No Excuses: Seven Film Events in Austin Tonight

Alamo Ritz by Wiley Wiggins

Tonight is a busy night for film in Austin. If you're looking for something to do, it seems there's something for everyone. So if you want to celebrate getting your taxes done, or need an excuse to put them off one more night, Austin's film scene has plenty of choices for you.

Solar Movie Night at the Texas Capital is a special screening of several shorts about solar power, followed by a panel of legislators about the progress of solar bills at the Capitol. Popcorn and other refreshments will be served. The event is at Texas Capitol, Legislative Conference Center, Capitol Extension, Room E2.002, from 6-7 pm. RSVPs are requested.

Turk Pipkin's Latest Film to Premiere in Austin


In 2006, local actor/author/interesting person Turk Pipkin released his first feature-length film, the documentary Nobelity. You can read my Cinematical review here. In the film, Pipkin interviewed Nobel Prize winners about how we can make the world a better place. Turk and Christy Pipkin then established The Nobelity Project, a non-profit organization, to promote ideas from the film about working to solve global problems. They worked with schools and community groups to host do-it-yourself Nobelity screenings around the country, with proceeds funding The Nobelity Project.

Three years later, Turk Pipkin is premiering a follow-up film to Nobelity, One Peace at a Time. As in the previous documentary, Pipkin travels around the world ... this time, he talks with various people who are helping to ensure basic human rights for children, and promotes their efforts. The film also includes Willie Nelson, which should automatically be a draw for many Austinites. As with the first film, this is part of The Nobelity Project and will probably be distributed in the same way.

One Peace at a Time will premiere in Austin on Tuesday, April 14 at the Paramount. You can buy tickets to just the film, or get special tickets that also include a reception beforehand for some of the activists in the film.

You can watch the first 10 minutes of One Peace at a Time on The Nobelity Blog.

Cine Las Americas Lineup Now Available


Cine Las AmericasThe Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has just announced most of its 2009 festival lineup, including the opening and closing-night films.

The fest opens on Wednesday, April 22 at the Paramount with the film All Inclusive (Todo Incluido), which is about a Chilean-Mexican family taking a summer vacation together.

Tear This Heart Out (Arrancame La Vida) closes Cine Las Americas on April 30 at Alamo South. The film is about a young woman fighting for her freedom in post-revolutionary Mexico.

The Least of These, the documentary that played SXSW about immigrant families at the Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, is the only Austin-related film I know that's playing at Cine Las Americas. I'm sure there are more in the lineup that I don't realize have Austin connections ... if you know of any, please share that info in the comments.

Cine Las Americas takes place from April 22-30 at several Austin venues, including the Paramount, Alamo South, Alamo Village, Regal Metropolitan, and the Mexican American Cultural Center. A full schedule is expected soon. You can buy tickets for individual films, or a film pass for all events and parties for $70.

The 'Office Space' Anniversary at the Paramount

On Sunday night, SXSW and Fantastic Fest teamed up to host a 10th anniversary screening and cast reunion at the Paramount for Office Space, which Mike Judge filmed in Austin (okay, and a couple of scenes in Dallas) in 1999. The Paramount was completely sold out, which means that we saw Office Space with 1,200 people. That's an experience I highly recommend.

I wrote about the event for Cinematical, but I thought I'd include more photos here. The above photo is a shot of the red carpet ... yes, that's a "Jump to Conclusions" mat, just like the one in the movie.

The evening started with a red carpet, and writer/director Mike Judge showed up first with his daughters. The young women looked very happy to be the center of photographic attention:

Quick Snaps: James Cromwell at AFF's Opening-Night "W." Screening


James Cromwell

Austin Film Festival opened on Thursday night with an advance screening of Oliver Stone's film W., a colorful take on the life of President George W. Bush. The screening took place at the Paramount, which is in walking distance of the Texas State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion.

James Cromwell, who plays former President George H.W. Bush, attended the screening and participated in a Q&A session afterwards. AFF held a small red-carpet for Cromwell beforehand; this is my favorite photo of the ones I took. (Boy, is he tall. Super tall. Wow.) I wish we could have blocked off Congress Avenue and shot photos of him with the Capitol in the background, but you can't shut down Austin traffic like that, even for James Cromwell.

Quick Snaps: The Paramount is Shy


Asterisks on the Paramount marquee

I wasn't planning to take a picture of the Paramount Theatre's marquee last night when I got to the theater for the opening-night Fantastic Fest festivities. But as I walked by, I saw the asterisks and couldn't resist. The historic, venerable Austin theater apparently felt reticent about posting the word "SEX" on its front facade, although "PORNO" was considered okay. What can I say, I was amused.

I'm wondering if the Paramount has previously used asterisks for words on its marquee -- does anyone know? Or were they simply feeling a bit awkward about the whole "air sex" concept? Seeing the Air Sex Championships last night on the stage of the Paramount, I might understand, a little. I've posted an example photo from the event after the jump.

