Matt Shiverdecker's blog
Even if you've spent the last week in line for SXSW movies all across town, I'm here to report that there's no rest for the wicked. There are a lot of incredible screenings ahead that you won't want to miss, so buck up! First up, the Violet Crown Cinema has White Haired Witch on deck for Asian Movie Madness on Tuesday night. The movie is sponsored by Well Go USA and Iron Dragon TV and you can grab tickets here.
Jean Cocteau's 1946 adaptation of Beauty And The Beast screens on Tuesday up at the Austin Film Society Screening Room (1901 E. 51st Street) for Avant Cinema. Richard Linklater returns with the first selection in the "Jewels In The Wasteland II" series, which will find him presenting Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise in 35mm on Wednesday at the Marchesa. You can buy a series pass here to get you into the first 5 films of the series and save some cash if you're going to make it out to each film. On Thursday night, the recent "Children Of Abraham/Ibrahim 9" series wraps up at the Marchesa with 2011's Free Men.
The Drafthouse is serving up all-you-can-eat pizza parties for the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie this weekend. It's at Alamo Lakeline on Saturday at noon and then at Alamo Slaughter Lane on Sunday at noon. Afternoon Tea also happens at Alamo Slaughter on Saturday afternoon with Joe Wright's Atonement. There's another benefit screening of The Warriors at Slaughter on Tuesday to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society via the Drafthouse's own MS-150 bike team, and the Drafthouse will also be hosting a "Backwards Feast" for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Wednesday.
It's a real barebones week if you're not attending the SXSW Film Festival, which will screen movies around town until Saturday, March 20. Slackerwood will, of course, be featuring daily coverage and reviews. Some area theaters (including the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, Violet Crown Cinema and The Marchesa) will be closed for regular business while they screen features for festivalgoers. In the case of the Alamo Slaugher Lane and South Lamar, they will still be screening some regular films, but also have a few screens at each location that are devoted entirely to the festival for the first few days. If you're planning to head over to catch a movie that isn't part of the fest, give yourself some extra time for parking and getting yourself through the crowds.
Specialty screenings are not expansive over the next week, but a few Alamo locations are serving up Kid's Club movies in the mornings for families home over Spring Break. Alamo Lakeline has the original 1976 version of Freaky Friday, Alamo Slaughter has The Lego Movie and Alamo Village has Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Check out the Alamo Drafthouse website for exact showtimes. Tickets for all these shows are $1 and 100 percent of the ticket money will be donated to local charities. Admission is first come, first serve and tickets can only be purchased at the box office on the day of the show.
On that note, if you are a local teacher or school faculty member, you can attend a free movie at any Alamo Drafthouse location from now through March 22. You can choose any movie, except for special events, by bringing your faculty or employee ID to the box office to redeem your free Spring Break ticket.
We're on the verge of the SXSW Film Festival, so several area theaters will be turning into official venues by this time next week. Specialty screenings are still going on in the week ahead, but it definitely is about to slow down until after the festival has us all wiped out.
Austin Film Society has a Free Member Friday tonight at the Marchesa with Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket. The group will be screening the movie along with the original short film that inspired it and it's free to all AFS members. Members can also go the AFS website to claim two free tickets to a special advance screening on Tuesday night at the Paramount of Alex Gibney's new documentary Going Clear, which examines the Church of Scientology. The film will debut on HBO later this month, but this special advance screening will feature Gibney and Texas author Lawrence Wright after the screening for a Q&A with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune. Back at the Marchesa, AFS will pay tribute to the late L.M. Kit Carson with a screening of David Holzman's Diary, a 1967 film starring Carson, paired with one his short films called Direction Man. Carson will be posthumously inducted into the Texas Film Hall Of Fame on Thursday night.
Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane has pays tribute to Saturday Night Live's 40th annversary with regular screenings of The Blues Brothers on Sunday and Tuesday nights. A soul food dinner party Wednesday night offers a full meal along with the classic comedy. Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice hits Slaughter on Tuesday for Girlie Night.
The biggest Austin Film Society event for this week (an advance screening of Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter) is already sold out, but It still has some gems on the calendar. The org is hosting a secret double feature at the AFS Screening Room on Sunday afternoon with Fred Frey, a film collector who specializes in European exploitation and crime films. He'll be screening two rare 16mm prints from his private collection.
