Matt Shiverdecker's blog
With Fantastic Fest taking over the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar for the next week, not nearly as many specialty screenings as usual are going on in town. You will not, however, notice a lack of new releases in area theaters. I'll track those down below, but first I'll take a look at what is going on across town if you aren't engaging with the fest.
On Tuesday, the Austin Film Society will be screening Antonioni's 1966 mod classic Blow Up at the Marchesa. This special evening includes a 60s themed cocktail hour starting at 6:30 pm, complete with a "complimentary 60s themed hair and nail bar" courtesy of the Aveda Institute. The film will be introduced by Ned Rifkin at 7:30 pm. Bonus: if you show up dressed in your favorite 60s clothes, you may win a prize for the evening.
The AFS Screening Room is the place to be on Wednesday night for a special evening programmed with French Avant Garde Cinema of the 1920s. This collection will feature shorts from Jean Epstein, Rene Clair, Fernand Leger, Germaine Dulac and Marcel Duchamp. Finally for the week, you can head back to the Marchesa for the Essential Cinema "Masterpieces Of Polish Cinema, Selected by Martin Scorsese" series. They'll be screening a restored DCP of Wojciech Has' epic Saragossa Manuscript from 1965.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is turning the spotlight on some of their favorite films of the year this week by bringing in The Dance Of Reality, The Grand Budapest Hotel (Don's review), Obvious Child (Elizabeth's review), The Raid 2 and We Are The Best! (my review) for select showtimes. Each screening is just $5 and these films are all worth checking out on the big screen if you missed them or just want to see them again.
Also at the Ritz this week: Broadway Brunch returns with The Music Man in 35mm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Howard The Duck screens on Sunday with a live Q&A featuring Val Mayerik (a co-creator of the original comic), the original 1987 Robocop on Sunday for Tough Guy Cinema, a rare 35mm screening of The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford on Tuesday and A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master in 35mm for Terror Tuesday's "Fredtember."
Alamo Slaughter is bringing back Chef this weekend. They've also got Singin' In The Rain on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday (as does the Alamo Lakeline). Alamo South Lamar will be hosting aGLIFF (Caitlin's preview) all weekend. Individual tickets for most shows can be purchased if you don't have a festival badge, capacity permitting. The Alamo is also teaming up with the Austin Classical Guitar Society for a very special screening this evening of The Unknown. This silent classic stars Lon Cheney Sr. and Joan Crawford and it is going to be presented with a live score composed by the European duo Les Freres Meduses for two guitars and violin. They'll be performing it live in the theater with William Fedkenheuer from the Miro Quartet.
It's one of those rare weekends where there are basically no wide releases entering the marketplace. OK, there's an Ashley Judd movie aimed at the faith-based crowds, but that's all that is headed for the multiplexes (ensuring another easy week at the top of the box office for Guardians). That has left an especially adventurous week of bookings with lots of smaller titles hitting town, including the latest from Roman Polanski that we had assumed was never going to play in Austin. Before I show you the new releases, let's take a look at this week's specialty programming.
While the Paramount 100 will continue on, the official Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is coming to a close this weekend with the Texas-based epic Giant (which Don just revisited in Lone Star Cinema). Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean star in this classic drama which will run in 35mm on Saturday evening (complete with a party for Film Fan Members) and Sunday afternoon.
Over at the Marchesa, the Austin Film Society is debuting a new digital restoration of Orson Welles' Othello this week. It will play Sunday afternoon and again Tuesday night. AFS also has a one-off screening of a new IFC release called War Story on Sunday. Catherine Keener stars in this selection of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival which is also available on cable and digital VOD. This month's Essential Cinema series features "Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, Selected by Martin Scorsese." On Thursday night, master filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1987 film Blind Chance screens from a digital restoration.
Heading into a three-day holiday weekend, it's fairly quiet in terms of blockbuster releases (it won't be a surprise if Guardians Of The Galaxy continues to top the box-office chart despite recent newcomers), but Austin has plenty of specialty screenings to catch your attention.
Austin Film Society is screening Roger Corman's bizarre postapocalyptic 1971 film Gas-s-s-s screening tonight and again on Sunday afternoon in 35mm at the Marchesa. On Wednesday night, AFS will also be offering a preview screening of No No: A Dockumentary (Caitlin's review) with director Jeffrey Radice, producer Mike Blizzard and editor Sam Wainwright Douglas in attendance. The film, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year, tells the story of how Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while on LSD in the 1970s. It's expected to open at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar next weekend and will also be available on VOD. We also get a new Essential Cinema series, "Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, Selected by Martin Scorsese," which will start Thursday night with Andrzej Wajda's 1958 classic Ashes and Diamonds.
