Last week, for the first time, I used the term "neener-neener-neener" in the title of something I'd written. My inner six-year-old was too excited that instead of an NYC premiere, and Austin getting the movie a month later (which you know is the unfortunate norm), Baghead was going to start its limited run right here in Austin, and New Yorkers would just have to wait to see the Duplass brothers' latest film. You can read the details of the release strategy in my "Neener" article for Cinematical. I am sure that Jay and Mark Duplass would be pleased to hear that they were an indirect cause of juvenile glee for Austinites.
Baghead also gives Austin the pleasure of hosting the kind of premiere you don't normally see in Manhattan -- out in the woods, with free s'mores for audience members. Austin Film Society and Alamo's Rolling Roadshow have cooked up Thursday night's screening out at Star Hill Ranch, where parts of the movie were shot. Tickets are still available through the AFS site. If you really want to get fancy, you can pay extra for a multi-course feast before the film. Jay and Mark Duplass will be there too ... with bags on their heads? Who knows?
Check out the email interview I did with the Duplass brothers before SXSW this year, in which they offer deep and meaningful insight into the inspirations for Baghead. The photo above is from the Q&A after the Baghead screening at SXSW and while it's far from the best photo I took, it captures the attitude of cast and crew at the time. I have to say, I saw the official trailer for the film this weekend, and it doesn't quite capture the fact that this is a funny movie, poking fun at what people have called "mumblecore" as well as adding a splash of horror.
If you can't make it to Thursday night's screening, you can catch Baghead in Austin at Alamo on South Lamar and the Arbor. You can enjoy not only the movie itself, but the satisfaction of seeing it before the rest of the country. Neener!
This past week was a good one for "local boy makes good" stories with a pair of screenings that both feature the stories of small towns.
On Wednesday P.J. Raval held a sneak preview fundraiser screening of his new doc Trinidad (set in Trinidad, Colorado) which will debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival later this month. A sternly worded e-mail from Matt Dentler (and read by Raval at the screening) reminded us that mum's the word on this film until the actual world premiere in L.A., but it's not giving anything away to say that the local crowd at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar received the film warmly.
Trinidad follows a group of transgendered women who have all had gender reassignment surgery in Trinidad, which is now the "world capital of sex changes" and, according to Raval, should have New York screenings and additional screenings in Austin following the L.A. fest.
Sunday saw the first hometown screening of Crawford, David Modigliani's chronicle of eight years in the life of the quintessential American small town. Crawford, Texas, you may recall, became the official home of George W. Bush shortly before his campaign for president in 2000. The town hasn't been the same since. First there were a few years of booming tourism followed by mobs of Iraq war protestors (both of which brought money to town) and finally stagnation as Bush's approval ratings sank. Modigliani said early in the evening that he always knew he would eventually have to show it to the townspeople, so he tried to make it as balanced as possible. Reaction from the Crawford crowd was overwhelmingly positive -- even from the townsperson who grudgingly admitted during the Q&A that the film was reasonably evenhanded in its treatment of politics, though he still felt it "leaned a little to the left."
Director David Modigliani rightly focuses more on the people of the town and their personal struggles than on Bush's troubled presidency, though of course the one affects the other in unpredictable and fascinating ways. Even if you'd rather forget the political events of the last eight years, however, the chance to see a film like Crawford unspooling for the first time in front of its subjects is an event few film buffs will want to pass up. Crawford is about 100 miles away, and even with gas prices being what they are I think it's worth the trip.
Crawford screens Sunday, June 8th at 8:30 p.m. in Crawford, TX.
To learn more about Crawford (the town and the movie), see the videos after the jump. In addition to SxSW 2008, the film has played the Independent Film Festival of Boston, Marfa Film Fest, AFI Dallas, and most recently the Brooklyn Film Festival.
Austin Film Society sent me the best mini-poster last week, on the back of a schedule for its latest film series, Making the World Laugh: Global Comedy. I put it right by my computer, and whenever someone starts bugging me, or tries to strong-arm me into doing something, I look over at that image and think, "What would The Landlady do?" And then I kick butt.
If you want your own image of The Landlady to gaze upon during difficult moments, you should head on over to one of the great comedy films in the AFS series, which starts tonight with Alain Resnais' Private Fears in Public Places. Next week, you can see The Landlady herself in Kung Fu Hustle, and the rest of the lineup is equally stellar. The movies are all screening on Tuesday nights at Alamo on South Lamar. Admission is free if you're an AFS member and cheap ($4) if you're not. Consider getting tickets in advance on the AFS website, because their series films often sell out in advance.
Now, if someone would just find me a "WWTLD" bracelet, I'd be able to handle any situation.
