December 2013

Our Holiday Favorites: Bachelor Mother

in

Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn and David Niven in Bachelor Mother

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Bachelor Mother, a 1939 romantic comedy from writer/director Garson Kanin (My Favorite Wife, Born Yesterday), is a film my sister and I make a point to watch together around New Year's Eve. It's one of the only DVDs of which we both have a copy (Monsoon Wedding might be the other). Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a department store employee who loses her temp job the day after Christmas and stumbles upon an orphaned baby. Forces beyond her control make her keep the child, although she once attempts to foist the baby off on David Niven's rich playboy character. 

The plot involves screwball antics, a stern and wealthy businessman (played nimbly by character actor Charles Coburn) who yearns for his son to settle down, dancing (of course!), a New Year's Eve sequence at Times Square, sweet romance and It's a Wonderful Life's Frank Albertson (we say, "Hee-haw!" when we see him onscreen) playing a sneaky toy department employee trying to break into management.

AFS Preview: Godard vs. Truffaut

in

"Breathless" movie still

Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, cinema legends and titans of the French New Wave, duke it out for the Austin Film Society's series "Godard vs. Truffaut" from Jan. 3 through Feb. 23 at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre

But there's no need to take sides*, as various seminal works by each filmmaker are spotlighted biweekly. Discover your inner Francophile at 8 pm Fridays and 2 pm Sundays at the Marchesa.

Breathless (1960) -- Friday 1/3 [tickets], Sunday 1/5 [tickets]

The rules of cinematic composition are thrown out the window in Breathless, Godard's first feature-length film and one of the earliest of the French New Wave. A young petty criminal with delusions of grandeur drags his American girlfriend (Jean Seberg, whose haircut alone was influential) into his escape plot after killing a police officer. 

AFS Essential Cinema: Russian Films of the Past Two Decades

in

still from Russian Ark

The tumultuous and dangerous political atmosphere that defined 20th-century life in the Soviet Union made it difficult for Russian artists to reach their potential, and it wasn't until the dissolution of the USSR that expressing creative freedom at home became a real possibility.

Beginning in January, Austin Film Society will present a series of movies that reveal the pent-up talent and emotion of six different Russian directors working at a time when they were finally free to analyze and critique Mother Russia and its people. All released in the last 20 years, the eight films of "Pushing the Curtain Aside: Russian Films of the Past Two Decades" portray a range of styles and subjects but share a dedication to originality.

Screenings all take place Thursdays at 7:30 pm at the Marchesa. Go here for more information about screenings and tickets, and take a look at the lineup below.

Lone Star Cinema: All She Can

in

Corina Calderon in All She Can

Benavides, a small town in south Texas, is the setting for the 2011 slice-of-life drama All She Can. Immigrants attempt passage over from Mexico, drug searches occur regularly at the high school, and senior Luz (Corina Calderon, End of Watch) worries she may be stuck. She hopes her weightlifting prowess can net her a scholarship to The University of Texas at Austin ... but this film doesn't follow the formula of your typical sports movie. Heck, All She Can doesn't really follow any typical formula at all.

The plot of this narrative feature seems anything but far-fetched. For instance, since her family has no internet access, Luz has to use a computer at the town library to Skype with her older brother JM (Jesse Medeles), who is stationed in Afghanistan. The military seems the only career path open to many of her peers. She's accepted into UT Austin, but her mom can't afford to co-sign any school loans. Her family is barely getting by, and Luz feels utterly limited by her lack of options.

Many other factors give All She Can a realistic feel, from the wardrobe to the low-key acting by the cast.  Even the lighting adds a natural touch, with nighttime scenes washed in a soft yellow as if from a sodium light. The predominantly Latino cast delivers a compelling story with familiar elements for most Americans.

Review: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

in

Idris Elba and Naomie Harris in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

"There is no time, only now." -- Winnie Mandela, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is an imperfect biopic about an imperfect hero. Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, HBO's The Wire) plays South African activist and revolutionary Nelson Mandela. The movie is based on Mandela's autobiography of the same title, published in 1995, so it only covers his life to that point -- which is still quite a fantastic spread.

The story starts with montages (this movie is quite heavy on the use of montages) of the statesman's rural childhood, then kicks into gear in 1942 Johannesburg where Mandela, as a young lawyer, becomes involved in the newly-formed African National Congress.  He marries, separates after infidelities and a harsh altercation with his wife, then meets and falls for Winnie (Naomie Harris, Skyfall). After some years of work with the ANC and leading the group in a more aggressive direction against the apartheid authority of his country, Mandela is imprisoned for 28 years. The film tries to stress Mandela's humanity, frailties and all, over the almost mythical figure celebrated in his later years. 

Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

in

On my first day of college orientation, the RA asked everyone on our hall to tell one fact about themselves. I proudly boasted that "I see everything in life as one big movie." My RA snickered. "Doesn't everyone?" she replied, as I shut my mouth and felt foolish. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film that, if my old RA and I were to watch together, would agree is a great example of "life as one big movie."

The best way I can describe the film is like this: It reminded me of those days where you put your headphones on, rev up a good playlist, and just take in all that's happening around you. You might create a scenario for that guy who's in line ahead of you at the coffeeshop, or wonder where that mom and her kids are going. You create your own personal movie, one that only you know how it will end. I believe this is what lead actor and director Ben Stiller was going for.

Stiller plays Walter Mitty, a middle-aged man who works in the Negative Assests Department of LIFE Magazine. In this busy, fast-paced environment, we see that Walter seems out of place. He is awkward, mumbles each sentence and can't quite figure out how to interact with people. Instead, we see everything that he imagines (or maybe wishes) he could say -- to his friends, his coworkers and especially Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), the woman he has his eye on. These daydreams are played out in the most absurd of ways, although probably not too far off from something audience members have probably envisioned themselves doing in their own lives.

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

in

"The Wolf of Wall Street"

Director Martin Scorsese reunites for the fifth time with actor Leonardo DiCaprio in the true-to-life black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street, based on Jordan Belfort's 2007 unapologetic, if not embellished, memoir of the same name. 

