Jenn Brown's blog

Movies This Week: Being Women in Yellow Pastorela Paris

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The Yellow Sea

Bad news, folks. I know you like free movies, and it's been great cool weather, but the impending rain on Saturday has cancelled the Movies in the Park screening of It's A Wonderful Life (boo). However, you can still get your free film jones satisfied this week. Community Cinema at the Windsor Park branch of the Austin Public Library is showing Lioness on Tuesday, with light refreshments and a post-screening discussion thanks to KLRU-TV.

Monkey Wrench Books (110 E. North Loop) is hosting a Thursday screening of Paul Goodman Changed My Life, a documentary about a writer/activist whose story will resonate with those touched by the Occupy movement. Additional info on the Austin Film Society website (they're co-sponsoring).

Movies We've Seen:

Midnight in Paris -- Woody Allen's ode to 1920s Paris is back in theaters this weekend. When Debbie saw it, she said, "You don't have to be familiar with the writers and artists of the 1920s, but it certainly helps." Read Debbie's review for more. Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is featuring the film in its Sommelier Cinema series on Dec. 7. (Tinseltown North, iPic Domain)

Our Holiday Favorites: Love Actually

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"Before the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate and revenge -- they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaking suspicion you'll find that love actually is all around."

And therein lies the brilliance of Love Actually, a movie I fell in love with upon first viewing. An introductory voiceover, normally one of the most annoying cinematic tricks, establishes not only the focus of the film but the darker context when many of us needed it. By autumn 2003, we were no longer reeling from the September 11 attacks, but we hadn't yet adjusted to the post-attack realities, and cynicism was rampant. 

Using footage of actual arrivals at Heathrow airport in the credits, Love Actually reinforces that message: in paradox of the holiday season and all the stress that goes with it, what matters most.

Movies This Week: My Hugo Muppet Descendants Christmas

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We're running Movies This Week today to accommodate the holiday releases, so in reality this is Movies This Week and Then Some. We knew you'd understand. Besides the usual theatrical fare, on Friday you can see Planes, Trains, and Automobiles at the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in, and Blade Runner on Saturday.

Austin Film Society has a couple of events in the next week or so. The "Comedy of Remarriage" series continues on Tuesday with The Palm Beach Story by Preston Sturges. And the next evolution of Avant Cinema (version 5.2 to be specific) showcases features festive beverages and Peter Greenaway's The Fall over at the Aviary Lounge + Decor starting a week from Thursday (12/1 to be exact).

Movies We've Seen:

Arthur Christmas -- Chris says, "In today's world, any animated movie that comes along must inevitably be measured by the Pixar yardstick. It's not a stretch to say that by those standards of quality, Arthur Christmas stands tall ... even if most of its characters do not." Read his review to learn more about the latest feature from Aardman Animations. (wide)

The Descendants (pictured above) -- Elizabeth says she "walked out of The Descendants wondering, is there anything Judy Greer can't do well? Seriously." The film stars George Clooney and is directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways) -- find out more in Elizabeth's review. (Arbor, Alamo Drafthouse Lamar, Violet Crown)

Local 'Sushi' Doc Hits Theaters Next Year

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Another Austin film, another distribution deal. You may have heard that Richard Garriott: Man on a Mission was picked up by First Run Features and will open in Austin in mid-January. And the Twittersphere positively exploded with the news that Emily Hagins' My Sucky Teen Romance was picked up by Dark Sky Films a few weeks ago. The latest news: Austin goes global with Sushi: The Global Catch, from Austin filmmaker Mark Hall.

Sushi: The Global Catch just played the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival ("IDFA") in Amsterdam last week, and has been picked up by Kino Lorber for North American theatrical release in early 2012. The documentary won a Special Jury Award Seattle International Film Festival in June.

Insider's Guide: Thanksgiving at the Movies

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While many folks will be spending Thursday around the dinner table gorging on Thanksgiving dinner, some folks go to the movies. There is no need to choose between the two. You can still enjoy the classic dishes without messing up your kitchen, whether you go with family or not. No mishaps with turkeys, no nightmarish sides and no worries about finding a million and one ways to serve leftover turkey.

Theaters do big business on Thanksgiving, which is why this week new releases are opening on Wednesday. But in Austin, only Alamo Drafthouse is combining traditional Thanksgiving fare with their films. Even Violet Crown has no public plans to do anything special for the holiday as synonymous with overindulging as it is with the bird.

Like previous years, all Alamo locations are offering the option to buy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner along with your movie ticket. This year's menu includes turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing, Parker House rolls and pecan pie. A (very) limited number of walk-up tickets will be made available, so it's recommended to purchase your dinner in advance. The ticket option is $22, which includes your film and the dinner, but doesn't include drinks. Check out the Alamo blog for details. Just note that this year they are not promoting the leftovers that you can bring home.

Movies This Week: Into Happy Melancholia Dawn

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The holidaze are upon us, and the next week is pretty light on special screenings. But Saturday is making up for the dearth thanks to the Paramount and the Association of Moving Image Archivists annual conference. Film times start at 9 am and the last films starts at 8 pm -- you can read more about it in Jette's article and Paramount Film Programmer Jesse Trussell's blog. ll of these films are open to the public and free. And don't forget that the next AFS Essential Cinema series kicks off with another classic, The Awful Truth on Tuesday -- Jette's got more info (and enthusiasm) on that series too.

Also, don't forget the Les Blank retrospective screens tonight and Sunday at the Texas Spirit Theatre in the Bob Bullock Museum.

