Jette Kernion's blog

Review: Men in Black III

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Men in Black 3

I liked Men in Black III more than it deserved. I understand why: I saw this movie with my parents, and they looooovvvved it. They loved that nice Will Smith, they always love Tommy Lee Jones, and they sure did like That Other Guy too (Josh Brolin). It was the most fun they'd had at the movies in ages, and they planned to find a copy of the original Men in Black on DVD when they got back home, which they were looking forward to watching for the first time. I can't help but feel grateful.

Although not as fresh and funny as the first movie in the series, my enjoyment of Men in Black 3 wasn't solely because family members were laughing nearby. The first 20 minutes or so had some downright painful dialogue and clunky direction, but once the machinations of the plot were in full swing, the actors' charm carried the day.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as agents J and K, respectively. They're still fighting alien crime in New York, still armed with those little flashy things, but J is frustrated with K's seeming lack of emotion and empathy. Meanwhile, an alien assassin whom K took down decades ago and locked into a special prison on the Moon has escaped and is devising a way to get his revenge on K and restore his full powers: time travel. And that's how Josh Brolin as a young(er) Agent K figures into the plot.

Austin in Cannes So Far ... and Vice Versa

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Cannes 2012When Slackerwood listed all the Texas-connected features that would screen at the Cannes International Film Festival this year, we forgot one aspect of the festival. We didn't mention the local journalists who would travel to the French Riviera to cover the festival's films and celebrity attendees.

But several intrepid Austinites are currently in Cannes, or have been there in the past week:

  • Charles Ealy, Austin American-Statesman -- Ealy is a Cannes veteran, and is posting dispatches regularly (sometimes several times in a day) to Austin Movie Blog. He's recently written about the premiere of The Paperboy, in which Austin actor Matthew McConaughey co-stars with Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron; Garland native Caleb Landry Jones starring in Brandon Cronenberg's movie Antiviral, which Ealy thinks would be a good Fantastic Fest selection; and Houston-raised Wes Anderson's latest film Moonrise Kingdom, which opened Cannes.
  • Vincent Van Horn, Austin Chronicle -- Van Horn is a local actor who appeared in and provided music for the short Clowns Never Lie, which is screening in the Cannes Short Film Corner this year. He's been writing a column called "Cannes You Dig It?" for the Chronicle's Picture in Picture blog. Unlike Ealy, this is Van Horn's first time attending the festival. So far, he's had to procure last-minute accreditation, had a rough first day of moviegoing (but may or may not have met Ewan McGregor), and partied with (or somewhat near) Adrien Brody and Chris O'Dowd.
  • Victor Diaz, YNN -- Diaz spent a few days in Cannes this year, primarily covering Moonrise Kingdom and UT grad/filmmaker Wes Anderson. He attended the opening-night premiere, and interviewed Anderson, Jason Schwartzman and Edward Norton (in which Norton reveals ties between Bottle Rocket and Fight Club).

Watch 'You Hurt My Feelings' Online Now

You Hurt My Feelings at ReRun Theater

Two of the cutest little girls I've ever seen on film are Lily and Violet Collins, the daughters of filmmaker (and former Austinite) Steve Collins, who included them in his 2011 feature You Hurt My Feelings. They are unscripted and adorable onscreen. Now you can watch them too, because Oscilloscope Films has just made You Hurt My Feelings available to rent or buy as streaming video on iTunes and Amazon. Read Elizabeth's review from the movie's Austin Film Festival screening last year.

The above photo is from a recent weeklong run of the movie at reRun Theater in Brooklyn (I've been there! It's a very cool place to watch movies). That's Steve Collins next to his daughters, and actors John Merriman and Courtney Davis on the right. Merriman told me this photo is the girls introducing the film and telling the audience to stay around for the Q&A afterward.

My description makes it sound like You Hurt My Feelings is about two little girls, but in fact the focus is on their nanny, John, played by Austin actor Merriman. The film has very little scripted dialogue -- the kids know Merriman well and their scenes with him are generally spontaneous -- and is about the relationship John has with Courtney, played by Davis. (My guess is that the characters are named after the actors to make it easier for the girls.) Courtney leaves John for Macon (Macon Blair), and John's emotional upset is written all over his face, even as he plays with the children.

Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Movie reviewers love surprises. We watch so many movies that it is hard to tolerate the routine and predictable. This is why some of us (okay, I mean myself) have the bad habit of starting too many positive reviews with the phrase "pleasant surprise." We delight in unexpected plot twists and non-standard endings, sometimes to the point where we overrate movies with these qualities.

I was lukewarm about The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel because after I read the press release, I felt it would hold no surprises for me whatsoever. I could predict the whole damn movie, and probably my review as well. A bunch of older British people with drab, unsatisfying lives move to India where they would be shocked and dismayed at first, but gradually would see the beauty of life and the wonders of the universe. Someone would fall in love, someone would find an unexpected friend, someone would have an epiphany. Cliches would abound. Despite what was unquestionably an amazing cast, I would be checking my watch regularly, perhaps even predicting which plot point would happen at what time.

While some of my general predictions about the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel were indeed pretty accurate, the movie still surprised and delighted me. Expected plot points held unexpected twists. I haven't read Deborah Moggach's novel These Foolish Things, which Ol Parker adapted into this film -- I don't know whether the scenes I liked best should be credited to the novel, the screenplay or director John Madden. Perhaps Parker and Madden knew that many of the basic aspects of the story followed well-trodden ground and decided to avoid cliches, or at least spin them around. And naturally I was happy to be correct about the excellent perfomances from a cast of superstar British character actors.

