Jenn Brown's blog

'Wild Man of the Navidad' Coming to DVD

Wild Man of the NavidadThe Wild Man of the Navidad, a Texas film with local cast and crew, is getting a DVD release next week.

The indie horror film, co-directed by Justin Meeks and former Texas Film Production Fund recipient Duane Graves, was an official selection at both Tribeca Film Festival and Austin's own Fantastic Fest, and if you're really savvy, you might recognize a certain Alamo staffer in the cast. It's a 1970s style Texas horror story about a "creature so horrifying it remains legend today" with the typical grindhouse gore stylings of 70s horror.

The DVD release is slated for next Tuesday, August 11, following the film's recent availability through IFC Video on Demand. You can pre-order the DVD at Best Buy and Amazon, and it's already available to add to your queue on Netflix. If you're going to buy, right now BestBuy has the better price. But you might want to check out local stores like I Luv Video and Vulcan Video.

I wasn't able to catch The Wild Man of the Navidad at Fantastic Fest, but the reviews have been positive (and nostalgic). What better way to gear up for next month's edition of Fantastic Fest than by supporting one of last year's films?

Austin's 'Hell On Wheels' Free Online and Live This Weekend


Hell on WheelsHell on Wheels, Bob Ray's documentary about the evolution of Austin roller derby, is now available online for free at SnagFilms ... or check it out below the jump. To learn more about the film, read Jette's review on Cinematical from the film's premiere during SXSW 2007.

We've been remiss in not pointing this out to you sooner, but according to the Texas Rollergirls website, the 2009 championship is on Sunday at the Playland Skate Center, so it seems like the perfect time to highlight a very Austin doc, with a very Austin style event.

So watch Hell on Wheels, then go experience roller derby in person as the Hotrod Honeys take on the Hustlers for first place, and the Hell Marys and Honky Tonk Heartbreakers battle it out for third.

Movies this Week: Ruby Slippers, Bastards and More Aliens


Wizard of Oz

There are many, many people lamenting not having fast enough fingers to get tickets for Cinemapocalypse yesterday. Thankfully, all three of us Slackerwood gals managed to snag our tickets in the one minute before the dusk-til-dawn festival sold out yesterday (a record time, even by Alamo standards). We'll do our best to make you feel like you were there without feeling left out. Tickets are still available for the VIP feast and Q&A simulcast of just Inglourious Basterds, however.

The Austin film scene has a lot going on this weekend, including Lights! Camera! Help!, a local festival showcasing non-profit efforts through film, which starts tonight. Debbie will be covering the festival for us, so keep an eye open for that.

Opening this Week

Funny People is the subject of our group review this week. Will Adam Sandler fans like this comedy from Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up)? It'll be interesting to see how well it does this weekend.

Review: The Collector


The Collector posterThe Collector is one of the most frustrating horror films in years, not because it's bad, but because it could have been brilliant. The emphasis is on "could" because, like most contemporary horror films, it fully embraces the clichéd horror conventions that make most American horror films look like and feel alike, despite some truly brilliant moments.

The story is simple: Arkin (Josh Stewart), a handyman with an unfortunate habit of robbing his employers, is desperate for money. He returns to what should be an empty house to empty a safe. Unfortunately, he gets far more than he bargained for when he realizes he's not alone in the house, and a cat-and-mouse game ensues.

Instead of building on the tension from close calls and the unseen but otherwise sensed, Director Patrick Melton and his writing partner Marcus Dunstan quickly fall into the conventions of elaborate setups and extreme torture, which for the discerning audience makes the film nearly indistinguishable from so many other horror films. Melton and Dunstan, who wrote the Feast franchise as well as Saw IV-VI, mentioned at the Fantastic Fest Presents screening last week that they didn't want the film to be one of the Saw franchise scripts, yet it quickly turned into a Saw clone.

Red-Carpet Mania in August

Grindhouse Red Carpet, April 2007The last week or so has been crazy with announcements for red-carpet film events in Austin, so much so that keeping them all straight is enough to keep your eyes crossed. Count 'em, no less than three in four days in August:

  • Saturday, August 15: Cinemapocalypse kicks off with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds
  • Sunday, August 16: Austin premiere of Robert Rodriguez's Shorts
  • Tuesday, August 18: World premiere of Mike Judge's Extract

To ease the vertigo and help you schedule your ticket buying, we've compiled the relevant information below. You will notice that there are benefits to membership, as AFS members and Fantastic Fest 2009 badgeholders have an advantage over the general public.

