Movies This Week: August 31 - September 6, 2012
This holiday weekend brings eight new releases to Austin theaters, from the erudite and hilarious comedy Sleepwalk with Me to the slightly less erudite and probably not very hilarious horror flick The Possession.
If the new offerings don't grab you (but really, Sleepwalk with Me should grab everyone), the Paramount continues its Summer Classic Film Series with a weekend of modern classics, including E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Dirty Dancing, Pretty in Pink and one of my favorite Eighties films, The Breakfast Club (pictured above). See the Paramount and Stateside calendar for details.
Fans of short films won't want to miss the Texas Filmmakers Showcase on Thursday at the Austin Film Society screening room. Curated by the Houston Film Commission, the 95-minute showcase features seven Texas short films, including works from Austin's own Timothy Edwards, Micah Robert Barber and Carlyn Hudson. This event is a fundraiser for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund, so it's a great way to support the Texas independent film industry.
Movies We've Seen
The Ambassador -- In this Danish documentary, journalist Mads Brügger goes undercover as a European ambassador to uncover the African blood diamond trade. Rod has high praise in his review, saying "The Ambassador immerses you in the activities at hand. From start to finish, you feel like a participant in the conversations, an accomplice in the bribes, and one of the people that will take the fall should the lies and deceptions unravel." (Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek, Slaughter Lane, South Lamar and Village)
Lawless -- Set in Depression-era Virginia, this movie (which opened Wednesday) follows a bootlegging gang threatened by authorities who want a cut of the gang's profits. Rod enjoyed the film, saying in his Comic-Con review that director John Hillcoat "draws out some great performances from his cast, transforming Guy Pearce into a demented sadist, Gary Oldman into an old-school gangster and Jessica Chastain into a bad girl gone good. Banner performances all around." (wide)
Robot & Frank -- In the near future, an ex-jewel thief's son buys his father a robot butler, which he has little use for until he discovers it can help him with a heist. Elizabeth enjoyed the film and praised its cast, saying in her review that "Frank Langella is amazingly earnest in his portrayal of this crotchety and cunning man who grows to care about his caretaker robot. Indeed, practically everyone delivers a winning performance in this movie, even the robot." (Arbor, Violet Crown)
Sleepwalk with Me -- This American Life's Ira Glass co-wrote this terrific comedy starring Mike Birbiglia as a comedian dealing with the stress of a struggling career, a strained relationship and a severe sleepwalking disorder. I'm a huge fan; as I said in my review, "The sharp and erudite Sleepwalk with Me is everything we would expect from a Birbiglia-Glass collaboration, an often bitterly funny movie of great humanity." (Violet Crown)
Other Movies Opening in Austin
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai -- 13 Assassins director Takashi Miike brings us this tale of a poverty-stricken samurai who has a tense showdown of vengeance against a feudal lord. (Alamo South Lamar)
The Last Ride -- Near the end of his career, Hank Williams hires a young man to drive him through the Appalachian countryside for a pair of New Years shows in West Virginia and Ohio. I had high hopes for this film about the musical legend, but reviews have been mixed. (Arbor)
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure -- If the title of this children's adventure isn't enough to scare you and your little ones away, the scathing reviews surely will. Even scarier are the Oogieloves' names -- Goobie, Zoozie and Toofie, who set out to find magical balloons for a friend's birthday party. Remember: If you take the kiddoes to see this film, you'll have to see it, too. (wide)
The Possession -- This horror film is the story of a young girl who buys an antique box at a garage sale, unaware that a malicious spirit lives inside it. The girl's parents must end the curse on their child. (Maybe the box wasn't such a great bargain, after all.) (wide)