King Williams didn't set out to make an epic documentary film about Atlanta's controversial 20-year effort to purge the city of its low-income housing projects. It just sorta happened.
Six years ago, he was a Georgia State University junior tasked with coming up with a project for an urban policy and sociology class on metropolitan Atlanta. So he chose to look into one of the great mysteries of his childhood by researching what happened to East Lake Meadows, the former housing project located on the edge of East Atlanta and Decatur, where many of his boyhood friends had lived. "I just remember it being there in Decatur as a child, and at one point it just wasn't there anymore. So I was like, I'm going to do a paper on it." That paper grew legs as he met other Atlanta natives in his class who liked the idea. They decided to get a camera with the idea of shooting enough footage for a two-to-three minute complementary doc. A month later, they had 15 hours of footage. "We were like, we should really try to make this an actual documentary."
Williams today is a 28-year-old graduate with a resume of production experience working under big dogs like Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese, yet he still doesn't consider himself a full-fledged filmmaker. After years of trial-and-error stops and starts, however, he and his original crew of GSU classmates are narrowing in on a release date for their full-length documentary. The Atlanta Way attempts to make sense of all the hairy issues of class, race, and culture that have grown out of the Atlanta Housing Authority's nationally recognized model for decentralizing inner-city poverty. It includes interviews with residents of some of the last housing projects to be demolished in Atlanta (Herndon Homes, Bowen Homes, Palmer House, Roosevelt House, Hollywood Courts, Bankhead Courts), as well as interviews with journalists, social advocates, power brokers, and politicians, including former mayoral candidate Mary Norwood and Kasim Reed, a year before he decided to run for the city's top office.
With a tentative release scheduled for fall in Atlanta, Williams talked in advance about why he struggled to create an uncompromising look at the issue, why "gentrification" is still a dirty word to some, and why he feels Atlanta's sense of culture has taken the biggest hit in the wake of all the change.
This is a topic that inspires so many opposing views, in Atlanta and across the country. Did you set out to make a film that would speak to both sides or is that impossible?
The trailer for Harmony Korine's upcoming Spring Breakers looks to be a wild departure from Tennessee-based filmmaker's past art-film ouvre. The movie has a couple of notable Atlanta connections, including the big screen debut of the sometimes troubled trap rap star Gucci Mane, who gets top billing alongside James Franco, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens. Though not mentioned in the trailer, Sidney and Thurman Sewell, better known as the ATL Twins, star in the film, as well.
While the clip certainly doesn't look like Julien Donkey-Boy part 2, I bet the film will be a good deal more subversive that than the Hollywood gloss of this trailer suggests.
"Archer" voice regulars Amber Nash and Lucky Yates have launched a new, occasional gig on Dads Garage TV with trailer trash, in which they puckishly review the coming attractions of new movies both big (Mirror Mirror) and small (ATM — or, as Nash calls it, "ATM Machine"). Note: it's better to watch the original trailer first (like Mirror Mirror's) before watching them break it down.
Movie studios bestowed their generosity on the Internet yesterday with juicy movie samples. Hulu has the first five minutes of Stephen Soderbergh's Haywire, an action flick starring Gina Carano, former "American Gladiator" Crush, along with such actors as Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender. Meanwhile, Red Tails, the WWII drama about the Tuskegee Airmen, ups the ante on Haywire by offering a nearly seven minute sample.
Both films open Feb. 20.
The trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's beloved fantasy novel, didn't exactly sneak onto the Internet yesterday. The Hobbit launched the usual spate of analysis via blogs and tweets, but didn't really match the hubbub over The Dark Knight Rises. The polite interest in The Hobbit doesn't come close to matching the mania for the original trailer of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings in 2000, however. I remember the dial-up days of a decade ago and waiting more than an hour for the first trailer to download:
In April 2000, when New Line posted the film's first Internet trailer — a combination of clips and behind-the-scenes material — it was downloaded by 1.7 million people (a figure hyped as being "more than any other film marketing footage in history"). When the final, full-length trailer of The Fellowship of the Rings was unveiled during the September 24, 2001, premiere of the WB series "Angel," you literally couldn't tell if the TV show was being used to promote the movie trailer, or vice versa.
The trailer for The Hobbit really works the prequel angle, conspicuously showing objects of future import like The Sword That Was Broken and the One Ring. But I like the way the trailer embraces atmosphere, having the dwarves' song carry into a montage of Bilbo Baggins' travels. It also makes next year's upcoming spate of fantasy films (including Wrath of the Titans and Jack the Giant Killer) look frivolous indeed. Maybe I'll watch The Lord of the RIngs again over the holidays.
The Farrelly Brothers seem to enjoy filming movies in Atlanta, but the downside is that their recent local output, so far, consists of Hall Pass and next year's The Three Stooges. The long-gestating project once attracted the likes of Jim Carrey, Sean Penn and Benecio del Toro, but will star Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopolous as the dope-slapping, eye-poking threesome. Even in their heyday, the Stooges' brand of slapstick was best confined to short films, so putting them on the big screen seems like a case of fools rushing in. The comedy opens April 4: check out Larry David as the first nun in the new trailer:
O.K., now I really, really want to see Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, a movie I'd never heard of before five minutes ago. Through Dec. 4, GSU's Cinefest is screening this Finnish film that involves the mythos of Santa Claus, but looks a heckuva lot more like The Thing than Arthur Christmas. What is the identity of the supernatural being found interred in "the world's largest burial mound" in the frozen North? And what if it's still alive? I imagine the tag-line: "You'd Better Be Good For Goodness Sake."
This week sees the release of 2012's competing Snow White movies, which look like Bizarro world opposites of each other. The first due in theaters is Mirror Mirror (March 16) which, despite having style-drunk director Tarsem Singh at the helm, looks to be more like Shrek-like comedy, with Julia Roberts apparently having a grand old time as the funny-evil queen, Lily Collins as Snow White and Armie Hammer as the Prince:
Meanwhile, Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1) looks highly influenced by Tim Burton's treatment of Alice in Wonderland as an action movie, with a scary-evil Charlize Theron as the queen, Twilight's Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Thor's Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman.
So which looks better? "None of the above" might be an option here.
Who's excited about the American Pie reunion movie? Err, me neither. So why am I posting this trailer of hollow nostalgia? Because it was filmed in Atlanta (though the set looks New Englandy), and I saw droopy Tara Reid at the Colony Square Athletic Club. Enjoy!
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