Matt Shiverdecker's blog

Movies This Week: January 23-29, 2015

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A Most Violent Year 

The Austin Film Society is launching a new series this weekend that arrives in town straight from New York and Los Angeles. "In Case Of No Emergency: The Films Of Ruben Ostlund" aims to turn American audiences on to the work of the Swedish writer/director who earned rave reviews for 2014's Force Majeure. That breakout hit, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Golden Globe, screens tonight at the Marchesa and is followed by Ostlund's 2011 feature Play. The series continues on Sunday afternoon with his 2008 film Involuntary and closes out on Tuesday night with his 2004 debut film The Guitar Mongoloid. All films are screening from 35mm prints except for Force Majeure, which is digital.

On Wednesday night, the AFS Screening Room (1901 E. 51st St.) is hosting a selection of scenes from "Avant Garde Cinema of the 1920s" from the Soviet Union. You'll see work from Pudovkin, Eisenstein, Kuleshov and Dovzhenko. AFS closes out the week back at the Marchesa with another "Essential Cinema" selection focusing on the work of Jacques Rivette. The Duchess Of Langeais, his 2007 film that was released stateside by IFC Films, is screening Thursday night in 35mm. 

Violet Crown Cinema launches the "'Round Midnight Film Series" this weekend with 11:30 pm screenings of Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys tonight and tomorrow. The theater also has another installment of "Arthouse Monthly" with Johanna Hamilton's political documentary 1971 on Wednesday night. Over 40 years before the recent NSA scandal, this movie examines illegal spy programs by the FBI against American citizens. 

Movies This Week: January 16-22, 2015

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 Blackhat

With the announcement of the Academy Award nominations this week, those of you who want to catch up on the nominated films are probably wondering where you can see them. The following list should help you narrow down your choices and let you know where they're playing in town or what their home video availability is:  

  • American Sniper - playing wide locally 
  • Birdman - Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, Regal Arbor, Regal Metropolitan, Violet Crown Cinema
  • Boyhood - Regal Arbor, also available on home video and VOD
  • Foxcatcher - Alamo South Lamar, Cinemark Hill Country Galleria, Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel - available on home video, also airing this month on HBO
  • Ida - streaming free on Netflix and Amazon Prime, also available on home video
  • The Imitation Game - playing wide locally
  • Inherent Vice - playing wide locally, exclusive 70mm screenings at the Alamo Ritz 
  • The Judge - Digital HD now for purchase, rental and home video on January 27
  • Mr. Turner - currently scheduled to open only at the Regal Arbor on January 23
  • Selma - playing wide locally
  • Still Alice - expected to open in Austin on February 6
  • The Theory Of Everything - Regal Arbor, Regal Metropolitan
  • Two Days, One Night - expected to open in Austin on January 30 
  • Whiplash - Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema 
  • Wild - Alamo Lakeline, Alamo South Lamar, Cinemark Hill Country Galleria, Regal Arbor, Tinseltown South, Violet Crown Cinema  

Movies This Week: January 9-15, 2015

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 Selma

As we head into a chilly weekend, it may be tempting to curl up at home with a stack of rented movies or fire up Netflix streaming. That would be a great idea if it weren't for the fact that two of the most acclaimed films of 2014 are getting nationwide releases and hitting area theaters: Selma and Inherent Vice.

As if that wasn't enough, Austin Film Society is ramping back up with their January programming and it starts in fine fashion this evening with phenomenal Canadian documentarian Ron Mann (Grass, Comic Book Confidential) visiting the Marchesa with his movie Altman (which recently premiered on Epix). Several rare Robert Altman shorts will play before the feature and then you're also encouraged to buy a ticket for a 35mm screening of Altman's California Split, which follows.

Speaking of incredible documentary filmmakers, National Gallery focuses on the London-based museum and is the latest effort from Frederick Wiseman. AFS is featuring it Sunday afternoon and then has a sneak preview screening of Two Days, One Night exclusively for AFS members in the evening. Marion Cotillard is getting a lot of awards buzz for this new drama from the Dardenne Brothers, which isn't opening in town until January 30. Essential Cinema closes out the week with a 35mm screening of Jacques Rivette's 1974 French classic Celine And Julie Go Boating

Movies This Week: December 25-January 1, 2015

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The Interview

Six new releases are now vying for attention in the marketplace for Christmas. It was down to five, but now that Sony has authorized a last-minute limited release for The Interview, area theaters are absolutely packed with options. In terms of holiday titles, quite a few specialty screenings that were scheduled for Alamo Drafthouse Ritz have been scrapped because they added The Interview to Theater 1, but you can catch free daily Kid's Club screenings of Muppet Christmas Carol at the Alamo Slaughter Lane, Ernest Saves Christmas at South Lamar and Arthur Christmas (2D) at Alamo Lakeline each morning through New Year's Eve. 

