Shameless Self-Promotion: Are We 'Best Of Austin' Material?


Film Fest Geek BarbieI've probably filled out dozens of ballots in various Austin Chronicle polls over the years -- only one ballot per poll, of course, even though I am from Louisiana. Looking at this year's Best Of Austin ballot, I noticed a couple of interesting categories in the Media section that I would like to point out to all of you:

  • Film Critic
  • Local Entertainment Website
  • Local Blog

I actually see Slackerwood more as an entertainment website than a blog, myself -- we have eight regular contributors, we are a Google News and IMDb News Desk site, we report on events and review movies in the same way as many other online and print media sites. But I suppose it depends on your definition of "blog."

I have no illusions about Slackerwood actually winning any Best of Austin categories -- I suspect the above-mentioned awards will go to larger publications -- but I think it would be extremely cool to at least show up on the radar. So if you have a minute and haven't filled out one of those Best of Austin ballots yet, please consider Slackerwood in the categories I mentioned above. We have a number of fine film critics here and I'm sure you probably have one you especially like reading. (I will probably have to put all the names in a hat and pick.)

Quick Snaps: 'Slacker' at Austin Studios


Slacker at Austin Studios

I meant to do an extended photo essay from the Slacker screening at Austin Studios last month, using some of Austin Film Society's excellent photos and some video I shot of Richard Linklater introducing the movie, but you know how time flies and those other cliched phrases we chronic procrastinators use. So I'll just share a few photos instead, and perhaps I can get to the video at a later time.

It was a fun evening (cooler than expected due to that crazy "rain" thing that happened the night before) with a good-sized audience that included many of the filmmakers shooting segments for the Slacker 2011 project. The gentlemen in the above photo are Alamo Drafthouse programmer Daniel Metz, who shot one of the Slacker 2011 shorts (Elizabeth's interview) and filmmaker/Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser, who has been producing Slacker 2011. They introduced the Slacker 2011 trailer, which screened before the original movie. More photos after the jump.

Review: Horrible Bosses


Horrible BossesHorrible Bosses, which opened in theaters on Friday, is the best workplace comedy since Office Space. Co-stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis capture a dynamic not seen since Tomlin, Fonda and Parton in Nine to Five. This movie is solid comedy that never misses a beat, destined to be the cult classic of the 20-teens.

Bateman, Day and Sudeikis, all regular guys caught in bad situations, play off one another like Larry, Moe and Curly as they land each other into ever more outrageously sticky situations. In fact, one of my favorite scenes involves simply an overhead shot of them trying to back their cars out of a parking lot -- a genius bit of vehicular choreography. The film plays out like watching the events that led up to The Hangover in real time. This is the Hangover sequel I wanted to see.

Horrible Bosses is of course about the bosses, and they are absolutely horrible. Colin Farrell is a cokehead spoiled rich bastard who wants only to squeeze every penny from the company he's inherited from his deceased father (Donald Sutherland). Jennifer Aniston takes sexual harrassment to new levels when she spices it up with a little blackmail. And finally, Kevin Spacey plays the meanest, toughest, slickest SOB to ever wield a pink slip. He makes Dabney Coleman look like Bob Newhart. These are bosses you really do kind of want to die.

To help that happen for the three leads, special recognition has to go to Jamie Foxx, playing a character whose name I can't spoil. Foxx has some of the best scenes in the movie as he instructs the trio on the finer points of murdering without getting caught. Other exceptional cameos include Ron "Tater Salad" White as a hard-hitting detective, Isaiah "Old-Spice" Mustafa, John Francis Daley and one very special cameo that steals the show.

Movies This Week: Horrible Zookeeper Queen


The Ward

It's not a great week for new movies in Austin. The two big Hollywood movies are getting mixed-at-best reviews and only one arthouse film is opening (but it does have Kevin Kline in it). Frankly, I think a better option that would let you enjoy Zookeeper actress Leslie Bibb in a dark comedy about horrible bosses would be Miss Nobody, which played Austin Film Festival last year and is now available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

If none of the new movies grab you, there are not only lots of carryover options from previous weeks but special screenings galore. I am most excited that the Paramount is showing Brazil on Sunday -- twice, although I plan to see it only once. The Paramount also has an Albert Brooks double-feature of Modern Romance and Broadcast News on Tuesday and Wednesday; check their calendar for specifics. And if you're a Sam Peckinpah fan, head over to the Texas Spirit Theater on Wednesday for The Getaway, this month's AFF Made in Texas selection.

