Don Clinchy's blog

Review: Grown Ups 2


Grown Ups 2

Due to a heavy workload at his day job, Adam Sandler fan Don Clinchy was unable to review Grown Ups 2. Instead, Slackerwood is publishing the following open letter to Texas State Senator Dan Patrick from guest contributor Jimmy Don Dimmit. Dan Patrick appears briefly in the film.

Dear Sen. Patrick:

I must express my grave concerns about your appearance in the new Hollywood movie Grown Ups 2.

Senator, I am your humble admirer for all the honorable work you do on behalf of faith, freedom and fetuses. And so I was greatly shocked and saddened to see you in such a crude and unholy work as this movie. I know your role as a gym teacher was minor, but although you were on screen for only a minute or so, it was a minute or so too long.

At first I didn't recognize you. The Hollywood makeup artists obviously tried to conceal your appearance, as Hollywood tries to conceal the truth about America's greatness. But the makeup people could not hide your face completely. I was sure I'd seen you on TV before, and the "Gym Teacher -- Dan Patrick" credit at the end of the movie confirmed that you did indeed play that foul character. (I watched the entire movie only because the people on either side of me were generously proportioned, and I could not leave my seat without touching them inappropriately.)

Review: The Way, Way Back


The Way, Way Back

I was a bit skeptical of The Way, Way Back when, a few days before the movie's press screening, I sat in a beach-themed Austin bar where the waitstaff wore The Way, Way Back T-shirts and handed out swag to the mostly indifferent customers. Great films are seldom promoted with cheap sunglasses.

Fortunately, The Way, Way Back is better -- if not way, way better -- than its marketing campaign. Not a great film, but a likeable if forgettable summer comedy with a terrific cast and some very funny gags.

At the center of The Way, Way Back is 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), a shy and awkward teen whose mother, Pam (Toni Collette), drags him kicking and screaming on an extended summer trip to the Massachusetts coast. Joining them are Pam's kind-of-a-jerk boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), and his snotty teen-queen daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin).

When they arrive at the quaint beach town, Duncan is bored immediately and feels alienated from his mom and Trent. Fortunately, a new friend ends his boredom: Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), a brainy, stunning older woman of 16 or so who is staying next door with her hilariously blunt mother, Betty (Allison Janney), a friend of Duncan's mother. The two teens share a common bond: their families are unbearable.

Movies This Week: June 28 - July 4, 2013


Team America

Our friends at Drafthouse Films bring us this week's most promising new release, an indie documentary about a groundbreaking but overlooked band with an unmarketable name. Punk and Seventies music fans shouldn't miss A Band Called Death (really, not such a great name), a film in the vein of Searching for Sugar Man.

The Independence Day holiday week is a slow one for special screenings. But martial-arts film fans might find the Austin Film Society's Old School Kung Fu Weekend intriguing, especially because the five-film lineup is top secret. If you're an adventurous moviegoer, check out the screenings on Friday and Saturday night at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre to see what surprises special guest programmer Dan Halsted (of Portland's Kung Fu Theater) has in store.

Film noir fans should head for the Paramount and Stateside on Tuesday and Wednesday for double-feature screenings of classics from three decades. Humphrey Bogart and Elliott Gould play two very different Philip Marlowes in The Big Sleep (1946) and The Long Goodbye (1973) at the Paramount. The Stateside presents two Eighties hallmarks of the genre, Body Heat (1981) and the inimitable Austin classic Blood Simple (1984).

Lone Star Cinema: Rush



Gregg Allman has had a fabulous career as a musician, but he could have been just as successful as a drug dealer.

That is, if he could be as intimidating as his drug-dealing character in the crime drama Rush. Allman portrays dealer William Gaines in an almost wordless performance; Gaines rules his seedy empire with quiet, menacing stares, making customers, rivals and cops think twice about crossing him.

