Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: August 2011

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Spy Kids 4

Summer's winding down as kids head back to school in a couple of weeks, so the theatrical releases are tapering off. There's still plenty of summer fun in local movie theaters (I took my daughter to see Winnie the Pooh last weekend and had a pleasant time), so take advantage of the glut of kids' movies out there while you can.

Notable Theatrical Releases:

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (August 12, PG) - Not one for the younger kids, but it's not tough to imagine there will be 8-to-10-year-olds begging to see the Glee cast in concert. It's all the auto-tuned karaoke you can shake a stick at. Watch the trailer for a fun Jane Lynch cameo. (She's the only thing I miss about watching this show.)

Movies This Week: Another Planet Key Change

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Another Earth

August is here, which means the summer blockbuster season is starting to wind down. School will start soon and that means the end of many of the series in Austin's Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies, although you can still find plenty of free movie opportunities around town.

The Paramount Summer Classic Film series is still going strong: this week's selections include Peeping Tom, Playtime and Amarcord. One of my favorite movies to re-watch on DVD, Clerks 2, is screening at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Saturday with actor Brian O'Halloran in attendance. Blue Starlite Drive-In is showing Valley Girl on Wednesday and American Graffiti on Thursday. And Cinema East will bring SXSW selection The Dish and the Spoon back to Austin on Sunday night on the French Legation lawn.

One more thing: To prepare us for the Slacker 2011 premiere at the end of this month, Austin Film Society has teamed up with Alamo Ritz for two screenings of the 1991 film Slacker: this Wednesday (8/10) and next (8/17). Some Slacker 2011 filmmakers will show previews of their scenes, and the proceeds benefit the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. If you haven't been reading our Slacker 2011 interviews, you've been missing a lot of fun.

Movies We've Seen:

  • The Change-Up -- Mike says in his review that this comedy about Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds "doing a Freaky Friday" is okay but unmemorable, not to mention full of scatological humor. I'm with him on pointing you all at Friends with Benefits instead, which I saw earlier this week and enjoyed very much. (wide)

Review: The Change-Up

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The Change-Up"An overworked lawyer and his best friend have grown apart. When they switch bodies, each is forced to adapt to the others life for one freaky Friday."

Actually, the characters played by Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds in The Change-Up spend weeks trying to undo the personality swap wrought by the mysterious (and vengeful) fountain in which they drunkenly pee together after a night of boozing and sports. Each is dissatisfied and envies the other's life, so they both make an ironic wish that the lady of the fountain is too happy to grant.

There's little to say about this comedy from The Hangover writers Scott Moore and Jon Lucas and Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin. The script lives up to neither of those hits and feels like it was peppered with jokes rejected from both, perhaps written in the spare time the pair had between weekends photocopying the script from The Hangover to make The Hangover Part II. Fortunately, the majority of the excessive poo-humor is confined to the first few minutes, and then The Change-Up settles into generic movie territory.

Reynolds' Mitch Planko settles into life as Bateman's Dave Lockwood, and vice-versa. While fumbling his way through pretending to be a high-stakes corporate lawyer, Mitch manages to jeopardize the deal of Dave's career. Dave, meanwhile suffers through an "acting" gig that goes where no man should ever go. Most of the screen time is spent on Bateman, as Mitch inside Dave's body (confusing, right?) though Reynolds as Dave-inside-Mitch gets to live out his fantasies concerning his assistant Sabrina (Olivia Wilde). There is also a small subplot involving Mitch's estranged father (Alan Arkin). Naturally, they can't switch back until each learns the grass isn't greener on the other side, track down the missing fountain, and mictorate in public. But all's well that end's well, et cetera.

Slacker 2011: Sam Wainwright Douglas Decides to Hitchhike

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Chris Trew, Christopher Lee and Adam Parks in Slacker 2011

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund (TFPF). The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project.

Today's interview is with Sam Wainwright Douglas, documentarian and director of Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, as well as The Holy Modal Rounders: Bound to Lose. He also acted in 2010's The Happy Poet.