Both the movie and memoir trace the rise and fall of stockbroker Belfort, played by a greasy, dark-haired DiCaprio (when is his hair not greasy?). In the spirit of wolf puns, The Wolf of Wall Street chokes on the metaphorical hairball. 

Belfort begins his foray into the amoral world of Wall Street in 1987, when he starts working at Rothschild. There's an uncomfortably humorous scene in the movie where he's having lunch with his boss, a spraytanned Matthew McConaughey, who gives him hackneyed advice about the industry, one that breaths fantasy and illusion. 

Review: Grudge Match

in

Grudge MatchIf you mention the names Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro and ask what their single best movie each is, eventually you'll come across more than a few people who will name Rocky (any of them, except for the fifth one) or Raging Bull. Those people wouldn't necessarily be wrong either, especially in the context of boxing movies. For a lot of people, the list of best boxing movies is topped one of the Rocky films and Raging Bull.

So when it was announced that Sly and Robert De Niro would be entering the ring once again in a film called Grudge Match, why was there so much concern? Oh, that's because it was going to be played out like throwaway comedy rather than an intense sports movie drama that could have been really great.

When boxing was at its height of popularity, two boxers ruled the roost, Bill "The Kid" McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Henry "Razor" Sharp (Sylvester Stallone). The two light heavyweights dominated the competition, except each other. They each only had one loss in their careers and it was to each other. When it was decided they would fight a third match to truly determine who was the best, Razor mysteriously walked away from boxing.

Thirty years later, despite the unanswered questions, everyone moved on. The Kid became a business man riding the fame of Eighties celebrity while Razor lived a quiet and unassuming life working in a factory. Along comes Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), Dante is the son of a sleazy ring promoter, and it's his job to get the aging fighters to agree to let themselves be characters in a video game so that people can virtually relive the rematch they never saw. Trouble brews when the two fighters are in the same room, and fisticuffs occur while someone catches the action on a cell phone video and then all of a sudden, demand for the fight is at an all-time high.

Holiday Favorites 2013: AFF's Erin Hallagan and 'The Man Who Came To Dinner'

in

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

I'm always one for off-the-wall, non-traditional holiday films.  And yet, I can't help but adore those old, classic Hollywood films that are also off the Christmas film radar. Austin Film Festival Conference Director Erin Hallagan shares one of these cinema greats with us.  

Although Erin spends her time immersed in creating a stellar conference and guest speaker lineup (both year-round and in October), she also has a great appreciation for the theater. And with her extensive background in theatre arts, it's easy to see why her pick is one for both stage and screen fans alike. Here's what she had to say:

Slackery News Tidbits: December 23, 2013

in

Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

in

Inside Llewyn Davis

It's the cat. It ties the room together.

I'm talking about the cat in Inside Llewyn Davis. And by "room" I mean "movie." Without the cat, this film would feel structureless and almost entirely unlikeable. Its success as a plot device is a testament to the writing and directing powers of Joel and Ethan Coen.

The title character, played by Oscar Isaac, is a jerk and a moocher. He's knocked up his friend's wife (Carey Mulligan), he insults most of the people around him, he "does not suffer fools and likes to see fools suffer."* His longtime musical partner gone, he's trying to pursue a solo career and fumbles nearly every crucial decision, almost tragically. He would be wholly despicable were it not for two things, one of which is the way he treats that cat.

Llewyn feels responsible for the cat after it escapes from an apartment where he's staying, and that triggers the events in the movie. The storyline is not strong or obvious -- it's A Week In the Life of a Struggling Musician, and it sounds tedious on paper Llewyn sleeps on people's couches, sings for his supper, plays in a dingy nightclub with a folk-singing duo (Mulligan and Justin Timberlake), performs on a novelty record and even embarks on a road trip to Chicago, hoping to succeed with a major record producer/promoter. The typical overt narrative curve does not assert itself.

Movies This Week: 2013 Year-End Edition

in

  The Wolf Of Wall Street

We may not have any snow in Austin, but there's a cinematic avalanche at area theaters this week and it rolls through to the end of the year. Honestly, I think the studios are pushing way too many titles into the marketplace for the holidays and a few of these wide releases are going to fall victim to pure audience apathy (I'm looking at you, Walter Mitty).

There's a lot to cover, so I'm just going to break down what is out this week and what else will be opening on Christmas Day. If you've got some time off work in the next two weeks and want to head to the movies, we'll have reviews of almost all of these films that will be posting between now and next weekend. One thing's for sure, there's a little something for everyone.

If you want to see some holiday movies in a theater, various Alamo Drafthouse locations are showing It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and a quote-along version of Elf. Alamo Kids Camp returns for the holidays with several family-friendly selections, most notably Hugo. (So your kids can enjoy some Scorsese this season too.) And on Dec. 30, to get you in a New Year's Eve mood, Alamo Ritz's "Cinema Cocktails" series continues with The Hudsucker Proxy. (You know, for kids.) Blue Starlite Drive-in also has some holiday favorites and other crazy double-features before finishing off its winter season at the end of the month.

Now Open In Austin

American Hustle -- David O. Russell hasn't wasted any time between awards seasons. After earning raves for Silver Linings Playbook, he returns with the unlikely true(ish) story of a con man and his seductive partner forced into participating in an FBI sting operation to bring down a bunch of public officials. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are all uniformly excellent in this surprisingly funny story, but it remains to be seen if it will be able to beat the 8 Oscar nominations Playbook picked up last year. Don has our review and he really enjoyed it, although he ultimately feels that it's "a triumph of style over substance." (wide)

Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

in

Anchorman 2

Even though my boyfriend commonly jokes, "Which movie are you going to make me read tonight?", my arthouse leanings are generally no match for Will Ferrell. Sometimes all I want to do is turn my mind off for a few hours and laugh at pure idiocy. If Ferrell is the star of a movie, I'm pretty much a sucker for it. When I was offered the chance to see and review Anchorman 2, I leapt at the opportunity, much to the chagrin of said boyfriend. 

