Alamo Drafthouse

Movies This Week: Heavyweights, Truffaut, and Redneck Zombies

School is about to start, so the free summer movies for kids are winding down -- most programs have stopped except for Alamo, I believe. However, there are still some good free movies and other interesting events this week around Austin.

  • If you're reading this on Tuesday, there may still be time to head down to Hampton Library on Convict Hill Road for a free screening of Muppet Treasure Island at 6 pm. Tim Curry as Long John Silver rivals Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, I promise you.
  • Alamo Summer Movie Camp is showing Heavyweights this week, and you can still catch the movie on Wed. and Thurs. at 11 am at the South Lamar location. One of the writers on this summer-camp film was Judd Apatow, who wrote and directed Knocked Up. (More films after the jump.)

A Look Back at Gary Kent's "The Pyramid"

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Filmmaker, stuntman and Austinite Gary Kent started his career by fighting his way through many low-budget biker and exploitation films. He acted and was a stuntman in Richard Rush's The Savage Seven (1968), Psych-Out (1968) and Freebie and the Bean (1974), as well as Peter Bogdanovich's classic thriller Targets (1968). He also was in The Girls from Thunder Strip (dir. David L. Hewitt, 1966), which will screen at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar for Weird Wednesday on August 15 with Kent in attendance. Kent was stunt coordinator for Hell's Angels on Wheels (dir. Rush, 1967). He was also the production manager for Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and the second unit/assistant director for Al Adamson's Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971).

With all the work Kent was getting at this time, it's surprising that he found time to write and direct The Pyramid (1975). This highly personal, mystical and metaphysical low-budget movie was shot in Dallas primarily with local talent.

The Pyramid tells the story of young TV news cameraman Chris Lowe (pre-videotape -- he carries around a 16mm camera) and his disillusionment with the politics and petty bullshit of his profession. This disillusionment goes hand-in-hand with his personal development as a "sensitive male," which he nurtures through yoga and discussing metaphysics, psychic phenomena and mysticism with his reporter friends and his girlfriend. Chris plays guitar and is not afraid to cry or show emotions. He attends his girlfriend's confrontational therapy encounter group. He's a modern non-racist Southern man (circa 1975) whose close friend and work partner is L.A. Ray, the African-American news reporter at the TV station. (More after the jump.)

Movies This Week: Renoir, Office Space, and a Garage Sale

I've been out of town for a long weekend in the New Orleans area, where they really could use more indie/arthouse theaters, although that's not exactly a priority post-Katrina. Still, my youngest brother is terribly envious of the diversity of film choices we have in Austin, which is why I hope he doesn't see the following list. He's not going to be in a good mood until he gets to see Superbad, and that doesn't reach theaters for another 10 days. If he were here, these are the movies and film-related events I'd be telling him about:

  • The Paramount is showing Rules of the Game tonight and Wednesday, and I would love to see this Jean Renoir movie again, especially since it's a restored print. I can't go (I actually have to see Daddy Day Camp tomorrow) but you should all go for me and tell me how wonderful it is. Other Paramount movies in the Summer Classic series this week include a David Lean double-bill of Brief Encounter and Summertime on Thurs. and Sunday, Fellini's La Strada on Sunday, and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast on Monday.
  • The "Sing-Along" version of Hairspray will be showing for the rest of the week at Barton Creek Cinemark (the one that's not in the mall). I still need to see the non-sing-along version myself, although I am wary after what happened with The Producers. (more films after the jump)

Mmmm ... Simpsons Feast ...

At the Alamo Kwik-E-Mart

We're big fans of The Simpsons TV show around here, or at least the earlier seasons. Somewhere around Season 7 or 8 the episodes became less interesting to us, and we have a horror of "New Simpsons." So we approached The Simpsons Movie with trepidation, and decided the best way to ensure our enjoyment was to splurge on Alamo Drafthouse's multi-course Simpsons Feast. Afrer all, even if the movie turned out to suck, at least we'd be enjoying bacon-wrapped pork chops. My husband and I have never tried one of the full-fledged feasts at Alamo, although I've enjoyed some of the smaller movie-and-food events. It would be a challenge for us; the event didn't start until after 8:30, and we tend to be early diners, so we had snacks after work and tried to stay strong until the event. After all, there was that Ultimate Donut dessert to look forward to, even if it did sound a bit scary.

Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar was decorated beautifully for The Simpsons Movie. We didn't see a lot of it on our way into the theater, because the lobby was so crowded. Even on a Wednesday night, Alamo on South Lamar is very popular. But to set the mood, I'll show you the photos we took in the lobby after the movie. The counter where you can buy drinks, etc. was set up to look like a Kwik-E-Mart. Since Austin didn't get one of the Kwik-E-Marts transformed from 7-Eleven, we were happy to see an appromixation in the lobby (photo after the jump):

Weird Wednesday Recap: Hooch

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[Ed. Note: Please welcome our latest contributor to Slackerwood, Anne Heller, who's reporting on one of the Weird Wednesday screenings from July.]

Hooch (director/screenwriter: Edward Mann, 1977) is a very funny, authentic regional exploitation action-comedy starring Gil Gerard (a Southerner himself, later the star of the TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century) and an otherwise unknown cast. Shot in Cleveland and Rutherford counties in the Appalachian Mountain region of North Carolina (also at Earl Owensby Studios in Shelby, N.C.), Hooch is about a small county in the Appalachians and its many moonshine-brewing inhabitants, who are all struggling to make a living. The older "brewers" are pissed off at the success of handsome young upstart Eddie Joe (Gerard), who is charmingly stealing their regular customers.

Meanwhile, the owner of the country store (also a moonshiner) conspires with a trio of carpetbagging Mafioso who want to take over the moonshine business in that county as an extension of their Northern business ventures. The store owner's daughter seduces Eddie Joe, whose steady girl is actually a very childlike, prudish yet buxom youth choir director and Sunday School teacher at the local Baptist church. Her uncle, the local sheriff, has a vendetta against Eddie Joe because he's the only moonshiner in the county who refuses to bribe the lawman to look the other way. (More after the jump!)

Movies This Week: Early Works, Troma, and SF at the Paramount

Let's see what Austin has to offer in terms of special screenings and free movies this week. If I missed something, please let me know in the comments section.

  • Thursday night, Austin Film Festival is hosting "Very Early Works," a collection of short films from local filmmakers who have gone on to bigger and better things. The evening includes short films from Steve Collins (Gretchen), Scott Rice (Perils in Nude Modeling and those funny, funny Script Cops shorts that served as AFF in-house trailers last year), the Zellner brothers (Redemptitude), Mike Akel (Chalk), Jeffrey Travis (Flatland). Plus there are shorts from filmmakers who aren't yet quite so well-known, like Toddy Burton and John Merriman. Some of the filmmakers will be around to discuss their shorts. "Very Early Works" is being held at Alamo Lake Creek, and you can buy tickets at the door.

    If you don't live in Austin, check out the "Eat My Shorts" posting on Cinematical Indie a while ago where I found early shorts online from some of these filmmakers as well as others from the "Mumblecore" movement (I also explain what I think that means). Read the entry and see those shorts for free.

  • Alamo Lake Creek is starting a new weekly film series called Tromatic Thursdays, in which the theater brings us films from the prestigious Troma studios. This week's classic offering is Tromeo and Juliet, a timeless love story. The movie screens at 10 pm and admission is free. (More events after the jump.)

A Quick Tour of Austin Film Coverage

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I wish I had a magical special effect that, when I said "Elsewhere on the web..." would generate a wonderful transition image and noise, perhaps something groovy out of the old Batman TV series. You will have to imagine your own as I share this list of links to visit.

  • If you want to see more photos than I could provide of the Alamo Downtown sign moving to Alamo on South Lamar, Blake at Cinema is Dope has a whole slideshow available. Alamo Drafthouse Blog also has a photo of the sign that includes Lars (as part of an entry about the migration of Weird Wednesday and Master Pancake to non-downtown Alamos).
  • The Femme Film Texas Festival takes place on Saturday night at The Hideout, and Austinist has the details.
  • Thanks to Sarah Lindner at Austin Movie Blog for the following tip: You can now buy t-shirts online for the Paramount Summer Classic Movies series. As someone who buys t-shirts online from the Brattle Theater in Boston just because they're cool (both the theater and the shirts, that is), I always wondered why The Paramount didn't do the same thing. You also can buy Flix-Tix and a few posters online; I'm hoping the whole merchandise line expands over time. Hint to Paramount: You can't go wrong with a Princess Bride quote on your shirt. (More news/links after the jump.)

