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SXSW Film 2011 Cheat Sheet

SXSW Film 2011 Cheat Sheet (photo)

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…Or we should say “Cheat Sheets” since this year’s SXSW Film Festival boasts over 140 films, requiring more than just one page to cover every single one of the narrative and documentary features that will be playing in Austin from March 11th through 19th. While the festival has already provided a very helpful schedule to flip through and PDF of the screening grid online, consider this your quick hit guide to all the features at the festival – every title leads to its corresponding festival page in addition to links to trailers, official sites, filmmakers’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts so you can follow the action from the festival or from home.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of action during these next two weeks on IFC.com where, in addition to our live video page, Matt Singer (@mattsinger) and I (@mfrushmore) will be filing reviews and interviews throughout the film festival. (You might’ve also heard there’s an Interactive fest, which Alex Blagg (@BajillionHits) will be covering, and a music fest, which Brandon Kim (@theforlorn) will be checking out.) With that in mind, here’s the rundown for the films gracing the Paramount, the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz and South Lamar and all the other theaters in Austin for the festival ahead.

[Headliners and Spotlight Premieres] [Festival Favorites] [Narrative and Documentary Competitions] [Emerging Visions and Lone Star States] [24 Beats Per Second and SX Global] [Midnighters and SX Fantastic]


03082011_13Assassins.jpg


Headliners

“13 Assassins” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Japanese trailer)
The Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, Mikijiro Hira, Hiroki Matsukata, Ikki Sawamura, Arata Furuta, Tsuyoshi Ihara
Director: Takashi Miike
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto, Pusan, Sitges, London
Distributor Description: Cult director Takeshi Miike delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan’s feudal era in which a group of unemployed samurai are enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into a war-torn future.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Before Takashi Miike makes his way to Austin for the film’s premiere, you can check out David Hudson’s roundup of reviews from Venice and Toronto.

“The Beaver” (IMDb, official site, trailer)
The Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones, Riley Thomas Stewart
Director: Jodie Foster
SXSW Description: Two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with two-time Academy Award winner Mel Gibson in “The Beaver” – an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life.

“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”
Director: Rodman Flender
SXSW Description: After a much-publicized separation with his former employers, did Conan O’Brien hit the road on a 32-City tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Filmmaker Rodman Flender followed O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and returned with an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Austin American-Statesman’s Dale Roe talks with director Rodman Flender.

03072011_KingofLuck.jpg“The King of Luck”
The Cast: Willie Nelson, Annie Nelson, Paula Nelson, Amy Nelson, Lana Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Bobbie Nelson, Paul English, Bee Spears
Director: Billy Bob Thornton
SXSW Description: This is a documentary about Willie Nelson: the man, the songwriter, the friend, the father, legendary performer and champion of the family farmer. It goes further, however, as a film, it is about the end of the old west and how troubadours such as Willie Nelson keep the legend alive through storytelling.

“Paul” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen (voice), Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, Sigourney Weaver
Director: Greg Mottola
SXSW Description: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead”) reunite for Universal Pictures’ comedy-adventure “Paul” as two sci-fi geeks whose pilgrimage takes them to America’s UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Collider has five clips from the film and a glimpse of the exclusive poster Mondo has created for the festival.

“Source Code “ (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Director: Duncan Jones (“Moon”)
SXSW Description: When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: EW has a look at the exclusive posters created by Olly Moss for “Source Code” and “Moon” that will be sold at the festival. Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci interviewed Jones about the film.

“Super” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillian, Andre Rovo, Sean Gunn, Stephen Blackehart
Director: James Gunn
Fest Cred: Toronto
SXSW Description: When sad-sack loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself bereft and wholly unable to cope. But soon he decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: My interview with Gunn from the Toronto Film Festival. Mubi‘s David Hudson’s roundup (third entry down) from Toronto is here.

