Jette Kernion's blog

Texas Book Festival: Film Geeks Welcome

Texas Book FestivalAnyone else going to Texas Book Festival this weekend? I figure I haven't had quite enough fest madness with Austin Film Festival, so I'm planning to head down to the Capitol on Saturday and/or Sunday to shop for books, meet authors, and generally have a good time like the bookworm I am.

But since I'm also a film geek, I'm interested in a couple of movie-related events that are part of Texas Book Festival this year:

  • Austin Film Festival is co-sponsoring the "Survivin' Hollywood: Three Texas Movie Pros" panel on Sunday at 2 pm in Capitol Extension Room E2.014. The panel includes authors Robert Hinkle, Gary Kent, and Billy Taylor, three Texans who have recently written books about working in Hollywood. You may remember Kent's reading/signing event at BookPeople back in July. AFF co-founder Barbara Morgan will moderate. This looks like a hoot, and I'm hoping to be there.
  • Texas author Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote the story on which Bubba Ho-Tep is based, will speak on Saturday at 3:30 pm in Capitol Extension Room E2.016. Local author/film critic Rick Klaw will moderate.

Slackery News Tidbits Fight Melancholy


Medicine for MelancholyGoodness gracious, this is turning into a big week of distribution news about films I've enjoyed at SXSW, some of which have Austin connections. Is it coincidence, or what? That's not the only news I have, but it's certainly news I'm happy to share.

  • Medicine for Melancholy, which played SXSW 2008, is now available on DVD. This lovely film is one of my top-ten films from that year, and as soon as I'm finished writing this paragraph, I'm buying a copy. Seriously, this is a lovely film about two people who meet in San Francisco ... find a way to watch it, this weekend. One of the film's stars is Wyatt Cenac, whom you might recognize from The Daily Show.
  • Another favorite SXSW film of mine, Gretchen from 2006, has also been released on DVD this week. Gretchen was shot around Central Texas and while its director and stars may not live here now, still seems very Austin-y to me. I'm hoping to get my hands on a copy soon and share the details, but it sounds like an excellent DVD package from Watchmaker (which did a gorgeous job with The Whole Shootin' Match), including several of Steve Collins's short films with actors John Merriman and Courtney Davis. Gretchen is also available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

AFF09 Slackery News Sources and Tidbits


AFF Pocket cover guide, by stomptokyo on FlickrThree of us from Slackerwood are at Austin Film Festival this year, watching a lot of movies and attending panels and trying not to stay too late at parties. But we're not your only source for fun stories, photos and reviews during AFF. Here are a few of the online news sites and blogs that we'd recommend you visit. If I missed any good blogs or news sites, please mention them in the comments.

  • Hopefully now that the conference is over, out-of-towners with AFF badges are returning home and it will be easier to see movies in the smaller AFF venues. Passholders have not been able to get into many of these screenings, but things may improve for the rest of the fest. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for updates.
  • If you haven't been reading Austinist for your AFF news and coverage, you're missing some good stuff. They're all over AFF, and we know because we keep sitting near them at movies. They've got daily previews, and they're also updating the AustinistFilm Twitter feed like mad.
  • Film School Rejects is also covering AFF this year (sometimes we sit by them too). Check out their AFF 2009 category for the latest entries, including Bethany Perryman's entertaining daily festival diary entries.

AFF Review: Simmons on Vinyl


Simmons on Vinyl

If the screenwriters for Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle hadn't had studio backing for their comedy, and ended up shooting the movie in their hometown with a cast of acquaintances and a budget of maybe $300, the resulting film might have ended up a lot like Simmons on Vinyl. Both movies hang a lot of comedy on the premise of a crazy night in pursuit of something that sounds very silly when first mentioned, but has value to the characters involved.

Director/co-writer Mark Potts plays Zeek, a college kid who is dying to go out on a date with the lovely Holly. We can tell Holly's not interested, but Zeek is so much in denial that he agrees to run an errand for her -- to go to her boss's house and pick up a record she needs for a party, even though she isn't inviting Zeek to the party. Zeek's friends Dwayne (William Brand Rackley) and Dwight (co-writer Cole Selix) agree that Zeek's just being used by Holly, but agree to help him out. However, it's not as simple as merely picking up the vinyl from one house. The errand balloons into an all-night adventure.

'Serious Moonlight' at AFF Opening Night


AFF 09

On Thursday night, Austin Film Festival screened its opening-night movie, Serious Moonlight, at the Paramount. Director Cheryl Hines, pictured above, attended the screening and held a Q&A afterwards. The movie stars Meg Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kristen Bell and Justin Long, and was written by the late Adrienne Shelly (Waitress).

A number of film-pass holders were lined up for the film -- it turned out to be a good-sized audience, but everyone was able to get in.

