Contributors's blog

SXSW 2010: 'Predators' First Look

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Predator ticketContributor Rod Paddock was lucky enough to get into a "first look" at Predators during SXSW and wrote up the following account of the event. The film is being produced and co-written by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and was shot in part at local Troublemaker Studios.

On Friday night I was in possession of what has to one of the "golden tickets" of SXSW. This golden ticket was the combination of a SXSW Express pass and a red Predators ticket (see image). The combination of these two items gave me the chance be a part of the sneak preview of the Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal reboot of the Predator franchise: Predators.

After hours of waiting the house lights dimmed, and out came the master of ceremonies, Austin's native son Robert Rodriguez. He started the evening showing us the trailer for Predators. I don't think I have ever been so pumped after seeing a trailer. By every indication this movie is going to be off the hook and will satisfy Predator fans worldwide. The trailer introduces our protagonists, who find themselves transported to a Predator hunting planet. There are some heavy hitters in this cast: Lawrence Fishburne, Adrien Brody and Topher Grace. We also have one of my favorite actors, Walton Goggins (who you might remember from the FX show The Shield).

Slackery News Tidbits, February 18

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Here's the latest Austin-related film news. We saved the Quentin Tarantino bit for last, so don't forget to keep reading after the jump.

  • Tickets are now on sale for Alamo Drafthouse at Lake Creek's Evil Dead triple-feature on Friday, March 26. Did the tickets actually go on sale starting on Ash Wednesday? I can't verify that but if it's true, that's pretty cool. In fact, it's groovy. If you haven't ever watched all three movies back to back (to evil back), I highly recommend it, especially in a theater full of fans.
  • Over at The Auteurs, you can now watch five films -- for free -- that have played the True/False Film Festival. One of those films is The Order of Myths, directed by then-Austinite Margaret Brown, about Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama. Get yourself a Moon Pie and settle down to see this one -- here's my review from when it played SXSW 2008.
  • SXSW 2009 feature The Square is set to open in U.S. theaters on April 9. Apparition picked up Australian actor/stuntman Nash Edgerton's feature directorial debut for U.S. distribution shortly after it had built up some good buzz during SXSW.

Slackery News Tidbits, January 11

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Alison Macor's bookThese intros to the news tidbits are always a bit dull, so let's cut to the chase and find out what's going on with Austin film news:

  • Over at Cinematical, Eric Snider profiled Sundance 2010 film Skateland. What he didn't mention -- and we found out from austin360movies -- is that Skateland director/co-writer Anthony Burns lives in Austin. Parts of the film were shot in Marshall, Texas.
  • We're excited to hear (again through austin360movies, a new Twitter feed you might want to start following) that local writer Alison Macor's book Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids will become available in March. If you didn't guess from the title, the book is a history of Austin filmmaking.
  • The Austin Chronicle has an interview with local musician Ryan Bingham about his big-screen debut in the film Crazy Heart (Debbie's review).
  • Just a reminder that Chris Smith's film Collapse is at Alamo Ritz for its last local screening tonight. The documentary from the director of American Movie and The Pool focuses on Michael Ruppert and his often-dire predictions of the future of our country. If you miss the Ritz screening, the movie is also available on Time Warner's VOD here in Austin.

2009 in Review: Best Q&As

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Office Space 10th anniversary event, by Jette Kernion

We've been to a lot of movies this year where filmmakers, actors, and other crew have been in attendance. Some Q&As are dull or silly -- audience members will ask the goofiest questions, or just talk for a minute without asking a question at all. A few Q&As just go sour for various reasons.

But once in awhile, a delightful, memorable Q&A session appears seemingly out of nowhere, reminding us why we take a chance on these events in the first place. Here are our favorite Q&A sessions in Austin from 2009.

Office Space Tenth Anniversary Screening. A full house at the Paramount was the ideal place to watch Office Space again, and the Q&A afterward was the icing on the cake. Mike Judge and most of the cast took the stage to share stories, jokes and even some dancing. My full account of the event also includes photos.  --Jette Kernion

Slackery News Tidbits, December 29

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Austin has a few film-related news items to close out the end of the year. Here we go:

  • Artois the Goat, which premiered at SXSW 2009, is still going strong on the film-fest circuit. Next stop: The Palm Springs International Film Festival, where it will screen on Jan. 14-15, 2010. The locally shot comedy is in competition for the festival's John Schlesinger Award for best first feature.
  • Oxford Film Festival in Mississippi has announced its lineup of free children's films and one more Austin film will play the festival this year: Zombie Girl, the documentary about young local filmmaker Emily Hagins. One or both of the filmmakers may be there. The fest describes the film as "appropriate for age 8 and above," which is probably true, although I've never thought of it that way.
  • It's that list-making time of the year -- we may have some for you soon. In the meantime, enjoy this excellent list from The Onion's Austin AV Club of the Top Overlooked Austin Movies of the Decade

Slackery News Tidbits, December 16, 2009

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It's been over a week since the last edition of Slackery News Tidbits, so it's time to play catch up. 

  • Fantastic Fest favorite Stingray Sam will return to Austin on January 3, 2010. Folks enjoyed this quirky film from Cory McAbee so much that many festival go-ers saw it twice. Check Alamo Drafthouse for screenings.
  • Austinite Kayla Kromer, known for her creative custom beds, like the Hamburger Bed, has gained the attention of Star Wars fans worldwide with her Millenium Falcon bed.  Kayla and her latest bed have now appeared on the official Star Wars Blog.

