Jette Kernion's blog

Movies This Week: Bad Buck Beginners Cars

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Cars 2Right now I would easily pay $10 -- hell, even 3D rates of $15 -- to watch a rainstorm in person here in Austin. (I know one happened Tuesday night but I was asleep.) While I wait for such a diverting entertainment, I'll have to settle for watching movies instead. Do any of them have scenes of precipitation? Probably not. I may just have to settle for a very good documentary, a top-notch performance from Christopher Plummer or a raunchy comedy instead.

My plans for this week include finally seeing Midnight in Paris (Debbie's review) -- you all have talked me into it, since even non-Woody Allen fans are recommending it heartily. On Sunday night, Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz brings local filmmaker Ben Steinbauer (whom Elizabeth just interviewed) to Cinema Club to screen the Mayles brothers' documentary Salesman. I may have to sneak over to Alamo on South Lamar at lunchtime next week since the Kids' Club movie is The Muppet Movie. And tomorrow night, if there's no rain, it might be the perfect time to head over to Deep Eddy Pool for their Splash Party Movie Night screening of Grease. (I hear they have spiffy new projection equipment and a new screen too.)

Movies We've Seen:

Bad Teacher -- Look for Elizabeth's review this weekend. In the meantime, here's a sample: "A hilarious and somewhat raunchy view of the world of education, the film follows Elizabeth (Cameron Diaz) as she tries to save money for a boob job." The movie, directed by Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard), also stars Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch and Jason Segal. (wide)

Beginners -- Don claims in his review that this SXSW 2011 feature "shouldn't work at all" because it combines so many different elements in a story that jumps around in time and space ... but surprisingly "works well, smashingly well, so well that it's among my favorite films of this year." Christopher Plummer's performance is apparently the best reason to check it out. (Alamo South, Arbor)

Buck -- Another SXSW film returns to Austin, this time a documentary about "horse whisperer" Buck Brannaman. In his review, Don says it's "a rare family-friendly film that will please arthouse audiences also." I'm not a fan of horse movies but I've heard so many good things about this movie that I'm planning to see it soon. (Arbor, Violet Crown)

DVD Review: True Grit

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True GritI didn't review True Grit when it opened in theaters late last year because I did something film critics should never, ever do: I watched the movie and then I read the book before writing my review. Details from the book jumbled with the movie and I couldn't always remember which was which. Fortunately, Mike was happy to write a review for Slackerwood instead.

So I'm pleased to have the chance to see True Grit again, now on DVD and Blu-ray, and start over with a clean slate. Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen have brought us an excellent movie that plays very well on home video, although the visuals aren't quite as breathtaking as they might be on a theater screen. It's a movie I not only like but could watch with a mature adolescent or with my parents, and how often can you say that?

I enjoyed the Charles Portis novel more than the film adaptation (the narrator is a hoot), but this doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the movie, primarily due to the admirable performances. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld is able to hold her own as Mattie Ross up against Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Matt Damon's Redford-esque turn as LeBoeuf. The Coens focus their movie of True Grit on Steinfeld's character (despite what the DVD cover implies), as in the novel and as opposed to the 1969 movie, which was more of a vehicle for John Wayne.

For those of you who don't know the story from the novel or the earlier movie, Mattie Ross is a headstrong teenage girl who wants to hire a U.S. marshal to help her track down Tom Chaney, to bring him to trial for killing her father. She sets her sights on Cogburn, a hard-drinking U.S. Marshal with a determination she finds appropriate for the job. However, Texas Ranger LeBoeuf also wants to track down Chaney and bring him to Texas for a significant reward. The men might be amenable to working together but neither wants a 14-year-old girl on his hands. They find out quickly that Mattie Ross is one of the stubbornest characters ever to grace the page or screen, and she insists on having things her way.

Slackery News Tidbits, June 20

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Here's the latest Austin movie news.

  • The Austin/Texas films at Los Angeles Film Festival are gathering plenty of attention and critical acclaim. The opening-night film on Thursday was Richard Linklater's latest feature, Bernie, starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey, and based on a Texas Monthly article. Austin Movie Blog has a good roundup of reviews and responses, plus photos.
  • Also at LAFF, former Austinite Steve Collins' film You Hurt My Feelings premiered over the weekend. The cast includes Collins regulars John Merriman, Courtney Davis and Macon Blair. IndieWIRE has an email interview with Collins about the movie. Check out Paul Sbrizzi's thoughtful review at Hammer to Nail.
  • And last night, LAFF screened An Ordinary Family, from local filmmaker Mike Akel (Chalk), which has a local cast/crew including a brief appearance from Merriman. It's still early for reactions, but Moving Pictures Network has a review.
  • Speaking of film fests, congrats to the filmmakers and crew of local film Sushi: The Global Catch, which won the Documentary Special Jury Award at the Seattle International Film Festival last week. The doc about the effects of sushi popularity on the environment was directed by Mark Hall, edited by Sandra Adair and Catie Cacci, and had a score composed by Brian Satterwhite. Looking forward to seeing it in Austin (and hoping it doesn't make me feel guilty about my sushi love).

