Jette Kernion's blog

Slackery News Tidbits, June 1


Here's the latest Austin film news, plus an Austin-shot short film at the end.

  • Ain't It Cool News reports that Austin producer/TXMPA rep Paul Alvarado-Dykstra and local animator/actress Samantha Inoue-Harte have formed a new production company called Animetropolis. Their first project will be producing an animated feature adaptation of Tailchaser's Song by Tad Williams. Check out the AICN link above for some interesting concept art for the movie.
  • The Boston Globe and Roger Ebert have both been publicizing the fact that many theaters are now projecting 2D movies using 3D lenses, making the movies look darker and murkier. On some digital projectors, the 3D lenses are very difficult to remove, so theaters don't bother. Now Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League has stepped in to talk about how the Drafthouse theaters, which use the Sony projectors under discussion, deal with the problem. I'm hoping that his article inspires other theaters to do the same things (because I'm cynical enough to believe that very few chains are doing the same things Alamo is doing, sadly).
  • Local production company Arts + Labor is profiled in the Austin American-Statesman. You'll find a lot of familiar names in the article, from founder Alan Berg (Outside Industry: The Story of SXSW) to former Alamo programmer Brad Parrett (so that's where he is now!) to local filmmakers Kat Candler (who has been tweeting lately about some intriguing-sounding film projects) and Joe Nicolosi (the guy behind the SXSW 2011 bumpers).

Movies This Week: Wartime Panda Hangover


Dazed and Confused

Two sequels and three indies ... that's a typical summer movie weekend for you in Austin. One of the sequels is trying to be as raunchy as possible, one is trying to entertain entire families, including grown-ups. I personally would rather see silly animated kung fu spoofery than a bunch of guys dealing with the dumb things they do while drunk, but your mileage may vary. And if none of that sounds appealing, you'll find plenty of new and continuing indie films in town. Personally, I may see Bridesmaids again if I can persuade my husband to accompany me.

Don't forget that the Paramount is showing a great mix of Lone Star movies this week as part of the Texas Film Commission 40th Anniversary lineup. On Saturday, Robert Rodriguez will introduce Spy Kids and Richard Linklater will introduce Dazed and Confused (pictured above). [Update: Rodriguez will also give the Sat. audience a first look at the trailer for Spy Kids 4.] And if you really need a bargain movie experience, check out our Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin.

Movies We've Seen:

The Hangover Part II -- As the tagline tells us, the Wolf Pack is back. One of these movies was enough for me, and judging by the similarity of the trailers for the original and the sequel, I won't be missing much. Mike says in his review that while he was disappointed with many things about the movie, it's worth seeing "if you have a thick skin and enjoy a good shock treatment." (wide)

Kung Fu Panda 2 -- I'm much happier that the Furious Five are back, especially since Elizabeth is so pleased with the sequel in her review. I was pleasantly surprised by the first movie and look forward to the continuing adventures of Po the panda and his gang. I may even brave a 3D screening on Elizabeth's recommendation. (wide)

2011 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin


Deep Eddy Splash Party Movie Night

Check out our 2012 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin for the latest information.

Updated May 31 with specific films/dates for 101x Summer Cinema Series.

It's nearly triple-digit weather, and those icy-cold movie theaters are beckoning, often too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, sometimes your wallet has to resist, especially with prices for first-run 3D movies and concessions, especially especially if you're bringing kids along or paying babysitters.

So, for the third year running, Slackerwood is happy to bring you our guide to free and cheap summer movies in Austin. Some long-running free programs and series have started charging admission -- of a dollar or two. You can still find great deals on moviegoing in this town if you're on a budget. (And is it just me, or are half the summer movie programs in town this year screening Dazed and Confused? Not that there's any reason to complain about that!)

Some free series from previous years are gone: AMC dropped its Summer Movie Camp this year. South Austin restaurant Nueva Onda closed last month, which means the excellent indie-centric Nueva Onda Film Series is on hiatus until the programmers can find a new location. Movies in the Park is still around but it's not at Republic Square Park this summer; instead, head over to Fiesta Gardens for some free films. On the other hand, I had originally lamented the end of Cinema East, and just got a press release a couple of days ago telling me it's alive and well. We also have some new venues like the Blue Starlite Drive-In.

