Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.
- Austin filmmaker C. Robert Cargill (Jordan's profile) is co-writing the sequel to 2012's micro-budget horror flick Sinister, which stars native Texan Ethan Hawke, with the original movie's director Scott Derrickson, according to The Wrap. Irish director Ciaran Foy will direct Sinister 2, scheduled to begin production in July.
- Speaking of Cargill (Rod's interview), the sequel to his debut novel, Dreams and Shadows, will be released by Harper Voyager on May 13. The sequel, Queen of the Dark Things, follows the protagonist six months after the events of the first book as he's forced to turn to aid from forces even darker than those he once battled.
- The Austin Film Festival's early-bird deadline for film submissions is Wednesday. The deadline to submit to the screenplay and teleplay categories is also Wednesday. Late submissions for the screenplay and teleplay categories is May 31, while film submissions will be accepted until July 15.
- In more AFF news, the Austin-produced romantic dramedy, For Serious, about a lawyer who decides to make a movie to get closer to his indie-actress crush, will screen on Wednesday at 7 pm at Galaxy Highland as part of the organization's Austin Premieres series.
My second day of Cine Las Americas took me to the Marchesa Theatre. I caught Amor chicano es para siempre (Chicano Love Is Forever), the second film of the three part series "Las Filmas: The Films of Efraín Gutiérrez." Considered to be one of the most influential filmmakers (if not the founder) of the Chicano film movement in the 70s, Gutiérrez's films explore what life was like for Latin American families during this time.
Set in San Antonio, Texas, the story follows a young Latino couple in their early years of marriage. What starts as a sweet, innocent romance slowly changes with the onset of work, college and marital stress. It takes its toll on our protagonist (Gutiérrez), but instead of turning to his wife for help, he seeks solace in beer, time away from home and the arms of another woman. Shot on 16mm film, the print shown was blown up to 35mm, making it the only 35mm screening this festival. (We were informed that this is the only known copy of this film, so that was also a treat.)
Some specialty festival events started this week that should be on your radar. The 17th annual Cine Las Americas festival runs through Sunday. Movies are playing at four venues, including the Marchesa and the Alamo Drafthouse Village. If you didn't get a film pass, you can buy individual tickets at the venues if the films aren't at capacity. The seventh annual Off-Centered Film Fest is also going on through the weekend. Special events include a 35mm screening of Jackie Chan's Drunken Master and Harold Lloyd's 1923 silent classic Safety Last!
The Marchesa will be tied up with Cine Las Americas screenings through the weekend, but Austin Film Society has a few other tricks up its sleeve. Richard Linklater returns on Wednesday night for his Jewels In The Wasteland series. He'll be presenting Ingmar Bergman's Fanny And Alexander in a 35mm print of the original 188-minute theatrical version. This screening will wrap up part two of the series and we look forward to an announcement with what films the third wave will bring. In the meantime, another great series is about to begin as part of Essential Cinema programming. "After 8 1/2: The Creative In Crisis" will begin with Fellini's 1963 masterpiece 8 1/2 on Thursday night.
Heading to Alamo Ritz, a free 35mm screening of Disney's 1986 Flight Of The Navigator takes place Saturday morning for Kid's Club and they've also got the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup screening today, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday afternoons. If you're looking for a big-screen musical, look no further than the Ritz on Sunday night for Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's It's Always Fair Weather. The Alamo's Slightly Off Cinema Sundays partnership with IFC is happening at the Lakeline location on Sunday night (obviously) with the original Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle. Accept no substitutions.
The Paramount 100 is serving up a 35mm double feature of blonde bombshells on Wednesday night. First up, 1932's Blonde Venus is a pre-code musical with Marlene Dietrich [Jette: She wears a gorilla suit for one number, you really don't want to miss this]. It's paired with Mae West and Cary Grant starring in 1933's She Done Him Wrong.
