Jette Kernion's blog

Quick Snaps (and Video): Will Ferrell in Austin

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Will Ferrell

Last week, Austin Film Society held a sneak preview of the movie Everything Must Go with a special guest: the film's star, Will Ferrell. You may remember he was here a couple of years ago for a screening of Semi-Pro in which everyone emulated the movie's keen fashion sense. This time, no terrycloth sweatbands were present.

Slackerwood wasn't there, but AFS and Roadside Attractions have graciously shared the above photo as well as some video from the event, which we've embedded after the jump. If you've got photos of your own, feel free to share a link in the comments. And if you missed the preview too, Everything Must Go opens tomorrow here in Austin. We'll have a review for you in the morning.

Slackery News Tidbits, May 9

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Here's a recap of last week's Austin film news, as well as some more recent news.

  • Local filmmaker and Austin Film Society staffer Bryan Poyser (Lovers of Hate) has made a short film that will be available online later this week as part of the USA Network Character Project. The short film project is part of USA's new "Characters welcome" theme, the idea being that all eight shorts are character-based. Poyser's short is called The Fickle and stars Katie Aselton (The Freebie); it was shot earlier this year at Austin Studios.
  • Do you like movie marathons? Really, really long movie marathons? If so, you may be spending a lot of time at Alamo Drafthouse this summer. On Sunday, May 29, Alamo Ritz is showing all five Planet of the Apes movies -- al in 35mm -- starting at 10 am.They also promise "ape-centric menu specials." In addition, Alamo is dropping hints on their Twitter feed of an upcoming marathon of all eight Harry Potter movies when the final film is released in mid-July. I think that would just about kill me, especially if I had to watch the last one in 3D.
  • As part of the Slacker 2011 project I mentioned last week, Austin Film Society is looking for remakes of the final scene of the original movie. You can submit your version of the scene to AFS for consideration in the film -- deadline is May 30.

Movies This Week: Meek's Borrowed Beaver Thor

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Hobo with a Shotgun

The summer movie season is underway this week with a brand-new Hollywood comic-book movie, Thor, directed by blockbuster moviemaker Kenneth Branagh. (I wish he'd go back to Shakespeare.) However, here in Austin we have plenty of new indie movies too, if you're not in the mood for something big and loud and 3D.

Movies We've Seen:

  • The Beaver -- Scripted by Austin TV and film writer Kyle Killen, this twisted comedy/drama premiered at SXSW. I liked it well enough -- yes, even Mel Gibson, who handles a beaver hand puppet better than you'd think -- but wished it were a little edgier. Read Jenn's review for a slightly different point of view. (Arbor)
  • Meek's Cutoff -- This AFF 2010 selection returns to Austin for a theatrical release. Directed by Kelly Reichardt, who brought us Wendy and Lucy and Old Joy. Don enjoyed the movie very much, noting in his review that although it is set in late 19th century Oregon, it is not your typical Western. (Arbor, Violet Crown)
  • Something Borrowed -- Judging by Elizabeth's review, this romantic comedy was only watchable for Kate Hudson, and the costuming would appall the Go Fug Yourself chicks. You want to watch something entertaining about best friends and weddings, wait for Bridesmaids next week. You'll thank me later.(wide)
  • Thor -- Another Marvel comic-book adaptation, another stepping-stone to the Avengers movie ... but directed by Kenneth Branagh, with a cast that includes Anthony Hopkins and Stellan Skarsgard. And it's in 3D. Read Mike's review to find out why he was impressed. (wide)

Los Angeles Film Festival Loves Austin (and John Merriman)

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The Los Angeles Film Festival has a heavy dose of Austin in its lineup this year. Not only that, but I've counted at least three films involving local actor John Merriman (pictured above with Kerri Lendo at AFF 2010). Is there some sort of conspiracy afoot? Is he becoming the Austin version of Dick Miller? Along with the films playing at LAFF, I've been on set visits this year for two upcoming movies with Merriman in them, and he was in one of the SXSW bumpers this year. I think someone needs to look into this before something tragic -- or very funny -- happens.

