Debbie Cerda's blog

Movies This Week: July 6 - 12, 2012


Best in Show

Folks are still buzzing about last week's openers with many men opting to enjoy Ted while their wives and girlfriends flocked to see Magic Mike. I received reports from both a girlfriend within the theater and a male friend sitting in the lobby of Flix Brewhouse -- "There are only women here!" -- making Magic Mike one of the most gender-specific audiences since Sex in the City hit the big screen. Personally I'm opting for a screening of the humorous Ted this week.

The Paramount Theatre supplies a double dose of Christopher Guest's comedies with Best of Show and Lockhart-shot Waiting for Guffman on Tuesday and Wednesday. Anyone who brings a pet supply donation from the Austin Pets Alive! wish list to any Best in Show screening will receive a film pass to use at a later date. Pet owners can also submit a photo of their favorite pup on Facebook to win prizes from local canine greats. Check the Paramount event calendar for specific dates and times.

Tomorrow (July 7) at 3 pm, the Austin Film Festival "Made in Texas Family Film Series" features a free screening of The Iron Giant with Central Texas filmmaker Tim McCanlies at the Texas Spirit Theater. Note that AFF's "Made in Texas Film Series" screenings that were scheduled for the second Wednesday of the month seem to have moved back a week for July -- more details about the upcoming screening of Talk Radio in our next Movies This Week.

Movies We've Seen

The Amazing Spider-Man -- This reboot of the Spider-Man franchise is getting mixed reviews from critics, but fans may enjoy the new perspective brought by the filmmakers, including Austin-born co-writer Steve Kloves. I'm intrigued to see fight choreography that uses actual stuntmen and actors rather than relying on CGI effects. Mike says in his review, "Amid the complaints, this film must be noted for its outstanding action work." (wide)

To Rome with Love -- Woody Allen's latest film since his endearing and magical lettre d'amour, Midnight in Paris, takes viewers on a journey through Rome through the romance and adventures of some of its residents and visitors. J.C. states in his review, "To Rome with Love definitely has its moments, and it certainly isn't bad, but it would have been nice to see all of its parts come together a little better." (wide)

The Do-Deca-Pentathlon -- The latest film from former Austinites Mark and Jay Duplass (Cyrus, Baghead) centers around two competitive brothers who hold their own private Olympics with 25 events. J.C. saw this film at SXSW and stated in his review "With The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, the Duplass brothers continue to prove that their movies are worthy of being paid attention to." (Alamo Drafthouse -- Slaughter)

Katy Perry: Part of Me -- This documentary follows international pop phenomenon Katy Perry both on and off-stage on her concert tour. Rod saw it and says, "Part of Me is not all bubblegum, sugar and unicorns, but takes a serious and unvarnished look at the reality of one of the world's most famous pop stars." Look for his review this weekend. (wide)

Other Movies Opening in Austin

Savages -- Oliver Stone directs and co-writes this crime drama about two pot growers who are forced to deal with the Mexican drug cartel and rescue their mutual girlfriend with help from a dirty DEA agent. (wide)

Review: People Like Us


People Like Us

Nowadays you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn't use the word "dysfunctional" to describe their family, rather it's more to what degree. Sometimes when I've wondered what it would be like to have healthier relationships with a parent or sibling, I'll observe other people who have to deal with worse situations and consider myself fortunate.

People Like Us is the celluloid representation of that other family, headed by a rock of a patriarch who appears to have both emotionally and physically distanced himself from his children. In this case, two families are at stake -- one with his wife Lillian, portrayed by the gracefully aging beauty Michelle Pfeiffer, and a love affair with a groupie that resulted in an illegitimate daughter.

Chris Pine portrays Sam Harper as an estranged adult son who must settle his father's estate after his recent death from cancer. As an LA rock music producer, the amount of vinyl records and photos with rock legends left behind for Sam is enough to make any audiophile or rock historian drool like Pavlov's dog. Unfortunately, Sam has racked up an exorbitant amount of debt and he's more interested in what money  his father might have left. Sam is quite pleased to receive $150,000 in cash from the estate of his father's estate, but his excitement is short-lived when he discovers that he is meant to deliver the money to someone else.

Ready, Set, Fund: The Queens of Austin


Kat Candler with Carla L. Jackson and Kelvin Z. Phillips of A Swingin' Trio

"Ready, Set, Fund," is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

The Austin Film Festival has announced their first round of conference panels for 2012, and the title that came immediately to my attention was the "Crowdfunding Your Indie Film" panel. The panel of to-be-named filmmakers will discuss how to use modern technology to connect and solicit funding from backers for their film projects.

If I had to speculate what local filmmaker I'd most like to see on this AFF panel, it would be Kat Candler, pictured above on left with Carla L. Jackson and Kelvin Z. Phillips of A Swingin' Trio, at AFF 2011. Candler exceeded her fundraising goals on past projects including Hellion as well as for the UT Austin student organization Women In Cinema Summer Production and Operations, for which she is the faculty advisor. Incidentally, over half of the film projects featured in this month's "Ready, Set, Fund" column are helmed by women.

