An Ideal Local Mixture

The Tulsa American Film Festival offers personal touches and the right balance of feature-length and short works.

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Around Town

It’s great to see Oklahoma exploding with film festivals. The most established is still Oklahoma City’s deadCenter Festival, begun in 2001, but many others have popped up in its wake. The Tulsa American Film Festival is an up-and-coming affair utilizing a format similar to deadCenter’s (lots of shorts and a local flavor) and promises exciting films from Oklahoma and around the country. In its third year, the festival runs Oct. 10-13.

Locally focused festivals appeal to people on several levels. One is the more personal feel; another is the right mix of feature and short films. Features tend to dominate the biggest festivals, so shorts get pushed aside. The OKC and Tulsa events are the perfect size (and sometimes offer the only opportunity) to see short films that won’t get released in theaters. The Tulsa festival also looks to pull in a diverse lineup by emphasizing local and student filmmakers as well as films focusing on Native American and Latino subjects.

At Home

Three Identical Strangers was one of the more exhilarating documentaries at this year’s True/False Film Festival in March. It had an extremely successful theatrical run (for a documentary) and comes out on DVD on Oct. 2. Even if you aren’t one who gravitates toward documentaries, you should check out this film, which has the momentum of a fictional thriller.

The movie focuses on three identical triplets, separated at birth and adopted by three sets of parents. They reunite improbably and create a mild media buzz in early-1980s New York. But as they dig into their pasts, they discover that not everything is as it seems. The film seamlessly transitions from what appears to be a light, funny, human-interest story into something more troubling as it explores the boys’ adoptions. The movie will make you laugh and cringe and feel a righteous anger.

In Theaters

It’s hard to know what to make of the upcoming Venom. The title character exists in the gray area between full-on villain and anti-hero in a space that usually produces cringe-worthy attempts by filmmakers to be dark and gritty. Director Ruben Fleisher is responsible for the enjoyable Zombieland but also the unfortunate Gangster Squad. Venom gets a recommendation on the strength of its cast, which is top to bottom excellent, from Tom Hardy (the brooding Venom) and Riz Ahmed (the villain) to Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams and Reid Scott.

Meanwhile, in the “so bad it’s good” category, keep an eye on Hunter Killer, the improbably named new submarine thriller with Gerard Butler, who will star in anything … if it’s bad enough. The presence of Casino Royale director Martin Campbell means the film should have solid action scenes and (hopefully) come complete with a ludicrous plot and awful one-liners.

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