Jordan Gass-Poore''s blog

Slackery News Tidbits, December 28


Here's the latest Austin film news. 

Their Holiday Favorites: Emily Hagins's 'Nightmare' Research


The Nightmare Before Christmas

Welcome to our latest entry in Their Holiday Favorites, a series in which members of the Austin film community tell us about movies they enjoy watching during the holiday season. This one is from 19-year-old Austin-based movie director Emily Hagins, whose horror-comedy My Sucky Teen Romance premiered at last year's SXSW. Here's her account of a holiday movie she not only likes but respects as a filmmaker.

I've been doing research for a script that takes place around Halloween, so a lot of the films I've been watching lately have not been so timely for the holiday season. Except! I think one of the most unique and most difficult to achieve characteristics about The Nightmare Before Christmas is that it is just as fun to watch at Halloween as it is to watch on Christmas -- the two most opposite days of the year. By exploring the darker side of even the most joyous of holidays, this film is able to delve deeper than a lot of conventional films.

I think there's something special about films that deal with smart subject matter but are still appropriate for a younger audience. I remember watching films like The Nightmare Before Christmas when I was little and being thankful that it wasn't condescending, like some of the other kid's movies. The holidays are especially prone to "family films" with trivial stories that are made for the sake of marketing without much other thought. On the other side of that, everything from the stunningly detailed production design to the storytelling (I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but I love how the songs are incorporated into this film) of The Nightmare Before Christmas shows nothing but the highest admiration of the material by the filmmakers.

Our Holiday Favorites: The Santa Clause


The Santa Clause

I was four years old when The Santa Clause first opened in theaters. I can't recall if I first saw the 1994 comedy in theaters or on VHS (remember those?) months later. My older (and favorite) cousin Andi and I would watch The Santa Clause on her annual holiday visit from Dallas to Seguin. 

The Santa Clause stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a thirtysomething divorced father and toy company advertising executive. There's a hilarious scene where Scott is visiting his son Charlie's (Eric Lloyd) elementary school to discuss his job, when he is repeatedly forced to try to explain to another student his job description.

The plot rolls forward. 'Twas the night before Christmas ... and Santa Claus falls off Scott's roof. The end. Or, is it? Scott and Charlie realize the man who appears to be Santa Claus has mysteriously vanished, leaving behind his suit, in which they find a business card stating that if something should happen to him, someone should put on the suit and consult the eight moody reindeer waiting on the roof.

To please Charlie, Scott puts on the suit. They hop in the sleigh and deliver toys from house to house. Their final destination is the North Pole, where Scott mistakenly hits on a more than one-thousand-year-old elf.

Our Holiday Favorites: The Ice Storm


Elijah Wood in The Ice Storm

My Elijah Wood obsession pre-dates his appearance on the children's television series Yo Gabba Gabba and his starring role in the FX television series Wilfred.

What I do when I become strangely fixated on an actor is search for them on IMDb. I research their filmography and spend weekends watching everything listed, regardless of plot. So, thanks to Elijah Wood I've spent hours watching movies about a comet colliding with Earth, a dancing penguin and human-like people walking through a forest on top of talking trees.

However, if it were not for my Elijah Wood IMDb filmography obsession, I probably would not have seen The Ice Storm. I first watched the film last year, sitting at my desk alone in my dorm room. I remember it was freezing outside (hence, why I was in my dorm room ... wearing a peacoat) and there was a rumor floating around the hall that it was going to snow. People were already scouring campus for trash can lids to get in to slide down the hills. I thought, "Hmmm, instead of actually experiencing the cold weather firsthand, I'll watch a movie about people experiencing cold weather and live vicariously through them." 

A Texas 'Homecoming' Premieres in San Marcos


Homecoming 2The high school homecoming queen competition was stiff for Claire and her friends in the 2010 horror movie Homecoming. There could only be one winner. Those who survived the first movie return to face the same masked murderer in Homecoming II, which premiered Saturday at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in San Marcos.

Last year, Dorell Anthony and fellow Texas State University - San Marcos alumni Terissa Kelton and Caleb Straus began collaborating cross-country on the independent, low-budget movie Homecoming II.

The trio had recently graduated from Texas State when Anthony became inspired to write the sequel to Homecoming.

Anthony wrote his first feature-length screenplay, Homecoming, in 2004, during his sophomore year at Oakwood High School in Oakwood, Texas. He said he wrote the script as a form of therapy after his aunt died.

"It's weird to think that I wrote a horror script where many people die after my aunt died," he said.

Anthony said he collaborated with Texas State writers and playwrights to revise and update the original Homecoming script. The entire Homecoming cast and crew consisted of Texas State alumni.

Homecoming II executive producer Terissa Kelton met Anthony as a Texas State Alphi Psi Omega theatre fraternity member. She said she and Anthony became "quick" friends, and he asked her to critique the Homecoming script.

Kelton said she thought the Homecoming script was "great" and became a fan. Her own short film debut, Myra, screened at the Homecoming II premiere. Kelton is also an actress, who starred in the Austin-based independent production company Twitchy Dolphin Flix's films Turkey Day, Wedding Night, Abram's Hand, Look At Me Again and the 2011 Metropolitan Film Festival's honorable mention, Snatch 'N' Grab.

The 'Sinister' Side of Local Writer C. Robert Cargill


C. Robert Cargill

Ethan Hawke stars as a true crime writer who moves his family into the house of murder victims while researching their murders for a new book in Austinite C. Robert Cargill's feature screenwriting debut, Sinister.

