Contributors's blog

2010 in Review: Memorable Austin Movies, Part One



Fishmonger by day, blues musician by night. Entrepreneur turned astronaut. Notoriously foul-mouthed potential Winnebago salesman in retirement. Loser taking a shower at the Genie Car Wash. Another loser trying to learn to harmonize musically and socially. A third loser who may have found the woman that will help him get over his ex-wife ... but has to deal with her horrible son. Poet with a dream of selling vegetarian sandwiches. The most stubborn, determined 14-year-old girl in the history of American film. A soldier returning from Iraq to West Texas. A machete-wielding ex-Federale fighting bigotry and seeking revenge. A man, a woman, a goat, and a dream of superb cheese.

Austin films don't fall into a predictable genre or pattern, whether they're indies that were shot locally on a shoestring or Hollywood films that happened to be shooting here in town. Amid the banquet of Austin and Central Texas-connected movies that were released in theaters or on video this year, or that hit the film-fest circuit, everyone at Slackerwood has their favorite movies and moments. We'd like to share a few of them with you below -- then head over to Part Two for more.

Artois the Goat
Although Artois the Goat first screened in town during SXSW 2009, the Austin-shot romantic comedy wasn't officially released until its DVD in 2010. In my DVD review, I said that Artois the Goat "shyly sparkles with a little romance, a combination of broad and subtle humor, some delightful characters ... and some mouth-watering cheeses." Jenn Brown called it "a little cheesy, but it's supposed to be, and in the best way." --Jette Kernion
How you can see it: Available to watch online for free on Hulu, or buy the DVD.

Photo Essay: 'Machete' at the Paramount


Last Thursday night, the Paramount was completely sold out for the local premiere of Machete, the latest film from Troublemaker Studios. The event was a fundraiser for the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA). Director Robert Rodriguez was on the red carpet along with a number of stars and supporting cast from the locally shot film: Danny Trejo (shown above, naturally), Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Daryl Sabara, Elise and Electra Avellan, Billy Blair, Mayra Leal, and several others.

Paul Gandersman took some excellent photos for Slackerwood from the Machete red carpet, as well as a few from the intro and Q&A inside the Paramount. This was an impressive feat since the red carpet was extremely crowded that night, both with celebrities on the actual carpet and media surrounding it. Here are some of the best pictures from that evening -- mouse over them if you want to know who's in them. For more info on Machete itself, read Jette's review. Many thanks again to Paul for the following photos.

Photo Essay: 'Predators' Red Carpet

A note from Jette: I'd like to introduce you all to our newest Slackerwood contributor, Paul Gandersman. Paul is an amazing photographer who attended the Predators red carpet and world premiere. My own red-carpet photography skills have come a long way since my first experience with them, but Paul's photos leave mine in the shade. He captured some great photos of Predators producers Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan, director Nimrod Antal and star Adrien Brody. In addition, red carpet appearances included a couple of actors from previous Troublemaker Studios films who Joe O'Connell tells us are about to star in blacktino, a movie produced by Avellan (that I'd love to hear more about): Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids, World's Greatest Dad) and Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror).

I'm posting these photos without any descriptions in between them -- I think they stand on their own very well. For those of you needing a hint, you can mouse over the photos themselves. Enjoy.

Review: MacGruber



You can read more of contributor Laurie Coker's reviews and features at True View Reviews.

Throughout the screening of MacGruber at SXSW this year, the audience laughed riotously and cheered. Afterwards we had the pleasure of meeting the cast in a Q&A session and hilarity abounded. Admittedly, I chuckled during the film, based on a Saturday Night Live sketch that spoofs one of my favorite old televisions shows, MacGyver. Still, I am not into silly, sometimes sick, stupid, over-the-top humor like my husband, so some of the film had me head in hand, thinking "Are you kidding me?" To be fair, I am not familiar with the skits on SNL created and made famous by comedians Will Forte and Kristen Wiig, so I went in not knowing what to expect, but if the audience reaction says anything, I most definitely was in the minority that night.

Forte plays MacGruber, a pseudo-MacGyver character who sports a mullet-like haircut and a cherry-red muscle car and seems permanently trapped in a particularly terrible 80s action movie or sitcom. In the SNL sketches, MacGruber's entire life consisted of trying to defuse something, only to be distracted just long enough for the bomb to go off and kill them all, but this would not do in a feature-length film, especially one hoping to garner sequels. So in the movie, he is a sort of uber-commando hired to stop an evil plot by a villain named Cunth (Val Kilmer) – yes, Cunth. The villain's name basically speaks volume to the kind of humor that makes up the rightly R-rated MacGruber.

Marfa 2010 Film Festival in Photos


Marfa, Texas, by Chris Hamberlin

[Text: Jette Kernion; photos: Chris Hamberlin]

I was lucky to run into Chris Hamberlin at Marfa Film Festival this year. I know Chris from our tech-writing day jobs, but she's also an excellent photographer. The photos I took in Marfa pale in comparison. Chris offered to contribute some of her best photos from the film festival, and here they are, with some brief explanations from myself.