Candler's latest crowdfunding project, which reunites her with Hellion actor Jonny Mars and producer (and former AFF program director) Kelly Williams, is for a new short film, Black Metal. This dark drama exposes the raw emotions evoked within Ian, a thirty-something black-metal singer, when his music is linked to a student murdering a math teacher. Black Metal follows Ian, who is now a husband and father, as he comes to terms with his role in a tragic and senseless murder. The Indiegogo page features a video of Candler getting a "black metal music lesson" from Vesperian Sorrow's lead singer Donn Donni.

Remembering SuSu: Susan Tyrrell in Austin


DSC08636This week marks my third anniversary of officially writing for Slackerwood, but my first unofficial post was actually five years ago. I contributed a story about my most memorable experience at the original Alamo at 409 Colorado to the Alamo Drafthouse Blog-a-thon. The original Alamo Drafthouse closed on June 27, 2007, and was marked by spectacular signature Drafthouse events including a Big Night feast and bass-generated shaking during Earthquake.

News of the passing of cult movie sensation and Oscar nominee Susan Tyrrell -- seen above with Martin Nicholson and Richard Elfman -- served as a reminder that I also first saw "SuSu" that night. I was a fan of her bizarre performances in the 1982 movie Forbidden Zone and John Water's Cry-Baby, but was totally unprepared for both her portrayal of Aunt Helen in Night Warning and her disjointed Q&A that followed.

Drafthouse Films Announces New Releases, Alliance Program


Drafthouse Alliance

Drafthouse Films released The FP this week on DVD and Blu-ray as well as digital video -on-demand (VOD) platforms;   Bullhead follows with a similar release on June 26. The FP, which premiered at SXSW 2011, is about gang wars that take place using a dance-fight video game. Academy award nominee Bullhead -- which also took home Fantastic Fest 2011 "Next Wave" Spotlight awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor -- is an intensive character study amidst the violent and disturbing world of a criminal beef trade. Read my Fantastic Fest review as well as Don's review for more about my favorite film of 2011.

To encourage sales of Drafthouse Films titles, the company launched a new "Drafthouse Alliance" membership program this week. A subscription (which costs about $125) allows members to receive either a Blu-ray or DVD along with digital download of a current Drafthouse Films title of their choice, as well as the next nine releases shipped automatically.

Film on Tap: Red, White and Brewed


Justin Rizza of Flix Brewhouse, Michael Steffing of Jester King and Michael Waters of Independence BrewingThe dog days of summer are gearing up, which offers the perfect excuse for escaping into air-conditioned theaters and grabbing a cold libation. Production continues on local beer-related documentaries, and the crew from Crafting a Nation are set to return to Austin the first week of August to capture more footage and interviews at central Texas breweries and brewpubs.

The Fourth of July celebration begins a little early at the Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock with their first anniversary celebration from June 29 - July 1. Head brewer Justin Rizza (seen above at left with Michael Steffing of Jester King Craft Brewery and Michael Waters of Independence Brewing) plans to have 12 beers on tap with a "buy the beer, keep the glass" promotion including a special birthday glass. Flix Brewhouse will also be giving away free popcorn. Find out more about their event after the jump.

Review: Hysteria


Hysteria Still Photo

Caught without an umbrella in a sudden downpour on my way to a movie at the IFC Center in New York City, I dashed into one of the many brightly lit shops along the Avenue of the Americas. Stunned and speechless, there before my eyes was a plethora of vibrators in all shapes, sizes and functions. The shop owner mistook my facial expression for discomfort, and offered her assistance in comforting words. I explained that I wasn't uncomfortable, but pleasantly amused. I had just seen the movie Hysteria and was titillated to encounter such an assortment, including items within a glass case that I can only describe as a futuristic concept in both name and design.

For centuries, doctors treated women for a variety of ailments collectively known as "female hysteria" through manual "pelvic massage" to cause "hysterical paroxysm," what is now recognized as an orgasm. Doctors suffered from fatigue of the wrists and hands from this work, and were therefore aided greatly by Dr. Joseph Mortimer Granville's patent in 1880 of the electromechanical vibrator. Granville's seminal work led to the vibrator being the fifth domestic appliance to be electrified -- the first ones were made available for retail by none other than Hamilton Beach in 1902. The romantic comedy Hysteria is a liberating dramatization of the circumstances surrounding Granville's invention, including subplots involving women's suffrage and inequality between social classes.

Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) is a young doctor who is appalled by the blood-letting and other antiquated practices of "modern" medicine, and is considered a radical for speaking of Lister's germ theory and the need for antiseptic conditions. Dismissed from yet another position at the local hospital -- conveniently located next door to the morgue -- Granville is hired by Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) to assist with his growing practice. Dr. Dalrymple specializes in treating female hysteria, and his clients are quick to schedule additional appointments with the handsome Mortimer who quickly masters the necessary skills to satisfy his female patients.

