Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Downtown's last-month schedule is live


Alamo Drafthouse Downtown is closing its Colorado location on June 27, and the theater has just posted its schedule for June. Hopefully the break until the new Alamo/Ritz theater opens won't be too long, although it's definitely going to have a negative effect on my summer moviegoing. (You can view photos of the Ritz renovation on Alamo's blog -- they've been updating weekly with progress reports.)

I am already making a list of events I want to attend at Alamo Downtown next month:­

  • Joe Bob Briggs on June 16. First, he and Texas historian Don Graham will be presenting clips on Texas history as viewed through film. Then Briggs is going to show and discuss the one film he couldn't procure the last time I saw him at Alamo, when he was presenting clips from movies highlighted in his Profoundly Disturbing book: the 1945 film Mom and Dad. I need tickets for both of these, right now. Or at least by Monday.
  • The Princess Bride is playing several times in June. There are no gimmicks attached -- Alamo just likes to show The Princess Bride, and draws exactly the right crowd to appreciate the film. We own the DVD but I might like to go anyway.
  • Last Night at the Alamo on June 27. I know people who are planning to get in line early on Sunday, May 27 at Alamo Downtown to buy tickets when the box office opens at noon that day. The first available tickets will be for the triple-feature of film events: Big Night with accompanying feast at 7, Earthquake with Tim League trying to blow out the Alamo sound system at 9:45, and Night Warning with Susan Tyrrell in person at midnight. You also get a wrench, which you can use to take a block of Alamo Downtown seats home with you. I'll be honest: I'd prefer to see just one or two of these, but I suspect the triple-feature tickets will sell out before single-feature tickets can be offered. It's going to be a very special night, so I'll just have to enjoy all three movies. I'm not sure how my husband would react if I came home with theater seats in the back of my car, though.

See 'Chalk' at Alamo South Lamar this week


I'm always so happy when a movie I liked at a film festival finds distribution and plays in Austin, so I can nudge ­all my friends and acquaintances to go see it. And if the film was shot in Austin, that's even better. Last year at Austin Film Festival, I saw the locally produced film ­Chalk, a mockumentary that focused on a school year from the point of view of teachers and administration. I reviewed the film for Cinematical.­ Chalk won AFF's narrative jury prize as well as the audience award. The film landed a distribution deal this year through Morgan Spurlock's ne­w distribution label. And now you can see it here during a weeklong run at Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar, starting tomorrow, May 18.

For the next week, Chalk has a screen all to itself, with multiple showings per day. Director Mike Akel and co-writer/actor Chris Mass will attend the evening shows on Friday and Saturday along with other cast members and will hold Q&As afterwards. However, the Friday night showings have already sold out (!), as well as the early evening show on Saturday, so you might want to get your ticket now for the late Saturday screening if you want to catch the filmmakers in person.

If you're a teacher, you can show your school ID and get the student discount when you buy a ticket for Chalk at Alamo. If you're not a teacher, I strongly recommend you find one and bring him/her with you to see Chalk. I watched the movie with an audience of Austin teachers who laughed until they cried at school-related in-jokes. So find as many teachers as you can. If you attend an evening show on Thursday, May 24, the filmmakers will be giving away shirts and other stuff to honor Teacher Appreciation Day. Alamo often offers themed menu items to go along with special screenings, but I'm glad that's not happening for Chalk -- would anyone really want to order school cafeteria food? Be glad you can drink a beer and eat pizza while watching these teachers.

Scenes from Hot Fuzztival

A couple of weeks ago, Alamo Drafthouse Downtown decided to hold a cop-movie marathon, the Hot Fuzztival -- that name ought to give you a big hint as to what the centerpiece movie of the marathon would be. (I noticed that other cities also did Hot Fuzztivals in preparation for this particular movie.) I have a confession to make: I went to the Hot Fuzztival not because I was psyched about Hot Fuzz, although I was looking forward to the cop-movie spoof from the Shaun of the Dead guys. I figured I'd have plenty of chances to see Hot Fuzz.

I went to the Hot Fuzztival primarily to see one of my guilty pleasure movies, which isn't available on DVD and which is very hard to get to see: Freebie and the Bean. I was amazed that Alamo was able to find a print. I rented the VHS copy at Vulcan Video last year (right before Alamo's Richard Rush double-feature, in fact -- Rush also directed this film) and the video quality was poor, but the film was still hilarious. The storyline is sexist and homophobic and some scenes don't make any sense to me, but James Caan and Alan Arkin are so wonderful together that it makes up for everything.

