The Picture Show

A Shlocky Dallas Returns

Whenever Hollywood producers decide to remake a television show from the 1970s or ’80s—Starsky & Hutch or 21 Jump Street, to name two of dozens—they tend to shoot it as a movie rather than a new TV series. It’s hard to say why; Hollywood has a logic all its own. Maybe it’s because they feel […]

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A Gaze into the Abyss

In October 2001, Jason Burkett and Michael Perry shot and killed Sandra Stotler in her home in Conroe, a small city about 40 miles north of Houston. After dumping her body in a nearby lake, the two returned to Stotler’s neighborhood, where they murdered her son Adam and his friend Jeremy Richardson after coaxing them […]

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Bernie Packs Folksiness But Little Depth

In the Hollywood imagination, Texas generally means West Texas. Writers and directors think about the state and see a vast, wide-open landscape that stretches to infinity, unchanging and stark, a place for lost souls and big dreamers and criminals unmoored from society. A land made for wide-angle lenses. Think of The Last Picture Show or […]

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The Zellner Brothers Embrace Awkwardness

Ever since the Hollywood studios realized back in the 1990s that there was money to be made in hitching their wagons to the careers of up-and-coming independent filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Edward Burns, the Sundance Film Festival has been struggling to maintain its identity as a home for movies produced outside the […]

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JFK’s Cinematic Legacy

Several years ago, I visited a friend in Dallas. While I was there I went to Dealey Plaza, scene of one of the most infamous crimes in American history. There I saw the fateful curve in the road where Houston and Elm streets meet, gazed upon the famous grassy knoll, and looked up at the […]

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Documentary’s Focus Is Subject to Debate

Now that Friday Night Lights has completed its fifth and final season, it might be an appropriate time for our football-crazy state to consider activities for its youth that don’t require sacrificing life or limb. How about, say, speech and debate tournaments? What better to replace the head-crunching ferocity of football than the head-scratching delight […]

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Coming Home

The small town of Hancock in Michigan’s sparsely populated Upper Peninsula is a land of snow drifts, saw mills and economic decline. It’s the kind of place where abandoned factories become teenage hangouts. Five years ago, U.P. native-turned-Austinite Heather Courtney returned home with a notion about shooting a documentary that would capture a truth about […]

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Slacking off in Austin

Though few people listened to the Velvet Underground when they were making records in the 1960s, it’s said that those who did went off and started bands of their own. Something similar happened 20 years ago when writer/director Richard Linklater released Slacker. Not many people saw the movie at the time, but many who did […]

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Documenting Dissent

In September 2008, disgusted with the Bush administration and fueled by anger over the Iraq War, two best friends from Midland drove from Austin to St. Paul, Minnesota, to protest at the Republican National Convention. At the tender ages of 22 and 23, respectively, David McKay and Bradley Crowder were wide-eyed idealists when they arrived—new […]

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The Triumph of Hud

About 10 years ago, I read an article about the 35th anniversary of The Graduate making the case that the film’s legendary one-word warning against conformity—“plastics”—had not only lost its revolutionary resonance over the ensuing four decades, it had been turned entirely on its head. To twenty-something moviegoers in the early aughts, the author argued, […]

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