It's been almost a decade since we first met Ron Burgundy. Early in this long-awaited sequel, Ron and his wife Victoria (Christina Applegate) split up after she is offered a network anchor position instead of him. After hitting rock bottom, Ron is approached by an upstart network called GNN that's preparing to launch a 24-hour news channel. He goes on a cross-country trip to put his old news team back together for GNN, but they become disheartened to learn that they're relegated to a 2-5 am shift. After a confrontation with GNN's primetime anchor Jack Lime (James Marsden), Ron makes a bet and eventually becomes the network's most successful anchor, avoiding actual news and filling his time slot with animal stories and live car chases. 

Review: Saving Mr. Banks

in

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is "inspired" by the making of Walt Disney's effervescent classic musical Mary PoppinsEmma Thompson artfully plays the caustic creator of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, who flies out to Los Angeles to oversee the cinematic adaptation of her work.  Walt Disney (Tom Hanks in a mustache) has started work on the film without her full approval. Along with the songwriting Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman and The Office's B.J. Novak) and storyboard artist Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), Disney hopes to convince Travers to sign over the film rights.

As we see Travers spout acerbic wit in later middle age, scenes from the Australian childhood of the author are depicted. Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Lone Ranger) play her troubled parents. Bank employee Travers Goff (Farrell) encourages the imagination of young daughter Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley as the young P.L. Travers, nee Helen Goff) while he depends on alcohol for his own escapism.  Mama Margaret (Wilson) is so beset with problems that she sleepwalks into a lake (IRL, this happened when the author was older and Mr. Goff already dead).

Holiday Favorites 2013: Bears Fonte Is Ready to 'Go' This Christmas

in

GO still

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Today's pick comes from Austin Film Festival's Director of Programming, Bears Fonte. Always one to root for a story that's off the beaten path, Bears sent us a movie that might not be the first to come to mind when you think of the holidays. Here's what he had to share with us:

Before she was on the cover of every tabloid, Katie Holmes lent her then budding Dawson's Creek star power to one of the greatest indie comedies of the nineties, Go. Go was Doug Liman's next picture after Swingers, so I was all in, but he once again sort of got upstaged by the screenwriter, John August, who crafted an amazing, fast-paced ensemble comedy that jumps around in time in a Pulp Fiction sort-of-way (but actually far more effectively).  

Review: American Hustle

in

American Hustle

The Abscam sting operation is an unlikely inspiration for a film.

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, the bizarre public corruption investigation (it involved an FBI employee posing as a Middle Eastern sheikh) targeted more than 30 public officials. A dozen or so were convicted of bribery and conspiracy, including a U.S. senator and six members of the House of Representatives. The busts were shocking when they went down, but Abscam isn't exactly a household name more than 30 years later. Is a long-ago political scandal still the stuff of a compelling movie?

In the hands of David O. Russell, it is. Well, it's the stuff of an entertaining romp, at least. Abscam is the basis for Russell's American Hustle, a film faithful to the general gist of the scandal (the FBI recruits a two-bit hustler to help take down corrupt politicians in a bribery sting) while playing fast and loose with almost all the historical details.

The real-life hustler was Melvin Weinberg; in the film, he's Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale, who deserves a special Oscar for best comb-over), a slick con man who fleeces gambling addicts and others in desperate need of cash by promising them phony loans. When an FBI sting nabs Rosenfeld's seductive partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), the two agree to help FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) pull off an elaborate sting involving New Jersey power brokers, the mafia, and politicians at all levels of government. (Like the real Abscam, the hustle involves a phony sheikh.)

Holiday Favorites 2013: PJ Raval Enjoys a 'Smiley Face'

in

Smiley Face

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Just as I thought we were entering an It's a Wonderful Life trend of holiday favorites this year, Austin cinematographer and filmmaker PJ Raval surprises me with a selection I couldn't have predicted. Raval's most recent film is the documentary Before You Know It (Don's review). He's worked as DP on Austin movies such as The Bounceback and Fourplay, and on the Academy Award-nominated documentary Trouble the Water, among many other films. And you might have seen one of the delightfully family-unfriendly music videos he's shot for local artist Christeene.

Raval's pick is a comedy I saw at SXSW 2007 and loved -- Smiley Face (my review) -- but never thought of as a holiday possibility. Until now. Here's what he has to say about the film:

One of my favorite winter holiday movies is Smiley Face by Gregg Araki. Now trust me, anyone who knows me personally will be shocked I'm listing a "stoner comedy" but I assure you, Smiley Face is an amazing piece of comedy filmmaking.

John Sayles Talks 'Matewan' at the Marchesa

in

Chris Cooper in Matewan

As soon as I heard about the Austin Film Society's special screening of Matewan with director John Sayles in attendance, I purchased my ticket. I've made it a point to see as many Sayles movies as I can, since seeing my first (The Secret of Roan Inish) as a teenager.  Unfortunately, the quality of the Matewan DVD I rented a few years back was so awful that I couldn't watch more than 5 minutes of it -- the sound was terrible.  I couldn't pass up an opportunity to see the 35mm print at the Marchesa.

I spied the director's tall form in the Marchesa lobby, among the booths at the Blue Genie bazaar, before we were seated.  After being introduced to the audience, Sayles explained to us the correct pronunciation for the town in the title: MAYTE-one, not MATT-uh-won (which is how I'd been saying it, oops).  He then told us how he found the subject matter through discussions with miners who kept referring to the "Matewan massacre."

'Her' Tops AFCA 2013 Awards

in

Before Midnight

The Austin Film Critics Association (AFCA) not only awarded honors today to 2013 films like Her, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but also recognized several films with local and Texas ties.