Merriman aside, here are the Austin-connected features and shorts popping up all over LAFF in June:

  • In the narrative competition, the latest feature from Mike Akel (Chalk), An Ordinary Family, is premiering. The locally shot movie is set at a family reunion where one man shows up with his new boyfriend. The cast includes Chalk cast members Troy and Janelle Schremmer, The Happy Poet filmmaker/actor Paul Gordon and yes, Mr. Merriman.
  • Akel's competition in this category includes a film from Steve Collins, the former Austinite whose previous feature, Gretchen, won him the LAFF Target Filmmaker Award in 2006. You Hurt My Feelings, also havings its world premiere at LAFF, is about a man who becomes a nanny to show his ex-girlfriend that he would make a good father. The leads are three actors who starred in Gretchen -- Courtney Davis, Macon Blair and ... John Merriman. You Hurt My Feelings is produced by Anish Savjani, who produced Gretchen as well as a number of other Austin films.

A Tour of Austin Filmmaking Via 'Slacker 2011'

Slacker 2011Of all the movies undergoing remakes, sequels, "reboots" and so forth, the last one I ever expected to get such treatment was the 1991 Richard Linklater film Slacker. But here we are, two decades after the movie premiered in Austin, and Austin Film Society and Alamo Drafthouse have teamed up to organize a remake ... sort of. Surprisingly, I'm not making the usual squinchy face of distaste that I do when I hear about remakes, which may have to do with the talent involved.

Slacker 2011 is not just a potential film, it's a project to raise money for the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund (TFPF). Nearly two dozen local (or formerly local) filmmakers have signed up to re-create scenes from Slacker -- perhaps showing us how much Austin has changed in the last 20 years. Each filmmaker will re-shoot a scene in its original location, and the scenes will be edited together for Slacker 2011. The film will premiere on August 31 ... obviously not at the same theater where Slacker premiered, though (the now-defunct Dobie).

How does fundraising tie into this? You can donate money to the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund and different levels give you different premiums, like the fundraising campaigns for indie films through Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. $50 gets you a ticket to the Slacker 2011 premiere and a thank-you on the AFS website; other levels offer autographed DVDs of both films, the chance to be an extra or have a speaking role in one of the Slacker 2011 scenes, and for $25K, Executive Producer credit.

The list of filmmakers is impressive if you know something about the Austin film community. However, I think it's unfair to make that assumption, or to leave you with nothing but a handful of IMDb links. Therefore, the bulleted list below provides a little more info about who these filmmaker are, what they've worked on, and if they themselves have benefitted from the TFPF program. It's a nice little tour of local filmmaking with some fascinating interconnections. I know more about some filmmakers than others, so if I've missed something notable, let me know in the comments.

'¿Tacos or Tacos?' Tours Central Texas

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Tacos or Tacos?Food trucks and trailers are increasingly popular in Austin these days, serving everything from traditional tacos to kimchi fries to frozen chocolate-dipped bananas. Local filmmaker Robert Lemon, who is also a PhD student in geography at The University of Texas, compares and contrasts two very different mobile food vendors in the short documentary ¿Tacos or Tacos?, which played Cine Las Americas this week and will screen at the Hill Country Film Festival tomorrow.

The documentary focuses on Mighty Cone on South Congress and Tortas El Guero on Cameron Road. One serves gourmet meats and snacks in paper snow-cones, parked in a trendy lot devoted to food trailers; the other serves  Mexico City-style tortas and tacos from a converted school bus next to a car wash. Lemon shows up on camera discussing the Austin mobile food culture and trying some of the wares from the two vendors. In addition, he interviews not only the managers/owners of the trailers but also some of the patrons.

One of the points the documentary makes is that the two different trucks reflect the culture of their surrounding community, and the way that food is important to people, especially people far from their hometown. The interviews and discussions around Tortas El Guero are especially good.

Cine Las Americas Jury Award Winners Screen Tonight

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Cine Las AmericasThe Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, which has been going on all week, has announced its jury award winners and scheduled them for encore screenings tonight at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. If you don't have a festival pass, you can buy tickets at the Alamo box office.

Portraits in a Sea of Lies (Retratos en un mar de mentiras) won the Best Narrative Feature award and will be shown at 6 pm. The Colombian movie is about a pair of cousins who travel to their hometown to try to recover land taken from them when younger. The Best Narrative Short, Lupano Leyva, will screen beforehand.

