Matt Shiverdecker's blog
It's time for my final Movies This Week post here at Slackerwood. I just want to thank Jette for bringing me on to contribute to this site over the last two years. I've really had a great time covering the local repertory scene and highlighting each week's new releases here in Austin. I've got one last review that will run over the weekend and then next week this site will cease publishing new material. I hope that you've found this a valuable resource and I'm going to leave you with a new one.
My good friend Zack McGhee is one of the biggest cinephiles I know. We met many years ago when we both lived in the Dayton, Ohio area and he worked not only for the Dayton Daily News, but also was a projectionist at the Little Art Theatre. Somehow, both of our jobs brought us here and we've been loving the film scene in Austin for years now. Not only does Zack host the My Favorite Movie podcast (on which Jette was a recent guest), but he also just launched the Austin Rep Calendar online. If you bookmark his site, I guarantee you that it will make your moviegoing life in Austin a more enjoyable experience, especially since it allows you to sort by screenings projected on film and gives you three weeks of listings so you can plan ahead.
A cursory glance at the calendar shows that there is plenty to be excited about, this week and beyond. The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is, of course, kicking off another season tonight. Casablanca and Manhattan both screen in 35mm this evening and everything screening at the Paramount itself is projected on film (the Stateside screenings, however, are all digital). Tomorrow afternoon, they've got Brad Bird's The Iron Giant as a preview of their Family Film Festival and then evening shows of Sunset Boulevard and Chinatown for Saturday and Sunday.
The Violet Crown Cinema has an encore screening of its Arthouse Monthly series Sunday night with the acclaimed new documentary I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story. In her review, Jette says it's a "pleasant and sometimes touching profile of Caroll Spinney, who has spent decades portraying both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and elsewhere." Tickets are on the verge of selling out, but if you miss out on this one-time local screening, the film is available now on cable and digital VOD from Tribeca Film. In addition, Violet Crown is holding over Austin-shot indie Arlo and Julie (Elizabeth's review) for another week, with daily screenings.
The Austin Film Society kicks off the weekend with Jess Franco's 1971 avant-garde horror film Vampyros Lesbos, which screens tonight at the Marchesa. On Sunday afternoon, AFS is teaming up with the Austin chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for a 35mm benefit screening of the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a 2005 profile of the local musician/artist.
On Wednesday night, Richard Linklater is presenting one of his favorite films of the 80s, Tim Hunter's River's Edge in 35mm. He'll be on hand for an introduction and then to lead a post-film discussion for the "Jewels In The Wasteland" series. The AFS "Songs Of The South" Essential Cinema series is featuring Intruder In The Dust on Thursday night. This 1949 feature from Clarence Brown tells the story of a black farmer falsely accused of murder in the South and is presented in 35mm.
In her seven seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, Kristen Wiig became known for an array of bizarre recurring characters and for taking on difficult and highly memorable impressions (Bjork, Kathie Lee Gifford and Suze Orman spring immediately to mind). She's done her fair share of comedic film work, but in the last few years has really found her niche in indie dramadies. With The Skeleton Twins and Hateship Loveship under her belt, Wiig now appears in her strongest performance to date in Welcome to Me as Alice Klieg, a woman with borderline personality disorder.
The concept works because it is too absurd to be true. Essentially, it begins with the fact that Alice has a complicated relationship with television. It has comforted, cared and educated her over the years. Despite her mental issues, she's stopped taking her prescribed medications and relies on piles of VHS tapes to calm her nerves. She leaves the television on in her apartment at all times, telling a visitor to her home that it hasn't been turned off in 11 years. Before she can go out into the world, Alice will sit down and pop in an old Oprah episode into the VCR, reciting every line of dialogue. To her, these Oprah episodes have been a better guide for living her life than the time spent with her therapist (Tim Robbins). Spontaneity is not Alice's specialty, often expressing her feelings in "prepared statements" handwritten in advance to spare her from getting too emotional in the heat of the moment.
One night, Alice turns on the California Lottery and matches the numbers to her recently purchased ticket to discover that she has won a massive $86 million dollar jackpot. Without the checks and balances of proper care for her illness, her newfound wealth enables her to invest in the lifelong dream of having her own talk show. She teams up with New Vibrant Studios, home to a struggling local home-shopping network owned by brothers Rich (James Marsden) and Gabe (Wes Bentley) and offers to pay upfront to produce her show, which quickly goes from a weekly program (entitled Welcome To Me, with increasingly more complex opening title sequences as the show goes on) to a daily one.
This weekend, the Austin Film Society is bringing She's Lost Control back to town. Caitlin caught the film on opening night at SXSW 2014. She reported: "An intense and dark slice of life, the film focuses on a woman who works as a sex surrogate while she finishes a Master's degree in psychology in New York City. Often hard-hitting and true but sometimes a little frustrating, I can't fully call this a "must-see" but I know this movie will definitely stick with me..." It plays tonight and again on Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa.
