Jette Kernion's blog

Tonight: Austin Underground Film Fest

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Austin Underground Film FestIf you're looking for something to do tonight that does not involve shopping, elves, eggnog, and that sort of thing, you might want to head over to Salvage Vanguard Theatre for the Austin Underground Film Festival (AUFF). You can get tickets at the door, and the event includes not only live music but about 30 short films from local and international filmmakers, including animator Don Hertzfeldt.

That Austin Girl recently interviewed AUFF founder Andy Gately about the fest and how it's changed in its three years. Gately's response on why you should go tonight: "Instead of popcorn we'll have falafels. We'll also be giving away free bongs, porn, massages, gift certificates, and Live Oak beer. And all of it's locally-made. Except the porn." Convinced yet?

Austin Film Critics Awards, from 'The Dark Knight' to 'Crawford'

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The Austin Film Critics Association announced their 2008 awards today. The Dark Knight cleaned up with five awards, including Best Picture. Check out a list of all the awards after the jump.

The last award on the list is most relevant to this site: Best Austin Film went to David Modigliani's documentary Crawford, about the Texas town where President George W. Bush bought a ranch. Crawford premiered here in Austin this year at SXSW, and I interviewed Modigliani beforehand. I also reviewed the film for Cinematical. It's currently available to watch for free on Hulu, and also is on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Speaking of Austin and film festivals, I would venture to guess that if it weren't for Fantastic Fest, a lot of us might not have been exposed to films such as Timecrimes (winner of Best First Film) and Let the Right One In (winner of Best Foreign Language Film).

This is my first year as a member of Austin Film Critics Association, and the process was very exciting. I'm pleased that we picked such an interesting variety of movies, filmmakers and actors.

Movies This Week: Turkey Edition

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Nerdcore Rising at SXSW

The big movie in theaters this week, if you're a teenager, is the vampire film Twilight. The movie didn't screen for Austin critics so I can't tell you what I thought. I saw Bolt instead, which has no fangs (in a literal or figurative sense) but is a very cute family movie.

But the movie I want to recommend for this week is JCVD, which opens today at Alamo Ritz. You don't have to be a Jean Claude Van Damme fan to enjoy the film. I'd say it's like Dog Day Afternoon meets Being John Malkovich but that would be entirely wrong. Go see it for yourself. If you see it on Thanksgiving Day, Alamo is offering a turkey dinner special.

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, there are fewer special screenings than usual in Austin this week, but here are some of the most interesting:

  • The Dobie is showing My Name is Bruce all week long. Check out my review and my interview with Bruce Campbell, who directed the comedy and stars as ... Bruce Campbell. If you can coordinate movie times, this would make a fabulous double-feature with JCVD.
  • If Twilight and Let the Right One In have given you a craving for more vampire films, Alamo Ritz can help you out. On Sunday night, you can see The Lost Boys and Near Dark. The theater is also offering Bloody Mary cocktail specials that night.
  • On Monday you have to make a decision: Austin Cinematheque is showing Louis Malle's Murmur of the Heart, and the Harry Ransom Center is showing the 1947 film The Lost Moment. Austin Cinematheque prides itself on showing 35mm prints, and HRC tends to show DVDs ... but both movies are free.

Movies This Week: Vampires and Synecdoche and Shorts

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Charlie Kaufman at AFF

I know, you're all going to see Quantum of Solace this weekend, and you don't care what else is playing, nor will you be influenced by my opinion of the film (it didn't meet my expectations, which admittedly were high). On the off chance that you're not into the latest Bond outing, here are some highlights of movies playing in local theaters this week:

  • One of the favorites at Fantastic Fest this year is opening this week: Let the Right One In, a Swedish film about pre-teens in love, and school bullying ... and vampires. A sweet film, with some lovely moments, and a gore level that was low enough to be acceptable to my squeamish self. Arbor and Alamo South are both showing this film.
  • If you're more of a Twilight kind of person, Austin Film Society still has tickets left to the film's Austin premiere on Thursday, November 20 at the Texas State History Museum's IMAX theater. The remaining tickets are $50, but include an invite to an after-party with director Catherine Hardwicke in attendance.

Fantastic Fest Flashback: 'Role Models' and 'Repo' Guests

David Wain and Paul Rudd at Fantastic Fest

Two movies opening in theaters today played at Fantastic Fest earlier this year, so it seems like a good time to share some photos from those events. (Yay, I have an excuse to post the photos late without looking like I procrastinated! Ahem.) Plus, some of us will use any excuse to post pictures of Paul Rudd. I am not ashamed to admit that.

Role Models was one of the "super-secret screenings" at Fantastic Fest, playing at midnight near the end of the fest. The movie stayed a secret for awhile because for whatever reason, a lot of people thought the screening would be My Name is Bruce with you-know-who in attendance. Something on Bruce Campbell's website sounded like a hint. But then the website changed, people In The Know hinted other things, and someone whispered the title to me about ten minutes beforehand. Even then, I didn't believe them until we were in the theater and the title was announced. Someday I should keep track of every rumor about secret screenings during Fantastic Fest, the wilder guesses are hilarious.

