Indie film The Brass Teapot will be making an appearance in Austin on Thursday, May 23. Ramaa Mosley makes her feature directorial debut with the movie, basing it off of her 2007 short of the same name. Tim Macy scripted both the short and the feature.
It stars Michael Angarano (Sky High, Snow Angels), Juno Temple (Dirty Girl, Killer Joe) and Houston native Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls). it originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, and hasn't screened in Austin previously.
The Brass Teapot follows John (Angarano) and Alice (Temple), a young newlywed couple struggling to make ends meet. Feeling down on their luck, they happen upon an antiques store where Alice discovers a unique brass teapot. It appears to be just another junk-store find until the couple discovers that the teapot can give them all the money they desire -- in exchange for hurting themselves.
Vowing to stop once they hit their first million, John and Alice go on a journey of black eyes, burnt hands and any other ailment in between. The story very much follows the theme of "be careful what you wish for." The film also features an all-star cast of Bobby Moynihan, Matt Walsh, Jack McBrayer and Alia Shawkat.
The screening is made possible by Gathr, a new service with the simple goal of bringing films to a city or town that might not otherwise get to screen it (or at least not get to screen it for a while). It's similar to Austin-based Tugg in the sense that it's a screening-on-demand model, in which a minimum number of tickets must be reserved in advance in order for the screening to take place.
The screening starts at 7:30 pm, and tickets are still available for only $10.Be sure to reserve your seat soon if you want the screening to take place. (Who knows when this film will hit Austin theaters!) The screening must meet its ticket quota in a little less than a week.
You can out find more information about The Brass Teapot screening on the Gathr website.
Slackerwood is giving you the chance to see The Kings of Summer next week, almost a month before it opens in Austin theaters ... and at no cost. This popular Sundance 2013 comedy will have a preview screening on Thursday, May 9, at 7:30 pm at Regal Arbor. Austin Film Society has offered us a limited number of spaces on a will-call list to give to Slackerwood readers -- each space is for two people (you and a guest).
If you're on the list, you and your guest will have "secured" space in the theater -- the theater isn't being overbooked, although specific seats aren't reserved for you. This means you won't have to stand in a long line wondering if you'll get in. However, I'd recommend getting there early anyway, in case there's a standby line for unfilled seats.
The Kings of Summer is a coming-of-age movie about three young men who run away from home and spend the summer building and living in their own house in a remote wooded area. The teens are played by Nick Robinson (no, not that one), Gabriel Basso and Moises Arias. The supporting cast includes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Alison Brie.
Former Austin film critic Chase Whale reviewed the movie for Twitch when he saw it at Sundance under the title Toy's House. He praised the script and called the movie "an unforgettable coming-of-age comedy that's sweet, witty, and brings back the joys of being young and full of life."
Here's what you have to do to get on the list for this screening: Use the Slackerwood contact form to send me a message with your name and email address. I'll add your name to the list, which I'll send to Austin Film Society, and they'll have it at the Arbor that night. Check in at the box office when you arrive. The deadline to send me your info is 10 pm on Friday, May 3 so I can forward all the names to AFS in time for the screening.
The drought in Texas shows no sign of letting up and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports that approximately 22 percent of active community water systems are on voluntary or mandatory water use restrictions as of April 17, 2013.
But the water crisis is not limited to just Texas -- it is a constant source of concern across the globe. The producers behind An Inconvenient Truth, Food Inc. and Waiting for Superman focus on the global water crisis in the 2012 documentary, Last Call at The Oasis. Written and directed by Academy Award winner Jessica Yu (Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien), Last Call at The Oasis presents evidence about why the global water crisis will be the most critical issue of this century.
The film explores the role of water for our daily existence, as well as those communities across the world that are struggling with the lack of this essential resource. It features statements from activist Erin Brockovich and journalist Alex Prud'homme along with notable experts like climatology scientist Peter Gleick, hydrologist Jay Famiglietti and law and public policy professor Robert Glennon.
For more details about the movie, read Christopher Campbell's review from its 2011 premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, in which he says it's "necessary viewing for anyone on the planet who drinks water."
Last Call at The Oasis is currently available for viewing online, but you can catch a special screening of this documentary at the Alamo Drafthouse Village on Monday, April 29 at 7 pm. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Texas Water Foundation, a nonprofit organization created for "the purpose of generating a heightened public awareness among all Texans regarding the vital role water plays in our daily lives."
You'll see a familiar name from the local film industry amongst the Texas Water Foundation Board members, which include former Texas senator J. E. "Buster" Brown, former TCEQ Chairmans and Commissioners Kathleen Hartnett White and Buddy Garcia -- Austin Film Society founder and filmmaker Richard Linklater currently serves as a director.
One of the breweries I featured in my first Film on Tap column is Hill Country-based Jester King Craft Brewery, one of the winning plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) regarding labeling and marketing. That case helped grease the wheels for the Texas Legislature to work closely with the TABC, craft brewers and other stakeholders to introduce legislation that impacts Texas craft brewers. The bills have made it through the state Senate, with a House vote expected by mid-May.
Jester King is participating in a less controversial endeavor next month, as the Violet Crown Cinema (VCC) has announced their new series CineBrew, a retrospective film program paired with regional craft beer tastings.
The series debuts on Wednesday, May 15, and will feature Jester King's Metal series of farmhouse beers: Black Metal, Funk Metal and Viking Metal. Brewery representatives will discuss the brewing process and how each of the beers attains its own style. My personal favorite featured is the farmhouse imperial stout, Black Metal, along with Funk Metal, a sour barrel-aged stout. Viking Metal is a truly unique beer aged in an Old Tom gin barrel and based on the ancient Swedish Gotlandsdricka, brewed with birchwood smoked malt, juniper and Myrica gale.
