Jette Kernion's blog

Review: Cutie and the Boxer

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Cutie and the Boxer

Are the sacrifices involved in making great art worthwhile? That's one of the questions posed by Cutie and the Boxer, the debut documentary from Zachary Heinzerling about two artists and how they work ... and how they live together as husband and wife, as they've done for nearly 40 years.

Ushio Shinohara is an internationally acclaimed artist whose "boxing" paintings and motorcycle-themed sculptures were considered an integral part of the Pop Art influence in Japan in the 1960s. Now it's the 2010s, and Ushio has been living in New York since at least 1970 -- that's when he met his wife, Noriko an aspiring artist more than 20 years his junior. Ushio has just turned 80, and the couple are living with their son in a small New York apartment that has seen better days, trying to figure out how to pay the rent and utilities.

The documentary doesn't rely on spoken or written narration to get us up to speed. The audience has to pay attention and learn who these people are, and where, and when, from watching them onscreen. This draws us closer into the lives of the Shinoharas.

Review: The World's End

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The World's End posterI found the latest movie in Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, The World's End, just as I expected. This is not at all a bad thing -- there's nothing worse in moviegoing than disappointed hopes. (That's not true. Unexpected graphic cruelty to animals is a lot worse.)

But Wright, co-writer/actor Simon Pegg and actor Nick Frost deliver a comedy/genre film along the same lines as their previous two endeavors, and do it very entertainingly, to the point where I hope the word "trilogy" is more of a guideline than an ending.

This time around, Pegg plays Gary King, a burned-out Peter Pan in his forties whose greatest memories are from his teenage days leading a gang of five. He loves to tell the tale of the night they tried to drink a pint in each of the dozen pubs in their small town -- the "Golden Mile" of drinking -- and how glorious it was even though they never got through all 12 pubs.

Gary wants to get the band back together, so to speak, and try the Golden Mile again with his now-fortysomething mates. But everyone else has grown up, particularly his best friend Andy Knightley (Frost), who has become a buttoned-up teetotaler after some event with Gary obliquely alluded to in hushed voices.

The first third of The World's End (named after the twelfth pub) focuses on this lone loser who still wants to be a teenager, and his attempts to recreate his glory days and rekindle his old friendships. And then, just as the pathos is about to feel a little wearing ... the plot shifts sideways. Really sideways and maybe upside-down. With a cherry on top. Just as it did when the zombies showed up in Shaun of the Dead.

Review: Ain't Them Bodies Saints

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Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Critics often urge readers to see a particular film in a theater, noting that the movie looks and sounds so amazing on a big screen, they'll miss something valuable by watching on a TV or worse yet, a laptop or tablet. I've said it myself any number of times. I'm certain that if I'd seen Ain't Them Bodies Saints in a movie theater, that is exactly what I would tell you.

And yet, watching the movie from a studio-watermarked DVD on a laptop, sitting on my bed, I was entirely absorbed by the beauty and intensity of this movie, struck by the subtle soundtrack, as mesmerized as I might have been if I'd seen it projected from 35mm at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz.

It's not an unfamiliar story, enriched by unexpectedly nuanced characters. Ruth (Rooney Mara) discovers she's pregnant with Bob's child, and shortly after, they're caught by police after committing a crime in their small Texas town. Bob (Casey Affleck) ends up imprisoned while Ruth waits and cares for the child. Bob can't bear to be penned up away from his family, and meanwhile Sheriff Wheeler (Ben Foster) and retired criminal Skerritt (Keith Carradine) are keeping an eye on Ruth in different ways.

We've Got Tickets (for You) to 'The School of Rock' Reunion

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Bernie red carpet/benefit

Would you like to spend an evening with the two gentlemen above -- Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater and actor Jack Black -- and watch The School of Rock too? Of course you would ... and we're giving away two pairs of tickets to the Austin Film Society-sponsored event. Keep reading.

Linklater, Black, screenwriter/actor Mike White, actress Miranda Cosgrove and other younger cast members from The School of Rock will be at the Paramount next Thursday, August 29 for a special tenth-anniversary screening of the movie. Tickets are available at several levels -- VIP ticketholders also have the chance to attend an afterparty at the Gibson Austin Showroom where the band from the movie will perform.

As if that weren't enough, you can also purchase tickets to a special Moviemaker Dialogue with Mike White, moderated by Kimberley Jones of The Austin Chronicle, on Wednesday, August 28 a the Marchesa. If you're an AFS "Make" or higher-level member, admission is free (although you still want to reserve a ticket online).

Be Next to See 'You're Next' (Free!)

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You're Next mural at Fantastic Fest 2011

Not many Austinites have had the chance to see You're Next yet. The horror film, directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett, screened during Fantastic Fest 2011 and again at SXSW earlier this year. Jordan attended a special screening earlier this week with stars AJ Bowen and Barbara Crampton in attendance (look for her write-up soon). But the movie isn't officially being released in Austin theaters until August 23.

Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see You're Next early -- and for free! -- next Wednesday, August 21 at 8 pm at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. We have a limited number of admit-two passes to give away.

After the jump, you'll find promotional codes and links to the Gofobo website where you can enter the code to get an admit-two pass for the screening of your choice. These are first-come, first-served passes and seating is not guaranteed. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that often more tickets are given out than there are seats, so you'll want to arrive early to stake out a good spot in line (especially for a horror film at Ritz).

