Jenn Brown's blog

Texas at SXSW 2012: Amy Seimetz, 'Sun Don't Shine'


Photo Credit:  Amy Seimetz by Shane Carruth.  Used with permission.

Native Texan Amy Seimetz may be familiar to Austin film fans as the winner of Fantastic Fest's Best Actress Award for her role in A Horrible Way To Die.  Now she's back in town for SXSW to premiere her latest film, the thriller Sun Don't Shine, which she wrote and directed. If that seems like a vague Austin or Texas connection, keep reading, there's a veritable Who's Who to follow.  

Describe Sun Don't Shine for us in a couple of sentences.
Two lovers on the back roads of Florida do very bad things. That is all I will tell for now ...

Movies This Week: Spoiled Silent John with Kids


Friends with Kids.

I was all set to tell you to get out of town and see the benefit screening of Dirt! The Movie out in Wimberley, but it's postponed due to much needed rain. So make plans to see it April; wel'll let you know when it's rescheduled. In the meantime, can I interest you in five free movie opportunities? 

Alamo Slaughterhouse is kicking off it's first Kids Camp with The Wizard of Oz. Austin Public Library has four free movies this week: Tuesday you have to choose between Cars 2 at Family Movie Night at Twin Oaks Branch, or Drive at Weeknight Cinema at Milwood Branch. On Thursday, it's Pick Your Flick night at Ruiz Branch, or the Based on Books Movie Series, which is showing Moneyball at Yarborough Branch. And that other film thing is going on this week. You know. SXSW. There are a number of free movies and events if you don't have a badge or pass.

Movies We've Seen:

John Carter -- Andrew Stanton does Edgar Rice Burroughs. with Taylor Kitsch as the title character (of the adaptation, not the source material A Princess of Mars). Mike says it's "a master-class creation" with only one fault: a weak score. Look for his review this weekend. (wide)

Friends with Kids (pictured at top) -- Jennifer Westfeldt's first script was self-consciously charming -- her latest is more self-consciously awkward, as she stars as a woman who chooses to have a baby with her best friend while leaving romance out of the equation. Read my review for more.

Review: Friends with Kids


Friends with Kids.

In 2001 Jennifer Westfeldt starred in Kissing Jessica Stein, an indie darling she wrote about a neurotic New Yorker whose frustration with the dating scene resulted in a romance with another woman. She returns to the big screen with her third feature script and her directorial debut, Friends with Kids. Unfortunately the self-conscious charm of Kissing Jessica Stein hasn't returned; instead Friends with Kids is almost entirely self-consciously awkward.

Westfeldt stars as Julie Keller, a thirtysomething so close to her best friend Jason (Adam Scott) they even live in the same building. Unlike their other friends, their coupling is always temporary, and with other people. In the meantime, Leslie and Alex (Maya Rudolph and Chris O'Dowd) are on their second child, and the nymphomatic Ben and Missy (Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig) are raising their son. Eventually, after too many baby pictures spamming their email and too many snarky comments on what their friends have lost, they decide to have a baby together but not be a couple. The obvious ensues.

Austin at SXSW 2012: Andrew Garrison and Allison Orr, 'Trash Dance'


Allison Orr during The Trash Project rehearsal

In September 2009, I noticed an unusual special event in an Austin Film Society weekly bulletin about a unique performance piece. The Trash Project was meant to "educate audience members about waste reduction while acknowledging the hard work Austin’s sanitation workers." Choreographer Allison Orr of Forklift Danceworks had organized "the biggest dance of [her] life." It was almost a footnote that director Andrew Garrison (Third Ward TX) would be documenting the event, especially when it included 15(!) vehicles.

Now the film Trash Dance is set to make its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday. Andrew Garrison directed, shot, and produced the documentary, with editing by Angela Pires and sound design by Graham Reynolds. Steve Mims (Incendiary: The Willingham Case), Deb Lewis (Troop 1500, Crawford) and Nancy Schiesari (Tattooed Under Fire) provided additional photography. Here's what Garrison and Allison Orr had to say about their project.