Bruce Campbell Interview: The Outtakes

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Tim League and Bruce Campbell at Alamo

As I may have mentioned in passing, Alamo hosted some screenings of the film My Name is Bruce, which Bruce Campbell stars in and directed, late last month. Campbell attended the screenings and did some Q&As (as you can see in the above photo). I tried like crazy to find out if I could get an interview with Campbell for Cinematical, ultimately gave up, and then the night before, found out I would be able to interview him. I felt like I'd been given an early birthday present from the universe.

Cinematical published the interview last night -- you can read it here. It's not a short interview, but I hit a point where I simply could not cut one more line, because everything left was so interesting. (Thankfully, my editors agreed with that assessment.) Nonetheless, some good portions of the interview didn't make it into my final cut because they didn't work well with the general flow of the piece. I've posted those snippets after the jump for your reading pleasure, along with my favorite photo of Campbell taken during the Austin Q&A.

I'm very satisfied with the interview because it wasn't terribly fanboy-ish. I feel like I talked more with Campbell the filmmaker than with the guy who played Ash and Elvis, if you know what I mean. This may mean that I aimed for the wrong audience for the piece, but whatthehell. He's thoughtful about low-budget filmmaking and distribution while still using words like "dealio" and "blasteroo," so maybe there's something for everyone.

I also reviewed My Name is Bruce for Cinematical -- currently I'm the only critic giving the film a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but I hope that'll change as the movie progresses on its road tour around the country. My husband and I had a good time watching it, and I think it's best seen with as large and enthusiastic an audience as possible.

Alamo's Bruce Campbell Video

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I just finished a review and an interview for Cinematical. The review is for the movie My Name is Bruce, which played at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz last weekend. The interview is with the film's director/star, Bruce Campbell. While I'm waiting for these stellar gems of writing to be published, here's a treat for the other Bruce Campbell fans out there: video from the Q&A session that Campbell held after the first Austin screening of his film:

Thanks to Anne Heller and Alamo Drafthouse for the clip. I'm hoping to share a photo or two from the event soon, as well as the outtakes from my interview, but we all know that my intent doesn't always align perfectly with my workload. Meanwhile, I did publish some photos to my Flickr page.

Quick Snaps: James Cromwell at AFF's Opening-Night "W." Screening

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James Cromwell

Austin Film Festival opened on Thursday night with an advance screening of Oliver Stone's film W., a colorful take on the life of President George W. Bush. The screening took place at the Paramount, which is in walking distance of the Texas State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion.

James Cromwell, who plays former President George H.W. Bush, attended the screening and participated in a Q&A session afterwards. AFF held a small red-carpet for Cromwell beforehand; this is my favorite photo of the ones I took. (Boy, is he tall. Super tall. Wow.) I wish we could have blocked off Congress Avenue and shot photos of him with the Capitol in the background, but you can't shut down Austin traffic like that, even for James Cromwell.

Watching the Chronicle's Raucous Film Fight III

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Over at the Austin Chronicle film blog, Picture in Picture, Kimberly Jones and Josh Rosenblatt are engaged in their third Film Fight. The back-and-forth discussions are great fun to follow. This film fight is about "Writers in the Movies" and today, they're comparing screenwriters Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation) and George S. Kaufman (A Night at the Opera). I am squarely on Josh and George's side on this one, especially after hearing that "Kim Jones just admitted that she'd rather watch Funny Farm than a film by Billy Wilder." Oh, dear. That makes me sad, although if the film in question was Sabrina (I like the remake better, shut up) or Irma La Douce I would understand entirely.

One of my favorite images of writers in the movies is the sequence in Baadasssss! when Melvin Van Peebles is trying to write his script. Some gorgeous imagery there, and it felt very personal and believable. To tie this whole thing into local filmmaking, I'm trying to think of a good Austin film that portrays writers, but it's early in the morning and I'm at a loss -- suggestions? Does Baghead count?

Visit the Picture in Picture blog regularly to keep up with the sparring bloggers (they have an RSS feed, which helps, although it isn't full-text). You can comment on the Film Fight entries, and vote daily on who you think is winning the debate. Usually there's an in-person discussion near the end of each Film Fight but I haven't heard any details on such an event this time. Maybe they'll brawl after the AFF screening of Charlie Kaufman's latest film, Synecdoche, New York.

Following Austin Film on Twitter

I don't know how many of you are using Twitter, the Web-based application you also can use with your phone's text-messaging service for microblogging, social interaction, and internet whatnot. I may be describing Twitter all wrong. Omar Gallaga has a good article about it here. It's one of those newfangled Web trends the kids are all crazy about. Except that in this case, it's not only "the kids" using Twitter -- lots of Austin film groups, festivals and online publications are sharing interesting bits of info via Twitter.

Here's a list of Twitter accounts (after the jump) that you can follow if you want to keep up with Austin film news and events and gossip. I'm only including publicly accessible accounts, not the private ones. If I missed anyone, please feel free to add your Twitter info in the comments.

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