Matt Shiverdecker's blog
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.
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.
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
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.