Chris Holland's blog

Austin Wind Symphony Presents "Creature Features"


picIf you're looking for something truly unusual to do this Friday night, get yourself down to the Bethany Lutheran Church in South Austin at 8 p.m. for the Austin Wind Symphony's presentation of "Creature Features - A Concert Dedicated to Hollywood's Greatest Creatures." The concert plays it fast and loose with the definition of a "creature feature" (Batman? Star Wars? Psycho?) but you really can't complain about film scores performed live. Actual critter movies featured in the program include:

King Kong vs Godzilla (!)

Jurassic Park



Visit the Austin Wind Symphony's web site for more info.

[Via Sci-Fi Japan.]

Two BIG Comedies Tonight at AFF


I awoke this morning to an e-mail from Kelly Williams, the film program director at the Austin Film Festival, with news of two films playing tonight that comedy fans won't want to miss.

RicklesFirst the good news - we're screening two really amazing comedies at the festival on Tuesday night. You know I'm a big comedy snob, so, I would not just recommend anything.

The bad news is that that you have to pick.

I'll be at the Arbor for our TBA #3 - which is MR. WARMTH, THE DON RICKLES PROJECT - I just locked this film last week and I'm really excited about it. It is directed by John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers) and features interviews with everyone from Clint Eastwood to Robert DeNiro to Sarah Silverman - all about the great Don Rickles. It features a lot of footage of Rickles and will be awesome.

The producer of the film, Bob Engelman, is here with the film and he'll be at the screening for a Q&A after the film. He has a ton of great stories. Please come out for a great movie and Q&A!

Mr. Warmth - Tuesday, Oct. 16th at 9:30 - Regal Arbor

The other film is THE LIVING WAKE, a really original film, unlike anything I've seen come into the festival in years, plus it just won a Special Jury Award for Comic Vision at the festival this weekend. It is really funny and the writers of the film - Peter Kline and Mike O'Connell (also the lead actor - see him now before he's a huge star) will be in attendance.

The Living Wake - Tuesday, Oct. 16th at 8:00 - Dobie Theater

Thanks and I hope to see you at the festival,


Individual tickets to these screenings are $8 at the door. Film passes for the Austin Film Festival (which runs through Thursday) are $35, which is still a bargain since you could easily see five movies in the remaining nights of the festival. Badge holders are admitted first, then film pass holders, followed by individual ticket holders. For more information please visit

Austin FF Picks for Thursday, October 10


"Best bet" articles about film festivals always seem like such a raw deal -- sure, you're hearing about the big splashy films, but what about the undiscovered gems that will fill only half the theater? They deserve better. So here in chronological order are some of my picks for films that deserve your attention more than the big studio previews playing at the Paramount. (You'll be able to see those movies in a few months at the multiplex anyway, right?)

If human interest stories are your thing, turn your attention to Owl and the Sparrow tonight at 7, part of the Viet Film Wave series. If historical biopix are more your thing, check out Neal Cassady, which traces the life of Cassady "as he goes from his trip with Jack Kerouac on the road to literary stardom, a friendship with Ken Kesey and membership in the Merry Pranksters, toward a downward spiral into drugs and self loathing."

Need something with a little more oomph? Check out Bloody Aria at the Dobie (kind of a Korean Wrong Turn but with a decent screenplay) or the more uplifting The Go-Getter at the Bob Bullock. Ah, Zooey Deschanel ....

If you're in a documentary kind of mood, check out local filmmaker Anne Lewis' film Morristown, which examines the plight of migrant workers in a global economy.

Night owls should check out the Troma-esque Street Team Massacre at the Hideout.

All shows are $8 at the door or buy your film pass ($35 for unlimited films!) or badge at the Driskill Hotel.

Austin Film Festival Begins Today


DriskillThe screenwriter's conference kicks off at the Driskill Hotel this afternoon and the Festival itself starts tonight with Chicago 10 at the Paramount. Personally I'm looking forward to The Go-Getter with Zooey Deschanel at the Bob Bullock, which is the first of the four TBA films.

All of the TBAs have been announced as of this morning. They are:

- The Go-Getter (#1)
- Day Zero (#2)
- Mr. Warmth - The Don Rickles Project (#3, new flick from John Landis)
- Grace is Gone (#4, the John Cusack "Oscar bait" picture)

More previews and reports to come.



Tonight: Film and Food


Austin Film Festival's "Film and Food" event is, quite frankly, one of the best parties of the year. It starts in just a few hours but you can pick up tickets at the door (it's in the Driskill Hotel) and besides having awesome food from a variety of Austin restaurants and an open bar, the proceeds benefit a great film-related cause.


Read more about Film and Food here.

Austin Film Festival: American Fork


On Thursday the 2007 edition of the Austin Film Festival takes over the Driskill Hotel, the Paramount Theatre, and various other venues around town. Even if you're the kind of cinephile who balks at downtown parking or just driving in general, there's no excuse for missing the screenings near you. Whether you find yourself the converted ballroom upstairs at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel, the Regal Arbor, or the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek, there are great films to be seen. Here's the first installment of a few AFF previews coming your way at Slackerwood.

American Fork

American ForkOnly in independent film could a picture like American Fork get made. What studio executive in his right mind would greenlight a movie that plays a three-hundred pound protagonist for his sensitivity instead of broad laughs? A handful of indie favorites (Bruce McGill, Kahtleen Quinlan) and unlikely character players (including the unexpectedly wonderful William Baldwin, who also shows up at AFF 2007 in A Plumm Summer) populate a strong story supported by deft cinematography and a lively score.

