The Desert Reel Film Festival continued with screening of more films, some of them locally made, on Saturday at the Ector Theatre in Odessa, Texas.
"The Mind's Eye"
"Visualized, realized and finalized by Rick Owens." So said the film credits, and the entire audience stayed in their seats until the last credit had rolled across the screen as we all wanted to see the names of the local people we recognized on the big screen.
Owens, who wrote and directed "The Mind's Eye," is a very resourceful and ambitious local film maker. The film had some stunningly photography, too. One shot of the pagoda at Beal Park in Midland had such beauty that it could take one's breath away.
The movie is about a woman who discovered her mother's body when she was eleven years old. She developed a software program to record the dreams she has had about it so that perhaps she might be able to make some sense of it all. The movie turns into a murder mystery which isn't solved until the end.
Caleb Brandon is an actor in the movie, and he was notable in the beginning for his stiffness. They really have to scrape to come up with actors who will work for free, I thought. Boy, was I wrong! As the story progressed, Brandon really started to shine. He goes through a transformation on screen that made all of us in the audience sit up and take notice.
"The Mind's Eye" certainly showed that director Rick Owens has some movie making potential.
Another locally made movie shown at the festival was Unnoticed, directed by David Sean Stringer. It's got government assassins, good guys and gals, bad guys and gals, preachers, intrigue, betrayal, the Midland Police Swat team, and an outdoor baptism. You can find an excellent review of the movie at Bull Durham's Hot Corner.
"An Evening with Larry Breeze"
Larry Breeze is a jazz pianist who is the subject of the 33 minute documentary produced by Jeffrey R. Johnson. Mr. Breeze himself can be heard playing the piano at Hemingway's in Midland on Thursday evenings. Be forewarned. Producer Johnson described Hemingway's as a cigar bar, so take a deep breath before going in.
The comedy "Dirt" cost around $300,000, and that's an astronomical sum compared with the budgets of the other movies shown at the festival. And "Dirt" was actually shown on film which is apparently somewhat rare these days as most movies are shot digitally.
"Dirt" was filmed near Sanderson, Texas, but it had an out-of-town flavor to it. For example, the West Texas accents didn't sound quite right. Perhaps those were the accents that actors learn from the Hollywood accent coaches. And the movie played heavily on what could be Texas stereotypes elsewhere, you know, trailer houses, evil sheriffs, dumb guys, dumb gals, toddlers in diapers with loaded handguns, etc. The sort of things that might follow "you might be a redneck if ..."
The story was written and co-directed by Michael Covert who was in attendance at the screening. He starred in the movie along with the co-director Tracy Fraim. Patrick Warburton, best known for his role as Puddy on "Seinfeld" and perhaps less well known as "The Tick," played a brutal small town sheriff.
Mr. Covert said in the Q&A session that independent film maker's life is not for him as he prefers the knowhow available at the major studios. But he observed that the expense of filming for seven weeks in West Texas was about the same as filming one day in Los Angeles.
Mr. Covert admitted that his native New Yorker wife, who accompanied him on the trip to Odessa, went into a Wal-Mart store Saturday for the first time in her life. Bless her heart, the poor dear. She'll probably have to get therapy after that experience.
But the movie had an important lesson to teach us. If you're a redneck brawler who has never refused a fight, you can turn your life around by adopting the teachings of Gandhi. And if after you've done that and you get beaten up by a monstrous bully, then a native American might come along and save your bacon, and you might end up with a gorgeous gal pal.