VA FILM FEST Coogan’s Picks

November 6th, 2013 · 6 Comments · By

Hello all, I’m resuscitating the Nailgun tradition of posting picks for the Virginia Film Festival. Some of my picks had been on my radar, others were things that I found flipping through the catalog and seemed cool. Hope you’ll appreciate the relaxed quality. And, as always, please feel free to post shit in the comments you’re pumped to see or that I forgot to mention/got wrong about a film (here’s lookin at you james!)

I’m gonna go by day and chronological order………


Bending Sticks Documentary about Patrick Dougherty, who does these wild sculpture installations all over the world. Apropos because he just put up a piece near Culbreth Theatre over at UVA, right there where you walk in! 5:30, Culbreth Theatre

Light House Short Films Light House is a local non-profit that encourages kids to get into film/make films about their communities. They are screening ten films, “ranging from quirky to frank, sci-fi to promo […]” and that is promo not porno. Support this organization and check out their jams. 5:45, Regal

If We Shout Loud Enough Film about Baltimore-based Double Dagger, their rise and all that came with it. This seems to be the requisite indie-music quasi-indie documentary for the festival. 8:45, Regal

Computer Chess Since I am poor, I am only getting one ticket to the entire film festival and it is for this film. But not because it is categorically great. Because of two subjective things: 1) Director Andrew Bujalski was one of the first nationally recognized mumblecore auteurs from the early 2000s with Funny Ha Ha and Mutual Appreciation. Mercifully (and also interestingly) Computer Chess is not mumblecore. It is a fictional story based on the early days of developing computer programs to play chess, seems to have a straight narrative and was shot on old videocassette recorders rather than digital or even film cameras. And 2) I love chess. 8pm, Regal



The Birds Just a classic, and you get to hear Tippi Hedren speak about Hitchcock in person, which seems cool. Also, Pervert’s Guide to Ideology‘s (screening on Saturday) prequel, Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, had an extended sequence on Lacanian analysis and The Birds. So there’s that. 7:30pm, Paramount

The Machine That Makes Everything Disappear This is an entirely superficial choice, based on the title, which sounds pretty cool, and the kid on the poster, who looks adorable. And there just aren’t enough films about the Republic of Georgia. 7pm, Regal

Kevin Everson: Short Films In a town of cultural savants, local professor and filmmaker Everson has all kinds of credibility, with shows everywhere respectable in the world. I don’t know him personally but many friends who took his class say he’s a great guy and real weird to boot, which is always nice. Hopefully this screening will be unsettling. I’m guessing 60-40 chances of weird to not weird. 9:30, Regal



Peter Pan Yeah, I said it. Go see Peter Pan. Relive your past and hope there are not too many squealing kids. Although when was the last time you were in a theater of kids held at rapt attention? It’s glorious in its own special way. 10am, Culbreth¬†

[i just read james’ c-ville piece about classic films and felt he made a really good argument for not screening Peter Pan]

Remote Area Medical Interesting-looking doc about temporary medical treatment in Bristol, Tennessee. You will be shocked at the insane level of healthcare within the United States outside of major metropolitan areas. 6pm, Newcomb

Single Shot After Moon, I will watch any movie with Sam Rockwell. Add William H. Macy and we got a deal. 9pm, Newcomb

CLAW A bit of a requisite pick for me. My band, We Are Star Children, was the house band for Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestling during most of this filming. Local photographer Billy Hunt has been making this documentary for a few years now. It’s a bit self-indulgent, like all Charlottesvillian endeavors, but people who have seen advance screenings say it’s real great. There’s apparently a super gnarly sequence of the now-legendary arm-break that happened during a match two years ago at Blue Moon. Although it was a complete accident, it lead to the retirement of my favorite CLAW wrestler, Tragedy Ann. Check it out. 9pm, Regal

Will for the Woods Just another one that looks good based on the short write-up. Serious documentary about being buried in nature. It lists Tony Hale as a contributor, which I hope is THAT Tony Hale. 3:45, Regal