Aside from that, there aren't many rep screenings happening until the new year. The Ritz will still be offering Monday night's "Homo Arigato!" screening of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, an award-winning 2008 documentary about the queer musician and are hosting their annual New Year's Eve feast for The Apartment in 35mm if you're willing to brave 6th Street.

Movies We've Seen

Big Eyes - Even at his worst, Tim Burton's films usually have a great visual flair and interesting characters. For this true story, he teamed up again with the screenwriters from Ed Wood to tell the story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), an artist from the Sixties whose paintings were claimed by her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) as his own. Elizabeth says "Burton's strong fascination and dedication to the artist's work is obvious, making Big Eyes one of his most deeply-felt films in years." Look for her review on Friday. (wide) 

Review: Unbroken

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UnbrokenEarlier this year, Louie Zamperini died at the age of 97. He was the son of Italian immigrants, born in 1917 in New York state. His family relocated to Torrance, California where he was on the verge of becoming a hooligan until his older brother Pete got him involved with the school track team. By the time he was 19, he had qualified for the 1936 Berlin Olympics in the 5000-meter race. 

An entire feature-length film could probably be made just about his career as a runner, but the full scope of the man's endurance is told here in Angelina Jolie's second directorial effort. Unbroken really feels like three movies in one, weaving in the story of Zamperini's Olympic success, his time in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II and his eventual struggles as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. In the film, British actor Jack O'Connell (Starred Up) gives an emotionally raw and physically demanding career-making performance as Zamperini. 

Joel and Ethan Coen adapated Laura Hillenbrand's 2010 book (with screenplay assistance from Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson) and I think that the first half of the film truly shines as it shifts through time from Zamperini's childhood to the plane crash in 1943 over the Pacific Ocean that found him and two other fellow soldiers (Finn Wittrock, Noah and Domhnall Gleeson, About Time) stuck in a life boat for 47 days. 

There is an intensity to the film's air combat sequences that really make you feel as though you're in the plane with these young men, despite the fact that the quality on some of the effects is limited. As the story unfolds, it truly makes you wonder how anybody could stay so strong for so long. Zamperini never gave up hope, no matter what happened to him, that he would survive. It was difficult inititally for me during the scenes where the men where stranded in the Pacific Ocean to not recall last year's All Is Lost, but that was a fleeting feeling. As days turn to weeks, the desperation between the men becomes palpable and I began to forget that we hadn't even gotten to the worst part of Zamperini's life. 

Movies This Week: December 19-24, 2014

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 Foxcatcher

With Christmas around the bend, there's not nearly as much specialty programming from now until the end of the year, but there's still some great screenings worth mentioning. The Austin Film Society will be closing out 2014 with Cracking Up, a 1983 comedy from Jerry Lewis in 35mm. Bryan Connolly will be on hand for a post-film discussion for the showings tonight and again on Sunday evening.

In terms of the rest of the week in specialty screenings, they are pretty exclusively Christmas-themed. The Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter has free daily screenings of Arthur Christmas for Alamo Kids Club and Home Alone pizza parties on Sunday and Tuesday (which also will happen at the Alamo Lakeline). The Alamo Ritz has a digital restoration of Meet Me In St. Louis on Saturday and Sunday for Broadway Brunch, Gremlins on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday, Die Hard in 35mm from Sunday through Wednesday for daily shows, the bizarre Finnish film Rare Exports on Sunday and Tuesday and John Ford's Christmas classic Donovan's Reef starring John Wayne on Monday night. There are also a few quote-along screenings again this week of Love Actually and Elf.

The Alamo Village has Muppet Christmas Carol for free daily Alamo Kids Club screenings each morning and is also giving you one more shot for a digital restoration of It's A Wonderful Life on Wednesday. Both the Alamo South Lamar and Lakeline locations have A Christmas Story with a Chinese dinner on Monday while it also plays again on Wednesday only at Lamar. 