Movies We've Seen
Blue Ruin - Freshlly tagged this week as "Essential Viewing" over at The Dissolve, Jeremy Saulnier's darkly comic thriller was a big hit at Fantastic Fest last year. Jette caught it at the fest and her review said "some parts of Blue Ruin are not for the squeamish but let's face it, I am the squeamish and I would watch this movie again tomorrow. I had to look at the floor for a few seconds in one scene, but it was worth it for such a vivid, energetic movie." (Alamo Slaughter Lane)
Only Lovers Left Alive (pictured above) - The extraordinary Tilda Swinton attended SXSW for the first time earlier this year to promote her role in this new drama from Jim Jarmusch. Not surprisingly, the film's pacing is on the slow side, but many are calling it Jarmusch's best film in years. Marcelena reviewed it for us and says while it may be "quiet and simple," she found the movie "different and refreshing." (Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema)
The Railway Man - Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in this true story of a British Army officer (played by Firth) who became a POW during World War II. Debbie has an in-depth review of the film where she says it's "a touching and thought-provoking tale of suffering, endurance and forgiveness." (Regal Arbor)
Also Opening In Austin
Alan Partridge - Steve Coogan has been portraying his Alan Partridge character on the BBC going back to 1991. This big-screen adapatation was released in the UK last fall where it opened at number one under the longer name Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Even though it may not crossover to much stateside success, a sequel is already in the works. (Violet Crown Cinema, also available on VOD)
Brick Mansions - One of Paul Walker's final films, this is an English-language remake of the French thriller District 13 and is produced by Luc Besson, who co-wrote the original film. (wide)
The Other Woman - Nick Cassavetes directs this revenge comedy that stars Cameron Diaz, This Is 40's Leslie Mann and rapper Nicki Minaj. (wide)
The Quiet Ones - Legendary British horror production company Hammer Films was resurrected a few years ago and had a big hit in 2012 with The Woman In Black. Jared Harris plays a college professor who is trying to generate a ghost. (wide)
Watermark - Named "Best Canadian Film" of 2013 by the Toronto Film Critics Association, this environmental documentary examines our dependence on fresh water and the consequences of its use. (Regal Arbor)
The allure of a seductive yet terrifying monster has always been the hook for me in vampire films. Usually an attractive immortal being who (in the sexiest way possible) preys upon its victims, leaving you both turned on but also scared out of your mind. I was prepared to see this happen again in Jim Jarmusch's latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive. Surprisingly though, it wasn't the case.
I'm not sure that I would classify this movie as a vampire film, but rather a romance story. I found myself longing for the type of relationship that Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) share. Two creatures of the night that have been together for centuries, the film shows us what life is like for them in the modern world. And it's not what you'd expect: it's quiet and simple, although the two have more money than most average households. (I guess financial gain is a perk of being a vampire.)
A particular subgenre I've enjoyed from an early age thanks to my father's influence is war movies, including the classics -- The Bridge on the River Kwai, Kelly's Heroes and The Dirty Dozen topped our list -- with a particular fondness for prisoner-of-war tales including Victory and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. I find the stories of brave servicemen who overcome torturous emotional and physical conditions to be inspiring testaments to courage and bravery.
Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, the movie The Railway Man portrays such a character, Eric Lomax (Colin Firth). It's based on the real-life story of a British army officer and radio engineer who was captured with his unit during the fall of Singapore in 1942. The prisoners of war were used to build the railroad from Burma to Siam through rough terrain, under brutal conditions.
The Railway Man begins with a chance encounter on a train between Eric Lomax and Patti Wallace portrayed by Nicole Kidman. After decades as a bachelor, Eric finds himself in love with the engaging Patti. After a whirlwind romance, they marry and settle into what would seem to be a quiet perfect life. However, Eric suffers from night terrors as he relives his wartime experiences including torture from Japanese officers, aided by their interpreter Nagase (Tanroh Ishida).
Patti seeks the aid of Eric's good friend Finlay (Stellan Skarsgard) to help her husband face his emotional demons -- not an easy task, as Finlay was also in Eric's unit and suffered from their captors' abuse. The men are bound by a code of silence, expected to endure and move on.
The story of their imprisonment is told in a series of extensive flashbacks with the young Eric (Jeremy Irvine) and a young Finlay (Sam Reid), nicknamed Uncle. Unbeknown to their captors, the men had smuggled in the parts to a radio which they reassemble in order to receive news from home. When the radio is discovered, Eric takes full blame and is subsequently tortured to confess what the Japanese believe is the true purpose for the radio.
Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and fundraising endeavors related to Austin and Texas independent film projects.
This column has long been well nurtured and championed by Debbie, but moving forward you'll see other Slackerwood contributors pitching in to highlight various crowdfunding activities going on in the local film community. It's my pleasure to present this month's slate, which includes a few excellent projects spearheaded by women.
