Jette Kernion's blog

Austin Jewish Film Festival Starts This Weekend

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In case you hadn't realized -- or you're like me and time just slipped by and you lost track of it -- the Austin Jewish Film Festival begins Saturday night and runs through next Friday, January 30. Most of the films are screening at Arbor, with a few also playing on the UT campus, at Texas Hillel, and even in Georgetown.

You can still buy tickets for the opening-night films at the Arbor: Someone to Run With (with the screenwriter in attendance) and Emotional Arithmetic. AJFF also has film badges and passes available. The whole festival has a nice mix of films, and there's nothing much good opening in theaters this weekend, so why not check it out?

Quick Snaps: Pre-'Humpday' at SXSW 2008

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Congratulations to Lynn Shelton, director of Humpday, which has been generating all kinds of good buzz at Sundance this week. Everyone seems to be talking (okay, blogging or Twittering) about the movie, starring Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard as best-friend straight guys who ponder whether to have sex with one another as part of making a porno film. (Comparisons to Zack and Miri seem to be inevitable.)

Variety's film-fest blog The Circuit just reported that Magnolia Pictures has bought the worldwide distribution rights for Humpday, and plans to release the film in U.S. theaters starting in August. Unless Magnolia has some weird release strategy that will keep the film out of more festivals, my guess would be that we'll get the chance to see this movie at SXSW in a couple of months. Or so I hope.

The above photo is from last year's SXSW festival. Mark Duplass, on the far right, was there with Baghead; Shelton, next to him, premiered her film My Effortless Brilliance. I felt very lucky when I took this photo back in 2008; I feel especially fortunate that I can share it again now that Humpday is gathering so much attention.

Movies This Week: Catching Up

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We haven't had a Movies This Week in awhile, so why wait? Let's see what's out there. The film elite may be at Sundance this week, but Austin is a lot warmer and you don't have to rush around to see good movies. A few are even free.

  • The time-travel suspense thriller Timecrimes opens today at Alamo Village. I reviewed this clever, low-budget movie when it played Fantastic Fest in 2007, and enjoyed it very much. That's writer-director Nacho Vigalondo in the above photo, dancing with Tim League at FF '07.
  • Austin Film Society is hosting a free screening of the doc Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountain on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 11 am at Alamo South Lamar. It's first-come, first-served for tickets.
  • Have you heard yet about the Office Space 10th anniversary screening on Sunday, Feb. 8 at the Paramount? Tickets go on sale at noon Saturday through Paramount's ticket service, gettix.net (yay, excessive service charges!). Mike Judge and cast members to be named later -- Gary Cole and David Herman have been confirmed so far -- will be at the event, which is co-sponsored by SXSW and Fantastic Fest. How many chances do you get to see this movie with 1200 other people?

Diary of a BNAT Survivor, Part Two

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When we last left my BNAT Diary, I had returned to Metropolis with the loud crazy 1980s soundtrack, feeling hungry but not too tired.

12:05 am: For reasons I cannot understand now, I order a steak sandwich. At midnight. I forgot that I'm not the kind of person who can munch steak sandwiches and fries with impunity in the middle of the night. Fortunately I am the kind of person who keeps antacids in her purse. (Note to Alamo: It would be really super-cool to offer cold cereal and milk after, say, 10 pm.)

12:15 am: Metropolis ends and Harry compares False Evil Maria to Sarah Palin. "So far this BNAT seems fairly rebellious." (This turns out to be a hint.)

Diary of a Butt-Numb-a-Thon Survivor, Part One

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Once again, I survived the 24-hour-long movie marathon known as Butt-Numb-a-Thon, earlier this month. I wrote a lovely news-like article about BNAT for The Circuit, Variety's film-festival blog. If you want to find out which films were shown, that's the place to look. But there are some details that The Circuit readers probably would rather not know, or don't care about.

This year I decided to take notes on BNAT in diary form. Here are the scribbles from my notebook, with some enhancements. I'm also including photos -- you can't take photos at BNAT, so I used photos taken earlier that morning, or used stills from the movies shown.

11:00 am: Arrive at Alamo on South Lamar. The Alamo folks have set up a registration/pick up/standby area in one of the vacant stores on the other end of the strip mall. I get my badge and giant swag bags, then run back to the car to store everything. Back at the car, I grab a blanket roll and an extra sweater.

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.

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