Jette Kernion's blog

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


Harry Potter 7.2

Although Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was not one of my favorite novels in the Harry Potter series from J.K. Rowling, that didn't lower my expections for the pair of movies, particularly the one opening in theaters this weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. After all, I didn't like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at all the first time I read it, and I thought the movie was better than the book overall (my review). And I did enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, as you can see from my review last year. Still, I was wary of how the movie would be able to represent what I considered a very jumbled and confusing set of climactic sequences, not to mention an epilogue I could have done without.

I did enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 while actually watching it -- but for days afterward, I found myself picking it apart in a way I haven't done with the previous movies, or at least not since the movie version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which I found rather rushed. In fact, some of the problems I had with this latest movie are the same ones I had with Goblet of Fire: the sacrifice of character time in favor of action and spectacle. (Hell, that's the problem with the first two movies as well, now that I think about it.)

Movies This Week: Harry Potter and the Blustery Day


The Trip

It's a good weekend in Austin for juvenile films -- and no, I don't mean Adam Sandler fare, but rather movies that appeal to kids of various ages. Grownups who aren't thrilled by the gangs at Hogwarts and the Hundred Acre Wood might want to head over to Arbor or Violet Crown.

If none of the new movies are grabbing you, head over to the Paramount, where they're showing a Katharine Hepburn double feature of The African Queen and the underrated and delightful Holiday, Tuesday through Thursday. Or perhaps you'd prefer The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on Sunday night.

If you like short films, Austin Film Society is bringing the Texas Filmmakers Showcase to Austin Studios for two screenings Wednesday night. The lineup includes local films The Man Who Never Cried, Sasquatch Birth Journal 2 and short doc Noc Na Tanecku (Night at the Dance); two Dallas favorites from SXSW 2011, Pioneer and 8; and two shorts from the Houston area, Fatakra and LCD Soundsystem - "Home." Find details and buy tickets on the AFS site.

Movies We've Seen:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 -- This end to the seven-book and eight-film series is review-proof; you're unlikely to care what I say when my review is published Saturday. I'm glad I saw it but it did feel like one of the weaker movies in the series, focusing more on special-effects spectacle and not enough on the characters we've come to enjoy over the past decade or so. The 3D was unremarkable; save money and go to a 2D screening instead. (wide)
  • Winnie the Pooh -- The joke is on Don and me; we thought he should see this movie with the possibility of going all Dorothy Parker in his review. Turns out it's "gentle and charming and funny and warm-fuzzily retro." We're thrilled to have our expectations exceeded. (wide)

First Batch of Fantastic Fest 2011 Films Announced


Fantastic FestAustin's Fantastic Fest has just announced the first 20 titles in its programming for the 2011 festival in September. I am not enough of a genre fan to know much about many of these titles, but then many of my favorite Fantastic Fest selections have been movies I knew very little about when I walked into the theater to watch them. 

The one title I recognized was one from my childhood -- and I did a double-take when I saw it at the top of the list. Comin' At Ya! was originally released in 1981 during the peak of the previous 3D movie craze in America ... back when we had to wear the red-and-blue paper glasses, remember? It has been restored with the latest 3D technology so we can watch a lot of things flying at us for two hours. Which, in my opinion, is still the most fun part of 3D. Actor Tony Anthony and producer Tom Stern will be at Fantastic Fest with the film.

The rest of the titles include U.S. and regional premieres of films from other countries including Belgium, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Russia, Japan and Australia; digitally restored presentations of two Lucio Fulci films, Zombie and House by the Cemetery; and a Cine Las Americas co-hosted screening of the Mexican film El Infierno. I can't see any Austin or Texas films so far -- only one of the movies is from North America, the 2011 science-fiction film Beyond the Black Rainbow. I've included the list of films from the Fantastic Fest press release after the jump.

Shameless Self-Promotion: Are We 'Best Of Austin' Material?


