Alamo Drafthouse

Insider's Guide Extra: Tim League, Ultimate Fantastic Fest Insider

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When we polled filmmakers and film geeks who've attended Fantastic Fests past to contribute to a Fantastic Fest edition of Insider's Guide, little did we know that word would get to Alamo Drafthouse/Fantastic Fest co-founder Tim League (pictured above at right with David Roland Strong). We figured he'd be too busy with last-minute details of the festival along with the very recent arrival of twin daughters.

Not only did Tim League respond, he's gone all out (if you haven't met Tim, this isn't surprising). So we decided to include all his tips in their entirety as a special edition. You'll notice Tim has some advice that mirrors some of the sentiments in yesterday's edition, because they're that important.

What advice would you give to newbies who've never done Fantastic Fest before?

Use the Festival Genius. Create your schedule online, review and rate as many films as possible and check in during the second half of the festival to see what screenings are getting buzz.

Photo Essay: Blood and Bones at Drafthouse Sneak Previews

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Franco, Yelchin, Mintz-Plasse

Austin film fans were treated to two very special events last week as the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar hosted advance screenings with special guests for both Fright Night and Conan the Barbarian.

At the Fright Night screening, stars Dave Franco, Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse showed up for a post-movie Q&A, as shown in the above photo.

Mintz-Plasse, who was in Austin for his third Drafthouse premiere (Superbad and Kick-Ass were #1 & #2, respectively) dominated the Q&A with the comfort and confidence born of familiarity with Austin audiences, while Yelchin and Franco were generally more shy and reserved, as you can see in the following picture.

Photo Essay: A Night of Sommelier Cinema

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Wine and Cheese at Sommelier Cinema

I finally made it to the Alamo Drafthouse Sommelier Cinema last week to see The Seven Year Itch for the first time. Yes, I'm admitting that I'd failed until now to see the Billy Wilder film that inspired the most iconic image of Marilyn Monroe, standing with her dress being blown up by a subway grate. It was interesting to observe that the full-length image did not actually appear in the film. Despite the hype and humor of The Seven Year Itch, the film is my least favorite of Wilder's work. I found the lead character's habit of verbalizing his internal monologue to be rather annoying and unattractive. By far my favorite Wilder movie starring Marilyn Monroe is Some Like It Hot with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, a rip-roaring funny film that I never tire of watching.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for The Seven Year Itch, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience thanks to the great program put together by Alamo Drafthouse Sommelier Cinema host Daniel Metz. The guest sommelier was Eric Pelegrin of Travis Heights Beverage World, who paired the wines to the film. Pelegrin was joined by Kendall Antonelli of Antonelli's Cheese Shop, who matched tasty American cheeses to the wines. My favorite pairing of the evening was the Caves de Sancerre "Les Rochettes" 2009 with the Uplands Cheese Company Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese. The refreshingly light and modestly sweet Selbach Riesling Kabinett 2008 won me over, and I also enjoyed the Central Coast Creamery Seascape, a firm cow/goat cheese. Check out more photos from Sommelier Cinema after the jump.

Sommelier Cinema: Wine Flights of Fancy at Alamo Drafthouse

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Feast Bubbly

August 2, 2011 update: This event takes place at the Alamo Ritz location.

Although most folks know of my enthusiasm for craft beer from reading the Fantastic Fest 2010 Guide: How to Drink Like an Austinite and other beer-and-film writing, I also enjoy a good wine on occasion. During a recent vacation to Europe, my fiance and I visited the French wine regions of Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire River Valley (before hitting the breweries in Belgium and Germany). I learned quite a bit from local producers about grapes and the influence of "terroir" as well as the impact of climate conditions on wine.

You don't have to travel to Europe, though, to learn about Old World wine. Austin has several fabulous wine shops with staff willing to share their wine knowledge. In fact, my first taste of a lovely crisp white Sancerre was at a Loire Valley wine tasting at Vino Vino, and is why I added the region to our vacation plans.

If you are wondering why I'm mentioning wine on a film website, you need look no further than the Alamo Drafthouse Food and Film Event, Sommelier Cinema, which will feature a 35mm screening of The Seven Year Itch on Wednesday, August 3, at 7 pm at the Downtown Ritz location. The newest in the Drafthouse event series takes place every other month and pairs movies with fine wines selected by local wine experts who match the wine selection to the movie theme, characters or cast. The ticket price includes three or four wines along with the featured screening. Guest sommeliers give a short presentation about the wines and their history, as well as why they were chosen. The sommelier also provides a crash course in how to taste and drink wine, and what to look for in particular varietals, blends and regions. Find out which selections will be available this month after the jump.

Stage Magic Onscreen This Weekend in 'Make Believe'

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Make Believe

Stage-magic documentary Make Believe screened to a packed house at Alamo Drafthouse earlier this week, so it's coming back this weekend for two afternoon screenings at the Alamo Ritz. The movie won an audience award at Austin Film Festival last year.

