It's like Christmas in May for Austin classic film fans. Last week the schedule for the summer classic film series at Paramount and Stateside was announced. Movies from various decades will screen in 35mm at Paramount and digital HD projection at the Stateside from late May through early September. The lineup this year is lighter on the screwball genre than I would prefer, but there is still oh-so-much to choose from. There's sure to be something for everyone.
Tickets for each film are $8 (this covers double features as well) online. If you expect to see many, buying Flix-Tix or becoming a Film Fan could be a worthwhile investment. [Pro tip from Jette: The higher-level Film Fan memberships include free garage parking during the movies.]
Here are some of the selections we Slackerwood contributors find noteworthy:
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967) -- Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty rob banks in Arthur Penn's game-changing crime romp that blazes through north Texas [my Lone Star Cinema post]. (Wed 5/29 at 10 pm, Stateside)
- The Wild Bunch (1969) -- Sam Peckinpah's brutal Western stars William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan. You all know I'm squeamish about violence and yet this is one of my very favorite films. I refuse to listen to any news about a remake involving Will Smith. (Wed 5/29 at 7:15 pm, Stateside) -- Jette Kernion
Tickets are currently on sale for a special screening of Frank Capra's 1933 film Lady for a Day at the Paramount. On hand to introduce the movie, and to talk more about classic films in general, will be film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. Maltin was one of the proponents for making this movie available on Blu-ray, and the event will include a rare 35mm projection of the classic, thanks to a loan from the Capra estate.
Lady for a Day is early Capra, made before he really burst on the scene with his big hit It Happened One Night. It's adapted from a Damon Runyon story by Robert Riskin, who continued to team up with Capra on many other movies in the 1930s and early 1940s.
The movie stars May Robson (whom I know best for her role as the daunting Aunt Elizabeth/Mrs. Carlton-Random in my favorite Bringing Up Baby) as Apple Annie, a poor apple seller who tries to convince her daughter overseas, via her letters, that she is really a wealthy woman in high society. But what happens when her daughter comes to visit with her royal fiance? It's sure to be Capra-corn as the director did it best.
"Leonard Maltin: In Conversation" will take place next Friday night, May 24. All seats are the same ticket price, but they are reserved, so if you're planning to go, get your tickets soon.
In related news, the schedule for the annual Paramount Summer Classic Film Series will be announced later this week. You can expect the usual showing of Gone with the Wind at the end of the series.
We already know a few of the selections: The opening night party on Thursday, May 23 (that's the night before the Maltin event) will kick off with Casablanca and Annie Hall. Among the other summer movies, I assume there will likely be a couple of screwball selections, at least one Katharine Hepburn film, and perhaps some Marx Brothers -- maybe even a Thin Man?
You can be assured I'll publish a full post on Slackerwood with my recommendations/favorites from the bunch when the slate is announced!
Stateside Independent will screen The Happy Poet -- which premiered at SXSW 2010 -- Monday, May 6 at 7 pm [ticket info]. Cast members Jonny Mars, Chris Doubek and Liz Fisher, and producer David Hartstein, will be there for a Q&A following the movie.
In The Happy Poet, a comedy filmed in Austin, unemployed writer Bill (writer-director Paul Gordon) dreams of running a cart that sells local/organic vegetarian snacks: eggless egg-salad sandwiches, basil pesto pitas and the like. There's just a slight hitch in his plans: He's practically broke and has to insinuate to the man selling him the food cart that he will be selling hot dogs instead. He makes the snacks at his apartment in the morning (my baker friend would be distressed to see his lack of plastic gloves) and stakes out a spot to sell his wares.
Bill, bespectacled and hesitant, is aided in this venture by friends who help him advertise and come up with a name for his business -- The Happy Poet. Ironic, because Bill seems only slightly satisfied at times. He lacks much of a backbone and has to deal with disappointment. Thankfully, Bill grows through his experience with the food cart and all it entails.
Shot in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011, the movie War Witch spins the tale of Komona (new actress Rachel Mwanza, who won a few awards for this role), a young girl abducted at the age of 12 by rebels during an attack on her village. The film is narrated by Komona, telling the story of her past two years to her unborn child.
