Pop Rocks: The Year In Houston Movies
Like most years, 2009 wasn't hugely eventful for Houston as a movie
town. There wasn't a big, locally filmed tentpole release like
Armageddon, and most news revolved around the death of one of
the city's biggest celebrities or, to a much lesser extent, the
inaugural Cinema Arts Festival.
Some movies this year -- whether big studio releases, indie horror, or as-yet-unreleased -- did have at least a tenuous Houston connection. Here are a few.
AKA That Movie Where Jessica Biel Gets Naked. This was also
the last feature film role for Patrick Swayze, who plays Velvet, the
strip-club owner. Surprisingly, neither this fact nor the presence of
Biel's nekkididity were able to keep Powder Blue from pretty
much going straight to DVD.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Directed by Houstonian Wes Anderson, this stop-motion feature is less
noteworthy for the presence of George Clooney as the title character
than for Anderson's unique directing style, which involved him
spending most of the film's shoot in Paris and giving
instructions via email. Then there was that whole thing about not
knowing much at all about how stop-motion works.
H-Town doesn't come off in the best light in this doc about the
"Amazon Chernobyl" lawsuit brought by 30,000 Ecuadorans against
Chevron-Texaco. Hey, give 'em a break, they were just doing their part
to keep Houston rich, is all.
Houston's history with low-budget suspense/horror fare isn't the
greatest (email me if you want examples), but that could change with
Kerry Beyer's Spirit Camp, billed as Friday the 13th
meets Bring It On, only -- one assumes -- minus the latter's
politics. It's been receiving positive notices following its debut
here in September. You can argue that our city needs better traffic
management or less pollution; I say we need more cheerleader-themed
The Tree of Life
Terence Malick's recent history has been spotty. Whether you loved or
hated The Thin Red Line or The New World, chances
are you either loved or hated them. Malick doesn't leave a lot of room
for middle ground, and the upcoming Tree of Life, shot
partially here and delayed from an announced 2009 release, looks to
continue this trend. Described as a "cosmic epic" and starring Brad
Pitt and Sean Penn, it sounds suspiciously similar in style to Darren
Aronofsky's The Fountain, which also polarized audiences.
Whether Malick can return to Days of Heaven/Badlands form
remains to be seen.
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