Jette Kernion's blog

Variety Loves Fantastic Fest



Scott Kirsner over at CinemaTech has been covering the International Film Festival Summit this week in Las Vegas (or as Matt Dentler discovered, not-quite-Vegas) and has some great news to report that affects Austin. At the keynote speech, Variety publisher Charlie Koones listed the ten film festivals that he says Variety loves, and that he also considered interesting and exciting. The list included such long-running and well-known festivals as Cannes, Telluride, the Toronto International Film Festival ... and Fantastic Fest here in Austin. Congratulations to Tim League and the other talents behind Fantastic Fest for developing a festival that film geeks adore and Variety praises too.

The above photo is one of my favorites that I took this year at Fantastic Fest: Wiley Wiggins and Tim League at the opening party festivities. Incidentally, Fantastic Fest has already sold out its VIP badges for 2008 (I bought one myself during the festival).

Still More Austin Film Blogging and Photos


In case you're not getting enough Austin film blogging here at Slackerwood, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recent photos and blog entries from other websites, all related to local movie stuff in one way or another.

  • Slackerwood contributor Chris Holland took some excellent photos during opening night at the Alamo Ritz. I'm having severe camera envy right now -- my delightfully small camera is incapable of taking good photos in movie theaters. The photo with the confetti is amazing.
  • Sarah (aka "sarah pants," "Sarah who's dating Henri," and "Sarah who's on a poster in my office for reasons too complicated to explain here") has blogged about Alamo's Blazing Saddles BBQ Tour. She also has a Flickr set from the event, as well as ­photos from Alamo's opening night -- I get the impression from these sets that she is fond of mac and cheese.
  • One more Flickr set from the Alamo Ritz opening? Please? This one's from Wiley Wiggins and features­ action photos of the fighting gorillas. (A brief aside: I feel like I'm always linking to photos of one Alamo event or another. I would love to feature photos from other local theaters, but apart from the occasional Paramount premiere, I can't find any online. If I'm missing something, please comment with a link.)

Movies This Week: Horrorfest, King Corn, and Blazing Saddles


It's a movie-rific week, let me tell you. I don't know if it has something to do with the week before Thanksgiving or if everyone is simply in a movie-watching frame of mind, or what. Anyway, there's a wide variety of stuff going on, some of which is highlighted in the list below.

  • After Dark Horrorfest is taking place at Rega­l Metropolitan this week. Eight horror films are being screened, usually 1-2 per day through Nov. 18.
  • This week, Alamo Ritz is showing the documentary King Corn, which premiered at SXSW this year. The theater is also screening Michael Clayton and The Darjeeling Limited daily.
  • Austin Cinematheque is showing Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 film The Passenger on Monday night at the Texas Union Theater. Admission is free.

Blade Runner in Austin ... Only at Turkey Time


I was so happy to hear The Paramount would be showing Blade Runner: The Final Cut here in Austin, and looked forward to seeing the movie there. I haven't seen any version of Blade Runner in a movie theater since the late 1980s at LSU's little movie theater, and that was the original theatrical version with the voiceover. (I kind of liked the voiceover myself, which is weird because I usually don't like them, but that's another story.)

Then I checked the Paramount calendar and learned they are only screening the movie during the week of Thankgiving: November 18-23. We'll be out of town that whole time, and I know we're not the only ones. Perhaps this was the only time the theater could rent the print, but it's unfortunate that they are showing a college cult favorite only during a week when many students and other Austin moviegoers will be elsewhere.

Request to the Paramount: If you could bring the film back for a weekend at a later time, a lot of us would be truly grateful.

I know the Paramount is dedicated primarily to live performances, and it looks like that week was the only time in November/December not taken up with the latest Greater Tuna antics or various concerts (and then the inevitable annual Nutcracker). However, the film isn't playing anywhere else in Austin as far as I can tell. I don't know if ­the Paramount secured exclusive screening rights for Austin, or if other theaters were uninterested -- if it's the latter, I suppose I must also be disappointed with Alamo, Galaxy Highland, Dobie/Landmark, and the larger chains. (It's showing at a Landmark theater in Dallas -- the Inwood -- the week after Thanksgiving, if any Austinites want to make the drive.)

This is one case where I will be picking a home viewing over a theatrical viewing -- giving my money to a DVD rental or purchase instead of a movie theater -- thus advancing, in a small way, a trend I hate to support. But Austin's theaters have left me no choice, at this time. Too bad.

Ritziest Birthday Ever



I knew we were doing something special for my birthday today (although strictly speaking, it's tomorrow), but my husband was stubbornly silent about the details. "We're going to get socks for Rufus [our cat]," he kept telling me. I was pretty sure we weren't going to Alamo at the Ritz's opening-night triple-feature, because it didn't start until 7, and he picked me up from work at 4:30. Also, it included a mushroom feast and my husband has a dire dread of any kind of edible fungus. I imagined all kinds of scenarios: we were going to Tea Embassy, we would have drinks with a bunch of friends, my sister secretly flew into town ... I love a good surprise, because the guessing can be almost as fun as whatever eventually happens.

When I got into the car, he said, "I lied about Rufus's socks. We're actually going on a birthday picnic," and headed downtown. I started to have a slight suspicion when we parked awfully close to Sixth Street. But I still wasn't sure we were going to the new Alamo at the Ritz -- after all, he could be trying to trick me -- until we walked in the door and my husband said to Lars, "Tim's expecting us." 