On Wednesday night, AFS is teaming up with IndieMeme for Katiyabaaz (Powerless), a documentary about the Indian city of Kanpur and the limitations of their electrical grid to power over 3 million residents. Filmmaker Fahad Mustafa will be in attendance for a Q&A. Thursday night brings another installment of Essential Cinema. This month's theme "Children Of Abraham/Ibrahim 9: Films Of The Middle East Diaspora" and this week you'll get a 35mm print of the 1997 Miramax release My Son, The Fanatic starring Akbar Kurtha, Om Puri and Rachel Griffiths.
Cinapse is celebrating their second anniversary on Saturday night with a 35mm double feature at the Millenium Youth Entertainment Complex (1156 Hargrave Street) called "NYC Is Effed." Walter Hill's 1979 The Warriors will be paired with John Carpenter's 1981 Escape From New York. Doors for this special event are at 6:30 pm with the first movie kicking off at 7.
On Sunday night, The North Door is hosting a special screening of The Return of Draw Egan: An Ennio Morricone Tribute with a live score. Okkervil River keyboardist Justin Sherburn and his group Montopolis return for this silent western that has had its old title and dialogue cards replaced by material from novelist Elizabeth Jackson and Foleyvision's Chad Nichols.
The Austin Film Society kicks off a busy week of programming at the Marchesa tonight with the AGFA Endangered Fest II. The event will feature four films from the vaults of the American Genre Film Archive. Everything Is Terrible! is swinging by the Marchesa on Saturday night on their new "Legends" tour to bring you the best discoveries from the VHS era.
From Elizabeth: "AFS is also bringing back 'The Sepia Screen' this weekend, a showcase for some of the movies made for black audiences during America's segregated past. The films shown in July were from SMU's collection; the selections for this month are not part of that bunch. Series co-programmers Lars Nilsen and Dshanya Reese are certain to talk about the historical relevance of the works they selected and the people involved. The show starts at 2 pm on Sunday [tickets. Perhaps this would be a good option for counterprogramming on the day when the whitest Oscars in years occurs."
Over at the Alamo Drafthouse, multiple quote-along screenings of The Princess Bride are happening at the Slaughter and South Lamar locations. Check their online listings for showtimes on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Alamo Ritz is showing a 4K digital restoration of Funny Girl for Broadway Brunch on Saturday and Sunday, a 35mm print of 1998's Khrustalyov, My Car! on Monday night, and Girlie Night presents Pretty Woman on Tuesday.
Quite a few special events are happening this weekend for Valentine's Day that don't include the supposedly kinky sex of Fifty Shades Of Grey. Tonight at the Marchesa, the Austin Film Society is having a special premiere screening of 5 to 7. The movie stars Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) and Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall). If you'd rather go for classic romances on Saturday, Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane is having a Gone With The Wind feast and Ritz is having a Casablanca feast. If you're a single women or gay man, you may prefer a Valentine's Day screening of Magic Mike at Alamo Lakeline. For that movie, the Alamo's typical "Don't Talk" rules are suspended and specialty cocktails are on the menu for a real free-for-all.
If you're completely twisted, then Alamo South Lamar has you covered too. They're teaming up with Chiller and Mondo for a Cannibal Holocaust screening on Saturday late night. Celebrating Mondo's vinyl release of the soundtrack, they'll be showing this notoriously disgusting film will play along with a meal that includes turtle soup and monkey brains. All right then.
On Sunday, Alamo Ritz has programmed a double feature of "Avant Erotica" that pairs with Fifty Shades Of Grey. Described on the website as a "double-shot hangover remedy of sexual disorientation," it begins with a 16mm print of Peggy Ahwesh's The Deadman and also features legendary exploitation director Doris Wishman's Let Me Die A Woman in a 35mm print. Monday night, the Ritz begins a series featuring the Films of Aleksei German with his 1985 feature film My Friend Ivan Lapshin, screening in 35mm. Cinema Cocktails digs back to 1942 for Rene Clair's classic I Married A Witch, starring Veronica Lake and Frederick March on Wednesday night. Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights has two more screenings this week. You can catch it on Tuesday at the Alamo South Lamar or Thursday at Lakeline. South Lamar is also set to host two more screenings of Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, Sunday and Wednesday nights.
The Austin Film Society has another Free Member Friday tonight at the Marchesa and will be featuring the 2014 Belgian thriller Alleluia (Debbie's review). It won Fantastic Fest jury prizes for Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. On Tuesday night, AFS joins forces with the Austin Chronicle to celebrate their "First Plates" issue by screening The Kings Of Pastry by acclaimed filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Wednesday evening will bring Robert Greene's Actress, one of last year's most acclaimed documentaries, to the Marchesa. There will be a post-film Skype Q&A with the director.
