucky McKee (May, All Cheerleaders Die), and Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones). The undectet joined together to conjure mini-nightmares for their hybrid creation. Carolyn said, “We’ve seen anthologies that have 26 stories and anthologies that have three, and we’re in the middle.”

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Review: Shuttle (2008)

shuttleDirected by Edward Anderson

Starring: Peyton List, Cameron Goodman, Cullen Douglas, Dave Power, James Snyder, Tony Curran

There’s no sinking feeling like taking a cab and the driver going left instead of right, into a bit of town that just can’t be the quickest route. That loss of control is the start of Shuttle‘s horrific road trip, where five travelers get picked up by an airport shuttle, putting their increasingly gory fate in the hands of the stranger at the wheel.

It starts as a dry, subdued thriller, where small acts of violence happen offscreen or silently; the film incrementally ratchets up the tension into a realm some may dismiss as torture-porn.

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Review: The King of Texas (2008)

Directed by René Pinnell & Claire Huie

Starring: Eagle Pennell, Chuck Pinnell, Lin Sutherland, Lou Perryman, Richard Linklater

The restoration of Austin movie classic The Whole Shootin’ Match for last year’s SXSW reintroduced the world to the work of mercurial director Glenn Irwin “Eagle” Pennell: The King of Texas is his nephew René’s attempt to explain the man. Through interviews with those that knew, loved, and sometimes fought with him (including his family, collaborators, and the Chronicle‘s own Louis Black), René portrays an artist who was both role model and cautionary tale. Just as Willie Nelson proved a successful country musician didn’t have to go Nashville, Pennell proved the power and artistry of regional cinema.

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