Jenn Brown's blog

Movies This Week: The Good, the Bad, the Weird Furry Nightmare


Didn't make it to the special screening of Iron Man 2? You still have a week to see what the fuss is about, but this is probably your last week of non-blockbustery summer film openings for a while. And thanks to strong box office at Alamo on South Lamar, you have another week to catch Best Worst Movie.

Furry Vengeance -- This poorly named comedy pits nature versus suburbs... but unlike Over the Hedge's slickly funny animation, this uses animatronics and Brendan Fraser. (wide)

The Good, The Bad, The Weird -- Emphasis on "weird," this Korean western (you read that right) is so memorable that a sleep-deprived gal stuck in the front row during an sold-out Fantastic Fest 2008 screening was absolutely riveted. It's one of the most fun films you'll see this year.  Set in 1940s Manchuria, three rivals fend off the Japanese Army, Chinese bandits and each other while seeking a treasure map. The Good, The Bad, The Weird is by the guy behind Two Sisters but this is a comedy. You know you have to see it. (Alamo Lamar)

House Full -- Bollywood comedy about a polygamist juggling three wives. (Cinemark Tinseltown 17)

Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street


Hollywood is not afraid of rebooting franchises, and this year's big reboot is A Nightmare on Elm Street with Jackie Earle Haley donning the knive-glove and striped sweater that made Robert Englund famous in the 1980s. But like most remakes, there's a lot lost in translation.

Director Samuel Bayer, whose background is in music videos, doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it's hard to tell with a script that plays bait-and-switch with its protagonist. It's not until Act Two that it's even apparent who the real protagonist is, with all the focus on Kris (Katie Cassidy). Screenwriters Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer may be following the basic structure of the original Wes Craven concept, but unlike most Craven stories, there isn't anything truly scary here. Sure, there are jump points, when you know you must be scared, but more often than not you're reacting because you know you're supposed to (often due to loud noises) versus being genuinely startled, let alone frightened.

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 9, That's a Wrap


I'm feeling the post-fest blues already. Another Cine Las Americas is over. But it's less than a year til the next one. Chamaco (The Kid), the closing-night film played to a near capacity crowd, with a special introduction thanking festival staff for their hard efforts and announcing the winners of the competitions. I think I wrote them down correctly, but if not I'll correct it when the official announcement comes out:

Cine Las Americas 2010: Days 7 and 8


I'm sorry I missed updating you all about Cine Las Americas's Tuesday schedule, but I plead a case of Robert Downey Jr.-itis.  I would've only seen one movie anyway, as only one was scheduled at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar that night. Speaking of which, I have to give a shout-out to the Alamo Lamar staff, which handled not one, not two, but three special events that night on top of a weekly series event, meaning every single theater was filled with unique programming in the early evening.  What could have been a major cluster... mess, went off rather smoothly.  Thank you, Alamo Lamar for that.

Wednesday night, well, you should've been there.  Even with two more special screenings, including a special A Nightmare on Elm Street preview with Jackie Earle Haley in attendance and a marketing sneak of part of Toy Story 3 (college students only), things still seemed to run smoothly at the south Alamo location.

At Cine Las Americas, the theme for the night was twisted perceptions. Viajo Porque Preciso, Volto Porque Te Amo (I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You) is a narrative collection of images turning a travel diary of a geologist into an insight on relationships and endings. The narrator is never seen, but through his travels on a field study for an upcoming canal development that will displace farms and villages, the loneliness of the road and what was left behind is heartbreaking. Unfortunately too many of the images are distractingly blurry, but it's still worth a watch.  

We Interrupt This Fest Coverage to Bring You Robert Downey Jr. and DJ Jon Favreau in Austin


Iron Man 2You were expecting some Cine Las Americas news this morning, right? I didn't make it to the one fest screening at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar on Tuesday night. I was at another screen in the same theater for a special star-studded screening of Iron Man 2 complete with gifts, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau.

I don't have pictures, in part because no cameras were allowed in the theater -- and yes, at least one sneaky type was escorted out for bringing in a cell phone despite multiple warnings not to do so Security was tight, and for good reason. This was the first public screening of Iron Man 2 apart from the film's red-carpet premiere.

The event was the hot-ticket item for movies in Austin tonight, which is saying something. Every screen at the Alamo on South Lamar was booked already, most for special events, so there was no chance of an overflow screen being used. We were all seated about an hour early but in this digital age, so few of us had watches that it felt surreal.

When the event finally began, we were told we would see a video intro to the film, which has been done at special screenings before. But some of us just knew that this wasn't going to be a simple sneak peek. The gal next to me, who has a crush on director Jon Favreau, thought I was pulling her leg when I said I was absolutely sure he'd show. Not that I was told anything, but he was here for the very first Fantastic Fest's opening-night film (Zathura), so why wouldn't he be here ... especially since the twitterpation about this event started with him tweeting about this special screening? The video was a snarky comedy bit with Favreau trying to wrangle Downey's snipes about geeks. I told my seatmate to keep an eye on the doors, and she was enthusiastically surprised to see Favreau walk in.

