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No Breather — PingWi-Fi Lights Up Dallas Film Festival

April 17th, 2010 · Tags:Arts · Cities

Well, I couldn’t get a note from my doctor, so I shot over to Dallas for the last full day of The Dallas International Film Festival … punchdrunk on allergy meds.

And I won’t lie, my consciousness was touch and go … especially during the Magnolia Theater’s ads that I have seen umpteen times now during the festival. Kudos to Dallas agency Temerlin McLain’s ads — big beautiful shots, taking full advantage of the power of the big screen. They passed the no-doze test.

I digress.

My first choice of the day: “Down Terrace” for a 1:30 p.m. screening. Note to film makers — avoid 1 p.m. screenings … that is nap time, allergies or not. And I must say, I liked “Down Terrace,” and I love Brits … but my goodness the first of the dialogue-laden gangster film moved like year-old Nyquil from the bottle. Maybe a shooting or two at the first would have kept my attention on this day. But, rest assured, before long the film becomes a communion of plastic wrapped bodies, bloody victims and bloody perps.

Real life father and son Bob and Robin Hill star as Bill and Karl — gangster father and gangster son who butt heads for the alpha male role, all while a police informant is in the mix.

There is even a “Cuban connection”:

“Down Terrace”

Like many independents, the film easily could have been a stage play, with the threats and dirty deeds illustrated in conversation and in doors. In a British film, I want to see Big Ben and some gritty tubeway scenes too. For anything of the gangster genre … we “needs somes streets.”

But rest assured, the film picks up pace after the first 10 minutes or so, disclosing a dysfunctional family, untimely endings and a surprise ending or two. I won’t give away the story, but will just say pretty much everyone gets ” kilt.”

The story is good, but in my opinion grizzly, bloody killing scenes don’t replace some action — 3 pings on the 7-ping monitor.

Enough gangland … let’s see some real war. Next up, the film “Snow & Ashes.”

But first, a brief intermission … time enough to snort some theraflu and fire up the Wi-Fi at The Magnolia … a few tweets sent from the iPhone.

“Snow & Ashes” is a nicely woven drama of life on the edge — as seen through the jaded eyes of two journalists behind enemy lines. The story is more about the journalists’ survival and escape, rather than the genocide atrocities they witness in this Eastern European setting.

I think it is an excellent film. There is compassion, the triumph of the human will, brotherhood and some casual acquaintances with the opposite sex … life during war time so to speak.

But, like all films, it isn’t perfect. And if the director and producers asked my opinion, I would say more snow … less ashes!

The lead journalist — played by Rhys Coiro — is pretty much a one-man global warming as he smokes cigarettes reel to reel during the film. I mean … forget the Surgeon General’s warnings … it’s not a good idea to carry that ever-glowing cherry in sniperland. The characters discuss snipers drawn to the flame of cancer sticks, at one point in the film. There’s also a scene were a local war tour guide advises the photographer to lose his pants … because army fatigues tend to be a fashion hit in the eyes of snipers.

Yes! Yes, I get it … war is hell and stressful so people who are probably about to die, smoke. But if you’re going to beat me over the head, use the Kalishnikov, not the filter king. Ha … I could almost smell the character reeking it up in the theater … anyway.

Now … about the snow … As I said, I felt like all of the characters were blowing smoke in my face, but I never felt really cold. Maybe I missed it … but I saw smoke ring after smoke ring … or cloud … or whatever, but I don’t remember seeing anyone’s breath. All this as they ran through snowy forests, fell in icy rivers, huddled in bombed-out ruins and made coffee (among other things) by the light of a fire or candle.

Ha … maybe I was just running a fever.

“Snow & Ashes”

Again … Nice film. David-Alexandre Coiteux plays the photo journalist and was one of the producers. Oh … you probably know Coiro from “24,” or better yet, his portrayal of whacked-out Hollywood director, “Billy Walsh” in HBO’s “Entourage.”

You can feel the bonds between the characters; nice photography on-location, good cast, plenty of gun play … the best effort I saw at Dallas International Film Festival — 6 pings of smoke from the pingpipe.

Last thoughts: another great Dallas Film Festival with a new name.  The only festival winner I saw was “Quadrangle” a family history short film by the daughter of some 1970s swingers … Airing dirty laundry … go figure.

The festival also hosted a world premiere … the screening of horror film “Walking Distance.”  Following below, are shots from the red carpet event for “Walking Distance” and “Snow & Ashes.”

Know what I sayin?

"Walking Distance" cast

“Walking Distance” cast

David-alexandre Coiteux

David-Alexandre Coiteux

Glenn Morshower,

Glenn Morshower, “Walking Distance”

Allison, James LaMarr,”Walking Distance”

Brandi Price,

Brandi Price, “Walking Distance”

Half Cast,

Half Cast, “Walking Distance”

Todd Farr, "Walking Distance"

Todd Farr, “Walking Distance”

Adrienne King, "Walking Distance"

Adrienne King,”Walking Distance”

Brandi Price, Natalie Jones, Eryn Brooke, “Walking Distance”

Denton Blane Everett, "Walking Distance"

Denton Blane Everett, “Walking Distance”

Michaud, Coiteux, "Snow & Ashes"

Michaud, Coiteux

"Snow & Ashes"