“Win Win” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Alex Schaffer, Margo Martindale Director: Tom McCarthy (“The Station Agent,” “The Visitor”)
Fest Cred: Sundance
SXSW Description: Tom McCarthy once again explores the depths and nuances of human relationships in his new film about the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters. Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty, who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. McCarthy’s deft touch with balancing drama and comedy, broken hearts and poignant humanity is at play in “Win Win.”
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: SlashFilm has two clips and a featurette from the film. The L.A. Times’ interview with McCarthy from Sundance. Filmmaker‘s Jamie Stuart also has an interview.

03072011_BagofHammers.jpg

Spotlight Premieres

“A Bag of Hammers” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Carrie Preston, Todd Louiso, Gabriel Macht, Johnny Simmons
Director: Brian Crano
SXSW Description: An offbeat comedy about two misfit best friends incapable of growing up, whose direction is tested by an abandoned child, worn beyond his years; together they invent the family they’ve always needed.

“Becoming Santa” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jack Sanderson, Susen Mesco, Dee Sinclair, Carol Myers, Ernest Berger
Director: Jeff Myers
SXSW Description: “Becoming Santa” is the story of one man entering the culture and character of Santa Claus for a single season. We follow Jack as he bleaches his hair, goes to Santa School and tries to do everything that Santa is asked to do. He works as a sidewalk Santa, does home visits, a Polar Express Train and a parade. Along the way, Jack collects children’s wishes, learns about the benefits of belief, the history and origin of Santa and the ordinary people keeping the Santa spirit alive.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: The blog Pearl Snap Discount has an e-mail interview with Myers.

“Beginners” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic
Director: Mike Mills (“Thumbsucker”)
Fest Cred: Toronto
SXSW Description: “Beginners” imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent of “Inglourious Basterds”) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who – following 44 years of marriage – came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humor, and hope that his father taught him.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: David Hudson’s roundup of reviews and interviews from Toronto.

“Bob and the Monster” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Keirda Bahruth
SXSW Description: Six years in the making, this documentary film follows outspoken indie-rock hero Bob Forrest, through his life-threatening struggle with addiction, to his transformation into one of the most influential and controversial drug counselors in the US today. “Bob and the Monster” crafts contemporary footage, animation and compelling interviews with archival performances and personal videos from Bob’s past to reveal the complex layers of this troubled, but hopeful soul. Testimony from his peers, including Courtney Love, Anthony Kiedis and Flea add texture, but it’s the depth of Bob’s music, interwoven throughout the film, that illuminates this unforgettable and inspirational story.

03072011_Detention.jpg“Detention” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke, Aaron David Johnson, Walter Perez, Erica Shaffer, Parker Bagley, Alison Woods
Director: Joseph Kahn (“Torque”)
SXSW Description: “Detention” is a teen horror-comedy where the local students of Grizzly Lake must survive their final year of high school. Standing in their way is a slasher movie killer who has seemingly come to life. It becomes a race against time to stop the killer and save the world – if only they can get out of detention. The Detention cuts through prom. Most of them don’t have dates anyway.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Dread Central has new stills and a one-sheet for the film.

“Elevate” (IMDb, official site, Facebook)
The Cast: Amadou Gallo Fall
Director: Anne Buford
SXSW Description: Filmed over four years, from the dilapidated cement courts of Senegal to upscale American prep schools, “Elevate” documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African Muslim teenagers. Recruited for both their physical and academic skills they accept basketball scholarships to schools in the United States–and face the daunting challenges of alienation, a foreign language, American-style basketball and an unfamiliar American culture rife with African stereotypes. But with courage, humor, and remarkable resilience, they relentlessly pursue their dreams–to obtain an education and a shot at the NBA.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Austin American-Statesman interview with Buford.

“Fambul Tok” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Sara Terry
SXSW Description: Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice of fambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level — succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals — and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.

“Fubar: Balls to the Wall” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Paul Spence, David Lawrence
Director: Michael Dowse
Fest Cred: Toronto, Edmonton
SXSW Description: Headbanger relics, Terry and Dean, are tired of trying to give’r while barely scraping by, so they head up North to make sweet cash working on the pipelines. Flush with money and confidence, Terry starts dating Trish, a local waitress, and things get serious in a hurry. Meanwhile, Dean is playing up the part of ‘cancer survivor’, and upon hearing about the glories of Worker’s Compensation, purposely bungs up his leg in an attempt to qualify.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Shortly after it was announced the film would play SXSW, Screen Media Films picked up the North American rights for a VOD/video release on April 19th.