Allman's performance is terrific, as are several others in Rush. Set in 1975 and released in December 1991, the Houston-filmed movie Rush is a gritty, tragic tale of two small-town Texas cops who go undercover to infiltrate the town's drug scene. It's an unnervingly realistic film about the morally murky world of drug trafficking and narcotics enforcement, where the line between right and wrong isn't always clear.

Rush's story is gripping if not original. Assigned the difficult and dangerous job of bringing down Gaines, veteran narc Jim Raynor (Jason Patric) chooses young officer Kristen Cates (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as his partner. Cates has no experience with drug enforcement or undercover work, so Raynor's first job is to teach her to be a convincing junkie, to the point of doing drugs with the dealers to establish credibility.

Movies This Week: June 21-27, 2013


How to Marry a Millionaire

My greatest hope for the coming week in cinema is that Joss Whedon's intriguing modern-day adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing will do boffo box office. Whedon's huge and famously obsessive fan base could make this happen; if he made a film about dryer lint, his devotees would gladly watch it. As long as they're familiar with Shakespeare's play before seeing the movie -- which retains the play's original and often impenetrable Elizabethan English dialogue -- they'll enjoy this unique bit of cinema as much as I did.

Austin offers plenty of special screenings this week. The Austin Film Society is especially busy. The AFS Summer Free for All series features Beau Travail, French auteur Clair Denis' story of French Foreign Legionnaires stationed in coastal Africa, where the film focuses on the inner world of a cruel legion task master. Beau Travail screens for free (yes, that's why the series is called the Summer Free for All) tonight and Sunday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.

Another AFS screening is Variety, a 1983 film in which a Manhattan porn theater ticket seller can't escape the sleaze of her job when she goes home. Variety screens Wednesday at the AFS Screening Room. AFS also presents the 1953 classic How to Marry a Millionaire (pictured above), starring Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall as three gold-digging New York models on the prowl for wealthy husbands. How to Marry a Millionaire screens Tuesday at the Alamo Drafthouse Village. [Jette butts in here to gush over this delightful movie ... plus you can see Rory Calhoun, standing and walking.]

Movies This Week: May 24-30, 2013


An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Has it really been 18 years since Jesse and Celine met on that train in Before Sunrise? Indeed it has, and the long-awaited third outing in Richard Linklater's romantic trilogy finally graces Austin theaters today. Don't miss Before Midnight; if the critics are right -- and really, aren't we always? -- the story is as fresh and captivating as ever. (Even I -- who would rather have a root canal than watch most rom-coms -- loved the first two films and can't wait to see the third.)

If even the best of rom-coms isn't your thing, there are a surprising number of alternatives this holiday weekend. My top pick is the Austin Film Society "Spotlight on John Cassavetes" series, which wraps up with Husbands, a 1970 tragicomedy starring Cassavetes, Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk as three middle-age men who mourn a friend's death and live out their midlife crises on a drunken trip to London. Husbands screens tonight and Sunday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.

The AFS Essential Cinema series features The Makioka Sisters, a 1983 Japanese import that depicts the pre-war lives of four sisters from a wealthy Osaka family and draws parallels between their stories and Japan's seasonal variations. The Makioka Sisters screens Tuesday at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre.

The Alamo Drafthouse is hosting screenings of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (pictured above), former Dallasite Terence Nance's film about a young man's relationship struggles. Part live action, part stop motion and part hand-drawn, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty screens Saturday and Monday at the Alamo Ritz. Both screenings include a Skype Q&A with Nance. (Refer to Elizabeth's article for more information about the film.)

Review: The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rich Boy

This often-repeated quote begins F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story Rich Boy, but it could be from Fitzgerald's magnum opus The Great Gatsby, a novel about the very rich. And the latest film adaptation of The Great Gatsby brings to mind a twist on the quote: Let me tell you about Baz Luhrmann's films. They are different.

Different, of course, can be wonderful. Luhrmann's proudly over-the-top style -- a mix of grand scale, busy, color-saturated visuals, daring anachronisms, hyperactive pacing and general excess -- works very well in his most successful features, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!.

