Jette Kernion's blog

Slacker 2011: John Bryant Overdoses on Conspiracy Theories


Slacker 2011

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project.

Today's interview is with John Bryant, a local filmmaker who seems to specialize in jaw-dropping scenes. Most recently I was delightfully stunned by The Good Neighbor, a short he wrote that played SXSW 2011. He expanded his 2006 short Momma's Boy into the feature The Overbrook Brothers, and is also responsible for unleashing the short film Oh My God upon us, which played AFF in 2004 and Sundance in 2005, and is now available online for your viewing pleasure (warning: it's not for the faint-hearted).

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you reshoot?

John Bryant: I think the segment we reshot was officially called "Conspiracy A-Go-Go" -- in the original film, it's the part where the guy (John Slate) is talking about all the JFK assassination conspiracy theories.

Quick Snaps: 'Bellflower' in Austin


SXSW 2011: Medusa shows off

The indie film Bellflower has drawn a lot of attention since I caught it at SXSW earlier this year. Some people consider it this most fabulous movie they've seen in years; others found it repellant. I thought certain scenes were beautifully done but I had to fight the urge to want to give the characters a smack on the head to jump-start their common sense. And like most people who have seen the movie, no matter how they felt about it overall, I loved the cars.

Bellflower opens in Austin theaters this Friday; look for Don's review here on Thursday. In the meantime, I wanted to share some of my photos from the SXSW screening I attended. Writer-director Evan Glodell and some cast and crew members were there and held a Q&A afterward. But again, what got people even more excited was the presence of one of the cars from the film, Medusa, which emits actual flames.

After the jump, check out photos of Medusa showing off its flames, as well as the car-free Q&A. Sadly, I have no photos frrom the after-party, which featured a cricket-eating contest similar to the one in the movie.

Slacker 2011: Bob Byington Re-Creates Papa Smurf


Papa Smurf

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local filmmakers are re-creating scenes from the Richard Linklater movie for Slacker 2011, a fundraising project benefitting the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund (TFPF). The trailer is now available. As we await the August 31 premiere, we're chatting with some of the filmmakers participating in one or more of the short films that will comprise the project -- check out our interviews so far.

Today's interview is with Bob Byington, who has been making movies in Austin since the mid-1990s. At the 2009 Traverse City Film Festival, he won the Stanley Kubrick Award for Innovative Filmmaking for Harmony and Me (my review) and RSO [Registered Sex Offender], both of which are available on Netflix Watch Instantly now. He's also acted in other filmmakers' movies, such as Beeswax and The Color Wheel. Byington has received multiple TFPF awards for various film projects, most recent in 2010 for a new feature film.

Slackerwood: Which scene from the film did you reshoot?

Bob Byington: The "Papa Smurf" scene at Les Amis.

Movies This Week: Another Planet Key Change


Another Earth

August is here, which means the summer blockbuster season is starting to wind down. School will start soon and that means the end of many of the series in Austin's Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies, although you can still find plenty of free movie opportunities around town.

The Paramount Summer Classic Film series is still going strong: this week's selections include Peeping Tom, Playtime and Amarcord. One of my favorite movies to re-watch on DVD, Clerks 2, is screening at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Saturday with actor Brian O'Halloran in attendance. Blue Starlite Drive-In is showing Valley Girl on Wednesday and American Graffiti on Thursday. And Cinema East will bring SXSW selection The Dish and the Spoon back to Austin on Sunday night on the French Legation lawn.

One more thing: To prepare us for the Slacker 2011 premiere at the end of this month, Austin Film Society has teamed up with Alamo Ritz for two screenings of the 1991 film Slacker: this Wednesday (8/10) and next (8/17). Some Slacker 2011 filmmakers will show previews of their scenes, and the proceeds benefit the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. If you haven't been reading our Slacker 2011 interviews, you've been missing a lot of fun.

