Jette Kernion's blog

What Happened to Cinemark Barton Creek?


Slackerwood received an email this week from reader Roger K, asking if any of us knew what happened to Cinemark Barton Creek, the theater on Walsh Tarleton near (but not in) the mall. He noted, "No showtimes in the Chronicle or on Fandango. They had a nice semi-arty mix, literally between Arbor and AMC."

Fortunately, Austin Movie Blog has the answer to this one. Chris Garcia reported that the theater closed in mid-to-late September. Cinemark is opening a new giant multiplex instead, out at Bee Cave/71 as part of the Hill Country Galleria complex. (Since this is a film-related blog, I will omit comments about the sprawling new development, except to point out that unlike the old Cinemark, this one is probably not accessible by bus.)

Garcia points out that the old Cinemark theater wasn't in good shape and had lousy projection quality -- the article is titled "We'll just say it: Good riddance!" in case you didn't get the hint. I haven't been to the theater much in the past couple of years, since we live further north, but I definitely noticed a decline.

Garcia received so many comments defending the old Cinemark theater that he wrote a follow-up entry that links to his excellent 2004 article about movie-theater projection bulbs and projection quality in Austin theaters. Be sure to click the links at the bottom and read the entire story. I'd love to see him update his info on projection in local theaters for 2007 -- I'd be especially interested to hear his opinions on quality at the Dobie and Arbor.

Personally, I don't understand why theaters would offer sub-quality visuals and sound, since it will only drive more people to see movies at home on higher quality home theater systems. (I wrote an article for Cinematical about this problem earlier this year.) Hopefully the new Cinemark will at least offer a better viewing experience. No word yet on whether the theater will have a "semi-arty mix," but considering it's in a remote suburban strip mall full of big-chain stores, I don't feel optimistic.

A Birthday Gift from Alamo?


The latest entry on the Alamo Drafthouse blog tentatively gives an opening date for Alamo at the Ritz: Friday, November 2. (You may remember that Chris got a sneak peek at the new theater a few weeks ago.) This date hasn't yet been officially announced or anything -- an update to the entry notes that Tim League is actually shooting for Nov. 1. But I'm hoping that they go with the second day of the month.

The reason? Nov. 2 is my birthday. Getting to spend it at the brand-new downtown Alamo would be -- well, not the best birthday present ever, since my husband is so good at finding fabulous film-related gifts for me. But it would be a pretty damn fine way to spend my birthday, especially if they have milkshakes at the new Alamo. Yes, this is a hint. I don't even care what's being shown (as long as Chris Columbus wasn't involved), although I'll let you know as soon as details are available. 

Jette's Fantastic Fest Reviews (So Far)


I've been writing Fantastic Fest reviews for Cinematical, and these are currently available:

In addition, my colleague Scott Weinberg has reviewed Sex and Death 101 and Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. We're both working on more reviews now; check out the Fantastic Fest category at Cinematical for the latest coverage.

I've also seen several movies that I won't be reviewing for Cinematical, because they've already done reviews:

  • Persepolis is an animated film about a girl growing up in Iran in the 1980s; this may be my favorite film of the festival. I just found out it is France's submission for the foreign-language Academy Award.
  • Sex and Death 101 was funny, and it's a pleasant change to see a sex comedy for grownups. Patton Oswalt nearly stole the film, and I liked Simon Baker. It did have some uneven spots, the ending seemed too cute for a dark comedy, and I'm not sure I liked the overall depiction of women. Still, I'd recommend it.
  • Finishing the Game was a slight but fun comedy, and since IFC is planning to release it next month as part of a theatrical day-and-date experiment, hopefully you'll get a chance to see it soon.
  • Son of Rambow is delightful. It's about two boys in the UK who see Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and are inspired to make a similar stunt-laden film with a home video camera. I hope this movie gets as wide a release as possible.

Tonight is the closing night of the festival, with the last "secret screening" still to be revealed, and the awards ceremony afterwards. I've had a great time all week and it'll be tough to return to my daily routine.

FF Secret Screening #2: Persepolis


The second "secret screening" at Fantastic Fest just took place: Persepolis, which played at Toronto and Telluride earlier this year. I'd like to refer you to Kim Voynar at Cinematical for a good review of this film from Telluride. I enjoyed the animated film very much, especially its striking visual style.

In addition, I was able to interview Southland Tales director Richard Kelly earlier today, which I think went very well. I'm reviewing the film now for Cinematical -- I'll post a link tomorrow when it's available.

And Fantastic Fest has added yet another secret screening for tonight at 11:30 pm. I'm not sure I'll stay here that long tonight (I have a 9:30 am meeting Monday), but I'm definitely tempted.

FF Secret Screening #1: Southland Tales


I just saw Southland Tales -- I have no idea how I'm going to review this movie, it's so strange.

I figured out what the secret screening would be when I noticed director Richard Kelly walking through the Alamo lobby, about an hour beforehand.

