Movies This Week
This weekend finishes up the East/West selections of the Paramount summer classic film series, with two fantastic movies for Sunday at Stateside: Wong Kar Wai's heartbreakingly beautiful In the Mood for Love (pictured above) paired with the impeccably sweet romance of Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding. Come say hi if you spot me at the Monsoon Wedding screening.
Four Daniel Day-Lewis films show Monday and Tuesday, split between the Paramount and Stateside venues. The Paramount Theatre is actually hosting a blood drive to coincide with the Monday night screening of There Will Be Blood. Check it out!
As part of their "summer free-for-all," Austin Film Society will screen A Hero Never Dies on Friday and Sunday evenings (free, but you should RSVP). Tuesday night continues the AFS Marilyn Monroe series with tense drama Niagara [tickets]. Monroe and Joseph Cotten star as mismatched honeymooners.
"As if!" Girlie Night at the Alamo Ritz Tuesday night features the '90s classic Clueless. You can quote along with Tai (the late Brittany Murphy) as she calls Cher (Alicia Silverstone) "a virgin who can't drive." Plus, cutie Paul Rudd!
As part of their Marilyn Monroe celebration this summer, Austin Film Society will show Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (pictured above) 7 pm Tuesday at Alamo Drafthouse Village. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on a boat! In addition, tonight and Sunday AFS hosts Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra at the Marchesa (free, but you should RSVP). And In Bed with Ulysses, a documentary about James Joyce and his work Ulysses, plays 7 pm Wednesday at the Marchesa.
The Paramount continues the summer classic film series with a focus on musicals this weekend (Singin' in the Rain and The Sound of Music on Saturday and Sunday). Then it's film noir at both Paramount and Stateside on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, Sunset Boulevard and The Maltese Falcon all on the schedule.
For something completely different, the Alamo Kids Club at the Slaughter Lane location is screening The Muppets Take Manhattan this month. Kermit and the group put on a show and the idea for Muppet Babies is born. Kids Club movies are free, but tickets are first come-first serve (and you can't get them online). The various dates and times are on the Alamo website.
The Austin Film Festival (AFF) and Bob Bullock Museum's fourth annual Made in Texas Family Film Series continues this weekend with Texas native John Lee Hancock's The Rookie. Based on a true story, the film follows the story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid), a small-town baseball coach who has a chance at the major leagues. Hancock, who's also known for his award-winning film The Blind Side, will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A. This screening is free and open to the public, but you do need to RSVP here.
Texas documentary favorite Trash Dance returns for another week-long engagement with afternoon matinee screenings beginning Sunday at the Violet Crown Cinema. Don stated in his review, "In the Austin indie documentary and the dance performance it celebrates, the treasure isn't the trash -- it's the unlikely beauty of trash collection." City of Austin employees receive a $2 discount on ticket purchase at the box office or by phone.
My Facebook newsfeed has been abuzz with friends enjoying The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series, and this Sunday is The Paramount Kids Opening Day featuring The Adventures of Robin Hood and Looney Tunes. The Kickoff Party starts at 1 pm with crafts and games before the 2 pm screening of Robin Hood. For the Paramount Kids Classics movies, kids 18 years old and under receive $5 off the regular ticket price at the box office day of show.
Has it really been 18 years since Jesse and Celine met on that train in Before Sunrise? Indeed it has, and the long-awaited third outing in Richard Linklater's romantic trilogy finally graces Austin theaters today. Don't miss Before Midnight; if the critics are right -- and really, aren't we always? -- the story is as fresh and captivating as ever. (Even I -- who would rather have a root canal than watch most rom-coms -- loved the first two films and can't wait to see the third.)
If even the best of rom-coms isn't your thing, there are a surprising number of alternatives this holiday weekend. My top pick is the Austin Film Society "Spotlight on John Cassavetes" series, which wraps up with Husbands, a 1970 tragicomedy starring Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk as three middle-age men who mourn a friend's death and live out their midlife crises on a drunken trip to London. Husbands screens tonight and Sunday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.
The AFS Essential Cinema series features The Makioka Sisters, a 1983 Japanese import that depicts the pre-war lives of four sisters from a wealthy Osaka family and draws parallels between their stories and Japan's seasonal variations. The Makioka Sisters screens Tuesday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.
The Alamo Drafthouse is hosting screenings of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (pictured above), former Dallasite Terence Nance's film about a young man's relationship struggles. Part live action, part stop motion and part hand-drawn, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty screens Saturday and Monday at the Alamo Ritz. Both screenings include a Skype Q&A with Nance. (Refer to Elizabeth's article for more information about the film.)
While we wait for various summer movie series to begin, Austin still has lots of interesting alternative film choices this week. And of course the summer blockbusters have begun and you already have your choice of the new movie with the Star Trek gang or the movie that released last week (and therefore is practically ancient) with the man in the iron suit.
Tickets are still available through the Austin Film Society website for Sunday's triple-feature of Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and the sneak peek of Before Midnight, with director Richard Linklater in attendance after the first movie.
On Tuesday, Violet Crown Cinema presents Holiday Road, a comedy in which 13 filmmakers each devote a short film to a different American holiday. UT alum Todd Berger tackled January and October, and Austin's own Kelly Williams was a producer for this anthology.