I did not mean for this article to be a love letter about Freebie and the Bean, but the point is that I spent nearly $40 to see that particular movie, and considered the other films to be lagniappe, if top-notch lagniappe. I was also looking forward to seeing the Hot Fuzz filmmakers/stars in person at the Alamo -- they were scheduled to appear right before Hot Fuzz, which was the last film to be shown in the five-movie marathon.­

Alamo Downtown, meet the Ritz Theater


Alamo DowntownI'm still surprised by the news, which was posted to Alamo Drafthouse's blog this morning: Alamo Downtown will move into the old Ritz Theater building this summer. This will ease all our worries about what would happen to the theater when its lease was up -- rumors abounded that it would be prohibitively expensive for the theater to remain in the now-trendy warehouse district, and that perhaps it would have to close entirely, with its programming moving to Alamo on South Lamar.

I've only been to the Ritz once, about 8 years ago. I worked on a short Super 8 film called Cold Turkey, written and directed by my friend Tom Chamberlain, that was a Thanksgiving-themed Tarantino-esque scene shot with hand puppets. (We were doing gory Thanksgiving before Eli Roth ever thought of such a thing.) So I have nothing but fond memories of the Ritz. As Tim Trentham points out on Metroblogging Austin, the Ritz has its own long history in Austin -- it's been around since 1929 -- and I'm happy that it will be able to remain open as a theater. In its original incarnation, the theater could seat nearly 800 people, so there's plenty of room for Alamo there.

My one concern is that the Ritz is on Sixth Street. You know, Sixth Street, where the drunken frat boys love to party. I haven't felt unsafe walking alone from Alamo Downtown to a parking spot after a late movie, but Sixth Street is another matter entirely. I've never been comfortable around Sixth Street alone at night, and of course it's insane down there on weekend nights. However, if I have to start bugging various guys to walk me to my car, it's a small price to pay to keep an Alamo Downtown.

I'll miss the old Alamo Downtown -- I've been going there for nearly 10 years. My first movie there was the first Austin Powers movie (that would have been June 2007), and I was delighted that I could watch a movie and have a beer for the price of watching the movie at night at a multiplex. I'm looking forward to seeing the new combination of the Ritz and the Alamo.

Updated, 5:30 pm: The entry on Alamo's blog has been removed. Was it intended to be posted later this month ... or even April 1? But it's not outrageous enough for April Fool's. If you've got some light to shed on this mystery (Tim League, are you out there?), feel free to post a comment.

Update #2, March 21: The Alamo blog entry is live again. Apparently it wasn't supposed to be published until today. AICN has more details on the new theater sizes, etc.

Update #3, March 21: Check out Micah's photo at Reel Distraction showing what the Alamo Ritz might look like.

Alamo Drafthouse unveils "beta" of new web site


The Alamo Drafthouse has been harboring a secret -- a secret web site that takes the ol' red, yellow, and black color scheme to new places.

Dig for a peek at the Alamo Drafthouse web site of the future!

Personally I like the trailers page, where you can check out the wacky homegrown pre-show trailers that the Alamo staff creates for its specialty programming.

A handy guide to SXSW Film Fest venues


Alamo on South Lamar

Note: A 2010 guide to SXSW Film Fest venues is now available.

SXSW Film Festival has six venues this year, and if you've never been to Austin you may not know where all the theaters are located and all of their little quirks. You might think it's possible to run from the Paramount to Alamo on South Lamar on foot in ten minutes, and you'd schedule movies accordingly, and then be sad later. Or you might make it through the entire festival without trying the root-beer float at Alamo Drafthouse.

I thought I'd offer a guideline to the Austin theaters playing SXSW movies to help visitors who want to maximize the number of films they see in a day or who want to make sure they're able to find decent meals in between or even during the movies.

The SXSW film venues are a little different this year -- the Arbor is no longer on the list. This is a shame in one way, because it's a very nice venue and a good place for locals with cars to see movies. On the other hand, trying to drive across town to catch a movie at the Dobie right after seeing one at the Arbor is something I'd rather not attempt again. SXSW has added another screen at Alamo on South Lamar instead, which is more convenient to downtown.