Only a few more films are left in this year's Summer Classic Film Series at the Paramount Theatre, which wraps up next weekend. You can catch a 70mm print of Kubrick's Spartacus this evening and then a 70mm print of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade on Saturday and Sunday. On Wednesday and Thursday you can catch a double feature of two of the best films of the 50s: Sirk's All That Heaven Allows and Laughton's The Night Of The Hunter, both in 35mm.
The Austin Film Society teams up with aGLIFF tonight to bring the new documentary To Be Takei (my review for Paste) to the Marchesa for a one-off screening. It's a touching and genuinely funny profile of George Takei, whose career has taken him from Star Trek to social media icon and gay rights activist. This month's Roger Corman series continues this weekend with X: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes. This 1963 thriller screens tonight and again on Sunday in a 35mm print. On Wednesday night, AFS presents SXSW doc Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (Don's review) and then the Barbara Stanwyck Essential Cinema series will close Thursday with Ball Of Fire. Screening in 35mm, this classic 1941 Howard Hawks comedy, written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, pairs Stanwyck with Gary Cooper.
Over at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, The Complete David Lynch series is winding down but has several more gems on the way. This weekend, they've got a 35mm print of Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard on Saturday and Sunday as part of the "influences" sidebar of this series. Ingmar Bergman's 1968 feature Hour Of The Wolf also screens as an influence title on Monday night. The last feature film from David Lynch in the series happens on Wednesday night, 2006's Inland Empire. He hasn't made a full-length film since and this 3-hour surrealist epic will start a little earlier (at 6:45 pm) due to its length. A few extra afternoon matinees of Inland Empire are thrown in on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Also at the Ritz, there's a Robin Williams Memorial Screening of The Fisher King on Sunday afternoon (with all proceeds being donated to Comic Relief) and a Zzang!!! screening of The Monster Squad on Sunday night.
There's a very special event tonight at the Alamo Slaughter Lane. DJ/Producer/Record Label Owner Andy Votel is going to be on hand for Kleksploitation, an "entirely re-contextualised version of [Andrzej] Zulawski's psychedelic, proto-electric scores for the cult Pan Kleks trilogy of children's films from the 1980s with live DJ accompaniment." Slaughter (and Lakeline) also will be screening Reservoir Dogs again on Sunday and Wednesday.
The Austin Film Society's "Films Of Roger Corman" series (Jette's preview) continues this weekend at the Marchesa with 1961's The Pit And The Pendulum starring Vincent Price. Tonight's screening is a Free Member Friday event for any members of AFS (with General Admission tickets also available). It will also screen again on Sunday afternoon. Tom Gilroy's The Cold Lands is scheduled for a "Best of the Fests" booking on Tuesday at the Marchesa and Thursday's Essential Cinema selection features Barbara Stanwyck (Elizabeth's preview) in William Wellman's Lady Of Burlesque. This extrememly rare 35mm print is on loan from the Library Of Congress, making it a night you won't want to miss!
Austin Film Society is also presenting the Texas premiere of Sin City: A Dame To Die For in 3D on Wednesday evening at the Paramount. Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and (just announced!) Frank Miller will be in attendance for an introduction, post-screening Q&A and at the after party. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, who appears on the soundtrack, whill also be at the screening. Tickets, including VIP packages, are available on the Paramount's website.
Cinema East will be hosting Above All Else (Don's SXSW review) on Sunday night on the lawn of the French Legation Museum. There's only one more film in this summer's series after this, so head out for this all-ages, BYOB-friendly event. Doors are at 7 pm and the film will begin at 9. This documentary had its world premiere at SXSW this year and examines the battle over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, introducing us to an environmental activist from East Texas who tried to block it.
The Austin Film Society kicks off a brand new series featuring classic films from Roger Corman (Jette's preview) with a related documentary called That Guy Dick Miller, about the famed character actor. Tonight's screening will feature a post-film Q&A with Mr. Miller via Skype. It will be followed by a 35mm screening of Corman's 1959 feature A Bucket Of Blood, which features a great lead performance by Dick Miller. The film will also play again on Sunday afternoon.
On Wednesday, Whitey: The United States Of America V. James J. Bulger (from Joe Berlinger, the director of Paradise Lost) will be featured for Doc Nights (Elizabeth's preview), and this month's Essential Cinema series with the incredible Barbara Stanwyck (Elizabeth's preview) finds her on Thursday night starring in a 1937 drama called Internes Can't Take Money, screening in a rare 35mm print.
