Movies This Week: March 6-12, 2015

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We're on the verge of the SXSW Film Festival, so several area theaters will be turning into official venues by this time next week. Specialty screenings are still going on in the week ahead, but it definitely is about to slow down until after the festival has us all wiped out.

Austin Film Society has a Free Member Friday tonight at the Marchesa with Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket. The group will be screening the movie along with the original short film that inspired it and it's free to all AFS members. Members can also go the AFS website to claim two free tickets to a special advance screening on Tuesday night at the Paramount of Alex Gibney's new documentary Going Clear, which examines the Church of Scientology. The film will debut on HBO later this month, but this special advance screening will feature Gibney and Texas author Lawrence Wright after the screening for a Q&A with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune. Back at the Marchesa, AFS will pay tribute to the late L.M. Kit Carson with a screening of David Holzman's Diary, a 1967 film starring Carson, paired with one his short films called Direction Man. Carson will be posthumously inducted into the Texas Film Hall Of Fame on Thursday night. 

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane has pays tribute to Saturday Night Live's 40th annversary with regular screenings of The Blues Brothers on Sunday and Tuesday nights. A soul food dinner party Wednesday night offers a full meal along with the classic comedy. Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice hits Slaughter on Tuesday for Girlie Night.

To pay tribute to Leonard Nimoy, the Alamo Ritz has added 35mm screenings of Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan this weekend. Proceeds from all screenings will be donated to Creative Action Austin. Alamo South Lamar is also playing three Star Trek films on Sunday, but that trilogy screening sold out almost instantly, leading to the additional screenings at the Ritz. South Lamar also has Hitchcock's Vertigo on Saturday and Tuesday, which is always worth viewing on the big screen. Tuesday night, the Action Pack is bringing in the Broken Lizard comedy troupe for two screenings of Super Troopers. And on Thursday, critic and author Matt Zoller Seitz will be stopping in to South Lamar for a special screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Movies We've Seen 

Faults (pictured above) - This cult-themed thriller starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead debuted last year at SXSW. Austin native Riley Stearns wrote and directed the film and Marcelena caught it during the festival last year. In her review she said, "There were several gasps from audience members as secrets were revealed, and characters' true colors came to light. Stearns really makes us as the audience think about what influences us, and how even when we think we are at our strongest, we can very quickly and easily be our most vulernable selves. It really has nothing to do with a cult at all, but rather our own personal humiliation and perseverance that we so desperately want to hold fast within ourselves." Tonight's screenings at Alamo South Lamar will have Stearns in attendance and Winstead will join via Skype for post-film Q&A sessions. (Alamo South Lamar, also available on cable and digital VOD) 

Also Opening In Austin

Chappie - Neil Blomkamp (District 9) gives us another sci-fi thriller, this time based on a short film he made over a decade ago. Hugh Jackman, Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver and a robot that looks like Johnny Five from Short Circuit are the stars along with members of the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord. This wasn't screened for Austin critics, but the early buzz on the film points to it being a true stinker. (wide, also available in digital IMAX) 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - It's unlikely that films aimed at a senior audience end up anywhere near sequel territory, but the runaway success of the original 2012 film made this follow-up inevitable. The majority of the original cast returns here (making it the only weekend we may ever see with dual Dev Patel films in wide release), joined by Richard Gere and David Strathairn. (wide) 

Timbuktu - Winner of two awards at the Cannes Film Festival last year, this drama was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year's Oscars. The film explores an Islamic occupation of the city of Timbuktu where sharia law is enacted and the citizens are unsure of how to handle the new crackdown on their daily lives. (Regal Arbor) 

Unfinished Business - French-Canadian director Ken Scott (Delivery Man) teams up yet again with Vince Vaughn, although he may rethink that strategy for the future. Tracking for the title has been abysmal and the reviews are even worse. The "critical consensus" on Rotten Tomatoes says "Unfocused and unfunny, Unfinished Business lives down to its title with a shipshod screenplay and poorly directed performances that would have been better left unreleased." Ouch. (wide)