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The Haligonian, a BNAT virgin, loses his mind at BUTT-NUMB-A-THON: THE DIRTY DOZENTH!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with a BNAT Virgin's deflowering experience. I'm working up my coverage and DVD Columns, but figured I'd share this first. God, I literally just slept for an entire day cycle - feel so good right now.

Hey Harry and Quint,

Just thought I would send you guys a BNAT virgin's writeup on an amazing year. I'll try to keep the "swooning love-letter" side of things down, but I had the time of my life. You can call me The Haligonian if you want to post it.

I'm a longtime reader and fan of the site, but this is probably the first time I've ever sent anything in. Always wanted to apply to BNAT, and when I saw the application process with the MANDOM video and DIRTY DOZEN questions, I knew I had to give it a shot.

So, the list comes up just after Halloween. When I saw my name on the list, my jaw dropped and I immediately called up my folks to figure out how we'd get down to Austin from Nova Scotia. I've always dreamed of going to Austin, so this was the trip of a lifetime for me. My dad and I got in on Friday afternoon, and we headed straight over to the Pre-Pre-BNAT party at Pinballz. The arcade was one of the coolest spots I've ever visited, with lots of great vintage machines to play. I was rocking the KISS machine for a while, got to meet Harry and Quint and talk to them for a bit. That might have been the coolest part of the whole trip because I've been reading their work since I was about 12. The site is one of the biggest reasons I love to write about film, so they're big inspirations for me.

We headed out to The Highball later on, and just as I was walking up to the door, Yoko came running out, calling my name. Harry, you were 100% right when you said she's like a real-life Knives Chau. The Pre-BNAT party was incredible, with a great band playing a tight set earlier on. The Highball also had these great little karaoke rooms and bowling lanes with clips from vintage films playing overhead. I ducked out early on, to get some sleep before the big day.

The big day.

I got to the Alamo around 10 AM to register and pick up the awesome BNAT bag. There were some great things in the bag, like a Blu-ray of Buster Keaton's SHERLOCK JR. and a GREEN LANTERN ring. Going to a movie at the Alamo has always been one of those "bucket list" things for me, so to actually step inside was so great. To be going to the Alamo for BNAT of all things was just the perfect cherry on top. As we were lining up, I turned around and there was Drew McWeeny. I had about a minute to say "hi", tell him what a big fan I was and tried not to come across as too "fanboy'ish. A tough thing to do when you've been reading this guy's work for a long time. All the AICNers I met this weekend were just the nicest people, it was an incredible experience.



This one kicked off the festival. A perfect way to start the MANDOM theme, the film is great. I was actually quite surprised by the tone of the film, as I was going in thinking this was going to be a serious, solemn western. The Coen Bros. bring so much humour and warmth to the film, and by the time the credits rolled, I was knocked back by how much it affected me. Great performances all around. After the glorious trifecta of head-scratching endings in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, BURN AFTER READING and A SERIOUS MAN, I was expecting another symbolism-laden puzzler (my favourite type of Coen film). Instead, the Coen's have delivered what may be their most crowd-pleasing film since O BROTHER. This is in no way a bad thing. The opening shot of the film won me over, and I was drawn into this world for the entire film. Seriously, just give Roger Deakins the Oscar right now. I loved every bit of TRUE GRIT. It's another Coen Bros. gem.


I had seen this one a couple years back, but never with an audience. A great slow-burner, I don't think there was any dialogue until about 10 minutes in. It was a real treat to see this one up on the screen, especially when tensions finally boil over near the end of the film. We learned later that the print was actually Quentin Tarantino's personally copy, which kinda rocked. One of my favourite vintage films at BNAT.


This musical rocked in so many ways. It was the first musical to be filmed on location, and the energy of New York is just non-stop. Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra are so great, not to mention the gorgeous trio of Vera-Ellen, Ann Miller and Betty Garrett. It was wonderful to see a musical film where the audience applauded after every number. The film is also hilarious, and the audience ate up every pun and double-entendre. Probably my favourite vintage film at BNAT, though there was one later on that I enjoyed almost as much.