The opinion I'm most interested in hearing is Matt Dentler. He's the only person I know at Fantastic Fest who saw the longer cut of the film at Cannes in 2006, so I'm hoping he'll check in with a comparison soon on his blog. 

More later -- I'm now in the theater waiting for Sex and Death 101 to start. 

Fantastic Fest: Moebius Spiral (Day Two)



Day Two of Fantastic Fest didn't have the partying excitement of opening night, or any secret screenings, but all that means is that I don't have a lot of photos or breaking news. All I did was to watch two good movies, each followed by interesting Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, and hang out with a bunch of film-geek friends. Oh, and I got a squishy skull that bubbles blood out of its eyes when you squeeze it -- a promotional item for Flight of the Living Dead. I'll have to take a picture.

The first movie I saw was one of the few documentaries screening at Fantastic Fest -- Moebius Redux: A Life in Pictures. I met the director, Hasko Baumann, at the opening-night party, and he seemed concerned that no one would want to watch a documentary at this festival. He was wrong -- a good-size crowd was in the theater when he introduced the film.

Fantastic Fest: Opening Night Photos


The third annual Fantastic Fest opened last night with a big outdoor party, George A. Romero at a screening of his new film Diary of the Dead, and other fun films and events. The above photo is one of the attractions from the party, which stuck around after the party ended and into the night -- Ruben's Tubes, in which fire is controlled by sound waves from music. This was one of several exhibitions contributed by Dorkbot Austin for the party.

The opening-night party actually took place during the day, before the movies started, which was a great idea -- we could all meet people and chat and hang out without having to miss any of the films. The badge pickup was outside too, so when I showed up at Alamo on South Lamar, I encountered a lively setup:

Fantastic Fest Wants Us All to Dress Like Bruce Lee


Finishing the Game at FFOne of the films I've been looking forward to seeing at Fantastic Fest this year is Finishing The Game, a mock-documentary based on the real-life premise of finding stand-ins for Bruce Lee so his final movie, The Game of Death, could be completed. The Justin Lin film sounds like lots of fun, but leave it to Fantastic Fest to find a way to add even more fun to the mix.

Austinist is teaming up with the festival to host a Bruce Lee lookalike contest, with a grand finale planned during the festival screenings of the film. You can read all the details on Austinist. The contest is essentially in two parts -- the first contest takes place now, and you send your photo/video to Austinist, with voting to occur on the Austinist site. Prizes include Fantastic Fest badges or passes to see Finishing the Game.

The second contest takes place live in person at the actual Finishing the Game screenings, with a grand prize of a month's free kung fu classes and some pretty nifty runners-up prizes too. Tim League posted on the Fantastic Fest site that even if you don't think you can win the contest, he'd love to see as many festival attendees as possible dressed up in "Brucewear." He writes, "Let's get as much Bruce as we can in one theater for the Brucinest event in theatrical history!" Now I'm wondering if we'll see Mr. League dressed up as Bruce Lee, too. This screening should be an event to remember.

Alamo Village Starts "Parents Night Out"


I don't have any kids, but I think this is pretty cool. Alamo Drafthouse Village and Body Business (a gym in the same shopping center as Alamo) are starting a new event called Parents Night Out. I just found out about this and I'm too late for you to actually go -- the first one takes place tonight and no more childcare is available. Next time hopefully I'll find out about the event sooner, so you can have advance notice and, you know, actually take advantage of the event.

Parents Night Out works like this: Parents can have dinner and a movie at Alamo Village, while their kids are babysat at Body Business's childcare. (The gym has done childcare for years and has a nice setup, separate from the gym facilities, in the same shopping center.) You would buy a child-care voucher on the Alamo Village website for each child (you have to buy the voucher 24 hours in advance, so they know how many kids to plan for), and then you would buy your tickets for whichever movie you want to see. Details for tonight's event are here, if you want to read more about how it works.

I think this is a fabulous idea and I hope it succeeds and continues. I know several parents who would appreciate the chance to have dinner and a movie together without having to track down a babysitter. If anyone is actually doing this tonight, please post a comment and let us know how well it works.

Movies This Week: B-Side at Screen Door, Lasting Images, and The Unforeseen

Now that Slackerwood is back up and running smoothly, there's no reason why we shouldn't have a Movies This Week, and the sooner the better. Let's look at some of the special screenings and events you can catch around town this week:

  • Screen Door Film and B-Side Entertainment are partnering to show us some great films you probably haven't seen outside of festivals yet ... and really should. Four-Eyed Monsters (which played SXSW in 2005) is playing on Wednesday, Pirate Radio USA (one of my favorites from AFF last year) on Thursday, and The Outdoorsmen: Blood, Sweat and Beers (a favorite from AFF 2005) on Friday. All screenings are at Salvage Vanguard Theater on Manor Rd.
  • Nueva Onda is showing a feature-length film at the restaurant's Movie Night this Thursday: Lasting Images. Admission is free. The movie starts at 8 pm, but get there early for a good seat on the patio. (More movies after the jump.)
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