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!]

In Brief: Lady Bird, Fantastic Fest, and Summercamp!

A few bits and pieces of news from around the web:

  • The Paramount remembers the late Lady Bird Johnson, and Metroblogging Austin captures a photo. Wish I'd seen that in person.
  • Austin Movie Blog reminds us that the SXSW Film Conference is looking for panel ideas for 2008.
  • Austin School of Film is holding a free Open Screen Night on Sunday -- details are available on Austinist.
  • Austin's Fantastic Fest has joined a new alliance of American film fests devoted to sf/fantasy/horror/animation. I love Fantastic Fest and can't wait until late September.
  • Free online movie: The documentary Summercamp! from Austin filmmaker Bradley Beesley and Sarah Price, which I reviewed when it premiered at SXSW in 2006. If you like what you see online and want a higher-quality copy, you can buy the DVD. (via Cinematical)

Quick Snaps: Paramount's Summer Movie Series


Paramount Theatre, Austin TX

Look, it's a post that isn't about Alamo Drafthouse at all!

I realized this week that I haven't posted anything this year about Paramount's Summer Classic Film Series, which has been going on since late May. The above photo is from one of the first nights of the series, which traditionally opens with a double-feature that includes Casablanca. My husband and I were downtown that night and ended up seeing Casablanca again on a whim, despite the fact that we own the DVD. You can't go wrong with Casablanca.

It was a good print and we enjoyed ourselves very much ... except we could have done without watching The Shadow, a 1940s serial to which time has not been at all kind. I believe these are the same episodes of The Shadow that The Paramount showed several years ago, and the audience reaction ranged from bored to mocking. I'd rather watch a short cartoon or even nothing at all -- I know The Paramount is working hard to offer us good value for money, but this serial is a waste of time. I'd love to see the theater show locally filmed shorts beforehand (or maybe work with SXSW to show the SXSWclick finalists?), even if they're not "classic."

Last week, we returned for Brewster McCloud, which I was happy The Paramount was showing since it's not yet on DVD. As much as I like watching classics like Casablanca again, I'm especially fond of the chance to watch movies that I'd otherwise be unable to see. Brewster McCloud is a very very strange movie but lots of fun to watch, especially on a big screen where you can see every detail of the shots in the Astrodome.

Check out the remaining Paramount schedule for this summer. Next week's pre-Code double-feature of Baby Face and Bombshell sounds tempting to me, but you might prefer double-features devoted to Newman/Redford films, Peter O'Toole, Spielberg, Truffaut ... and as usual, the series ends with Gone with the Wind. We bought the Flix-Tix book of tickets (a good bargain) so you might see me there. The schedule sometimes changes and movies are cancelled or added, so don't rely only on the printed schedule -- double-check the website.

Adventures in Red Carpet: Grindhouse at the Paramount (Part 1)

I've waited so long to write about the Grindhouse red carpet here (not to mention that I wrote the above phrase a whole month ago -- I'm such a procrastinator) that the film has its allure ... however, what goes around comes around. With the upcoming premiere at Cannes of Quentin Tarantino's segment Death Proof as a stand-alone film, perhaps people will be interested in seeing the film's celebrities all glitzed-out at the Paramount back in late March. As a tribute to the original double-feature cut of Grindhouse, I've split this entry into two parts. (Or maybe because the entry was too long.)

First, you should read my Cinematical article about the Austin red carpet to see the best photos I took, including a fabulous one of Tarantino. He finally stood still long enough for me to take a photo that didn't look like a blur! I was thrilled. However, I took so many photos that I have plenty to share here too.

Adventures in Red Carpet: Grindhouse at the Paramount (Part 2)

In Part 1 of the Grindhouse Adventures in Red Carpet (which you should read before this entry), I had just managed to take non-blurry photos of Quentin Tarantino and was very pleased. One thing I didn't mention in Part 1 was the zombie invasion. For some reason, the crowd of fans at the Paramount included zombies ... or people dressed as zombies, I couldn't be sure, except they seemed not to be eating brains. Some were just watching the fun, but some obviously wanted to join the media:

The next celebrity on the red carpet was Jordan Ladd, who played one of the first group of women in Death Proof (aka "the one in the Alamo Drafthouse t-shirt"). I didn't realize, until I looked her up on IMDb, that she's Cheryl Ladd's daughter. I like this photo because first of all, I'm wondering what someone said to cause her to make that face; and second of all, well, just look in the background on the left:­

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.


David Lynch in Austin (without cows)


Filmmaker David Lynch decided to include Austin in his multi-city promotional tour of his latest film, Inland Empire, which he is self-distributing. On Wednesday night, every seat in the Paramount was filled for the local premiere of the three-hour film, followed by a Q&A session with Lynch.

Paramount marquee for David Lynch


I had hoped that Lynch would hold a red-carpet event with a cow, or perhaps hang out on the corner of Congress and Sixth with a cow to advertise Inland Empire, like he did to promote Laura Dern's performance. I'd heard he was planning to include a cow in the tour. However, no cows were sighted anywhere near the Paramount.

I was happy enough to have the chance to hear and see Lynch himself.

Kevin Smith broke my (red carpet) cherry

I've been covering film news for Cinematical for about a year now, and before that I wrote about film on Celluloid Eyes. And in my deep dark past (aka college days), I used to cover local and entertainment news for various publications.

One thing I hadn't ever done was to cover a red carpet event. I didn't know much about the red carpet world, apart from what I occasionally saw if I turned on the Oscars too early. We don't have cable and I rarely watch entertainment news on TV. "Red carpet" didn't seem like something a print reporter would benefit from attending, which is why I turned down a chance to cover a red-carpet event at Fantastic Fest last year for Zathura. (Also, I found out about it 10 minutes beforehand, and had no idea what I'd say to Jon Favreau.)

But Kevin Smith came to town for the Clerks II premiere a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to cover the event. Natalie Schuessler, the media contact at Austin Film Society (which sponsored the premiere), told me that space was tight for the actual premiere screening, but I could attend a press screening earlier in the week and then participate in the red carpet session with Smith before the premiere. I thought this would be an excellent way to get a taste of the world of red carpet interviews.

Scanner premiere tickets running out

Austin Movie Blog is reporting that tickets are selling fast for the local premiere of A Scanner Darkly on Wednesday 6/28 at The Paramount. (I guess the SXSW screening didn't count as a premiere ... the movie wasn't quite finished then.) So if you're planning to attend, buy tickets ASAP. The screening will be followed by a Q&A from director Richard Linklater and other cast/crew members.

Here's the difficulty, for me: Austin Film Society, one of the premiere's sponsors, isn't selling the tickets through its usual online service. You have to buy the tickets through The Paramount's box office, which means you have to drive downtown to The Paramount during its (limited) box-office hours. And park downtown to do it, too. The AFS online ticket service has had its problems over the years, particularly with large or in-demand event (most memorably, the server crashed during QT 6 sales), but right now I would really appreciate using it to buy tickets for this premiere. Even a phone option would be nice. The Paramount's usual ticket service may work well for theater and live performances, but many moviegoers are spoiled by the ease of online purchases for screenings. At least I am.

I've already seen A Scanner Darkly at SXSW and previewed it for Cinematical. I'd like to see the movie again, completed, outside of festival crunch mode. And I would certainly recommend the film, whether you catch it at the local premiere or after it releases on July 7. You may not actually like the movie, but it's fascinating.

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