Movies This Week: Green Submarine Penguin Art

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Trollhunter

It's Father's Day weekend, and why not take your dad or other father figure to the movies? Submarine includes a couple of lovely father-son scenes. Or perhaps your dad would like a comic book movie like Green Lantern? Probably not a children's book adaptation unless he's a fan of Jim Carrey or penguins, though.

If my dad lived in town, I'd wait until Thursday night and take him to the Paramount for a movie we loved watching on TV when I was growing up: the 1974 Sidney Poitier/Bill Cosby comedy Uptown Saturday Night. It's paired with Stir Crazy, which I wasn't allowed to watch at that age. Or we could drive out to Waxahachie on Sunday night for the Rolling Roadshow screening of Tender Mercies.

I may head over to Austin Studios next Wednesday night for an outdoor screening of Slacker with filmmaker Richard Linklater in attendance -- free for AFS members. If it's not too hot, I might go to Blue Starlite this weekend, where they're showing The Blob, The Mummy and Young Frankenstein.

Movies We've Seen

Green Lantern -- Mike tells us in his review that the audience at the screening he attended was extremely underwhelmed with this latest comic-book movie. He also recommends you pick the 2D version this time. I hear Peter Sarsgaard is in it but I think I may find one of his earlier movies to watch instead. (wide)

Submarine -- This is the kind of movie that reminds you of other movies, but in a good way ... possibly because what we're watching may be one character's internal movie of his life. Read my review, then go see the movie. (Arbor)

TrollHunter (Trolljegeren) -- Debbie saw this at Fantastic Fest, and here's her reaction: "I loved it -- kept me on the edge of my seat. The writer/director creates a plausible life history of trolls while at the same time the audience engages with the protagonists (troll hunter and documentary film crew). Should not be dismissed as a "Blair Witch" hyper-realism film. I look forward to seeing it again. (Alamo South Lamar)

Review: Submarine

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Submarine

Free yourself from the trappings of time and imagine a very young Bud Cort in a coming-of-age movie written by Bill Forsyth (Gregory's Girl) and directed by Bob Byington (Harmony and Me), transport the scenario to Wales, and you have an idea of what you're getting into with Submarine, which opens in Austin this week.

Submarine is one of those movies I feel I really shouldn't like. Too precious. Quirkiness for its own sake. Voiceover narration, and you know how I feel about that unless Billy Wilder is involved. And it's yet another coming-of-age movie, a period piece even, and isn't that done to death?

But somehow, like its main character, Submarine is weirdly likeable. Maybe even lovable in spots. The sense of humor is off-kilter and the movie reminds me quite strongly of my own high-school days, but doesn't resort to nostalgia or anything the least bit sappy. I want to give the movie and all its characters a hug … or perhaps, like one of the female characters does to her boyfriends, burn its leg hair. It's an impressive feature directorial debut for actor Richard Ayoade, whose last name I hope someday to be able to pronounce correctly.

Slackery News Tidbits, June 14

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Here's the latest Austin movie news -- a lot of which is interconnected in a way that reminds me the Austin film community can be a small world sometimes.

  • Austin Film Festival is gearing up for its October conference and fest, and has just announced the 2011 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking honoree: John Lasseter. This means that Lasseter, Disney/Pixar Chief Creative Officer, will be in Austin this fall to receive his award and possibly host an interesting screening of some sort. In case I hadn't mentioned it earlier, AFF is also honoring Caroline Thompson with the Distinguished Screenwriter Award and Hart Hanson with the Outstanding Television Writer Award.
  • AFF is also hosting excellent screenings throughout the summer. On Sunday, June 26, AFF and Ballet Austin are co-sponsoring a screening of Robert Altman's The Company at Ballet Austin, and your ticket gets you into not only the movie but a free Ballet Fit class right after the movie. I like the idea of pairing movies and athletic endeavors. (Can you guys do something similar next with Boxing Gym or even The Fighter? Thank you.)
  • One of the highlights of AFF 2010 for me was a script reading of Maggie Carey's The Hand Job, which was on The Black List of unproduced screenplays. Gordon and the Whale reports that inevitably, the script now has a new title: The To-Do List (which, if you've seen my photos from the reading, is quite apt). The article also has an update on casting for the production, which I hope means we'll get to see this movie sooner rather than later.