“Girl Walks Into a Bar” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Josh Hartnett, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Robert Forster, Aaron Tveit, Alexis Bledel
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
The Gist: Perhaps the only time it will be shown in theaters, “Women in Trouble” and “Elektra Luxx” director Sebastian Gutierrez returns to SXSW with another all-star cast in tow for this comedy divided into 10 vignettes spread across 10 speakeasys in Los Angeles over the course of a single night involving a dentist plotting his wife’s murder and the wild aftermath that follows. The film will debut the same day as its SXSW premiere on YouTube for all to see.

03072011_TheInnkeepers.jpg“The Innkeepers” (IMDb, Twitter)
The Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
Director: Ti West
SXSW Description: After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees – Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy)- are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Fangoria has the film’s poster. TwitchFilm visited West on the set.

“It’s About You” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett
Director: Kurt Markus and Ian Markus
SXSW Description: This is a personal journey film about singer/songwriter John Mellencamp. It was made during his summer 2009 tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson; Mellencamp also recorded his new album in three historical locations during the month and a half tour. The story is told through the eyes of the father/son film making team of Kurt and Ian Markus, neither of whom had ever made a film before. The entire 90-minute film is shot on super8, to stunning effect. This is not a retrospective film with interviews. It is of the moment.

“LBF” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Toby Schmitz, Bianca Chiminello, Gracie Otto, Septimus Caton, April Rose Pengilly, Iren Skaarnes
Director: Alex Munt
SXSW Description: A pop-art film based on the novel ‘Living Between Fucks’ by Cry Bloxsome. Goodchild, a young writer, lands back home, direct from Paris, to attend his ex-girlfriend’s funeral, The Dead Girl. At an afternoon motel party he encounters The Beautiful Financial Backer who works in advertising. At the wake she commissions him to write ‘The Love Enterprise’. The past and present collide as Goodchild slides through a hot Australian summer. Haunted by the twin ghosts of love and death, he is pushed to his very limits. LBF is a modern story of love, loss and desperation.

“The Other F Word” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, movie clips)
The Cast: Jim Lindberg, Flea, Mark Hoppus, Tim McIlrath, Tony Hawk, Lars Fredrikson, Duane Peters, Fat Mike, Art Alexakis, Ron Reyes
Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
SXSW Description: What happens when a generation’s ultimate anti-authoritarians — punk rockers — become society’s ultimate authorities — dads? With a large chorus of Punk Rock’s leading men — Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath – “The Other F Word follows Jim Lindberg, 20 year veteran of skate punk band, Pennywise, on his hysterical and moving journey from belting out his band’s anthem, “Fuck Authority”, to embracing his ultimately pivotal authoritarian role in mid-life, fatherhood.

“PressPausePlay” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Moby, Hank Shocklee, Seth Godin, Olafur Arnolds, Robyn, Hot Chip, Lena Dunham, Andrew Keen, Zach Hancock, Keith Harris
Director: David Dworsky and Victor Köhler
SXSW Description: The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent of people in an unprecedented way, unleashing unlimited creative opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art, film, music and literature or is true talent instead flooded and drowned in the vast digital ocean of mass culture? Is it cultural democracy or mediocrity? This is the question addressed by “PressPausePlay,” a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

03072011_SomethingVentured.jpg“Something Ventured” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter)
The Cast: Po Bronson (narrator), Tom Perkins, Arthur Rock, Don Valentine, Dick Kramlich, Nolan Bushnell, Gordon Moore, Jimmy Treybig, Herbert Boyer, Mike Markkula
Director: Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine
SXSW Description: Apple. Intel. Genentech. Atari. Cisco. Behind these revolutionary technology companies are a handful of men who saw opportunity where others did not: these are the original venture capitalists. All were backing and building companies before the term ‘venture capital’ had been coined: companies that led to the birth of biotechnology, microprocessors, personal computers and the internet. “Something Ventured” uncovers the dramatic ups and downs of how these companies came to be, and the hidden dramas behind some of the most famous names in business.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Zeitgeist Films snapped up the film’s distribution rights in late February, presumably for release later this year.

“Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys”)
SXSW Description: In 1979, the US Customs Service reported that 87% of all domestic marijuana seizures were made in the South Florida area. Due to the region’s 5,000 miles of coast and coastal waterways and close proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America, South Florida was a pot smuggler’s paradise. In sharp contrast to the brazenly violent cocaine cowboys, Miami’s marijuana smugglers were cooler, calmer, and for the most part, nonviolent. “Square Grouper” paints a vivid portrait of Miami’s pot smuggling culture in the 1970s and 1980s through three of the city’s most colorful stories.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Magnolia bought the doc with plans for a 40-city college tour following SXSW.

“Undefeated” (official site)
Director: Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin
SXSW Description: Set against the backdrop of a football season, “Undefeated” is a coming-of-age vérité documentary centering on three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and an unexpected volunteer coach who struggles to provide them with the discipline, resources and inspiration they’ll need to not only overcome their bleak surroundings, but also to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history.

“Yelling to the Sky” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Antonique Smith, Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Victoria Mahoney
Fest Cred: Berlinale
SXSW Description: As her family falls apart, seventeen year old Sweetness O’Hara’s future feels uncertain. At the abusive hands of her father, her mother and sister take off, leaving Sweetness to fend for herself. Determined to correct the mistakes of the past, Sweetness takes control of her life.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: David Hudson rounds up reviews out of Berlinale (under the second photo).

“You Instead” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter)
The Cast: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Sophie Wu, Ruta Gedmintas, Kari Corbett
Director: David Mackenzie (“Young Adam,” “Spread”)
Fest Cred: Glasgow
SXSW Description: Shot on location at the world famous music festival ‘T in the Park,’ American pop star, Adam, and minor British rock chick, Morello, are playing at the same festival. The only other thing they have in common is their mastery of sarcastic wisecracks. As their childish spat escalates, a mischievous preacher handcuffs them together as punishment, before disappearing in to the crowd with the only key. All attempts to break free are thwarted. Respective band mates and romantic partners are caught in the crossfire but can only look on as Adam and Morello begin to realize there is no escape.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Positive notice from Variety‘s Leslie Felperin out of Berlin.

03072011_Bridesmaids.jpg


Special Events

“Bridesmaids” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Matt Lucas, Jill Clayburgh, Rebel Wilson, Michael Hitchcock
Director: Paul Feig
The Gist: Billed as a “work in progress” screening since it doesn’t come out until May, this Judd Apatow-produced comedy was penned by Kristen Wiig (and friend Annie Mumulo) to star in as a maid of honor trying to help her friend (Maya Rudolph) make her way down the aisle while trying to control her wild group of friends and relatives (Rose Byrne, “Reno 911″‘s Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy). “Freaks and Geeks” co-creator Paul Feig captures the chaos.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Set visits with Vanity Fair, Moviefone and HitFix.

“Red Riding Hood” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
SXSW Description: For years, the village of Daggerhorn has maintained an uneasy truce with a ferocious werewolf that prowls outside their village. But under a blood red moon, the wolf ups the stakes, taking the life of one of their own. Hungry for revenge, the people call on werewolf hunter Father Solomon to help them kill the beast. But Solomon arrives with a warning: the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As suspicion and panic grips the town, a beautiful young woman discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast–one that makes her both suspect…and bait.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: ComingSoon.net has an interview with Hardwicke. Collider has seven clips from the film.

“The Rime of the Modern Mariner” (official site, trailer)
The Cast: Mark Donne, Carl Barat, Anthony Rossomando
Director: Mark Donne
Fest Cred: East End
SXSW Description: A journey out through the husks of the ancient London Docks, through sea-faring mythology, magic and superstition and back home via North Africa to discover the heart of the Modern Mariner in a globalized world.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Vice has an extensive interview with Donne and Rossomando.

