Jette Kernion's blog

AFS Tackles the Classic Comedy of Remarriage


The Palm Beach Story

Back in my grad-school screenwriting days, my master's report was about the comedy of remarriage, a kind of film genre cousin to the classic screwball comedy. The comedy of remarriage had its heyday in the 1930s, with movies like The Awful Truth -- something drives apart a married couple and amusing machinations occur to potentially bring them back together. And in the Thirties, the machinations were generally not only amusing but witty, and it was pretty much a done deal that the couple would reunite in the end. I always felt that the comedy of remarriage died out somewhere in the late 1940s myself, although when Knocked Up came out a few years ago, I wondered if we might be due for a reworking of the genre.

You don't want to hear me go on and on about the comedy of remarriage. I know, because sometimes I start to do it in person and everyone around me remembers that pressing dental appointment or emergency meeting they have to rush off to catch. Instead, I invite you to see a couple of classic examples of the genre, as well as the evolution of such films right up to the 21st century, in the new AFS Essential Cinema series, "And It Feels So Good: Comedies of Remarriage," which starts next Tuesday night (11/22) and runs through mid-December.

The series is being guest curated by Austin Chronicle film critic Kimberley Jones, who's picked out a half-dozen fascinating features, some obvious and some surprising. I honestly would never have thought of The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, myself, and I can't wait to hear her thoughts about how it ties into Stanley Cavell's original definition of the comedy of remarriage. I'm most excited about the first two films -- The Awful Truth and The Palm Beach Story (pictured above) -- but hope to see all of them. (I'm hoping since Jones is curating, no one will put any conflicting press screenings on those nights. Please.)

Quick Snaps: Catch 'Five Time Champion' This Week


Dallas International Film Festival Erza Venetos and Brendt Mader Five Time Champion Magnolia TheaterNelly Safavi

While Natural Selection may have taken home many awards at SXSW this year, the Austin movie at the fest that Slackerwood contributor Don Clinchy raved about, both in his review and in person, was Five Time Champion. I mean, the review begins with "Oh, if only all movies were such a pleasure to review; the greatest challenge in reviewing Five Time Champion ... may be finding enough superlatives to describe its many charms without being repetitive." And you know Don is not inherently kind to all movies, especially if you read his review of Jack and Jill last weekend.

Fittingly, Don will be moderating the Q&A with filmmaker Berndt Mader tomorrow night, when Five Time Champion returns to Austin. Austin Film Society is screening the film as part of its Best of the Fests series, Wednesday, 11/16 at 7 pm at Alamo Drafthouse Village. Tickets are still available online. The film is about a teenage boy dealing with school decisions, love interests, and family problems. The cast includes Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Jon Gries and Betty Buckley. Nicholson's in the above photo with Mader and other cast and crew -- the photo was taken at the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival, where Five Time Champion won the Texas Filmmaker Award.

Over on Flickr, Russ Photography has a huge set of photos from the Five Time Champion production; they're not only good photos but give you a fascinating look at a typical day on a movie set. And below, I'm using this excuse to share my favorite photo I've taken of Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, from the Extract premiere in Austin in 2009. She almost made it into the theater unseen; no one recognized her at first with the different hair color.

Get Tickets to 'My Week with Marilyn' Sneak Preview


My Week with Marilyn

Slackerwood has a special deal that will give you the chance to see the upcoming movie My Week with Marilyn this week at a free sneak preview. There's nothing quite like seeing a movie before it opens in theaters ... and without having to pay for the tickets too. The preview screening will take place tomorrow night, Tuesday 11/15, at 7:30 pm at AMC Barton Creek (the one in the mall).

My Week with Marilyn is based on the memoirs of the same name by Colin Clark, who worked as an assistant on the Marilyn Monroe film The Prince and the Showgirl. It's about Clark's interactions with Monroe in England during the shooting of that movie. Michelle Williams stars as Monroe and Kenneth Branagh as Prince and the Showgirl co-star Sir Laurence Olivier. The cast also includes Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper and Emma Watson. We at Slackerwood haven't seen it yet -- it opens in theaters on Nov. 23 -- but some of us will be there Tuesday night to check it out.

After the jump, you'll find a promotional code and a link to the Gofobo website where you can enter that code to get an admit-two pass for the screening. Bear in mind this is a first-come, first-served pass and seating is not guaranteed. If you've been to preview screenings, you know that often more tickets are given out than there are seats in the theater, so you'll want to arrive early to stake out a good spot in line.

LSIFF: Catch Local Favorites in Fort Worth This Weekend


Five Time Champion

If you're looking to combine movies and a road trip this weekend, you couldn't do better than head to Fort Worth for the fifth annual Lone Star International Film Festival. The fest kicks off Wednesday night with The Descendants, Alexander Payne's latest movie starring George Clooney (and Austin actor Nick Krause), which recently played Austin Film Festival. The festival runs through Sunday night, November 13.

Austin film-fest regulars might recognize a fair number of titles in the LSIFF lineup. In fact, this is a great way to catch up on selections you missed at AFF and SXSW this year. In addition, the lineup includes a few features that have yet to play Austin, like Rampart, Collaborator, and the Jet Li film Ocean Heaven. One of LSIFF's programmers for 2011 is Austin producer Kelly Williams, who also programmed the excellent Texas Independents category at AFF last month.

Here's a list of movies with Austin or Texas ties that will screen at LSIFF next weekend. I admit when I started this article I expected to list a half-dozen films; to end up with so many is pretty amazing. And I'm not even counting non-Texas films that played local fests, such as The Innkeepers, Butter, The Artist and Shame.

Austin Film Festival 2011: All Our Coverage


Updated November 4, 2011.

