Filmmaker Quentin Dupieux has already acquired a cult following the likes of which is rarely seen so early in a career. Recently he visited Alamo Drafthouse Village in Austin for a double feature of his first feature-length films, Wrong and Rubber. When he asked who in the audience of the sold-out screening had already seen both movies about to be shown, more than a quarter of the theater eagerly raised their hands. This is no doubt in large part due to the fame he's garnered as his experimental-electro alter ego, Mr. Oizo. While Dupieux is still a budding name in film, Oizo has been heard around the techno scene for over 15 years. A history like that is bound to breed some seriously dedicated fans.
Once the closing credits for Wrong rolled, host Eric Vespe (aka "Quint" of Ain't It Cool News) called Dupieux on stage to the sound of enthusiastic applause. Dupieux was completely at home in the spotlight, and immediately took ownership of the Q&A. At once playful and sarcastic, he repeatedly provoked surprised barks of laughter.
When Dupieux was asked if any events depicted in Wrong were based in reality, he shrugged. "I tried to make a film that was half true, and half stupid." In response to probes about the fictional book that appears in the film, Dupieux murmured coyly, "I haven't read it." His answers were all brief, and spiked with a biting wit. Yet despite his bumptiousness, it was hard not to like him. Yes, he's an erratic driver, but damn if it isn't a fun ride.
In a moment of technical difficulty, the mic Dupieux is holding started to fade in and out of static feedback. He handed it off to a theater manager, and took the interruption as an opportunity to approach a couple of patrons in the front row. "Can I?" he smiled, already plucking pieces of popcorn from their bowl and tossing them into his mouth. Without missing a beat, he jumped right back into goading the audience for more questions. Dupieux proves a master trickster, and we're all at his mercy.
Stallone, Hopkins and Gosling all welcomed visitors on Friday to the latest Mondo gallery event featuring new works by artists Tyler Stout and Ken Taylor. And by "welcomed," I mean their likeness graced the posters on the wall. With this new show, Stout and Taylor have brought Austin a wonderful collection of works that showcases the artists' unique styles that have made them famous. Stout's filled frames were no more prevalent than in his poster for Attack the Block and previously released Django Unchained, while Taylor highlighted his detailed, realistic representations of famous faces in his posters for First Blood and Silence of the Lambs (pictured above).
Local poster czar Mondo kicked off SXSW in its own style, premiering a new show of original Game of Thrones-themed art at the gallery on Friday. The opening included a special blonde ale created by New York brewery Ommegang that was inspired by the hit television show. The "Iron Throne" beer, as it was called, luckily had a light, non-metal taste, and was a perfect subtle pairing for the art itself, which ranged in styles and subjects.
In the end, the art didn’t need the metaphoric "beer goggles" to ratchet up anticipation for the coming season of the HBO show. I know I walked away dying to visit Daenerys and her dragons again after seeing Jason Edmiston's sumptuous "Mother of Dragons" painting, pictured above. (Keep reading for more photos.)
News that Lars Nilsen (pictured at top on left) is leaving his programmer position at Alamo Drafthouse was released today by Alamo Drafthouse. The news comes as no surprise to those closely familiar with the Drafthouse programming team, but it is still unwelcome news. Few businesses have a relationship so strong between their employees and customers as Alamo Drafthouse can boast, one that can truly be called a family. And in the case of Lars Nilsen, that relationship goes back to the earliest days at 4th and Colorado.
Coming on top of last week's departure of programmer Zack Carlson, this represents a major transition in the Drafthouse family with as-yet unknown effects. Zack and Lars were not just silent, behind-the-scenes programmers. Together, they have been the most public-facing representatives of the Drafthouse on a daily basis, and creators of feature programs like Weird Wednesday and Terror Tuesdays.
With any family, the kids eventually grow up and head to college and start their own careers and families. As these gentlemen move on to bigger and better things in their careers, the effect of their time here will continue to be felt even as new faces appear to make their own marks.
This month, our community collectively said goodbye for a while to the flagship Alamo Drafthouse location and home of press screenings, special events, festivals like SXSW and aGLIFF Polari, and the two most dear in my heart: Butt-Numb-a-Thon and Fantastic Fest.
I have countless memories of this place, beginning with my first screening there eight years ago: Robin Williams in The Big White, the first screening of the first Fantastic Fest in 2005. I've likely seen more movies in this cinemaplex than in all the other theaters I've visited in my life combined. Certainly more than I dare attempt to count, though an average of 30 films each year for Fantastic Fest plus the five 24-hour Butt-Numb-a-Thons would equal roughly 600 hours, or 25 solid days of films watched there before we even started on SXSW, aGLIFF or any of the other shows.
No single word or phrase is sufficient to capture the significance of this place. It's not a mere theater, just a home away from home, or a paltry legend. It's all of the above, and a bag of chips. Tim League turned this former grocery-store location into a dream world, a pocket universe that brought a piece of Hollywood to us in the heart of Texas, sometimes with glitz and glamour and sometimes the Hollywood that sits behind the camera.
This is the place where I've been inches from (and in some cases chatted with, in no particular order) Rick Baker, Phil Tippett, Peter Jackson, Darren Aronofsky, Tim Burton, Roger Corman, Frank Darabont, The Wachowski Starship, McG, Uwe Boll, Don Coscarelli, Scott Derrickson, Adam Green, Joe Lynch, Lucky McKee, Ethan Hawke, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Mel Gibson, Doug Benson, Susan Tyrell, Bill Murray, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, Zack Ward, Richard Kelly, Dominic Monaghan, Kevin McKidd, Josh Hartnett, Jason Momoa, John Gulager, Clu Gulager, Barbara Crampton, Danny McBride, Justin Theroux, Noah Segan, Rian Johnson, Jess Franco, Angela Bettis, Anton Yelchin, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jeff Fahey, Jeffrey Combs, Dolph Lundgren, Karl Urban, Darren Bousman, Bill Pullman and Craig Brewer ... among many many others.
