Jette Kernion's blog

Movies This Week: March 23-29, 2012

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Sound of Noise

It's time to stop recuperating from SXSW and venture back into the world of Austin moviegoing. Fortunately, plenty of options are available. The Austin Jewish Film Festival starts tomorrow night -- read Chale's preview for details. And one of my favorite movies is screening at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz this week: catch Harold and Maude nightly Saturday through Tuesday. Or you could head over to the Blue Starlite Drive-In on Saturday night for a double feature of Back to the Future and The Goonies.

This is also a good week for indie film-watching. Boston-to-Austin filmmaker Andrew Bujalski will be at Alamo Ritz on Sunday night for a 10th anniversary screening of his film Funny Ha Ha. And on Tuesday night, the Texas Independent Film Network hosts a "beer and bbq" documentary double-feature at Violet Crown Cinema: Chris Elley's Barbecue: A Texas Love Story (narrated by Ann Richards) and Mike Woolf's Something's Brewin' in Shiner. You could walk right over to Lambert's afterward ...

Movies We've Seen:

Being Flynn -- Rod says in his review that this movie starring Robert De Niro and Paul Dano "shines a light on many facets of the human condition: the relationship between fathers and sons, the problem of self-medication in the form of substance abuse, and finally how quickly you can go from being fully employed with a roof over your head to sleeping on a park bench." (Arbor)

The Hunger Games -- Mike, take it away: "Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson run an all-star cast through the gauntlet in Gary Ross' adaptation of the Suzanne Collins young-adult novel The Hunger Games. Fans of the series will enjoy this vivid if somewhat bland adventure. Those new to the story may be left scratching their heads wondering why many characters do what they do, as Ross foregoes any peripheral character-building." Look for his review on Saturday. (wide)

Sound of Noise (pictured at top) -- The Fantastic Fest 2010 award winner returns to Austin for a weeklong run. Mike says in his review that it's "fun, but not GREAT fun." Mike is wrong. (Sorry, dude.) This noir-ish comedy about "musical terrorism" is great fun and I encourage everyone to see it. (Alamo Ritz, Alamo Slaughter)

SXSW Review: Beauty Is Embarrassing

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Beauty Is Embarrassing

One more time: It's the movies you see on a whim at SXSW, unplanned, knowing very little, that often end up being favorites. I was unable to make it downtown during the day last Monday, knew that parking after 1 pm would be impossible, and decided to have a night at Alamo Drafthouse Village. What I knew about Beauty Is Embarrassing was a friend's description: "It's about the guy who did set designs for Pee-wee's Playhouse." Which turned out to be not only inaccurate but also wildly missing the mark in terms of the movie's scope.

Beauty Is Embarrassing may have been my favorite film of SXSW this year (I keep changing my mind, which is a great dilemma to have). The documentary is about artist Wayne White, who did create and voice puppets for Pee-wee's Playhouse but has created so many more fascinating things. The movie uses clips from White's one-man show/presentation as a basis for structure -- in the show, he recounts a loose history of his artistic life (complete with banjo interludes), and the documentary provides more detail through interviews of colleagues and family, as well as time with White in his workshop/office (which I covet). And yes, there are clips of Pee-wee's Playhouse, including some fascinating behind-the-scenes video.

SXSW Review: Girl Walk // All Day

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Girl Walk All Day

Look, I'm in my early forties. I listen to out of date, untrendy music. I had no idea who or what Girl Talk was, much less what it had to do with the movie Girl Walk // All Day. What I knew was that a lot of my SXSW filmgoing friends were raving about this dance-a-rific musical film, everyone was talking about getting out of their theater seats and dancing around, and the movie was playing at Alamo Drafthouse Village on a night when I didn't want to go downtown. From such unlikely beginnings are great SXSW moviegoing experiences made.

At its essence, Girl Walk // All Day is a feature-length music video/dance performance, but that's terribly reductive and misleading. The movie is set to the music of Girl Talk's 2010 album All Day -- if you haven't heard it, it consists of 372 samples of existing songs by other artists, which Girl Talk artfully and lyrically arranged into an amazing wall of music. (You can tell I will be downloading the album myself soon ... FYI, it's free.) Director Jacob Krupnick has artfully and lyrically arranged a film set to this music that involves continual dancing, primarily from three characters: The Girl (Anne Marsen), The Gentleman (Dai Omiya) and The Creep (John Doyle).

