'Shotgun Stories' coming to Little Rock | Rock Candy

'Shotgun Stories' coming to Little Rock

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Alan Disaster as Shampoo Douglas

After an award-winning festival tour, Little Rock native Jeff Nichols will debut his feature film "Shotgun Stories" on December 14 at Market Street Cinema. The film, shot in and around Pulaski and Lonoke counties, tracks a feud between two sets of half-brothers following their father's death. It'll be the movie's national theatrical debut and proceed a broader release earlier next year.

Michael Shannon, who's been in dozens of big budget films and, most recently, "Bug" with Ashley Judd, gives an inspired performance in the lead role, and Alan Disaster, of Smoke Up Johnny, offers an effortlessly naturalistic turn as a meth dealer (ha), who also doubles as the story's Greek chorus.

In full disclosure, I'm super-excited for the film because Jeff's a friend and because, during one of my long bouts of unemployment several years back, I worked on the film, doing props and mostly reading a lot of magazines.

The film was shot on a shoe-string budget with a good deal of non-actors and a lot of inexperienced cast members. It didn't look like much when we were making it, but when I finally got see a near-finished cut a while back, I was really blown away.

In a Q&A I did with Jeff a while back, I summed it up as "a quietly precise film, driven by the languid rhythms of the South, those in-between moments that might make up half a life—a pause in conversation, the buzz of the cicadas—that're rarely so carefully captured onscreen. Beneath that moodiness, an intensely dramatic family feud roils and finally bursts through. It's a film that trades in blood and kin and justice and revenge and other eternal themes." (I know it's lame to quote yourself, but I thought long and hard about the movie before I wrote that, and I can't describe it any better on the fly.)

Lest I get accused of nepotism or homerism or anything else: "Shotgun Stories" has been killing on the independent film festival circuit. It took home the top prizes in Seattle and Austin, David Edelstein, of New York magazine, called it one of the ten films to see in Tribeca and Roger Ebert just gave it a good blurb. There hasn't been a film shot in Arkansas with this much buzz surrounding it since "Sling Blade."

Keep checking Rock Candy for more details about the premiere. There's definitely going to be a big after-party, likely featuring Jeff's brother Ben and his band Lucero and Smoke Up Johnny.

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