I forgot to mention that the AMC Palace theater, where most of these screenings were held, has upgraded to digital projection especially for this festival. I saw the results a week before, when the theater showed A Christmas Carol in 3-D. No doubt they were feeling left out at not being able to show all the movies that came out in 3-D earlier this year.
I returned on Sunday to watch Spooner, the winner of the festival's Best Dramatic Feature award. It's a romantic piece that stars Matthew Lillard as a sad-sack used car salesman who still lives with his parents in an unfashionable part of California. His life changes when he stops to help a girl (Nora Zehetner) who's broken down on the side of the road. I always thought Matthew Lillard was an underappreciated actor, and there's quite a bit of chemistry between him and Zehetner. There's hardly any material to this movie, though. Compared to this, a film as slight as Management, which has a similar theme, looks as dense as a Russian novel. It has its minor charms, though. Interesting note: Christopher McDonald plays Lillard's dad, 10 years after they played father and son in SLC Punk!, and rock 'n' roll film that I liked a lot.
Well, that wraps up the third iteration of the Lone Star International Film Festival. As I mentioned before, the inclusion of The Messenger ensured that there wasn't any slippage in quality between last year and this year. There's always an initial burst of energy in getting a festival like this off the ground, but it's a different matter maintaining people's interest once the new event is firmly established. What we need to keep our eye on for next year is what the festival will do to keep itself fresh. These are tricky times to be running any sort of cultural institution, but especially for one that's in that delicate phase. In light of the success that the festival's been able to maintain, let's wish it the best. As always, thanks to everyone who's been keeping up with this blog. -- Kristian Lin