By Margot Newcomer
It was a successful night at the Friday night screening of Hands On A Hardbody a couple of weeks ago, presented by Austin Film Society and Texas Independent Film Network. The event kicked off with director S.R. (Robb) Bindler inside of a pickup truck, and long lines of people waiting to put their hands on the Nissan Hardbody parked in front of the Marchesa Theatre.
The documentary was first shown in Austin almost 15 years ago at the Dobie Theatre. Since then, the Texas-shot movie's been hard to find unless you were able to track down a VHS copy (often sold for around $200).
The excitement before the screening continued to build as guests in the lobby bought the new, remastered DVD (which is now available via the Hands on a Hardbody website). One woman enthusiastically traded her worn-out VHS tape for a brand new disc.
That's a wrap, folks.
It's always bittersweet to say goodbye to a film's cast and crew. For eight months we wrestled with scripts, dove into preproduction and finalized the movie. With over 160 pages and over 50 speaking roles, it was not just the most ambitious film(s) I've done, it's the most ambitious indie film done as our "level." And I'm proud to say that, as hard as it was at times, we pulled it off.
For this part of the photo essay, I'd like to thank Austin Film Society for sharing their photos from the event -- it was dark and I'm not a professional photographer. AFS has a Flickr set of Texas Film Hall of Fame photos where you can see more.
The above photo is from the red carpet -- Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez doing a quick interview. And next we have another red-carpet photo: actress Robin Wright, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame later that evening. I had been watching her the week before in a marathon viewing of House of Cards so it was almost uncanny to see her in person.
At long last, here are my (and others') photos from last month's gala Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards. I figure photos don't get stale and we'll all enjoy them just as much as we would have earlier -- even more than if I'd published them during SXSW. (I can always find an excuse.) It was a really lovely and fun evening and I know you'd rather see the photos than read about the event, so here goes. This is actually a two-part feature since I have so many photos to share.
These photos are mine and they're primarily from the red carpet before the awards ceremony. Let's start with the emcee of the evening, Austin actress and musician Dana Wheeler-Nicholson.
By Mireydi Mendieta-Nunez
The last day of the 2013 Cine Las Americas International Film Festival wrapped with Texas properly represented in the Hecho en Tejas (Made in Texas) program. Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque welcomed everyone in attendance, giving a speech about the importance of supporting the Austin filmmaking community.
Both independent and student filmmakers had the chance to premiere their work to festgoers. Seven short films were showcased, ranging from documentaries dealing with the U.S/Mexico border fence, to one by a UT student filmmaker showcasing her work from Andrew Garrison's East Austin Stories class.
Before Before Midnight opens in Austin on May 23, Austin Film Society will host a special screening of all three of Richard Linklater's movies: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and the latest installment.
On Sunday, May 19 at Marchesa Hall & Theatre, you can view the trilogy in order. See Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) meet cute on a train in Before Sunrise (my Lone Star Cinema review), run into each other in a Paris bookstore and have trickier discussions in Before Sunset (my Lone Star Cinema review), and have far more personal talks about life and relationships while ambling around Greece in Before Midnight.
Tickets for either Before Sunrise or Before Sunset are $10 for AFS members or $20 general public. You can watch all three for $20 (AFS members) or $40 (general public) [more ticket info].
Individual tickets aren't available for the May 19 Before Midnight screening; however, there's a separate special event for the May 23 theatrical premiere of Before Midnight at the Violet Crown Cinema [ticket info]. At the VCC, Linklater, Hawke and Delpy will be in attendance and take part in the pre-screening cocktail party.
During the week between these two festivities, AFS and Ain't It Cool News have teamed up with local restaurants and bars offering special deals and themed specials. If you go to one of the spots (the list hasn't been released yet) and tweet a photo of you and your sweetie to @afs1985 using the tag #AFSBeforeMidnight, you're eligible to win an AFS dual LOVE level membership.
Here's the latest Austin film news:
- The Paramount Theatre kicks off its Summer Classic Film Series with an opening-nght party and a double feature on Friday, May 23. Traditional Paramount opener Casablanca and Woody Allen's romantic dramedy Annie Hall will screen. The complete summer lineup will be announced on May 16.
- Texas filmmaker Amy Seimetz's (our interview) dramatic thriller Sun Don't Shine (Don's review), which premiered at SXSW 2012, is out now on VOD, iTunes and Amazon, among other digital platforms, according to the film's distributor. Factory 25. Sun Don't Shine, about a couple who takes a mysterious road trip through central Florida, stars Austin-based actors AJ Bowen (Grow Up, Tony Phillips) and Mark Reeb, as well as Houston-based actress Kit Gwen.
- The Austin-shot film blacktino (Chip's review) is now available to rent as a Vimeo download. The dark teen comedy, about an overweight nerd trying to find his place in the world, premiered at SXSW 2011 and is the feature debut by local filmmaker Aaron Burns.