Quoth the Alamo synopsis:

"This amazing documentary exposes the steamy and high-stakes world of teenage magic competitions as it follows six adolescent outsiders who all share an extraordinary passion for the art of trickery. Armed with great skill and a dazzling array of illusions, these teenagers embark from all over the world to attend the annual World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas, where they each hope to be named Teen World Champion by master magician Lance Burton.  From the producers of the fabulous KING OF KONG, this film will leave you inspired and dumbfounded, as it showcases some of the most incredible, eccentric young performers working today."

I'm assured by some of the folks doing PR for the film that it's kid friendly and tons of fun.

Get details and tickets for these screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse website.

The trailer for Make Believe is embedded below.

Quick Snaps: Flashback to 409 Colorado

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Last Night at the Alamo Grindhouse

While I'm out of town, I didn't want to leave Slackerwood completely abandoned. I decided to pick one of my most popular photos from Flickr and post it ... and when I saw this photo, I realized it is four years this month since the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado closed down.

I miss it, in the same way you miss that first apartment straight out of college with the bad A/C and the roaches that fell out of the ceiling and the radiator that almost caught fire. It wasn't the fanciest movie theater, but I saw a whole lot of good films there.

If you are also feeling full of nostalgia for 409 Colorado back in its glory days, check out our Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon from June 2007 and take a trip down Memory Lane.

Interview: Sam Calagione, Off-Centered Film Fest

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Sam from Dogfish HeadIt may seem a bit off-topic to feature an interview with a craft brewer on Slackerwood, but Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Craft Brewing is no stranger to the film and television industry. As the star and host of the Discovery Channel's Brewmasters, the secrets behind his off-centered brewing techniques have been revealed to the general public. Calagione also selected Austin and Alamo Drafthouse to help him host the Off-Centered Film Fest (OCFF), which features short films from aspiring filmmakers.

I spoke with Sam Calagione by phone before his arrival in Austin, and here's what he had to say about the OCFF as well as the overlap between film and brewing.

Slackerwood: You've been in Austin for the Off-Centered Film Fest (OCFF) for several years now?

Sam Calagione: This is the fifth anniversary. I've come personally to Austin for the film fest every year.

What inspired the expansion of the OCFF for this year?

Calagione: I think we've expanded the program as a result of expanded excitement in craft beer in general -- also the enthusiasm that we have for working with the Alamo Drafthouse, which we think is just the perfect off-centered collaborator for us.

Off-Centered Film Fest Expands for 2011

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Strange Brew

Anyone who has read my Fantastic Fest 2010 Guide "How to Drink Like an Austinite" will know I'm a craft beer enthusiast, but it goes beyond just drinking great brews -- I also homebrew and volunteer at local brewpubs and breweries. I was extremely excited when Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder Sam Calagione came to Austin in 2008 to host the Off-Centered Film Fest along with a beer and cheese pairing at the Alamo Lake Creek, and have never missed his annual events. His passion for craft brewing and film is contagious, and his annual rap "East Coast versus West Coast Brews" can't be missed.

Calagione will be back in Austin to host this year's Off-Centered Film Fest starting Thursday, April 14 through Saturday, April 16. He's partnered with the Alamo Drafthouse to expand the beer-meets-film festival to multiple venues and events to please both craft beer and film fans alike. The special screening of Wet Hot American Summer with Joe Lo Troglio sold out quickly, but find out what events are still available after the jump:

Review and Panel: For the Love of Movies

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For the Love of Movies posterAn unsettling aspect of Gerald Peary's 2009 documentary For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism is that so many of the critics interviewed are identified as "ex-critics" of print media such as The New York Times.

Yeah, things aren't so rosy for film critics these days, at least for critics seeking paychecks from traditional newspapers and magazines. Film criticism jobs are disappearing as fast as the classified advertising that once funded them. In the face of falling revenues and online competition, periodicals are jettisoning everything from foreign news bureaus to op-ed columnists to local arts coverage.

But all is not hopeless, as For the Love of Movies tells us. Film critics are adapting to the brave new media world, and as long they remain passionate about movies, the century-old tradition of reviewing them will continue.

The future of film criticism was no doubt on everyone's mind at a February 10 screening of For the Love of Movies presented by the Austin Film Society at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Peary was in attendance for a brief post-screening Q&A, followed by a panel discussion moderated by UT professor Thomas Schatz and featuring local critics Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle, Charles Ealy of the Austin American Statesman, Slackerwood's own Jette Kernion, and Austin Film Critics Association founder and president Cole Dabney.

A Unique 'Food Design' Mini-Feast at Alamo

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If you ever thought it was just the American food industry that was mercenary about marketing and selling food, think again.  Apparently it's no different in Europe. 

Earlier this week Edible Austin and Austin Museum of Art teamed up with Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar for a mini-feast and dialogue on Food Design, a 2009 Austrian documentary about the science behind food marketing and commercial research.  And in under 40 minutes, chefs John Bullington and Chris Kincaid (pictured above) managed to send out three courses with five separate preparations on each, making the film an interactive experience.

Pictured above are the chefs plating the first course; despite the poor quality of the picture you can get a sense of the frenetic pace they kept to keep the food moving.  And while we didn't see any of the courses in full light save the first and most monochromatic,  the fact we couldn't really see the food enhanced the tasting experience. it was quite a learning experience all the sensations of each different preparation.

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