Slackerwood has several contributors covering Austin Film Festival this year. Here's all our coverage to date. We'll update this list as we publish more reviews, interviews and features during and after AFF.

Review: A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas


A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

My husband and I share a special fondness for a particular kind of movie. While we dislike blatantly sentimental films ("triumph of the human spirit" is a taboo phrase in our home), we love films with a sweet but not sentimental heart surrounded by a completely offensive, shocking, even outrageous exterior. The films have to have at least a little cleverness and can't be too gross. One filmmaker whom we agree does this very well is Bobcat Goldthwait -- we both really liked World's Greatest Dad. Bonus points are earned when these movies tie into a holiday and still avoid treacle, as with Bad Santa.

And now, one of our favorite appalling-yet-delightful comedies has spawned a holiday sequel: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. We don't like 3D, we don't like syrupy holiday movies, and yet this film had him laughing loudly and me spontaneously bursting out with my trademark "Oh, dear God" along with a few expletives of amazement. In the press row, natch. I apologize to my colleagues, although I heard some of them reacting with humor and disbelief as well.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas opens on Christmas Eve, with the title characters estranged. Harold (John Cho) is working on Wall Street (there are protestors, how timely), he and Maria are married and trying to start a family, and his in-laws descend upon their fancy suburban home en masse, led by Maria's dad Carlos (Danny Trejo). Kumar (Kal Penn), on the other hand, is living in a crappy apartment, drowning his sorrows in weed after his girlfriend Vanessa left four months ago, saddled with an annoying roommate who's even less responsible than Kumar.

Fantastic Fest 2011: All Our Coverage


Updated October 11, 2011.

Slackerwood was all over Fantastic Fest 2011. Here's a list of all our coverage (after the jump) in one handy-dandy location.

Fantastic Fest Review: Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope


Comic Con Episode FourDocumentaries aren't normally gala closing-night picks for film festivals, but you couldn't find a better movie to end Fantastic Fest this year than Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope. The frothy, upbeat doc from filmmaker Morgan Spurlock celebrated fandom -- and not exclusively, or even primarily movie fandom -- with a focus on a variety of attendees at Comic-Con San Diego.

Wait. Stop. I know what you're thinking. You've seen Spurlock's documentaries and you're wondering how he's managed to wedge himself into this particular scenario. But I bet that for most people, if you didn't know Spurlock directed this movie, you would never guess. The Super Size Me filmmaker doesn't appear onscreen at all -- you don't even hear him in a voiceover. This time, he lets many other voices and faces, both well-known and newcomers -- tell the story.

And it's a nice story, respectful of everyone who swarms San Diego annually for the giant Comic-Con gathering, whether they're aspiring artists, collectors or cosplayers. Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope focuses on a few diverse attendees from Comic-Con 2010 to draw us into the event: comic-book dealer Chuck Rozanski, who's had a booth at Comic-Con for decades; first-time attendees Skip Harvey and Eric Henson, who want to illustrate comic books; Holly Conrad, who's been working on costumes for a giant Mass Effect-themed presentation at the Masquerade; and James Darling, who hopes to buy a ring at Comic-Con and propose to his girlfriend Se Young Kang during a panel featuring Kevin Smith.

In between the adventures of these attendees, Spurlock intersperses clips from interviews with Comic-Con regulars, some of whom are very familiar if you are a fan of film and/or comic books, others of which are simply interesting people (or people in very interesting costumes). I spotted Eli Roth, Frank Miller, Guillermo del Toro and Olivia Wilde, among others. The interviews include several of the film's producers -- Joss Whedon, Stan Lee and Harry Knowles -- and watching Lee interact on the con floor with attendees of all ages is a delight. Another unexpected delight was filmmaker Kevin Smith, showing us his best charming fanboyish side, causing me to forget briefly and almost forgive all the anti-critic ranting we've heard from him this year.

Quick Snaps: What's That 'You're Next' Artwork at Alamo?


You're Next mural with AJ and Simon

On a sunny Friday afternoon during Fantastic Fest, festgoers seated on the benches outside Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar noticed something unusual: a mural being painted on the Drafthouse wall nearby. An artist painstakingly worked on a mysterious figure, then text in bloody lettering, then a few gory touches. I took several photos during the process (posted after the jump), but Debbie's the one who snapped the almost-finished artwork you see above.

The gentlemen in the photo who are not wielding a brush are actor AJ Bowen and writer Simon Barrett, who both worked on the Adam Wingard thriller You're Next ... which is thefilm being promoted in the mural. You're Next was recently acquired for U.S. distribution by Lionsgate, and as a result, only screened one time during Fantastic Fest. I'm told it was an extremely popular screening even at midnight and up against the Fantastic Debates (where I was at the time).

Fantastic Fest Review: A Boy and His Samurai


A Boy and His Samurai

In 2009, one of the biggest buzzed-about movies at Fantastic Fest was the Japanese Fish Story. In 2010, everyone scrambled to get a ticket for Golden Slumber. In 2011, before the movie even played, Fantastic Fest-goers went wild over A Boy and His Samurai (Chonmage purin) ... why? All three of these movies are directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura. Many attendees were worried A Boy and His Samurai would not live up to the hype or to Nakamura's previous efforts, but it turns out the movie is one of the sweet delights of the fest.

A Boy and His Samurai is set in contemporary Tokyo, where single mom Hiroko (Rie Tomosaka) is trying to raise her son Tomoya (Fuku Suzuki) and keep her demanding yet fulfilling office job. The pair encounter a young man dressed in 19th century samurai garb, and at first dismiss him as a grocery promotion. But it turns out that Yasubei (Ryo Nishikido) is in fact from the early 19th century -- he had been praying to a Buddha statue and next thing he knew, found himself in the middle of a bustling 21st century city, 180 years in the future.

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