Review: Super 8

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Super 8

While watching Super 8, the Steven Spielberg-produced movie written and directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost), I may have been the only person in the audience thinking about author Robertson Davies. Specifically, this passage from his novel The Lyre of Orpheus, in which characters discuss the difficulty of putting together a libretto for an unfinished opera score:

"If you had to prepare this libretto, who would you rob? A poet, of course, but not a very well-known poet. And he would have to be a poet contemporaenous with Hoffman, and a fellow-spirit, or the work would ring false. And amid the work of that poet you would have to interpose a lot of stuff in the same spirit, because nobody wrote a libretto about King Arthur that is lying around, waiting for such an occasion. And the result would be --"

"Pastiche!"

"Yes, and the craft of the thing would be sewing up the joints, so that nobody would notice and denounce the whole thing as --"

"Pistache! Oh, you are a clever one!"

Movies This Week: Super Summer Midnight

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Super 8

This week, Austin gets a kids' movie, a Spielbergian movie about kids, and a nice Woody Allen movie for the grownups. Which do you think you'll see? Or are you planning to catch up on movies that opened in the past few weeks?

Maybe you'd prefer to see Austin-shot film The Happy Poet (Jenn's review), which Cinema East is showing this Sunday night on the French Legation Museum lawn. The Paramount has canceled its Charlie Chaplin movies tonight due to the Republic of Texas rally (boo, hiss) but you can still watch Modern Times and a collection of Chaplin shorts on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Plus, on Tuesday and Wednesday they are showing one of my favorite Westerns, Destry Rides Again, in an inspired double with Johnny Guitar.

Movies We've Seen:

Midnight in Paris -- Debbie was happily surprised by the latest Woody Allen movie, as you can see in her review, and she's not the only one enamored of this film where a contemporary writer finds himself in the world of 1920s Paris. You guys are trying to get me to watch another Woody Allen film again and you know what happened last time you convinced me. I admit I'm tempted. (wide)

Super 8 (pictured above) -- Look for my review of this movie tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll note that I found the J.J. Abrams film to be a pleasant reworking of the themes/characters seen in many Spielberg movies of the 1980s (which I grew up with). For me, this is a good summer theatergoing movie, slightly smarter than the other options currently out there. (wide)

Quick Snaps: Flashback to 409 Colorado

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Last Night at the Alamo Grindhouse

While I'm out of town, I didn't want to leave Slackerwood completely abandoned. I decided to pick one of my most popular photos from Flickr and post it ... and when I saw this photo, I realized it is four years this month since the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado closed down.

I miss it, in the same way you miss that first apartment straight out of college with the bad A/C and the roaches that fell out of the ceiling and the radiator that almost caught fire. It wasn't the fanciest movie theater, but I saw a whole lot of good films there.

If you are also feeling full of nostalgia for 409 Colorado back in its glory days, check out our Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon from June 2007 and take a trip down Memory Lane.

Upcoming Special Screenings You Shouldn't Miss

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Blood SimpleAustin has a number of special screenings and events coming up in the next week or two, so I thought I'd list some of them here. I also recommend checking the Austin Chronicle's weekly Special Screenings listing (updated online on Friday mornings) as well as Austin Creative Alliance's Now Playing Austin site (which I wish would make film event listings as prominent as the other arts, hint hint).

Don't forget to check our Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin for a great listing of film series that will fit your budget.

  • It's a Very Joe Swanberg weekend here in Austin. The Chicago indie filmmaker will participate in an AFS Moviemaker Dialogue on Saturday night at Austin Studios. On Sunday, Alamo Drafthouse Ritz hosts two Swanberg movies, Art History and Uncle Kent (both featuring actor Kent Osborne), with Swanberg attending. And on Monday night, he'll stick around when AFS Best of the Fests brings back SXSW 2011 selection Silver Bullets, also at Ritz.
  • The Paramount is going all John Hughes on us this weekend with a double-feature of Sixteen Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful on Sunday. If you're one of the first 100 people admitted to the 2 pm screening of Sixteen Candles, you get a free birthday cupcake. On Wednesday night, June 8, the theater is showing a Marlon Brando double of Last Tango in Paris and Burn! ... and no, they are not having any related promotions (would you really want them to?).
  • The free Texas Rolling Roadshow starts tomorrow night in Fort Parker with The Searchers. If you don't feel like a long drive, Austinites can see The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in nearby Kingsland on June 4 and Blood Simple in Dessau Hall on June 5. If you want to spend a little money, VIP packages are available for the Chain Saw screening, and an after-party with The Derailers will take place after the Blood Simple screening. Finally, check out the gorgeous posters Jason Munn created for the tour; I really want the Giant one myself.
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