Mel Valentin

Contact us:
Stories By Mel Valentin
  • SXSW Movie Review: Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

    Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, a documentary directed by Jay Delaney, is, true to the title, not about Bigfoot (a.k.a. Sasquatch, a.k.a. Yeti), the mythical apelike giant that first chronicled in the 1920s in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, and, more recently, the American Midwest. Bigfoot has appeared in stories, novels, horror films, and on…
  • SXSW Movie Review: The Assassination Of A High School President

    Just three years old, high school-noir got its start with Rian Johnson's Brick (released in 2006 after being picked up at the Sundance Film Festival a year earlier). Set in a Northern California high school and centered on the investigation of missing student by her former boyfriend, a detective of sorts, and featuring hyper-stylized dialogue…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Dreams With Sharp Teeth

    Dreams with Sharp Teeth, a twenty-six-years-in-the-making bio-doc on the life, times, rants, and raves of science fiction writer/raconteur Harlan Ellison directed by Erik Nelson, is a perfect primer for anyone unfamiliar with Ellison's contributions to the written word, television, and film. Be forewarned, though, Nelson gives Ellison free reign to express his dissatisfaction about anything…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Dear Zachary

    Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking documentary edited and directed by Kurt Kuenne explores, in often excruciating detail, the death of his best friend, Andrew Bagby, a twenty-eight year old doctor completing his residency in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. On the morning of November 5, 2001, Bagby's bullet-riddled body was…
  • SXSW Movie Review: The Upsetter

    Written and directed by Ethan Higbee and Adam Bhala Lough, The Upsetter promises, with more than a bit of hyperbole, to document Jamaican music pioneer Lee "Scratch" Perry's life and times (definitively at that). Perry, a songwriter, singer, and producer, helped to define reggae in the late 1960s and early 1970s, working with Bob Marley…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Stop-Loss

    Directed and co-written by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don't Cry, The Last Good Breath), Stop Loss dramatizes the U.S. military's "stop-loss" policy that allows the military to postpone the honorable discharge of U.S. soldiers and send them back to Iraq and Afghanistan for another tour of duty (usually a year to eighteen months). Alas, Stop Loss…
  • SXSW Movie Review: The King Of Texas

    A documentary directed by Rene Pinnell and Claire Huie about Pinnell's uncle, Texas filmmaker Eagle Pennell (Last Night at the Alamo, The Whole Shootin' Match), The King of Texas, is both an affectionate tribute to Pennell and his brand of regional-based, DIY filmmaking and a cautionary tale about substance and alcohol abuse and the premature…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Choke

    After watching Choke, an adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's (Survivor, Fight Club) novel directed by Clark Gregg, the words vulgar, crude, profane, blasphemous, obscene, and, best of all, hilarious, all come to mind. A sharp critique aimed at our self-centered, self-absorbed culture, with a few digs at group therapy, psychiatry, and dysfunctional parenting, Choke is the…
  • Movie Review: Body Of War

    Some documentaries enlighten. The best documentaries do both. Case Directed by Ellen Spiro, a professor in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, and Phil Donahue, the former television host whose last television program was cancelled by MSNBC (ostensibly for low ratings, but probably for his liberal-progressive views), Body of War,…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Rainbow Around The Sun

    A rock opera/musical that's part Tommy and part Cabaret, Rainbow Around the Sun is a perfect example of what a talented group of artists and musicians can do when they have a modest budget and modern technology (e.g., HD cameras, Final Cut Pro) to work from. Filmed in and around Oklahoma City, Oklahoma by directors…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Bananaz

    Bananaz, Ceri Levy's behind-the-scenes/tour documentary centered on Gorillaz, the virtual band created by Damon Albarn, lead singer and songwriter for the Brit-pop band, Blur, and Jamie Hewlett, the co-creator of Tank Girl, is, alas, the kind of insular, for-fans-only documentary that means a limited theatrical run, if any, and a somewhat appreciative audience on DVD…
  • SXSW Movie Review: Nerdcore Rising

    If, like the vast majority of music listeners, you're unfamiliar with the term "nerdcore," then you're in luck. Nerdcore Rising, an engrossing documentary directed by Negin Farsad, will answer any and all questions you may have about nerdcore, a relatively new hip-hop genre made by and for nerds (e.g., computer nerds, gaming nerds, and pop…