First up is a film-in-the-making called The Big Spoon. Currently seeking funds on Kickstarter, this "unromantic comedy" is planned to film in Austin this summer and will pull together several familiar names for its cast and crew. The project is also specifically dedicated to supporting the work of women in film and features a largely female production team.
The Big Spoon is co-written and (will be) directed by Carlyn Hudson (pictured above left), a University of Texas alum and short film director who co-produced Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess as well as Richard Linklater's Hulu project Up to Speed. Hudson was also a segment director for Slacker 2011, and if you've ever attended Cinema East you'll recognize her as one of the series programmer/producers.
I'm once again thrilled to be covering this year's Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first festival I covered as a Slackerwood contributer about a year ago. This year's lineup brought Austin some unique and inspiring films, full of heart and talent from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Chile and many others -- not to mention many films made right here in Texas.
I was sadly unable to attend the fest's opening-night film Tercera Llamada (Last Call), but from what I've read on social media and heard through the grapevine, it was one heck of a way to kick off the week. As per usual though, my festing adventures have taken me to the Alamo Drafthouse Village, one of my all-time favorite festival venues.
My film-fest watching started on Wednesday with the whimsical Brazilian movie O Menino e o Mundo (The Boy and the World), an animated film about a young boy searching for his father, who's left on a train. I was already hooked on the fact that it was an animated film, but the trailer combined with its flavorful Brazilian soundtrack sold me. (Note: If anyone can let me know where to get a copy, I will gladly purchase it!) The story itself has no dialogue, told solely through the young boy's view of the world. It's full of color, curiosity and an innoncence that made me reminisce about my own adolescence. By the end, I came to an astute realization: Children long to be adults, while adults long to be children again.
It's time again to start thinking about the Hill Country Film Festival, which runs from April 30-May 4 in Fredericksburg. I just booked my B&B (although is it really a B&B if there's no breakfast? B&NB, perhaps?) and am looking forward to the coziest film festival I've attended.
HCFF is always fun for me because I don't have to rush from venue to venue, the parties are small and people are very friendly, and the audiences always seem to be excited about the movies. The fest is using two theaters this year, but they're not far apart, although it means some tough decision-making is in order.
Austin-shot feature Intramural (pictured at top) is one of the fest's highlights this year. The closing-night film is directed by Andrew Disney, who was at HCFF 2012 with his comedy Searching for Sonny, and written/produced by Bradley Jackson, whose short The Man Who Never Cried screened at HCFF 2012 (both movies on the same day, in fact). Intramural, which debuted at Tribeca Film Festival this week, is about fifth-year college seniors participating in intramural sports.
David Riker, who directed independent immigrant drama La Ciudad, helmed a film in 2012 titled The Girl. This seems at first glance a far-too-general name for a movie about immigration, life on the border, motherhood and desperation. Is the "girl" of the title Ashley (Abbie Cornish, Bright Star, Sucker Punch), a young mother struggling to make money so she can get back custody of her son? The viewer wonders as we see her flustered under the keen eye of a social worker, arguing for more shifts at the grocery store, or riding along with her trucker dad (Will Patton, Remember the Titans, TV show Falling Skies) to Mexico.
Ashley becomes convinced that she can be a coyote -- she desperately needs the money this bad idea will bring her. Among the group of people she picks up in a Nuevo Laredo plaza to convey over the border is a young girl, who is definitely the inspiration for the title. Ashley and the child (we find out three-quarters into the film that her name is Rosa) are thrown together by circumstance, and end up helping each other.
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery returns to Austin for the seventh annual Off-Centered Film Fest at Alamo Drafthouse. This year's theme for the multi-day event is "Stuntin'," dedicated to the daredevil spirit. The opening celebration will be held at Fiesta Gardens on Thursday, April 24 at 6 pm, with an outdoor 35mm screening of the comedy Hot Rod, starring Andy Samberg.
Special guests for the evening event's include The Lonely Island -- Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, as well as Calagione and representatives of the Central Texas brewing community. Ticket sales will also include an option to donate to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG).
"We are extremely pleased to have the support of Alamo Drafthouse and Sam Calagione, and this tangibly demonstrates of the collaborative nature of American craft brewers," said Charles Vallhonrat, TCBG executive director. "This event is a great opportunity to showcase some of the wonderful craft beers that are available in Texas from both Dogfish and our Texas brewers, while supporting the work of the Guild to educate, advocate and promote for Texas craft beer."