Marcelena Mayhorn's blog

Review: Tammy

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The day Melissa McCarthy stops cracking me up will be a cold day in hell. She always plays her roles with gross honesty and wit, and doesn't take guff from anyone. With her latest film Tammy hitting theaters today, it's clear that McCarthy has a knack for less-than-glamorous, ball-busting female characters. That said, however, this movie could have done a lot better on all accounts.

Tammy is the directing debut of McCarthy's husband and actor Ben Falcone (Air Marshall Jon from Bridesmaids), not to mention the first screenplay McCarthy and Falcone have penned together. Although McCarthy's humor shines through (complete with a cameo by Falcone), it falls flat due to bizarre casting choices, a faulty plot line, and downright unrelatable characters.

The premise is that Tammy (McCarthy) is having a pretty crappy day, week and life. She loses her job (at which she doesn't seem to work too hard), she catches her husband in flagrante with the neighbor, and her mother won't let her borrow the family car to leave town.  Her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon) comes to her aid and sets the story in motion when she suggests they go on a little road trip together to leave everything behind.

Although Tammy is loveable, she's a complainer.  It's as if Falcone and McCarthy wanted to create a more sympathetic version of Megan, her character in Bridesmaids.  The cast is full of great cameos; I was beyond thrilled to see Toni Collette, Kathy Bates, Sandra Oh and many other great names in the opening credits. But most of them are onscreen for such a short amount of time, I wondered why such big names are in such little, minuscule roles. I also found myself wondering why not-even-70-year old Sarandon was playing the role of a grown woman's grandmother, when she easily could be playing McCarthy's mother (who was instead played by Allison Janney).

Although the story moves forward, it's hard to stay focused. Much like Tammy, we find ourselves lacking interest in the things she's after, including love interest Bobby (Mark Duplass). The redeeming quality of the film is the handful of funny jokes and one-liners peppered throughout the story though, sadly, most of them are in the film's trailer.

The effort is there with Tammy. McCarthy can do no wrong in my eyes, and I'll of course look forward to whatever she and her husband come up with next.  I just hope to soon see the actress in a role where she doesn't have to wear Crocs with socks and Hawaiian shirts for a change.

Ready, Set, Fund: Queens, Teens and Lazer Team

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Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and fundraising endeavors related to Austin and Texas independent film projects.

With summer in full swing, we've happened upon several Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns of films gearing up to shoot over these next few months. Headlining these campaigns is the Lazer Team project, the first feature film to be made by Austin production group Rooster Teeth (Red vs. Blue). A bit elusive in the plot description, the story is described as a live-action sci-fi comedy that takes place in the aftermath of receiving an alien signal on Earth.

The Indiegogo campaign raised an impressive $650,000+ on its first launch day, and has now crossed the $1.5 million mark. I'm sure it's due to not only a large fan base, but the impressive incentives offered. Already sold out of the highest two, perks include 20-second voicemails from your favorite Rooster Teeth personality ($400 donation), a Virtual LAN Party with the RT team ($2,000 donation), and even a walk-on role in the film ($6,000 donation). You can watch the video below for more information. The campaign ends on July 6.

ATX TV Fest 2014: Intense Discussions with the 'Archer' Gang

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When I received my confirmation email to meet writer/producer Matt Thompson and Archer cast members Lucky Yates (Doctor Krieger), Chris Parnell (Cyril Figgis) and H. Jon Benjamin (Sterling Archer) in the Les Paul room of Maggie Mae's, I thought for sure I was being pranked. I've not been to that bar in a while, but I certainly didn't remember it having an upstairs room. Sure enough, as I serendipitously found parking right next to the bar that Friday afternoon, I discovered that the Archer team had found a little spot to beat the humid Austin heat -- a getaway from the growing buzz of 6th Street on a Friday afternoon.

The guys were as I anticipated: laid back, relaxed and quick to make jokes about any topic that came up. We talked about the film scene in Austin and their panel at the Ritz during ATX Television Festival -- and were interrupted from time to time by other fest panelists who knew the guys and wanted to stop and chat.  After chatting with Parnell about being alumni from the same college, a few nut/bear jokes (don't ask) and what kind of pants are appropriate to wear in a recording studio, we finally got down to discussing the creation of the show.

Slackerwood: Where do you draw inspiration for these storylines in each episode?

Matt Thompson: They mostly come from whatever Adam Reed [the show's creator, who also plays Ray Gillette] feels like doing. People think that it's super-well planned out, but it's really not. We did, however, know the big plot points that we wanted to happen in this latest season but other than that, we kind of make them up as we go along.

ATX TV Fest 2014: 'Orange Is The New Black' and Writing Lessons

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This weekend took me all over Season 3 of the ATX Television Festival. Don't worry: I may have heard or seen some show spoilers these past few days, but I won't post any of them here. It was my first time attending the fest, so I tried to make the most of my time as both a writer and an avid fan of television.

Friday quickly became "fangirl Friday" for me, as I had the opportunity to interview cast members from both Orange Is The New Black, and Archer cast members/writer (you can check out that full interview later on this week). OITNB had its Season 2 premiere episode at the Stateside Theater that morning, bringing Uzo Aduba (Crazy Eyes), Danielle Brooks (Taystee) and Lea DeLaria (Big Boo) in for a post-screening panel discussion.  

I sat down with all three of these actresses after the panel, and quickly heard about what playing these roles has been like for them. Although I wasn't able to ask all of my questions, the main thing I wanted to know was what initially sold each of them on playing these specific characters.  After DeLaria joked, "A steady paycheck," they walked us through the casting process and how they read for Jenji Kohan (the show's creator) and the casting department.