Movies This Week: San Jose, Holes, Princess Bride

I swear, sometimes the most difficult part of Movies This Week is dealing with the title. It always seems kind of clunky. Anyway, let's jump right into a list of movies and events that look like fun:

  • Screen Door Film is showing The Last Days of the San Jose on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Salvage Vanguard Theater. Director Liz Lambert will hold a Q&A after the screening, and then everyone is heading over to the Hotel San Jose for cocktails. If you live in Austin, I can't recommend this documentary enough -- it's not just about the San Jose Motel, a S. Congress dive that Lambert had to manage while waiting for funding to tear it down and build a boutique hotel. It's about the transformation of S. Congress (I hate the term SoCo). Most of it was shot on Lambert's personal DV camera, but there are also some lovely shots of downtown Austin.
  • If you've ever wondered what all the fuss was about with Citizen Kane, you can see it in a theater and decide for yourself if its greatness is overhyped. The Orson Welles film is playing at the Paramount tonight and Wednesday, on a double bill with Touch of Evil. (Like last week with Dr. Strangelove, I keep brainstorming the best movie for a double-feature with Citizen Kane -- so far I've considered His Girl Friday shown before, or The Cat's Meow shown after.) More cool movies after the jump!

Movies This Week: Magic Lantern, Free (and Good) Family Films

Here are a few of the more interesting movie-related events and screenings going on around town this week. If I missed something, let me know in the comments.

  • Have you ever wanted to see a "magic lantern," the projector that predated motion pictures? The Harry Ransom Center is hosting "Magic Lanterns: Father of the Motion Picture and Grandfather of Television" by Jack Judson, who owns Magic Lantern Castle in San Antonio, at 7 pm on Tuesday. Judson is bringing a restored magic lantern. The event (at HRC) is free.
  • If I didn't have a day job, you'd find me spending my mornings this week at a couple of the "kids camp" screenings in town. They're free and this week, the offerings are better than usual. Alamo on South Lamar is showing The Iron Giant, which always makes me cry so I better not see it in public, Monday - Thursday at 11 am. Westgate is showing Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Tues.- Thurs. at 10 am. Lakeline is showing March of the Penguins, Tuesday - Thursday at 10 am. And while Flushed Away wasn't all that fabulous, it would be a good free movie: 10 am Tuesday - Thursday at the Arbor. [More events after the jump!]

Why I Married That Man, Part 96 -- The Simpsons Feast

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I don't want to get too schmoopy here -- although this weekend marks the fourth anniversary of the first time my husband and I smooched -- but my h­usband continually does these wonderful things that make me remember why I ­married him. Film geeks should be jealous:

  • For my birthday last year, he not only replaced my lost copy of Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes (a friend borrowed it and moved to another state) with the updated Spike and Mike Reloaded, but got author John Pierson to sign it for me. Scott Mosier was hanging out at the Piersons' house at the time so he signed it too.
  • For Valentines Day, he bought us a Heroes of the Alamo membership (although it turned out that the downtown Drafthouse closed and moved anyway) ... and even let me keep the t-shirt.

Yesterday, he emailed me with the cryptic message, "What are you doing on the evening of Wednesday, August 1?" Last time he asked me something like that, we ended up at a concert, which was a fun surprise. I wondered what he had in mind this time. I emailed him back with, "No plans ... are you planning something?"

While I was waiting for a response, I browsed Bloglines to see if any websites had updated their RSS feeds. The Alamo Drafthouse blog had a new post -- all about the promos the theaters will be doing when The Simpsons Movie is released later this month. They'll have a Squishy machine in the South Lamar lobby, various menu specials (would you dare try a Ribwich?), a special pre-show ... and at the end of the month, a multi-course Simpsons-themed feast.

Suddenly the penny dropped, I realized the South Lamar feast was on Aug. 1, and I checked my email to find that my husband had replied to my "Are you planning anything?" message with "D'oh!"

Cowabunga, baby, we're going to the Simpsons Feast! We have never done one of the big splashy Alamo Drafthouse feasts, although I had fun at the Ultimate Garlic Experience a couple of years ago and also enjoyed the four-soup-course meal from the Soup Peddler that accompanied Duck Soup. But now we are taking the plunge. We may not survive ... go read that menu. The "tomacco sauce" scares me a little, but not as much as the idea of a casserole made from "thousands of donuts" and topped with pink icing and sprinkles. I will accept the challenge! I may need to bring bigger pants.

We're more fond of the older episodes of The Simpsons than the more recent ones -- my favorites are from Season Four. We're not sure how much we'll like The Simpsons Movie, to be honest. But we figure we'll enjoy it a lot more if we're watching it during the Simpsons Feast at Alamo. I will let you know what happens. And now I will go smoooooch my husband.

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