Jenn Brown's blog

Review: The Back-up Plan


Yet again, Hollywood thinks that it's cute to insult women and those who love romance by offering up films like The Back-up Plan, starring Jennifer Lopez (Gigli, Monster in Law) and Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight, Oyster Farmer, Feed).

The opening credits warn the audience this is a two-dimensional fairy tale, with a vapid fashionsita walking around seeing everything turn into baby references. Then we get to meet Zoe (Lopez), who likes baby-doll dresses and nosebleed stilettos and while dressing like a model, just can't find The One. Zoe opts to go solo and have a baby on her own ... and then has an improbable "meet cute" in a cab with Stan (O'Loughlin), the guy of her dreams. You can imagine the rest.

The Back-up Plan feels like a sitcom, and it's not surprising; writer Kate Angelo was a producer on Will & Grace. Director Alan Poul (Swingtown, Six Feet Under) may have some decent TV credits, but none of the brightness in his previous projects found their way into The Back-up Plan.

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 2



Partly because I just love Alamo South Lamar, and partly because it's so close to my home, tonight was an Cine Las Americas Alamo night. I started with Tom Zé: Astronauta Libertado, a chaotic documentary about a pioneering pixie in Brazilian music. At 72, Tom Zé has more energy than a sugar-doped child, and makes for a fascinating subject, despite some speaker flaws (that were resolved, thanks Alamo staff).

The next screening started with the Mexican Academy Award winning short Jaulas (Cages). Juan José Medina's twisty and dark animated fairy tale (pictured above) is worthy of a Fantastic Fest slot, but to say more would spoil it for you.

It was an excellent setup for El Bosque (The Forest), another creepy fairy tale-esque film.  El Bosque is a slow-burn feature, and not for the ADD crowd. But if you have some patience, it's worth the watch. 

Review: Best Worst Movie



Imagine waking up one day and realizing you were the child star of the worst movie ever made.  That realization inspired the making of the documentary appropriately titled Best Worst Movie

In 1990, an exceptionally bad sequel was made in Utah, and it was terrible on every possible level, a perfect storm of ineptness. Eighteen years later, Troll 2 had become a cult classic. Little did Michael Stephenson realize that he starred in one of the most absurdly beloved films of the twentieth century that epitomizes the cult classic phenomenon.  

Stephenson, who was only 12 when he starred in Troll 2, quickly learned that it's not so much his story as that of the rest of the cast and the fans. Focusing on George Hardy, an Alabama dentist who auditioned on a lark and is absolutely thrilled with being in the worst movie ever made, Best Worst Movie introduces the audience to the film and the often outlandish cast of characters involved in the making of the film. Hardy is certainly a character in real life, but he's just one of many. The rest of the cast of characters is almost as strange as their characters in the movie, as Stephenson discovers during reunion interviews. 

Cine Las Americas 2010: Day 1


The 13th annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival kicked off last night with Amorosa Soledad (Lovely Loneliness), an Argentinean answer to mumblecore featuring a broken-hearted hypochondriac taking a vow of solitude but finding that life gets in the way. Starring Inés Efron, nothing much happens, but it's a pretty 82 minutes anyway. Amorosa Soledad features a cameo by Ricardo Darin (Nine Queens), who also stars in The Secret in Their Eyes, which will have a theatrical run in Austin this summer. 

Today's Cine Las Americas lineup includes screenings at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, the Mexican American Cultural Center and two screens at Regal Metropolitan. The Regal Metropolitan is the place to be today, and here's a preview of the choices you'll have to make there:

Alamo's Zack Carlson Will 'Destroy All Movies!!!' Before Fantastic Fest


Destroy All MoviesLast September, just before Fantastic Fest, the Slackerwood gang recorded a very memorable podcast with Alamo Drafthouse staffer Zack Carlson. Like many Alamo staffers, Zack wears many hats: shorts programmer for Fantastic Fest, lead programmer for Alamo Drafthouse in general and the guy who intros and programs Terror Tuesday. During the podcast, he quietly mentioned that he was finishing up a book he's been working on for the last five years that would be out some time in 2010, so "published author" is about to join Zack's other titles.

Since Jette and I were at Alison Macor's book signing over the weekend, it got me thinking: I hadn't heard about Zack's book in a while. I asked him about it yesterday, and guess what? Not only did I find out that the book's available for pre-order, but I got a little teaser about a special event scheduled to happen in Austin during this year's Fantastic Fest.