Her, the latest film from Spike Jonze (which topped my own personal list of the year's best) won't be released in Austin until Jan. 10, but AFCA considered all films that had (or will have) a US release in 2013. Her also won Best Original Screenplay, by Jonze, and Best Score, by Arcade Fire. And AFCA created a special honorary award for Scarlett Johansson to recognize her voice work in the movie.

I've included the press release as well as the full list of awards and the group's Top Ten list below. A few notes about Austin and Lone Star connections:

  • Best Austin Film went to Before Midnight (Elizabeth's review), from local filmmaker Richard Linklater. This is Linklater's fourth Best Austin Film award from AFCA.
  • The Top Ten list includes Mud (Debbie's review) from Austin director Jeff Nichols at #7 and Before Midnight at #8.

Film on Tap: Repeal, Cinema Six and A Very Bad Santa

in

Cinema SixFilm on Tap is a column about the many ways that beer (or sometimes booze) and cinema intersect in Austin.

The 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition was marked earlier this month with special events at local bars and brewpubs. Local PBS station KLRU re-aired the 2011 Ken Burns three-part documentary Prohibition. Directed by Burns and Lynn Novick, this fascinating series documents the contributing factors of Victorian-age morality and events that led to the passage of the 18th Amendment that prohibited alcohol.

If you missed the rebroadcast of Prohibition, you can watch this well-crafted documentary on Netflix or iTunes. Prohibition is also available to rent at both locations of Vulcan Video.

Rogness Brewing Company offers a monthly film event at the brewery, and the featured film on Saturday, December 21 is indie comedy Cinema Six, which was filmed in Central Texas. Mark Potts wrote and directed this humorous film, and I'm sure some local cast (seen at top) and crew will be in attendance at this free event. The screening starts at 7 pm, and pints of Rogness Brewing craft beer will be available for purchase in the tasting room.

Paramount Theatre Celebrates its Centennial Cinematically

in

projector2015 will be the 100th anniversary of Austin's Paramount Theatre... October 2015, to be exact. What better way to celebrate than with a special film series? Starting in January 2014, the Paramount100: A Century of Cinema series will chronologically screen a history of film. 

"As I began to think about how we could celebrate the classic film tradition at the Paramount, I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to present a chronological tribute to film history at the Paramount and Stateside Theatres," Stephen Jannise, film programmer for Paramount and Stateside, said in a press release about the series.

"With the screenings spaced out over a year and a half, we’ll be able to really dig into these silver screen classics and marvel at the steady progression of cinematic language, one landmark at a time. A once-in-a-lifetime celebration like the Paramount’s 100th birthday deserves a once-in-a-lifetime film series, and I can't wait to get started!"

The schedule for the first segment of the series, running January through May, hasn't been released yet, but badges for the full series are already available for purchase.  Some of the planned screenings include silent shorts to kick the series off, 35mm screenings of Chaplin's The Kid, Harold Lloyd's Safety Last, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and digital restorations of Intolerance and The Thief of Baghdad.

Slackery News Tidbits: December 16, 2013

in

Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Austin City Council has approved 99 community places for free access to the high-speed Internet service Google Fiber (Chip's article). Locations include the Austin Film Society, the Austin Theatre Alliance -- which means the Paramount and Stateside Theatres, local film-fest venues like the ZACH Theatre and the Long Center, the Austin Convention Center, channelAustin and 23 Austin Public Library branches. The Google Fiber "Community Connections" program will provide these locations with service through 2023.
  • Austin-based entertainment site Spill is being shut down at the end of this month by its parent company Hollywood.com. As a result, Spill founder Korey Coleman has started a Kickstarter entitled It Ain't Going Down Like That to fund a new site along the same lines. In three days, the campaign has raised more than $75,000, more than doubling its $30K goal. The campaign ends Jan. 12.
  • Lots of Austin and Texas movie release-date info. First of all, DFW-area filmmaker David Lowery's Ain't Them Bodies Saints (Jette's review) will be released on DVD and VOD, including Amazon Instant and iTunes,  on Tuesday.  The movie premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

Movies This Week: December 13-19, 2013

in

 Bastards

It's a relatively light weekend for new releases, with most area theaters stacking up screens for the multiple formats of the new Hobbit adventure. In the weeks ahead, things should pick up considerably as we sail full-steam ahead into year-end prestige titles for awards season. 

If you're looking for holiday classics, the Paramount has 35mm screenings of White Christmas and Meet Me In St. Louis playing on Sunday and Monday. The Austin Film Society has a much darker holiday offering at the Marchesa with Zach Clark's White Reindeer on Saturday night. This new release from IFC Films won raves at SXSW earlier this year and lead actress Anna Margaret Hollyman will be in attendance for a Q&A.

Speaking of dark, AFS also is bringing the new film from Claire Denis to town this weekend. Bastards (pictured above) is an unsettling story of betrayal and sexual intrigue with a final shot that made my jaw drop. Featuring an amazing score by Tindersticks, it plays at the Marchesa tonight, Sunday and again on Tuesday. Neil Jordan's 1982 debut film Angel plays for Essential Cinema on Thursday evening. This film is difficult to come by stateside and is a part of the "First Wave Of Irish Cinema" series.

Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

in

Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel in The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugI have been quite excited to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug despite my disappointment with last year's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Like many viewers, I was disengaged by the overblown focus created by filmmaker Peter Jackson's technique of shooting and playing back at 48 frames per second (fps), especially upon the practical effects of makeup and the jerky movement in action scenes.

Thankfully, for The Desolation of Smaug, moviegoers will be able to choose for themselves whether to see the film in 24 or 48 fps, as well as in 3D. I watched the 24 fps 3D format, and am pleased to report that the overall viewing experience is much improved. The artificial hair and prosthetics could still be improved upon for some of the dwarves, but it's not nearly as noticeable as in An Unexpected Journey.

In the latest installment of The Hobbit, the journey for Bilbo (Martin Freeman), the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), and the band of dwarves led by Thorin (Richard Armitage) to the Lonely Mountain continues. Along the way the group must elude and fight multiple creatures and enemies, as well as escape the dungeons of the Woodland Elves.