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TREMORS [US 1990]  FRED WARD, FINN CARTER     Date: 1990

Better Off Fred

5 Roles That Prove Fred Ward Should Be In Every Movie

Catch a Tremors movie marathon Saturday, April 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Fred Ward has always exuded a tough but likeable on-screen “bad-assitude” that has enabled him to enjoy a career spanning five decades. Before he had a recognizable “that guy” face to movie fans, he was cast alongside Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz. Not many actors can play both Henry Miller and David Spade’s dad in Joe Dirt with equal aplomb. Before you catch IFC’s Tremors marathon, check out some roles that prove Fred Ward can hold his own with the Van Dammes and Stallones of the world.

5. Wilkes, Uncommon Valor

Due to his rugged, determined look, Ward was often cast as cops, crooks and military men. It’s no surprise that he appeared in Uncommon Valor, the 1983 film where Gene Hackman puts together a ragtag squad of ex-Vietnam vets to rescue his son who was left behind in Laos. Sure, the movie pretty much set out to make a Vietnam version of The Dirty Dozen, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining in its own right. Ward fits right in with a cast of ’80s era tough guys, including Patrick Swayze, Randall “Tex” Cobb, and Tim Tomerson. Ward’s character Wilkes was a tough-as-nails Vietnam Vet who was a “tunnel rat” during the war. There’s a funny training session scene that provides a comic relief moment where Wilkes captures every one of the guys in the unit, including Gene Hackman’s Colonel Rhodes, by hiding under water. Eat your heart out, Rambo.


4. Earl Bass, Tremors

Not many actors can pull off lasso-tossing an explosive in order to lure a huge worm creature with snake tongues out of the desert sand, but Ward pulls off moment with zero camp. His Earl Bass, the tough but average Joe ranch hand turned hero, didn’t need Kevin Bacon’s long hair and exaggerated Southern drawl either. Ward and Kevin Bacon made a great team trying to save their town from the Graboids, elevating the humor in this out-of-this-world (or under-this-world) horror comedy.


3. Sgt. Hoke Moseley, Miami Blues

In a movie where Alec Baldwin completely shines as a psychotic (and highly entertaining) criminal using Miami as his own personal joy ride, Fred Ward gives an equally great performance as the grizzled Miami cop who’s seen one too many cases. After being attacked by Baldwin’s character in his own home, Ward’s Sgt. Hank Moseley loses his badge, his gun and his dentures, which really pisses him off. (And nobody plays pissed off better than Ward.) Baldwin’s Junior goes on a crime spree while using Moseley’s identification. Moseley’s wily veteran slowly begins to figure out what Junior is up to through sly conversations with Baldwin and his overly trusting hooker girlfriend, memorably played by Jennifer Jason Leigh. An underrated action comedy that is all the better for giving us a pure shot of uncut Ward awesomeness.


4. Gus Grissom, The Right Stuff

“An astronaut named Gus?” That was the question asked of Virgil Grissom in The Right Stuff by the executive from Life magazine. Who better to play a fearless, rough-around-the-edges astronaut who refused to be called Virgil than Fred Ward? The Mercury Astronauts were the best of the best, and in the film they were played by a group of great actors who were all perfectly cast to portray the brash group of American heroes. In the film, Gus was blunt and to the point and far from loquacious (his character would never use that word) but when he did speak up, it had meaning. In another pivotal scene, in which Deke Slayton was relaying to the other astronauts what Gus was trying to say about beating a monkey into space, it’s Gus’ response that summed up his character perfectly: “F***in’ A, bubba.” Nobody could have delivered that bad-ass line better than Fred Ward. In fact, “F***in’ A bubba” should have been added into the dialogue of every character he played.