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 6


Cine Las Americas is not quite ready to wrap up, with three more days remaining. That doesn't mean the films playing at the MACC, Regal Metropolitan and Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar are any less compelling.

Manuel Carballo's La Profecia De Los Justos (The Last of the Just) was a Mexican/Spanish joint effort religious thriller along the lines of The Da Vinci Code centering on a man who finds he's at the heart of an ancient prophesy. While it telegraphed the twists too much, and had some of the most frustrating subtitles I've seen in a while, it's the kind of film that makes one want to see more from these filmmakers. Based on the Q&A, they want to bring genre filmmaking back to Mexico and make the world stop seeing "Mexican" as a genre itself.  I wish I recorded the audio of the Q&A, it was worth listening to on its own. 

Rigoberto Pérezcano's Norteado (Northless) is probably my favorite narrative feature of Cine Las Americas so far.  A recurring theme has been "low and slow" this festival, and Norteado epitomizes that, with the the only musical soundtrack coming from jukeboxes or radios, save the beginning and the end.  The plot is simple: an Oaxacan man wants to cross the borders. Between his many attempts, the bonds he makes in Tijuana force him and his newfound friends to confront their relationships. It's a simple, beautifully told story that's deftly handled, as it could easily be tedious.

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 5


Sunday ended up being a very short one at Cine Las Americas for me, but not for lack of good films to watch. I did catch Looking for Palladin, starring Ben Gazzara as a former actor working as a cook in small-town Guatemala when a slick Hollywood agent Josh (David Moscow) comes to town to sign him on to a new film. A "locals vs city slicker" premise is just the backdrop for complex relationships and backstories.  Moscow deserves recognition for playing to a bluetooth prop for the first half of the film, while usually in crowded scenes. Yeah, he plays That Guy.

I stuck around to re-watch some of the great shorts in the narrative competition. I said it on Twitter and I'll say it again; that's a reel worthy of a Fantastic Fest program, with provocative and genre stories, including Austinite Miguel Alvarez's Mnemosyne Rising and Joaquin Baldwin's short, intense Sebastian's Voodoo. I definitely want to see more of their work.

Today I wish I could clone myself to be at both the Regal Metropolitan and at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. But I can't. That doesn't mean I don't have recommendations for you:

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 4


I think I may have made another convert for Cine Las Americas tonight. Well, technically this morning.  I took a cab home because I use public transport and Capital Metro stops running near the Regal Metropolitan before the 8 pm is out, so I had to cab it back home. I missed tonight's party, but I like my sleep, something I've been missing a lot of lately. On opening night I had been Miz Cranky Pants big time, and I don't want to do that again.

Anyway, the cab driver was interested in the marquee sign, so I told him about it and he seemed very interested. Maybe he'll be at the Regal Metropolitan on Sunday, or he may go to the Mexican American Cultural Centers for the free screenings there. 

It was a good day; I caught most of the Hecho en Tejas shows, from The Red Queen to Shades of the Border, a documentary that started off focusing on the problems of adopting orphans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, but ended up covering the racial and ethnic issues on the Dominican side of that border. 

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 3


There's a phenomenon I've noticed at the smaller festivals in town: audiences generally don't applaud when the credits start.  So when the audience at my first film of the day erupted into enthusiastic applause when the credits started, you know it was a crowd pleaser.

That film was El Regalo (The Gift), a Chilean comedy about a freshly retired professor who's taken against his will on a seniors' vacation just after his birthday. An exploration of love in a group that the western world assumes are past passion, it's often as insightful as it is funny. Even with the cheesy ending, it was quite fun, and obviously a crowd pleaser.

Which brings me to the bumpers at Cine Las Americas; the theme is again, "If this is our reality, imagine our films," using soundbites from authorities and other news sources as inspiration. I really wish the one of Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez urging people to eat pork because it's better than Viagra played in front of El Regalo, because it would've been perfect. They have one with a rambling beauty queen, and another with Hugo Chavez about taking a shower with a cup of water, the latter being available on the Cine Las Americas website and YouTube. The series is created by LatinWorks.

Movies This Week: Best Worst Oceans Backup Losers



I just realized how busy I've been lately -- one Netflix disc has been sitting by my TV for nearly two months. This week isn't any different, as it's Cine Las Americas time. Hope you get a chance to check out the diverse fare the film fest is showing at the Metropolitan, Alamo on South Lamar and the Mexican American Cultural Center. If you can't make it there, here are the new releases in Austin this week.

The Back-up Plan -- Biological-clock sitcom with J Lo and Alex O'Loughlin, full of poop jokes and baby doll dresses.  And that's the nicest thing I can say about it. Read my review for more, and don't hold it against Michaela Watkins, who's wasted in her role. (wide)

Best Worst Movie -- Troll 2, arguably the worst movie ever made, has become a beloved cult classic.  Watch this tale about enthusiastically loving something by celebrating its flaws, and the delusions of those who can't see said flaws. Oh, and let's not forget Austin's own Zack Carlson's related tattoo.  There's also a party at The Highball for it this weekend. Read my review for more. (Alamo Lamar) 

Syndicate content