Alamo Drafthouse Shares Their Favorite 100 Films

in

What are your five favorite movies, the ones you can watch over and over, that you would pick to watch if you were stranded on a desert island with nothing else to do for the rest of your life?  That's what the Alamo Drafthouse asked fans this week in a question that hinted at the subject of a secret event and announcement last night by Tim League and the Austin Alamo programming team.

That announcement was the creation of the Alamo 100, the essential list of films as selected from the top 100 favorites of each of the Drafthouse programmers: Sarah Pitre, Greg Maclennan, Joe Ziemba, Tommy Swenson, RJ Laforce, and Tim League.  Intended as a celebration of the best movies to watch, the list is not bound by genre, nor is it stuffy and limited to "classics."  It begins, alphabetically, with 10 Things I Hate About You and ends with You've Got Mail, but includes many titles one would expect, such as Casablanca, The Godfather (Part I and II) and Pulp Fiction.

As a celebration of the list, Drafthouse theaters nationwide will screen seven of the titles in January -- Brazil, The Goonies, Raging Bull, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sixteen Candles, City Lights and Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- with more to come throughout the year. Those who attend these screenings will receive custom buttons created for each film, which included the secret title from last night's screening, the 1931 Charlie Chaplin film City Lights -- Tim League's #1 pick, which also made the lists of three other programmers.

Holiday Favorites 2013: Heather Kafka Thinks 'It's a Wonderful Life'

in

Karolyn Grimes and James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

It's a Wonderful Life is a popular pick this year! Austin actress Heather Kafka (Kid-Thing, Loves Her Gun) writes about what the 1946 film means to her.

"Is he sick?"
"No, worse, he's discouraged."

I remember walking into my parents' living room one day and an old movie was on. I don't remember how old I was but I do remember feeling like the TV was talking to me. I've tuned in every year since that day. It's a Wonderful Life never ever NEVER gets old. I feel and see something new in it every single time.

Sure, I could mention all the obvious things like the acting, the story, the comedy ... the swimming pool in the floor, the missing $8,000, ZuZu's petals ... Jimmy Stewart running through the town square shouting "Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls!"

Holiday Favorites 2013: Holly Herrick Chooses 'The Silver Skates'

in

hans brinker coverWelcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Today's inspired choice comes from Austin Film Society Associate Artistic Director Holly Herrick. Her pick is a classic from 1962: Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color presents Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates: Part 1 and Part 2, directed by Norman Foster. "AKA, the only time I will ever prefer Disney to Sidney Lumet," Holly says. Here's why she loves this one so:

On Christmas Eve every year, after our traditional holiday dinner of hominy grits and homemade sausage served with King corn syrup, my brothers and sisters and I dig out an old re-recorded VHS tape from sometime in the early 80s of the 1962 Disney's Wonderful World of Color version of Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. The film is an adaptation of a popular 1865 novel depicting Netherlands life in the early 19th century, focusing on the children of a working class Dutch family who dream of winning a speed skating contest.

Sidney Lumet was the first to adapt this story for the American television audience in 1958 through the long-running anthology series presented on NBC by Hallmark, Hallmark's Hall of Fame. Lumet's Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates became the most viewed Hallmark Hall of Fame episode to date, and I can only imagine that the Disney produced version was in part a business reaction to the popularity of Lumet's musical, which starred Hollywood leading man Tab Hunter in the title role, opposite singer and starlet Peggy King.

While the Lumet musical is definitely worth watching (particularly for Lumet die-hards who will appreciate things like a John Fiegler cameo), I prefer the Wonderful World of Color version by early talkies-actor-turned-TV-director Norman Foster. Foster's Hans Brinker is not a musical, and it is shot on location in the Netherlands and in Sweden (rather than in a studio in Brooklyn like the Lumet version). It is a mostly Scandinavian production, featuring an all-Scandinavian cast reciting English dialogue.

TAMI Flashback: A Man Who Left Town, and One Who Didn't

in


The Man Who Left Town

This article is the fourth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

Austin's population has grown dramatically, increasing almost nonstop for the last century. But while the River City is famous for turning newcomers into lifelong Austinites, not everyone stays here. (This may be hard to believe as we watch development gobble up acre after acre of land.)

This first video in this month's TAMI Flashback is the story of one such Austinite, a young man who moved away for lack of work. The Man Who Left Town, a 1961 episode of KTBC-TV's Project 7 public affairs series, is a classic exercise in chamber of commerce boosterism, lamenting Austin's lack of industry and discussing ways to foster economic growth.

Directed by legendary Austin cameraman and director Gordon Wilkison, The Man Who Left Town introduces us to Wendell Baggett, a native Austinite and freshly minted University of Texas graduate. (I'm guessing at the spelling of Baggett's name; the credits don't list the characters or say whether they're real people.) As the story opens, Baggett and his young family are moving out of the Brackenridge Apartments. They want to stay in Austin, but are leaving because Wendell can't find a job as a chemical engineer, as Austin isn't a hotbed of chemical production or research. (It still isn't, especially after Huntsman Petrochemical shuttered its sprawling Austin facility in 2005.)

Our Holiday Favorites: 'A Christmas Story'

in

A Christmas Story Still PhotoWelcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise

I suspect that when most folks are asked what movie is most firmly ingrained in their lives, many would list The Princess Bride, The Godfather or even Scarface. For me it's my holiday favorite that I can watch the year round -- A Christmas Story. I never asked Santa for an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle like Ralphie (Peter Billingsley), but I did want a pink bunny suit -- even if it would mean that I would look like a "deranged Easter Bunny" in the words of Old Man Parker (Darren McGavin).

One of my little idiosyncrasies is throwing movie quotes into everyday conversation, and this film adaptation of the satirical recollection by late humorist and radio personality Jean Shepherd from his book of essays titled In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash is a cornucopia of memorable quotes. With recent temperatures across Texas dipping below the 40-degree mark, forcing Native Texans like me to bundle up, I've baffled many a companion by stating, "My brother Randy lay there like a slug -- it was his only defense." The word "fudge" has long replaced less appropriate profanity at times of duress.

