So many eyes are on Park City, Utah, as it's Sundance time, but that doesn't mean there aren't films opening in Austin this week.
Extraordinary Measures -- Sick kids and gravitas. It's just not my thing. But if you like those kinda movies, Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser probably bring it. (wide)
Legion -- Much more my style, but unfortunately the film had no advance screening in Austin. Paul Bettany plays a fallen angel who fights to save mankind by saving an unborn child. It looks like a mashup of The Prophecy and Resident Evil, but I still want to watch it. (wide)
The Maid -- Sundance-winning Chilean black comedy about a maid 23 years with the same family (pictured above) facing the servitude that's been her life. It's Oscar shortlisted and is laden with awards, so if you don't fear the subtitles, it's a must-see. (Arbor)
Here's the Austin film-related news for today:
- Sundance starts tonight, and as we've mentioned before, Austin is well represented this year. Filmmaker Bryan Poyser has been getting ready for his Lovers of Hate premiere with a poster (tagline is catchy, but I'm not sure I like it) and a very cool little comic/booklet with illustrations of the filmmakers and cast.
- Another Austin-related addition to Sundance this year: Mr. Okra, a doc about a New Orleans produce vendor, which won the Austin Film Festival's audience award for a short documentary in 2009. NOLA.com has a profile of filmmaker T.G. Herrington and his title subject.
- Still more on Austin at Sundance: some KUT interviews; an article about Thompson, a short that played SXSW last year before heading to Park City this week; and an Austin American-Statesman profile of the Zellner brothers, who are taking Fiddlestixx to the fest.
If you're wondering why I'm posting a photo from last year of the (500) Days of Summer director at the Paramount in Austin, you haven't heard the latest news: Marc Webb has just been signed to direct the next Spider-Man film. That's right, he's going from a quirky romantic comedy to a big-ass Hollywood comic-book action movie. Will we see him in Austin again anytime soon? Well, Sam Raimi (who directed the previous three Spider-Man movies) was at SXSW last year with Drag Me to Hell, so it's possible.
Now if you really want to be amused, imagine the people in the photo after the jump -- also from SXSW 2009 -- as Peter and Mary Jane. It could happen! And check out my SXSW 2009 Flickr set for more photos from the closing-night (500) Days of Summer event, including a nice picture of Webb with SXSW Film Director Janet Pierson.
Like most people, I've been vaguely familiar with the national non-profit organization United Way all my life. Several years ago I was fortunate to meet and get to know Mando Rayo (in the center of the above photo), Director of United Way Capital Area volunteer match program Hands On Central Texas. In response to a Facebook message from Mando, I volunteered for the 2-1-1 Texas phone bank during Hurricane Ike -- one of the most humbling and memorable experiences in my life. That's just one of the many innovative ways that the United Way Capital Area is using social media and other forums to bring folks together to address critical social issues in our community.
This spring, United Way Capital Area will introduce their Live United film series in Austin. This series, co-hosted by Austin PBS affiliate KLRU-TV, provides Central Texans an opportunity to explore critical community issues such as education and financial stability through film and dialogue. Each film will include a panel discussion with community leaders and issue experts in the field. In addition to enjoying film and meaningful conversation, audience members will receive a list of resources and opportunities about the issues being addressed and ways to promote change in our community.
Who knew you could support Haitian relief efforts by going to the movies? The Paramount Theatre has teamed up with Turk and Christy Pipkin's locally based nonprofit group The Nobelity Project to present a special screening of Turk Pipkin's 2009 documentary One Peace at a Time on Wednesday night. The Austin filmmaker/activist will introduce the film and participate in a Q&A afterward.
I haven't yet seen One Peace at a Time, but I did see and review Pipkin's previous film Nobelity, which was the foundation for The Nobelity Project. It was worth seeing at the Paramount, because the film looked and sounded so gorgeous. If this documentary interests you, this is your chance to watch it at its best.
