Marcelena Mayhorn's blog

Review: I'm So Excited!


The title of the film alone had me from the get go. I first discovered Pedro Almodóvar when I was in high school -- by accident. Back in the days of Blockbuster rentals, 18-year-old me decided that I was done with the typical goofball comedies and romcoms; I was ready for films of "substance." Of course I wasn't quite sure what I meant by that, but I decided the best way would be to look for films with actors I liked. I then stumbled into the Foreign Film section and spotted a glorious cover of Gael García Bernal dressed as a woman. 'A Film by Almodóvar' read the top of the DVD case, and I have followed those four words ever since that rental.

A friend and I once discussed how Almodóvar has a knack for making films that seem unrealistic, yet you can't help but believe them because they are so well done. This is exactly how I'm So Excited! (Los amantes pasajeros) felt to me: slightly unrealistic, but engaging the entire time. 

It's hard to say who the star of the film is because it features the filmmaker's typical ensemble cast. We meet the three zany flight crew members (led by the always hilarious Javier Cámara of Bad Education and Talk To Her), the pilots, and a handful of eccentric passengers. We get the sense that something is wrong, and our hesitation is confirmed when Bruna (Lola Dueñas), a self-proclaimed psychic traveling on board, tells the flight crew that something big is going to happen to everyone on the flight. Whether or not it is impending doom is to be determined, but everyone on board decides to cut loose anyway with drugs and alcohol. Because, if you're going to die, why not live it up? 

Photo Essay: A Peek at Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline


I was lucky enough to take a tour of the newest addition to the Drafthouse family: Alamo Lakeline, just past where the old Alamo Lake Creek used to live. The theatre itself opened its doors on Monday, July 22, but a few members of the press got to walk around the building last week with Tim League, CEO and founder of the Drafthouse franchise. Tim let us know that this will be the largest Drafthouse in the country: The building is just shy of 36,000 square feet, will have 250 employees, 944 seats, 10 screens, 2 micro theatres, stadium seating -- the list truly goes on.

The interior theme of the new location is based on the original 1968 Planet of the Apes film. Film posters and foreign artwork from the movie line the halls of the lobby, giving it a modern sci-fi feel. Tim and General Manager Stephen Mason were most excited to reveal a piece of film history that Drafthouse moviegoers will appreciate: an exact replica of the Great Lawgiver statue, created and cast by Hollywood special effects creator Greg Nicotero. League and Mason said they think it will be a great photo opportunity for guests at the theatre (so get ready to see a lot of "POTA selfies" on social media).

AFS Brings Back Classics with 'History of Television' Series


You know when someone asks if you are familiar with a certain actor, and you recognize the name but can't quite place the face? That was my first impression of Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. I of course recognized Caesar from a few films, but my knowledge of the duet's history was lacking.

This is also how I approached the Austin Film Society's "History of Television" series last night: familiar, but ready to learn more. This month's screening focused on the 1950-54 television show Your Show of Shows, starring Caesar, Coca, Carl Reiner (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Thrill Of It All) and Howard Morris (The Andy Griffith Show, Splash).  

When I walked into the screening room, I was surprised to discover I was one of the younger attendees there. Even though I was not entirely familiar with the actors, I'd heard of the show and knew others who were familiar as well. Nonetheless, the house was packed with folks ready to laugh.

What's Streaming: Home of the Brave



July has always been a favorite month for me. June kicks the summer off, but in July you realize you have an entire month of swimming, cookouts, milkshakes and (if you're me) watching summer flicks. It is also the birthday month of our lovely country, which leads me into our theme for this month.

I considered going the route of the "American Hero." I love a good action-hero flick as much as the next person, but I then considered what we really celebrate on the Fourth of July: everyday heroes. We celebrate the working American, those men and women who might not have had the best education but are fighting to earn their living. We think of those who stand for good, not because a job requires them to, but because they believe in what is right. Those who went from rags to riches, who saved every penny they earned, who fought for our country or even the kids in their school district. These are the types of heroes you don't always see in a movie.

This month has thus led me to choose a few films and television shows that I think are worth watching to root for the underdog, the unsung hero that no one believes in.


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington -- Does this choice need an explanation? When I heard about Senator Wendy Davis's 11-hour filibuster against the dramatic limiting of abortion rights for Texas women, I immediately thought of the hope I felt watching Jimmy Stewart's performance as Jefferson Smith, and how badly I wanted him to triumph for the good of the people. Smith plays an average guy trying to keep his head above water while surrounded by political sharks, and he shows us how a fight does not always have to be physical. Although this does not have a direct connection to Texas, I feel it does ring true with what has been going on in our great state recently. (Available on Amazon Instant and iTunes)

What's Streaming: Hometown Heroes


[Welcome to What's Streaming, a new column about movies available online, with a focus on Austin and Texas.]

For someone to not have the chance to see a film these days is rare. I'm not saying that every person on Earth should see every film ever made (although that sounds like a good challenge!), but it has become easier than ever to watch or rent films than in years past.

Especially here in high-tech Austin, many people (myself included) use forms of online streaming to watch their favorite films and television shows. If you're like me, you might not even have cable just because you think Netflix is enough. But with so many options and ways to watch movies these days, you might find yourself asking a not-so-uncommon question: What is worth watching?

After talking with friends and almost always getting myself into a conversation of "Seen any good movies lately?", I decided it might be worthwhile to share some picks each month of films (old and new) that are available to watch online. Since this column is the kickoff to this series, I figured I would start with our hometown heroes. The below films/filmmakers have ties to Texas and, in some specific cases, to Austin.

2013 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin


SLACKER 20th Anniversary

Updated 6/6 to add Austin School of Film's Summer Film Series

With the Texas temperature slowly rising and the lack of UT students drawing nearer, Austin residents are rejoicing -- summer is upon us. And although the first day of the season is not technically until June 21, many organizations are already kicking off their summer activities.

Slackerwood is happy to bring you its fifth annual guide to free or cheap summer movies in Austin, as well as surrounding areas such as Cedar Park and Round Rock. Be sure to check out the websites for each of these series so you come prepared. Some of the movies are shown outside, so a nice blanket or lawn chair would be wise to bring, particularly for non-theater venues such as the French Legation or Republic Square Park.

While a number of free movie series are aimed at kids out of school, several are more adult-friendly, with the return of showcases such as Cinema East and The Paramount Summer Classic Film Series (though most of the films in the Summer Series are pretty tame for kids as well).

2013 Guide to Austin (and Texas) Film Job Resources

Austin Studios Red Building

If you're a freelancer like me (particularly in the film industry), you know the ups and downs that come with the job. Some weeks the work is plentiful, while others seem like you'll have to start selling your furniture just to pay your rent. But although it can be a scary road, it certainly can be a most fulfilling one for Austinites.

I moved to Austin a few years ago, unsure of where to turn to look for work. After a few years of exploring and meeting other fellow industry friends, I finally feel comfortable and confident when it comes to searching for that next great film gig to jump on.

For those of you new to the Austin film scene (or if you are simply looking for that next great gig), here are a list of a few great film websites that frequently post casting and crew calls. Although I believe these to be tried and true, let me know if there are any sites I might have left out.

  • Texas Film Commission -- Aside from being a great resource for anyone trying to get a film made in the Lone Star State, the TFC website is also helpful for anyone wanting to submit a resume for larger productions shot anywhere in Texas, not just Austin. The website offers great tools to help you craft a noticeable film resume or learn how to be a good production assistant. TFC also posts information about its workshops on location scouting, working on a camera team, production accounting, and more. The website posts both crew and casting calls.

Review: Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's


Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf'sDocumentary films often tell us the facts about a particular subject. They can be political or religious, or perhaps based on an idea that most people cannot wrap their minds around. But sometimes, you get lucky and see a film that lets you behind the scenes of something most people only dream about. That's how I felt about Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, opening Friday in Austin.

I may not know much about fashion, but having a fashion merchandising major/style guru for a sister, I had a little bit of knowledge under my belt -- certainly enough to appreciate a good movie about fashion. The trailer had enticed me, clearly riddled with various designers talking about how getting to show their line at the esteemed Bergdorf Goodman's was the highlight of their career. Writer/director Matthew Miele takes his viewers not only into the heart of the store, but to some areas that you would not have thought twice about -- for example, the elaborate window displays the store produces every few months.

Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's spotlights some well-known names in fashion, such as Vera Wang, Michael Kors, and Dolce & Gabanna, giving us their opinion on the glory that is Bergdorf's (or "BG's," as some designers lovingly call it). Even though these designers are everywhere in retail, they all talk about how their one goal, the Academy Award of their career, was to be sold and showcased at Bergdorf's. The story then goes on to talk about the history of the store, as well as how fashion has evolved over the past century. A few new designers when the film was shot in 2011 are followed, and we as the audience get to sit in on a few meetings with them and Bergdorf's executives such as Linda Fargo, who is compared in status to the well-known Vogue editor, Anna Wintour.

In addition, cosmetics, shoe and purse designers also share their tales of getting into the store. Bobbi Brown talks about how she hoped that she could sell at least 100 tubes of lipstick her first month at Bergdorf's; she ended up selling over 100 tubes on her first day alone.

2013 Guide to Austin Summer Film Camps


Summer @ Austin Studios Presented by H-E-B

Updated on 5/30 with RTF Summer Camp information

Kids aren't the only ones who look forward to summer. With sky-high temperatures and the last day of school approaching, Slackerwood brings you some suggestions of great summer film camps in the Austin area -- perfect for parents searching for fun summer activites for the kids.

A film or movie camp is a great tool for kids interested in the filmmaking or creative process. Many of the workshops start with the basics, taking your child through the pre-production, shooting, and post-production stages of a film set. Classes are also geared towards other crafts such as acting, editing, animation and writing for the screen. At the end of many of these camps, friends and family are invited to attend a screening of the movie(s) that campers helped make, or campers can bring home a DVD to hold their own private screening party.

We've listed the camps below according to age, meaning the classes accepting the youngest students are listed from the top to bottom of the page. Many camp sessions begin in early June, so act quickly to sign up for classes. They typically run for one to two weeks at a time, although a few are longer. A few camps around town (such as the Austin Film Society's Summer Filmmaking Camp) already have sessions that are sold out, but do have waiting lists available.

Watch 'The Brass Teapot' in Austin


The Brass TeapotIndie film The Brass Teapot will be making an appearance in Austin on Thursday, May 23. Ramaa Mosley makes her feature directorial debut with the movie, basing it off of her 2007 short of the same name. Tim Macy scripted both the short and the feature.

It stars Michael Angarano (Sky High, Snow Angels), Juno Temple (Dirty Girl, Killer Joe) and Houston native Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls). it originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, and hasn't screened in Austin previously.

The Brass Teapot follows John (Angarano) and Alice (Temple), a young newlywed couple struggling to make ends meet. Feeling down on their luck, they happen upon an antiques store where Alice discovers a unique brass teapot. It appears to be just another junk-store find until the couple discovers that the teapot can give them all the money they desire -- in exchange for hurting themselves.

Vowing to stop once they hit their first million, John and Alice go on a journey of black eyes, burnt hands and any other ailment in between. The story very much follows the theme of "be careful what you wish for." The film also features an all-star cast of Bobby Moynihan, Matt Walsh, Jack McBrayer and Alia Shawkat.

The screening is made possible by Gathr, a new service with the simple goal of bringing films to a city or town that might not otherwise get to screen it (or at least not get to screen it for a while). It's similar to Austin-based Tugg in the sense that it's a screening-on-demand model, in which a minimum number of tickets must be reserved in advance in order for the screening to take place.

The screening starts at 7:30 pm, and tickets are still available for only $10.Be sure to reserve your seat soon if you want the screening to take place. (Who knows when this film will hit Austin theaters!) The screening must meet its ticket quota in a little less than a week.

You can out find more information about The Brass Teapot screening on the Gathr website.

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