Don't forget to check our Free (and Cheap) Summer Movie Guide for plenty of affordable moviegoing options in and around Austin.

What We've Seen:

  • Horrible Bosses -- Mike saw this movie earlier this week and says that "Horrible Bosses is the best workplace comedy this decade, joining the ranks of classics like Office Space and 9 to 5." Look for his review this weekend. (wide)
  • Queen to Play (Joueuse) -- Don is pleased with the performances in this French film about a woman learning the art of chess (the cast includes Kevin Kline) but says in his review that he finds the pacing a bit slow even for his arthouse tastes. (Violet Crown)
  • Zookeeper -- I've never seen Mike so passionately disgusted with a movie -- in his review, he claims that the movie was so terrible it gave him a headache. And that's not the worst thing he says about this Kevin James vehicle in which zoo animals reveal their powers of speech in order to help get James some nooky. (wide)

Review: Zookeeper


ZookeeperWhy don't animals talk? Well, if Zookeeper is any indication, it's because they have absolutely nothing worth saying. At the end of the year, this movie will be tops on many worst-of lists.

Two former Spin City writers who brought us Norbit a few years ago teamed up with with a few of their buddies to write one of the most worthless, predictable, groan-inducing and even objectionable talent black hole of a script Hollywood's seen this decade. That's right, it's a script so bad it sucks the talent out of more stars than were at this year's Oscars.

Cher, Stallone, Nolte, Favreau, Breuer, Apatow, Rickles -- these folks are all so big they only need one name, but as the voices of a zoo full of obsessive-compulsive furry/feathered friends, they are telling more poo and pee jokes than you could dig up from a full season of South Park. Even Ken Jeong, one of the craziest funny guys in movies lately, is reduced here in Zookeeper to a tepid, boring, creepy approximation of his screen self.

The sad thing is that beneath all the jokes of extraordinarily bad taste is a family-friendly movie about being yourself and recognizing love when you find it. Kevin James as titular zookeeper Griffin Keyes has spent five years heartbroken over the girl who turned down his marriage proposal, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb). When she suddenly appears at a reception for his brother's wedding rehearsal, his animal friends decide to help him win her back. How very Disney a premise. Indeed, many kids today can identify with the story as they've wanted to help keep their parents together or reunite them after a divorce. But Griffin is an adult so insane over his ex-girlfriend and somehow so intensely stupid, he is willing to listen to these animals as they instruct him in the finer arts of walking with his crotch thrust out and peeing to mark his territory.

Review: Queen to Play


Queen to Play

Like the thoughtful, strategy-driven game of chess that is its focus, Queen to Play (Joueuse) is not for the impatient.

A study in parallels between chess and the larger game of life, this quiet French film is many things -- sophisticated, insightful, mildly funny and generally pleasant. One thing it may not be: captivating enough to hold most viewers' interest.

Which is not to say Queen to Play is a bad movie; to the contrary, it has many hallmarks of intelligent, competent filmmaking, with a believable story, great and sometimes surprising character development, and fine acting. And its pacing arguably is appropriate for its subject matter. But depending on your tolerance for slow-paced films -- and mine is quite high -- these attributes may or may not save Queen to Play from being rather dull. I'm still undecided.

Set on the picturesque island of Corsica, Queen to Play is the story of Hélène (Sandrine Bonnaire), a middle-aged chambermaid whose boring job and marital frustration leave her longing for a more meaningful, happier life. She develops a new interest in chess (actually, it's more of an obsession); to improve her skills, she asks for help from one of her employers, grumpy American expat Kröger (Kevin Kline).

Slacker 2011: Carlyn Hudson and Reel Women Students Squeeze Into a Packed Car


Carlyn Hudson and Reel Women UT filming their Slacker 2011 scene

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 Carlyn Hudson, a young filmmaker who directed the Slacker 2011 sequence produced by the Reel Women UT Chapter.