Movies We've Seen:

  • The Change-Up -- Mike says in his review that this comedy about Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds "doing a Freaky Friday" is okay but unmemorable, not to mention full of scatological humor. I'm with him on pointing you all at Friends with Benefits instead, which I saw earlier this week and enjoyed very much. (wide)

Slackery News Tidbits, August 2


Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Drafthouse Films, the distribution company associated with Alamo Drafthouse, has announced its latest acquisition: The FP, which premiered at SXSW 2011 in the Midnighters section. It's about gang wars that take place using a dance-fight video game. Film critic Scott Weinberg reviewed the movie for Twitch and essentially says it's a one-joke movie, but a good joke it manages to sustain throughout its 78-minute running time. Drafthouse Films plans a limited theatrical release in the first quarter of 2012. In addition, Drafthouse Films now has a new company director, Evan Husney.
  • More distribution news, Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission has landed a distribution deal with First Run Features. According to the film's director, Mike Woolf, the locally made documentary has an expected theatrical release date in January 2012. Read Debbie's SXSW 2010 review for more info about the film.
  • The winner of an Austin Film Festival audience award for comedies in 2009, Herpes Boy, is finally available for us to see again. You can stream it on Netflix Watch Instantly, Amazon or iTunes, or check your cable VOD listings. Debbie reviewed it at AFF and found it funny and poignant; I believe my comment was that it was like Napoleon Dynamite, except actually funny and not annoying. Definitely a must if you're a fan of Beth Grant.
  • Traverse City Film Festival really does love Austin filmmakers -- local films seem to win awards there every year and Austin may need its own category in 2012. This time, the winner was Heather Courtney's documentary Where Soldiers Come From, which took home the Founders Prize for Best U.S. Documentary Film. Read my review from SXSW. Drafthouse Films' previous acquisition, Four Lions, won Best Screenplay in a Foreign Narrative Film.

Review: Attack the Block


Attack the Block

The summer's best alien movie does not involve Harrison Ford or J.J. Abrams, but rather a first-time feature director, Joe Cornish, who's written a story that I've heard described as "Gremlins meets Harry Brown." Ridiculous, but you get the general idea. Attack the Block, produced by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) first hit Austin during SXSW, where it won the Audience Award in the Midnighters category, and the buzz was deafening. I missed the movie at the fest but found it well worth the wait.

In the area surrounding a South London housing project, Sam (Jodie Whittaker) is walking back home from work after dark and is mugged by a gang of young men. The mugging is interrupted by a strange creature thudding onto the roof of the car; gang leader Moses (John Boyega) automatically attacks the creature, kills it, and decides it's valuable. It turns out that it is, in a way -- suddenly more aliens are alighting from the sky, heading for their London neighborhood, and targeting the block of flats where Moses and his gang -- and Sam -- all live. And you should see the teeth on these creatures.

Movies This Week: Attack the Crazy Cowboys and Smurfs


Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I'm pleased that one of the movies I've enjoyed most this summer is opening this weekend -- the one with the aliens. No, not the one with the cowboys and aliens, the one with teenage London hoodlums and aliens. In addition to your choice of movies featuring outer-space creatures, you can also enjoy Smurfs and Steve Carell (not in the same movie), and some good indie films.

Of course, as usual Austin has plenty of special screenings going on. On Sunday night, Alamo Drafthouse's Cinema Club brings Bell Book and Candle back to the big screen, followed by a discussion with Austin Chronicle film critic Marc Savlov.On Monday, you can head to the AT&T Conference Center to hear horror writers Tom Holland and Austinite Alvaro Rodriguez take part in an Austin Film Festival Concersations in Film called "Words That Go Bump in the Night." Then on Tuesday, Holland and Rodriguez will hold a Q&A after a screening of the original Fright Night at Alamo Ritz.

Movies We've Seen:

  • Attack the Block -- This monster-meets-London-gangs movie won a lot of fans at SXSW and is back in Austin to hopefully win some more. I saw it recently and thought it was a great summer movie. Definitely check it out. (Alamo South)
  • Cowboys & Aliens -- Jenn says in her review that the latest film from Jon Favreau (Iron Man) "plods along with too many subplots" and is ultimately disappointing. The movie stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde and at least it isn't in 3D. I may drag out my Adventures of Brisco County Jr. boxed set instead.(wide)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love.  --  Steve Carell stars in this romantic comedy that Elizabeth says is neither a chick flick nor a bromance, and doesn't pass the Bechdel test. But she ends her review by noting that the movie may still be good enough for multiple viewings. Directed by the Bad Santa writers. (wide)

Slackery News Tidbits, July 26


Here's the latest Austin film news.