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you reshoot?

Sam Douglas: I shot Scene 12, known as the mechanic scene. It's the one where the conspiracy buff annoys the guy working on his car, the mechanic's buddy shows up, they talk cars, they head to the junkyard, swipe some auto parts, pick up an angry, grumpy hitchhiker, he rants for a while as they drive him around and then they drop him off.

Young Filmmakers Remake Classic Film Scenes

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Untitled by Michael McCauslin on Flickr

With temperatures hitting triple digits for a record number of days in a row, a great summer escape in Austin has always been the annual Paramount Theatre Summer Classics Film Series. The Paramount often features something special for the classic film series, whether manicures before Breakfast at Tiffany's or live camels at Lawrence of Arabia.

This year, local non-profit organization Austin School of Film has teamed up with the Paramount Theatre to introduce the Kids and Classic Films Competition. Youth nationwide are invited to remake scenes from classic movies such as Aliens, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Godzilla, Psycho, Red Dawn, Some Like it Hot and others screened during the Paramount Summer Classics Film Series. $500 in cash and prizes will be awarded and a screening of the young filmmakers' final remade scenes will be held at the Paramount Theatre on September 20. What better way for young filmmakers to experience classic cinema?

TFPF Announces 2011 Panelists

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Katrina's SonEvery year, Austin Film Society awards grants to emerging film and video artists in the Lone Star State through the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund (TFPF). Since its inception in 1996, the AFS has awarded over 300 grants, totaling over $1 million in cash and over $100,000 in goods and services to almost 300 projects. In addition to grants for production, post-production and distribution, the TFPF has provided approximately $21,000 in stipends to Texas filmmakers traveling to prestigious film festivals.

Past TFPF grant recipients have screened their films at renowned festivals around the world including Sundance, Cannes, and Toronto as well as right here in Austin at SXSW. One such project is Katrina's Son (pictured right), which was awarded a TFPF grant in 2008, then premiered at AFF last year and at the Cannes International Festival's Short Film Corner this year. Several TFPF-funded movies have been released theatrically and in the cable and home video markets. 

This year AFS received 208 applications, and at least $90,000 will be awarded in cash, goods and services to emerging filmmakers in Texas. AFS invites three distinguishd filmmakers from outside of Texas to participate in grant applications review. Members of this year's panel were recently announced, and include Independent Spirit Award nominee Barry Jenkins (Medicine for Melancholy), Sundance Institute producer-in-residence Anne Lai, and Independent Spirit Award-winner Ian Olds (Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi). During the panelists' visit to Austin for the review process, special screenings will be presented by Austin Film Society. Find out more and watch one of the featured short films after the jump.

Slackery News Tidbits, August 2

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Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Drafthouse Films, the distribution company associated with Alamo Drafthouse, has announced its latest acquisition: The FP, which premiered at SXSW 2011 in the Midnighters section. It's about gang wars that take place using a dance-fight video game. Film critic Scott Weinberg reviewed the movie for Twitch and essentially says it's a one-joke movie, but a good joke it manages to sustain throughout its 78-minute running time. Drafthouse Films plans a limited theatrical release in the first quarter of 2012. In addition, Drafthouse Films now has a new company director, Evan Husney.
  • More distribution news, Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission has landed a distribution deal with First Run Features. According to the film's director, Mike Woolf, the locally made documentary has an expected theatrical release date in January 2012. Read Debbie's SXSW 2010 review for more info about the film.
  • The winner of an Austin Film Festival audience award for comedies in 2009, Herpes Boy, is finally available for us to see again. You can stream it on Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon or iTunes, or check your cable VOD listings. Debbie reviewed it at AFF and found it funny and poignant; I believe my comment was that it was like Napoleon Dynamite, except actually funny and not annoying. Definitely a must if you're a fan of Beth Grant.
  • Traverse City Film Festival really does love Austin filmmakers -- local films seem to win awards there every year and Austin may need its own category in 2012. This time, the winner was Heather Courtney's documentary Where Soldiers Come From, which took home the Founders Prize for Best U.S. Documentary Film. Read my review from SXSW. Drafthouse Films' previous acquisition, Four Lions, won Best Screenplay in a Foreign Narrative Film.

