Alamo Drafthouse

Fantastic Fest Welcomes Filmmakers, Texas Style

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Fantastic Fest Filmmakers Shotgun Event

Every film festival welcomes filmmakers who attend in support of their projects, but Fantastic Fest offers an unique experience for visitors from the film industry. Tim League, founder of both the festival and Alamo Drafthouse, presents various events that reflect Texas, including a filmmakers luncheon prepared by Chef John Bullington and sponsored by the Texas Film Commission, BBQ runs to Smitty's and Muellers, and the popular annual shotgun event.

Filmmakers from as far as New Zealand and Japan participated in the event this year, which took place at the Capitol City Trap and Skeet Club. After donning safety protection and listening to a thorough safety orientation from experienced shooters, the guests took turns at a walk-through sporting clay course. Each shooting station simulates different hunting situations, and it was interesting to watch the different techniques. Even the novices had a great time on the course, and everyone was cheered on.

Photo Essay: Slackerwood Sneaks into The Highball

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Tim League

Over the weekend, all three of us -- Jenn, Debbie and myself -- got a tour of the Highball, the diner/lounge/fun space that Tim and Karrie League are opening mere yards away from Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Fantastic Fest will hold several events in the space, and once it's open, we can expect more movie-related events there too.

Tim showed us the work in progress and explained what would happen next, where things would go, and how sparkly and retro the place would be when it was done. By now, you can probably find even more complete photos of further improvements, but I thought you'd like to see what we saw anyway.

First of all, I have a weird fixture fixation, so I got a kick out of the overhead lights in the main room:

Cinemapocalypse, Part Two: And Well Into the Morning

Cinemapocalyse, by Jenn BrownThe main event for Cinemapocalypse was Inglourious Basterds and guests, as I detailed in Part One. However, the all-night movie marathon offered so much more. The theme of the evening (and morning after) was war-centered "men on a mission" films, with each film preceded by relevant vintage trailers. Tarantino programmed the next two films, with the rest programmed by Tim League, and Alamo programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen.

FilmInglourious Basterds
TrailersOperation Eichmann, Ski Troop Attack, 36 Hours and Operation Amsterdam

Like I mentioned in Part One, Slackerwood will be doing a full group review later. I will say for now that I really enjoyed Basterds and I'm looking forward to seeing it again, and I suspect even people who aren't big fans of Tarantino will really enjoy it. It has all the spirit of post-WWII anti-hero and noir films. 

FilmThe Losers
TrailersThe Naked Brigade, Merrill's Marauders, The Dirty Dozen, Casualties of War, The Rescue (I think it was the same film as Let's Get Harry, but I'm not entirely sure) and First Blood

This 1974 Vietnam war-era film, directed by Jack Starrett, was about a bunch of bikers led by Link (William Smith), who are sent to Vietnam to rescue a government advisor on the wrong side of the Vietnam border. This seriously surreal film included a love song/theme song abruptly fit into an unexpected romantic scene ("Life has so much to offer the losers ..."). Tarantino pointed out that this has has the distinction of being filmed during the Vietnam conflict, when it was politically very incorrect to do so. 

FilmThe Siege of Firebase Gloria
TrailersUp from the Beach, Play Dirty, Von Ryan's Express, Eye of the Eagle II: Inside the Enemy, Uncommon Valor and Gallipoli

Starring R. Lee Ermey and Wings Hauser, The Siege of Firebase Gloria is an uneasy mix of great filmmaking with some seriously cheesy dialogue (and a great chopper pilot).

Cinemapocalypse, Part One: The Quent-Essential Report

Cinemapocalypse 2009

In most posts, I try to be as objective as possible. I'm not even going to attempt it in this account of Cinemapocalypse, Saturday's all-night movie marathon. It is not complete, but it should be enough to help you live a little vicariously, if only to build your DVD queue or library. Those of us at Cinemapocalypse were very, very lucky, and the rest of y'all have a right to be jealous.

Earlier this year, Alamo programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilson took 18 exploitation films on an eight-night West Coast tour and called it Cinemapocalypse. Apparently it was so successful the Alamo gang decided to incorporate elements of QT Fest and have a dusk-til-dawn film fest in Austin, kicking it off with Quentin Tarantino's latest, Inglourious Basterds. Only one of the films from the original tour made it into this weekend's marathon.