- No summer plans? Why not go on a scavenger hunt for some of Austin's most famous movie locations that are open to the public. Citysearch has made it easier with its guide, which includes the Texas School for the Deaf, forever immortalized as Herrington High in Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's late-'90s teen horror flick The Faculty. Alien teachers may no longer run amok, but the beautiful campus still stands intact.
Shane Black is one of the pioneering Hollywood screenwriters of the contemporary action genre. The screenwriter for Lethal Weapon 1 & 2, Last Action Hero and his directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang now takes the reins of one of the biggest and most-beloved moneymaking franchises in the golden age of comic-book Hollywood. A $200 million budget is proof Marvel and Disney think Iron Man 3 is in good hands, but canon-obsessed fanboys may not agree.
Co-scripted with TV writer Drew Pearce (who's also credited in the upcoming Pacific Rim and Sherlock Holmes 3), this entry in the series incorporates many fan-favorite storylines and characters from the Iron Man comics. Though they're brought together in a mega-blockbuster of an action film, one or two departures from established canon will be the subject of controversy among hardcore fans for the foreseeable future. Naturally, I won't go into specifics here (no spoilers!) but moviegoers who are more interested in what's onscreen and less concerned with the printed page will have a great time. I guarantee it.
If that phrase is familiar to you, you'll understand when I say this movie is all about suits. It's clear from a shot in the trailer that in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark has more suits than a Men's Wearhouse. At least a double-digit percentage of the effects budget must have been spent on animating Stark putting on, taking off, getting into or being knocked out of one of his battle-armored suits. In fact, Robert Downey Jr. probably spends more screen time putting on his superheroic suits than actually fighting in them.
That's probably a deliberate choice, as the story heavily involves Stark's internal conflict between spending time with the people he loves and spending every moment working to protect them. This is a struggle we've seen before in films like Superman II, when Clark gives up his powers to be with Lois, or to an extent in the 2007 Spider-Man 3, when Peter Parker's emotional turmoil affects his superhero abilities.
After the events at the end of The Avengers, Tony Stark is suffering from insomnia and panic attacks as he works ceaselessly to improve his armor designs. After challenging a mysterious terrorist figure known only as The Mandarin to a one-on-one battle, the resulting surprise (?) attack leaves him stranded, forced to deal with the powerful enemy minus his usual limitless resources and therefore prove Iron Man is Stark himself, and not just the battle suit. This theme is echoed in the heroics of Don Cheadle as Col. James Rhodes, aka War Machine, who likewise finds himself forced to operate outside the suit when they team up.
By the time you read this, I'll be in Fredericksburg for the Hill Country Film Festival. I love a film fest that's in one theater, where you get to know all the filmmakers and half the audience, and where short films prevail and celebrities do not. I wish the weather were less capricious, but you can't have everything. If you're in Austin instead, your best bet may be that fabulous new release about heroes who use their iron technology to assist mankind. Of course I mean the Austin documentary Trash Dance, which has a weeklong run at Violet Crown.
Hoping to get back in town Sunday in time for Alamo Drafthouse Ritz's Cinema Cocktails screening of the 1949 musical On the Town, a favorite of mine, screening in 35mm. Who couldn't love dance numbers from Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen and especially Ann Miller, with a script from Comden and Green? And you can have a Manhattan while you watch.
On Monday, don't forget Stateside Independent is screening the delightful Austin food-truck-centric comedy The Happy Poet (Elizabeth's preview), with some cast members in attendance. Or you could head to Alamo Village for Austin Film Festival's screening of AFF 2012 documentary Spinning Plates (Debbie's review).
Stateside Independent will screen The Happy Poet -- which premiered at SXSW 2010 -- Monday, May 6 at 7 pm [ticket info]. Cast members Jonny Mars, Chris Doubek and Liz Fisher, and producer David Hartstein, will be there for a Q&A following the movie.
In The Happy Poet, a comedy filmed in Austin, unemployed writer Bill (writer-director Paul Gordon) dreams of running a cart that sells local/organic vegetarian snacks: eggless egg-salad sandwiches, basil pesto pitas and the like. There's just a slight hitch in his plans: He's practically broke and has to insinuate to the man selling him the food cart that he will be selling hot dogs instead. He makes the snacks at his apartment in the morning (my baker friend would be distressed to see his lack of plastic gloves) and stakes out a spot to sell his wares.
Bill, bespectacled and hesitant, is aided in this venture by friends who help him advertise and come up with a name for his business -- The Happy Poet. Ironic, because Bill seems only slightly satisfied at times. He lacks much of a backbone and has to deal with disappointment. Thankfully, Bill grows through his experience with the food cart and all it entails.