If you're interested in young filmmakers, AFS presents the 2013 Film Club Spring Festival screening (pictured at right) on Saturday at 10:30 am at the Marchesa, showcasing student projects. The AFS Film Club is an afterschool program that teaches AISD students about filmmaking and other digital media techniques to promote self-expression and creativity. Schools presenting work in the Spring Festival range from elementary to high school.
It's not a banner week for new releases. Ardent Baz Luhrmann groupies may revel in his loud and gaudy take on The Great Gatsby. But the other new films -- a draggy period piece about Renoir, an artsy but lackluster comic drama about escaping one's past and a rom-com that bravely goes where many have gone before (don't they all?) -- make for a yawning time at the cinema.
Not to worry, film fans. As usual, Slackerwood's friends at the Austin Film Society offer some interesting alternatives. The AFS Spotlight on John Cassavetes series kicks off today with A Woman Under the Influence, the great director's 1974 drama starring a devastating Gena Rowlands as a woman who breaks down under life's pressures and Peter Falk as her well-meaning but loutish husband. The film screens tonight and Sunday at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre.
AFS also presents an Essential Cinema screening of revered Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert on Tuesday at the Marchesa. One of Antonioni's most memorable films, this classic 1964 drama captures an alienated woman's existential angst as she tries to survive in a bleak industrial landscape.
By the time you read this, I'll be in Fredericksburg for the Hill Country Film Festival. I love a film fest that's in one theater, where you get to know all the filmmakers and half the audience, and where short films prevail and celebrities do not. I wish the weather were less capricious, but you can't have everything. If you're in Austin instead, your best bet may be that fabulous new release about heroes who use their iron technology to assist mankind. Of course I mean the Austin documentary Trash Dance, which has a weeklong run at Violet Crown.
Hoping to get back in town Sunday in time for Alamo Drafthouse Ritz's Cinema Cocktails screening of the 1949 musical On the Town, a favorite of mine, screening in 35mm. Who couldn't love dance numbers from Gene Kelly, Vera-Ellen and especially Ann Miller, with a script from Comden and Green? And you can have a Manhattan while you watch.
On Monday, don't forget Stateside Independent is screening the delightful Austin food-truck-centric comedy The Happy Poet (Elizabeth's preview), with some cast members in attendance. Or you could head to Alamo Village for Austin Film Festival's screening of AFF 2012 documentary Spinning Plates (Debbie's review).
So who else is going to see Hands on a Hardbody tonight at the Marchesa? Read Don's review to find out why so many of us are so pleased to see this 1997 documentary available again. Filmmaker S.R. Bindler will be there with one of the film's subjects, Benny Perkins ... I hear there will even be an actual Nissan Hardbody in attendance. If you're not interested (because you're crazy) you could head over to Blue Starlite and watch Dazed and Confused.
Austin Film Society's Best of the Fest series brings the movie In the Family to the Marchesa on Sunday and Monday nights. It's about a father whose partner dies and leaves their son to his sister, sparking a difficult custody battle. Writer/director/actor Patrick Wang will attend the screenings.
On Monday night, Alamo Drafthouse's Cinema Club series continues at the Ritz with a 35mm screening of Grand Hotel, the glitzy 1932 drama starring John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford. Author and University of Texas professor Tom Schatz will discuss the movie afterward. And if those aren't enough Monday night choices, you might also consider The Frames: In the Deep Shade, a documentary about Glen Hansard's band screening at Stateside.
I'm not one to issue ultimatums, but this week's cinematic circumstances force me to do so: If you don't see It's a Disaster (pictured above), I'm afraid we can't be friends. I'll accept no lame excuses, people; we both know you can find the time to watch this indie comic masterpiece with strong ties to the Austin film industry. You must see it -- and don't think I won't ask to see your ticket stub next time we meet.
If you'd rather pick your own movie than be my friend, you have lots of other choices. The Cine Las Americas International Film Festival continues through Monday; passes and individual tickets still are available for the remaining films. If you're in the mood for a totally different sort of festival, the beer-centric and aptly named Off-Centered Film Festival also continues through Saturday. (Refer to Jordan's overview of the festival for more information.)
French New Wave fans shouldn't miss the Austin Film Society's screening of Zazie Dans Le Métro, Louis Malle's 1960 satirical fantasy about a 12-year-old girl who escapes the watchful eye of her uncle to explore the sights of Paris. Presented as part of the AFS Essential Cinema series, Zazie Dans Le Métro screens on Tuesday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.
It's another so-so week for new releases, with one notable exception: To the Wonder. Terrance Malick fans shouldn't miss the great director's latest meditation on love and life; I also recommend it for adventurous filmgoers unfamiliar with Malick's sometimes enigmatic style.
Austin has two film festivals to choose from this week. The Austin Jewish Film Festival starts Saturday night and runs through next Friday, primarily at Regal Arbor. Read Chale's preview for more info and some recommendations.
For fans of Latino and indigenous films, the Cine Las Americas Film Festival kicks off on Tuesday and runs through Sunday, April 21. Now in its 16th year, the festival features a wide variety of movies from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, including the latest narrative films by breakthrough directors, studio releases, documentaries, short films, entertaining animation series, and youth films. Film passes -- a bargain at $80 -- are available now.