Jenn Brown's blog

Movies This Week: More Than 'Up' and 'Hell'

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Drag Me to Hell

There's a lot going on in Austin for movie fans this weekend. Two big films opening, including Pixar's latest success, Up, which has been wowing audiences at sneak-peek screenings, and Sam Raimi's return to form in Drag Me to Hell. But there are others out there that you might want to check out.

Raimi brought Drag Me to Hell as a work-in-progress to SXSW this March, and wowed the audience at the single sold-out midnight show. The advance screening hosted by AICN proved that the SXSW screening wasn't a fluke. Raimi, best known for the Evil Dead franchise, returns to the style of filmmaking that made him famous, complete with body humor, gross-outs, ridiculousness, and likable characters stuck in impossible situations. If you don't like the style of the Evil Dead franchise, you probably won't like this, either. But Raimi's films are fun, and he's the master of horror comedy. Just don't bring a PETA supporter with you.

Austin Film Society Launches Upgraded Website

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Austin Film Society, which is constantly bringing new events to the Austin film community, recently upgraded its website. It's had a complete overhaul over the weekend, and so far, the new site looks much cleaner and more user friendly than the old one. It also means you won't have to keep re-logging in if you navigate around too much, which was an annoyance on the old system.

The minor inconvenience is that you have to create a new login, regardless of an existing login in their website. Once you create your new login, the AFS team will take 1-2 days to link it with your membership.

On the plus side, the administrivia of a complete overhaul and upgrade, Essential Cinema's next program, Love on the Largest Continent: Ten Asian Films, does not start for another week.

And you still have time to sign up for the special Food, Inc. screening and optional four-course organic meal with wine pairings. The movie-only tickets are sold out, but the $60 tickets that include the four-course meal are still available.

Movies This Week: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

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The Whole Shootin Match

The first summer holiday weekend is upon us, as well as UT's commencement weekend. While that may tempt you to get out of town or stick to your own backyard, there are some film events around Austin this weekend that may catch your eye.

First and foremost, this is the opening weekend of the Paramount Summer Film Series, an annual event that brings vintage classics to Austin audiences in a classic old theater. The Summer Film Series has a Film Fan membership option that gives discounts and reserved seating to members, as well as free popcorn. Single tickets are good for all shows that day. This weekend's films include Mary Poppins, Casablanca and From Here to Eternity.

But wait, there's more. Lots more.

Newly Published Film Incentive Rules Marred by Controversy

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Bob Hudgins at Film Incentive Bill Signing

Update Fri. 5/21: Austinist has published an excellent in-depth look at the situation, with details about the script that had not been previously mentioned.

Update: Ealy and Garcia have written a comprehensive article about the issue for the Austin American-Statesman.

Yesterday, the Texas Motion Picture Association proudly announced the latest film incentives rules, while at the same time, a controversy started brewing over the denial of incentive funds to a production for a film about the Waco Siege of 1993.

Austin Movie Blog's Charles Ealy blogged on Sunday about an action movie production called Waco that was denied film incentive funds. Initially, Ealy reported that an unnamed state senator blocked the funding for the Entertainment 7 production.

Chris Garcia followed up on Ealy's story after learning that the decision to deny incentives was made entirely by Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins, pictured above at the recent signing of the newest film-incentives bill into law. Among the details on Austin Movie Blog is a statement from Hudgins that "...there was criteria put in the statute for that money. That criteria states that anything that shows an inaccurate portrayal of actual events (in Texas) and comes down to that narrow definition."

Miss Drive-Ins? How About a Bike-In This Saturday?

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Pee-Wee's Big AdventureIf you're at odds for something to do this weekend before the Memorial Day barbecues, the (Original) Alamo team has been thinking of you. The next Rolling Roadshow event in Austin is going to be a "bike-in" screening of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure downtown on Saturday night, May 23, at 8 pm.

As the event description says, "Fun didn't exist until Pee-Wee invented it, and now the most funrocious, funtacular, fungorious funsplosion in the history of FUN will be presented on the big BIG screen in a gorgeous 35MM print!"

Bicycles are optional. The screening will take place outdoors in the lot by Progress Coffee.

2009 Guide to Free Summer Movies in Austin

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 Grindhouse double-feature

Check out our updated 2011 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies.

While Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday are no longer free events, if you're still looking for free movies, you have plenty of options around town this summer. Recently, Jette briefly mentioned the Reel Independents series this summer at Austin Public Library. APL has two additional summer series at different libraries, so there's no excuse to miss these movies.

There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Weird Wednesday Anymore

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Weird WednesdayTwo of the best deals in town have been Terror Tuesdays (formerly Thursdays) and Weird Wednesdays at the Alamo Drafthouse, where obscure, rare and just plain strange films have screened for free every week of the year. This month, the Terror and Weird are free no more. But they are still good deals.

Citing rising shipping costs, both events have joined Music Monday in charging $1 per seat. It's $2 if you buy online (those pesky service charges associated with credit card orders). When guest appearances are included, it's $5.

Going from free to fee can make some people cranky. Lars Nilsen, has a brief comment on Weird Wednesday Facebook page about the shipping costs. Zack Carlson, the Terror Tuesday programmer, explains in more detail.

"Lars and I used to just use the same prints from the Alamo's modest film archive, but with both series playing a 35mm film print each week (no DVD's!!!), that's 104 movies a year. And you can imagine that it'd be difficult to provide that many genuinely entertaining films on a constant, non-repeating basis.

News Flash: Fantastic Fest Alum Shooting Next Film Here

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Fantastic Fest 2006

Simon Rumley, director of the surreal and memorable The Living and the Dead, as well as the sublimely succinct short Handyman, is returning to Austin this summer to make his next film.

Red, White and Blue, a revenge flick, will be shot in and around town. Rumley is currently looking for extras and locations. Visit the original Alamo blog for details.

The above photo is from Fantastic Fest 2006, when The Living and the Dead won Best Film. Rumley is on the right, about to chug his award in traditional Fantastic Fest fashion.

Review: Not Forgotten

Not Forgotten

The summer movie season started last Friday, which means most screens will be showing Hollywood's blockbuster hopefuls. Smaller films have to fight for screens, and usually don't last much longer than a week or two. Still, it's possible to see these films locally. Austin is currently the test audience for an Anchor Bay theatrical release -- a thriller currently playing at Dobie that will expand to screens in Los Angeles and Phoenix later this month.

Director Brad Soref and Producer Donald Zuckerman brought Not Forgotten to Austin this weekend, including a special Austin Film Society screening with a Q&A, and at least one sold-out screening on a sunny Saturday when Pecan Street Festival and other summertime events were all competing with each other.

Not Forgotten is a twisted thriller that begins with unsettling images of a murder then cuts to an idyllic small-town softball game. Jack Bishop (Simon Baker, pictured above) is coaching his daughter's team, and everything looks close to postcard perfect. Even Jack's wife, Amaya (Paz Vega) has a great relationship with her stepdaughter, Toby (Chloe Moretz).

Cine Last Americas Day 9: Tear This Heart Out

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Cine Las Americas 2009

After nine days of over 100 films from 18 countries, I now understand why one Austin filmmaker told me Cine Las Americas is her favorite film festival. With a lineup as diverse as any other festival in Austin, Cine Las Americas closed with a complex film that ended the fest with an impact.

The closing-night film, Arrancame la vida (Tear This Heart Out) sold out, to the point where the Alamo had to pull out folding chairs to fit people in the theater. Still, some very disappointed people were turned away.

Director Roberto Sneider attended the screening. You can see him in the above photo surrounded by Cine Las Americas programmer Jean Lauer, CLA Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque, and Francisco Cossio.

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