Slackerwood: Describe Trash Dance for us in a couple of sentences.

Andrew Garrison:  A choreographer and city trash collectors make something ridiculously beautiful together. It is funny, unexpected, and genuinely powerful.

SXSW 2012 Guides: Dining in Austin


BarleySwine shellfish Risotto

Who knows the Austin food scene better than Austinites? Hungry festgoing Austinites (and a few honorary locals). For SXSW 2012, Austin has been through some restaurant changes -- closures, moves, new venues. and more alternatives to brick-and-mortar restaurants. This guide will help you find your way. We'll start with some general tips, then venue-specific recommendations, followed by some other recommendations by Slackerwood contributors and filmmakers.

Four Star Dining, Two Step Dress. The best part about Austin is few restaurants employ a strict dress code. Which means it's okay to show up at Barley Swine in your jeans. Some upscale restaurants like Uchiko do have a "smart casual" dress code, so don't show up in shorts and flip flops, mmk?

Top Chef. Speaking of Uchiko, yes, Paul Qui is an Austinite (and from all accounts as nice as he is talented). No, you are not likely to be able to use your connections to get a seat at Uchiko. Few reservation slots are available for Uchiko (and fewer for Uchi) during SXSW on OpenTable. But don't forget, Qui also co-owns East Side King food trailers, which has three locations along 6th Street.

No Reservations. If there's a place you really want to dine at during SXSW, check to see if they make reservations and make one ASAP. As in, stop reading this guide and go make the reservation now, especially if you're planning brunch.

Austin at SXSW 2012: Bee vs. Moth Brings Music to 'The Oyster Princess'


Bee vs. Moth

Last year at SXSW, Austin band Bee vs. Moth performed a special live score accompanying Buster Keaton's silent movie The Cameraman. And they're back again, this time for The Oyster Princess. If you fell in love with The Artist or caught the live-score event last year, this is a must-see event. I tracked down Sarah Norris of Bee Vs. Moth to get the inside scoop.

Slackerwood: Describe the film for us in a couple of sentences.
Sarah Norris: The Oyster Princess is a 1919 German silent comedy by Ernst Lubitsch. The film tells the story of a spoiled heiress whose quest to marry a prince leads to mishaps, mockery and mistaken identities. Austin band Bee vs. Moth plays our original soundtrack live with the film.

What's one thing about the film that is going to make it impossible for people to resist seeing it?
Watching a silent film with live accompaniment is a fun, engaging experience that really brings the film to life. Bee vs. Moth's original score is witty and modern, making a surprising complement to the film's irreverent critique of the rich.

SXSW 2012 Guides: Tips from the Experts


SXSW 2011 at the Paramount

In our annual SXSW Survival Guide, Slackerwood contributors share our advice for having a great film-fest experience. But we don't know everything, so we consulted some filmmakers and other members of the Austin (and Texas) film community for their advice. Here's what they had to share.

Clay Liford, filmmaker; cinematographer, SXSW 2012 selection Gayby
Don't just go see the bigger studio films playing at the fest. Most of them are coming out in the regular rotation a few weeks later anyhow. Go see the little film you never heard of before (if it sounds interesting, of course). Many of these smaller films won't get a traditional release and this may be your only chance to see a gem you'd never have the opportunity to see otherwise. I assume you could extrapolate this advise to Music as well.

Angela K. Pires, filmmaker; editor, SXSW 2012 selection Trash Dance
You are not going to see all the films you planned to see, and that's OK. Be flexible and enjoy what you couldn't predict, like having a margarita with the director of an obscure film that you never intended to see.