Film Fest Geek BarbieI've probably filled out dozens of ballots in various Austin Chronicle polls over the years -- only one ballot per poll, of course, even though I am from Louisiana. Looking at this year's Best Of Austin ballot, I noticed a couple of interesting categories in the Media section that I would like to point out to all of you:

  • Film Critic
  • Local Entertainment Website
  • Local Blog

I actually see Slackerwood more as an entertainment website than a blog, myself -- we have eight regular contributors, we are a Google News and IMDb News Desk site, we report on events and review movies in the same way as many other online and print media sites. But I suppose it depends on your definition of "blog."

I have no illusions about Slackerwood actually winning any Best of Austin categories -- I suspect the above-mentioned awards will go to larger publications -- but I think it would be extremely cool to at least show up on the radar. So if you have a minute and haven't filled out one of those Best of Austin ballots yet, please consider Slackerwood in the categories I mentioned above. We have a number of fine film critics here and I'm sure you probably have one you especially like reading. (I will probably have to put all the names in a hat and pick.)

Quick Snaps: 'Slacker' at Austin Studios


Slacker at Austin Studios

I meant to do an extended photo essay from the Slacker screening at Austin Studios last month, using some of Austin Film Society's excellent photos and some video I shot of Richard Linklater introducing the movie, but you know how time flies and those other cliched phrases we chronic procrastinators use. So I'll just share a few photos instead, and perhaps I can get to the video at a later time.

It was a fun evening (cooler than expected due to that crazy "rain" thing that happened the night before) with a good-sized audience that included many of the filmmakers shooting segments for the Slacker 2011 project. The gentlemen in the above photo are Alamo Drafthouse programmer Daniel Metz, who shot one of the Slacker 2011 shorts (Elizabeth's interview) and filmmaker/Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser, who has been producing Slacker 2011. They introduced the Slacker 2011 trailer, which screened before the original movie. More photos after the jump.

Movies This Week: Horrible Zookeeper Queen


The Ward

It's not a great week for new movies in Austin. The two big Hollywood movies are getting mixed-at-best reviews and only one arthouse film is opening (but it does have Kevin Kline in it). Frankly, I think a better option that would let you enjoy Zookeeper actress Leslie Bibb in a dark comedy about horrible bosses would be Miss Nobody, which played Austin Film Festival last year and is now available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

If none of the new movies grab you, there are not only lots of carryover options from previous weeks but special screenings galore. I am most excited that the Paramount is showing Brazil on Sunday -- twice, although I plan to see it only once. The Paramount also has an Albert Brooks double-feature of Modern Romance and Broadcast News on Tuesday and Wednesday; check their calendar for specifics. And if you're a Sam Peckinpah fan, head over to the Texas Spirit Theater on Wednesday for The Getaway, this month's AFF Made in Texas selection.

Don't forget to check our Free (and Cheap) Summer Movie Guide for plenty of affordable moviegoing options in and around Austin.

What We've Seen:

  • Horrible Bosses -- Mike saw this movie earlier this week and says that "Horrible Bosses is the best workplace comedy this decade, joining the ranks of classics like Office Space and 9 to 5." Look for his review this weekend. (wide)
  • Queen to Play (Joueuse) -- Don is pleased with the performances in this French film about a woman learning the art of chess (the cast includes Kevin Kline) but says in his review that he finds the pacing a bit slow even for his arthouse tastes. (Violet Crown)
  • Zookeeper -- I've never seen Mike so passionately disgusted with a movie -- in his review, he claims that the movie was so terrible it gave him a headache. And that's not the worst thing he says about this Kevin James vehicle in which zoo animals reveal their powers of speech in order to help get James some nooky. (wide)

Slackery News Tidbits, July 6


Here's the latest Austin film news, as well as some other bits of news you might have missed earlier.