Pervert’s Guide to Ideology Slavoj Zizek is anti-pop pop-philosophy’s go-to figure, so if you think you’re smart you should go check it out. I’m hoping Luke will write more about this, because he is more capable than I of rapping intelligently about Zizek. Suffice to say it will be extremely entertaining, even if you don’t understand what is being said. And that’s a comment on the denseness of the material, not Zizek’s speech impediment. 3pm, Regal


Our Nixon In his latest stand-up routine, Louis C.K. does a bit about Richard Nixon and just how crazy it was that the President of the United States resigned on television then flew away in a helicopter. I think it’s easy to forget how wild that time was, and Nixon unfortunately only gets weirder as history goes on which only makes it all seem less real. This documentary draws from film shot by three of his aides on Super 8 (apparently obsessive documentation was systemic in that White House) and, according to the write-up, draws “an intimate and complex portrait of the Nixon presidency.” For the man was responsible for some of the most fucked-up situations in the 1970s, most glaringly the public rise of Henry Kissinger, maybe he deserves some nuance. 4pm, Newcomb

Bible Quiz Girl who has memorized 2,000 Bible verses looks to claim the affection of a boy by winning the National Bible Quiz Champsionship…what’s not to love? 5:45, Regal

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 ghostfacekillawhale // Nov 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    GOOD NEWS: Computer Chess just went up on Netflix streaming today. Gonna dial it up there since I have VERY IMPORTANT COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES to watch on TV tomorrow night.

    PS Double Dagger’s set opening for Future Islands at the Tea Bazaar was fucking awesome. Too bad none of you were there.

    PPS Some Velvet Morning written and directed by Neil LaBute, starring Stanley Tucci Saturday night. Hopefully Neil’s gotten his mojo back after a few stinkers. But again, I have VERY IMPORTANT COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAMES to watch, so I’ll have to catch it on the flippity-flop.

  • 2 james // Nov 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I was at that Double Dagger show! (though I left during Future Islands’ set, ‘cuz apparently I’m the only one who thinks that band is super-boring…) Kind of funny how a band can be totally personable, reasonable grown-ups off-stage, and then turn into obnoxious jerks acting half their age as soon as they climb on-stage… they did it for 10 years, though, so I guess they got pretty good at that schtick by the end. I always thought their music was OK but their graphic design was better, which is why their book of show-posters was the only thing I bought from their merch table. I’m interested in seeing the documentary if only for all of the parts in it that are NOT about the band.

  • 3 james // Nov 7, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I recommended (and cautioned against) some older films over on the C-Ville site:

  • 4 james // Nov 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I’m lookin’ at:

    Le Joli Mai
    Kevin Everson’s films
    All That Heaven Allows

    re: “the Birds,” I’m fairly sure I’ve already seen Tippi Hedron come to the Virginia Film Festival to talk about that film, some time in the mid-90’s; does anybody else remember that? (it would have been a 35mm print then, too…)

  • 5 james // Nov 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I’m kind of curious to see “Computer Chess” even though “Funny Ha Ha” convinced me that Andrew Bujalski is a horrible writer/director. (“Funny” does, however, star my old friend Kate Dollenmayer, whose own films are amazing). I do find it rather curious that everyone’s making such a big fuss over the ‘shot-on-an-obsolete-video-format’ angle, even though the same selling point totally failed to get any butts in the seats for the (great) Argentinian film “No” back when we had it at Vinegar Hill last spring…

    Tonight would be a toss-up between “Chess” and “Shout,” both of which I’m cautiously curious about, except that I’ll probably be working late and will miss both. I may try to catch “Stranger at the Lake,” if only because it sounds like it has the exact same plot as the 2001 Tilda Swinton film “the Deep End,” and that was a pretty good movie.

  • 6 coogan // Nov 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    i was at that future islands show.