Sin City: A Dame to Kill For had its Texas premiere at the Paramount Theatre last week, and writer/director Robert Rodriguez was on the red carpet for the hometown screening that benefited the Austin Film Society. Unfortunately co-director/co-writer Frank Miller missed his flight and with back-to-back premieres -- Los Angeles, Austin, New York -- it was not possible for him to be at the Austin screening.
Rodriguez said he made Miller a co-director because he knew visual storytelling, and as a fellow cartoonist Rodriguez knew Miller would love the experience.
"It's exactly the same thing, but you are using a camera and your paper characters will now talk to you because they are actors, and that will give you the biggest thrill." Additionally, Rodriguez told Miller that he would "be able to tell backstories that aren't even in any of your books.
Local and world-famous musical artists with roles in the film were out in full force at the screening, more than making up for the lack of lead actors and actresses.
Few other filmmakers lived to see their name become synonymous with a specific brand of filmmaking quite like Alfred Hitchcock did. This month, as part of their Summer Classic Film Series, the Paramount and Stateside Theaters have lined up a weeklong tribute to Hitchcock featuring the likes of Psycho and The Birds, among other gems from the master of suspense; each of which, regardless of how many prior viewings, remains a thrilling pleasure to see on the big screen.
"We're playing the hits, and a few B-sides too," proclaims Paramount's official site in describing Hitchcock week. Hits is right with North by Northwest, Vertigo and Notorious also scheduled to screen, while "second-tier" Hitchcock classics Rebecca and Strangers on a Train (screening the following week) also make appearances. However, it's the four interestingly chosen aforementioned B-sides that prove interesting highlights and really speak to Hitchcock's versatility as a filmmaker. Each one differs greatly in style, tone and overall approach, yet still manage to retain that specific Hitchcock flavor in ways both subtle and upfront.
When 1948's Rope (screening 8/14-15) was released, it was seen as highly scandalous due to the relationship between the two main characters, which was full of homosexual undertones. Besides this, the plot, which deals with two young men (Farley Granger and John Dall) who decide to murder a fellow former classmate simply to experience the thrill and exhilaration of killing, was not everyone's cup of tea in late 1940s America. The pair go even further by throwing a dinner party moments after the killing, which include a number of their victim's friends and family as well as their former schoolteacher Rupert (Jimmy Stewart -- in what may have been the most unorthodox role of his career).
One of the best antidotes to a cruelly hot Austin summer is to partake of a show at the Paramount (or adjacent Stateside) Theatre. The air is cool, the Milk Duds are never melted and the movies are always great. The schedule for the Paramount Summer Classic Film Series has been released, and we are practically giddy with excitement over a number of the titles screening from late May through September.
The Paramount will be showing movies from various decades in 35mm, and Stateside will offer HD digitally projected titles. If you plan to see more than a couple of these, it's worth it to buy Flix-Tix (10 tickets for $50). Austin Film Society members get $5 off the ticket booklet if you buy at the box office. Becoming a Film Fan is also a great option for repeat customers, as it takes $5 off the GA ticket price -- a silver membership even gets you free garage parking during screenings.
In anticipation of the The Paramount Theatre's 100th birthday next year, The Paramount and Stateside theaters are presenting the year-and-a-half-long "Paramount 100: A Century of Cinema" film series, which celebrates the history of movies from the silent film era to the present day. Movies have been screened in chronological order starting in January. This month marks a shift to the talking pictures of the 1930s.
Movies from the 1930s will screen this and next month as double features, showcasing the emergence of the gangster and monster genres, "while telling stories that range in upper-class highs to Great Depression lows":
- Dracula: Bela Lugosi's iconic performance as the Transylvanian nobleman, based on Bram Stoker's novel of the same name. The success of this film ushered in a golden age of Universal horror films and continues to define the look and feel of American horror movies.
- Frankenstein: This equally iconic monster, played by Boris Karloff, may be darker and more controversial than Lugosi's.
2015 will be the 100th anniversary of Austin's Paramount Theatre... October 2015, to be exact. What better way to celebrate than with a special film series? Starting in January 2014, the Paramount100: A Century of Cinema series will chronologically screen a history of film.
"As I began to think about how we could celebrate the classic film tradition at the Paramount, I realized this would be the perfect opportunity to present a chronological tribute to film history at the Paramount and Stateside Theatres," Stephen Jannise, film programmer for Paramount and Stateside, said in a press release about the series.
"With the screenings spaced out over a year and a half, we’ll be able to really dig into these silver screen classics and marvel at the steady progression of cinematic language, one landmark at a time. A once-in-a-lifetime celebration like the Paramount’s 100th birthday deserves a once-in-a-lifetime film series, and I can't wait to get started!"
The schedule for the first segment of the series, running January through May, hasn't been released yet, but badges for the full series are already available for purchase. Some of the planned screenings include silent shorts to kick the series off, 35mm screenings of Chaplin's The Kid, Harold Lloyd's Safety Last, Nosferatu, Metropolis, and digital restorations of Intolerance and The Thief of Baghdad.
Now that it's Thanksgiving week, it's time to get to watching holiday movies! Here to help, the Paramount Theatre is showing a variety of films during the month of December. As you watch these older and more recent Christmas classics, you can imbibe the free hot chocolate provided (discounted "extra toasty" beverages will also be available).
For something different this year, the downtown Austin landmark will be running a special deal for marriage proposals on Sunday, December 8. In between the Love Actually showtimes that day, the marquee will read "Will you marry me?" and couples can reserve times to pop the question in front of the theatre.
I asked Paramount programmer Stephen Jannise how this idea was conceived and whether this is the first time something like this has been done at the historic venue. His response:
"One of my coworkers actually came up with the proposal idea after I had already programmed Love Actually. Apparently we get tons of calls from people wanting to use the marquee to propose, and of course we just can't accommodate all those requests (a majority of the time we're using that marquee to promote our shows). So we figured we'd take a whole day to give people an opportunity to get photos with the marquee, along with all the other awesome benefits of that package. And what better movie to pair that experience with than Love Actually! To my knowledge, this has never been done at the Paramount."
Here's the schedule for seasonal movies at the theatre:
It is always a bittersweet occassion when the Paramount Theatre's Summer Classic Film Series comes to a close, if anything because it symbolizes that summer is over in Austin. Nonetheless, the theatre is closing the series properly with its traditional screening of the cinematic epic Gone With The Wind.
These past few months have brought in film critics and lovers alike, with presentations from Leonard Maltin (who kicked off the first Friday night screening of the series) and musical group Iron and Wine. So it should come as no surprise that the series will close with the screening, an in-depth discussion of the film, and a Q&A with Turner Classic Movies host/film historian Robert Osborne. Osborne has been the primetime host and anchor of TCM since it made its on-air debut in 1994. He is the official biographer of "Oscar" (which discusses the history of the Academy Awards), and hosts the annual TCM Classic Film Festival at the legendary Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Paramount Film Programmer Stephen Jannise told me about his excitement of having Osborne here for this special event. "I think those of us who have really appreciated Osborne's introductory comments before TCM films over the years have always wished we could see more of him. On Friday, he'll have close to an hour to talk about Gone With The Wind, so we'll get a chance to hear him at length. I'm sure our audience will come with some really great questions; Osborne certainly has a wealth of experiences to talk about."
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.