Texas at SXSW 2012: David Redmon, 'Girl Model'


Ashley Sabin and David Redmon of Girl Model

Filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin (pictured above) have been collaborating on documentaries for years, including such titles as Kamp Katrina (SXSW 2007), Mardi Gras: Made in China (which earned a Documentary Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance 2005) and Intimidad (SXSW 2008). This time Redmon and Sabin tackle the provocative subject of fashion-model scouting, from the perspective of a former model turned scout and a young girl from Siberia pursuing a modelling career to support her family, in Girl Model. Redmon hails from north Texas.  

What’s one thing about Girl Model that is going to make it impossible for people to resist seeing the film?
It's a strange journey into a house of mirrors, a place where you don't know who to trust.   

Is there anything the audience should know about the movie before seeing it?
Girl Model took four years to make. We traveled to Siberia, Tokyo, Paris, NYC and China – several times – to make Girl Model. The most difficult aspects were the personalities. It was our most challenging production to date. 

Movies This Week: Billion Dollar Crazy Thin Lorax Project



We've a week to go before SXSW starts and there's plenty to do in Austin right now. To start, there are two (!) Rolling Roadshows on Saturday, the first of which puts the rolling in roadshow, because to enjoy Pee Wee's Big Adventure you must cycle from Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane to the Veloway. The other, well, the Funky Chicken Coop Tour is bringing the doc Mad City Chickens to Callahan’s General Store in Bastrop. On Tuesday, the KLRU co-sponsored Community Cinema Series at the APL Windsor Park Branch is showing Revenge Of The Electric Car. This free series features light refreshments and post-film discussions with relevant organizations.

All this week, Violet Crown has added special screenings of Oscar-winning films to its schedule, including Beginners and Tree of Life; check their website for times.  And as Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane prepares to officially open, it's training up all its staff, which unsurprisingly involves screenings. Many are sold out, but check out the schedule to see if you can be one of the first to test drive the newest Austin cinema.

Finally, to prepare for Meat Loaf being honored at the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards next Thursday night, Austin Film Society is showing the 1980 movie Roadie, partially shot in Austin, on Monday night at Alamo South Lamar. Margaret Moser and Sonny Carl Davis will be hosting the screening.

Movies We've Seen:

Crazy Horse -- Prolific filmmaker Frederick Wiseman (Boxing Gym, Titicut Follies) explores burlesque at the landmark Le Crazy Horse de Paris, a venue that makes a distinction between erotic dancing and strip clubs.  Elizabeth saw it and says, "Crazy Horse truly is a unique vision of form and movement."  Read her review for more. (Violet Crown)

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax -- The filmmakers certainly have the animation feature creds to take on Dr. Seuss, but does it live up to sly charm of Seussian wordplay (especially since the trailers don't)? Chris says it's delightful and "the best of the modern Dr. Seuss movies yet." Read his review for details. (wide)

Texas at SXSW 2012: Ya'Ke Smith, 'Wolf'


Ya'Ke Smith

You may remember Ya'Ke Smith's 2010 short Katrina's Son from Austin Film Festival, where it won Best Narrative Short. Smith, who is not only a filmmaker but an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington, is back with the controversial feature Wolf, premiering in the Emerging Visions category. And check out the top-notch cast, listed below.

Slackerwood: Describe your film for us in a couple of sentences.
Ya'Ke Smith: A family is shaken to the core when they discover their son has been molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal, their son heads toward a total mental collapse because of his love for his abuser, while his abuser attempts to exorcise his own past demons. The film stars Irma P. Hall (Soul Food, Collateral, The Ladykillers), Eugene Lee (Lackawanna Blues, Coach Carter) and newcomers Mikala Gibson (Gretchen), Shelton Jolivette and Jordan Cooper.

What’s one thing about Wolf that is going to make it impossible for people to resist seeing it?
It deals with a subject that is taboo, one that a lot of people shy away from. If you want to see a take on religion, sexuality, betrayal and familial discord that is unique in its approach than this is the film for you. I also think that it's a piece that will cause conversation.  There are a few hard-hitting sequences that will stick with you long after you leave the theater.

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