Jette Kernion's blog
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.
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.
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.
Just a quickie to let you know that now you can watch the film that inspired the name of this website, Richard Linklater's indie sensation Slacker, on Hulu.com. In addition, Hulu's blog includes a tribute to the film from filmmaker Kevin Smith.
Cinetic Media is responsible for Hulu getting posting rights for Slacker -- former Austinite and SXSW Film director Matt Dentler now works in their digital-rights management division. So I'm sure we have Matt to thank at least partially for this free treat.
I just found out that Austin Film Society's next series will be "I Married a Witch: Fredric March's Comic Curse" and I immediately started jumping up and down a lot and making little happy noises because I love 1930s comedies with Fredric March in them. The series starts on Oct. 21 (during Austin Film Festival, damn it) with Design for Living and continues on Tuesday nights at Alamo on South Lamar with more fabulous films: Nothing Sacred, Death Takes a Holiday, I Married a Witch and The Best Years of Our Lives, through Nov. 18.
A funny related story: Four years ago, AFS did another Thirties-ish series I loved, focused around the comedies of Jean Arthur. I especially remember one movie they showed that isn't on DVD: If You Could Only Cook, a cute little comedy from 1935 that ends with an amusing "runaway groom" sequence. But what I most remember about this movie is that I saw it on my birthday that year: November 2, 2004, the day of the U.S. Presidential election. The election returns started coming in while we were watching the movie. And I suspect it was a rather liberal crowd, because after the movie ended we all poured into the little Alamo lobby (the old downtown one on Colorado) and looked at a TV and everyone who was so cheered up and distracted by the lovely Depression-era escapist film seemed to visibly deflate at the news that President Bush had been re-elected. But for 90 minutes, that movie managed to distract us entirely from current politics, and it was one of the best parts of my birthday that year.
Nothing Sacred, one of my favorite movies, is showing on Election Day this year -- Nov. 4, not my birthday. Still, I think I'm going to try a little escapism again. It's so good for the soul. If you don't want to sit tensed-up in front of a TV with your stomach in knots, wondering if your candidate will win, I strongly suggest joining us for delightful romps with Fredric March and Carole Lombard ... not to mention a fabulous supporting cast, including Walter Connolly as an editor named Oliver Stone. Coincidence? Hmm.
Update, 10/6: Tickets to a third show, at midnight, were also added ... and all three shows have sold out. We sure love us some Bruce Campbell here in Austin.
Update, 10/4: Alamo has scheduled a second screening at 10 pm on the same evening. Tickets will go on sale online on Monday, October 6, at 3 pm.
Update, 10/3, 3:15 pm: It appears that the tickets sold out in under 5 minutes. Wow.
I probably shouldn't be telling you this, because it only increases the number of people who will be trying to get tickets. If I end up not getting into the event, I can only blame myself.
Alamo at the Ritz is screening the film My Name is Bruce on Sunday, October 26. The director and star of the movie, Bruce Campbell, will be in attendance. If you don't know who Bruce Campbell is, this may not be the best movie to introduce you to the actor -- go rent Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness instead. (Or go to Hulu and watch some episodes of Burn Notice.) But I know some of you are out there making little happy squealing noises, and I won't mention you by name because some of us may feel we're a little too old to get squeaky over actors coming to town. Ahem. See? I'm not making any squeaky noises whatsoever, at least not where any of you can see.
My Name is Bruce is about a town that is terrorized by a monster of some sort, and the townspeople decide that they should get Ash from the Evil Dead movies to fight the creature. So they track down Bruce Campbell, the actor, and get him involved. Reviews have supposedly been mixed but I am not reading any because I do not want to lose my enthusiasm for this film, despite the fact that I figure if I sat through The Man with the Screaming Brain and did not find it unentertaining, I will probably enjoy watching this film even if it's not spectacular.
Tickets go on sale online on Friday, October 3 -- tomorrow -- at 3 pm. My husband is threatening to bring a container of yogurt to the screening and asking Mr. Campbell to sign it. We'll see.
Meanwhile, if you are such a diehard Bruce Campbell fan that you can't wait until October 26, check out tonight's free Terror Thursday screening of Mindwarp at midnight at Alamo Ritz. If I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn on Friday, I'd be there.
Have you seen Crawford, the documentary about the town where George W. Bush bought a ranch before becoming President? The film, directed by local filmmaker David Modigliani, screened earlier this year at SXSW. You can read my review from the festival, and I also interviewed Modigliani about the documentary.
Now you have the chance to see the film -- even if you don't live in Austin. B-Side Entertainment bought the distribution rights for Crawford, and plans to release the documentary by premiering it on Hulu.com on Tuesday, October 7. This is the first time a feature-length film will have its premiere on Hulu. I don't have details yet on exactly how this will work, but I know that some TV shows and films are available for limited times only on Hulu, so my guess is that the movie can be streamed from the website just for Tuesday. In the meantime, if you visit the Hulu page for Crawford, you can watch a trailer.
After its Hulu premiere, Crawford will be available on the B-Side site for download, streaming, or to purchase on DVD. This is a fairly non-partisan documentary, so if you want to have a politics-themed movie night before the upcoming election, you can watch it with both your liberal and conservative friends and relatives.
Fantastic Fest is finally over, and Austin Film Festival is still a few weeks away. Now's the time for local film-fest geeks to catch up on the mainstream movies they've been missing (pssst ... go see Burn After Reading). Or maybe it's time to look beyond the film festivals and find all kinds of interesting events occurring in the next week or so. Here are a few screenings you might not want to miss.
- Austin Film Society is going outdoors at just the right time of year. On Wednesday, you can watch Dirt Road to Psychedelia for free at Republic Square Park -- live music at 7 pm, movie starts at 8 pm. This documentary about Austin during the 1960s and 1970s sounds like lots of fun.
- In fact, why not make a night of it on Wednesday? After you finish your movie in the park, head over to Alamo at the Ritz at 9:30 pm for a free double-feature from 1960s exploitation filmmaker Joe Sarno: Abigail Lesley is Back and All the Sins of Sodom. Sarno will actually be at the screenings, too.
Just a quick FYI -- three popular films from Fantastic Fest this year are having encore screenings tonight at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Anyone can see these films for free; you don't need a Fantastic Fest badge, just get there before the theater fills up. Here's the Sunday-night schedule:
I saw Let the Right One In last week and would absolutely recommend it -- it wasn't too gory for me. The title seems ill-fitting to this suspenseful and almost sweet horror film from Sweden about pre-teen love and vampirism. The writer/director of Cloverfield was just signed to do an American remake -- it's going to be difficult to capture the delicate relationships in the original film. I didn't get to see Chocolate -- it kept playing at midnight on evenings when I was too tired to stick around -- but hope to catch it at some point, if not tonight.
At the Fantastic Fest awards ceremony, every winner who is present has to chug a beer from their beer-stein award. If the winner isn't there, the awards presenter has to chug ... or else find a willing audience member to help them out. One presenter (not me) found help from Elizabeth Avellan, a local film producer and co-founder of Troublemaker Studios. She attended the ceremony because she was a producer on the Chilean superhero film Santos, which had its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest.
Ms. Avellan is a woman of many talents, but I didn't realize that one of them was the ability to chug a mug of Miller High Life. I am now even more impressed.
I haven't had time to post many details about my Fantastic Fest experience here, but (shameless self-promotion alert) you can read my thoughts on the first half of the festival in an article I wrote for The Circuit, Variety's film-festival blog. I've got tons of photos and some good stories, as well as movies to recommend, so keep checking back.