Jette Kernion's blog

Movies This Week: San Jose, Holes, Princess Bride

I swear, sometimes the most difficult part of Movies This Week is dealing with the title. It always seems kind of clunky. Anyway, let's jump right into a list of movies and events that look like fun:

  • Screen Door Film is showing The Last Days of the San Jose on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Salvage Vanguard Theater. Director Liz Lambert will hold a Q&A after the screening, and then everyone is heading over to the Hotel San Jose for cocktails. If you live in Austin, I can't recommend this documentary enough -- it's not just about the San Jose Motel, a S. Congress dive that Lambert had to manage while waiting for funding to tear it down and build a boutique hotel. It's about the transformation of S. Congress (I hate the term SoCo). Most of it was shot on Lambert's personal DV camera, but there are also some lovely shots of downtown Austin.
  • If you've ever wondered what all the fuss was about with Citizen Kane, you can see it in a theater and decide for yourself if its greatness is overhyped. The Orson Welles film is playing at the Paramount tonight and Wednesday, on a double bill with Touch of Evil. (Like last week with Dr. Strangelove, I keep brainstorming the best movie for a double-feature with Citizen Kane -- so far I've considered His Girl Friday shown before, or The Cat's Meow shown after.) More cool movies after the jump!

aGLIFF Wants Your Trailers


The Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) is offering filmmakers a chance to get some work seen by a whole lot of people in town. You can enter the festival's Movie Trailer Competition by submitting a short of three minutes or less that embodies this year's festival theme: "We Speak Film." The deadline for submitting trailers to aGLIFF for the competition is August 15.

If you've been to aGLIFF or any other film festival, you know the type of short film needed -- the "in-house" trailer that promotes the festival as a whole. There's always one shown before every film, although aGLIFF rotates several in-house trailers so you don't get sick of seeing that same one over and over (just typing this has stuck an annoying tune used by a repetitive trailer at a certain local film fest in my head ... arrrrgh). If your trailer is selected, aGLIFF will show it in rotation before festival films this year, and you also get a film festival pass. 

Finally, a quick congrats to the brand-new staff at aGLIFF this year: Lucas Schaefer is the festival's Executive Director, and Lisa Kaselak is the new Programming Director. aGLIFF takes place this year from Sept. 28 through Oct. 6.

Movies This Week: Magic Lantern, Free (and Good) Family Films

Here are a few of the more interesting movie-related events and screenings going on around town this week. If I missed something, let me know in the comments.

  • Have you ever wanted to see a "magic lantern," the projector that predated motion pictures? The Harry Ransom Center is hosting "Magic Lanterns: Father of the Motion Picture and Grandfather of Television" by Jack Judson, who owns Magic Lantern Castle in San Antonio, at 7 pm on Tuesday. Judson is bringing a restored magic lantern. The event (at HRC) is free.
  • If I didn't have a day job, you'd find me spending my mornings this week at a couple of the "kids camp" screenings in town. They're free and this week, the offerings are better than usual. Alamo on South Lamar is showing The Iron Giant, which always makes me cry so I better not see it in public, Monday - Thursday at 11 am. Westgate is showing Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Tues.- Thurs. at 10 am. Lakeline is showing March of the Penguins, Tuesday - Thursday at 10 am. And while Flushed Away wasn't all that fabulous, it would be a good free movie: 10 am Tuesday - Thursday at the Arbor. [More events after the jump!]

Why I Married That Man, Part 96 -- The Simpsons Feast


I don't want to get too schmoopy here -- although this weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the first time my husband and I smooched -- but my h­usband continually does these wonderful things that make me remember why I ­married him. Film geeks should be jealous:

  • For my birthday last year, he not only replaced my lost copy of Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes (a friend borrowed it and moved to another state) with the updated Spike and Mike Reloaded, but got author John Pierson to sign it for me. Scott Mosier was hanging out at the Piersons' house at the time so he signed it too.
  • For Valentines Day, he bought us a Heroes of the Alamo membership (although it turned out that the downtown Drafthouse closed and moved anyway) ... and even let me keep the t-shirt.

Yesterday, he emailed me with the cryptic message, "What are you doing on the evening of Wednesday, August 1?" Last time he asked me something like that, we ended up at a concert, which was a fun surprise. I wondered what he had in mind this time. I emailed him back with, "No plans ... are you planning something?"