AFS Welcomes Holly Herrick as Associate Artistic Director

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Austin's film community is about to get a new member: Holly Herrick, who's worked with the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Sarasota Film Festival, among others. Austin Film Society announced today that Herrick has been named to the newly created Associate Artistic Director position, and will start on June 15.

Looking at Twitter posts about the announcement this morning, I realized that Austin will also get a new filmmaker/film writer, since Herrick's husband Michael Tully of Hammer to Nail will be moving with her. The couple currently resides in Brooklyn.

The official press release from AFS is reprinted below with details about the new position and also Herrick's background. I look forward to meeting her this summer.

Hill Country Film Festival 2012: Lone Star Saturday

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Hill Country Film Festival by Adam Boley

The Hill Country Film Festival programming this year included a number of blocks of short films, and on Saturday morning I decided to watch some shorts. After a quick breakfast (yay for having my own kitchen there), I zipped over to the Stagecoach Theater in plenty of time for the morning shorts program.

The main reason I picked this shorts program was because it included the Austin film The Man Who Never Cried. Debbie has been raving about this film for ages -- she visited the set and reviewed the film -- and I was pleased to have the chance to finally watch it myself. Filmmaker Bradley Jackson and producers Russell Groves and Andrew Lee were at the screening (pictured above, if a bit tiny).

The Man Who Never Cried is a sweet, sweetly funny tale about  -- well, the title says it all. Ralph (Kier O'Donnell) has never been able to shed a tear. Now he works as a clown and tries to make people laugh instead. But when his father dies, he feels like it is high time he learned to cry like everyone else. The storyline may sound a little silly, but it's beautifully done with an expert cast led by O'Donnell and Jess Weixler.

Hill Country FF Review: 6 Month Rule

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6 Month Rule

Romantic comedies are a dime a dozen these days, whether they're Hollywood films trying to eke laughs out of cruel jokes and raunchy humor, or indies with the ever-popular Manic Pixie Dream Girl and an overly earnest soundtrack. 6 Month Rule, which I saw at Hill Country Film Festival, looked like it might fall into the latter category ... but some very real emotional scenes and a refreshing lack of artificiality made it a standout movie.

Tyler (Blayne Weaver) has a lot of rules about his frequent and brief relationships with women -- when to call (or not), what to say, how to "fade" out of a relationship, and how long it takes before recuperation from a painful relationship is complete (the title rule). A montage of breakups with women in the same bar, using the same lines, says it all. When his best friend Alan (Martin Starr) loses his fiancee to another man, Tyler takes him in and attempts to teach him the rules and find him someone even better.

Hill Country Film Festival 2012: A Perfect Friday

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Stagecoach Theater

Two out-of-town film festivals in one month -- what a jet-setting life I lead, except I barely left Central Texas. I went to Dallas International Film Festival two weeks ago, and last weekend I drove over to Fredericksburg for a few days at the Hill Country Film Festival.

As with Dallas, once again I got a late-ish start and tore out of the house and on the road unsure whether I'd get there in time for the first movie I wanted to see. In this case, I was less concerned because I figured if I missed the movie, I could get settled with food and check in to my B&B, and see the shorts program after it instead. Still, I rushed directly to the theater, and thank goodness the feature had a short in front of it, because I slipped in just as the feature started.

The movie was The Perfect Family, and I wrote a separate review, mainly because I had started writing a "brief" review as part of this article and then noticed it was 500 words long. At any rate, it was a nice entertaining way to start a festival experience and relax after 90 minutes of focused "in a hurry" driving.

Hill Country FF Review: The Perfect Family

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The Perfect Family

Dear Kathleen Turner: I missed you. I confess I'd almost forgotten about you. And then you turned up surprisingly in the starring role of The Perfect Family, leading a cast that worked together beautifully to portray a very believable family, even amid an often-unbelievable plot. Don't be a stranger, okay?

In The Perfect Family, Turner plays Eileen Cleary, a devout Catholic middle-aged wife-and-mom whose spends her days in charitable church-related activities, such as delivering meals to the elderly, now that her children are grown and out of the house. Monsignor Murphy (Richard Chamberlain) nominates her for the church's Catholic Woman on the Year award ... and she'll be competing against a woman who's been her rival since grade school. The winner will receive the sacrament of absolution from the Archbishop of Dublin, who will attend the award ceremony.

The monsignor tells Eileen to expect a home visit where her children should be present, but he's not worried since of course, she has "the perfect family." What he doesn't know is that her son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) has separated from his wife and is dating the local manicurist, and that her daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) is about to get married to another woman. When Eileen herself finds out about what her kids have been up to, she is amazingly distraught and tries to get them to reconsider their choices.

Review: Damsels in Distress

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Damsels in Distress

When I was in college, I fell in love, deeply and intensely ... with Thirties screwball comedies, with quirky indie comedies, with Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and Bill Forsyth and I can't remember who-all else. I didn't get to Whit Stillman and Metropolitan until graduate school, but I really liked that movie too.

And while I was watching Stillman's latest movie, Damsels in Distress, all I could think of was how much I would have adored this film when I was in college. I liked it very much now, but the super-quirkiness, the obvious homages to Sturges comedies and Astaire/Rogers musicals would have overcome my then-infatuated self. The powers of scents to destroy or heal! A character named Fred Packenstacker, and another who calls himself Freak Astaire! Four women with distinctive personalities who are interested in men only as part of their mission to make the world a better place!

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