Film Lover's Gift Guide
Duke City Cinema
A guide to gifting local films
Lots of things are made in New Mexico: turquoise jewelry, Nambé silver, any number of green chile-flavored candies. You know what else gets made in New Mexico? Movies. And not just those fly-by-night Hollywood operations that drop in to shoot some US/Mexico border scenes (We’re the Millers, 2 Guns, The Last Stand). We’ve actually got a small, honest-to-goodness cottage industry in our state of independent filmmakers shooting low-budget shorts, features and web series. With a little skill and a lot of luck, some of these homegrown productions actually make their way to DVD for the world to sample. Here, then, is a list of some local movies that came out over the course of this past year. Consider grabbing one as a gift to your favorite New Mexican film fan.
Breaking Bad The Complete Series (Blu-Ray)
Produced by AMC network, this hit dramatic series wasn’t exactly an “indie” project. But over the years, it employed more New Mexicans than just about any other film/TV project. That’s plenty enough for us to call it “local.” Though some speculated the show cast New Mexico in a bad light, you can’t say it was a dishonest light. Over the course of five years on the air, our protagonist, poor doomed Walter White, grew into an honorary Burqueño. We’ll miss our weekly trips to Los Pollos Hermanos, Vamanos Pest and the Octopus Car Wash. But we can console ourselves with this nifty collector’s item. It comes with all 62 episodes, over 55 hours of special features, a 16-page booklet, a Los Pollos Hermanos apron and a special “challenge coin.” Plus it all comes wrapped in a replica of Walt’s money barrel. Money not included.
Local actor/funnyman Scott Bryan wrote, produced and stars in this dark comedy about an unapologetic young loser who tries to piece together his crumbling life while fending off (none too successfully) his growing addiction to brain-numbing, pain-ending booze. Funny, sarcastic and occasionally painful, this film showcases a wealth of local talent, both in front of the camera (actress Rebekah Wiggins) and behind (director Phillip Hughes). The DVD features behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and a must-not-miss commentary by Bryan.
Enter the Dojo Collectors Edition
For two full seasons Matt Page has been the mastermind behind and the public face in front of the hilarious web series “Enter the Dojo.” Page plays the frequently clueless “Master Ken,” dubious sensei behind the fictional martial art of Ameri-Do-Te. The series has gone viral since its launch in 2011 and is currently in production on Season 3. Now you can pick up the Collectors Edition DVD featuring all of Seasons 1 and 2. You get over 2 hours of “groin-stomping action” plus outtakes, deleted scenes and other extra footage not seen on the internet. Plus that cover art is just sweet.
Home Sweet Home
This Kickstarter-funded home invasion thriller was shot on a shoestring in Alamogordo. It tells the tale of a young woman forced to return to her abandoned childhood home after going broke. There she finds a couple of violent squatters who aren’t giving the place up without a fight. Before making this feature debut, director John K.D. Graham earned his chops working as an electrician and a lighting technician on New Mexico-lensed Hollywood films such as True Grit and The Avengers. After several successful film fest appearances, the movie was sold to nationwide distributor Image Entertainment.
You don’t see many independent romantic comedies, but here’s a quaint little made-in-New Mexico gem. Lauren Myers, Spencer Wright, Merritt C. Glover and writer-director Phil Duran star in this comical tale of a beautiful young woman and a handsome young man who seem destined for one another—but just can’t seem to connect. This one’s a real labor of love (in more ways than one).
The Sun Never Sets
This vital, timely documentary played everywhere from the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque to the Newseum in Washington, DC. It’s an in-depth look at the Rio Grande Sun, a weekly newspaper published in Española. Not only is the Sun’s muckraking founder, editor and publisher the last of a vanishing breed, he’s managed to put out a successful newspaper since 1956. Who says print is dead? This film was partially funded by the New Mexico Film Office New Visions Award.
Thirty years ago Julie Reichert cowrote the indelible ’80s opus Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. (No, really.) After that, life took her away from Hollywood and swept her into New Mexico where she’s spent the last three decades. A couple years ago Reichert returned to filmmaking, gathering an impressive roster of New Mexico talent to launch her dream project. Just released on DVD, Warrior Woman tells the story of a breast cancer survivor (Karen Young from “The Sopranos”) who goes on a quest to heal her broken spirit and uncover the reason behind her potent dreams. The disc features commentary by the writer/director, interviews with cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage.