Matt Shiverdecker's blog

Movies This Week: October 11-17, 2013


Machete Kills 

I'll be out at Zilker Park this weekend for the second round of the Austin City Limits festival, but you can avoid the crowds (and potential thunderstorms) by hitting the movies. For those of you who missed out on Fantastic Fest this year, take note that several of this year's titles are opening or being featured with select screenings in town over the next week.

am truly saddened that ACL is going to keep me away from Austin Film Society's 35mm booking of Peeping Tom, but it's one that you won't want to miss. It's the movie that basically destroyed Michael Powell's reputation upon release, but has since gone on to be recognized as one of the greatest thrillers of all time. It's playing tonight and again on Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa. An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story had its world premiere at SXSW earlier this year, and on Tuesday night AFS is bringing it to the Marchesa. Director Al Reinert, Michael Morton and Morton's long-time pro bono counsel John Raley will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A. Kurosawa's High And Low will also screen at the Marchesa in a glorious 35mm print from Janus Films on Thursday night as part of this month's Essential Cinema series. 

My top Alamo picks for the weekend are the killer 70mm bookings happening at the Ritz (Star Trek IV and 2001: A Space Odyssey). The downtown location also has a rare 35mm screening of Elaine May's A New Leaf on Monday, Girlie Night serves up Hocus Pocus on Tuesday, and Ricky Jay will be appearing live for a Q&A on Wednesday night for a new documentary about him called Deceptive Practices. Fantastic Fest Presents The Dirties at Alamo Slaughter tonight and tomorrow for late shows. Debbie caught the film at Dallas IFF this year and strongly recommended it in her review. You can also head to Slaughter for a special showing of Robinson Crusoe On Mars tomorrow afternoon to go along with this month's space programming theme. 

Movies This Week: October 4-10, 2013



With the first of two Austin City Limits festival weekends upon us, our fair city is about to be taken over by music. That doesn't mean that things are totally dead when it comes to film events around town, but make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to deal with any crosstown traffic issues you may encounter while navigating.

The Austin Film Society is launching a new weekend series for October called "Terror In The Aisles: British Horror Films." The first selection on tap is Curse Of The Werewolf, a Hammer Horror classic that will be screening in 35mm tonight and again on Sunday at the Marchesa. There's a companion series happening at the AFS Screening Room every Monday night in October called "Made For TV Horror" that will be presented rare 16mm prints. This week's title is Dan Curtis' Dracula from 1974 and it stars Jack Palance as the legendary vampire.

Head back to the Marchesa on Wednesday night for a screening of the documentary Bayou Mararajah: The Tragic Genius Of James Booker. That film had its world premiere earlier this year during SXSW and tells the story of a musician whom Dr. John called "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced." October also brings us a new round of Essential Cinema picks and they've got another exceptional lineup. "6 By 3 Japanese Master Filmakers: Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu" will feature five of those selections in 35mm prints direct from Janus Films. Thursday night, Kurosawa's Stray Dog will kick off the series at the Marchesa.

Movies This Week: September 27 - October 3, 2013


Enough Said

Some of you may be in a post-Fantastic Fest haze right now, but this is an incredibly active weekend for new releases and rep screenings in town. Living in Austin truly proves there's no rest for the wicked.

In terms of special events, the Capital City Black Film Festival is going on this weekend with screnings at the Stateside and the Omni Hotel. There's also a special benefit screening of the new film Parkland presented by the Austin Film Society at the Paramount on Sunday to raise money for The Volunteer Services Council of the Austin State Hospital. It includes a Q&A with director Peter Landesman. AFS also is behind Tuesday night's cast and crew advance screening of Machete Kills at the Paramount.

Other AFS screenings over the next week include the spaghetti western Sartana in an archival print, new release Paradise: Hope and the Orthodox drama Ushpizin (presented in conjunction with the Austin Jewish Film Festival), all Sunday at the Marchesa. The latest Essential Cinema series "A Darkened Screen: Films That Were Banned" is wrapping up on Thursday night at the Marchesa with a 35mm blowup print of Abel Ferrara's notorious Driller Killer.

Movies This Week: September 20-26, 2013


John Gallagher Jr. and Brie Larson star in "Short Term 12" 

While genre fans from near and far are getting their cinematic fill at Fantastic Fest this week, there are still plenty of options for those of us not attending the festival. The Austin Film Society has a full weekend planned at the Marchesa with screenings of The Mercenary (in 35mm tonight and Sunday), It Felt Like Love (with director Eliza Hittman in attendance on Saturday) and Paradise: Faith (the second film in the Paradise trilogy plays on Sunday evening). Looking ahead to Thursday night, Elia Kazan's Baby Doll is playing in 35mm as part of the new Essential Cinema series "A Darkened Screen: Films That Were Banned." 

When it comes to the Alamo Drafthouse, Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies is moving down to the Slaughter Lane location for its second week of screenings, and there's a special Sunday evening presentation of Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy at the Village with Kevin McDonald in attendance for a Q&A. Most other non-Fantastic Fest events for the week are at Alamo Ritz, where you'll find 42nd Street for Broadway Brunch and a 35mm screening of American Graffiti on Saturday, a 16mm Sprocket Society matinee on Sunday, and a glorious 35mm screening of Wes Anderson's Rushmore on Wednesday night. 

Movies This Week: September 13-19, 2013


Drinking Buddies

Austin Film Society's "Western All'Italiana" series continues tonight and Sunday with Sergio Sollima's Face To Face from 1967 at the Marchesa. The Les Blank Memorial Fish Fry will be a more intimate gathering on Saturday evening at the AFS Screening Room. There will indeed be a fish fry and beer along with 16mm screenings of several Blank documentaries including 1980's Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (a recent addition to Criterion's Hulu Plus channel if you can't make it).

One of the best things about AFS taking over the Marchesa (and their installation of a new DCP projection system) is that very niche independent and foreign releases that would otherwise never make it to the big screen in Austin are getting screened. This Sunday afternoon, you won't want to miss Paradise: Love, the first film in Ulrich Seidl's acclaimed and controversial new trilogy. You'll have a chance to see the second and third films in the trilogy at the Marchesa over the next two weekends as well. Speaking of controversial films, this month's Essential Cinema series, "A Darkened Screen: Films That Were Banned," continues on Thursday night with Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris.

The Alamo Ritz has an incredibly rare treat for fans of expermental cinema with 4 hours to spare on Saturday afternoon. A new restoration on loan from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Stan Brakhage's The Art Of Vision will be screening at noon. Local fave Computer Chess will be returning there on Saturday and Sunday afternoon (which will also feature a Q&A), local movie fanatic Neil Wilson has handpicked a 35mm print of The Karate Kid to run for his annual birthday screening on Sunday and a brand new 35mm print of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind that recently debuted at Film Forum in NYC also begins a week of select screenings on Monday night. 

Movies This Week: September 6-12, 2013



The transition from the summer to fall movie season tends to be pretty mild. A lot of films are in active release at the moment that still draw strong audiences, and a few things just didn't take off. The fact that Lee Daniels' The Butler hasn't been knocked off the top of the box-office chart in three weeks is a clear indicator that there's not a lot of compeition for viewers right now. That's going to change a lot in the weeks ahead, but this weekend there's really only one mainstream release and one specialty release opening in Austin. 

As far as repertory screenings go, with the Paramount Summer Film Classics series wrapped up, things are slowing down a touch on that front. The Austin Film Society is bringing a new 35mm print of Death Rides A Horse to town tonight and Sunday afternoon that's fresh from playing a revival screening at Telluride, handpicked by Michael Barker of Sony Pictures Classics. It's the first selection in a new series of Spaghetti Westerns that will play all month long. They've also got a new release for Doc Night on Wednesday, featuring One Track Heart: The Story Of Krishna Das. Co-sponsored by Yoga Yoga, there will be a post-screening Q&A and a live Hindu devotional hymn. 

Review: The Grandmaster


The Grandmaster

It's impossible to write about Wong Kar-Wai's latest film without an explanation of the controversy surrounding the release. When The Grandmaster was released in China at the beginning of the year, it ran 130 minutes. The movie was then slightly trimmed down to 123 minutes before premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. Between Berlin and further international release, the movie was cut down to 108 minutes

Many fans have criticized The Weinstein Company (which owns the distribution rights for the film in most territories) for attempting to dumb the film down for American audiences, but by all accounts the editing was done under the full supervision of Wong Kar-Wai, who recently stated that he "always wanted to have a U.S. version that was a bit tighter and that helped clarify the complex historical context of this particular era in Chinese history."

The film works as a complex origin story, presenting the life of martial-arts legend Ip Man (Tony Leung), although his story is intertwined with a fearless female fighter named Gong Er (Zhang Ziyi) who initially challenges him to gain back her family's honor.

Movies This Week: August 30 - September 5, 2013


Cutie and the Boxer

The Austin Film Society is wrapping up their "Films Of Johnnie To" series with his 2005 crime drama Election. It screens in 35mm tonight and Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa. They'll also be hosting former Alamo Drafthouse programmer Zack Carlson at the AFS Screening Room on Monday night for a rare VHS presentation of Blonde Death, a film directed by "the world's angriest gay man." 

The Summer Classic Film Series at the Paramount has just about come to a close for another year. On Tuesday and Wednesday evening you can see two of my favorite Woody Allen films, The Purple Rose Of Cairo and Radio Days, presented in 35mm. On Thursday night, Gone With The Wind is the last official film of the series (although TCM's Robert Osbourne will be stopping by next Friday for a presentation and Q&A about the film as the last event of the summer). Hopefully you've seen some of your favorite films on the big screen this summer and taken a chance on a few movies you'd never seen before as well. 

As always, there are some really diverse and interesting things playing at the Alamo Ritz. First up, there's a free Kid's Club screening of Disney's classic Bedknobs & Brooksticks on Saturday afternoon. Sunday provides us with another 16mm installment of Sprocket Society, Shirley Clarke's previously banned 1962 drama about heroin junkies called The Connection and, if you need something a little lighter, Rodney Dangerfield starring in Back To School.

Review: I Declare War


I Declare War

I have very fond memories from when I was a kid of exploring the trails and vast wooded acres behind the house my grandparents lived in, alongside my cousins (and our friends who often found an excuse to come spend weekends with us because there was also a massive pond for swimming in the summer). We didn't often play things like Capture the Flag, but occasionally we were allowed to use my grandma's gigantic camcorder to make silly commercials and short movies.

Those summer days of my youth came flashing back to me during I Declare War, a clever Canadian reimagination of young kids playing war games in the woods, which won the Audience Award last year at Fantastic Fest.

The movie jumps us right into action, with two teams deep into another round of competition against one another. One side is headed up by PK Sullivan (Gage Munroe), a take-charge leader whose winning strategies come in part from his frequent viewings of Patton. The other side is initally led by Quinn (Aidan Gouveia), who is quickly overtaken by a devious boy named Skinner (Michael Friend) who runs a coup to prove he can outwit PK and lead his friends to a triumphant victory. The only problem is that Skinner actually has a personal score to settle with PK and he's not above breaking the established rules of the game to win.

Movies This Week: August 23-29, 2013


                                                   Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Austin Film Society continues their "Films Of Johnnie To" series this weekend with the Austin premiere of his latest crime thriler, Drug War. It screens at the Marchesa tonight and on Sunday afternoon. The Pre-Code Stanwyck series is sadly coming to a close this week with Tuesday night's screening of Frank Capra's The Miracle Woman from 1931. If you haven't made it out on any of the last few Tuesday evenings, I'd highly encourage you to give this last week a shot. The prints have been incredible with lively post-film discussion.

AFS also brings us a very special event on Thursday to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Richard Linklater's The School Of Rock at the Paramount. Linklater will be in attendance along with star Jack Black, writer/co-star Mike White and many of the younger cast members from the film.  

Speaking of the Paramount, we're getting close to the end of another stellar Summer Classic Film Series, but there are still several films you won't want to miss. The Texas Tribune is programming this weekend's series, which includes a 35mm screening of Ron Howard's The Paper this evening. A few double features of His Girl Friday and Woman Of The Year are happening on Saturday and Sunday. Next week, the Paramount fires up their 70mm projector for a pair of movies whose beauty cannot be properly displayed on your television at home: 2001: A Space Odyssey plays on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, and West Side Story is set for Friday. 

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