Edited by Zack Carlson and fellow Austinite Bryan Connolly, Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film is a reference book that provides a complete guide (900 pages!) to every punk or new waver to hit the big screen, including interviews and stills. Fantagraphic Books is the publisher. The description on Amazon makes it look like a must-have for anyone who calls themselves a cinephile, or an Alamo-ite.

Review: Death at a Funeral



Neil La Bute's remake of Death at a Funeral is a reminder of the absurdity in remaking a good, accessible and recent film. 

In 2007, one of my favorite films was Death at a Funeral, Frank Oz's very dry, very British comedy (yes, he's a Brit).  When I heard that there was going to be a U.S. remake, I balked. Why remake a perfectly satisfying film in the same language?  It's hard enough to stomach a remake of a good film, but understandable when it's a foreign-language film, because Hollywood clearly thinks American audiences can't handle the subtitles (and in fairness, there is still prejudice against fully subtitled films). 

But Oz's Death at a Funeral, while stylistically classic Brit-com with bouts of rapid-fire dialogue and sometimes subtle humor, is not culturally specific or period specific. So what did the U.S. version do? Rehash the original script, replace a few moments with what certain American comics seem to think of as funny and overfill it with pop-culture references. What in the original was fresh and tightly delivered feels like a read-through by the 2010 U.S. cast.

Movies This Week: The Kick-Ass Art of the Joneses at a Funeral



It's only mid-April, but the first blockbuster hopeful has arrived, with SXSW 2010's Opening-Night film Kick-Ass expecting to kick some box-office ass this this weekend. Officially the summer blockbusters aren't opening til May, but something tells me that Kick-Ass, a very well-named film, is going to leave some lasting impressions at the box office. 

The Art of the Steal (pictured above) -- In 1922, The Barnes Foundation was scorned as a repository of  "horrible, debased art" but after the turn of the millennium, the collection of Renoirs, Cezannes, Matisses, Picassos, Modiglianis and Van Goghs are the subject of a "rancorous" court battle.  This wasn't on my radar, but the synopsis certainly caught my interest enough to be willing to sit in Austin's least comfortable theater to see it. (Dobie)

City Island -- Andy Garcia is a corrections officer secretly studying to be an actor, whose life and that of his family change when Steven Strait's ex-con enters their lives. Debbie has the full scoop in her review. (Arbor)

Review: Kick-Ass


There are superhero movies and there are anti-hero movies and rarely do the two mix so well as in Matthew Vaughn's aptly named adaptation of Kick-Ass, the comic book series by Mark Millar, and the ultimate homage to hero movies.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is an ordinary high school student who just wants to get the girl, and oh yeah, fit in.  He even goes so far as to try to make friends with Chris D'Amico (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), son of a reputed crime boss. Dave's obsession with superheroes inadvertently turns him into a YouTube superstar as the vigilante "Kick-Ass." When Kick-Ass lets it go to his head, he ends up encountering other masked heroes and things get pear-shaped.

Review: The Square


It's always heartening to see independent productions get a chance to find audiences in theatrical release, and SXSW 2009 selection The Square, a thriller from Australian filmmaker Nash Edgerton, is a superb example. The movie opens Friday in Austin theaters.

Set in the suburbs during holiday season, The Square is a deceptively simple story built upon chaos theory, where seemingly minor events have tragic consequences. Ray (David Roberts) is a construction manager living the good life and building more opportunities for others to do the same. Like many cinematic middle-age men, Ray is dissatisfied with his life but not enough to leave his wife. Ray's fortunes change when his lover approaches him with a pile of cash and the seductive opportunity to start over.

Movies This Week: Ca$h Letters to Prince of Echo Pond Night


I love it ... bluebonnets in full bloom and all the pollen your sinuses can hold. At least the weather's been pretty summery. But it is kinda warm; I found that out when my AC was on the fritz last weekend. But it's all better now, and I'm ready for some more movies, how about you?

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond -- Friends on holiday on a private island ... you know there's a horror element that has to come into play here, right?  With a title like that, it's fully embracing the B-movie elements, but with a small distributor, we didn't get a chance to see it before it found a theater. Starring Robert Patrick. (wide)

Ca$h -- Sean Bean helmer about a guy recovering what's unlawfully his. This one has a bigger distributor but it didn't screen in advance either. (Cinemark Tinseltown 17)

Date Night -- A too-comfortably married couple on the date night from hell, starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell. It could have been great, but gets the Hollywood "make it funnier" treatment. Read my review for more. (wide)

Syndicate content