Texas Rocks Cannes 2011


Cannes 2011When I originally wrote about Austin and Texas films playing at Cannes this year, I had no idea that two of them would walk away with major awards. It has been a great year for Texas movies at the French festival.

The biggest news is that Terrence Malick's film The Tree of Life took home the Palme D'Or, the grand prize of the entire festival. The Smithville-shot movie opens in Austin on June 3 -- however, if you want to see it earlier, Austin Film Society is hosting a special screening and benefit reception on Tuesday, May 31 at the Paramount.

In addition, Austin filmmaker Jeff Nichols' movie Take Shelter won the Grand Prize in the Critics' Week program ... and in that same category, Nichols also won the screenwriting award for his film. Take Shelter premiered at Cannes this year and will get a theatrical release in the fall from Sony Picture Classics ... no word yet on when we'll see it in Austin. Both Take Shelter and The Tree of Life star Jessica Chastain, who will be attending the AFS screening of Malick's film next week.

Other Cannes coverage and news:

  • Charles Ealy at the Austin American-Statesman has a good round-up of all the Austin folks at Cannes this year. 
  • Ealy also reminds us that even a Woody Allen movie can have Texas ties. Allen's latest film, Midnight in Paris, which played Cannes (and will open in Austin on June 10), stars UT alum and Dallas native Owen Wilson.

Movies This Week: Cave of Skateland Pirates


Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I suppose there's some assumption that every single potential moviegoer will be seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, since very little else is opening in Austin today. However, the indie choices are quite, well, choice, so those of you who don't want to watch Johnny Depp camping it up in 3D (wow, when I describe it that way I almost want to go) have some other excellent options.

In addition, don't forget that the Paramount's annual Summer Classic Film Series starts tonight with, natch, Casablanca. The selection this year is especially inspired so do check out the schedule. I just bought a Film Fan membership myself and hope to be over there as much as I can manage.

Movies We've Seen:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides -- The fourth movie in the popular series based on a Disney World ride will certainly draw big crowds this weekend. I do like seeing Johnny Depp in action as Captain Jack, but am feeling a little tired of the series myself (and burned out on 3D extravaganzas). But Mike says it's the best film since the first one, so maybe I need to rethink this. (wide)
  • Skateland -- This locally produced movie played SXSW in 2010 and is now seeing a theatrical release. It's a sweet drama about East Texas teenagers in the 1980s, obviously inspired by John Hughes and that crowd. Shiloh Fernandez and Ashley Greene star. We've got tons of coverage for you to read: Don's review, Debbie's interview with Austin writer/producer Brandon Freeman, Debbie's SXSW review, and some fun photos of the cast from SXSW. (Arbor, Tinseltown North and South)

Slackery News Tidbits, May 18


Here's the latest Austin film-related news.

  • Texas Monthly is teaming up with Alamo Drafthouse for this year's Rolling Roadshow tour, which will take place all around the Lone Star State. The magazine recently published an article in which a panel of five (including Tim League) picked the "ten greatest Texas films," which are the basis for this tour. I'd argue the films, but of course that's the point ... debate is fun. The tour starts on June 3 in Fort Parker with The Searchers, will hit Austin on June 5 with Blood Simple and ends on July 1 with The Last Picture Show in Archer. Did I mention admission is free for all these movies? And that I wish I could just cancel everything I had to do in June and follow the movies around the state?
  • If you're looking for some off-the-beaten-path films to watch this weekend, Lunafest will take place in Austin this Sunday, May 22. Reel Women is hosting this year's collection of ten short films by/for women at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar from 11 am to 2 pm (perfect brunch hours); admission is $10 if you're not a Reel Women member, $8 if you are.
  • The Austin American-Statesman reports that Barton Creek Square Cinema (the one in the mall) is upgrading one of its theaters to include an "IMAX screen" that will show 3D and 2D movies. Why did I put that in quotes? Because Barton Creek is an AMC theater and their "IMAX screens" are not true IMAX -- they're smaller screens that are often called mini-IMAX or IMAX-lite. The screen is still bigger than regular theater screens, AMC says the projection quality is superior, and of course ticket prices will be higher to see movies in that theater. Look for it around the end of summer movie season.