Movies this Week: 500 Days, Aliens and Raiders


Alien 1979

Opening this Week

SXSW closing-night film (500) Days of Summer opens today, and it's likely to be the sleeper hit of the summer (pardon the pun). It's the type of romance film that guys really enjoy. I wasn't as impressed with it as some, but it's not a bad film, just makes a few missteps that distracted me. Check out Slackerwood's group review.

Debbie caught G-Force earlier this week, so you can check out her thoughts here.

Jette witnessed The Ugly Truth, and here she is barging in with her reaction:

The Ugly Truth made me realize how sick I am of formulaic romantic comedy. Formulaic dance movies can still have interesting choreography; sports movies often have some fascinating action sequences on the field or in the ring; action films have cool explosions. But the by-the-book romantic comedies offer nothing but attractive stars and sporadic cliched humor. We don't even get witty dialogue anymore.

Movies this Week: Saved! by Ugly Marathons


Shotgun Stories

If you haven't bought your tickets for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which Slackerwood already reviewed, you're probably going to have to wait a week, especially if you don't like morning showtimes.

Fear not, folks, you Have Options.

Moon continues at the Dobie and the Arbor, and The Hangover is still holding on despite the summer blockbusters. I haven't seen The Hangover yet, so I might remedy that this weekend. Food, Inc. also continues.

The Texas Spirit Theater over at the Texas History Museum (that's the non-IMAX theater) is showing Just a Little Bit Crazy, a documentary about the annual National Rattlesnake Sacking Championship in Taylor. The film, which played Austin Film Festival in 2004, screens 1-2 times a day all week; check the theater website for details.

Forgiving the Film: Summer Adaptations, Reboots and Sequels


three summer film posters

[Warning: Portions of this article may constitute spoiler material if you haven't read the Harry Potter books.]

Have you ever given a film or a filmmaker credit, even for the failings of a film?

It's been an interesting summer. Early this year, some of us very lucky Austinites caught the unofficial world premiere of Star Trek, resulting in quite a bit of flak from the media. Paramount was accused of stacking the deck with Trekkies (not true), and it wasn't until the press outside of Austin had an opportunity to see Star Trek for themselves that suddenly, they were agreeing with us.

The interesting thing is that for all the glowing reviews, Star Trek is a flawed film. But its flaws were easily marginalized because the director and writers clearly understood the Star Trek universe, the characters and how to tell a good story. We could discuss some of the logic breaks, or the lack of character development outside of Kirk and Spock, but what really matters is that was fun, thrilling and made us want more. I say "we" because I know I'm not alone. At least on Slackerwood.

Extra, Extra, So Read All About It

Almost A Wrap RWB by Jenn Brown.

Last week, director Simon Rumley's latest feature finished filming here in Austin. Red, White and Blue, touted as a "slacker revenge thriller," filmed in various locations around town, including one afternoon at local honky-tonk landmark The Broken Spoke.

A few weeks ago, Tim League, executive producer of the film and co-founder of the Alamo Drafthouse theaters, posted a call for extras to the Alamo blog and Twitter, with the promise of fun and standing around and drinking beer.

I've got friends in Vancouver who've been extras on a few films, and they were telling me to bring a book or two, it'll be boring. It'll take hours to shoot a single scene. Well, okay -- it took 3.5 hours from the time we were asked to be there, to "That's a wrap. Thanks, folks." Even if I had brought a book, I wouldn't have had a chance to look at it. We were too busy having fun. And it helped a local film, so even better.

Fantastic Fest to Open with 'Gentlemen Broncos'


Gentlemen Broncos

The Fantastic Fest pre-season is in full swing, with last night's screening of [Rec] satisfying many a local badgeholder, and making those not in Central Texas green with envy, and that's even before The Collector and Deadgirl screen later this month.

Earlier today, Horror Squad broke the first announcement about the 2009 lineup, which includes a mix of 32 features and shorts. The official press release is on the Fantastic Fest website.

The opening-night film will be Gentleman Broncos (pictured above), the latest film by Napoleon Dynamite writer-director Jared Hess. The cast alone will make it a hit with the indie/genre fans: Sam Rockwell (Moon, Galaxy Quest), Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Concords), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie), and Michael Angarano (Sky High). Angarano plays a home-schooled kid whose first story is ripped off by his favorite author, Ronald Chevalier (Clement), and being filmed as well.

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