Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Robert Pattinson in Damsel, a twisted Western at the Strand

Strand Theatre
Saturday, September 1
at 7 PM
Official Selection:
2018 Sundance Film Festival – World Premiere
68th Berlinale 2018 – Competition 
2018 SXSW Film Festival 

First he was Cedric in the Harry Potter films, then he was Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, now Robert Pattinson is Samuel Alabaster, a different kind of "hero". in a different kind of Western.

Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson), an affluent pioneer, ventures across the American Frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska). As Samuel traverses the Wild West with a drunkard named Parson Henry (David Zellner) and a miniature horse called Butterscotch, their once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel. A loving reinvention of the western genre from the Zellner brothers, DAMSEL showcases their trademark unpredictability, off-kilter sense of humor, and unique brand of humanism.

The Bros. – David and Nathan – don’t see things the same way the rest of us do. They are, it turns out, great aficionados of westerns. “We’re HUGE fans,” David enthuses. The brothers began churning around ideas for one, but he notes, “We didn’t want to do an ersatz version of the classic western. We knew we wanted to come up with an approach that would be interesting to us and do something different.” They looked not simply to the beloved Sergio Leone spaghetti western classics of the 60s, but also to the films of another favorite, director Budd Boetticher, whom, David notes, “They bridge the classic John Ford type of western into the Leone or Sam Peckinpah era, almost a merging of those two. On the surface they can seem wholesome, with a simple black and white morality, but underneath it’s much more complex and murky.” In other words, right up Zellner alley.

So what’s the classic western setup? How about a damsel in distress? And maybe one whose degree of distress depends on who’s telling the story. “We liked the idea of taking some of the tropes that are all too common – the hero and the villain, the damsel in distress – and giving them more levels, making it more complex,” David explains. Damsels, he notes, are so often weak and simplistic in these films, or they’re just there to supplement the heroic male character. “So we wanted to come up with a dynamic that would honor the tropes of the genre, but have it be more relatable on a human level, instead of these one-dimensional archetypes.”

See the trailer: 

Advance tickets at Highway 61 Coffeehouse: $5
At the door: $7

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