After she is forced by the rebels to commit atrocious acts, Komona comes to be valued and esteemed for her intuition and preternatural ability. The "milk" the fighters drink causes her to see visions, ghosts of the dead. Still, amid Komona's horrific situation, we see small glimmers of hope in her budding relationship with a fellow child soldier, a search for a white rooster, and her ingenuity.
Writer/director Kim Nguyen's film is made up of memorable, haunting imagery and subtle, powerful performances (especially from Mwanza) that keep it grounded. Despite the violence obviously implied in scenes, War Witch never veers into gory territory. We are seeing the story through Komona's eyes, and for her, bulletholes in a cloth are as stark a reminder of death as any blood shed.
Stateside Theatre offers you a chance to see War Witch on the big screen. On Monday evening, April 1, the movie will be shown as part of their new Stateside Independent series. This Austin premiere will be screened in HD digital presentation on Blu-ray. [ticket info] If you decide to go (and you should!), it might be a good idea to pack some tissues.
War Witch was Canada's submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the recent Academy Awards, and ended up as one of the five final nominees. You can see the trailer after the jump.
By Barbara Cigarroa
It was a packed house at the Paramount Theatre. Sitting in the uppermost row of the balcony, I looked down and watched as hundreds of people took their seats below me, waiting for the Captain himself, William Shatner, to appear on stage and take them for a ride. Minutes later, the lights dimmed and there he was doing just that, a rolling chair with him as his sole prop for life -- toilet, ship, bus, table, and, coffin. From where I sat, the 81-year-old actor looked tiny, but as the words rolled out of him and as his gestures became grander and grander, the distance between us disappeared and I was right there with him. The title of the show suggested it and Bad Billy delivered: he transported me right into his world, "Shatner's World."
I went into the Paramount Theatre that night expecting to be entertained by an entertainment icon; I came out of there having experienced, yes, a hilarious, but also, a heartfelt look back at this man's thrilling, legendary and sometimes lonely career as an actor.
Shatner began his professional trajectory in a Shakespearean theatre ensemble – no, not as the lead, but as the lead's understudy. Even though he probably would not be but an extra on stage, he took it upon himself to study every syllable and inflection of that other William's iambic pentameter, memorizing and rehearsing those 16th century lines in the one place he ever felt truly confortable: the toilet.
Last week a new program was announced at Stateside at Paramount Theatre (formerly known as the State). "Stateside Independent" will screen a different independent film -- festival fare, documentaries, local premieres, etc. -- each Monday night.
In his blog entry on the Paramount website, programmer Stephen Jannise said, "I couldn't be more excited about providing a fresh new platform for independent filmmakers to showcase their work, and my greatest hope is that this series proves to be a valuable addition for the growing community of Austin film lovers."
The first movie will show on Monday, Feb. 18 and Tuesday, Feb. 19. Director Michael Apted's 56 Up is the 2012 update to the series he began in 1964 with Seven Up! Every seven years he checks in with the children he met while making that original 30-minute TV special.
The 1964 film included British kids from different class backgrounds. It's been 48 years since that special. How have the lives of those people -- now in late middle-age -- evolved? If you've been keeping up with the series (49 Up came out in 2005), you may have some idea of the trajectory their lives have taken, but there's likely to be some surprises here.
The following Monday, February 25, Stateside will host the Austin premiere of the Texas-shot indie film Far Marfa, co-hosting with the Texas Independent Film Network. Writer/director Cory Van Dyke is scheduled to attend. The movie received a Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund grant in 2011. Look for Debbie's preview next week.
You can read more about Stateside at Paramount's new program and critical reception of 56 Up on the Paramount's blog. Watch the 56 Up trailer below:
To celebrate the 2012 holiday season, Austin's Paramount Theatre will be showing four movies this month. These include three of our Holiday Favorites past! (But not new Paramount programmer Stephen Jannise's Holiday Favorite, sadly for him at least.)
On the naughty list are dark comedy Bad Santa and 1980's-era classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, playing Sunday, Dec. 9 and Monday, Dec. 10. Agnes Varnum chose Bad Santa as her holiday favorite last year, saying "If you ever feel like commercialism and sentimentality have overtaken the holiday, Bad Santa is the cure." Local filmmaker David Hartstein wrote about Christmas Vacation; he loves how the film "manages to pull off the near impossible feat of maintaining traditional Christmas movie sentimentality while skewering it at the same time."
