Jette Kernion's blog
Let's see what's going on in Austin theaters in the next week.
- I've reviewed two movies opening locally this weekend, over at the recently revived Celluloid Eyes: Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Young@Heart. Neither movie especially grabbed me, but would be fine for one of those weekend afternoons when you just want to go to a theater and see something mildly entertaining, and have no expectations.
- Movies currently playing that I haven't yet seen, but might like to watch, in order of preference (this is mostly meant as a handy checklist for my husband and I to use for one of those weekend afternoons etc.): The Counterfeiters, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (which we ended up seeing today), Penelope (still at Cinemark in Round Rock!), The Unforeseen, In Bruges, Leatherheads, Run Fatboy Run, and maybe Zombie Strippers if we were in that kind of mood.
- Cine Las Americas started earlier this week, and the festival runs through April 24 at assorted venues.
- You can see Shine a Light, Martin Scorsese's documentary about the Rolling Stones, all week long at the IMAX theater.
Where I am this week: Moving Image Institute in Film Criticism and Feature Writing, in New York. No bluebonnets, but lots of bagels. I'll be back next week (really Tuesday night, not Wednesday, but I couldn't resist the stupid film joke). In the meantime, visit some of these fabulous sites for your Austin film news.
On the opening night of SXSW this year, I traded an evening of filmgoing for something I hadn't done before: attending the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards over at Austin Studios. The event is a big fundraiser for Austin Film Society, with tickets and tables going for way more money than I could afford, so I figured that covering the event as press would probably be the only way I'd ever attend.
The evening began with a red carpet setup at the entrance to the event. I was advised to get there early because a lot of celebrities are honored at the awards ceremony, so tons of media would be there, especially video cameras. Video cameras take up a lot of room on a red carpet and still photographers can have trouble squeezing into a good spot where they won't be bonked on the head with a camera or potentially stumble over a tripod. I staked out a spot near the end of the actual carpet, where the long line of video cameras ended. I was right next to the IFC video crew, which was good because any time they started pointing their camera at someone, I figured I should too.
That's right, it may be April but Slackerwood isn't done with SXSW yet. Who knows, maybe we'll still be posting photos in August. To keep that from happening, I'm posting photos without cropping them nicely or sprucing them up in Photoshop, so my apologies for the red-eye and other flaws.
On the last night of SXSW, one of the films I caught at the Paramount was Goliath, which was shot in Austin. I'd been looking forward to seeing this film, to the point where it took a schedule rework in order to catch it (note to self: next year, get to Alamo Ritz films supersupremely early to avoid sellouts). On the other hand, this meant I was able to see it at the Paramount, which is a better venue for local filmmakers because they're always so happy that their film is actually showing at this iconic Austin theater.
I know, AFI Dallas has already started, but I'm running behind right now -- hell, we still have SXSW stuff yet to post on Slackerwood. That post-SXSW bug really slowed us down. I went to AFI Dallas last year, the film fest's first year, but it was impossible for me to get to Dallas this time, and I'm definitely feeling sorry I'm not there.
Anyway, in case you're up there now or about to go, here are some of the films shot in Austin, or made by Austin filmmakers, playing AFI Dallas:
Six Man, Texas -- Some friends of mine were involved in editing this movie and creating the website, so I'm naturally biased. I saw this film in a rough cut and at the Austin cast/crew screening a couple of months ago, and I'd recommend it. I don't normally like watching football, but this documentary about six-man high-school football teams in Texas focuses more on the change and decline of small Texas towns.
Crawford -- I reviewed this movie for Cinematical during SXSW. Check it out if you can -- I heard the first AFI Dallas screening sold out before the fest even began. You also can read my email interview with director David Modigliani.
How do you get students to show up and act enthused about class on the Monday after South by Southwest and Spring Break? If you're John Pierson, you bring in actor Steve Buscemi, who was so popular that the class moved to the Austin City Limits studio. Buscemi spoke for nearly two hours to Pierson's RTF master class at UT last night. He and Pierson held a conversation about the films he'd acted in and directed, and then he patiently answered many student questions.
I enjoyed hearing Buscemi talk about Interview, which he directed and acted in -- it's a remake of the Theo van Gogh film. He also spent time talking about one of his first films, Parting Glances, and how he went from being a firefighter to being able to pay the bills as an actor. Pierson pointed out a funny Texas connection: Early in his career, Buscemi appeared on an episode of Miami Vice, where his character was beaten up by, of all people, Willie Nelson.
As predicted, the house ads for SXSW this year were in fact a return to the Burger Hut salad days of 2002. I loved the shorts even when I saw them on the last day of the festival. If you weren't there, you missed out ... or did you?
I kept hearing that the shorts had been posted on Facebook but I was too busy to check and anyway, Facebook isn't public so that didn't seem worth writing about. But Cinematical contributor Scott Weinberg has more energy than I do -- he found all five of the SXSW bumper ads on YouTube and embedded them into a single news story.
I'm not sure which of the shorts was my favorite -- "Dumblecore" had the best punch line, but I saw the "Glengarry Glen Ross" spoof the most and by the end, could happily recite the lines along with the cast. In fact, at the Young @ Heart screening on Saturday night, a bunch of us in the back started doing just that, until we were shushed by, of all people, Scott Weinberg. Being shushed by Weinberg, who is not exactly a shrinking violet, was so very startling that we all did in fact stop reciting (and considering that the audience for that particular film was probably not full of SXSW fest regulars, that was very considerate).
I've embedded the "Glengarry Glen Ross" short below in case you want to be able to recite along with it, too. This YouTube link takes you not only to all the SXSW 2007 ads, but also to the classic Burger Hut ads from 2002.
I'm jotting down a few observations from this year's SXSW Film Festival. I'll use some of these when I revise the film venue guide next year, and some are just, you know, little bits and pieces of miscellany.
- Both Alamo Ritz theaters are filling up fast, at any time of day, for just about any movie. I've only been to one movie at Ritz where the theater wasn't filled to capacity. I think some out-of-towners just plain like the Ritz and will watch anything there. If you're going to see a movie at Alamo Ritz, no matter how obscure it sounds, get there early. At least Sixth Street is a colorful and interesting place to stand in line.
- I found out Alamo Ritz doesn't have public wireless access. A server told me to try the Iron Cactus wireless access next door, but warned that Alamo's walls are very thick (soundproofing, which you absolutely need on Sixth Street) so it might be difficult. I couldn't connect. So use your Alamo Ritz time to order a nice meal, not check your email.
- In my venue guide, I noted that I often park at St. David's Episcopal -- it's halfway between Alamo Ritz and Paramount. I paid $7 to park there on Monday, which is higher than the $5 it was last year, but that's fine. On Wednesday, the parking fee there was $15. That's ridiculous and obnoxious. I think it might be best to stay with the Convention Center garage parking, which is $7 all through the fest, and just get used to the walk. (That's not at all convenient if you're going only to Paramount, though.)
Film critic/film producer Elvis Mitchell (The Black List), screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence), and author Harlan Ellison after the SXSW panel "A Conversation with Harlan Ellison" on Sunday. Ellison was signing a copy of his anthology Dreams with Sharp Teeth for Mitchell.
A documentary about Ellison, also called Dreams with Sharp Teeth, is screening at SXSW this week (and is very good if you're a fan of the author). I also enjoyed seeing The Black List, which Mitchell produced, in which he interviews a number of well-known African-American politicians, artists, and other leaders.
I plan to write more about the panel with Ellison later; it was certainly memorable.