If you want to see more of Chris's photos, from Marfa as well as other subjects/locations, I suggest checking out her Flickr set.

The image at the top is a metal sculpture from Marfa artist Marc Declercq.

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

You can read more of contributor Laurie Coker's SXSW reviews and features at True View Reviews.

When the PR rep for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo told me not to offer my senior students passes to see the film, my curiosity piqued. Now that I have seen the Swedish (subtitled) mystery thriller, I understand completely. The film will mostly likely garner a NC-17 rating because of some graphic sex scenes and disturbing subject matter. As a huge fan of mysteries, the story intrigued me overall, even though some aspects are predictable, but I'm inclined to admit I found some scenes tough to watch.

Based on Stieg Larsson's novel Män som hatar kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) about a journalist and a young female hacker, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo brings together several unlikely characters, connecting them by way of a 40-year mystery. The story begins with financial reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) being sentenced for three months in prison for filing a supposedly fraudulent story about a well-known businessman, but hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) knows he was set up. From there, the tale moves to Blomkvist being hired by millionaire Henrik Vagner (Sven-Bertil Taube) to investigate the disappearance of his favorite niece (Harriet) when she was 16.

SXSW Review: This Movie is Broken


This Movie is Broken

You can read more of contributor Laurie Coker's SXSW reviews and features at True View Reviews.

I do not like watching concerts on film or television. Just ask my husband. Unless the movie has some special draw, like that I want to share the experience with him because he loves music, I avoid concerts that are not live. I also have a huge problem with most music videos. This Movie is Broken, which is having its world premiere at SXSW, is basically a long, long music video with a tiny, interesting but all too brief story woven in between songs, performed in concert format by Toronto's famous indy rock band Broken Social Scene.

Directed by Bruce McDonald and written by Don McKeller, This Movie is Broken had me engrossed in the story of its characters, but since the film's main footage shows the band in performance, I felt frustrated and dissatisfied. However, I did like the story, what little there was of it.

SXSW Review: Barry Munday


Barry Munday

You can read more of contributor Laurie Coker's SXSW reviews and features at True View Reviews.

One of the things that never fails to surprise me for good or bad, when I attend SXSW or any other film festival, is the fact that some extremely crappy films, like say last year's Observe and Report, can get funding and distribution from the likes of Warner Brothers and other far better films have to seek private promoters or never get released at all. Barry Munday, a movie from filmmaker Chris D'Arienzo, making his delightful directorial debut, still waits to be picked up by a major studio. It is a remarkably simple and entertaining film about a man who, after waking up to find his testicles gone, discovers what it really mean to be a man. It is a coming of age for a thirtysomething-year-old and it is good.

Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Hard Candy), whom I had the pleasure to interview at SXSW, plays the titular character, a fellow who envisions himself as a real ladies man and who appears to be perpetually stuck in the 90s. Wilson himself refers to Barry as "definitely douchey, but not a bad guy." And he's right.

SXSW Review: The Parking Lot Movie


The Parking Lot Movie

Contributor Rod Paddock returns to Slackerwood, this time with a review.

Every once in a while at film festivals, you come across a film with a strange title, some spare time and if you are lucky a seat in the theatre. A lot of times these movies turn out to be lumps of coal, but sometimes, these movies prove to be a gem in the rough. Well, I had some time on my hands this week during SXSW and found a 100 percent hidden gem: The Parking Lot Movie.

Seeing The Parking Lot Movie reminded me a lot of viewing Kevin Smith's debut Clerks at the Seattle International Film Festival in 1996. This movie treats the viewer with 90 minutes of witty banter and exposition from people who work or worked in a parking lot over a period of many years. There is one major difference: These people didn't have a talented scribe like Kevin Smith writing their dialogue, they lived it.

Review: Our Family Wedding


Our Family Wedding

Please welcome contributor Laurie Coker, whose reviews you can also read at True View Reviews.

Romantic comedies always hit and miss with me. I like them, for the most part, but have grown weary of the formulaic plots and pat endings. Still, with fresh writing, quality gags and dialogue, a good director coupled with a fine screenwriter, can make even formulaic fun. Director/co-writer Rick Famuyiwa and screenwriters Wayne Conley and Malcolm Spellman offer some hilarious moments in Our Family Wedding. Had they left out at least three very stupid gags, it would have been a fine romantic comedy. But they did not avoid the silly, actually asinine, defeating what could have been a decent film overall, which will most certainly disappoint some.

One of my favorite actresses, America Ferrera, plays Lucy Ramirez, a young woman who drops out of law school, becomes engaged to an African-American man, Marcus (Lance Gross), who is heading to Laos as a physician for Doctors Without Borders. Lucy does so without mentioning any of it to her very conservative and traditional Hispanic parents, Miguel (Carlos Mencia) and Sonia (Diana-Maria Riva). Making matters worse, on the weekend they arrive, Miguel has a not so pleasant (and racially charged) encounter with Marcus's father Brad (Forest Whitaker). When the families finally meet, things get wild and cultural traditions clash in crazy mayhem.

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