I love watching movies at The Paramount -- the ambience and responsive audiences more than make up for the, er, austere theater seats. I still remember the fun of watching Office Space there. But the theater also hosts a number of film-related events throughout the year. Earlier this year, Spike Lee showed up to screen Summer of Sam. Next year's performances include one-person shows from William Shatner and Oliver Stone.
And on Thursday night (Dec. 6), the Paramount is bringing us "An Evening with Glenn Close," in which the actress will tell stories about her life and career. Looking at Glenn Close's filmography, it can't help but be fascinating. And if you haven't bought tickets yet, Slackerwood has a pair of tickets to give away!
I'll make this super-easy: Simply post a comment below mentioning your favorite Glenn Close movie role: Dangerous Liaisons, 101 Dalmatians, Hook ... whatever you like best. (Mine may be the photo at the top, from a film I consider underrated.) Make sure you include your email address, which only I will see, and will use only to contact the winner. Post your comment by 11:59 pm today (Tuesday, Dec. 4). I'll pick one person at random to win a pair of tickets, which will be available for you at the box office.
By Josiane Amezcua
If there was a film I watched about a dozen times growing up, it probably had to be Clueless, the popular 1995 comedy based on Jane Austen's novel Emma. From quoting lines to discussing scenes, the movie became a favorite of mine to watch with friends over the years.
When I discovered the Paramount Theatre was going to be holding a screening of Clueless at the Stateside as part of its Summer Classic Film Series, I knew I had to take the opportunity to see one of my favorite movies on the big screen. The opportunity seemed even more exciting when I learned that it also included a Q&A with the film's writer and director, Amy Heckerling.
When I arrived at the event, the theater was packed. From groups of friends to mothers with their daughters, the screening brought out a large crowd. There was a lot of energy and excitement in the room, which only grew more once the first scene began to play. I had only seen Clueless on a TV set before, so viewing it on the big screen with an audience made the experience feel a lot different and more enjoyable. Laughter filled the theater from the beginning to end, as Clueless is one of those films where you could find the same scene funny even after watching it countless times.
Following the screening, the Q&A with Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Look Who's Talking, European Vacation) took place. She was welcomed to the stage with loud applause, as everyone was very thrilled to see the person behind the classic. When the moderator asked for questions from the audience, it felt like almost everyone raised their hand.
One of the first questions Heckerling was asked focused on how Clueless came to be. Heckerling explained how she was asked by one of the studios to write a TV pilot about "the cool kids." However, when she wrote one, they ended up passing on it. Luckily, another studio had faith in making it into a film instead.
One of the best things about living in Austin is getting to attend some of the classic films that screen each summer at the Paramount Theatre. The full Paramount Summer Classic Film Series schedule has just been released, with movies screening at Stateside this year, too.
Here are some from the bunch I find worth noting:
- Pillow Talk (1959), pictured above, helps start the summer series off -- screening with the far more serious To Kill a Mockingbird. Although I've been a fan of classic movies since elementary school, it is only in recent years that my love and admiration for Doris Day has grown. This comedy, featuring Day as an interior designer forced to share a party line with playboy Rock Hudson, is now one of my favorite movies, and I can't wait to see it on the big screen! (9:35 Thurs, 5/24; 7 pm Fri, 5/25)
- An Affair to Remember (1957) -- Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, and pink champagne! If you love Sleepless in Seattle and haven't yet seen this drama (dramedy?) referenced throughout that '90s film, here's your chance. (7 pm Fri, 6/1)
- Hooray for a focus on female filmmakers! Films by Ida Lupino (Outrage), Amy Heckerling (Clueless), Claire Denis (35 Shots of Rum), and more are included in this short series screening Tues-Sun, 6/5-10.
- Ishtar (1987) -- One of the biggest box-office bombs, this road-trip comedy directed by Elaine May gets a bad rap. True, I've only seen it once, and that was years ago, but I enjoyed it. You just might, as well. (7 pm Tues, 6/12; 9 pm Weds, 6/13)