Stuck – 2008 AFI Dallas

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A huge shout out first and foremost to the great actor Lionel Mark Smith who plays Sam in Stuck. I did not hear until tonight that he had passed away and was the reason the director Stuart Gordon (who was attending his funeral) couldn’t make it. A great one has passed. His brief scene in the park in the movie with Stephen Rea is pure succinct movie poetry.

So you may or may not remember my interview with Stuart Gordon, Mena Suvari and John Strysik on Stuck (read here) back from its showing at the 40th Sitges Film Festival. Well tonight at the 2008 AFI Dallas Film Festival I had the honor of getting to introduce it as its Dallas/Forth Worth regional premiere and moderate a Q&A with Stephen Rea (who can be seen this summer in New York in Sam Shepards play Kicking A Dead Horse) and John Strysik! Note Stuck opens in the US via THINKfilms on May 28th.

Tonight really was for me a complete full circle with this movie. I remember last year when my friend Colin Geddes selected Stuck for his Midnight Madness program at Toronto International Film Festival. To get into Colin’s list of ten films he selects is no easy feet and a huge honor to the film he picks. When he picks those ten then you know they have to be not only amazing but also very unique and captivating in their own right. So cut to the 40th Sitges Film Festival where I did the interview and at the end of it we were all talking about how it would be great to show the film back in the DFW area. There didn’t see to be any prospects of it at the time. So several months later to find myself with this 2008 AFI Dallas honor of introducing and doing the Q&A felt like a nice full circle.

I tried to put some energy into my introduction of the film tonight. I have perhaps way too many stories and notes on the film so it was tough condensing everything down into a very distinct and brief intro. I was really car lagged with little sleep and too many miles driving to get into Dallas today but from all accounts I brought some serious energy to my intro. I did spend some time last week going over what introduction I should do, I had one stunt where I get syrup poured all over myself, but I canceled that thinking I could electrocute myself. Another one was this mixture of a certain Funky Forest dance scene meets Michael Jacksons Billy Jean, but I was only going to do it if I was at 100%. And another one where I do this whole rewritten version of the Lionel Richie song Stuck on You, which I thought was too much for Dallas audiences. Another fun one was recreating roman candle wars with strategically placed audience members… though it seemed the fire code and all that would go berserk. One other idea was a whole James Brown thing where two people would walk me in covering me in a giant coat and then drop the coat once I was in the center. I would then be in a really tight purple jump suit with two female dancers on either side with flashlights bouncing around as I ran through the AFI Dallas introduction singing a James Brown song with dance moves to match. Ultimately tonight I just went with a more straight ahead introduction.

I think one of the funniest moments of the night that people missed was before the introduction a male audience member leaned into John Strysik (after his girlfriend had gotten out of ear range) and said he had a really important question to ask. Wait stop the presses here comes a really serious question of the movie… drum roll… boom boom boom 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1… and then he asks if there are any good sex scenes in the movie. I guess some people go into movies wanting one particular thing if nothing else.

I started out my intro wearing the famous Truck Turner Alamo Drafthouse BADASS CINEMA t-shirt by playing a certain Spaghetti Western theme. 200 points if you can guess which movie its from and by which composer. Then bobbed and weaved through various talking points and at one point when I looked at the audience I could tell they had not seen anyone at the festival this year introduce a movie like me. So I had a complete blast with it and got to interact with the audience some and throw some energy into the crowd before the lights dim.

Watching Stuck was a really good experience. The audience reacted very distinctly to all the moments the Sitges audiences had. Everyone seemed locked in for its wild ride. Nothing better than an audience responding to a movie I love.

The Q&A afterwards was hopefully good. I threw out some trivia including the fact Stephen Rea had been in one of my favorite all-time TV shows in the Professionals (a fact that was lost on 100% of the audience, lol). Now I know Mr. Rea has been in a lot of damn good Neil Jordan movies… but holy hell, I just met someone that did work on one of my all-time favorite TV shows in the Professionals. Chances of me running across anyone that worked on that show seems so incredibly rare and happenstance so it was amazing in that regard alone. Let alone Mr. Rea is just one of the best actors working today. He was an absolute trooper having just gotten in from an international flight from Dublin. It was amazing to see him out tonight fighting through the jet lag elements. I certainly don’t know if I could have done that after an international flight.

With John Strysik, I don’t think I can say it loud enough that I can’t wait to see what he does next. I hope his Jitter project takes off soon! His screenplay for Stuck was absolutely stellar and so full of so many amazing little and big moments. That he had such a great cast, crew and director to realize it in such dead on fashion certainly helped. With this movie he firmly places himself as one of the most exciting screenwriters out of Hollywood.

Thanks to everyone that came out to the movie tonight and for sticking around for the Q&A.

It really is amazing to see Dallas transformed into this movie loving town with this electric current running through everyone with AFI Dallas. Last year in its first year the buzz for it was through the roof. This year the buzz is so strong that tickets are scarce and everyone is talking about it. I’ve barely been in town a day and the fest is just everywhere like an electric current beaming people with an interest for cinema and Hollywood luster Dallas style. You can just feel it at a film festival when audiences are completely into what it has to offer and AFI Dallas is certainly is working perfectly in that regard.

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