All proceeds from the screening will benefit Architecture for Humanity's Haiti Reconstruction fund, in partnership with Yele Haiti. Tickets are $10 and you can buy them through the Paramount website. The Paramount's Facebook page promises a $5,000 matching grant if the event raises at least $5,000, but does not specify where the matching grant will come from.
It's hard to believe it's been almost six months since the slacker revenge film Red White and Blue wrapped shooting in Austin. An update in August from writer/director Simon Rumley revealed that he was hard at work editing the film. Simon and co-producer Bob Portal have now completed work with the last stages of post-production with their sound editors and Post house Prime Focus. The film is now fully color timed/graded and sound mixing is completed, ready for Hi Def delivery.
Great news, as it has been officially announced that Red White and Blue is having its world premiere at the
Rotterdam Film Festival in the Netherlands on January 29. Rotterdam is the festival where Simon first premiered his previous film The Living and the Dead, which had its American premiere at Fantastic Fest in 2008.
Here's the latest Austin film-related news:
- Congratulations to local musician Ryan Bingham (pictured at right) for winning a Golden Globe with T-Bone Burnett for their song "The Weary Kind" from the movie Crazy Heart. Bingham also appears in the movie. Sometimes-Austinite Sandra Bullock also took home a Best Actress (Drama) award for her role in The Blind Side.
- Local filmmaker/Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser heads to Sundance this week to premiere his film Lovers of Hate, shot in Austin and in Park City, Utah. Chris Garcia of the Austin American-Statesman grabbed him for an interview beforehand. If only we could jet up to Utah this weekend and check it out ...
- Speaking of AFS, their Texas Documentary Tour selection this month is Tattooed Under Fire, which plays on Wednesday night at Alamo Ritz. Austin Chronicle writer Kimberley Jones interviewed filmmaker Nancy Schiesari, who is also a professor at The University of Texas, and who shot the movie in Killeen.
My favorite subgenre of science fiction is dystopian tales, including Children of Men, Fahrenheit 451, and Mad Max. Therefore I was intrigued by The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic tale of a lone traveler making his way across the wasteland of America. This man carries with him a sacred book that has the power to change the world -- but will that power be used for good or not?
The future painted in The Book of Eli by the Hughes brothers is a sepia-toned brutal one, hot and dusty with little protection from the elements and murderous hijackers and marauders. Eli (Denzel Washington) has been traveling for 30 years, and remembers the time before "The Big Flash" and the war, when people threw away items that are now killed for. He can't remember how old he is but can read, while younger generations are illiterate and desperate. Food and water are scarce, and many survivors have resorted to cannibalism. Eli is well-armed and extremely skilled with his weapons, but his senses are his real survival tools.
Back into the post-holiday swing of things, yet? There's not much out there new film-wise, but it's another week, and more new releases.
The Book of Eli -- Post-apocalyptic tale about a lone man who takes on a corrupt town with desperate townsfolk. Keep an eye out for Debbie's review. (Wide)
The Lovely Bones -- The novel by Alice Sebold blew me away. Peter Jackson's film adaptation, not so much, with some of the least energetic performances by otherwise good actors. However, that doesn't apply to Saoirse Ronan, who doesn't seem able to deliver anything but engaging performances. From what I can tell, those who like it seem to be those who haven't read the book. Read my review for more details. (wide)
Alice Sebold's hauntingly beautiful story of life after death, the The Lovely Bones, has made it to the big screen, adapted as a motion picture by Peter Jackson, the current king of adaptations. Unfortunately, it doesn't translate as well as Jackson's adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The movie doesn't deliver on the novel's albeit complex and poignantly beautiful tale of limbo, tragedy, grief and healing.
Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) is a young teenager, in the throes of young love when tragedy strikes, devastating her family and leaving her in limbo. Ronan, who owned every one of her scenes in Atonement, does the same in The Lovely Bones. She continues to grow as an actress, but this time instead of a little girl, she's a coltish young teen, awkwardly bridging the gap between child and young woman, and madly infatuated with a boy at school. When her life is cruelly cut short, it's not just her family -- and her murderer -- who have to learn how to live in the aftermath. Susie has to learn how to move on after her death.