If American Fork feels like a kinder, gentler Napoleon Dynamite, there's a reason -- they share a number of crew members, including producer/editor Jeremy Coon. The two films also share a certain quirkiness and a sense of tragic comedy, but I think American Fork may lose some Napoleon Dynamite fans for its refusal to camp things up. It will certainly win admirers for its sympathetic presentation of its main character, Tracy Orbison (Hubbel Palmer, who also wrote the screenplay) and on the whole I think American Fork is a better movie.

But while Fork offers a more complete story and a set of wholly believeable characters, it won't gain a cult status quite like Dynamite's. A lot of the fun in Napoleon Dynamite comes from its extreme turns between the cruel and carefree. Fork walks a more moderate road. The picture wallows in the mundane to great effect and occasionally delivers a heartbreaking bit of dialogue, but keeps its feet stubbornly on the ground where other films might veer off into fantasy.

The comparison to the earlier film is easy and natural, but a bit unfair: American Fork has more serious things to say, greater depths to plumb. It stands tall -- and wide -- on its own. American Fork is an easy festival favorite.

American Fork plays Saturday afternoon at the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek and Monday evening at the Bob Bullock History Museum.

Star Trek: "The Menagerie" in HD at Select Local Theaters on 11/13


I think this one pretty much speaks for itself -- either you're Trekkie enough to be into this or you're not, so I'll just quote the press release. Local theaters participating include the Metropolitan 14 on the South side, the Gateway 16 on the North, and the Cinemark way up in Round Rock.

Boldly go where no man has gone before to see two of the most famous "Star Trek: The Original Series" episodes – your local movie theatre! "Star Trek: The Original Series" will be beamed onto the big screen for only one night in select movie theatres nationwide on Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 7:30PM (local). This event features the original Season 1 episodes "The Menagerie" Part 1 and 2, digitally re-mastered in High-Definition and Cinema Surround Sound. Also included is greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry and an exclusive 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered.

Read the full details after the jump.

Dismember the Alamo: Zombie Film Festival Invades Lake Creek


Zombie lovers take note: The Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek presents Dismember the Alamo on October 23 - 25th with evening screenings of zombie flicks both new and old. The lineup so far: Pathogen (with writer/director Emily Hagins in attendance), Re-Animator, blackspoitation "classic" Sugar Hill, Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, Fido, Return of the Living Dead, and a selection of zombie shorts that will be screened free to a first-come, first-serve crowd.

That's quite a varied lineup, even for a bunch of zombie movies. ­Fido, though flawed, has some intriguing imagery and manages to make a zombie character sympathetic, while Sugar Hill should just be a hoot. (And when was the last time you think that one played on a big screen in Austin?) The Lake Creek branch of the Alamo has really been trying to step up its game, programming-wise, and this is the best move they've made so far.

(Well, that and providing a screen to the Austin Film Festival for some up-North screenings during the fest. It's worth mentioning that next week Lake Creek will host a number of genre-interest titles from AFF like Trail of the Screaming Forehead and The Zombie Diaries, as well as some other great indie fare like American Fork and Judy Toll: The Funniest Woman You've Never Heard Of.)

All screenings at Dismember the Alamo are $5 each (except for that free shorts program). See the Dismember the Alamo web site for screening times and more information.

This Weekend at aGLIFF: "My Gay Movie" Shorts, "Poltergay"


AGLIFF rolls on at the Regal Arbor theater this week and through Saturday, with a couple of can't-miss screenings (at least from my perspective on the closing afternoon/evening).

First up at noon on Saturday it's the "My Gay Movie" program, the results of a competition that challenged filmmakers to create a 10-minute short with a "queer sensibility." The top ten shorts are on display here and several of the directors are in attendance. Particularly curiosity-piquing titles include Potato/Potata (Jude Potato is a 2-year-old's toy, but dreams of being a celebrated Austin DRAG KING) and Gaydar (a man with "gaydar" contemplates the benefits for him, if everyone had it, to the obvious degree he has it).

At 6:30 pm the festival presents Poltergay, a horror comedy that actually promises a few laughs. As a rule horror comedies tend to flub one half of the equation or the other, and from the looks of the trailer I'd have to say that Poltergay is probably a little light on the creepy, but one can probably trust the French to make jokes about homosexual ghosts from the '70s without pulling any punches.

View the entire aGLIFF schedule for the rest of the week here.

Fantastic Fest Super-Secret Screening at the Alamo Ritz


Evidently not content with simply running a wildly successful third iteration of Austin's premiere festival for geeks, Tim League and company held an invite-only double-secret probation screening of End of the Line at the new Alamo Drafthouse Ritz location on Monday night. Visiting filmmakers and other Alamo staff and supporters were shuttled to the unfinished theater on 6th Street, where beer, sandwiches, and a jury-rigged "Rolling Roadshow" style screening setup awaited them. League welcomed visitors with a brief tour of the facilities and let drop a few tidbits I hadn't heard before. Some of this was dropped in various blog entries earlier in the year but if you weren't paying attention, here they are again:

  • The actual completion date of the two-screen venue is uncertain but they hope to have it done in time for Halloween this year.
  • Both theaters (one 180-seat room and another, under-100 seat room) have stadium seating.
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