Get Ready for ATX Television Festival 2014

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ATX Television FestivalAustin television fans have been gearing up for the 3rd annual ATX Television Festival (or as the festival likes to say, "Season 3"), running from Thursday, June 5 to Sunday, June 8 in downtown Austin. The relatively new festival features a handful of current television shows as well as a few retrospectives and panels that focus on the behind-the-scenes world of TV. Venues include Alamo Drafthouse Ritz and Stateside at the Paramount.

The full lineup was recently released, and Nineties kids will once again rejoice at the fact that another childhood favorite is coming to ATX. A cast and crew reunion of Hey Dude! is one of the headliners, bringing fan favorites such as Christine Taylor and David Brisbin to town. That's not the only reunion the fest has planned, though. Everwood and Roswell cast members are also coming together again to discuss what it was like to work on these popular shows.

A "Cancelled Too Soon" section is one of the planned series, featuring episode reviews and mini-marathons of the shows My Generation, Enlisted and Men of a Certain Age. These caught my attention because I'm curious to know what a panel discussion about a cancelled show could entail. (I'll try to hit one of these up so I can fill you in.)

Current television shows are also in the mix, including the highly anticipated Season 2 premiere of Orange is the New Black. (The screening takes place the morning of the show's official Season 2 release date on June 6.) Other screenings include episodes from Bates Motel, Archer, Hemlock Grove, Parenthood and many others. A few series premieres are also set to screen, including pilot episodes from the shows Legends, Mulaney, The Night Shift, Reckless and The Strain.

2014 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin

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We here at Slackerwood are already busting out the lawn chairs and cold beverages because summer is upon us. This can only mean one thing: free and cheap summer movies around Austin! We're revisiting old favorites and looking into some new ones to give you and your family plenty of activities to do together over summer break.

As usual, some programs are specifically for children, such as the Alamo Kids Camp and Regal Summer Movie Express, and some series are adults-only. Be sure to check out our links for more information on the screenings, and be mindful of what you can and cannot bring with you (such as pets and alcoholic beverages).

We will be on the hunt for new free movie opportunities this year, so if you know of any (or if you don't see a specific one here) let us know in the comments. This page will also be updated as we receive updates on specific events. Happy watching!

What's Streaming: Things We Don't Speak Of

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This month's list of films available online was all over the place. I was watching ridiculous Craig Robinson comedies and intense documentaries about the struggle to make art. "How the hell do I tie these together?" was the question, as my themes usually come to me quite easily. When I thought back about all of these stories, though, I finally found one kernel within each movie that linked them: topics we don't like to talk about.

What does or does not making something "taboo" is different for each of us. Some are universally obvious, but some might not strike us right away. We have to learn more and try to understand a situation before writing it off as totally unthinkable. Several of the films I watched this month explore topics that are hard to talk about, let alone make a movie about.  When you get to know these characters though, you start to see where they are coming from.

I'm not saying they're right, or that they're even heroes.  But they're people.  They're human, just like you and me.  Give their stories a shot this month.

Cine Las Americas 2014: Closing Weekend

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My schedule unfortunately prevented me from seeing everything that I wanted at Cine Las Americas (CLAIFF) last  weekend, but I was still able to catch films here and there. Saturday morning took me to Alamo Drafthouse Village for Bobô, a Portugese film from writer/director Inês Oliveira. The movie is about Sofia, who has nothing in her life but the memories of her deceased brother and son. Things change when her mother sends her Mariama, a maid who helps make Sofia's life a little easier. The more these two women get to know one another, the more their friendship blossoms, each helping the other in a way they didn't think possible.

It was refreshing to see such a female-driven film, particularly in the writing. I have to hand it to CLAIFF for saluting female filmmakers during this festival, both in their programming and celebration of film. I was able to attend their Women In Film party on Saturday night, and was so excited to talk with fest staff members Keeley Steenson and Jean Lauer. We not only discussed the films we'd seen during the festival, we also talked about our views on female representation in Latino culture.  It certainly made for a fun and educational Saturday night (two words I don't often combine to describe a Saturday night.)

Cine Las Americas 2014: Chicano Love and a Map

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Chicano Love

My second day of Cine Las Americas took me to the Marchesa Theatre. I caught Amor chicano es para siempre (Chicano Love Is Forever), the second film of the three part series "Las Filmas: The Films of Efraín Gutiérrez."  Considered to be one of the most influential filmmakers (if not the founder) of the Chicano film movement in the 70s, Gutiérrez's films explore what life was like for Latin American families during this time.

Set in San Antonio, Texas, the story follows a young Latino couple in their early years of marriage. What starts as a sweet, innocent romance slowly changes with the onset of work, college and marital stress.  It takes its toll on our protagonist (Gutiérrez), but instead of turning to his wife for help, he seeks solace in beer, time away from home and the arms of another woman.  Shot on 16mm film, the print shown was blown up to 35mm, making it the only 35mm screening this festival.  (We were informed that this is the only known copy of this film, so that was also a treat.)

Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

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The allure of a seductive yet terrifying monster has always been the hook for me in vampire films. Usually an attractive immortal being who (in the sexiest way possible) preys upon its victims, leaving you both turned on but also scared out of your mind. I was prepared to see this happen again in Jim Jarmusch's latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive. Surprisingly though, it wasn't the case.

I'm not sure that I would classify this movie as a vampire film, but rather a romance story. I found myself longing for the type of relationship that Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) share. Two creatures of the night that have been together for centuries, the film shows us what life is like for them in the modern world.  And it's not what you'd expect: it's quiet and simple, although the two have more money than most average households. (I guess financial gain is a perk of being a vampire.)

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