Jenn Brown's blog

Movies this Week: Moons and Gardens and Cutters

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Breaking Away

With record-breaking temperatures all week, staying in the delicious chill of AC is ideal. Austin offers plenty of movie events to keep you busy this week.

Opening this Week
Many Austin film film fans ave been waiting impatiently for Moon to open locally after a very successful SXSW premiere, and our patience is finally rewarded. Director and co-writer Duncan Jones, along with Nathan Parker, have penned an old-fashioned science-fiction tale, the sort that utilizes an unfamiliar landscape to explore the human condition and social vistas. In this case, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is at the end of three-year stint alone on the moon, and has clearly been there too long, when he has a very personal encounter. It's the type of movie that screams for lengthy discussions after viewing, but works best the less you know.

Needless to say, it's not a typical post-millennium Hollywood movie, but one that is destined to become a classic. The underrated Sam Rockwell finally gets a lead role that really allows him to show his chops, far beyond his comedic turn in Galaxy Quest, or the shamefully under-viewed Joshua. It's playing at Dobie and Arbor, and if you don't see it, turn in your sci-fi geek card immediately. It's not quite a shame it's not playing at the Alamo, as you don't want to be distracted during this quiet, thoughtful, cerebral film.

This is Not Your Living Room: A Theatergoer's Primer -- Part Two

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Half-Ass-a-Thon Audience

Have you recovered from Part One yet? If so, read on for more basic theater etiquette.

Personal Space. Just because you put your feet up at home does not mean that's okay in the movie theater. No one should have to share an armrest with your toes, or be forced to look at them in the seat next to them. If you put your feet on the tables at an Alamo, I hope the waitstaff puts theirs on your food.

Hats Off, AKA Bouffant Be Gone. Seriously, if your thinning hair makes you so self conscious that you can't remove your hat indoors, either sit in the back row or talk to your doctor. As for you, Big Hair, the 50's want their bouffants back, and no wants to get whiplash trying to look around you. If you don't sit in the back, pay for the seats that you block.

Fur & Film Fete Looking for Sponsors

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Brotherly Love 5, by Jenn BrownAustin has a film fetish. From the municipality to the people who keep it weird, we love cinema. Emancipet, which has provided free and low-cost neutering and other services for Austin's pets for 10 years, is capitalizing on that with their annual Fur & Film Fete.

The Fur & Film Fete includes food, drink, music, animal-themed films and a chance to mingle with other film fans who care about their pets. Sweet Leaf Tea and Tito's Vodka are supporting the event, according to an Emancipet staffer's tweet.

Last year's event featured a series of kitschy old educational films, and the previous year included a retrospective on William Wegman. Austin Film Festival's Kelly Williams is involved, so there is considerable film and film programming knowledge behind the event.

Emancipet is facing critical funding shortages due to city budget shortfalls, and needs all the help they can get to keep performing between 1,200 – 2,000 neuter procedures a month. Yes, a month. Emancipet recently completed its 100,000th neutering procedure. Not neutering pets has a lot of hidden costs, both to individual owners and the community: unwanted pet pregnancies, which result in abandoned pets, overflowing shelters, and more.

This is Not Your Living Room: A Theatergoer's Primer -- Part One

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"Hot Fuzztival" audience

Dear Austin,

I love Austin, and it's film geek heaven. But apparently fewer and fewer of us know how to properly behave in theaters. It seems Austin's movie audiences are getting worse, even at the Alamo.

The theater is not your living room. And you are not alone in it. It's past time for a Theatergoers Primer.

Stop Talking. Shut it. When you arrive in the theater, stop using your outside voice. It is acceptable to talk, but quietly, not like you're at a nightclub. When the lights dim, so should your conversation. Stop talking during the trailers, as some people are actually trying to enjoy those, even if they are available online. When the film talks, no one should be talking.

Alamo Simulcasting Michael Jackson Memorial Services

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The Alamo love for Michael Jackson continues, with a special, free simulcast of the Michael Jackson memorial services on Tuesday (today) at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Admission is free, but you can reserve a seat by purchasing a $5 food and beverage voucher. Seating begins at 11 am, and the service begins at noon.

