No No: A Dockumentary

Today at the Dallas International Film Festival (4/7/14)

Here’s today’s schedule, and our reviews of movies playing today:

The Militant

1:30 p.m. April 7, Angelika 8

Grade: C +

A student activist in Montevideo returns to his Uruguayan hometown after the death of his father. In interacting with student protestors there and wrapping up his father’s affairs (which involve settling a pile of debts), Ariel Cruz (played by an actor who speaks in a mumbling monotone) learns something about himself. I have no clue what that is, but at the end of the movie he seems to have made some sort of peace with his place in the world, I guess. — Jason Heid

 

No No: A Dockumentary

4 p.m. April 7, Angelika 4

Grade: B+

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this look at the life of Dock Ellis, the flamboyant former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter in 1970 while he claims to have been high on LSD. The film offers a compelling chronicle of Ellis through interviews and archival footage, detailing his triumphs and struggles. — Todd Jorgenson

 

The Man Behind the Mask

8:15 p.m. April 6, Angelika 6 | 4:15 p.m. April 7, Angelika 7

Grade: C

Aficionados of Mexican wrestling — lucha libre — may be thrilled by this hagiographic documentary. Those of us unfamiliar with the exploits of masked men like El Santo (the most famous of all luchadores) and El Hijo del Santo find ourselves checking the clock frequently during the nearly two hours of this straightforward, tediously detailed story of how El Hijo inherited his mask from his famed father, made a legacy of his own, and is even passing on his brutal craft to another generation.— Jason Heid

 

The Road to Austin

4:30 p.m. April 5, Angelika 4 | 4:30 p.m. April 7, Angelika 6

Grade: B+

This promotional video for something called the Artist Wellness Program gets markedly better about 20 minutes in, once it becomes a concert film, though it’s frustratingly vague about when and where exactly this tribute show to musician Stephen Bruton took place. The producers would have been wise to skip the cheesy introductory segment during which John Paul DeJoria and Kris Kristofferson pretend to have a casual conversation at a roadside honky-tonk. How much you enjoy the rest of Road to Austin will depend on how much you enjoy the music of the likes of Kristofferson and Bonnie Raitt, though the highlight of the show for me was the astonishing vocal talents of opera singer Cara Johnston. As much praise as the participants heap on Saint Willie Nelson, it’s a shame he didn’t take part in the production. — Jason Heid

 

Best Worst Friends

4:45 p.m. April 7, Angelika 8

Grade: C-

A man reunites with one of his teenage friends to help grant the absurd dying wishes of another of their high school pals. This extremely broad Chilean comedy makes fun of stutterers, nerds, dwarfs, and the mentally disabled — not that humor that traffics in the offensive can’t be funny. But maybe something was lost in the translation, because even the film’s references to Fight ClubBack to the FutureThe Terminator, and Lord of the Rings weren’t enough to make it as much fun as it wants to be. — Jason Heid

 

I Believe in Unicorns

7:15 p.m. April 7, Angelika 7 | 4:30 p.m. April 8, Angelika 4

Grade C-

A self-consciously quirky teenage girl hooks up with an older boy of punk rock pretensions. They run away together on the world’s most boring and absurdly emotional road trip, during which they make banal statements to one another in whispers of faux profundity. The frequent use of stop-motion animation by director Leah Meyerhoff does little to liven up the proceedings. I kept hoping they’d rob a bank or go on a murderous rampage or anything, really. This is the movie version of reading a high-school student’s poetry journals.— Jason Heid

 

Obvious Child

9:30 p.m. April 7, Angelika 7 | 1:30 p.m. April 9, Angelika 8

Grade: C

This comic portrait of a woman’s early mid-life crisis follows a sarcastic stand-up comedian (Jenny Slate) whose Valentine’s Day trifecta includes getting dumped, fired and pregnant. Her self-deprecation gives way to vulnerability as she tries to move on. While it features some amusing gags and supporting characters, Donna is more off-putting and obnoxious than she is charming and sassy. — Todd Jorgenson

 

Greencard Warriors

10:30 p.m. April 5 Angelika 6

 Grade: C-

Miriam Kruishoop’s earnest, though guileless social drama follows the ordeal of an immigrant family torn apart by the pressures of the inner city and the false promises of citizenship achieved through military service. Greencard Warriors has its heart in the right place, and it manages to succinctly outline many of the challenges facing undocumented families, using the allure of military service as a lens to view an otherwise impossible situation. But its penchant for melodrama and an occasionally marble-mouthed plot soften the dramatic blow.

 

Other reviews from yesterday:

Heli

1:30 p.m. April 11, Angelika 7

Grade: A

It opens on two men, bloodied and bound in the bed of a truck. Soon the film flashes back to tell us the story of how they came to be there and of the Mexican family torn apart by the incident. Director Amat Escalante was awarded the best director prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and it’s easy to understand why. Heli is both a harrowing tale of the toll that drug-related violence takes and full of beautifully observed moments of ordinary life. — Jason Heid