Quick Snaps: Grave Robbery at the Paramount, AFF 2008



I took the above picture at Austin Film Festival 2008, without knowing who it was or which film was being promoted. I was working the opening-night film's red carpet and suddenly, down the block came these guys carrying a coffin. Naturally I shot a photo or two.

During the recording of Slackerwood Podcast #15 late last week, Chris Holland and AFF Film Program Director Kelly Williams discussed the feature Simmons on Vinyl, one of the selections for this year's festival. One of them joked that "This year, Mark Potts and Cole Selix won't be lugging a coffin around, like they did for The Stanton Family Grave Robbery last year." Eureka!

So the guys in this photo are almost certainly Potts, Selix and Kevin Costello, who co-wrote The Stanton Family Grave Robbery and brought it to AFF along with their coffin. Simmons on Vinyl is directed by Potts and co-written by Potts and Selix. I wonder what kind of prop they'll carry around AFF this year?

P.S. Slackerwood Podcast #15 is on its way -- it's still being edited. It'll be well worth the short wait.

Catch 'Winnebago Man' in Austin This Month


SXSW 2009Were you lucky enough to catch the documentary Winnebago Man at SXSW this year? All the screenings sold out really quickly, and I never got to see it myself. After its world premiere at SXSW (complete with a real Winnebago, shown at right), the film hit the film-fest circuit, winning a half-dozen awards at festivals such as Cinevegas, Hot Docs in Toronto and the Traverse City Film Festival. Now it's returning to Austin for a sneak-preview fundraiser so the movie can be prepared for a wider, non-fest release.

You can see Winnebago Man on Tuesday, October 27 at the Monarch Events Center. This is a venue in the Lincoln Village strip mall, often used for conferences ... which used to be part of a four-screen theater complex, back in the day. A pre-screening reception starts at 7 pm, and the movie starts at 8, with a Q&A to follow. Admission is a minimum donation of $10. Tickets are available online and if not sold out, at the door.

The documentary is about Jack Rebney, whose 1989 outtakes from his Winnebago sales video earned him notoriety first in the underground video world, and then of course on the Internet. Part of the film's storyline is the director of Winnebago Man, Ben Steinbauer, trying to track Rebney down now and find out more about him.

Review: A Serious Man


A Serious Man

The Coen brothers' latest film, A Serious Man, is hard to categorize. It's not one of the light-hearted funny films like Raising Arizona ... its comedy is far darker than Burn After Reading. I liked it much better than No Country for Old Men, which just didn't grab me. This is a low-budget movie that is obviously not meant to appeal to a wide audience, but viewers who are smart enough and interested enough to get involved with this story will find it extremely rewarding. And perhaps a little frustrating -- well, that's the Coens for you.

The cast of A Serious Man has no stars -- at best, the characters actors might look vaguely familiar to you. Michael Stuhlbarg plays Larry Gopnik, the central character of the film. In the late 1960s, Larry is a mathematics professor at a small Midwest college -- up for tenure, but a little worried about his chances. He's having a run-in with a student who's dissatisfied with his grades. His brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is acting increasingly odd. And now his wife (Sari Lennick), apparently out of the blue, has decided she's in love with family friend Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed) and wants a divorce.

Fantastic Fest 2009: Jette's Photographic Wrap-Up


Alamo South marquee

I'm feeling lazy this week, and the idea of writing capsule reviews of every movie I saw at Fantastic Fest, plus descriptions of the events and parties, sounds overwhelming. Therefore, I've taken the slacker's way out, fittingly enough for Slackerwood, and am offering a photo representation of my Fantastic Fest experience. Later on, perhaps I'll have enough energy to tell you how much I liked Bronson and Private Eye, although I'm not sure how long it'll take for me to clarify my thoughts about The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

What was I doing during Fantastic Fest, you may ask?

Pushing my way to the front of a crowd of Gentlemen Broncos:

Quick Snaps/News: 'Beeswax' Returns to Austin


SXSW 2009

Did you catch Beeswax at SXSW this year? The latest movie from now-an-Austinite Andrew Bujalski (Mutual Appreciation) has been playing fests around the country, and I've been waiting for it to return to the city where it was shot. During the festival, I took this photo of writer-director Bujalski and SXSW Film Director Janet Pierson, who has a role in the film.

I'm happy to announce that Beeswax will open in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar (where I took the above photo, coincidentally) on Friday, October 9 and, where it is scheduled for at least a week. Update: Austin Film Society members can get a discount for the 7:05 pm screening, which Bujalski will attend and hold a Q&A.

From my Cinematical review: "Bujalski seems to be working to make his film as natural as possible, as if we were peeking in on real people from the window, but accomplishes this while still making Beeswax fascinating to watch."

I've got photos from the SXSW screening of Beeswax at the Paramount, after the jump.

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