  • Team Alamo has launched the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) to preserve 35mm prints of exploitation and horror films. This non-profit is so new, the site is only a placeholder, but it does include a paypal link to make tax deductible donations.  Earlier this year, the Alamo Drafthouse helped save nearly 200 Shaw Brothers films that would have been destroyed. 

Slackery News Tidbits, Nov. 23

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Garbage DreamsAs we head into Thanksgiving week, Austin-area filmmakers and film fans have a lot to be thankful for. Here are a few reasons:

  • The Academy Award shortlist for Best Documentary Feature nominees was released last week. One of the 15 films was SXSW 2009 selection Garbage Dreams. The doc tells the story of the Zaballeen, who live in "garbage villages" made of the city's garbage, and until recently were the only system in place for trash removal. Their livelihood is now being threatened by international outsourcers. 
  • Good news for another movie that premiered at SXSW 2009: B-Side Entertainment has picked up now-Austinite filmmaker Alex Karpovsky's latest film: Trust Us, This is All Made Up. Jette caught the movie in March and although it took a few minutes to get going, really enjoyed the long-form, detailed improv performance staged by T.J. Jagodowksi and David Pasquesi.
  • One more from SXSW, this time 2008: David and Nathan Zellner's feature film Goliath will be out on DVD on January 12, 2010. You can pre-order it now from Amazon. Jette loved this Austin-made comedy about a guy who just can't live without his cat, which premiered at Sundance in 2008. Slackerwood interviewed the Zellners via email about the film.

Slackery News Tidbits, Nov. 10

Tattooed Under FireHere are a few of the Austin-related, movie-related news items that have been floating around recently:

  • Nancy Schiesari's documentary Tattooed Under Fire (pictured at right) airs on KLRU on Tuesday, November 10 at 9 pm. Tattooed Under Fire is about the stories and secrets that Fort Hood soldiers share while getting tattoos. Schiesari is a professor in Radio-TV-Film at The University of Texas in Austin.
  • I'll Come Running, directed by former UT Austin instructor Spencer Parsons, is now available to watch via IFC On Demand. The film played Austin Film Festival in 2008 and was shot in Austin and Denmark. Melonie Diaz stars as a young woman who befriends a Danish tourist and forms an unusually strong connection. Jette recommends it.
  • Cine Las Americas will host its 2010 season kickoff and happy hour fundraiser on Tuesday, November 17 at Malverde. All proceeds benefit the 13th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, including 10 percent from diners at La Condesa after the happy hour. 

AFF09: Stewart Stern and 'The Ugly American'

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The Ugly AmericanPlease welcome guest contributor Linda Ball, who caught a special Austin Film Festival screening of the 1963 film The Ugly American, which included a discussion with the film's screenwriter, Stewart Stern.

I was curious to see the The Ugly American because when it was released (1963) and when the book was published (1959) I was quite young. However, I remember the phrase "the ugly American" being synonymous with new ideas about the face of colonialism and of the Cold War anti-Communist era. I may have even read the book in college. Certainly, this material was the part of the underpinning of the protests and new ways of looking at our place in the world that came along when I was in college and made me start to question the certainty of the 1950s culture of my childhood, basking in victory from what was considered a right and just war.

I was not prepared for the power of the movie The Ugly American and its relevance today or for the cogent and emotional remarks of Stewart Stern who, at 87, has witnessed so much of history. Describing traveling the world in the 1950s to see the work of Non-Governmental Organizations, he told a story that resonates today about how to help people around the world effectively. These lessons made their way into the movie. For example, the training of people to use sterile knives for cutting the umbilical cord (instead of contaminated sharpened bamboo sticks) was something he actually encountered in his research. He tested the script on people in Southeast Asia and discarded ideas that were clever but unworkable for helping people.

Me and Slackery News Tidbits

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Me and Orson WellesI thought we were having a slow news week, but the local film news really added up. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Statesman's Out and About blog released the results of the newspaper's "Best Austin Movie Theater" poll. No surprise: All four Austin-area Alamo theaters were in the top four slots, although we're a bit disappointed that Village and its snazzy 4K digital didn't rate a bit higher. Bigger surprise: Tinseltown Pflugerville tied for fifth place with the Bob Bullock IMAX theater. Jette saw a movie at the Pflugerville theater in June and found the picture and sound quality atrocious -- some of the speakers weren't working at all. Readers, what charms of Tinseltown Pflugerville are we missing?
  • Richard Linklater's latest film, Me and Orson Welles (pictured at right), now has an Austin release date of December 4. If you want to see it sooner, the movie will play the Houston Cinema Arts Festival on Nov. 11, as the opening-night film, with Linklater attending.
  • The first speakers for the SXSW 2010 Film Conference were announced this week: Argentine musician/composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) and comic-book artist Gilbert Shelton, a former Austinite who is currently involved in adapting his Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers into a movie.
  • Speaking of SXSW, if you didn't catch We Live in Public at the 2009 fest or during this week's limited run, it's playing in Austin for another week, daily at Alamo Ritz. Wish we'd thought of this sooner, but Alamo totally should host a Tweet-Along night for this documentary.
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