Thursday night's Essential Cinema selection begins a new series called "Children Of Abraham/Ibrahim 9: Films Of The Middle East Diaspora." Looking For Muhyiddin is a 2012 feature from Nacer Khemir wherein the filmmaker "journeys to many lands to listen attentively to the interpretations of those scholars who have studied the teachings of the 13th century Andalusian Muslim mystic."
Over at Violet Crown Cinema, the "'Round Midnight" series continues this weekend with another screening of Danny Boyle's stylish debut Shallow Grave, which screens tonight and tomorrow. The theater will be offering $2 off all draft beers starting at 11 pm each night before the film begins at 11:30. One of my favorite films of last year, Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin (Jette's review), will be at Violet Crown on Wednesday night for CineBrew. Lead actor Macon Blair will be in attendance for a post-film Q&A and each ticket includes an 8 oz. souvenir glass of Greenhouse IPA #13 from Hops & Grain. Finally, on Thursday night, the theater hosts a special "Pay What You Want" screening of Hits, the directorial debut from comedian David Cross. Tickets for this screening are cash only, available at 11 am Thursday, limited to 4 per person only at the box office.
As each year ends, I hear from friends who say, "It was a really mediocre year for movies." While I know I watch more movies than your average person, I never understand that argument when it's presented to me. There's no question that I'm spoiled by living in Austin and being able to attend several film festivals a year, but even when I tried to make a Best of 2014 list, I struggled to put together anything less than a Top 30. For this post, I've narrowed it down to just my Top Ten. If you're curious to see my picks beyond this, you can check out my "Favorite Films of 2014" list on Letterboxd.
To be eligible for my list, a film had to be released in the U.S. in some capacity in 2014. As a member of the Austin Film Critics Association, I was fortunate enough to be able to screen films like Selma, Inherent Vice and A Most Violent Year early, even though they didn't actually open in town until January.
10. Obvious Child -- Director Gillian Robespierre adapted her 2009 short film into this comedy that truly walks a fine line, creating an often hysterical film that deals with the life-changing topic of abortion. Jenny Slate is perfectly suited for a lead role that requires such a tightope act. When she's performing as a stand-up onscreen, her material is not just edgy, it's frequently over the edge. Some viewers may find the movie to be as well, but I loved the way it approached the subject matter. It's not easy to create a melancholy romantic comedy about a woman who has decided to terminate an unexpected pregnancy, but Obvious Child turns this very difficult decision into a relatable (and gleefully offensive) comedy without reducing it to an "issue" movie. (Elizabeth's review) (available now on home video and Amazon Prime streaming)
After a successful run last of week of "In Case Of No Emergency: The Films Of Ruben Ostlund," the Austin Film Society is adding an encore screening of last year's acclaimed Force Majeure this evening at the Marchesa. This is likely your last chance to catch it on the big screen, so don't miss out before the film is released February 10 on home video.
On Sunday evening, fans of Euro exploitation will want to head to the AFS Screening Room where longtime film collector Fred Frey will screen a secret double feature of rare 16mm films from his private collection. The films "will interest those who relish obscure delights." The Jacques Rivette "Essential Cinema" series closes out on Thursday at the Marchesa with a 35mm print of 1981's Le Pont Du Nord.
Over at the Violet Crown Cinema, the "'Round Midnight" series continues this weekend with Danny Boyle's stylish debut Shallow Grave, which screens tonight and tomorrow. The theater will be offering $2 off all draft beers starting at 11 pm each night before the film begins at 11:30.
The Alamo Drafthouse is having several Groundhog Day dinners on Monday night. You can buy tickets for Lakeline, Ritz or Slaughter Lane and enjoy a menu of "Pie Three Times." The theater chain is also offering several free screenings of Blade Runner: The Final Cut this week exclusively for Alamo Victory members. Get details here.
Romantic comedies are not exactly known for being rooted in realism. Movies in this genre always include an element of fantasy, whether it is minor or major, to make viewers wonder if it could ever happen to them. There are elements to Amira & Sam that feel surprisingly authentic and even when it begins to feel a little contrived, I do think its heart is in the right place.
Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks) is Sam, an army solider who has recently returned home and is struggling to reassimilate. He returns to civilian life by working security as a doorman for a highrise apartment building. One night, he makes the mistake of chastizing an elevator full of privileged assholes after seeing one of them urinate outside the front door. They mockingly call him a "redneck cop" and dare him to do something about it. Sam lets the elevator doors close, but quickly shuts down the elevator banks, trapping them while he grabs a mop to clean up the mess.