'St. Nick' Returns to Austin


One of my favorite movies from 2009 was St. Nick, a film from Dallas filmmaker David Lowery that I saw at SXSW that year. It is lovely and slow and rewarding and has very little dialogue, a description that I realize will cause some people to run away, but may intrigue others. A brother and sister run away from home and find a new place to live in an abandoned house -- and that's about it for story. The characters and their setting are the focus of the film.

St. Nick has had made a long and successful film-fest tour, but has not played in Austin since its festival screenings more than two years ago. Now, however, the Texas Independent Film Network is taking Lowery's feature on tour around the state. You can see it here in Austin on Saturday night, May 21, at 7:30 pm in the Austin Film Society screening room. (Lowery tells me that the first screening of St. Nick, in a rough cut, was at the AFS screening room, so this is quite fitting.) Tickets are available online through AFS.

Drafthouse Films' Next Project: 'The ABCs of Death'


The ABCs of DeathWell. Leave it to Alamo Drafthouse to rework the alphabet in a twisted and kid-unfriendly way. Drafthouse Films is teaming up with Magnet Releasing and Timpson Films on an anthology movie that will consist of 26 short films, each of which will feature death -- as the press release puts it, "Death in all its vicious wonder and brutal beauty." Each short film will represent a letter of the alphabet -- you probably already guessed that -- and will be directed by a different filmmaker.

The filmmakers for the 26 shorts in The ABCs of Death have not all been confirmed yet, but cover quite an international range (they need more than two female directors, though, please). If you are a frequent Fantastic Fest-goer, many of the names will probably sound quite familiar to you, even though none so far are Austinites. A full list is after the jump.

Alamo Drafthouse's Tim League and New Zealander Ant Timpson are producing The ABCs of Death. They'll start shooting in June and plan to finish next January, which makes me wonder if we'll see it in the SXFantastic section of SXSW in 2012.

One of the filmmakers might not be a familiar name: The producers plan to hold a competition to find a new director to make one of the short films in the anthology. We'll post more information about this as soon as it's available. You can also keep an eye on the movie's website.

Movies This Week: True Bridesmaids Must Go



It's the time of year when Austinites like to be outside -- not too hot, and usually not rainy (although you never can tell). Some of this week's new movies may lure you into a nice climate-controlled theater, though.

Interesting note: Two of the movies opening this week played SXSW this year, one played SXSW in 2010, one premiered in Austin last year during Fantastic Fest, and one previewed at Cine Las Americas last month.

Movies We've Seen:

  • Bridesmaids -- I missed the rough-cut premiere at SXSW, wondering why in the world I'd want to see some girly wedding-y chick flick, anyway. Turned out I was completely wrong about this smartly written comedy that women won't find patronizing and that anyone might find funny. (Except my mom, who would walk out offended after the opening sex scene.) Read my review for more details. (wide)
  • Everything Must Go -- This Will Ferrell movie has an Austin connection: edited by Sandra Adair, the local editor who has worked on many of Richard Linklater's movies. The Austin Chronicle has an interview with Adair this week. Read Rod's review to find out more about this drama based on a Raymond Carver story. (wide)
  • True Legend -- The latest film from Woo-ping Yuen (Drunken Master) is an epic martial-arts action movie  about family revenge. Debbie liked it so much at Fantastic Fest that she saw it again to review. (Alamo Lamar)

Review: Bridesmaids



I'm resisting the very strong urge to write "OMG COMEDY WRITTEN BY SMART WOMEN GO PAY TO SEE IT THIS WEEKEND GO GO SO WE CAN HAVE MORE NOW NOW GO NOW." Let's face it -- we don't get many smart comedies written by women and starring women. Women are supposed to make do with comedies with a sexist and mean undertone, or ridiculously cliched melodramas, or those "women are all sisters" movies with bonding over shopping and/or Motown dancing scenes.

Bridesmaids has shopping and female friends being ridiculous and even wedding planning, all things that would normally have me running away as far as possible and begging someone else to please review the movie because I would rather clean the cat's butt than watch such a thing (unless it was made in the 1930s, but they understood wit back then). However, writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumalo have teamed up with director Paul Feig and producer Judd Apatow to bring us a comedy about women that is primarily meant to make us laugh, and secondarily meant to have strong and realistic female characters in it, and the result may not be perfect but it's damned refreshing.

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