While I was waiting for a response, I browsed Bloglines to see if any websites had updated their RSS feeds. The Alamo Drafthouse blog had a new post -- all about the promos the theaters will be doing when The Simpsons Movie is released later this month. They'll have a Squishy machine in the South Lamar lobby, various menu specials (would you dare try a Ribwich?), a special pre-show ... and at the end of the month, a multi-course Simpsons-themed feast.

Suddenly the penny dropped, I realized the South Lamar feast was on Aug. 1, and I checked my email to find that my husband had replied to my "Are you planning anything?" message with "D'oh!"

Cowabunga, baby, we're going to the Simpsons Feast! We have never done one of the big splashy Alamo Drafthouse feasts, although I had fun at the Ultimate Garlic Experience a couple of years ago and also enjoyed the four-soup-course meal from the Soup Peddler that accompanied Duck Soup. But now we are taking the plunge. We may not survive ... go read that menu. The "tomacco sauce" scares me a little, but not as much as the idea of a casserole made from "thousands of donuts" and topped with pink icing and sprinkles. I will accept the challenge! I may need to bring bigger pants.

We're more fond of the older episodes of The Simpsons than the more recent ones -- my favorites are from Season Four. We're not sure how much we'll like The Simpsons Movie, to be honest. But we figure we'll enjoy it a lot more if we're watching it during the Simpsons Feast at Alamo. I will let you know what happens. And now I will go smoooooch my husband.

In Brief: Lady Bird, Fantastic Fest, and Summercamp!

A few bits and pieces of news from around the web:

  • The Paramount remembers the late Lady Bird Johnson, and Metroblogging Austin captures a photo. Wish I'd seen that in person.
  • Austin Movie Blog reminds us that the SXSW Film Conference is looking for panel ideas for 2008.
  • Austin School of Film is holding a free Open Screen Night on Sunday -- details are available on Austinist.
  • Austin's Fantastic Fest has joined a new alliance of American film fests devoted to sf/fantasy/horror/animation. I love Fantastic Fest and can't wait until late September.
  • Free online movie: The documentary Summercamp! from Austin filmmaker Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price, which I reviewed when it premiered at SXSW in 2006. If you like what you see online and want a higher-quality copy, you can buy the DVD. (via Cinematical)

Quick Snaps: The Bone Shack in Austin


The Bone Shack­

My husband and I were at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar on Sunday to see Sicko, and on our way into the theater we noticed all kinds of changes, mostly imports from Alamo Downtown. The first one was Karen, the longtime manager of the downtown location ... you know everything's going to be all right when you see Karen on the case. Mondo Tees has taken over the old box-office space. The tall tables and chairs from the sides of the downtown theater (I spent 24 hours in one of those seats once) are now in the South Lamar lobby, providing a nice place to hang out before/after movies. Some of the couches from the last row downtown lined the hallway between the theaters.

But the most charming addition to South Lamar wasn't from Alamo Downtown, it was from Planet Terror, Robert Rodriguez's segment of Grindhouse. Here's the sign from the barbecue joint, The Bone Shack, right behind a row of video games. (Amusingly, one of the video games is Rolling Thunder, which is also the name of one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite films ... he founded a short-lived distribution company with that name in the 1990s.) I know Planet Terror was shot in Austin, but I don't know which location was used for The Bone Shack. Anyone?

And when we left the theater after Sicko, we saw the biggest import of all from the Downtown locale ... the sign.

Mysteries Revealed -- The Fate of the Alamo Downtown Sign


­Alamo Downtown sign ... at South Lamar

One question I heard several times as I worked on the Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon project was, "Do you know what Alamo is going to do with the old sign?" People sure did love that Alamo Downtown sign -- I know I've taken dozens of photos of it myself over the years. One of the saddest sights from the Last Night at Alamo was the image of the sign being taken down and hauled away. I found out what happened to the sign on Sunday, and it was entirely coincidental that I was there when it was happening.

We saw Sicko with a group of friends at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar on Sunday. As we were walking out of the theater, trying to decide where we wanted to go next to discuss the movie (aside: someone really ought to put a coffee shop or ice-cream parlor right next to that Alamo, preferably with free wireless), we looked up and ... wow. There was the old Alamo Downtown sign, being mounted on the side of the South Lamar theater (more after the jump).

