Friday-Friday, Aug. 23-30

“The Peanut Butter Falcon”

To tweak an old adage, you can take the boy out of the Outer Banks, but you can't take the Outer Banks out of the boy.

And so it is with “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” the first full-length film from writer-director Tyler Nilson, who grew up in Colington Harbor and who graduated from Manteo High School in 2000.

Nilson, who lives in Los Angeles, originally moved to the West Coast to make surf films.

The movie, co-directed, and co-written with Michael Schwartz, is set on the Outer Banks (a few scenes were filmed here, but most were shot in Georgia).

But watching it, you sure feel like it takes place in our little corner of the world.

One of the lead characters wears an Outer Banks baseball cap, and there are references, among others, to Wanchese, Manteo, and U.S. 158.

The film, which opened on Aug. 8 in selected cities, goes nationwide on Aug. 23. It has generated some serious buzz for its originality and positive message about disabilities.

It plays at R/C Kill Devil Hills Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills, and at the Pioneer Theatre in Manteo.

“We're dong everything we can to promote the movie,' says Nilson, 38, during a phone interview from Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was doing just that.

“Falcon,” which garnered praise and awards at the Sundance and South by Southwest film festivals, tells the story of a young man (Zac) with Down syndrome who wants to escape from a rest home and become a professional wrestler.

He's played by Zack Gottsagan, who has Down syndrome, and he delivers a totally natural, heartbreaking performance in his big-screen debut.

The actor and Nilson met five years ago when the writer-director was volunteering at a camp for people with disabilities.

“I promised him I would write a movie for him,” says Nilson, who's also an actor.

In “Falcon,” Zac, with the help of a fellow rest-home resident (played wonderfully by Bruce Dern) breaks out of the facility and finds himself in the great unknown.

He encounters fisherman Tyler (Shia LaBeouf, in a beautifully understated performance), who's on the run after an incident involving tampering with crab pots.

The two men form an unlikely alliance and begin a muddy adventure on a boat floating on a river through marshes and backwoods, encountering colorful characters along the way. Tyler wants to find his own peace and help Zac fulfill his lifetime dream. So, off they go to find the wrestling school that is run by Zac's idol, a former big-time pro wrestler named Salt Water Redneck (a perfect Thomas Haden Church)

The trip turns into a time of discovery, and Nilson and Schwartz address some weighty subjects – grief, depression, acceptance, disability and redemption — but you don't feel like you're being hit over the head.

Along the way the men are joined by Eleanor (a superb Dakota Johnson), who is Zac's caretaker at the facility and has been assigned to bring his back.

And then there were three.

The lovely movie — equal parts funny, poignant, adventurous and thoughtful — is like life, made up of moments: Tyler and Zac building a boat together, Zac learning to swim, Tyler and Eleanor slowly, realistically falling in love, Zac meeting his hero and wrestling in a ring for the first time.

Call it the little movie that could.

“It's about love,” says Nilson. “It's about friends and family you choose.”

“I feel like it's my gift to the world.”

  • When: Various times at R/C Kill Devil Hills Movies 10; 8 p.m. at the Pioneer, 113 Budleigh St., Manteo
  • Cost: $9-$11 at KDH, $7 at the Pioneer
  • Worth noting: Writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz will conduct question-and-answer sessions on Friday-Saturday, Aug. 23-24, after the 6:45 p.m. Showing in Kill Devil Hills, and after the 8 p.m. screening in Manteo
  • Info: 252-441-5630,, 252-473-2216, Pioneer Theatre on Facebook
  • Saturday, Aug. 24

Stardust to Ashes

“It's the hardest thing musically I've ever done.”

That's Steve Baker describing the challenge of paying tribute to singer-songwriter-visionary David Bowie, who was known as a musical chameleon.

“He didn't follow rules,” says Baker, 59, the leader of the Raleigh, North Carolina-based sextet playing at Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills.

Call the Baker the kind of understatement.

Over the course of five decades, Bowie explored a number of genres, including glam rock, blues, funk, grunge, and pop.

His look and voice changed with every album.

Ashes, according to Baker, tries to be accurate with Bowie's material, which requires him to stretch vocally to match the era.

On the band's play list are, among others, “Fame,” “Space Oddity,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “Let's Dance,” “Modern Love,” and “Young Americans.”

“We play the hits,” says Baker. “But we also perform some deep cuts.”

  • When: 10:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $5
  • Where: Outer Banks Brewing Station, 600 S. Croatan Hwy., milepost 8.5, Kill Devil Hills
  • Info: 252-449-2739,
  • Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 24-25

Fresh Fest

Randy Randall, better known as “DJ Fresh,” is throwing two parties, including one for his birthday (Aug. 23).

Both are at Secret Island Restaurant and Entertainment in Kill Devil Hills.

“Everybody likes to celebrate with me,” says Fresh, a onetime local who now lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but who returns often to where he once belonged.

Respected for his mixing skills and ability to read a crowd, the effervescent DJ, who's been performing on the Outer Banks since 2006, spins Top 40, mild hip-hop, rock, country, funk, Latin, and rhythm-and-blues tunes.

In his hot rotation these days is Lil Nas X's inescapable hit “Old Town Road,” which has ruled the charts for months.

“It's definitely the anthem of the summer,” he says.

The Saturday night gig is a regular adult dance session.

On Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., Fresh will be joined by eight other local DJs for an outdoor family event, with music, a waterslide and pony rides.

Admission (suggested) is a school item, which will be donated to area schools.

  • When: 10:30 p.m. Saturday, noon Sunday
  • Cost: $5 Saturday, free Sunday
  • Where: Secret Island Restaurant and Entertainment, 504 S. Virginia Dare Trail, milepost 8. Kill Devil Hills
  • Info: 252-4417484,


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