I spoke with Cargill a few weeks back while he was on location for Sinister in NYC. At the time of the interview, he said there was not much he could say about the movie, except that "weird, creepy shit" happens.

But he's just playin' it cool.

Cargill began writing movie reviews under the name Massawyrm for Austin-based film website Ain't It Cool News in May 2001. His first review was of Jon Favreau's directorial debut, Made. Over the years, he's also reviewed movies for and

Slackery News Tidbits, November 10


Here's the latest Austin and Central Texas movie news.

  • Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse franchise, recently announced the company has entered a U.S. distribution deal with Image Entertainment, Inc. This will make it easier for Drafthouse Films to release new movies and repertory films via a number of platforms (home video, TV, etc.). The California-based company is considered a leading licensee and distributor of North American independent entertainment programming. Image Entertainment's library of licensed movie titles includes the Criterion Collection, various horror movies (they're releasing SXSW 2011 selection Little Deaths soon) and classic films like 12 Angry Men and Design for Living.
  • In addition, Drafthouse Films has acquired the North American rights to a pair of movies that played Fantastic Fest this year: the Oscar-nominated Belgian drama, Bullhead (Debbie's review), and the international hit comedy, Clown: The Movie. While Bullhead concerns itself with a shady deal between a young cattle farmer and a West Flemish beef trader, Clown is about two relatives and their wild adventure through the Danish countryside. Drafthouse Films' acquisition of the North American rights for the 1980s 3D cult film Comin' At Ya is a third Fantastic Fest 2011 selection the company will release next year.
  • The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum will host a Les Blank retrospective from 6-10 pm on Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20 at the museum's Texas Spirit Theater. The event, co-sponsored by the Austin Music Film Festival, will showcase award-winning documentarian Blank's films about music and musicians. Live music performances will be held each evening
  • The latest issue of Wholphin, a quarterly DVD magazine published by McSweeney's, features short films by several Texas directors: Amy Grappell, David Lowery, and David and Nathan Zellner. The DVD includes Grappell's Quadrangle, a documentary about her parents' relationship with the couple next door; Lowery's Pioneer, about a father's epic bedtime story told to his son (starring Will Oldham), and the Zellner brothers' short but unforgettable Sasquatch Birth Journal 2.

Slackery News Tidbits, November 4


Here's the latest Austin and Central Texas movie news.

  • Former Austinite and Fantastic Fest Programmer Coordinator Blake Ethridge will consult on programming and acquisition efforts for the inaugural Oak Cliff Film Festival, which will take place June 14-17 in the Dallas neighborhood. (Ethridge co-hosted Slackerwood's Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon in 2007.) OCFF will focus on screening movies previously shown at prestigious film festivals, from Sundance to SXSW to Cannes. Movies will play at the Texas Theatre  -- whose owners are also the fest coordinators -- as well as the Kessler Theater, the Bishop Arts "TeCo" Theater (formerly the Bluebird Theater) and the Belmont Hotel in Dallas. Festival submissions open November 7.
  • The Austin Polish Film Festival starts today. Anne Lewis at the Austin Chronicle has written an excellent preview.
  • Actor Johnny Depp and director Bruce Robinson didn't just visit Austin Film Festival last month, but also spoke with and answered questions from UT RTF and journalism students about their movie The Rum Diary, currently in theaters. RTF instructor John Pierson moderated the panel event. Austinite Amber Heard stars alongside Depp in this action/comedy about an American journalist's exploits in Puerto Rico, based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson. 
  • Another AFF 2011 selection opens in theaters today: winner of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award for Best Drama, Martha Marcy May Marlene (Elizabeth's review). Former Austinite John Hawkes stars alongside Elizabeth Olsen in this drama about a woman trying to re-connect with her family after fleeing an abusive cult. Hawkes spoke with Austin360 last week about his time in Austin and his acting experiences.

AFF 2011 Interview: 'Restive'


Jeremiah Jones and Marianna Palka of Restive

A mother's challenge to her abusive husband sends her family into an unsettling journey through the woods in Austin-based first-time filmmaker Jeremiah Jones's feature film Restive. The movie screened to a sold-out audience the first night of AFF. Jones and lead actress Marianna Palka (pictured above) were there too.

A lot has changed for writer/director Jones, who graduated from The University of Texas at Austin where he was a three-year football letterman.

How did Jones transition from football to filmmaking? "It might sound odd, but the skill sets are the same," he said. "Directing is coaching, and casting is recruiting. You try to get everyone on the same page and give them the support that they need to get to a goal. You treat them like family."

AFF 2011 Interview, 'Austin High'


Austin High

The 18th Austin Film Festival is almost here. To help celebrate all the locally connected movies at this year's fest, we've reached out to a number of filmmakers to find out about their Austin and Texas-tied films screening at the fest.

The world premiere of the stoner comedy Austin High will take place on Saturday, October 22 at 10:30 pm at the Rollins Theatre in the Long Center. The film screens a second time on Monday, October 24 at 9:30 pm at Rollins.

At fictional Ladybird High School, Principal Samuel Wilson's (Michael S. Wilson) clock is perpetually set to 4:20, that is, until a politician from an unnamed city to the north of Austin comes to town. The politician wants to build more condos, turn Barton Springs into a water park and strictly enforce federal marijuana laws.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Syndicate content