On Sunday evening, AFS will be presenting the work of two master animators. Don Hertzfeldt's award-winning short World Of Tomorrow is being paired with Cheatin', the most recent feature film from Bill Plympton. Richard Linklater's schedule last week didn't allow him to be in attendance for the Sid & Nancy screening, so another screening has been added for Monday night where he'll be there to introduce the film and lead a conversation about it afterwards. Then "Jewels In The Wasteland" gets back on track for its regular Wednesday night edition, with Linklater at the Marchesa presenting Sergio Leone's epic 1984 feature, Once Upon A Time In America. He'll be screening the extended 227-minute cut of the film in 35mm.
Frank gave us a lot of great information about this weekend's Second Annual Noir City festival by interviewing Film Noir Foundation president Eddie Muller about the event. Ten films, many presented in 35mm, will be screening at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz starting tonight. This year, all of the movies selected are the adapted works of screenwriter and novelist Cornell Woolrich. It all kicks off tonight with a restored 35mm print of 1950's Woman On The Run from the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Other films presented this weekend include Phantom Lady (1944), The Guilty (1948) and No Man Of Her Own (1950).
Multiplexes will be filled with superheroes this weekend as the new Avengers film touches down on almost 4,300 screens nationwide. A movie that big doesn't leave much room for anything else (even the Alamo Drafthouse isn't adding new titles this weekend at area locations aside from the Marvel sequel), although a few specialty releases are poised to breakthrough and we've got some recommended events for those of you who are not up for a comic-book blockbuster.
Austin Film Society is teaming up with the Premiers Plans Festival of Angers, France this weekend for a New French Cinema series of Texas premiere screenings at the Marchesa along with special guest filmmakers and programmers from the fest. This program is part of the Sister Cities initiative between Austin and Angers and begins tonight with Spartacus & Cassandra, an acclaimed documentary from director Ioanis Nuguet, who will be in attendance for a Q&A. This particular screening is also being presented for Free Member Friday. All are welcome to attend, but AFS Members can go for free.
On Saturday afternoon, AFS will host a Moviemaker Dialogue event called "Vive French Cinema: Filmmakers and Programmers Discuss Today's French Film Industry." This will occur at 3 pm and will include a meet-and-greet reception with the weekend's guests. Sunday will close with a double feature of Insecure, a new drama (with Blue Is The Warmest Color star Adele Exarchopoulos) that will have director Marianne Tardieu in attendance, paired with Guillaume Brac's debut film, Tonnerre.
Lots of festivals are happening around the Austin/Central Texas area over the next week. The 18th annual Cine Las Americas fest got underway last night and will continue through Sunday. Featured films, in categories that include narrative and documentary feature and short films, screen at Marchesa Hall, The Mexican American Cultural Center and at Jones Auditorium on the campus of St. Edward's University. All selected titles either contain English subtitles or screen in English. The festival focuses on work from the US, Canada, Latin America, and the Iberian Peninsula.
The 8th annual Off-Centered Film Festival also kicked off last night. The partnership between Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and Alamo Drafthouse has a theme of "yacht rockin'" this year and they're raising money for The National Wildlife Federation. In addition to the yearly short film competition, they'll be showing the Marx Brothers classic Monkey Business, Joon-ho Bong's The Host and hosting a rare 35mm screening of Cabin Boy with star Chris Elliott and director Adam Resnick in attendance. Finally, the Hill Country Film Festival begins Thursday night and will continue into next weekend -- Jette will be out in Fredericksburg covering that one for us.
All of this means fewer specialty screenings over the next week, especially with Austin Film Society because the Marchesa is going to be in use for the entire weekend. AFS will host a screening of Jean Cocteau's 1932 film Blood Of A Poet in the AFS Screening Room (1901 E 51st St.) Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Richard Linklater returns to the Marchesa for a 35mm presentation of Richard Pryor's Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. Out of print on home video and unavailable on digital services, this is a very rare opportunity to catch the movie on the big screen. Robert Ellis Miller's The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter will be featured on Thursday night for the current Essential Cinema series dubbed "Songs Of The South."
The Austin Film Society's "French Noir" series continues tonight with a Free Member Friday screening at The Marchesa of Henri Verneuil's The Burglars, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Omar Sharif, and Dyan Cannon. Based on the pulp novel by David Goodis, tonight's digital screening is free for all AFS members, and the movie will also screen on Sunday afternoon at The Marchesa.
Monday night, SXSW alumni Above All Else (Don's review) is presented by The Texas Observer. Austin filmmaker John Fiege and two subjects from the documentary about the Keystone XL pipeline protests in East Texas will be on hand for a post-film panel discussion with Forrest Wilder, associate editor of The Texas Observer. The current Essential Cinema series, "Songs Of The South," continues this week on Tuesday night with a screening of To Kill A Mockingbird. Richard Linklater is taking the week off from the new installment of "Jewels In The Wasteland," but it will return next week.
Over at the Violet Crown Cinema, the "Asian Movie Madness" series features Patrick Leung and Corey Yuen's Hong Kong classic Blade Of Kings this week. This 2004 feature was nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards and is a sequel to The Twins Effect. Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan and Jackie's son Jaycee Chan star in this action-packed film that will play Tuesday night.