Viewers can enjoy the craft brew while watching the digitally remastered and previously unavailable 1992 documentary Dream Deceivers: The Story Behind James Vance vs. Judas Priest, preceded by local filmmaker Kat Candler's powerful short film Black Metal, which screened at Sundance and SXSW this year.
The We and the I, the latest feature film from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind), is a glimpse at a bus ride home on the last day of school in the Bronx. Flirtations flicker, bullies torment, obnoxious guys are obnoxious and friends tease and giggle with each other.
There is not much of a constant adult presence in the movie (except for the bus driver, played by a real-life MTA driver), which leaves the teens to be themselves -- or at least however they want their peers to see them.
Gondry brought over his sketch of an idea for The We and the I to an afterschool program, The Point, after a screening of his movie Be Kind Rewind there. The kids he found through the program not only acted in the eventual film, but also collaborated on it. Indeed, most of the teenagers in the film play versions of themselves.
The We and the I premiered at Cannes in 2012 but didn't reach the U.S. until about a month ago. Now you get a chance to catch this vibrant and original film when it is shown at Stateside Theatre this Monday night, April 15, as part of their Stateside Independent series. [ticket info]
For more details about the movie, read Don Simpson's review from local film website Smells Like Screen Spirit. And watch the trailer below:
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.
Director Stephen T. Maing's documentary High Tech, Low Life depicts a period of time (2008-early 2012, I think) in the lives of two Chinese bloggers as they attempt to circumvent censorship in China, aka "The Great Firewall." We are first introduced to "Zola," a 26-year-old produce seller from Hunan Province who likes to post stories that state media won't and other reporters can't. He says, "The truth is, I don't know what journalism is... I just record what I witness."
This is a marked contrast with "Tiger Temple," a 57-year-old retiree based out of an apartment in Beijing, inspired to start a blog in 2004 after witnessing and documenting a murder in the street. Tiger Temple rides his bike long distances to cover stories upon request/small donation, and tends to get emotionally involved. After finding homeless folk in Tiananmen Square, forgotten by the country that had removed them from their rural homes decades ago, he starts raising funds on his site to provide them with housing.
By Kaliska Ross
It’s Thursday night and Theater #2 at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar is filled to the brim with eager moviegoers and a palpable excitement over the special guest, Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, arriving at any moment, for the sneak peak of Rick Alverson’s latest film. While we waited for the lights to dim and the film to begin, clips of Tim and Eric were playing in the theater to set the mood. After a bit, the director Rick Alverson took the stage to briefly introduce his film, The Comedy.
The Comedy is about Swanson, played by Heidecker, a 30-something well-to-do Williamsburg hipster, and his group of friends, grappling with their privileged lives and ultimately trying to make meaning where seemingly none exists. Rick describes the main character as having a creative desire to reclaim language from banality. While a positive goal, Swanson’s methods -- berating those around him and completely ignoring political correctness -- often leave the more open-minded audience member feeling uncomfortable and the easily offended patron possibly even angry.
By Kaliska Ross
Walking into the Central Market Cooking School for a Chef du Cinema class felt like walking into a French café. Well, sort of. There was wine and French bistro music was playing. I guess the similarities end there.
Unlike a French café, the cooking class had bright lights, a televised demonstration table, and an effervescent instructor who was very personable and greeted us when we walked in. You certainly won't find that in a French café. He made small talk while the participants trickled in. I took that time to look over the menu. Tonight we'd be making Artichoke and Tomato Tartlets, Warm French Green Lentil Salad, French Style Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Endives au Gratin, and Maple-Pumpkin Crème Brûlée. Naturally, I was starting to get excited.
Next came a brief introduction of the chef, Ron Deutsch, and his assistants. He then went on to explain the dishes being prepared and how they related to the evening's movie, Amélie. The appetizer (Tartelette d'artichauts et tomates) appeared on the menu because a line in the movie is "At least you'll never be a vegetable -- even artichokes have hearts." The dish was a puff pastry topped with artichoke hearts, sun-dried cherry tomatoes, shallots and melted Gruyère. Let me tell you, those little pastries were good!
Updated: The Tugg screening of Qwerty met its initial ticket goal, so the screening will indeed take place. Plenty of tickets are still available!
I tend to avoid big Hollywood romantic comedies these days -- too formulaic, too mean-spirited, too dumb. (And let's not get started on the sexism.) I get my romantic-comedy fix from film festivals, because the indie films in this genre are often witty and smart and fun to watch, with well-written characters.
Qwerty is finally getting an Austin screening -- but it's via Tugg, so a specific number of tickets must be sold in advance for the screening to take place. Right now, they've got to sell about 30 tickets before 7:30 pm today (December 11). If enough tickets are sold, the screening will happen next Tuesday, December 18, at 7:30 pm at Barton Creek. Director Bill Sebastian and lead actress Dana Pupkin will be at the screening for a post-film Q&A.
So read my comments below and I hope they will persuade you to buy a ticket right now. If you like a good quirky romantic comedy that isn't formulaic or patronizing or full of poop and vomit jokes, you won't want to miss Qwerty.
The second I heard that from the main character in Qwerty, I knew I was going to like this movie. Or at least I hoped so. Zoe (Dana Pupkin) is just the kind of nerdy woman I would identify with -- fairly ordinary looking, solitary, somewhat shy, and in love with the written word. Her day job is at the DMV, making sure vanity license plate requests aren't dirty. She's a huge Scrabble fan who doesn't have the nerve to play with other people, she doesn't fit in with her family. While shopping one day, she meets cute (I can't resist) with Marty (Eric Hailey), another shy and solitary type, but somewhat more lonely and melancholy.