By this point, we're films in. I was just getting up to stretch, when out came Jon Favreau, Bob Orci and Ron Howard. THAT was incredible. SWINGERS is one of my all-time comfort films, and I love Favreau as a director. Then, they brought out the first 40 minutes of COWBOYS AND ALIENS. I had a lot of interest in this film when I saw the trailer, and now I don't have any worries about it. Daniel Craig is great, Paul Dano is great and Harrison Ford rocks. so. much. From what we saw, this might be one of my favourite performances from him. I don't want to give away too much, but the cast brings their A-game to the table. We got a bit of character work from guys like Adam Beach and Sam Rockwell, and Favreau lets the mood set in just right before all hell breaks loose. Can't wait for this one.

We got a 10 minute clip from RANGO, which should be great. Loved the gun-toting, hard drinking animals in Gore Verbinski's universe. The animation looks totally original, and has a feel all of its own. Can't wait for this one either.


I'd never seen this one, and the audience ate it up. Harry was spot on in his introduction for this one, talking about the fact that while Ronald Regan was actually quite good in the film, Errol Flynn still made him look like a goof. Lots of humour in the film, intentional and unintentional (especially when it came to political correctness). It was great to see this one with an audience.


Easily my favourite film of BNAT. I don't think I've ever felt so invested in a sports film. Wahlberg proves that he can act with the best of them, provided he's in the hands of a great director (P.T. Anderson, Scorsese). Christian Bale brings along the best performance of his career, completely turning into another person. LOVED it. My second-favourite film of the year, after INCENDIES.


This was a beautiful film. Charles Laughton's makeup is incredible, the sets are stunning and the crowds are massive. Quasimodo's rescue of Esmerelda brought out a huge applause from the audience. Another one I'd never seen, but I loved it.


This was one of the more interesting experiences at BNAT. Orson Welles' uber-Shakespeare-mixtape is impossible to find in North America. The crowd went crazy when Harry announced it. All in all, I'd say it's one of my favourite Welles' performances. The battle scene partway through the film is so massive and rough and messy. I'd kind of describe the film in the same way. This one wrapped up around 2 in the morning, just as my next caffeine rush (from the HUGE bottomless coffees at the Alamo) kicked in. Then, Harry brought along something awesome...


A breezy live show from a legend was just what we needed at 2 in the morning. Pryor brought the house down. The print had lots of red dots from water damage, and they started to get seriously psychedelic by the end of the film. The Pryor show injected a whole lot of energy into the crowd, and it might be my other favourite vintage moment of BNAT.


This was the biggest surprise of the new films for me. I had been hoping for the best since I first heard of all the ups and downs this production went through. Gondry and Seth Rogen and Jay Chou and Christoph Waltz bring so much crazy energy to this great action-comedy. THE GREEN HORNET gets action-comedy just right, with a perfect blend of the two. Can't wait to see this one again. Kato-Vision rocks so much. A gleefully destructive action-comedy.


Okay, not sure how much I can say about this one. I'll say this: I have never been so proud of someone from my hometown. LOVED it. My favourite film experience of BNAT. The audience was surprised, shocked, horrified and amazed. Lots of giddy shrieks could be heard. I LOVE THIS FILM.


I liked this one a lot. Seeing the film in 3D was cool, can't wait to see it again when it comes out in February. The guys behind MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3D get the crazy gore, nudity and thrills just right. Every time William Fichtner shows up, the film kicks into crazy-high gear.


They bussed us out to the IMAX for this one. While I've seen films on IMAX before, the setup they have at the Texas State History Museum is perfect. I'd never had a better experience on a pure visceral level. The sound and the size of the screen completely encompassed me and I was drawn into this incredible world. Unfortunately, I had to duck out with 30 minutes to go in order to make my flight back to Nova Scotia. I loved everything I saw of it, and can't wait to see it again.

All in all, BNAT was one of the most amazing film experiences of my life. I'm sure there's about a dozen details I've missed, but this whole trip was incredible. Just want to say thanks to Harry and all the AICN guys, this year was insane.

The Haligonian
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