Movies This Week: Ice and Enemies

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Afghan Star

It's been a helluva couple weeks for celebrity deaths, hasn't it? As we head into Independence Day weekend, additional tributes to Michael Jackson continue at the Alamo, where the love is on for the gloved one's music, but both of them are sold out.

On a happier note, Fantastic Fest has announced the date of the first lineup announcement and shown off their annual poster design. On top of all that, the fest is presenting a screening of The Collector later this month. Slackerwood will be covering Fantastic Fest as well as its teaser events from now until the fest ends in October.

TXMPA Board Gains Four Austin-Area Board Members

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On Saturday, many Texas Motion Picture Association (TXMPA) members braved the heat to network and do some committee brainstorming after local caucuses voted for new local representatives earlier this month. The Central Region, which includes Austin, voted for Paul Alvarado-Dykstra as the regional board representative and Shelley Schriber as the alternate. Alvarado-Dykstra is a film producer, vice-president of Villa Muse, and a co-founder of Fantastic Fest.

TXMPA initiated an online election system for last week to allow all members in good standing to vote for At-Large board members, regardless of whether they would attend the meeting in San Marcos on Saturday. In previous years, members had to be present at the annual meeting to vote, which took up most of the general member meeting time.

Movies This Week: Ennui and Keepers

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Food, Inc. moooooo

It's been a dramatic week, with three entertainment icons passing away. The Alamo team put together a post-midnight tribute edition of their signature Michael Jackson sing-alongs that sold out quickly. Another MJ Tribute sing-along is scheduled for tonight at the Ritz. Hopefully it will be a quieter weekend.

This week we're focusing on new releases, since it seems to be a light special-event week. Next week's edition of Movies This Week will be early -- on Wednesday -- for the holiday weekend, including Public Enemies.

You've already seen my review of Transformers: Rise of the Fallen included in a rant about mob mentality. Massawyrm has an eloquent, detailed review as a fan of Michael Bay and the first Transformers film at Ain't it Cool News. I demurred on the objectifying rant, but Kim Voynar over at MCN didn't.

Ranting Review: 'Transformers: The Rise of the Fallen' and Mob Mentality

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Transformers 2

The movie Transformers: The Rise of the Fallen opens on Wednesday and not surprisingly, the advance screening Monday night was very popular with press and public who were lucky enough to attend. Summer blockbuster screenings are usually pretty crazy to begin with -- they give away many more "standby" passes than theaters can accommodate -- and this one was no exception. The studio rep had to give out wristbands to manage the chaos and reduce line jumping. The next day, the PR company sent a stern reminder to local press about screening/RSVP guidelines.

But what stood out for me, as a veteran of preview screenings, was the mob mentality at its worst. At some screenings, especially when radio stations (co)sponsor the event, there are promotional giveaways. A lot of wily people attend these screenings, and they can be aggressive about getting the goodies. It's problematic to the point that the sponsors try to be equally wily in finding ways to distribute the booty without causing pandemonium. [Ed. Note: Jette recommends you see Jenn Garrison's locally shot doc Prizewhores for a good example of this mentality.]

Movies This Week: Away We Go, from Browncoats to Pure Imagination

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Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

No bike rally this week, so it's safe to be back on the streets again. Well, relatively speaking. It's certainly quieter, isn't it?

Opening this Week

Away We Go is the first-run film to see this weekend. It's a sweet, snarky, and smart road trip romantic comedy about a young couple (Maya Rudolph, John Krasinski) expecting their first baby. Unhappy in their living situation, and suddenly with no local connections, they embark on a transcontinental journey to find the perfect place to raise their child, near either friends or family. The film unfolds as a caustic examination of family value archetypes.

From Allison Janney's caustic (and hysterically funny) negligence to Maggie Gyllenhall's excessively new-age parenting philosophy, there's a lot to see that's both obvious and subtle. While Krasinski frequently falls into a Seth Rogan impersonation, Maya Rudolph steals every scene she's in, even if she's only widening her eyes -- whether it's a 'in-law' with belly appropriation issues or judgmental airline reps. This is one you'll regret not seeing in theaters, as it's bound to be on a lot of "Best of" lists. It's already topping my mental list for the best releases this year.

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