5. Remo Williams, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins might have gotten ahead of itself with that title as we never got to see the adventure continue, but it had everything you want in an action movie, starting with Fred Ward. Of course, it also had Joel Grey in heavy makeup portraying Korean martial arts master Chiun, but the less said about that unfortunate bit of dated cultural stereotyping the better. Based on a series of pulp novels, Remo Williams was supposed to be an American alternative to James Bond. In an alternate, much cooler universe, it would have propelled Ward to action movie superstardom. In the film, Ward starts out as a NYC street cop recruited to be a government assassin. His face was altered through plastic surgery (to look less like a generic actor and more like Fred Ward with a clean shave) and then he is given the name Remo Williams. There is a lot of humor in this film, which mostly comes through the interaction between Ward and Grey. Chiun teaches Remo the ways of Sinanju, the ancient Korean marital art which enables you to not only dodge punches but point blank range bullets as well. (Let’s see Mr. Miyagi do that.) Anyone who caught this movie during one of its many TV airings during the ’80s remembers the thrilling fight scenes that takes place on the Statue of Liberty. Only Ward could pull off a turtle neck sweater/leather jacket combo and still look badass.

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Scarface Al Pacino

Nose Dive

10 Crazy Facts You Might Not Know About Scarface

Say hello to Scarface this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection/Universal Studios

We learned a lot from Scarface. Don’t get high on your own supply. Never trust anyone. And definitely don’t bring a gun to a chainsaw fight. So what happened behind the scenes during the making of this cultural sensation? We nosed around and found some things about Scarface you might not know, which you can catch this month on IFC. Say hello to our little facts below.

1. Brian De Palma almost directed Flashdance instead.

Scarface Brian de Palma
Everett Collection/Universal

Producer Martin Bregman offered De Palma a chance to direct Scarface while the director was filming the 1981 cult classic Blow Out.  Initially De Palma said “yes,” but then politely declined as he was too busy. He signed on to direct Flashdance instead in the hopes of getting the producer to greenlight his script on the Yablonski murders. De Palma made it about two weeks into pre-production on the dance flick before quitting.  Bregman offered Scarface to De Palma again, and the rest is history. What a feeling!


2. Michelle Pfeiffer was hangry throughout the shoot.

Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer
Universal

The actress would give a star-making performance as Elvira Hancock, the chic wife of gangster Tony Montana, but her experience behind the scenes wasn’t quite as glamorous. Pfeiffer ate very little on set to maintain Elvira’s slinky, cocaine addict look. When production stretched from the predicted four months to six, Pfeiffer was frequently starving and irritable. Might we suggest a Cubano sandwich?


3. Al Pacino’s performance was inspired by Meryl Streep.

Scarface Little Friend
Universal

It may seem hard to believe vulgar, violent cocaine kingpin Tony Montana has much in common with the reigning Queen of the Silver Screen, but Pacino saw something useful in one of Streep’s most iconic roles. Streep’s Oscar-winning turn as the titular holocaust survivor in Sophie’s Choice made a serious impression on the actor, citing her deep commitment to the tiniest details of playing someone from another country and world as his largest influence on how he played Tony. Who knew Al Pacino is a Meryl Streep fanatic? Stars really are just like the rest of us!


4. Oliver Stone was fighting his own cocaine addiction while penning the script.

Scarface Cocaine
Universal

Hooked for a year or two prior to beginning work on Scarface, Stone realized his work was getting “shallower” and bank account smaller. He and his then-wife moved to Paris as a means of cutting off his access to the drug. Stone wrote the screenplay “cold sober” in a dark room while living in the City of Light.


5. F. Murray Abraham had firsthand experience as a gangster.

Scarface F Murray Abraham
Everett Collection/Universal

As a teen in El Paso, TX, Abraham was a self-described “hoodlum.” Long before he was causing trouble as henchman Omar Suarez, the young Abraham ran around with a local gang stealing cars, getting into fights, and occasionally going to school. All that changed when the speech and drama teacher at his high school gave him March Antony’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen” speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to read in front of the class. He was hooked, and his gang days were over.