Update: I've now heard that anyone is welcome to attend the meeting -- it's just that you have to be a paid TXMPA member if you want to vote on any of the meeting issues/elections.
I just received a press release about the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA) meeting that's taking place tonight. This is a meeting of the TXMPA Central Region Caucus, and it will be held at Mother Egan's (on 715 6th Street) from 6:15 to 8 pm. Admission is for dues-paying TXMPA members only and tonight's agenda is focused on nominations and elections. If this interests you, visit the TXMPA website to join online. (They won't be able to take credit cards at the venue tonight.)
If you don't know why TXMPA is important right now, check out the cover story in this week's Austin Chronicle, about the dismal lack of film productions shooting in Texas these days. Or you can read last Sunday's Austin American-Statesman article about how Shreveport, Louisiana -- of all places -- is surpassing Austin in film production.
I've posted the rest of the press release after the jump. (Thanks to Janet Pierson for the heads-up on this.)
The Paramount's Summer Film Series begins tonight with, as is traditional at the Paramount, Casablanca. This year, the film is paired with Key Largo for a Bogie double-feature.
The summer film series' schedule runs through early September, with the usual Gone with the Wind on Labor Day weekend and Lawrence of Arabia the weekend after. Other perennial faves include Breakfast at Tiffany's (how all of you can get past that awful Mickey Rooney character is beyond me, but I know tons of people adore this film); 2001: A Space Odyssey, because it looks so cool on a big screen; and the 70mm visual extravaganza Baraka. Many of the films are paired with Warner Brothers cartoons this year, which I usually enjoy (and prefer to the live-action serials Paramount has sometimes included in the past).
The schedule has few surprises, but that's what the Paramount's summer films are all about. For cultural diversity, you go to Austin Film Society screenings. For edgy culty programming, you go to Alamo Drafthouse. If you want to see a beloved Hollywood film with an audience that loves that film as much as you do, you go to the Paramount.
[Editor's note: The Unforeseen, a documentary about development in Austin that focuses on Barton Springs, has been playing at Alamo Drafthouse (first at South Lamar, currently at Ritz) for a few weeks now and is apparently still popular enough to stick around. If you haven't seen it, now's the time -- the lovely cinematography makes the documentary worthwhile to see in theaters. To whet your interest in the film, here are some excerpts from director Laura Dunn and producer Robert Redford, who were in Austin in March to promote the film.]
Laura Dunn, director: "A little over 5 years ago now, a group of us who really love Austin came together and started working on this film. We saw it as being the story of the long-running battle over Barton Springs and specifically lensing it as a microcosm for what's going on everywhere in communities across the globe. As we grow, how do we protect our most precious natural resources, like Barton Springs?
"I worked on this film for over 5 years and interviewed hundreds of people ... everyone from real estate developers to environmentalists to lobbyists to politicians to swimmers to long-time Austinites to artists, scientists, you name it. It was pretty exhausting.
On Monday night, I headed over to Alamo on South Lamar for a sneak preview screening of Iron Man. (Thanks to Blake for letting me be his plus-one for the evening.) You know how it is at Alamo; they can't just show a movie and be done with it, there has to be a little something extra. The lagniappe for Iron Man was a guy in a jet pack dressed as Iron Man who soared above the crowds before we went into the theater for the movie. In addition, Alamo founder Tim League donned his own Iron Man costume and hosted a costume/trivia contest.
The above photo was taken by Mary Sledd [update: apparently Marc Savlov took it using Mary's extra camera ... sorry about that], and is part of an Alamo Drafthouse Flickr set from the event. Check out the whole set for some great photos by Mary and others. (I'm actually in the lower-left corner of this one, although it's not terribly flattering.)
If that's not enough excitement, Alamo Drafthouse videotaped the jet-pack flight for your viewing pleasure. At least if you're watching the video you won't need earplugs like we did at the actual event.
You'd think the movie would be anticlimactic after the live jet pack flight, but I enjoyed Iron Man very much and would certainly recommend seeing it. However, don't do what I did and leave before the credits are over -- apparently there's an amusing post-credits tease that I'm sorry I missed. On the bright side, that'll give me an excuse to see the movie again.
The film has played a few festivals but releasing studio Magnolia Pictures was so impressed with the Alamo's enthusiasm for the film that they're opening the flick here. A strong performance could mean more premieres in Austin and/or a wider release for Big Man Japan, so if you're a film geek you owe it to yourself and to geek cinema to buy a ticket and plant your butt in a seat. Several times if necessary. Big Man Japan has a midnight show tonight and a week's worth of daytime and evening shows through May 1. See you there.
Matt Dentler just listed a bunch of cool film events (and concerts too) for the week of April 28 through May 5. Fabulous, and less work for me. Thanks, Matt! Wish you didn't have to go in June ...