Jette Kernion's blog

Watch a good movie on TV tonight ... and see me, too

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The KLRU-TV series SXSW Presents is airing the 2005 documentary The Dreams of Sparrows tonight at 9:30 pm. The documentary is shot in Iraq, but should not be dismissed as "yet another documentary about Iraq." A few amateur filmmakers bought a couple of DV cameras and decided to shoot all kinds of everyday scenes in various parts of Iraq -- artists, businessmen, hospitals, kids living in bombed-out buildings, more fortunate kids in private schools, and so forth. Some of the interview subjects are great fans of George Bush, others aren't happy about the U.S. invasion. It's a very different sort of look at contemporary Iraq. You can watch a trailer for the film on the SXSW Presents website.

And after the documentary ends, you can watch me discussing The Dreams of Sparrows with a group of other Austin film people. I haven't seen the finished interview yet, so I'll be watching too (and probably feeling really embarrassed). The interview will be posted to the SXSW Presents website after the show airs, so you can watch it there, but the main attraction is definitely the documentary. Set your TiVo, or VCR, or curl up on the couch tonight at 9:30.

AFF screens Death of a President tonight

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Death of a PresidentThe "TBA screening #2" on Austin Film Festival's schedule has been revealed: the controversial feature Death of a President. The BBC-produced movie uses existing news footage to create a fake documentary in which Bush is assassinated. The movie is having its first U.S. public screening right here in the capital of Texas.

You can see the movie tonight at 7 pm at the IMAX theater -- yes, the one inside the Texas State History Museum, interestingly enough. After festival badgeholders and passholders have been admitted, anyone can buy tickets for the remaining seats. I'm probably going to see Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn myself (Paramount, 7:30 pm) -- it's a tough choice.

Last night I watched Special, which so far is my favorite film of the festival. Michael Rapoport plays a mild-mannered meter maid who participates in a trial experiment for a new antidepressant, with bizarre results. The movie plays again on Wednesday night at Alamo Lake Creek, and I'd recommend it to festivalgoers. I also caught the midnight screening of Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror, which I thought would be good cheesy late-night fun, but which didn't quite deliver.

AFF is underway!

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It's the second night of the Austin Film Festival, and the first night I've had time to post. Yesterday I saw The TV Set and Pirate Radio USA, and tonight I watched Catch and Release. I keep running into people I know and having a great time. Even the in-house festival trailers are making me laugh.

Chris probably won't be posting much this week, since he actually works for AFF and every time I've seen him, he's been busy snapping pictures, collecting audience award ballots, or doing other important festival stuff. It's nice to know people involved with the festival because I get the latest scoop on schedule changes, and then I can pass them on to you.

For example, two movies that are premiering at AFF on Saturday had to move their time and venue: Run Robot Run will play at the Dobie at 3 pm, and Military Intelligence and You will play at the Texas Spirit theater (part of the TX History Museum) at 4:45 pm. Run Robot Run sounds like lots of fun and I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Other movies I'm hoping to catch: Rescue Dawn, the latest from Werner Herzog; Special, which stars Michael Rapaport; Snoop Dogg's House of Horror, which will have actor Danny Trejo in attendance; the documentary Third Monday in October; and other stuff I'm too tired to remember right now. Attendance seems to be quite good but I am noticing a few empty seats in theaters, so it's probably easy to buy tickets at the door for any of these films.

Idiocracy just won't leave Austin

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IdiocracyAlamo on South Lamar is showing Idiocracy nightly for one more week. I've got to find time this weekend to see it again, because who knows when in the world Twentieth Century Fox will release it on DVD. I realize there are lots of films in local theaters that I haven't seen for the first time and really should prioritize over Idiocracy (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Jesus Camp, Matador, and a bunch of other titles that I just realized have left theaters, damn it), but I'd like to see if the Mike Judge movie makes me laugh as hard as it did when we saw it on opening night.

Meanwhile, Movie City Indie has linked to an alleged pre-production copy of the Idiocracy script. The date on the cover page reads August 2003. I haven't read the whole script yet, but I tend to agree with Movie City Indie's assessment that the script is closer to the released film that you'd think. There's voice-over narration, although not as much as in the finished film. And the script is 110 pages long, which at a page a minute is rather longer than the 84-minute running time. However, there's no proof whatsoever that this script is genuine, so take it with a grain of salt.

Updated: After reading the whole script -- if it is the actual script, my guess is that there wasn't enough money in the budget for the National Fart Museum, the Liberry of Congress, or the Extreme Court. Too bad.

And ScreenGrab found an extra still. That makes three, wow!

Austin Film Festival: getting closer

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Have you checked out the Austin Film Festival film schedule? The lineup includes a bunch of marquee films (Tenacious D!), some super-secret sneak previews, and an interesting variety of independent narrative and documentary shorts and features. Filmmakers/actors from some of the movies are scheduled to do Q&As, such as Sydney Pollack, Shane Black, Janine Turner, and Kevin Smith. (Imagine them all involved with the same film.) The AFF News blog has the most current details on last-minute changes and additions.

I haven't yet decided which films I'm going to see and/or review -- I keep changing my mind every time I look at the schedule. Being from Louisiana, I'm drawn towards anything shot or set there, like Little Chenier and A Place to Dance. Whatever I pick, I will be covering AFF both here and at Cinematical, just like Fantastic Fest.

The film festival takes place from Oct. 19-26, and venues include The Hideout, Dobie, Paramount, IMAX ... and outside of downtown, the Arbor and Alamo Lake Creek. I'm hoping I don't have to find out how long it takes to drive from Dobie to Alamo Lake Creek. Yeesh. Film passes are only $35 for eight days of movies.

Slackerwood: There can be only one

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My News from Slackerwood post for Cinematical is now available online and you can read all about the many exciting film events going on in Austin next week. (And that's not even all of them.)

