There aren’t many Hollywood studios who would dare make a movie about a school shooting—let alone try and turn one into a Die Hard-esque thriller. But there is the Dallas-based Cinestate. The upstart production house is already home to violent fare like S. Craig Zahler’s Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, as well the relaunched Fangoria horror brand. Now it’s branching out with a new imprint called Rebeller, which will handle “outlaw cinema” that, according to its mission statement, “Hollywood is too afraid to touch.” Rebeller’s first release, Run Hide Fight, certainly seems to fit that bill: shot in secret in a recently shuttered junior high in Red Oak, the film pits Young Sheldon’s Isabel May and her fellow students against a group of school shooters, responding to this sadly common national tragedy with action-movie vengeance. Cinestate founder Dallas Sonnier says he’s well aware Run Hide Fight will be controversial; in a recent in-depth profile of the studio on The Ringer, he also says he thinks it can “change some hearts and minds,” despite—or because of—its grindhouse veneer, which Sonnier believes will open it up a broader audience. Either way, it’s safe to say a lot more people will know Rebeller’s name when the film debuts next fall—for better or worse.
Alamo Drafthouse Rises, Everyone Else Sinks
Meanwhile, the Austin-based theater chain Alamo Drafthouse has turned their own “outsider cinema” sensibility into a booming cross-country franchise. It’s doing so well, in fact, that while movie ticket sales on the whole continue slumping year over year, down more than 5 percent since 2018, Alamo Drafthouse sales actually went up 5.8 percent in 2019. In a recent interview with Variety, founder Tim League credited its success to the variety of films you can find at all of the Alamo’s 41 locations, which screened some 2,083 titles this year. (By comparison, the next-highest number of films shown at a major chain was 1,142 titles.) There are other factors, of course: the food and booze; the theme parties and the interactive special events; the fact that, as League says, “we don’t feign enthusiasm” about movies that aren’t all that great. But it’s the Alamo’s willingness to dig deep into obscure audiences’ tastes that allows it to play the numbers game and win. It also doesn’t hurt that the Alamo will kick your ass out for looking at your phone—a policy that would make going to literally any other theater chain marginally more attractive.
Margo Martindale to Make Yet Another Show Worthwhile
Barring that, perhaps theaters could experiment with adding revered character actress Margo Martindale to more things—maybe digitally inserting her likeness into otherwise bland movies? It’s a strategy that’s certainly paid off for many a prestige TV show, and now Showtime’s Your Honor is set to get a piece of that action, having cast Martindale in the ten-episode limited series arriving next year. Jacksonville’s most formidable export will play a Louisiana senator in the legal thriller, one who is also mother-in-law to Bryan Cranston’s respected local judge. When Cranston’s son is involved in a hit-and-run, the event kicks off what the network describes as “a high-stakes game of lies, deceit, and impossible choices”—presumably a game in which doing whatever Margo Martindale says is the only way to win.
Scoot McNairy(’s Face) Joins Narcos: Mexico
Although he’s only been on screen since the turn of the millennium, Dallas-born/Austin-bred character actor Scoot McNairy has been working hard to earn the title of “the male Margo Martindale” that we just now bestowed upon him. In addition to huge movies like Gone Girl, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood, McNairy has popped up in some of the millennium’s best TV series so far, including Halt and Catch Fire and Fargo. And now, after the entire first season of Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico had us only hearing Scoot McNairy in voiceover, the second season will wisely let us see Scoot McNairy as well. McNairy’s DEA agent, Walt Breslin, is all over the just-released preview images for the show’s February return, jumping off from his surprise appearance in the first-season finale and hitting the ground running in pursuit of Diego Luna’s cartel leader.
Post Malone to Ring In the Post-’10s
McNairy’s fellow North Texan Post Malone also had a big reveal this week, albeit one relatively less surprising: the emo-rap-pop-whatever star will cap off a record-breaking 2019 by joining Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, performing during those waning minutes of the decade right before the ball drops. Post Malone joins other quintessentially 2019 artists like K-pop boy band BTS and genre-blurring country singer Sam Hunt, as well as Alanis Morissette performing with the Broadway cast of Jagged Little Pill (in case the end of another year doesn’t have you feeling old enough). In terms of sheer numbers, Post Malone is arguably the biggest artist of the year—although Lizzo and Time may quibble with that—and he’s even been cautiously floated as the defining artist of the decade in recent retrospectives. So it seems only fitting that his music will be the last sounds we hear before this decade mercifully ends and everyone starts listening to “trap bluegrass” or “anime folk” or whatever comes next.
Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life Named the Best Film of the Decade
In the sort of misty, ambiguous reflection that colors his work, the Associated Press has named Austin-based Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life the best film of the decade, calling it “one of the most sublime and soul-stirring movies ever made.” Malick’s 2011 opus offered a typically sprawling meditation on human existence, stretching from the age of dinosaurs to a small 1950s Texas town inhabited by Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain (and played by locations around Smithville and Waco), all the way to a present-day Houston roamed by a particularly morose Sean Penn. Tree of Life popped up on several other “best of the decade” roundups this week, alongside a couple more Texas films: Vulture placed Tree of Life at number 3 on a list that also included Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such A Beautiful Day (number twelve), while The Playlist put Tree of Life at number 5 on its “100 Best Films,” with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood squeaking in at number 81. It’s high praise for Malick, who can rest easy knowing he contributed one of the most lasting works of art of the 2010s—right up there with Post Malone.
This Week in Matthew McConaughey
While the holiday season has likely seen people slacking off at work until they’re finally allowed to go home and eat, Matthew McConaughey has been dutifully putting in the hours to bring This Year in Matthew McConaughey to a productive fourth-quarter close. Much of that has to do with the promotional cycle that’s been ramping up for Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen, which stars McConaughey as a marijuana kingpin who, according to this new introductory short, lacks the joie de vivre of his usual pot enthusiasts. McConaughey’s also been doing press rounds, telling Yahoo Movies UK he wants to do a romantic comedy with his Gentlemen costar—fellow “king of rom-coms”—Hugh Grant. He also talked about bourbon and wine with Wine Enthusiast magazine (although this one he might have just done anyway for the hell of it).
The Gentlemen’s premiere also sent McConaughey back to London, where he shared a haunting 4 a.m. video of himself clawing his way out of jet lag with the help of his own Longbranch whiskey and some pork cracklings.
It must have worked—or maybe he just got adequately blitzed—because soon he was out on the streets, looking fresh as a bud in this fuzzy green ensemble and hanging with both the Chelsea F.C. team and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, as one does in England. McConaughey captioned his photo with Martin with a callback to the credo he outlined in his Instagram debut from November, writing, “Keeping the high eye” and appending a cryptic “6:22.”
Turning his attention back home, McConaughey found the time to welcome both UT-Austin’s new offensive coordinator Chris Ash and Longview high school recruit Sawyer Goram-Welch to the team, while also graciously—if tersely—congratulating New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on his new touchdown record. Finally, he took some much-earned relaxation from all this jet-settin’ and hobnobbin’ and acknowledgment-bestowin’ to unwind with some music, stacking cassettes by “friends of mine” Sturgill Simpson, Bob Dylan, Ali Farka Touré, and Ry Cooder rather photogenically next to an old-fashioned, unshowy boom box—kicking off the appropriately laid-back amble toward the end of this, the 2,606th week of Matthew McConaughey. Here’s to 52 more.