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

Carlyn Hudson: We re-shot the scene with Steve ("S-T-E-V-E") and three girls in a van who proceed to Blue Bayou (now Trophy's) and get rejected.

Slackery News Tidbits, July 6


Here's the latest Austin film news, as well as some other bits of news you might have missed earlier.

  • Rolling Roadshow has added one last Texas movie to its summer tour: Bottle Rocket. The Wes Anderson movie will be shown on Saturday night at the hotel in which it was partially filmed: the Days Inn in Hillsboro. It's part of an event to save the hotel from being closed down. Road trip, anyone?
  • For an excellent and thorough summary of many upcoming Austin films, check out Matthew Odam's write-up for the Austin American-Statesman ... as well as his follow-up on Paul Stekler's latest project.
  • The latest local filmmaker running a fundraising campaign for his film project is Paul Gordon, whose film The Happy Poet premiered at SXSW last year and has been making the festival rounds. Gordon is looking for pre-production research funding for Mexico Carpenter, a feature film he plans to shoot in Mexico later this year. Visit his page on the United States Artists website for more information and to chip in -- matching funds are available right now, and there are various thank-you gifts for different donation levels.
  • I'm worried about what's happening to the old Varsity Theater mural on the side of what I always think of as the Tower Records building (since that's what it was when I started UT in 1991). The Austin Chronicle reports that the mural has been damaged and partially removed to make room for some national fast-food chains that will occupy the space, which The Drag certainly needs more of, right? The architect says they're not going to renovate the mural but will instead provide "a reasonable facsimile." If we were promised a reasonable facsimile of the Daniel Johnston frog on The Drag, people would have been outraged. This is at least as iconic if not more so.

Slacker 2011: Jonny Stranger Shoots Despite the Pain


Photo of Jonny Stranger and crew

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 Jonny Stranger, filmmaker and professor of cinema at Austin Film Society. Stranger has worked with the AFS education department for about five years. During the school year, he works with at-risk kids in afterschool programs all over Austin, and during the summer, the program offers weeklong filmmaking camps.

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film are you reshooting?

Jonny Stranger: I am remaking the scene with the group of kids who peep on a couple I refer to as "the lovers." After encountering the frisky slackers, the kids quickly run away and steal sodas from a nearby vending machine. They then sell a Diet Coke to three guys ready to rid themselves of broken hearts in a weird ceremony involving throwing things off a bridge.

Movies This Week: Inside the Transformers Crowne


Page One Inside the New York Times

We won't see fireworks in town this July 4, because it's too darn hot and too damn dry. No rain, no fireworks, no respite. I wonder if ticket sales in Austin theaters are up this year simply because the A/C in movie theaters is so arctic. Have you been watching more movies in theaters than usual this summer?

If new movies aren't appealing to you, Austin has the usual wealth of special screenings, indoors and out. I'm tempted to see Ghostbusters at Blue Starlite tonight or Saturday; they're offering s'mores kits with "real Stay-Puft marshmallows" to enjoy with the film. Alamo Ritz brings back the documentary Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Trying to Tell Us? on Wednesday night. Austin Film Festival's Texas Family Film Series screens Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius tomorrow afternoon at the Texas Spirit Theater, and writer/director John Davis will hold a Q&A afterward ... and admission is free.

Don't forget to check our Free (and Cheap) Summer Movie Guide for plenty of affordable moviegoing options in and around Austin.

Movies We've Seen:

Larry Crowne -- Tom Hanks co-wrote, directed and stars in this movie about a middle-aged man forced by tough economic times to return to school. Rod Paddock unexpectedly loved it; in his review, he calls it a "true gem" and says it's one of his favorite movies of 2011. I am a bit nervous of anything involving Nia Vardalos these days, but Rod's pretty convincing. (wide)

Page One: Inside the New York Times (pictured above) -- This documentary about the Gray Lady screened in Austin during SXSW this year. In his SXSW review, Rod Paddock said it "shines a light on the difficulty of real news reporting in the world of media convergence and content aggregation." (Violet Crown)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- The latest in the series based on childhood toys "has the attention span of a ten-year-old kid after a six pack of Yoohoo," Mike Saulters says in his review. Still, he recommends the 3D movie even to Michael Bay-haters. (wide)

Syndicate content