Despite only knowing that the first film would be Inglourious Basterds, that Tarantino would then program the next two films, and that none of the films besides Basterds would be known in advance, Cinemapocalypse Austin sold out in a record minute. The tickets went on sale at noon, and people who tried to start buying at 12:02 pm were out of luck -- and only Fantastic Fest 2009 badgeholders and AFS members could even try the first day. And yes, Alamo was verifying every single purchase.

Photo Essay: 'Julie & Julia' Feast

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Feast Bubbly

In case you didn't notice from our recent podcast on Food in Movies, I am a foodie. Therefore I love to attend the Alamo Drafthouse signature events of film and feast, and was intrigued to see what gourmet surprises Chefs Trish Eichelberger and John Bullington would come up with for Julie & Julia. I was unable to attend a full feast due to other screenings I was attending - more on those later! - but managed to take some photos behind the scenes.

The evening started with pink champagne, as shown above. Here are a few more of the dishes, which were referenced in the film in one way or another.

First course - an amuse bouche that included oysters on the half shell, thin rye bread and butter:

'District 9' Director and Star Chat at Alamo

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District 9

[Warning: some of this content may spoil the film for you. Caution is advised.]

This has been a good summer for sci-fi fans, with three outstanding, classic style sci-fi films to hit screens across the country: Star Trek, Moon and now District 9, which opens on Friday. Ain't it Cool News hosted a special screening of District 9 with director Neill Blomkamp and star Sharlto Copley that featured one of the longest, and arguably one of the best Q&As in Austin in a long, long time.

Both Blomkamp and Copley were willing to answer questions for almost an hour. With most Q&As running 15 minutes, this was a rare treat. No one in the standing-room-only crowd left when the end credits started, and the first to leave the theater only missed the last 2-3 questions, and not just because those asking questions were rewarded with a commemorative t-shirt. One lucky audience member, who asked the final question, received an autographed rendering of the alien ship.

Set in the Johannesburg, South Africa area 20 years after an alien vessel has stopped over the city, District 9 is the story of a corporate stooge responsible for overseeing a mass eviction of the aliens, pejoratively known as "prawns" because of their resemblance to crustaceans.

How Young Is Too Young to Watch Movies in Theaters?

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Shrek at Alamo South, by Jette Kernion

On Twitter today, Marla Erwin (@marlaerwin) was annoyed with Alamo Drafthouse. She wanted to take her kids to see Ice Age 3D at Alamo Village this weekend, but some of her little ones are under 6 years old. And at Alamo Drafthouse, children under 6 are not allowed at the theater, even for matinees of kids' movies, except at weekday Baby Day screenings.

Marla ended up taking her family to see the movie at what she called a "mall chain" theater in town. She likes Alamo so she wasn't happy about this, and wants the local chain to consider changing their policy for children's movies.

Alamo Simulcasting Michael Jackson Memorial Services

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The Alamo love for Michael Jackson continues, with a special, free simulcast of the Michael Jackson memorial services on Tuesday (today) at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. Admission is free, but you can reserve a seat by purchasing a $5 food and beverage voucher. Seating begins at 11 am, and the service begins at noon.

Machete-Hacked Slackery News Tidbits

Danny Trejo, by Jeff Balke on Flickr

Yes, the title is cheesy this morning. But how else was I going to get a Machete reference in there? And I'll use any excuse to post a photo of Danny Trejo, like the one above. It's from the 2007 Grindhouse premiere, but it's still relevant, as you'll see below. There's other news from Austin and surrounding areas as well.

  • While at Cinevegas last week, Danny Trejo told James Wallace from the blog Gordon and the Whale that shooting on Machete, Robert Rodriguez's movie based on a fake trailer in Grindhouse, will start in about five weeks. I wonder if they'll do any location shooting around Austin? [via Cinematical]
  • The latest on the Austin Studios proposed sub-lease to Soundcheck Austin: An open letter to the Austin film community from Richard Linklater that explains the situation clearly and calmly. Check it out.

Quick Snaps: Flashback to Richard Rush at Alamo

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Richard Rush at Alamo

Writing about Weird Wednesday last week, especially Richard Rush's film Psych-Out, made me think about the time Rush was in town for some special screenings of his films at Alamo Drafthouse. This was in August 2006 at the old theater on Colorado. I brought my old camera that night and the photos are terribly grainy, but I still like them. At the time, I started to write about the evening, but never got it done (a placeholder was notoriously in the Slackerwood queue for about two years).

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