Photos Galore: 'Surfer, Dude' Premiere at the Paramount

Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves

Photos of Matthew McConaughey, even when he's wearing a shirt, never do grow old, do they? Of course not. That's why I knew you wouldn't mind waiting for me to put together this little photo essay from the Surfer, Dude premiere.

The thing to realize about red-carpet events is that they truly can be a circus, but that this is not always a bad thing. Some people go to giant malls on the day after Thanksgiving, some people go to Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, and some of us go to red-carpet events. I have to wonder -- if they get this crowded and chaotic in Austin, how is it in New York or LA? Or perhaps in those big cities they're a lot more blase about it. This event was called a "green carpet" but it was as red-carpet-y as we get in Central Texas.

I arrived at the Paramount and was assigned a spot not far from the door into the theater, next to Cole and Bobby, who write for (natch) Cole and Bobby at the Movies, as well as Study Breaks magazine. We were joined shortly thereafter by Statesman arts and entertainment editor Michael Barnes, who positioned himself right next to the door, so he could do some short interviews for his Out and About column and blog. This was great for me because I could take photos while the guys were interviewing people.

Movies This Week and News and Things


I want to try a new format for quick links to Austin screenings and news, because I'm lazy. Let me know how you like it, maybe it can become a regular Friday thing. And next time there may be a photo or two.

  • Alamo Drafthouse posted a Flickr set from their recent Incredible Hulk premiere event.
  • It's not too late to zip over to Arbor tonight to see Z: A Zombie Musical at 7:30 pm. If you miss it, several Austin video stores have the DVD (Encore and I think Vulcan or Waterloo, I'll have to find out and get back to you).
  • Lars has started a blog for Weird Wednesday, which is fun to read even if you never go to the midnight WW screenings because you have to get up at the crack of dawn on weekdays (like me).
  • The Paramount has a cool new website for its Summer Classic Film Series.
  • Austin Film Festival is bringing in Polly Platt on July 13 to chat with Tom Schatz as part of a special screening of The Last Picture Show. I've heard her speak and I can't recommend this enough.
  • Alamo's July/August schedule is now available to view as a PDF. I have GOT to get into that Hellboy 2 screening to see Guillermo del Toro. (I've had a crush on him since I saw him at Austin Film Festival in 1999, so all you Hobbit lovers get the hell outta my way and let me in.)

This format doesn't look all that different from the old Movies This Week, does it? The big difference is that I'd rather link to news and screening times than write it all out for you. But you don't mind, do you?

Paramount Summer Film Series Kicks Off Tonight


CasablancaThe Paramount's Summer Film Series begins tonight with, as is traditional at the Paramount, Casablanca. This year, the film is paired with Key Largo for a Bogie double-feature.

The summer film series' schedule runs through early September, with the usual Gone with the Wind on Labor Day weekend and Lawrence of Arabia the weekend after. Other perennial faves include Breakfast at Tiffany's (how all of you can get past that awful Mickey Rooney character is beyond me, but I know tons of people adore this film); 2001: A Space Odyssey, because it looks so cool on a big screen; and the 70mm visual extravaganza Baraka. Many of the films are paired with Warner Brothers cartoons this year, which I usually enjoy (and prefer to the live-action serials Paramount has sometimes included in the past).

The schedule has few surprises, but that's what the Paramount's summer films are all about. For cultural diversity, you go to Austin Film Society screenings. For edgy culty programming, you go to Alamo Drafthouse. If you want to see a beloved Hollywood film with an audience that loves that film as much as you do, you go to the Paramount.

SXSW 2008: Notes from the Fest So Far


I'm jotting down a few observations from this year's SXSW Film Festival. I'll use some of these when I revise the film venue guide next year, and some are just, you know, little bits and pieces of miscellany.

  • Both Alamo Ritz theaters are filling up fast, at any time of day, for just about any movie. I've only been to one movie at Ritz where the theater wasn't filled to capacity. I think some out-of-towners just plain like the Ritz and will watch anything there. If you're going to see a movie at Alamo Ritz, no matter how obscure it sounds, get there early. At least Sixth Street is a colorful and interesting place to stand in line.
  • I found out Alamo Ritz doesn't have public wireless access. A server told me to try the Iron Cactus wireless access next door, but warned that Alamo's walls are very thick (soundproofing, which you absolutely need on Sixth Street) so it might be difficult. I couldn't connect. So use your Alamo Ritz time to order a nice meal, not check your email.
  • In my venue guide, I noted that I often park at St. David's Episcopal -- it's halfway between Alamo Ritz and Paramount. I paid $7 to park there on Monday, which is higher than the $5 it was last year, but that's fine. On Wednesday, the parking fee there was $15. That's ridiculous and obnoxious. I think it might be best to stay with the Convention Center garage parking, which is $7 all through the fest, and just get used to the walk. (That's not at all convenient if you're going only to Paramount, though.)
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