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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Celebrities visit Sundance for films

Bill Paxton, Steve Berra and Patrick Fugit at the film festival.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Bill Paxton, Steve Berra and Patrick Fugit at the film festival. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

Reviews by Sara Pintilie/reporter

Bill Paxton, Steve Berra and Patrick Fugit at the film festival.  Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian
Bill Paxton, Steve Berra and Patrick Fugit at the film festival. Photo by Sara Pintilie/The Collegian

The first annual Lone Star International Film Festival was held in Sundance Square Nov. 7-11. The event featured screenings of more than 60 international, mainstream and local films. Celebrities, directors and producers made appearances at screenings, parties and red carpet events to show their support.

The Education of Charlie Banks (4 stars)
Directed By Fred Durst
Starring Jason Ritter, Jesse Eisenberg and Eva Amurri
100 minutes

Nestled in Greenwich Village in the ’80s, The Education of Charlie Banks centers around Charlie (Eisenberg), his best friend Danny (Chris Marquette) and the charismatic bully Mick (Ritter). Charlie witnesses Mick beating a few guys unconscious, and years later, Mick shows up at his campus looking for friendship. The acting is phenomenal, especially Ritter, and Durst’s character creates a tension between Mick and Charlie that creatively drives the plot. For a directorial debut, Durst creates a modest, yet oddly powerful film.

Watching the Detectives (3.5 stars)
Directed By Paul Soter
Starring Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu
91 minutes

A film noir fanatic and rental store owner, Neil (Murphy) spends most of his days lounging around his store watching movies with his misfit friends. Then quirky, femme fatale Violet (Liu) appears and shakes up Neil’s life in this offbeat comedy. This simple film doesn’t reach spectacular but is light, funny and enjoyable. Murphy’s nerdy Neil is a welcomed change from his darker roles, and Liu fits Violet’s bizarre shoes perfectly.

The Good Life (3 stars)
Directed By Steve Berra
Starring Mark Webber, Zooey Deschanel, and Harry Dean Stanton
106 minutes

In a dismal town, Jason (Webber) goes through the motion of his miserable life. He helps out Gus (Stanton), a mentally ill theater owner, and works at a gas station but still feels something missing in his life. He meets Frances (Deschanel) and finds a new light in his life. The movie is a bit long and sluggish, but the performances save the film. Both Webber and Deschanel excel and make this bleak, slow flick a little easier to watch.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (4.5 stars)
Directed By Sidney Lumet
Starring Ethan Hawke, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Albert Finney
117 minutes

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a beautifully crafted film with a powerful darkness sweeping over the characters and their storylines.

Directed by the legendary Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men), Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead centers around a botched jewelry heist.

Brothers Hank (Training Day’s Ethan Hawke) and Andy (Capote’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman) plan to rob their parents’ jewelry store, but something goes horribly wrong, and they have to deal with the aftermath.

The title comes from the Irish toast “may you have food and raiment, a soft pillow for you’re head; may you be 40 years in heaven before the devil knows you’re dead.” And the movie illustrates the darkness present even when you think you’re golden.

The movie is jagged, jumping back and forth between timelines and characters’ point of views.

The brothers, their father Charles (Murder on the Orient Express’s Albert Finney) and Hank’s wife (In the Bedroom’s Marisa Tomei) intertwine as what really happened that fateful night unravels.

The story seems confusing, but the way the pieces fit together makes the film enthralling and awe-inspiring.

The cinematography is tight and keeps the tension boiling even in the lulled moments.

This movie is intense. So intense, the audience feels slightly uncomfortable watching the events unfold.
But this intensity draws the moviegoers in and keeps them in an entertaining vice for the duration of the film.

Hoffman is phenomenal as always and Hawke exhibits his true potential, which hasn’t been seen since 2001’s Training Day.

As brothers, they pull off the sibling relationship and rivalry perfectly: Hoffman as the domineering eldest and Hawke as the meek baby of the family.

Hawke’s jitteriness is almost endearing, and the audience finds themselves sympathizing with him when his brother bullies him around.

Hoffman is mesmerizing as he tries to control the situation and keep a certain cool, but underneath the nonchalant appearance is an evil hate that grows as the movie progresses.

But the scene stealer of the film is Finney. His quiet frustration and growing anger transform him into someone else. Charles starts off a lot like Hank but changes into someone like Andy by the end of the film.

The only problem with this film is Tomei. She is an annoyance. But to give her some credit, her character is a bit one-sided and shallow.

Also for fair warning, the film has a graphic sex scene in its opening sequence, so it is definitely not for the younger viewers.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a must see this holiday season if you can find it in the metroplex.

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