Jette Kernion's blog

Austin Critics Honor 'Bernie' and Matthew McConaughey


Matthew McConaughey in Bernie

While other media outlets want to let you know which movie the Austin Film Critics Association picked for Best Film, and how many awards other notable movies won, here at Slackerwood we like to lead with  Austin news. So I'm happy to tell you that the AFCA announced its 2012 awards this morning and Bernie, the Richard Linklater dark comedy starring Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey and Shirley MacLaine (not to mention Sonny Carl Davis), won Best Austin Film. Read Don's review and then watch the movie if you haven't already.

In addition, the critics group recognized Austin native Matthew McConaughey with a Special Honorary Award for his excellent acting in four movies this year -- not just Bernie but also Magic Mike, Killer Joe and The Paperboy.

Zero Dark Thirty won Best Film, in case you were wondering, and Paul Thomas Anderson was named Best Director for The Master (Don's review). Zero Dark Thirty won't open in Austin until January, unfortunately, so you'll just have to take our word that it's a very good movie.

The full list of awards plus the Top Ten, which includes one film from a native Texan, is after the jump. (Full disclosure: I am President of AFCA and Debbie Cerda is a member.)

Win Tickets to See 'In Our Nature' Next Week


In Our Nature posterThe indie drama In Our Nature, which premiered at SXSW in March, returns to Austin on Friday for a theatrical run. The movie stars Jena Malone, Gabrielle Union, Zach Gilford and John Slattery.

Look for Don's review this afternoon -- among other things, he's says it's "an astute film with much to say about family dynamics." It's about a father and son spending a weekend with their respective partners at a vacation home in upstate New York.

We have two pairs of tickets to give away to see In Our Nature at Regal Arbor 8. You can use these tickets to attend any screening of the movie at the Arbor from Monday 12/17 through Thursday 12/20. Tickets must be redeemed at the box office and seating is subject to availability.

If you can't wait for Monday and want to see the movie this weekend, I recommend going to the 7:30 pm screenings on Friday and Saturday night at the Arbor. In Our Nature writer/director Brian Savelson and producer Anish Savjani will hold post-film Q&As at those screenings. Savjani is a former Austinite who has produced locally connected indies such as The Taiwan Oyster, Mars, Harmony and Me, I'll Come Running and You Hurt My Feelings -- not to mention Meek's Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy.

Now, here's how to win one of these pairs of tickets. Tell us in the comments about a parent/child movie you particularly like. Make sure you include your email address, which only I will see, and will use only to contact the winners. Post your comment by 11:59 pm today (Thursday, Dec. 13). I'll pick two people at random who will each win an admit-two pass, which will be available for you at the Arbor box office. Best of luck!

Buy Tickets Today to See 'Qwerty' in Austin


Qwerty poster

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.

So it was with Qwerty, which I caught at Dallas International Film Festival this year. After the jump, you can read what I had to say about the film back then.

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. 

Win Tickets to See Glenn Close at the Paramount


Glenn Close in The Stepford Wives

I love watching movies at The Paramount -- the ambience and responsive audiences more than make up for the, er, austere theater seats. I still remember the fun of watching Office Space there. But the theater also hosts a number of film-related events throughout the year. Earlier this year, Spike Lee showed up to screen Summer of Sam. Next year's performances include one-person shows from William Shatner and Oliver Stone.

And on Thursday night (Dec. 6), the Paramount is bringing us "An Evening with Glenn Close," in which the actress will tell stories about her life and career. Looking at Glenn Close's filmography, it can't help but be fascinating. And if you haven't bought tickets yet, Slackerwood has a pair of tickets to give away!

I'll make this super-easy: Simply post a comment below mentioning your favorite Glenn Close movie role: Dangerous Liaisons, 101 Dalmatians, Hook ... whatever you like best. (Mine may be the photo at the top, from a film I consider underrated.) Make sure you include your email address, which only I will see, and will use only to contact the winner. Post your comment by 11:59 pm today (Tuesday, Dec. 4). I'll pick one person at random to win a pair of tickets, which will be available for you at the box office.

Review: Anna Karenina


Anna Karenina

My high-school class once spent an afternoon watching the 1956 movie War and Peace, and we susceptible sophomores fell hard for the Hollywood-ized love story with Audrey Hepburn, swoony Mel Ferrer and Henry Fonda (despite that flat drawl of "Nataaaahsha," all I can remember about the film now). I decided it would be fun to read Leo Tolstoy's novel (I was also show-offy, but never mind). I found out quickly that the story we adored in the movie was only a small, stripped-down part of a far more complicated novel, which included more of the war and much less of the romance. Plus, everyone had 10 names. The epilogues in particular were quite disappointing. At age 15, I preferred Hollywood over epic Russian literature.

The latest lavish adaptation of Anna Karenina, like that version of War and Peace, focuses is on love and romance and passion, although at least this time the accents are harmonious and the tragic ending remains. The tagline is "You can't ask why about love" and some press materials I received call it "A bold new vision of Tolstoy's epic of love." I'm not sure how Tolstoy would feel about the implication that Love Is All, but if he were going to turn over in his grave he would have done so decades ago. Besides, how many people watching this movie have actually read the novel? (I haven't.) I'd believe that filmmaker Joe Wright would focus on the romantic aspects, judging by his 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation, but the script is written by Tom Stoppard, who I hoped would be more subtle.

Anna Karenina is about a woman who falls prey to True Love and decides to follow it no matter what happens to her or anyone else, and then realizes that the price she is paying is pretty damn harsh. Kiera Knightley plays the title character, who not only cheats on her dull, older husband (Jude Law) with the dashing and passionate Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) but violates social mores by being public about it. If they'd only just hidden their affair, things might have been fine, but their love is just too passionate and amazing and strong to be kept hidden, especially by Anna.