Luhrmann's brand of filmmaking, however, doesn't work so well in The Great Gatsby for two reasons: The story is character driven, not visually driven. And Luhrmann doesn't realize that a little 3D goes a long, long way.

The Great Gatsby and Luhrmann should be a great match, as the filmmaker and the novel's central figure, the Jazz Age millionaire Jay Gatsby, share a love of artifice and excess. Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in an ostentatious mansion in the fictional Long Island village of New Egg, where he leads a life of leisure, self indulgence and extravagant parties, punctuated with the occasional shady business deal that finances his lifestyle.

Movies This Week: May 10-16, 2013


How to Survive a Plague

It's not a banner week for new releases. Ardent Baz Luhrmann groupies may revel in his loud and gaudy take on The Great Gatsby. But the other new films -- a draggy period piece about Renoir, an artsy but lackluster comic drama about escaping one's past and a rom-com that bravely goes where many have gone before (don't they all?) -- make for a yawning time at the cinema.

Not to worry, film fans. As usual, Slackerwood's friends at the Austin Film Society offer some interesting alternatives. The AFS Spotlight on John Cassavetes series kicks off today with A Woman Under the Influence, the great director's 1974 drama starring a devastating Gena Rowlands as a woman who breaks down under life's pressures and Peter Falk as her well-meaning but loutish husband. The film screens tonight and Sunday at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre.

AFS also presents an Essential Cinema screening of revered Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert on Tuesday at the Marchesa. One of Antonioni's most memorable films, this classic 1964 drama captures an alienated woman's existential angst as she tries to survive in a bleak industrial landscape.

Review: Trash Dance


Trash Dance

Trash Dance opens Friday for a weeklong run at Violet Crown Cinema.

The adage that one person's trash is another person's treasure is relevant to Trash Dance, but doesn't apply in the strictest sense. In the Austin indie documentary and the dance performance it celebrates, the treasure isn't the trash -- it's the unlikely beauty of trash collection.

Director Andrew Garrison's film is an inspiring look at the Trash Project, Austin choreographer Allison Orr's ambitious dance performance featuring 24 City of Austin Solid Waste Services Department employees and 16 large sanitation vehicles. (That's right -- trash trucks.) The performance and the film find artistry in the mundane world of picking up garbage; more importantly, they show us there is dignity in even the hardest and least desirable jobs.

Creating the dance was a year-long project starting in late 2008. Orr knew that to choreograph such a work, she had to get to know the workers, earn their trust, understand what they do and study their movements. So she spent many days the job with them, and not just as an observer. She emptied garbage cans, picked up litter, collected dead animals (a task she could barely stomach) and learned to appreciate the finer points of picking up trash. Garrison's film crew tagged along, capturing every messy detail and introducing us to some of the people who keep our world clean.

Lone Star Cinema: Hands on a Hardbody


Hands on a Hardbody

It's a human drama thing. It's more than just a contest and it's more than just winning the truck. -- Benny Perkins, Hands on a Hardbody

If you're unfamiliar with Hands on a Hardbody, the essential thing to know about this compelling documentary is that that it's not about trucks. It focuses on a contest to win a truck, but the tricked-out 1995 Nissan Hardbody pickup is merely a prop at the center of a fascinating collection of character studies and a great commentary on human nature. The movie has finally been released on DVD and will have a special screening in Austin on Friday.

In S.R. Bindler's cult-classic 1997 film, a Longview, Texas car dealership sponsors a contest in which two dozen contestants compete to win a new pickup. The event is a grueling test of endurance: The lucky (and exhausted) winner is whoever remains standing the longest with at least one hand on the truck. The rules are rather draconian -- contestants are allowed only a five-minute break every hour and a 15-minute break every six hours. They must remain standing the entire time; no leaning, squatting or kneeling is allowed. A contestant who removes both hands from the truck for even one second is out of the contest.

Syndicate content