One of the best antidotes to a cruelly hot Austin summer is to partake of a show at the Paramount (or adjacent Stateside) Theatre. The air is cool, the Milk Duds are never melted and the movies are always great. The schedule for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series has been released, and we are practically giddy with excitement over a number of the titles screening from late May through September.
The Paramount will be showing movies from various decades in 35mm, and Stateside will offer HD digitally projected titles. If you plan to see more than a couple of these, it's worth it to buy Flix-Tix (10 tickets for $50). Austin Film Society members get $5 off the ticket booklet if you buy at the box office. Becoming a Film Fan is also a great option for repeat customers, as it takes $5 off the GA ticket price -- a silver membership even gets you free garage parking during screenings.
We here at Slackerwood are already busting out the lawn chairs and cold beverages because summer is upon us. This can only mean one thing: free and cheap summer movies around Austin! We're revisiting old favorites and looking into some new ones to give you and your family plenty of activities to do together over summer break.
As usual, some programs are specifically for children, such as the Alamo Kids Camp and Regal Summer Movie Express, and some series are adults-only. Be sure to check out our links for more information on the screenings, and be mindful of what you can and cannot bring with you (such as pets and alcoholic beverages).
We will be on the hunt for new free movie opportunities this year, so if you know of any (or if you don't see a specific one here) let us know in the comments. This page will also be updated as we receive updates on specific events. Happy watching!
I talk in pictures, not in words
-- "And Through the Wire" by Peter Gabriel
Welcome to Sounds Like Film, Slackerwood's new monthly feature on music in local and independent film.
Music plays an integral role in film. Whether it's a well-placed song with lyrics to enhance a mood or scene or a film score that evokes an emotional response, the audience's experience is heightened by music. Studies have demonstrated that music stimulates several areas of the brain: the auditory, limbic and motor regions as well as the less-understood orbitofrontal cortex which is thought to be key in sensory integration.
This concept relates to our movie experience in many ways, as familiar songs or scores can evoke a particular emotion or memory. In my own experience, there are many film-related compositions that can do just that -- Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me" in The Breakfast Club, Ennio Morricone's title track "For A Few Dollars More" or "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel in Say Anything. Pan's Labyrinth was released almost eight years ago, yet I can't listen to "Mercedes Lullaby" by Javier Navarrete without tearing up, and often within the first few notes while watching the heartbreaking scene the song is matched to.
The creative forces that deserve recognition for this key element in movies are songwriters, composers and musicians. Within the local and Texas film industry, a number of individuals contribute their talents on a regular basis. One of the main objectives of this new column is to spotlight their talent and work.
This article is the eighth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.
"They say Mary Kay does not play favorites. That's not true. They do. We're all favorites!"
-– Fictional Mary Kay Cosmetics beauty consultant Susan Anderson
It's tempting to mock the subject of this month's TAMI Flashback videos, Mary Kay Cosmetics. After all, Mary Kay epitomizes the beauty-industrial complex, which is built on the absurd and often cruel practice of telling women they aren't attractive unless they conform to conventional standards of beauty.
But this article is not about the way our culture treats women; it's about TAMI videos. So I'll refrain from mocking the Dallas-based cosmetics giant (it will be a challenge) and focus on three of its corporate films from the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.
- Austin City Council unanimously approved a Creative Content Incentive Program late last week, a decision that's expected to increase Austin's advantage for bringing movie, television and digital media industry projects to the city with the goal of creating more employment opportunities. The program will be incentive based, with $250,000 set aside for this fiscal year.
- The PBS series Independent Lens will partner with movie and music distribution company The Orchard to distribute the East Texas-shot documentary Little Hope Was Arson (Elizabeth's interview), which played at Austin Film Festival 2013. The series will broadcast the movie this season, and The Orchard will release it theatrically in several markets as well as across all major digital outlets.
- Acquisition news continues: last year's SXSW world premiere, the dramedy Swim Little Fish Swim (Don's review) has been aquired for distribution in Brazil by Providence Filmes and for distribution in Greece by Mikrokosmos Entertainment.
- The University of Texas at Austin's Women In Cinema student organization announced its film festival scholarship winners: Leaves on Trees, Ronnie Monsters and Stowaway, and the special mention Evidence of Santa. The three winners will receive waived submission fees to several fests, including Sundance. Award-winning filmmakers Lauren Wolkstein (Social Butterfly) and Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From) and Texas Film Commission representative Laura Kincaid served as judges.
Austin Film Society recently released the schedule for their next film series, "Rebel Rebel." Douglas Sirk's classic All That Heaven Allows and a 1974 John Waters film are among the five titles to be screened at AFS at the Marchesa starting Friday. To get a little more insight into the reasoning behind this series and how the chosen movies fit with the theme, I emailed Lars Nilsen, AFS Programmer.
Slackerwood: What led you to this theme of programming?
Nilsen: As much as I like doing series focusing on one director or actor or on the films of this or that country, I also like variety and the catch-all nature of a series about Rebellion or about Cool allows us to show a package of really spectacular films that might not be shown under any other context. I also think it's important that we as an arts organization celebrate rebellion because it is one of the mainsprings of our character, and I want to perpetuate the concept of rebelliousness wherever I can. It's maybe the only thing that can save our world.
Austin Film Society has another installment of their "That's Genius" series on Sunday night at the Marchesa. They've invited local filmmaker Yen Tan (Pit Stop) to present a favorite film and he chose Parking. The 2008 film from Taiwan is directed by Chung Mong-Hong and will be screened in 35mm. I'm also incredibly excited about Thursday night's Essential Cinema presentation of Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. This month's theme is "After 8 1/2: The Creative In Crisis" and this film tells the story of a Broadway producer who overworks himself right into a heart attack.