Movies We've Seen:

Happy Feet Two -- More dancing penguins. Chris says it "skirts the line between the sincere attempt to tell a story and animated showpieces for their own sake." Read his review for more. (wide)

Melancholia -- Don says that while "Lars von Trier's latest movie is dark, dreary and relentlessly dour... there is, however, a striking beauty to Melancholia, a film full of memorably surreal imagery." Read his review for more. (South Lamar, Violet Crown)

Movies This Week: Crazy Immortals Jack and Edgar

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It's a busy week for special screenings. On Saturday, Austin-shot film Mars plays the Austin Film Society Screening Room as part of the Texas Independent Film Network's touring series. On Sunday, the Paramount is screening two Chris Marker films, Sans Soleil and La Jetee, in conjunction with Arthouse/AMOA's current exhibit "The Anxiety of Photography."

Wednesday is especially crazy: Cinema 41 is showing Agnes Varda's Cleo from 5 to 7 at the Hideout. Doc Nights is screening Nostalgia for the Light at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. At Alamo Village, Best of the Fests brings Berndt Mader's Five Time Champion back to Austin, and Slackerwood's Don Clinchy will moderate the Q&A. And Cine Las Americas wraps up its "Literature in Mexican Cinema" series with Santa, based on Federico Gamboa's novel.

And if that's not enough, Don Hertzfeldt will be at Alamo South Lamar on Wednesday and Thursday to screen a number of his shorts, including his entire "Bill" trilogy that ends with his latest film, It's a Beautiful Day. Read Marc Savlov's profile of the animator/filmmaker in the Austin Chronicle.

Movies We've Seen:

J. Edgar -- This biopic "delves deeply into Hoover's personal life, skillfully walking the line between established facts and unsubstantiated rumors," according to Don's review. (wide)

Like Crazy -- This romantic tale of young lovers separated is "beautiful to watch, almost entrancing at times, and John Guleserian's cinematography and Doremus' direction have a lot to do with that," according to Elizabeth. Read her review for more. (Arbor)

The Skin I Live In (pictured at top) -- Pedro Almodóvar's latest is based on a Thierry Jonquet novel. I found it overly contrived and melodramatic, but Debbie says in her review, "It's quite easy to understand why this film has been nominated for its production design and composer in the upcoming European Film Awards."  (Alamo Lamar, Violet Crown, Arbor)

Movies This Week: A Very Heroic Tower, Martha

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The 6th annual Austin Polish Film Festival is underway as of last night and continues through next Saturday. Tonight it includes two films at the Texas Spirit Theater (Texas State History Museum), Stone Silence and Joanna, which include Q&A with the directors. Check out the APFF website for the full schedule and locations.

Cine Las Americas is showing The Colors of the Mountain at Alamo Village on Sunday. And in keeping in the international theme of the week, the always-free Austin Cinematheque is showing Andrey Tarkovskiy's The Sacrifice on Monday. Tarkovskiy was described by Ingmar Bergman as "the most important director of all time," which is about as strong an endorsement any director can get.

Movies We've Seen:

Martha Marcy May Marlene -- Elizabeth saw this taut, simmering thriller and says in her review, "With his debut full-length feature Martha Marcy May Marlene, director Sean Durkin has created a truly original work. Olsen pulls off the title character in an understated performance." (Arbor, Alamo Lamar)

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas -- Jette reviewed this movie and calls it, "completely offensive, even appalling at times ... and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It's also a rather sweet end (I hope) to the series." (wide)

AFF 2011: Austin Cinema Was Everywhere

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Austin Film Festival is over for another year. This year I saw fewer films than I have in the past, but I have to say I'm really proud of the way Austin and Texas were represented overall. The newly re-named and expanded Texas Independents program was a big hit. 

I didn't get much of a chance to see films that didn't have a local connection, but thankfully I did get a chance to see the delightfully poignant Harold's Going Stiff (writer/director Keith Wright pictured above with an unknown AFF guest). I was also pleasantly surprised with Sironia, which hopefully will play again in Austin soon, as it was a real crowd pleaser with some outstanding music. You Hurt My Feelings was a surprise because it's such a sneaky little quiet movie, one that may be the breakout film for Steve Collins and John Merriman (pictured below).

Movies This Week: Anonymous Call in Shelter Boots

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It's a strong week for free films in Austin. The Sunset Supper Cinema at the Whole Foods flagship on Lamar is showing The Hunger (with a special Halloween treat). Most of the programming for this series has been decidedly family oriented; The Hunger is not. The Austin Pets Alive Fall Petsival on Sunday includes a special (and free) Rolling Roadshow screening of Cats & Dogs. Puppies and kittens of all shapes and sizes will be on hand for adoption.

The APL/KLRU Community Cinema series at the APL Windsor Park Branch is still going strong. This series pairs socially relevant docs and community groups for post-screening discussions. On Tuesday they're showing We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân), directed by Anne Makepeace.  It's one of the free APL screening programs.  

Lastly, Cine Las Americas is showing Pedro Páramo at the MACC on Wednesday as part of its Literature in Mexican Cinema series.  

Movies We've Seen:

Margin Call -- Another start to awards season, another take on the financial crisis. This time it focuses on the key people in a 24-hour period at the start of the crisis. Rod saw it and says, "Greed, vanity, pride, gluttony and vanity. To some these are known as deadly sins. To Wall Street of 2008, these were business as usual. Margin Call demonstrates what happens when payment for these sins comes due." Read his review for more.  (Violet Crown)

Take Shelter (pictured above) -- Austinite Jeff Nichols's tale of a man haunted by visions of apolocalyptic storms is destined to top many "best" lists, but don't see it for the hype. See it for the incredible performances, direction, cinematography, sound design, editing ... Need I go on? See it now, before you know more about it. Seriously. Read my review for more. Austin Film Society members take note: If you see the movie at Violet Crown, $2 of your ticket cost goes to the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund. (Alamo Lamar, Arbor, Violet Crown)

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