It is the place where we've partied until dawn and then come back for another day of movies and partied til dawn again... for a week... every year... for almost a decade. It is the place where, at one of those parties, the legend of Nacho Vigalondo was born with the introduction of the "swastika dance." It is the place where, at the same party the following year, sometime around 4 am, I saw 15 men pile atop each other beneath a shower of beer foam to the song "It's Raining Men." It is the place where I saw Elijah Wood, aka Frodo Baggins, on hands and knees in the middle of an impromptu live-action Human Centipede re-enactment, making him truly "one who has seen the eye."
One of my biggest regrets in life is not having the foresight to sear into my memory bank, the first ever Alamo Drafthouse experience I had. I cannot for the life of me remember what it is. I remember at one point recommending people come to this theater because they had some of the best pizza I've eaten in my life (they still do, and I still do), but I just can't remember what movie I saw at an Alamo the first time I ever went.
I don't remember the first movie I saw at South Lamar either, but I do remember the first movie I almost saw there. There was a promotional screening for Pineapple Express, and Seth Rogen was going to be there. At the time, I was still enamored with the idea of seeing a famous actor in person, and so I went to stand in line for hours.
Two things for which the Austin, Texas film community is well known are The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. The first is a legendary horror movie from 1974, made by a very independent Austin film community. The second is the theater chain that represents all that is exciting about film exhibition. Owned and operated by true film geeks, Alamo Drafthouse is a home away from home for movie lovers worldwide.
On January 3, these two worlds combined to celebrate the temporary closing of a cathedral of film worship: Alamo Drafthouse Galactic Headquarters, located on Austin's South Lamar Boulevard.
Last month, the news spread that the Lamar theater would be closing for nine months (or thereabouts) for a massive remodel. Accompanying this closure would be an evening of kick-ass Drafthouse events on January 3, including special screenings of films like John Dies at the End, Pieta, Pretty in Pink, The Big Lebowski and ... drumroll please ... a double feature of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974 and its most recent sequel, to be released in theaters the next day: Texas Chainsaw 3D. Not only would we be seeing these two movies, but TOBE FREAKING HOOPER (who co-wrote and directed the original film) would be in attendance.
I had to be there! A few days later, tickets went on sale and I managed to score seats for this epic event.
I arrived at the theater an hour early to hang out with friends and see what the Drafthouse had cooked up. True to form, the Drafthouse crew had set up a photobooth with props and costumes. We had a little fun with this:
I moved to Austin from Seattle a little over four years ago. Before I moved to Austin I made sure of one thing: Did Austin have any decent film festivals? Seattle has one of the best festivals in the country and I didn’t want to go without that annual experience. After some quick research I found SXSW and the Austin Film Festival. Check and check! My high (in my mind) standard was met.
Along with some great film festivals, Austin houses one of the best theatre chains in the US of A: Alamo Drafthouse! As an avid moviegoer it took me all of five seconds to recognize the greatness of this theatrical experience. I think I watched five or six movies at the Drafthouse before actually moving here.
On one my many visits to the South Lamar theater in 2008, I noticed a blurb in the monthly guide advertising something called Fantastic Fest. I did a little digging and came up with one reaction: HELL YA! This is THE type of festival I wanted to attend. So I ponied up for a badge and a few short weeks later I experiences filmic bliss.
I was exposed to some of the coolest films in all of mankind! I watched Let the Right One In, Repo: The Genetic Opera, Donkey Punch, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Treevenge, Tokyo Gore Police, The Wreck, Not Quite Hollywood and many many others. I was also introduced to the mania that is Nacho Vigalondo (come to Fantastic Fest to see him in person). The festival was insane and I felt right at home. And over the years Fantastic Fest has become a real home with real family to me.
After almost 13 years, French film writer/director Leos Carax brings his unique visual imagery and surreal minimalistic storytelling to the screen with the critically acclaimed film Holy Motors, which opens in Austin on Friday, December 7. Denis Levant stars as Monsieur Oscar, a mysterious character who travels throughout Paris and takes on different roles -- beggar, monster, father, captain of industry -- accompanied only by his driver Celine, exquisitely portrayed by Edith Scob.
To celebrate Carax's return, Austin Film Society and Alamo Drafthouse present a retrospective "Essential Cinema Plus: The Films of Leos Carax" from December 2 -10, at Alamo on South Lamar. Tickets are $8 for AFS members and $10 for general admission. All films are in French with English subtitles.
Here's the lineup:
The Lovers On The Bridge (1991)
Sunday, December 2, 7 pm (screening info)
Juliette Binoche and Denis Lavant (pictured at top) star in this dark romance set on Paris' oldest bridge, the Pont Neuf, as a homeless painter and circus performer.
We're halfway through Fantastic Fest 2012, and that means we still have four more days of amazing movies, friends and partying. Many filmmakers and industry types have left or will be leaving, to be replaced with second-half badgeholders. For those of you just arriving, we've got some tips and updates.
First, you must navigate the ticketing system. At 9:30 am you have two choices. You can stand in line at the South Lamar box office, or you can go online at http://tix.fantasticfest.com and click the Reserve Boarding Passes button, which puts you in the ticket queue. When your turn comes up in the queue, you enter your badge number and then select from the available films in each timeslot for the day. When you're finished, click the button at the bottom of the page to return to the Fantastic Fest homepage. There will be no other confirmation that you are done. Also, you must still go to the box office to have your tickets printed and number assigned. (Don't be scared by the high numbers. You can get a pretty good seat even with a number above 200.)