Early-Bird Special on 'Cinema Six' Austin Premiere


Cinema Six

So have you bought your tickets to see Cinema Six yet on Friday night at Blue Starlite Urban Drive-In? As you might remember, Slackerwood and Austin Film Society are presenting the Austin premiere of Cinema Six, and we'd love to see you there at Austin Studios. So would Mark Potts, one of the filmmakers, who will be at the screening and will hold one of his infamous post-film Q&A sessions. Who knows what he might do? Who knows who else might be there from the Central Texas-shot movie? Show up and find out.

But wait, there's more: You can buy a double-feature ticket and see both Cinema Six and A Movie To Be Named Later. Josh Frank at Blue Starlite has kept this title a surprise even from us! But he promises something good that we won't want to miss.

Blue Starlite is currently running an Early Bird Special discount on car prices for both Cinema Six and for the double-feature on Friday night. You can get three people in a car (well, more if you stuff some folks in the trunk, but we don't condone that behavior) so it's a great deal. But you have to buy your ticket by Wednesday, yes, that's tomorrow. So do it now. You can always buy a single-admission ticket, but you'll need to bring a lawn chair or blanket or you'll end up like those two characters in the above photo.

Holiday Favorites 2012: Mark Potts, 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles'


Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Our "Holiday Favorites" series in 2011 was so popular and fun that we're bringing it back again. Slackerwood contributors, Austin filmmakers and other local film community friends will all be sharing their favorite holiday movies from now until the end of the year.

Filmmaker Mark Potts doesn't live in Austin, but he shot his latest feature film, Cinema Six, in Austin and Lockhart with a lot of local cast and crew. Slackerwood and Austin Film Society are co-hosting the Austin premiere of Cinema Six on Friday, November 30 at 8 pm at Blue Starlite (tickets still available!).

Here's Mark's description of a movie that's perfect to watch this weekend:

Planes, Trains & Automobiles is the only film set around Thanksgiving* and while I'm almost certain that's true, I don't care enough to Google it.** But to me, it's a film that transcends the holiday and can be watched at any time of the year. As much as I love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you can't really watch it in March or August without feeling sort of weird about it.

Review: Life of Pi


Life of Pi

Sometimes the last 10 minutes can change your opinion of the entire movie. This happened to me with Life of Pi. Near the end of the film, another perspective is given on the story that's been unspooling onscreen, a perspective that reveals an underlying theme or message, which irritated me enough to cast a shadow on the rest of the movie.

Despite the revelation in the third act, Life of Pi is a gorgeous movie, successfully recounting a tale that could have easily veered into the ridiculous. Director Ang Lee has beautifully imagined this adaptation of the bestselling novel by Yann Martel, which I haven't read. And yet, while I was never bored, I never felt especially engaged in the story.

The title character, Pi, is a grown man (Irrfan Khan) recounting the main story in flashbacks. The story he tells is primarily about himself as a teenager (Suraj Sharma), when his family undertakes a trip from India to Canada to start a new life in a new country. A storm disrupts their sea travel and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a number of animals from his father's zoo, including a ferocious Bengal tiger.

Texas is Everywhere: Florence Bates in 'Rebecca'


Florence Bates in Rebecca

I participated in this week's Criticwire Survey by writing about one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films, Rebecca. On a whim, I was looking over the cast list and clicked the name of the actress who played Mrs. Van Hopper, the unforgettably crass American social climber at the beginning of the movie. The actress's name was Florence Bates, and what I expected to find was a long list of credits starting in the early 1930s, or perhaps even the silent era, in which she'd played imperious dowagers and fussy schoolteachers and ambitious wives.

I got the kind of surprise that felt right at home regarding the Daphne Du Maurier novel that started this whole chain of thought. First, I learned that Bates was a native Texan. But that was just the beginning.

Through various internet rabbit holes I eventually found an article about Florence Bates from Handbook of Texas Online, which is published by the Texas State Historical Association. Please go read the article -- this biography is not what you'd expect from a character actress in 1940s Hollywood.

Be an Extra in 'Grow Up, Tony Phillips'


Grow Up, Tony PhillipsYou might have noticed a sad lack of reviews here recently from our contributor J.C. De Leon. That's because he's busy working as an associate producer on the movie Grow Up, Tony Phillips, the latest feature from Austin filmmaker Emily Hagins (My Sucky Teen Romance). The film shoot started Monday and is keeping J.C. pretty busy.

You too can be a part of this movie if you like ... onscreen as an extra. J.C. tells me that Grow Up, Tony Phillips will be filming the Friday/weekend after Thanksgiving at Eastside Memorial High School (1012 Arthur Stiles Road, not far from 183/Airport). They need young-ish extras who can portray teenagers realistically, and older extras who can portray teachers and chaperones, for scenes set at a high-school dance.

If you're interested in being an extra, contact J.C. at jc [at] arcanumpictures [dot] com and he'll give you the details. I wish we could get all the Slackerwood contributors at the shoot to hang out in a corner and pretend to be cranky chaperones. The kind who keep flasks hidden for their personal use. Considering the number of our contributors who were extras in My Sucky Teen Romance, I suspect you'll see a couple of us in this film too.

Grow Up, Tony Phillips is a coming-of-age movie set at Halloween. The cast includes AJ Bowen, Barbara Crampton, and local actor Byron Brown (whom I've enjoyed watching in four movies this year). My Sucky Teen Romance actors Tony Vespe and Devin Bonnee also return for this feature. Last month, the filmmakers raised $80,000 on Kickstarter to fund production costs. Visit the Kickstarter page for more details about the cast, crew and story.

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