Movies This Week: December 12-18, 2014

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Wild

Most of the specialty screenings around town this week are related in some form or another to Christmas. The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is giving you multiple ways to enjoy Home Alone on the big screen, including all-you-can-eat pizza parties along with standard showings and quote-along versions. There are also standard and quote along screenings to choose from of Elf and Love Actually, while Tough Guy Cinema has 35mm showings of Die Hard on Sunday and Tuesday. Music Monday is showing a brand new documentary called Jingle Bell Rocks about people who are obsessed with Christmas music and even Terror Tuesday is getting into the spirit with Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Alamo Lakeline and Alamo Slaughter are screening a digital restoration of It's A Wonderful Life on Saturday and Sunday and A Christmas Story will be featured as a quote-along screening that comes with a Chinese dinner at Alamo Slaughter on Monday before it heads to the Alamo Village on Thursday. The Paramount Theatre has the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol in a double feature with White Christmas on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings -- both films are presented in 35mm. 

Movies This Week: December 5-11, 2014

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Listen Up Philip

Talk about a calm before the storm. This is one of those rare weekends where there are no new wide releases hitting multiplexes, but that means there are a lot of specialty films taking advantage of that fact and sneaking into area theaters. You can see all of this week's new releases below, but first we'll take a look at some of the unique repertory screenings booked around town over the next week. 

The Austin Film Society is starting a three-week series turning the spotlight on comedian Jerry Lewis. It begins tonight at the Marchesa with one of his biggest hits, 1963's The Nutty Professor. Screening from a DCP (digital print), it also plays again on Sunday evening. On Wednesday, they'll feature Rodrigo Reyes' Purgatorio for Doc Nights. The AFS website describes it as a "lyrical meditation on the border between the US and Mexico." Thursday night brings another "Essential Cinema" pick from the current series focusing on contemporary Filipino cinema. Magkakabaung (The Coffin Maker) is a 2014 feature from Jason Paul Laxamana, who also wrote and edited the film. 

The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is hosting a Silent Comedy Cavalcade on Saturday afternoon with four silent short films on 16mm featuring a live score by DJ Amelia Foxtrot! You'll get 1925's His Wooden Wedding starting Charley Chase, Charlie Chaplin's 1916 Behind The Screen, Buster Keaton's The High Sign from 1921 and Zasu Pitts and Thelma Todd starring in Hal Roach's On The Loose from 1931. On Monday night they've got another great pick from 1999: Steven Soderbergh's incredible film The Limey in 35mm and Tuesday brings another edition of "Experimental Response Cinema" with Yvonne Rainer's 1980 film Journeys from Berlin/1971 screening in 16mm. 

Movies This Week: November 26-December 4, 2014

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The Homesman

As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, there are a few new releases that are hitting area theaters. The only other major change from last week is that the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory Of Everything (Don's review) is expanding to new locations today. It continues to play at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, Regal Arbor and Violet Crown, but also turns up at the Alamo Lakeline, Alamo Slaughter Lane, AMC Barton Creek and the Cinemark Hill Country Galleria.

It's also worth mentioning, especially if you're in South Austin, that a brand new entertainment complex called EVO has opened up down in Kyle and it's the first theater in our area featuring an auditorium with Dolby Atmos sound. The EVX screen there is apparently 60-feet wide and Atmos can feature an audio mix that has up to 128 channels (as opposed to a 5.1 or 7.1 surround mix). They're currently screening The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 on the EVX screen!

The Austin Film Society's "Essential Cinema" series celebrating Contemporary Filipino Cinema is taking a break this Thursday for Thanksgiving, but returns on Thursday, December 4 with Norte, The End Of History. The epic four-hour movie was just nominated this week as Best International Film at the Independent Spirit Awards and it is the Philippines' official entry for the Acadamy Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. 

Sounds Like Film: 'American Hustle' Soundtrack Expanded for Vinyl Release

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American Hustle

A brand new expanded vinyl edition of the American Hustle soundtrack is hitting select independent record stores across the country this week. Many record colecting nerds are already familiar with Record Store Day (RSD), an event that happens every April featuring exclusive pressings to encourage people to support indie retailers. With vinyl sales surging globally, this program has extended to Black Friday each year, when a new batch of limited-edition releases hit stores. These aren't things that you'll find at national retailers, but rather indie stores like Austin's Waterloo Records and End of an Ear

While RSD titles are not guaranteed to be in stock at every store across the country, I think it's a safe bet that you'll be able to find this new American Hustle vinyl release at both stores if you're an early shopper on Friday. The soundtrack was first released on CD and digitally last December, but this expanded version makes it available on vinyl for the first time and features six songs not included on the original release. Packaged in a gatefold sleeve featuring a brand new ilustration of the film's poster artwork illustrated by Michael Gillette, the records are pressed on 150-gram red and blue vinyl with "2-eye" stereo labels that replicate 1960s pressings from Columbia Records. 

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