SXSW Interview: Bob Byington and Nick Offerman, 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'

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Producer Nick Offerman does it all

I don't like interviewing people over the phone, since I can't make eye contact. I don't like interviewing a filmmaker without seeing his or her movie first, in case it turns out to be awful. And I don't usually like two-on-one interviews with a filmmaker and actor, because I'm not confident about questions I have for actors, and always worry I'll lapse into lameness. So I try to avoid these situations.

However, I jumped into a combination of all of them a few weeks ago to talk with Austin filmmaker Bob Byington and actor/producer Nick Offerman about their latest film, Somebody Up There Likes Me, which had its world premiere at SXSW on Sunday night. It was well worth working outside my comfort zone. And yes, I ended up really liking the movie, so I didn't have to hide from Byington afterward.

The original plan was to interview Bob Byington at a local cafe, but he emailed me a day or two beforehand and asked if we could make it a phone interview to include Offerman. Offerman is actually in four films at SXSW this year -- besides Byington's movie, he has a supporting role in Casa de mi Padre, and briefer appearances in 21 Jump Street and Slacker 2011.

Austin at SXSW 2012: A Moment with Bob Byington and Nick Offerman, 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'

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Somebody Up There Likes Me

Last month, I had the chance to interview the director and one of the producers of Somebody Up There Likes Me: Bob Byington and Nick Offerman, respectively. Offerman also has a starring role in the movie, which will premiere at SXSW 2012 on Sunday night. As is the case with good interviews, I ended up with a lot of material -- too much for one article. But Byington and Offerman were so much fun together, I hated to leave anything out.

Look for a longer feature about the movie itself on Monday morning, based on my interview, and featuring a great photo of Offerman from the set of the movie. In the meantime, I'd like to share the parts of the interview where Byington and Offerman talk about Austin itself (and Smithville) -- barbecue,  Brad Pitt's mojo, the Texas heat, and some SXSW advice (sort of).

It started when I asked Byington and Offerman what they liked about working together.

Nick Offerman: Well, I like any excuse to visit Austin and sample the barbecued meats there.

Reminder: SXSW For Beginners

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Just a quick reminder -- okay, I guess it's a shameless self-promotion, really. But SXSW Film starts tomorrow (Friday, March 9) and one of the first panels is "Beginners Guide to SXSW Film," which is a lot of fun even if you have been to the fest before. The panel starts at 2 pm in Austin Convention Center, Room 16AB.

As in past years, the panel will be skillfully moderated by Agnes Varnum, Austin Film Society Director of Marketing. I'll be on the panel too -- it's my second year, as will Austin film producer Joel Heller (Winnebago Man), film writer/programmer/consultant Basil Tsiokos, and attorney George Rush.

We all have our standard tips and tricks for people who haven't been to the fest before, and in addition, we'll take questions from the audience. It's a lot of fun. So I hope you'll be there and ask us about any area of SXSW Film for which you feel you need advice.

SXSW 2012 Guides: Extra! Free Movies and Events!

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SXSW Film 2012 logo

Updated March 10 with a new section on free non-SXSW screenings!

I've been getting a surprising number of email messages this year that run along these lines: "We know there are a ton of cheap and free concerts and parties with live music during SXSW, what about free movies?" SXSW has set up several screenings and film-related events that are free to the public this year. In addition, I've found at least one other free movie-related event happening during the fest that I can recommend. If I've missed anything, don't be shy about letting me know in the comments.

Remember that although these events are free, you might have to pay to park near some of the venues. Check out our Guide for Locals and Passholders for some parking and transportation tips.

Free Panels and Events

Women in Cinema's SXSW Panel: Wednesday, March 14, 7-9 pm, Studio 4D, CMB, The University of Texas
This event might have been perfect for the SXSW Film Conference, but is actually on the University of Texas campus and is sponsored by Women in Cinema, a UT student organization that supports student filmmakers. The group's brought together a powerhouse panel of female filmmakers and actresses who have films at SXSW this year -- a don't-miss lineup. UT instructor Kat Candler (Hellion) is moderating the panel, which includes Houston filmmaker Kelly Sears (Once It Started It Could Not End), Megan Griffiths (Eden), Amy Seimetz (Sun Don't Shine), Annie Silverstein (Spark), new-to-Austin Hannah Fidell (The Gathering Squall), producer Kim Sherman (V/H/S, Sun Don't Shine), and actress Anna Margaret Hollyman (Somebody Up There Likes Me, Gayby). I can't believe this event is free.