  • Rolling Roadshow has added one last Texas movie to its summer tour: Bottle Rocket. The Wes Anderson movie will be shown on Saturday night at the hotel in which it was partially filmed: the Days Inn in Hillsboro. It's part of an event to save the hotel from being closed down. Road trip, anyone?
  • For an excellent and thorough summary of many upcoming Austin films, check out Matthew Odam's write-up for the Austin American-Statesman ... as well as his follow-up on Paul Stekler's latest project.
  • The latest local filmmaker running a fundraising campaign for his film project is Paul Gordon, whose film The Happy Poet premiered at SXSW last year and has been making the festival rounds. Gordon is looking for pre-production research funding for Mexico Carpenter, a feature film he plans to shoot in Mexico later this year. Visit his page on the United States Artists website for more information and to chip in -- matching funds are available right now, and there are various thank-you gifts for different donation levels.
  • I'm worried about what's happening to the old Varsity Theater mural on the side of what I always think of as the Tower Records building (since that's what it was when I started UT in 1991). The Austin Chronicle reports that the mural has been damaged and partially removed to make room for some national fast-food chains that will occupy the space, which The Drag certainly needs more of, right? The architect says they're not going to renovate the mural but will instead provide "a reasonable facsimile." If we were promised a reasonable facsimile of the Daniel Johnston frog on The Drag, people would have been outraged. This is at least as iconic if not more so.

Movies This Week: Inside the Transformers Crowne


Page One Inside the New York Times

We won't see fireworks in town this July 4, because it's too darn hot and too damn dry. No rain, no fireworks, no respite. I wonder if ticket sales in Austin theaters are up this year simply because the A/C in movie theaters is so arctic. Have you been watching more movies in theaters than usual this summer?

If new movies aren't appealing to you, Austin has the usual wealth of special screenings, indoors and out. I'm tempted to see Ghostbusters at Blue Starlite tonight or Saturday; they're offering s'mores kits with "real Stay-Puft marshmallows" to enjoy with the film. Alamo Ritz brings back the documentary Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Trying to Tell Us? on Wednesday night. Austin Film Festival's Texas Family Film Series screens Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius tomorrow afternoon at the Texas Spirit Theater, and writer/director John Davis will hold a Q&A afterward ... and admission is free.

Don't forget to check our Free (and Cheap) Summer Movie Guide for plenty of affordable moviegoing options in and around Austin.

Movies We've Seen:

Larry Crowne -- Tom Hanks co-wrote, directed and stars in this movie about a middle-aged man forced by tough economic times to return to school. Rod Paddock unexpectedly loved it; in his review, he calls it a "true gem" and says it's one of his favorite movies of 2011. I am a bit nervous of anything involving Nia Vardalos these days, but Rod's pretty convincing. (wide)

Page One: Inside the New York Times (pictured above) -- This documentary about the Gray Lady screened in Austin during SXSW this year. In his SXSW review, Rod Paddock said it "shines a light on the difficulty of real news reporting in the world of media convergence and content aggregation." (Violet Crown)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon -- The latest in the series based on childhood toys "has the attention span of a ten-year-old kid after a six pack of Yoohoo," Mike Saulters says in his review. Still, he recommends the 3D movie even to Michael Bay-haters. (wide)

Slacker 2011: Jay Duplass Returns to The Drag


Jay Duplass and Slacker 2011

In celebration of Slacker's 20th anniversary, local (and formerly 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 Jay Duplass, who moved to Austin in the early 1990s to attend The University of Texas and soon thereafter, started making movies with his brother, Mark Duplass. They've written and directed features such as The Puffy Chair, Baghead, Cyrus and the upcoming Jeff Who Lives At Home. The Duplasses no longer live in Austin, but you can occasionally spot them here. Jay was at SXSW earlier this year with his short documentary Kevin, about musician and former Austinite Kevin Gant, and apparently he slipped into town again recently to work on a short for Slacker 2011.

Slackerwood: How did you end up involved in the Slacker 2011 project?

Jay Duplass: Bryan Poyser [who's producing the film for AFS] knew I was coming to Austin for a week, and threw the idea at me as a long shot. Rick [Linklater] has been a huge influence on me creatively, methodologically and hair-wise, so I was just psyched to have a chance to throw the ball back over the net.

Quick Snaps: Starlite vs. Starlite


Former Starlite Drive-in Theatre, Brenham, Texas 0618111816BW

The remains of the drive-in Starlite Theatre, Brenham, Texas

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