Slacker 2011: Bob Ray Directs, Acts and Rides a Pedicab

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Slacker 2011 still courtesy CrashCam Films

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project.

Today's interview is with Bob Ray, director of Total Badass and Hell on Wheels. He notes that he repurposed people involved with those documentaries (and other of his past projects) for his Slacker 2011 scene: "Chad Holt [the subject of Total Badass] plays the Grocery Grabber in the Slacker 2011 opening scene and played a weed dealer in my first film, Rock Opera... Total Badass's Adam Reposa is in the Slacker scene. Sarah Kihls (aka Miss Conduct) was in Hell on Wheels and Michael Dalmon, of CrashToons's Platypus Rex and APESH!T fame, both played parts in the scene as well."

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you re-shoot?

Bob Ray: I (along with a bunch of badass Austin musicians, artists, skaters, filmmaker pals and the kickass producer Mia Cevallos) remade the opening scene. It's the scene where Richard Linklater plays a guy who rides a bus into Austin, jumps in a cab and talks about alternate realities and the what-ifs of choices not made. He then hops out of the cab, witnesses a hit-and-run murder and appears to steal someone's purse. Although, he probably just snagged the purse to get the identification of the deceased, but I like to think he straight up stole it.

Sommelier Cinema: Wine Flights of Fancy at Alamo Drafthouse

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Feast Bubbly

August 2, 2011 update: This event takes place at the Alamo Ritz location.

Although most folks know of my enthusiasm for craft beer from reading the Fantastic Fest 2010 Guide: How to Drink Like an Austinite and other beer-and-film writing, I also enjoy a good wine on occasion. During a recent vacation to Europe, my fiance and I visited the French wine regions of Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire River Valley (before hitting the breweries in Belgium and Germany). I learned quite a bit from local producers about grapes and the influence of "terroir" as well as the impact of climate conditions on wine.

You don't have to travel to Europe, though, to learn about Old World wine. Austin has several fabulous wine shops with staff willing to share their wine knowledge. In fact, my first taste of a lovely crisp white Sancerre was at a Loire Valley wine tasting at Vino Vino, and is why I added the region to our vacation plans.

If you are wondering why I'm mentioning wine on a film website, you need look no further than the Alamo Drafthouse Food and Film Event, Sommelier Cinema, which will feature a 35mm screening of The Seven Year Itch on Wednesday, August 3, at 7 pm at the Downtown Ritz location. The newest in the Drafthouse event series takes place every other month and pairs movies with fine wines selected by local wine experts who match the wine selection to the movie theme, characters or cast. The ticket price includes three or four wines along with the featured screening. Guest sommeliers give a short presentation about the wines and their history, as well as why they were chosen. The sommelier also provides a crash course in how to taste and drink wine, and what to look for in particular varietals, blends and regions. Find out which selections will be available this month after the jump.

Review: Attack the Block

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Attack the Block

The summer's best alien movie does not involve Harrison Ford or J.J. Abrams, but rather a first-time feature director, Joe Cornish, who's written a story that I've heard described as "Gremlins meets Harry Brown." Ridiculous, but you get the general idea. Attack the Block, produced by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) first hit Austin during SXSW, where it won the Audience Award in the Midnighters category, and the buzz was deafening. I missed the movie at the fest but found it well worth the wait.

In the area surrounding a South London housing project, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is walking back home from work after dark and is mugged by a gang of young men. The mugging is interrupted by a strange creature thudding onto the roof of the car; gang leader Moses (John Boyega) automatically attacks the creature, kills it, and decides it's valuable. It turns out that it is, in a way -- suddenly more aliens are alighting from the sky, heading for their London neighborhood, and targeting the block of flats where Moses and his gang -- and Sam -- all live. And you should see the teeth on these creatures.

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