SXSW 2012 Guides: Filmgoing Tips for Locals and Passholders

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SXSW in a nutshell

When I wrote last year's guide for Austinites planning to see movies at SXSW, I worried about the future of the SXSW Film Pass. It seemed like so many movies at SXSW 2010 filled up for badgeholders only. However, the festival was aware of the problem and has done several things to make the film pass worth its $80 -- an excellent value if you know the best opportunities for filmgoing. In addition, Austin film lovers who just want to see one or two SXSW films can buy individual tickets if a theater still has room after admitting badge and passholders.

If you're a local without a badge, your best bet is to see movies at the two "SXSatellite" theaters, Alamo Drafthouse Village (schedule) and the brand-new Alamo Slaughter (schedule). Out-of-towners won't be able to find or reach these places, and festgoers with cars often prefer to stay downtown so they can easily go from movie to movie to party. Bonus: both venues have ample free parking. You're not getting the "full fest experience" but you're not spending a lot of money, either. (Besides, the full fest experience sometimes involves driving in gridlocked traffic frantically praying to find parking before your 2 pm movie, or having to eat soggy heatlamped breakfast tacos for lunch. There are highs and lows.)

In case you aren't a seasoned SXSW Film vet, here's how the access works for each movie: Film, Gold and Platinum badgeholders are all in one line and are allowed in the theater first. After that, the film passholders are let in, if space allows. Finally, if there's still room, ticketholders can get into the screening. Tickets usually go on sale 15 minutes before the movie starts if seats are available; some tickets are on sale already, as I explain below.

Filmmakers: Maximize Your Fest Experience in Time for SXSW

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Slacker 2011 red carpet

Jenn Brown and I often say we could write volumes on two topics: How to have the best film-festival experience, and how filmmakers can effectively promote their films. However, we're looking at these topics from the point of view of the press and people who like to watch movies. We're not filmmakers, so we can't speak from that point of view about film festivals.

Fortunately, Austin Film Society has a Moviemaker Dialogue next week just for filmmakers, in which a panel of experienced local writers/directors will offer their advice about how you can get the most out of a film festival, whether your film is screening at that fest or not. The "Maximizing Your Film Festival Experience" panel is moderated by me, and includes Kat Candler, Clay Liford, and Geoff Marslett. (That's Candler and Liford in the above photo.)

These filmmakers have taken their indie shorts and features around the country (and possibly out of the country; did you go to Sitges with Mars, Geoff?) to film festivals of all sizes. They've also all had films at SXSW, so they're certain to have advice specifically related to next month's film fest. They're a lively bunch and I think this is going to be an excellent session.

The panel takes place next Wednesday, February 29 at 7 pm at the Austin Studios screening room. If you have a Filmmaker-level AFS membership, admission is free, otherwise it's $5. You can get tickets online in advance -- it's not a huge space so I recommend buying (or reserving) now. Bring your best questions.

Honorary Texan Danny Trejo and More Texas Film Hall of Fame News

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Actor Danny Trejo has made so many movies at Troublemaker Studios that he already feels like an honorary Texan. Austin Film Society plans to make this title legit, though. Trejo will receive the Patrón Honorary Texan Award at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards ceremony on Thursday, March 8, along with other previously announced honorees.

It should be entirely unsurprising that Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez will present the award to Trejo that evening. Trejo has played Machete in Rodriguez's films starting with Spy Kids in 1999 through the then-fake Machete trailer in Grindhouse in 2006 and of course in the actual Machete movie in 2010. The photo above is from the Austin premiere of Machete, which AFS hosted at the Paramount in September 2010. Rodriguez recently announced a second Machete movie, Machete Kills, and while I honestly feel a sequel is unnecessary, I do enjoy watching Trejo in action as the character.

Here's another photo from the Machete premiere, this time of Rodriguez and Trejo together with actor Daryl Sabara.

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