The Best Documentary Feature award went to Defiant Brasilia (Avenida Brasilia Formosa), which plays at 3 pm. The "experimental documentary" from Brazil is about a group of people moved to a fictional street and how they interact together. The Best Documentary Short, If We Stay Alive (Si seguimos vivos), will screen beforehand.

Cine Las Americas wraps up tonight with closing-night film The Life of Fish (La vida de los peces), at 9:45 pm at Alamo on Lamar, followed by an after-party at Club DeVille.

For more Cine Las Americas coverage, check out Austin Vida, which includes an interview with Go For It! filmmaker Carmen Marron and reviews of fest selections Habla Texas and Miss Tacuarembo. In addition, True View Reviews has set up a blog just for their Cine Las Americas reviews.

Slackery News Tidbits, April 27

Here's the latest Austin film news, along with some special screenings and events.

  • Last week, I wrote about the Austin films that will screen at Cannes, some of which have screened here already. Now you can see Kyle Henry and Carlos Trevino's short film Fourplay: Tampa here in Austin before it plays the Cannes Film Festival. aGLIFF and Austin Film Society are sponsoring a benefit screening to raise completion funds for the film. Catch Fourplay: Tampa on Saturday, April 30 at 1 pm at Alamo Ritz.
  • Austin is also getting some representation at Ebertfest in Champaign, Illinois this weekend. Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater will be at Roger Ebert's film festival on Friday to screen his delightful 2009 movie Me and Orson Welles. In addition, Natural Selection, the Smithville-shot film that swept the SXSW Narrative Feature awards this year (Ebert was on the jury), will play the festival.
  • If you're here in Austin this weekend, don't forget the Hill Country Film Festival, which takes place Thursday through Saturday at the Stagecoach Theater in Fredericksburg. Sounds like a great opportunity for a short road trip.

A Look at Cine Las Americas So Far

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Cine Las AmericasMuch to my regret, I haven't yet been able to get to Cine Las Americas this year. Fortunately, several other excellent online writers have been sharing previews, reviews and other interesting notes on the film festival.

Check out these websites, which will tempt you to head out to Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar and the Mexican American Cultural Center for the remaining films and events at Cine Las Americas this week. Feel free to share links to other coverage in the comments.

  • Austin Vida is publishing movie reviews from Cine Las Americas. Annar Verold was impressed with the Chilean documentary Nostalgia de la luz, and amused by opening-night film Las marimbas del infierno.
  • Over at Austin Film Society's Persistence of Vision blog, AFS Programming Director Chale Nafus has been sharing his enjoyment of the festival and offering previews of many films. Here are his entries for Day One and Day Three of Cine Las Americas this year, and I'm sure he'll have more before the week ends.
  • Kimberley Jones and Richard Whittaker at the Austin Chronicle recommends five must-see events at Cine Las Americas, some of which you can still catch.
  • Even the parties are getting a bit of press: Michael Barnes reports on Friday night's Iron Dragon reception on the Statesman's Out and About blog, and chats with the Cine Las Americas filmmakers that attended.

Slackery News Tidbits, April 22

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Here's the latest Austin movie news and a few upcoming special events:

  • Violet Crown Cinema downtown is gearing up to open April 29. If you can't wait that long, Austin Film Society is holding a fundraiser preview at the new theater on Wednesday, April 27. AFS founder Richard Linklater has selected eight titles from the Criterion Collection to screen in the theaters that night; you can pick a single or double-feature ... and the ticket prices include garage parking downtown. I'm very tempted to slip down there for Paris, Texas myself. Look for my interview with VCC manager Elizabeth Skerrett next week.
  • Speaking of Linklater, local actor/artist Wiley Wiggins will be drinking and live-tweeting during a broadcast of Dazed and Confused tonight at 6 pm on cable TV network Current. Read this A.V. Club interview with Wiggins for all the details.
  • If you prefer your movies in a theater and Twitter-free, you can always head over to the AFS Screening Room for a special screening of The Whole Shootin' Match at 7:30 pm with Sonny Carl Davis in attendance.
  • Since the Dobie Theater closed last year, Austin no longer has a Landmark-owned theater in town, but it's still interesting to hear that Mark Cuban is putting the theater chain up for sale, along with Magnolia Pictures. Also interesting and slightly related: One of Magnolia's co-founders was Bill Banowsky, owner of Violet Crown Cinema here in Austin.
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