The Austin Youth Film Festival is happening on Saturday at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. Local filmmakers will be on hand to judge short films from area students who have a chance to win prizes up to $1000! Standard tickets are available for just $10 and you also have the option to buy a $25 ticket that includes a t-shirt or a $45 ticket that includes a t-shirt and pre-order of a DVD collection of the short films that are screening.
Also at the Ritz this weekend, the Marx Brothers retrospective continues with Room Service in 35mm on Saturday morning. This 1938 comedy also features a wonderful early performance from a young Lucille Ball. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Ritz is screening a documentary called Vanishing Pearls: The Oystermen of Pointe A La Hache that focuses on the aftermath in a small community dependant on oyster fishing in the wake of 2010's BP oil spill. There are still tickets available for The Matrix trilogy marathon Sunday afternoon. All three films are screening in 35mm, as is the animated rocker Heavy Metal for Music Monday this week.
On its 60th birthday and 10 years after the last movie to bear its name, Godzilla returns, bigger than ever, in an incarnation directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters). Penned by Max Borenstein from a story by Dave Callaham (The Expendables, Doom), this Godzilla offers just what you’ve come to expect from the film franchise: random destruction, mayhem and giant monsters fighting.
The story meshes nicely with the 1954 original, with a pseudo-scientific background that presents the monster as a government secret and the actual target of all those south Pacific 1950s nuclear tests. It pays homage to the gigantic creatures as prehistoric gods.
After an emotional and heart-rending first act that introduces the Brody family -- Joe (Bryan Cranston), Sandra (Juliette Binoche) and Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) -- the monster attacks begin in earnest, and the action follows adult Ford, as do the monsters, which seem to be following him around the planet, hell-bent on destroying his family.
Johnson’s character, some kind of military nuclear weapons expert who also just happens to have specialized high-altitude low-opening (HALO) parachute training and a 1950s-era mechanical nuclear detonator in his back pocket, manages to always be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to be the only person who can save the world in spite of his entire existence being exactly as irrelevant to the ultimate goings-on as Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones.
In spite of Johnson's existence as less than an insect in comparison to the impossible monsters onscreen, director Edwards has them repeatedly appear to notice the character's presence, as an enormous pair of eyes focuses on him momentarily. There is no interaction, besides the inevitable running away, but this repeated tease, as if to intimate Ford Brody is somehow teaming up with the god-lizard, is in direct conflict to the true theme of not just this movie but the entire Godzilla series: man's utter impotency before the full force of nature.
Following the fall of the Third Reich and the liberation of the German Nazi concentration camps, many of the leaders directly involved fled to South America. One of the most famous of those officers was Josef Mengele, a physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Due to his barbaric and deadly human experiments performed on prisoners as well as role in the section process for the gas chamber executions, Mengele was known as "The Angel of Death."
Argentian filmmaker Lucia Puenzo's novel Wakolda focuses on this infamous man and the true story of an Argentinian family who unknowingly boarded Mengele at their home, now adapted by Puenzo as the movie The German Doctor. Whereas the novel is told through Mengele’s point of view during his exile in South America, the film instead relies more on 12-year-old Lilith (Florencia Bado). Born premature and having suffered from several illnesses at an early age, Lilith is an underdeveloped prebuscent girl who struggles to fit in at her new German-run school in Patagonia.
A chance encounter while traveling to their new home in the tourist town of Bariloche brings Lilith's family, including her pregnant mother Eva (Natalia Oreiro) and dollmaker father Enzo (Diego Peretti), to the attention of a mysterious and charming German doctor (Alex Brendemühl). The doctor quickly entrenches himself in Lilith and Eva’s favor, offering to help with their growth and medical care. He becomes the family's benefactor as he helps Enzo mass produce his designs at a doll factory.
Puenzo lets the audience know within the first act of The German Doctor that this mysterious doctor is the notorious Mengele. He's received as a hero by fellow Nazis also hiding out in Bariloche, but photographer Nora Eldoc (Elena Roger) -- who is also a Mossad spy and victim of one of Mengele's sterilization practices -- recognizes him immediately. This approach increases the tension as we witness the interaction between the doctor and his naive victims. When asked by Eva whether he's had any experience with childbirth and twins, his reply "hundreds" has a chilling impact. Young Lilith becomes lethargic and experiences pain in her bones as the doctor increases her growth hormone.
Last Saturday, the Austin Film Society successfully hosted the first ever Sundance #ArtistServices Workshop in Austin. #ArtistServices is an organization operated by the Sundance Institute that provides distribution support and assistance to Sundance alumni. They also work to educate up-and-coming filmmakers about all the latest trends in marketing and distribution, and have previously held workshops in Park City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.
Three Sundance staff members (Joseph Beyer, Chris Horton and Missy Laney) were on hand for Saturday's event and had clearly worked closely with AFS to organize a well-run and enlightening collection of panels and conversation. In her opening salvo, AFS Associate Artistic Director Holly Herrick emphasized the workshop aspect of the day and encouraged attendees to ask questions at any point.
The first section of the workshop was specifically devoted to crowdfunding, and this topic continued to resurface throughout the day. In particular, inexperienced filmmakers often aren't aware of the tax implications and responsibilities that go along with using Kickstarter or Indiegogo to fund a project. These can be incredibly helpful tools, but it's important to know what you're doing before you start. Cameron Keng (a tax lawyer), Deena Kalai (an entertainment lawyer), Shannon Swallow (the head of Marketing Communications for Indiegogo) and Evan Glodell (the writer/director of Bellflower) were on hand to offer no-nonsense advice to filmmakers considering crowdfunding.