Ready, Set, Fund: 'Crowd Speak' for Successful Crowdfunding

in

Still Photo from Foreign Puzzle

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

Of all the contributions that I've made over the last 4.5 years to Slackerwood, I find this monthly feature, which can be quite rewarding for filmmakers through the promotion of their funding campaigns, to also be personally rewarding. I enjoy following the progress of many of our featured film projects from creation to production to screening at prestigious film festivals including Sundance, SXSW and Austin Film Festival.

Over the last two years, this column has expanded beyond just film projects with the inclusion of television and web media as well as tools to help filmmakers. For example, one of this month's featured fundraising campaigns is for WriterDuet collaborative screenwriting software. WriterDuet is currently available for free online, but this fundraising campaign, which is funding through Thursday, December 19 on Kickstarter, will fund the creation of a desktop version.

We also receive a considerable amount of feedback each month from filmmakers regarding their fundraising efforts. This month's column thus features two new sections: Projects that we've featured in a past column, and tips from the industry to help with fundraising efforts.

First Sundance 2014 Announcement Includes 5 AFS-Supported Films

in

Sundance Film Festival 2014Last week, the Sundance Film Festival announced 43 independent films selected for its 2014 fest, in the US Documentary and Narrative Competitions and NEXT section. Among the films selected, five projects have received assistance from Austin Film Society (AFS), including several AFS Grant recipients.

Local filmmaker Kat Candler and producer Kelly Williams received news that their feature Hellion -- based on the short by the same name -- was accepted into the U.S. Dramatic Competition for the fest, which takes place January 16-26 in Park City, Utah. Williams received a fellowship in 2012 to the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Creative Producing Lab for Hellion.

"I am very honored that the Sundance Institute sees the potential in Hellion to get behind it and has the faith in Kat and I to see it through," Williams said about the project in 2012 (source).

"When we got the call from Sundance it was so early, I had this weird pit in my stomach that they were calling to tell us we didn't get in. Y'know, let us down early. I almost didn't want to answer the phone," Candler told me last week via email. "So when Kim Yutani [Sundance programmer] said, 'Kat, we want to play Hellion at Sundance this year,' I just crouched in the empty hallway and couldn't stop saying 'Thank you' over and over again."

This is Candler's third consecutive year getting a movie into Sundance -- her short Black Metal premiered there in 2012, and the short film Hellion  screened in 2011.

"The misconception is that if you've gotten into Sundance once, you have a free pass for life. It's totally not the case. So every time I get that call after weeks of stomach-turning stress, I thank every one of my lucky stars. We were fortunate to have worked with insanely talented people, and the most amazing southeast Texas community who put their heart and souls into this film," Candler said.

Slackery News Tidbits: December 9, 2013

in

Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

  • Congratulations to University of Texas at Austin grads Elizabeth Chatelain and Zachary Heinzerling for their recent International Documentary Association awards. IndieWire reports that Chatelain won the David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award for her movie My Sister Sarah (Jordan's interview), which follows her sister's drug addiction. Heinzerling won the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award for his debut Cutie and the Boxer (Jette's review), about the chaotic marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. 
  • The City of Austin invites local filmmakers to submit shorts to its annual "Faces of Austin" competition. Submitted fiction or nonfiction films must be under 10 minutes and must be filmed in Austin or highlight a city topic or organization. Films must be submitted by Tuesday Jan. 21 at 5 pm. Selected films will be screened during the SXSW Film Conference Community Screenings as well as on Channel 6, the city's website and at special screenings throughout 2014. Full submission guidelines and the application can be found can be found on the Faces of Austin website.
  • Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater and native Texan Ethan Hawke discussed their long-awaited movie, Boyhood, with Vulture last week. The movie chronicles the life of a child from age six to 18.   

Review: Out Of The Furnace

in

Out Of The FurnaceScott Cooper transitioned from small-time actor into big-time director when his debut film Crazy Heart earned Jeff Bridges a Best Actor Oscar in 2009. It has taken five long years for his follow-up film, Out of the Furnace, to be made and released -- and that was partially due to Cooper's insistence that Christian Bale play the lead role of Russell Baze, a long time steel miner in rural Pennsylvania struggling to make the best out of his life. 

Russell has a beautiful girlfriend named Lena (Zoe Saldana) and works hard to make the lives of those around him better, checking in on his ailing father every morning before work and bailing his brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) out of his gambling debts even though he doesn't really have the money. Rodney has been on four tours to Iraq and has no interest in following in his brother's footsteps of working for a living. He's always on the hunt for a quick buck, teaming up with a local bar owner (Willem Dafoe) who specializes in underground bare-knuckle fights to make enough cash to stay afloat. 

On the way home from paying off some of Rodney's debts, Russell drives home from the bar after having one too many and gets into an accident, killing two people. As he goes off to jail, his life slowly begins to slip away from him. His father's health gets worse, his girlfriend refuses to see him and his brother goes further and further off the deep end. While we aren't shown exactly how many years he's incarcerated, the world that Russell returns to after he is released from prison is far different than it was when he went away. 

There is an artful slow-burn to the filmmaking on display here, but Out Of The Furnace shows that no matter how many talented actors you have, some stories just can't be redeemed. It's just not very original and even though Relativity is doing a full-court press for awards season, it's hard to imagine this revenge thriller gaining much traction.

The best thing about the movie, quite surprisingly, is Woody Harrelson. He gives a frightfully good performance as the ringleader of an Appalachian crime syndicate who spends his days violating women, cooking up meth and throwing fights so that he can make as much money as possible. He's pure evil personified, but even this gritty role (which kicks off the movie in a disturbingly violent way) doesn't save Out of the Furnace from feeling like something we've seen a million times before. 