6. Al Pacino’s hand got stuck to a gun barrel.

Scarface Machine gun
Everett Collection/Universal

In addition to accidentally being cut by a rogue shard from a plate thrown by Michelle Pfeiffer, Pacino suffered another injury on set. During a rehearsal for a gunfight, he mistakenly grabbed the barrel of the prop gun after firing several rounds, and his hand got stuck to the hot barrel. The burns were so bad, Pacino couldn’t work for two weeks.


7. Glenn Close wasn’t “slutty” enough to play Elvira.

Glenn Close
Sony

Al Pacino wanted Close, whom he knew through the New York theatre scene, as Elvira. However, producer Martin Bregman wasn’t convinced she was “slutty enough” to play the coked-out sex symbol. Close wasn’t the only high profile actress turned down for the coveted role; other contenders included Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Sharon Stone, Kelly McGillis, Melanie Griffith, and Kim Basinger, all of whom presumably didn’t possess sufficient levels of sluttiness according to Mr. Bregman.


8. Tammy Lynn Leppert disappeared shortly after filming.

Tammy Lynn Leppert
Universal

The 18 year-old actress, model, and former child beauty-queen appeared as Manny’s (Steven Bauer) distraction while he was in the lookout car during the infamous chainsaw scene. Leppert was last seen in Cocoa Beach, Florida on July 6, 1983 just five months before Scarface hit theaters. Authorities speculated Leppert may have been three months pregnant at the time of her mysterious disappearance and that her missing persons status could be tied to several serial killers and drug trafficking networks around the area. Her current whereabouts are still unknown.


9. F. Murray Abraham’s mother didn’t approve of Pacino’s foul mouth.

F Murray Abraham
Universal

Scarface is full of expletives with the F-word being used well over 200 times in the nearly three-hour film (the scorecard feature on the Platinum DVD edition reportedly averages its use at 1.32 f–ks per minute of the film). It’s no surprise many were turned off by the kingpin’s profanity laden mouth including wife Elvira onscreen and F. Murray Abraham’s mother. After a screening of the film in 2011, Abraham’s Italian mother asked the actor to “tell Al not to use that language. It’s not good for the Italian people.” Cuban drug dealers may be tough, but you really don’t want to mess with an Italian mama!


10. The infamous chainsaw scene was based on a real incident.

Scarface Chainsaw
Universal

Screenwriter Oliver Stone spent several months in Miami with local law enforcement and the DEA doing research and was drawn to a particularly gruesome real case. A major drug smuggling ring headed by Mario Tabraue (who became one of the major inspirations for Tony in the film) dismembered Larry Nash with a chainsaw and burned his body in July 1980 after discovering he was an informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Tabraue was eventually arrested in 1987 as part of the FBI’s “Operation Cobra” at his home in Dade County while his wife threw $50,000 cash out the back window, which was caught by a federal agent. By the time Tabraue’s drug ring was busted up, it was worth over $75 million. Say goodnight to the bad guy.

See what Scarface would look like as a sitcom below.

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Iceland Bound

Watch Fred Armisen’s Dreamy Music Video For El Perro Del Mar’s Red Hot Chili Peppers Cover

Fred returns to Iceland in his new music video

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Photo Credit: El Perro Del Mar

Created by two seasoned musicians, Portlandia often uses music as its satirical base. But while the show allows Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein to shine as masterful comedians and occasional singers, Portlandia has yet to offer a dreamy full-length music videos shot in Iceland. Fortunately, Fred was able to make that happen by directing the music video for El Perro del Mar’s down-tempo cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Breaking the Girl.” In the video, a valet in Los Angeles attempts to track down the owner of a lost car key all the way to Iceland. In addition to directing the video, Armisen also stars as the globetrotting valet.

Fred — who is no stranger to music videos, having directed clips for artists like Neil Michael Hagerty & the Howling Hex and The Helio Sequence — recently spoke to Rolling Stone about working with El Perro Del Mar (the musical alias of Sarah Assbring) and his love for the Chili Peppers’ music. Documentary Now! fans also know that this isn’t Fred’s first trip to Iceland. No word on whether he attended an Al Capone Festival on his return visit.

Check out Fred’s sweetly relaxing music video for El Perro del Mar’s “Breaking the Girl” below.

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