  • Filmmaker Magazine has named this year's "25 New Faces of Independent Film," and a couple of those faces are very familiar here in Austin. Local filmmaker Joe Nicolosi is the mastermind behind the very funny bumpers at this year's SXSW Film Festival, and DFW-area filmmaker David Lowery was also at SXSW 2011 this year with his short film Pioneer.
  • Speaking of SXSW 2011, local feature Natural Selection (Debbie's review), which won several awards at the fest, has been picked up for U.S. theatrical and DVD distribution by Cinema Guild. The release date is set as "this fall," and I'll let you know when more info is available about an Austin release date.
  • And have we mentioned yet that Richard Linklater's latest film, Bernie, has found distribution? Millenium Films picked up the dark comedy, which was shot in Central Texas and stars Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine. No word yet on a release date -- so far, the film has only officially screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
  • If you're fond of chess and want to see it on the big screen, you'll be happy to hear that filmmaker Andrew Bujalski (SXSW 2010 selection Beeswax) is working on a feature called Computer Chess, which he wants to start shooting in Austin next month. It's about chess players and computer programmers in the 1980s. Bujalski still needs money to use for equipment rental and post-production costs, and has set up a fundraising project. The accompanying video is amusing, especially if you know which local filmmaker is playing the "Hollywood executive."

Movies This Week: Captain Terri with Benefits



A couple of weeks ago, this looked like it would be a drab weekend for new movies: another big dopey comic-book extravaganza (in 3D) and yet another tired romantic comedy. However, it turns out that most of us at Slackerwood have actually enjoyed these films, at least a little, and would recommend them to you. This has been a great summer to learn not to make negative predictions about movies we haven't seen yet.

For those who aren't convinced, Austin once again provides plenty of options. You can head over to Ballet Austin on Sunday afternoon to watch the 2000 film Center Stage followed by a ballet class -- the last in the Ballet Austin/Austin Film Festival series. That night, Cinema East is showing locally shot movie Rainbows End (an AFF 2010 selection) on the French Legation lawn. On Wednesday night, you might like this month's Celluloid Handbag selection at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz: the original Mildred Pierce. Or you could head to the Hideout for Cinema 41's screening of Coming Apart. But what I want to do most is see Paper Moon again in a theater, and the Paramount is obliging me by showing it on Wednesday night as part of a special Iron & Wine presentation.

Don't forget our Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies for other inexpensive moviegoing options.

Movies We've Seen:

  • Captain America: The First Avenger -- I liked this movie more than Elizabeth, whose review will be published Saturday. She says, "While Captain America is a fun summer film, it's not very cohesive or memorable. If you want to see it, find a 2D showing, as the 3D adds nothing to it." I agree about the 3D, but this was my first comic-book adaptation of the summer and I think I picked the best of the lot. (wide)
  • Friends with Benefits -- Mike was annoyed that this romantic comedy with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake screened for press on the same night as Captain America ... and then pleasantly surprised by what he calls "this year's best date movie" in his review. (wide)
  • Terri  (pictured above) -- Don caught this movie at SXSW. Check out his review, in which he notes: "A funny and entertainingly odd take on the adolescent (and adult) desire to be accepted, Terri is a modest but finely made film that will ring true with anyone who's ever felt like an outsider looking in." (Arbor)

Could Netflix Price Change Help Local Video Stores (Please)?


Vulcan Video by David Grant on Flickr

The big movie news late last week was from Netflix: the company is restructuring its subscriptions to separate DVD rental plans from online streaming. Right now, I pay $9.99/month for one DVD out at a time plus unlimited streaming; under the new plans, I'd pay $7.99/month for unlimited streaming and another $7.99/month to rent one DVD at a time (and that doesn't include an extra fee for Blu-ray rentals).

The decision was easy for my husband and me: we can't remember how long the Netflix DVD has been sitting on top of the TV stand, nor even which movie is actually on that DVD. Therefore, we're going to refuse the DVD-only subscription and subscribe only to online streaming, which we use like crazy. And if we want something that's not on Netflix Watch Instantly, where will we get it? From our neighborhood video store, quite possibly.

I'm wondering how many other people are deciding the same thing, and if this could potentially help Austin video stores. Some people might figure if they're saving $6 a month, they could buy the occasional DVD and still come out ahead. Some might add Hulu Plus, which now has the Criterion Collection movies available for streaming, or rent streaming movies/TV from Amazon. And some might try the increasingly popular Redbox. But I like to think -- okay, I hope -- this change could give our remaining local video rental stores a little boost.

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