Movies This Week: December 6-12, 2013

in

 The Punk Singer

If you're getting in the Christmas spirit, you'll want to head over to the Paramount on Sunday for 35mm screenings of Love Actually. They've got two afternoon matinee showings. If that doesn't work for you, it's also a Girlie Night booking at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Tuesday, but that appears to be a digital screening (for those of you, like me, who care about such things). 

Speaking of the Ritz, they've got a Kung Fu Double Feature on Sunday night from the American Genre Film Archive, Richard Donner's Superman in 35mm on Monday and Sweet Smell Of Success on Wednesday night. If you've got six hours to spare on Thursday evening, they're also showing a double feature of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug in 35mm. If you want to forgo the high frame rate/IMAX/3D options, it's a rare opportunity to see new releases on film. 

The Austin Film Society continues its Jan Nemic series tonight with Pearls Of The Deep at the Marchesa. This collection of five short films from 1966 is "considered a manifesto of the Czechoslovak New Wave" according to the AFS program notes. AFS is also presenting a screening of Go For Sisters on Saturday night at the Alamo Slaughter Lane with John Sayles in attendance for a Q&A. Sayles will be back at the Marchesa on Sunday night for his 1987 film Matewan, in a brand new 35mm print struck by UCLA. This is your chance to ask questions of a master director whose work has helped to shape the independent film movement in the United States.

Review: Go for Sisters

in

Go for Sisters poster

In his latest film Go for Sisters, which screened at SXSW and opens today in Austin, longtime indie filmmaker John Sayles (Lone Star, Matewan) brings us yet another almost noir-ish mystery set on the U.S.-Mexico border. But like his other films, it's primarily character driven. The characters in Go for Sisters are strong, complex and interesting, and make up for a story that seems to meander aimlessly at times.

Bernice (LisaGay Hamilton) is a parole officer who is inadvertently assigned to an old high-school friend, Fontayne (Yolonda Ross). Bernice was always the straight arrow, but Fontayne is on parole after serving time for drug-related crimes. But Bernice needs Fontayne's help to find her son Rodney, who has mysteriously vanished after one of his friends has been murdered.

Bernice and Fontayne soon realize they need help and engage the services of an aging, sight-impaired ex-detective, Suarez (Edward James Olmos) and end up on a long journey involving the border to find out what happened to Rodney and if he's even still alive.

Olmos could have stolen this movie quite handily, but Hamilton and Ross hold their own, especially in scenes where the two lead female characters are together. The changing relationship between Bernice and Fontayne is the centerpiece of the film, but is complemented by Olmos's charming performance. A scene at the border in which the trio poses as a musical group is one of the film's quiet gems.

The mystery plot should be in service of the characters, but it veers off into scenes that feel irrelevant. The scenes are often fun to watch, as when Hector Elizondo makes a brief appearance, but they cause the movie to drag slightly in the middle. One sequence involving the possibility of tunnels across the border felt like it could have been eliminated entirely, especially with the over-two-hour running time.

Review: The Broken Circle Breakdown

in

broken circle breakdown movie posterIf you stop to absorb the lyrics of most bluegrass songs, you’ll find they’re not just sad, they’re heart, gut and soul-wrenching. This gives you an idea of what to expect from The Broken Circle Breakdown, a romantic drama that uses bluegrass music to frame its characters' tumultuous lives.

Directed by Felix van Groeningen, The Broken Circle Breakdown follows two young creatives, Elise and Didier, as they meet, fall in love, play in a band together and soon enough end up married and parents to a little girl. As life continues to throw surprises at them, they find the strength to keep going in different ways.

Veerle Baetens and Johan Heldenbergh play the leads, and each brings great charisma and energy to the screen. Physically tiny compared to Heldenbergh's towering, banjo-playing figure, Baetens exudes passion and heart as Elise, an impulsive tattoo artist with a lovely singing voice and superstitious leanings. Heldenbergh is alternately gruff and warm as Didier, Elise's atheistic counterpart who is defined by his deep love for American culture and deep hate for its politics. 

The two have sharply different views when it comes to religion, philosophy, and just about everything else, but their chemistry and love for their daughter make them a believable couple who you hope finds their way towards happiness.

But just like in a bluegrass song, happiness is hard to come by. When Elise and Didier's daughter Maybelle becomes sick with leukemia, they are forced to watch helplessly as medicine, luck and their own bond as a couple all begin to fail. Maybelle, played by the extraordinary Nell Cattrysse, is the star that guides these two, and when her light begins to fade they are both at a loss. 

Review: Narco Cultura

in

Narco Cultura 

Director Shaul Schwarz examines the drug war in Mexico in the riveting and occasionally gruesome documentary Narco Cultura, opening Friday in Austin. Schwarz is an Israeli photojournalist who shot a series of images in 2011 on the violence erupting across Juarez, but decided the topic needed to be brought to life on the big screen. With this movie, he keeps the spotlight on Juarez, which has become the murder capital of the world while sitting directly across from the safety and relative security of El Paso, Texas.

What struck me right away about the film was the on-camera interviews with children, who could not be older than 10, talking about the murder of their family members as though it was the most common and natural thing in the world. Their day-to-day reality is skewed in an obscenely harmful way thanks to the drug syndicates who rule the streets. 

The violence in Juarez grew slowly, but steadily over the years with the murder rate eclipsing 3600 people last year alone. We are introduced to several police officers who work as the "C.S.I." of Mexico, a specialized unit that has been targeted by the drug lords. Every day they are on the job, they are taking the risk that they'll be killed, most likely to be followed on their way home after they leave the office. The irony is that for all of the evidence that they gather, there is such widespread corruption that the majority of cases are never solved. 