Movies This Week: June 8 - 15, 2012


Somebody Up There Likes Me

In local independent film events for Austin, for only $3 admission Cinema East hosts a screening this Sunday of Bob Byington's film Somebody Up There Likes Me with Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) in attendance for the Q&A. I missed the SXSW premiere, but in his SXSW review Don described the film as "a charmingly off-kilter examination of human relationships torn asunder." Don't forget your blanket or lawn chair, as well as cash for beer and hot dogs.

The Paramount Theatre Summer Film Series celebrates anniversaries of several classic films with double features that include a couple of my personal favorite films including Raising Arizona and the must-see psychological thriller masterpiece, The Manchurian Candidate. Tuesday and Wednesday's double-feature includes Ishtar and Raising Arizona and the double-feature on Thursday and next Friday includes The Manchurian Candidate and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I highly recommend seeing The Manchurian Candidate on the big screen at the Paramount for the full impact of the suspense of this film.

And if Moonrise Kingdom isn't enough Wes Anderson for you, Alamo Kids' Camp is screening Fantastic Mr. Fox at Alamo Drafthouse Village on Monday through Thursday at 11 am. Admission is free but it's first-come, first-served and they do fill up quickly.

Movies We've Seen

Madagascar 3 -- Wayward zoo animals Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman continue their journey home to the Big Apple, with a detour through Europe. Mike says in his review, "Noah Baumbach's co-writing helps lift the Madagascar circus to the highest platform. Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages will all find something to love in this explosive conclusion to the trilogy." (wide)

Moonrise Kingdom -- The latest film from UT alum Wes Anderson is a quirky whimsical tale of two young lovers who flee their small New England town, wreaking havoc on those they've left behind. Jette raves in her review, "What makes Moonrise Kingdom such a memorable and lasting film, (is) that central relationship and the turns it takes throughout the movie." (Alamo South Lamar, Regal Arbor, Violet Crown Cinema)

Review: Snow White and the Huntsman


Snow White and the Huntsman still

Inevitably when someone mentions Snow White, the image conjured up is Disney's pure and sweet icon surrounded by cute and cuddly forest animals. Disney's Snow White is dependent on a hunstman to take pity on her, dwarves to provide shelter and a prince to save her from an evil queen. However, the fairy-tale archetype of the vulnerable female in need of rescue by a dominant male is not a stereotype any self-respecting contemporary woman would indulge in. 

Taking a more up-to-date approach is Snow White and the Huntsman, the latest cinematic interpretation of what is actually best known as a Brothers Grimm tale. Yes, Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is at the mercy of an evil queen, but so are all who cross paths with the evil enchantress Ravenna portrayed wickedly by Charlize Theron. Ravenna's unquenchable lust for power is only matched by her obsession with retaining her youth and beauty. In this retelling, a backstory lends a complexity and understanding of her evil motivations.

With the loss of her mother to illness and her father to Ravenna's enchantments and knife in the wedding bed, Snow White has suffered more tragedy than happiness in her life. However, her purity serves to fuel her determination to take back what is rightfully hers and restore the kingdom to one of peace and prosperity. 

Movies This Week: June 1- 8 , 2012


Mark Duplass

Many Texas school districts finished school yesterday, and if you're looking for kid-friendly movies look no further than our recently released 2012 Guide to Free (and Cheap) Summer Movies in Austin. A few updates have been made since the initial publication date, so check back regularly.

The Austin Film Society offers a double dose of former-Austinite writer/directors Jay and Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Cyrus) at the Alamo Drafthouse Village with the Duplass-A-Thon on Monday, June 4, beginning with The Do-Deca-Pentathlon at 7 pm and the Duplass Brothers Short Film Showcase at 9 pm. Although Mark Duplass -- seen above in the short film The New Brad -- is busy with other projects, Jay Duplass will be in attendance. J.C. reviewed The Do-Deca-Pentathlon at SXSW and said with this film, "the Duplass brothers continue to prove that their movies are worthy of being paid attention to."

The Paramount Theatre Summer Film Series at the Stateside features "The Savage Cinema of Sam Fuller" beginning with The Naked Kiss on Tuesday, June 5 at 7:15 pm, and Wednesday, June 6 at 9:25 pm. The Stateside will also host "Chaplin in the Sound Era" on Friday, June 8, with The Great Dictator at 7:15 pm and Modern Times at 9:50 pm. The Paramount Theatre is showcasing "Female Filmmakers in Hollywood and Abroad" with Outrage on Tuesday, June 5, 7 pm, and Wednesday, June 6, 9 pm; Dance, Girl, Dance on Tuesday, June 5, at 8:40 pm and Wednesday, June 6, 7 pm; and on Thursday, June 7, Boys Don't Cry at 7 pm and 35 Shots of Rum at 9:20 pm.

Movies We've Seen

God Bless America -- This violent comedy from Bobcat Goldthwait about an unlikely pair on a murderous spree might be overwhelming for some moviegoers. J.C. stated in his SXSW review, "Not everyone will be ready for this a harsh a dose of reality, but it's a film that people in this country could clearly benefit from watching." (Alamo Ritz)

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