The cast of You're Next includes AJ Bowen, who is also in the Austin-shot Grow Up Tony Phillips; Texas filmmaker Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine); filmmakers Joe Swanberg and Ti West, who regularly screen their films at Austin fests; and Barbara Crampton, who's graced a number of movies including Body Double and Re-Animator. Several Slackerwood contributors have seen You're Next. Their reactions:

Find Out AFF's 2013 Lineup ... Via Twitter

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AFF 2013 logoSlackerwood has a standard process for publishing details about a local film festival's lineup and other news. Someone from the festival, or the fest's PR company, sends us a press release with the info. We do a little research to find out the Austin and Texas connections, write it up into an interesting (I hope) article, maybe add a nice photo or two and embed some trailers ... and share it with you.

Austin Film Festival, however, is shaking things up this year in a fun way. Programmers Bears Fonte and Ryan Darbonne will be announcing the first films in the 2013 lineup via Twitter. It seems that we'll all find out together what the first batch of the festival's shorts programming will be sometime today. It hasn't happened yet.

So if you are interested in finding out what will screen at the October 24-31 festival, follow @austinfilmfest on Twitter today. You might also want to check out @BearsFonte and @RyanDarbonneATX too just in case. Meanwhile, the suspense is killing me.

We've already covered AFF's previous conference and honoree announcements, if you want a little taste of what the film fest and conference will be like this year.

Interview: Maggie Carey, 'The To Do List'

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AFF 2010

When interviewing filmmakers and actors for upcoming new releases, journalists like me usually get ten minutes. It can be very limiting. There are the interviews where the subject has his/her answers down pat and will launch into answers when you've barely asked the questions. There are the assembly-line interviews where the actor is getting bored because you're the dozenth person he or she has spoken with that day. After some of these, I wonder if I'm bringing anything different to an interview feature than the 40 other articles that will appear in print and online around the movie's release.

But some interviews feel like real conversations, and 10 minutes aren't enough. I wish Maggie Carey and I could have easily taken a half-hour to chat about Austin and indie filmmakers and strong female characters in film (I had some great questions we never got to). I wish we could have chatted at Kerbey Lane (but not at 4 am), which you will understand if you read this whole article. What I needed was 20 more minutes and a couple of beers.

As a result, this interview doesn't feel like the same one a dozen other people had with the writer/director of The To Do List, which opened in Austin on Friday and which I found delightful (my review). I think you'll enjoy the read, especially if you live in Austin.

Review: The To Do List

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The To Do List

The 80s and 90s brought us numerous coming-of-age comedies about the innocent young man who wants to gain experience with young women and finds himself in the middle of any number of raunchy and/or outrageous situations.

With The To Do List (it's killing me not to put a hyphen in there) the scenario is reversed, and this time a young woman seeks sexual experience and adventures. Set in the early 1990s, the movie intentionally calls back to those male-centered raunchy sex comedies, but this time a female actually experiences sexual gratification onscreen. 

It is a refreshing change. When was the last time you watched a movie in which a female character had an orgasm? (Sorry, Mom.) And not a pretend one in a deli, either. I am talking about a woman who enjoys sex and isn't punished for it by being eaten by a shark or knifed by a serial killer or the victim of a fatal disease. It grows very tiresome.

Brandy (Aubrey Plaza) is her high schools' valedictorian, graduating with every academic honor under the sun ... but knowing nothing about sex or intimate relationships. She finds this out the hard way (no, that's not a pun, stop it) and addresses her lack of knowledge and experience in a way that any brainy teenage girl might: She compiles a list of activities that will prepare her for being sexually comfortable and experienced when she arrives at college.

Review: Only God Forgives

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Only God Forgives

When a filmmaker is present at a screening of his or her movie, often the audience is extra-passionate with their applause at the end of the film. But as the end credits rolled for Only God Forgives, a stunned silence fell. After a few moments, some audience members recalled themselves and applauded enthusiastically, but when the house lights were raised I could still see many dazed and confused faces.

What is Only God Forgives? What goes on in the brain of filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn? If you're expecting Drive, shut that down right now. If you're hoping for another Bronson ... no, but you might be partially prepared for the surreality. Only God Forgives isn't like anything else I saw this year. Did I like it? I have no idea. Was it good? It was vivid and disturbing enough to stick with me for days, and you can't discount a film that does such a thing.

Only God Forgives opens with the scenario that Julian (Ryan Gosling) is running a Bangkok boxing club as a front for some drug smuggling, which he's been doing since he killed someone ten years previously. His brother is murdered, and their mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives in Hong Kong demanding that Julian avenge him.

A Cinematic Guide to Texas Politics

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Along Came Kinky

Over the past few weeks, many people in Texas and out are being exposed to Lone Star political and legislative processes and quirks for the first time. It can be puzzling, rage-inducing and sometimes hilarious. (Occasionally, all three.)

Fortunately, many filmmakers have documented both the broad -- often as in comically broad -- and fine points of Texas politics over the years. So if you want to figure out what's been going on over there in the Capitol, perhaps some of the movies on this list might help you out. Or they'll give you a good laugh to help distract you from what's going on. Or you can treat them like old-fashioned melodramas and boo and hiss some of the villains. (This really has happened during some screenings of political movies I've attended.)

I'm sorry these all aren't available through streaming -- you might have to buy a DVD through the movie's website. Local filmmakers, please follow the lead of David Hartstein, who was motivated when I told him about this article to put Along Came Kinky (pictured at top) on Vimeo video-on-demand.

Incendiary: The Willingham Case (Don's review) -- The SXSW 2011 screening I attended was one with a lot of booing, mostly of Gov. Rick Perry. It's about the battle of science versus folklore -- with a strong assist from politics. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 after being convicted for the 1991 deaths of his two children in a fire. Perry declined to issue a stay of execution despite evidence that showed the arson theory, which was the basis of the conviction, was faulty. (Available on DVD, iTunes, and through Tugg.)

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