The official SXSW Venues PDF provides a list of theaters with a map, including nearby hotels and film party venues. This useful page also has info on bus service: "Cap Metro’s Film Fest Flyer (Route 3) stops within a few blocks of nearly all the Film Fest venues. Ride from downtown to the Dobie (from 8th and Brazos) or Alamo South (from 3rd and Colorado) for just 50 cents, or buy a Day Pass on the bus for just $1 a day. Buses leave around every 20 minutes and run from 6am to midnight on weekdays, with reduced schedules on weekends. See, call 474-1200, or see the CapMetro flyer in the 'Big Bag'" (which I assume is the bag you get at registration).

Update 3/6/07: The B-Side Unofficial SXSW Other Site Guide includes a venue page with a Google map display for each venue, which you can use to get directions to/from the venues. Here are the six SXSW theaters, with info on location, nearby food, and nearby wireless. If I've missed some tips and tricks that you think belong in this guide, please add a comment or email me and I'll be happy to update this entry.


Sinus Show blows its last

The "MST3K"-style comedy of the Sinus Show will bow out of the Austin film scene this weekend, reports the Austin Movie Blog. The show featured 3 comedians making fun of cinema classics as Xanadu and The Terminator at one of the various Alamo Drafthouse locations in town. Now you'll have to make fun of those movies yourself, in the comfort of your own home. The final shows are this weekend's screenings of Die Hard and alas! They are sold out. I feel good that at least I got to take my wife to see their version of Showgirls. Of course we haven't seen the last of John Erler, Owen Egerton, and Jerm Pollet, but it is the end of an era. So long, Sinus Guys.

Spike and Mike 2007 - it's coming!


Dr TranThat touring cavalcade of animated perversion known as Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation is coming back to the Alamo Drafthouse downtown. This is one of my favorite events of the year, and it may actually inspire me to hire a babysitter and get our butts to the theater.

Unlike other animation events that have gone before it Spike & Mike celebrates the bizarre, the disgusting, the just plain weird and wonderful. Without it I might not have discovered Dr. Tran or Don Hertzfeldt, and how sad that would be!

The fun begins Thursday, January 18th and continues through the 28th.

Doing anything tonight?

Yeah, I should have done a Movies This Week on Friday and given you a bit of notice about some of the great film-related events going on tonight (Monday) in Austin. But that didn't happen ... and I didn't know about at least one of these until today. Take your pick:

  • Letters from the Other Side—I reviewed this documentary at SXSW, about families in Mexico who struggle to survive when the husbands/fathers cross the border to find better-paying work in the U.S. If you haven't seen this yet, tonight's the night, because director Heather Courtney has finally succeeded in obtaining visas for the women featured in the documentary to visit the U.S. and attend this screening. Reception at 5:30, free screening at 6:30, following by a Q&A with the women from the documentary.
  • Mouchette—Austin Cinematheque is hosting a free screening of Robert Bresson's 1967 film, tonight at 7:30 pm at UT's Texas Union Theater. Austin Cinematheque prides themselves on obtaining first-class 35mm prints of classic films. If you miss tonight's film, they're also showing Love Streams on Nov. 27, and ooooh! The Conformist on Dec. 4.
  • Two at Alamo—Over at Alamo Downtown, you can catch Jonestown: The Life and Death of People's Temple tonight at 7 pm ... or Tuesday and Wednesday at 9:45 pm. (I'm tempted to make it a double-feature on Tuesday with Porco Rosso.) I've heard good things about this documentary, although I'm not sure it's in the best taste for Alamo to serve free Kool-Aid with every admission. At 9:45 tonight, the Music Monday selection at Alamo is All Kindsa Girls, a documentary about the band The Real Kids, with $2 admission.

Borat scaled back - where to see it in Austin


BoratIf you've been champing at the bit to see Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, you probably bought advance tickets to one of the Alamo Drafthouse's screenings. You will also need to get a refund for those tickets from the Drafthouse South Lamar and Village.

Due to an unexpected rollback from Borat's distributor, Twentieth Century Fox, screenings all over Austin were cancelled as the film's release at some venues has been postponed until next week. Included are Austin's cinema mainstays like the Alamo Lamar and Village though not, apparently, the Alamo Lake Creek. (I assume this is because the Lake Creek Alamo is under different ownership and management than the others, though why Fox would choose to keep the screenings at the Lake Creek and not the others is a complete mystery.)

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