Holiday Favorites: Jarod Neece Loves His 'Christmas Vacation'

in

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Today's favorite movie recollection comes from SXSW Film Festival and Conference Producer and Senior Programmer Jarod Neece. He is also the co-founder and editor of the popular Austin food blog Taco Journalism, and co-writer of the new book, Austin Breakfast Tacos: The Story of the Most Important Taco of the Day. His pick is also a favorite of mine:

The holidays are a special time for me and always have been. Living in the South my whole life it's the one time of year we get a little cold weather, I love the smells, the lights, the sounds, the traditions -- I'm a certifiable holidork! I love so many holiday films but the one movie I watch each and every Christmas season is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. I am a fan of all the Griswolds' adventures (even Vegas Vacation!) and they each hold a special place in my heart.

Christmas Vacation has so many memorable scenes and so much funny and snarky commentary. From the nostalgic "trapped in the attic" scene to the hilarious and epic "Christmas lights aren't working" scene. From Cousin Eddie to Aunt Bethany to everyone in between -- I can't get through a holiday season without it!

Holiday Favorites: Alvaro Rodriguez, 'Ball of Fire'

in

Ball of Fire

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

This installment comes from Alvaro Rodriguez, who's cowriting El Rey cable show From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series and who's been my favorite Austin Film Festival panelist. Here's his pick, which is also a favorite of Jette and Elizabeth:

Ball of Fire (1941), directed by Howard Hawks, with screenwriters Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Slough off the winter doldrums with a classic comedy, whydoncha? Surely one of the greats in so many genres, Barbara Stanwyck makes words sexy in Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire, a jazzy update of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and one of my favorite go-to holiday flicks. Here, Babs is Sugarpuss O'Shea (oh, hell, yes), a nightclub artiste who hides out from the mob in a house full of stuffy professorial types (including Gary Cooper) struggling to put together the definitive encyclopedia of slang.

What's Streaming: Strong and Amazing Women

in

film collage

When I think back on 2013, I think of all the times I heard or read about strong, brave women around the world. Wendy Davis, Malala Yousafzai, Gabrielle Giffords and Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis caught my attention, each and every one of their battles epic in their own regard. Several of these ladies fought to protect the rights of women, often getting hurt or knocked down along the way. They didn't take "no" for an answer, and in some cases put their lives on the line for what they believe in. This was a rough year for the girls, but even in spite of all of this, it still made me incredibly proud to be a woman.

I gravitated toward this topic because I feel that lately I have been stumbling upon movies with great female protagonists. Some you side with from the start, while some you feel might just be flat out crazy. Nonetheless you root for them, even if it isn't until the very end. Before the year is over, I hope you take the time to thank and root for all of the amazingly beautiful women in your life. Happy holidays! 

FILM

Frances Ha -- How lucky I was to stumble upon this gem of a film, especially after all of the discussion I'd heard about it. Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a 27-year-old modern dancer living in New York City. She lives with her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) and has a carefree life, taking each day as it comes. This comes to a halt, though, when she turns down the opportunity to move in with her boyfriend, only to discover that Sophie is moving out to live with someone else. Frances must then figure out how to navigate life solo, taking on odd jobs and having a few too many life lessons all at once. This film is one that I believe many twentysomethings will be able to relate to, particularly those in an artistic field. It gives you hope that friendship will always prevail and, even when life throws you a curveball, you can still find the silver linings in every situation. Jette reviewed the movie when it hit theaters earlier this year. Available on Netflix, Amazon Instant and iTunes.

Holiday Favorites 2013: Lars Nilsen Has a Few

in

Lee Marvin and John Wayne in Donovan's Reef

Welcome to Holiday Favorites, a series in which Slackerwood contributors and our friends talk about the movies we watch during the holiday season, holiday-related or otherwise.

Lars Nilsen (@thelarsnilsen), programmer for the Austin Film Society, can't pick just one holiday film:

I have to admit I'm not a giant Christmas fan. I've never been religious, so that whole side of the holiday escaped me and I grew up poor and poor kids have a much different experience of Christmas than well-off kids. I've never much cared for Christmas movies, music or anything. HOWEVER -- there are a few Christmas movies I really like a lot.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) is of course one of the most popular holiday movies but I have never been able to suppress a thought that most people are watching it wrong, and that some of the people who would enjoy it most avoid it because they think it's some kind of saccharine Hallmark card. It's a work of art, filled with darkness, made by WWII veterans who had just looked down the cold, dark well of death and were in search of a reason to go on.

James Stewart, just back from Europe, was a highly decorated Colonel in the Army Air Corps and had flown scores of bombing missions. He was sick of the killing and the inhumanity and when he came back to Hollywood he planned to quit making movies. He didn't consider it a proper profession in light of everything he'd seen. Frank Capra convinced him otherwise and this movie is an exorcism of that bile and sorrow. It's not a film full of sunshine and light. People will often mention Capra and this movie and particular as the very picture of sentimentalism. That's exactly what it isn't. It is a movie that is full of rich emotions, but it's all deserved. It has been paid for.

Donovan's Reef (1963) (pictured at right) is a thousand miles away from It's a Wonderful Life, but it is also the work of a master (in this case John Ford) and it's a terrific Christmas movie. Except for a brief interval in snowy Boston it takes place in the South Pacific. John Wayne plays Donovan, who passes his time in his bamboo bar-room with his old war buddies who also decided not to go back to the mainland after the war.

Awards Watch: Texas Filmmakers Up for Independent Spirit Awards

in

computer chess still

It was another busy year for Texas filmmakers, and it looks like their hard work will once again be recognized with awards. Last week the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations were announced, and Austin and Texas-connected productions including Mud, Upstream Color, Computer Chess and Before Midnight are in the running in a variety of categories.

Up for Best Director you'll find Austinite Jeff Nichols (who participated in a featured panel at Austin Film Festival last October), nominated for Mud, and Shane Carruth, director of the Dallas-filmed Upstream ColorMud (Holly Herrick's review) will also receive the Robert Altman award, which recognizes one film for its director, casting director and ensemble cast. Upstream Color (J.C.'s review) was nominated for Carruth and fellow Texan David Lowery's editing work, as well. 

Slackery News Tidbits: December 2, 2013

in

Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.