I've heard people argue that Grindhouse, which was shot in Austin, was so overhyped and underattended that it actually crippled the local film production industry in some way. I'm not sure I agree with that -- I think that better film incentives in other states was a much bigger factor. I admit I wish that Grindhouse had been made with a much lower budget, rather like the Masters of Horror series on Showtime, and then it might have built more of a cult following instead of ending up a box-office flop. But we'll never know.
I do know this: I use my SXSW Film 2007 canvas bag, the one with the Grindhouse picture splashed on it, as a grocery bag. And every time a cashier under 40 sees it, they grin at the bag or tell me how they loved Planet Terror, or they can't wait for Quentin Tarantino to make another film. (Then I cheer them up by telling them about Inglourious Basterds -- my inner film geek wants to see it, but my inner grammar geek HATES the title.) There are still a lot of fans of this movie, and filmmakers Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, here in town.
When we go to a movie theater that has the IMAX name on it, we expect to be immersed in a gigantic 72-foot image. Except IMAX has been lending its name to some Regal and AMC theaters that don't do that. The "IMAX-D" theaters have screens that are only slightly larger than usual, with digital projection and sound. That's nice, but that's not what people expect when they pay higher ticket prices for an IMAX experience.
On Tuesday, Aziz Ansari posted a blog entry complaining that the IMAX corporation is ripping people off. He says:
Basically IMAX is whoring out their brand name and trying to trick people. These new "IMAX" theatres are really just nice digital screens with good sound, but they ARE NOT IMAX, in that they don't have the huge 72 ft gigantic screens which people would expect. However, they still charge $5 more for tickets as they would for the regular IMAX.
Check out our updated 2011 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies.
While Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are no longer free events, if you're still looking for free movies, you have plenty of options around town this summer. Recently, Jette briefly mentioned the Reel Independents series this summer at Austin Public Library. APL has two additional summer series at different libraries, so there's no excuse to miss these movies.
Two of the best deals in town have been Terror Tuesdays (formerly Thursdays) and Weird Wednesdays at the Alamo Drafthouse, where obscure, rare and just plain strange films have screened for free every week of the year. This month, the Terror and Weird are free no more. But they are still good deals.
Citing rising shipping costs, both events have joined Music Monday in charging $1 per seat. It's $2 if you buy online (those pesky service charges associated with credit card orders). When guest appearances are included, it's $5.
Going from free to fee can make some people cranky. Lars Nilsen, has a brief comment on Weird Wednesday Facebook page about the shipping costs. Zack Carlson, the Terror Tuesday programmer, explains in more detail.
"Lars and I used to just use the same prints from the Alamo's modest film archive, but with both series playing a 35mm film print each week (no DVD's!!!), that's 104 movies a year. And you can imagine that it'd be difficult to provide that many genuinely entertaining films on a constant, non-repeating basis.
Simon Rumley, director of the surreal and memorable The Living and the Dead, as well as the sublimely succinct short Handyman, is returning to Austin this summer to make his next film.
Red, White and Blue, a revenge flick, will be shot in and around town. Rumley is currently looking for extras and locations. Visit the original Alamo blog for details.
The above photo is from Fantastic Fest 2006, when The Living and the Dead won Best Film. Rumley is on the right, about to chug his award in traditional Fantastic Fest fashion.
The happy news:
- The Austin Public Library has started a Reel Independents series this summer, with foreign films screening every month at both the St. John and Ruiz libraries. Free movies!
- The Harry Ransom Center has posted a video showing how they catalogued the new Robert De Niro collection.
- The Two-week Turnaround Tour filmmaking project will be in Austin from May 15-28 and they're looking for local filmmakers to help. They plan to write, shoot, and screen a short film during their time here.
The summer movie season started last Friday, which means most screens will be showing Hollywood's blockbuster hopefuls. Smaller films have to fight for screens, and usually don't last much longer than a week or two. Still, it's possible to see these films locally. Austin is currently the test audience for an Anchor Bay theatrical release -- a thriller currently playing at Dobie that will expand to screens in Los Angeles and Phoenix later this month.
Director Brad Soref and Producer Donald Zuckerman brought Not Forgotten to Austin this weekend, including a special Austin Film Society screening with a Q&A, and at least one sold-out screening on a sunny Saturday when Pecan Street Festival and other summertime events were all competing with each other.
Not Forgotten is a twisted thriller that begins with unsettling images of a murder then cuts to an idyllic small-town softball game. Jack Bishop (Simon Baker, pictured above) is coaching his daughter's team, and everything looks close to postcard perfect. Even Jack's wife, Amaya (Paz Vega) has a great relationship with her stepdaughter, Toby (Chloe Moretz).
After nine days of over 100 films from 18 countries, I now understand why one Austin filmmaker told me Cine Las Americas is her favorite film festival. With a lineup as diverse as any other festival in Austin, Cine Las Americas closed with a complex film that ended the fest with an impact.
The closing-night film, Arrancame la vida (Tear This Heart Out) sold out, to the point where the Alamo had to pull out folding chairs to fit people in the theater. Still, some very disappointed people were turned away.
Director Roberto Sneider attended the screening. You can see him in the above photo surrounded by Cine Las Americas programmer Jean Lauer, CLA Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque, and Francisco Cossio.
It's been about a year since Austin Film Society premiered Inning by Inning, Richard Linklater's documentary about Texas Longhorns baseball coach Augie Garrido, at the Paramount. I wrote about the movie for Cinematical. I'm not a baseball fan, but the profile of Garrido was fascinating. The film played on ESPN a few times, but we haven't heard much about it since.
Fortunately, Inning by Inning will be released on DVD on June 2. To promote the DVD release, Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar will show the film on Monday, June 1. Linklater will be at the screening and will hold a Q&A afterwards. The tickets aren't yet on sale. I hope this is the non-bleeped-out-for-TV version, because some of Garrido's cussing is almost lyrical.
The DVD apparently includes not only Inning by Inning, but a separate documentary about the Longhorn team's 2006 season called A Game of Adversity. I believe this documentary is directed by Inning by Inning producer Brian Franklin, shown above with Linklater. The DVD also has a 60-minute "feature" called Extra Innings with Augie. This is going to be a real treat for Longhorn baseball fans.
[Photo credit: Austin Film Society. Used with permission.]
Recovering from the nine-day Cine Las Americas film festival has taken some time, and it's past time to finish up.
Wednesday night's lineup included Juan Frances: Live, a music mockumentary focused on identity and family. The film takes aim at stereotypes via its main subject, a balding white guy who was raised by a Mexican family. Born Jonathan French, and raised by his nanny after the news that his parents died, Juan was "blessed by the Virgin" with the gift of song. After being discovered at a talent show, he skyrockets to fame and fortune, only to face a crisis of identity.
Director Amy French co-wrote the script with her brother Spencer John French (who played the lead) based on their experiences growing up in the bilingual neighborhood of Echo Park. They were apparently fearless. Some of the humor would be brave for a Mexican-American to pen, but for two white people, it's exceptional. Juan working eight jobs, all classic work for Mexicans in America, is the mildest. When Juan is so far gone he defiles sacred images, instead of losing the audience, the laughs just got louder.