The above-linked entry is the last News from Slackerwood column for Cinematical. The column is being discontinued -- Cinematical no longer has any other regional columns, so it doesn't quite fit in the site. I'll continue to post any notable news about Austin there, of course, including local festival coverage.

I started writing News from Slackerwood almost exactly a year ago. (There are 52 entries posted to the site and I never skipped a week.) Before News from Slackerwood, I used to post Movies This Week for Celluloid Eyes. I started that weekly Austin film roundup in July 2004 after Omar stopped writing his Movies This Week. So I've been writing weekly Austin film roundups for more than two years.

The good news is that instead of rushing around to churn out a weekly column about Austin screenings, I'll post as much info here as I can -- so will Chris and any other fellow bloggers we might recruit. Consider this site an ongoing, extended Movies This Week, News from Slackerwood, or whatever you want to call it. It's the only place where I'm likely to use the term "Slackerwood" anymore, anyway.

SXSW Presents starts tonight

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SXSW PresentsIf you live in Central Texas and get KLRU-TV (the local PBS affiliate), you can catch the new season of SXSW Presents tonight at 9 pm. Each week, you can see a good documentary or feature that deserves more attention/a wider release. Most of them played SXSW in previous years.

Tonight's film is Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party, a documentary that I reviewed during SXSW in 2005.

The next two films on the schedule have an Austin slant and I can't recommend them enough: Last Days of the San Jose on Oct. 10 and Viva Les Amis on Oct. 17.

After each film, a panel of learned and interesting filmmakers and local film community people will discuss the film briefly. This means me! I'll be appearing on the show in the panels for Dreams of Sparrows, playing Oct. 24, and Barbecue: A Texas Love Story, date TBD. You know I'll remind you again as we get closer.

Full schedule is available in this week's Austin Chronicle.

Goodbye Fantastic Fest, hello aGLIFF

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Fantastic Fest ended on Thursday night. aGLIFF (Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) started on Friday night. I'm simply thankful they didn't overlap, as I have covered/am covering both for Cinematical. None of my aGLIFF reviews have gone live yet -- expect to see one or two on Tuesday, and a few more throughout the week. Hopefully I'll have time to post a few notes and observations here as well.

I promised you Fantastic Fest photos, and then the Cinematical editors asked if I would publish the photos there. They pay me, so check out my Fantastic Fest photoblog entry for the best pictures I took. There are still a few left that I'll probably post to Flickr soon -- I'll be sure to let you know.

All my Fantastic Fest reviews for Cinematical are published, so here's the list:

I'm reviewing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Fantastic Fest's opening-night film, but that review won't go live until the movie releases in theaters this Friday.

I also saw Pan's Labyrinth, Shiva, The Host, Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, and Severance, all of which I'd like to review either here or at Celluloid Eyes. And who knows? Perhaps someday I will.

Fantastic Fest: Aphids in my shake and other stories

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BugEating and drinking at Alamo Drafthouse while watching movies, especially horror movies, can lead to some very weird moments. I ordered a chocolate shake during Bug, and it was the first time I'd had a shake at Alamo. The shake is one of the best I've had in Austin, rich and chocolate-y, and is served with a wide straw like the kind you get with bubble tea. It was dark in the theater when I got the shake, so I didn't get a close look -- I mean, shakes are shakes, right?

Turns out that Alamo's shakes are topped with these little chocolate/hazelnut candies, like M&Ms but smaller -- the size and shape of a sunflower seed, I think. I found this out by sucking a couple of them up in a straw ... at the precise moment in Bug when Michael Shannon's character held up his fingers, pinched together to trap a miniscule bug, and said, "Aphids!" Fortunately I quickly realized that aphids don't taste like hazelnut, or I would have sprayed shake all over Chris and Blake.

In other Fantastic Fest news, I've seen two films so far in which someone is impaled on a garden gnome, two in which someone gets stuck in a bear trap, and a surprising number of horror films with strong female leads who do more than merely scream a lot.

Cinematical has posted my reviews of Tideland, Frostbite (my favorite film so far), The Hamster Cage, and Gamerz. More reviews are coming soon, but in the meantime, here are some quick summaries:

Random Austin film notes

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First of all, my weekly News from Slackerwood entry is now available at Cinematical, in case you're interested in non-Fantastic Fest events going on in Austin. It's hard for me to remember that other film stuff is going on this week, because I'm so involved in seeing FF movies, but there are plenty of good options for this week. After FF ends, I'll dive immediately into aGLIFF, which has some great selections this year. (And after that, I'm going to spend a week reading or vegetating in some non-cinematic fashion.)

In case you hadn't noticed, Slackerwood now has a second contributor: Chris Holland. You may remember Chris from such websites as Stomp Tokyo and Blue Glow; he also posts to the Austin Film Festival blog. I'm very happy he's agreed to post here, so we'll have more and better content on the site.

We're currently in Day Three of Fantastic Fest. So far, FF has been a lot of fun and not tiring. I've seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Blood Tea and Red String, Tideland, Gamerz, and Frostbite. I'm about to go to Severance, and then hope to get into the super-secret special screening after that. Unlike Chris, I think the secret screenings are fun -- they provide a great topic of conversation with other festgoers ("Do you think it's 300?" "I bet it's The Prestige.") and also add a little excitement, like a wrapped present you get that's a funny shape and could be anything. Since I don't have a VIP pass, I may not get into the movie, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. However (speaking of fingers), if it turns out to be Saw 3, I will probably not stay. One thing I have learned from FF this year is that I don't like movies with long slow gory torture scenes. But I still haven't learned not to eat during horror movies. A word to the wise: Tideland is also a movie during which you don't want to eat. Trust me.

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