Movies This Week: Superheroes, TX Book Festival, and Salesmen




Wednesday seems like the weirdest day of the week to be doing Movies This Week, but that's just how this week has been. I suppose I should have a spooky­ Halloween theme, but aren't you seeing that everywhere else, anyway? Here are a few of the more interesting screenings and film-related events going on in Austin for the next week.

  • Alamo at the Ritz opens Thursday night and has programming scheduled on both screens throughout November. Mostly they're showing The Darjeeling Limited and the documentary Confessions of a Superhero, which premiered at SXSW earlier this year. The 10:30 pm Saturday screening of Superhero will be attended by Christopher Dennis (the Superman pictured above) and producer/DP Charlie Gruet.
  • Galaxy Highland is still show­ing The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D daily -- I'm not sure I want to see a 3D version of this film, since I liked the original stop-motion just fine. Is it really an improvement on the original? Anyone? [More after the jump.]

Fantastic Fest Favorite "Timecrimes" Gets Distribution


The above photo is from this year's Fantastic Fest, during the Timecrimes Q&A: Tim League and Timecrimes writer-director Nacho Vigalondo are showing off a dance that Nacho popularized during the film fest.

I like to think that Vigalondo is somewhere doing a similar happy dance right now: Magnolia Pictures has bought worldwide distribution rights for Timecrimes (except in Spain, where the film was shot). The film had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest where the buzz was amazing -- just about everyone was gushing over the film and also over Vigalondo's delightful Q&A sessions; in fact it was almost overhyped. Timecrimes won the Best Feature award and the silver audience award at Fantastic Fest, and the only regret was that Vigalondo wasn't there to chug his beer (the awards at the fest are large beer mugs).

The film then played at Sitges, where Blake at Cinema is Dope reports the reception was not nearly so warm. So I like to think that it was the good reviews and warm fuzzies coming out of Fantastic Fest that helped this film find distribution. [ETA: Harry Knowles notes that Magnolia reps did attend Fantastic Fest this year.]

You can read my own review of Timecrimes at Cinematical. I'm pleased that many people will have the opportunity to see this movie in a theater. Magnolia plans to release Timecrimes in 2008; no word yet ­on a specific date. If you're really lucky, you may get the opportunity to see Vigalondo in person at a screening -- maybe he'll even dance a bit.

[via Matt Dentler's Blog]

Quick Snaps: That Wacky Arbor Marquee


­I don't like the LED screen that the Arbor uses as its main marquee, which is visible from Hwy 183. However, the Arbor has a second marquee, the old-fashioned kind, on the side of the building that faces Jollyville Road. Last week, whoever put together the marquee obviously had a sense of humor -- and was able to get away with it, too.

I think "Shadow of the Jane Austen Universe" would make a great science-fiction film.

Alamo at the Ritz Opens Nov. 1


The official word from Tim League has been posted to the Alamo Drafthouse blog: the new Alamo at the Ritz theater will have its grand opening on Thursday, November 1. The evening's lineup is similar in structure to the Alamo Downtown closing night earlier this year: a triple-feature possibility with a big movie feast as the first event and a bizarre midnight movie in store.

The food-and-film event is an all-mushroom feast served around the movie Matango (aka Attack of the Mushroom People). I love mushrooms, but they scare my husband a little, so I'm not sure I'll be there for that one. (To be fair, he tells people that mayonnaise scares me. It's one of those weird relationship things.) The second film is a sneak of the Coen brothers' upcoming film No Country for Old Men, which I've been looking forward to seeing. And the midnight movie will be the first Terror Thursday film at the Alamo Ritz, but the movie itself is still a surprise. The Alamo blog entry says that "it will jump start this signature series with an 80,000 volt electric shock," so you might be able to venture some guesses from that hint.

Tickets will be on sale starting at 5 pm on Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Ritz, and any remaining tickets will be available at 6 pm online at the Alamo site. No word yet on prices, which are supposed to be announced by Friday.

"Dear Pillow" on DVD in November


I was at a party Friday night where somehow I ended up trying to explain what "mumblecore" is (and failing, I suspect) and someone said, "I remember liking this film I saw at Village a few years ago, what was it, Pillow?"

"Dear Pillow," I guessed.

"Yes, what happened to that, is it on DVD?"

"I don't think so," I said. "Too bad, I liked it a lot."

Less than 24 hours after that conversation, Dear Pillow producer Jacob Vaughn posted to his blog, e-Jake, that Dear Pillow will be out on DVD on November 13. How's that for coincidence?

Dear Pillow, which was made in Austin by writer-director Bryan Poyser and producer Vaughan, premiered at Slamdance in 2004, then pla­yed SXSW and a number of other festivals. The filmmakers were nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the "Someone to Watch" category.

The film sadly never found theatrical distribution (the sexual subject matter might have been a difficult sell), but in the fall of 2004, Alamo Village showed it nightly for about a month, where it built on word-of-mouth.  I remember that my husband and I went to see the film at the end of its run, having to push ourselves because we are not usually 10 pm moviegoers, even though we live around the block from Alamo Village. We were seeing it on the urging of friends (and John Pierson's persuasive article about the film for the Austin Chronicle) and weren't sure what to expect, but the film totally blew me away. I reviewed it later for Celluloid Eyes. [More after the jump.]

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