Movie-related Events This Week

I've been hearing about a lot of interesting screenings and events around town this week, so I thought I'd share a list of the highlights. If I'm missing anything, feel free to promote your own movie-related event in the comments section.

  • Tuesday night, Austin Film Festival kicks off their new seminar series, Conversations in Film, with a panel called "Script to Screen: Making the Short Film." Panelists include Steve Collins (who expanded his short Gretchen and the Night Danger into the LAFF-winning Gretchen), Jenn Garrison (Prizewhores), and Scott Rice (Perils in Nude Modeling and the very funny Script Cops shorts that preceded films at AFF last year). The seminar takes place at Coldtowne Theater at 6 pm, and you can buy tickets from the AFF site, or call the AFF office if you're eligible for the member discount. I'm amused that two of these three panelists have directed shorts that feature the acting talents of AFF Membership Director John Merriman. That's coincidence ... or is it?
  • Also on Tuesday, if you are a Filmmaker-level or higher member of Austin Film Society, you can attend the Docs-in-Progress screening of Best Kept Secret, directed by PJ Raval and Jay Hodges. Reserve seats through AFS. Best Kept Secret is about the transformation of Trinidad, Colorado, into the "sex change capital of the world." You might know Raval primarily as a cinematographer, who's photographed a number of local films such as Room, The Cassidy Kids, and the aforementioned Gretchen. Hodges is a book editor who has also worked with the Cinematexas film festival. (I really wish these AFS and AFF events weren't competing with one another -- it would be fabulous to attend both.)

Quick Snaps: Paramount's Summer Movie Series


Paramount Theatre, Austin TX

Look, it's a post that isn't about Alamo Drafthouse at all!

I realized this week that I haven't posted anything this year about Paramount's Summer Classic Film Series, which has been going on since late May. The above photo is from one of the first nights of the series, which traditionally opens with a double-feature that includes Casablanca. My husband and I were downtown that night and ended up seeing Casablanca again on a whim, despite the fact that we own the DVD. You can't go wrong with Casablanca.

It was a good print and we enjoyed ourselves very much ... except we could have done without watching The Shadow, a 1940s serial to which time has not been at all kind. I believe these are the same episodes of The Shadow that The Paramount showed several years ago, and the audience reaction ranged from bored to mocking. I'd rather watch a short cartoon or even nothing at all -- I know The Paramount is working hard to offer us good value for money, but this serial is a waste of time. I'd love to see the theater show locally filmed shorts beforehand (or maybe work with SXSW to show the SXSWclick finalists?), even if they're not "classic."

Last week, we returned for Brewster McCloud, which I was happy The Paramount was showing since it's not yet on DVD. As much as I like watching classics like Casablanca again, I'm especially fond of the chance to watch movies that I'd otherwise be unable to see. Brewster McCloud is a very very strange movie but lots of fun to watch, especially on a big screen where you can see every detail of the shots in the Astrodome.

Check out the remaining Paramount schedule for this summer. Next week's pre-Code double-feature of Baby Face and Bombshell sounds tempting to me, but you might prefer double-features devoted to Newman/Redford films, Peter O'Toole, Spielberg, Truffaut ... and as usual, the series ends with Gone with the Wind. We bought the Flix-Tix book of tickets (a good bargain) so you might see me there. The schedule sometimes changes and movies are cancelled or added, so don't rely only on the printed schedule -- double-check the website.

Smokers' Delight: Breathless at Alamo

"Thank You for Smoking" at Alamo

[Scott Henderson ­reports on one of the last unique film events at the now-closed Alamo Drafthouse Downtown on Colorado.]

There was something particularly apt that screening a film which heralded a new beginning in cinema might also hark the beginning of the end for the original downtown Drafthouse. And so it was that, despite the health warnings, Jean-Luc Godard’s timeless À Bout de Souffle (Breathless, 1960) played to a full house of nicotine-addicted patrons gleefully breaking the law for the special "Thank You for Smoking" event.

More than simply apt though, there was also something romantic about the penultimate night at the Alamo Drafthouse -- a dirty kind of romance for sure, but romance nonetheless. Wisps of cigarette smoke illuminated the projector beam overhead and the flicker of lighters sparked delight amongst the audience as old anti-smoking public service announcements preceded the main attraction. Who says Americans don't do irony?

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