This weekend, the Austin Film Society continues their French Noir series with Claude Sautet's Max & The Junkmen, a film that was never distributed in the United States upon its release in 1971, but finally circulated in a restored print in 2013. This rarity plays tonight and again on Sunday in 35mm at the Marchesa. David Lynch's Blue Velvet picks up a second screening in 35mm on Sunday evening and Richard Linklater will be on hand to introduce the film and lead a post-film discussion. Linklater returns Wednesday night for L'Argent, Robert Bresson's final feature, and Elizabeth Taylor stars in Suddenly, Last Summer on Thursday for Essential Cinema.
The Paramount is hosting golfer Ben Crenshaw, actress Anne Archer and filmmaker Terry Jastrow on Wednesday night for the Austin premiere of The Squeeze. Jastrow has been a producer on Wide World Of Sports and The Olympics and this is his directorial film debut. Based on a true Texas-based story, it follows a talented young golfer who gives up his dreams of playing on the PGA Tour after he becomes involved in high-stakes gambling.
Specialty screenings at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz this week include 1943's Journey Into Fear on Saturday and the unfinished film It's All True on Monday night, both in 35mm as part of the Orson Welles retrospective. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis star in Artists & Models, a 1955 comedy that is part of the Cinema Cocktails series on Sunday and Wednesday.
This weekend, the Austin Film Society continues with "Perfect Criminals: The 70's French Noir Connection" series, and Friday night has a killer (no pun intended) double feature on tap. Alain Delon stars in Jean-Pierre Melville's 1967 gangster film Le Samourai (for a one-off screening) paired with Le Cercle Rouge, another Melville classic from 1970 that also stars Delon. The latter film will screen again on Monday night and both are presented in 35mm at the Marchesa. Amanda Wilder's Approaching The Elephant is screening on Tuesday for Doc Nights and David Lynch's Blue Velvet screens in 35mm on Wednesday night as part of the "Jewels In The Wasteland" series, although this edition will only include a video introduction from Richard Linklater due to an unexpected conflict. Essential Cinema on Thursday night will feature Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire, the 1951 film based on the Tennessee Williams play that features scorching performances from Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz begins an Orson Welles retrospective this weekend. The theater will screen Chuck Workman's 2014 documentary Magician: The Astonishing Orson Welles along with a 35mm print of Citizen Kane on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The series continues with 1942's The Magnificent Ambersons in 35mm on Monday evening and Thursday afternoon. Just in time for Easter, they've also got a few Big Screen Classics screenings of Monty Python's Life Of Brian on Sunday and Monday. If you're looking to celebrate Rex Manning Day, Girlie Night is presenting a 20th anniversary screening of Empire Records on Wednesday. Considering the home video versions have switched over only to presenting an extended cut of the movie, this is a good chance to watch the original theatrical version again!
Alamo South Lamar is adding a few late-night screenings of Resurrection Of A Bastard this week. This graphic novel adaptation from the Netherlands was a Fantastic Fest selection from 2013 that has recently received U.S. distribution. It's also worth noting that if you're deaf or hard of hearing, South Lamar will be hosting an open captioned version of Furious 7 on Sunday afternoon. Perhaps a little more fitting for Easter Sunday, the Alamo Village has Jesus Christ Superstar and the Alamo Lakeline celebrates the day with Mel Gibson's Passion Of The Christ.
The Austin Film Society really knows the way to my heart. A brand new series begins this evening at the Marchesa called "Perfect Criminals: The '70s French Noir Connection" and you can buy a full series pass or grab individual tickets for the five French crime classics that AFS will be unspooling in the weeks to come. The first selection in the series is 1969's The Sicilian Clan in 35mm. Jean Gabin and Alain Delon star in this jewel heist thriller from director Henri Verneuil and it plays tonight and again on Sunday afternoon.
Also on Sunday, you've got one more chance to catch Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island Of Dr Moreau. I caught this at Fantastic Fest last year and was utterly fascinated by it. It recently had a screening at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, but now AFS is giving you a great opportunity to see it if you missed it (or maybe just want to take it all in again). Richard Linklater is back at the Marchesa on Wednesday to present Stuart Rosenberg's The Pope Of Greenwich Village in 35mm and host a post-film conversation. This 1986 drama stars Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Daryl Hannah. Essential Cinema wraps up the screening week on Thursday night with Rachid Bouchareb's Oscar-nominated WWII film Days Of Glory.
Meanwhile, the Austin Film Festival is teaming up with A24 for "Growing Up Baumbach: A Tribute to Noah Baumbach's 20 Years in Film." Noah's new film While You're Young is opening on April 10, so AFF is taking over the Texas Spirit Theater (inside the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum) to play some of his finest work next week. On Monday night, they'll screen The Squid and the Whale in 35mm, Kicking & Screaming will screen on Tuesday night in 35mm and Frances Ha plays (digitally) on Wednesday night. Tickets are $5 for general admission and are free for AFF members and Bullock Museum members.