At the Paramount's Summer Classic Film Series, you can catch a 35mm double feature of Charlie Chaplin comedies this weekend. The Great Dictator and Modern Times will screen at the Paramount multiple times on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Marlon Brando will be featured in a 35mm double feature on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings with A Streetcar Named Desire and On The Waterfront. Ten classic thrillers from Hitchcock will be featured through the end of next weekend. You can head down for Rebecca and Notorious screening digitally on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Stateside, while Rope and The Trouble With Harry also play there digitally on Thursday night. If you'd rather catch your Hitchcock on film, Psycho and Vertigo are both featured in 35mm at the Paramount on Thursday evenng.
In terms of wide releases, it's a fairly quiet week due to Marvel taking over more than 4,000 screens nationwide. Universal is countering with its James Brown biopic, but there's no other real compeition in the market for mainstream crowds. Specialty audiences are still discovering Richard Linklater's Boyhood (Don's review), which expands to AMC Barton Creek and Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline this weekend, while continuing with plenty of showtimes at Alamo Slaughter Lane, Regal Arbor and Violet Crown Cinema.
Speaking of Mr. Linklater, he'll be at the Marchesa tonight to introduce Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon. It's a free screening for folks who contributed to last year's Austin Film Society campaign to make improvements at Marchesa Hall and Lars Nilsen reports that the 35mm print is "pretty much perfect." Capacity permitting, $10 general admission tickets will be available. Barbara Stanwyck wil be taking over the Essential Cinema series for August (Elizabeth's preview), kicking off with a 35mm screening of The Lady Eve on Thursday night. Henry Fonda and Charles Coburn also star in this 1941 classic by Preston Sturges.
The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series is headed into the 1940s this weekend with 35mm prints of Casablanca and The Philadelphia Story on Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday and Thursday finds the series jumping ahead into the 1950s with a double feature of All About Eve and The Bad And The Beautiful, both also screening in 35mm.
The average music biopic has become so riddled with cliches in recent years that the entire genre was spoofed in a parody (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) that managed to be spot-on and over the top at the same time. In Get on Up, director Tate Taylor, coming off his successful big-screen adaptation of The Help, brings together a gifted cast and crew to tell the story of "The Hardest Working Man In Show Business," but it falls into many of the traps that made the biopic format so easy to mock in the first place.
James Brown's life began in 1933 while the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. Get On Up doesn't start with his birth, but rather opts to open with a bizarre incident in the late 1980s with him running around his office in a green velour tracksuit brandishing a shotgun to determine who had just used his bathroom. Brown is portrayed by Chadwick Boseman (who also took on the role of the legendary Jackie Robinson in last year's 42) and his dedication is clearly evident, especially during the recreation of the live concert sequences. In one of the film's many odd creative decisions, he frequently breaks the fourth wall to address the audience and explain his motivations.
As we weave in and out of over 50 years of history in the making, the curious structure and tone of Get on Up become increasingly problematic. One moment we are running in the woods with Brown as a child playing with his mother and shortly after we're on a flight to Vietnam that is being shot at with his entire band on board preparing to land for a USO concert in 1968. We catch glimpses of Brown's difficult childhood and how he eventually ends up being raised in a whorehouse by his aunt (Octavia Spencer), but these moments only serve to feed more into the myth of James Brown instead of shining a light on the man he became.
The Austin Film Society begins a very rare series this Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa called "The Sepia Screen." They'll be spotlighting 35mm "race" films from a special collection at Southern Methodist University from the days when movie theaters were segregated. This weekend, they'll be screening a 1946 short called Vanities, a 1946 feature called Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. and 1949's feature Souls Of Sin. Elizabeth's preview has details plus some insights on the series from AFS programmer Lars Nilsen.
On Tuesday evening, AFS is hosting Two Step, a locally-shot SXSW 2014 favorite (Don's review). Director Alex R. Johnson and composer Andrew Kenny (The Wooden Birds, The American Analog Set) will be in attendance for a Q&A. The current AFS Essential Cinema series is closing out on Thursday evening with Liv and Ingmar. After filling the Marchesa's screen over the last few weeks with some of their greatest collaborations, now you'll get to see this 2012 documentary that examines the relationship between Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman. The film is presented from Liv's point-of-view, interviewed in the house that she lived in for many years with Bergman.
Over at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, tomorrow morning you can check out a free Kid's Club screening of the Disney classic Pete's Dragon in 35mm at noon. Later in the afternoon, they'll also be paying tribute to the late James Garner with a 35mm screening of 1964's The Americanization Of Emily, which also stars Julie Andrews.