Movies, Comedy, Books, and More Recommended Arts Events

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"Scent of Austin" exhibit by Ziesook You (Courtesy of Julia C. Butridge Gallery)

Scent of Austin

Through April 20, Dougherty Arts Center

Flowers are an integral part of the lives of the Broq-Pa peoples of the Indian subcontinent, a constant adornment for both men and women. The interplay of human and floral forms has fascinated artist Ziesook You and become the prevailing theme of her work onward from 2016. Since relocating to Austin two years ago, the internationally acclaimed artist has given a local twist to that body of work with this new collection featuring single mothers, seniors, and people with multicultural backgrounds as living vases for local flora.   – Richard Whittaker


Urban Cultural Fest

Friday 29 - Saturday 30, Vic Mathias Shores

Last year, the 2005-founded, family-friendly Urban Music Fest updated its name to loop in all “Afrocentric aspects of culture.” Living up to the rebrand, the event kicks off with a Friday remembrance of Sixth Street bastion Catfish Station (in addition to food and vendors). The Chronicle once wrote that the venue, run by fest co-founder Homer Hill, “held down the heart of Old Pecan with an insider’s range of African-American music, food, and culture.” Houston jazz saxophonist Kyle Turner, Don Diego, Toni Redd, DJ Casanova, and more tribute the hub. Beyond Barbados-born beatbox standard Doug E. Fresh, founder of the Eighties’ Get Fresh Crew, Saturday celebrates the “renewal of R&B” with October London, J. Brown, Bigg Robb, and more. Find tickets at urbanmusicfest.com.   – Rachel Rascoe



Side Effects May Vary: Austin Premiere and Director Q&A

Friday 29, We Luv Video

You can’t keep a great low-budget film director down. So even though it’s been 20 years since Akron, Ohio’s greatest schlockmeister J.R. Bookwalter stepped behind the camera, now he’s back with Side Effects May Vary, a suitably mean and nasty tale of a science denier who thinks he can cure a pandemic and pays an evil price. Get there early for a free surgical mask and mystery DVD, then stick around for a sure-to-be enthralling Q&A with the director of The Dead Next Door and Humanoids From Atlantis.   – Richard Whittaker


Disaster! The Musical

Through April 21, Georgetown Palace Theatre

The first night on a giant floating casino/discotheque just off Manhattan: What can possibly go wrong? Well, since this is the 1970s, the decade of the disaster movie, how about earthquakes, tidal waves, rats, explosions, and deadly slot machine handles? Jack Plotnick and Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway jukebox musical features toe-tappers from the decade of AOR and disco, so there’s no better place to be for a night of mayhem and Chuck Mangione. Just watch out for the sharks ...   – Richard Whittaker


Books Through Bars: Stories From the Prison Books Movement

Saturday 30, Alienated Majesty Books

Between 60 and 80% of incarcerated people in America are functionally illiterate, researchers say. That’s heartbreaking because reading is one of the best ways for incarcerated people to relieve the boredom of prison life. For 70 years, advocates have encouraged literacy and self-growth by getting books to inmates. Join Austin’s Inside Books Project to celebrate a new history of the outreach, Books Through Bars: Stories From the Prison Books Movement.   – Brant Bingamon



A piece from Beedallo's "Ex Voto" (Courtesy of Recspec Gallery)

“Ex Voto”

Saturday 30, Recspec Gallery

Albuquerque-based artist Beedallo utilizes bold colors and startling imagery in their paintings, many of which depict animals, humans, and religious figures in various states of distress. Their current show, “Ex Voto,” takes up the Recspec Gallery’s new Annex, created for “our artists to explore space and transform a simple shipping container into an entirely different dimension,” the gallery states. Within the container walls, Beedallo’s art digs into the urge to pray even without specific religious faith. “An Ex Voto is made as an offering to a saint or to God,” their artist’s statement reads. “This is often a work in the image of what needs to be fixed.” After the show’s opening date, it’ll run the next three Saturdays in April.   – James Scott



You’re Next

Sunday 31, Violet Crown Cinema

Not just the greatest modern home invasion thriller (which it undeniably is), 2011's You’re Next is one of those films that secretly launched modern horror cinema. Written by Simon Barrett and directed by Adam Wingard (the duo behind this week's Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire), starring Ti West (the director of X, Pearl, and the upcoming MaXXXine) and Joe Swanberg (currently ripping up houses again in the equally brutal Invader), it's also the film that brought scream queen Barbara Crampton back to the movies. And did we mention that the Fantastic Fest award winner is the greatest modern home invasion thriller?   – Richard Whittaker



The Floor Is Lava

Tuesday 2, Fallout Theater

Yowch! That's what you'd be saying, you know, if you touched your tootsies to a lava-flooded floor. Thankfully, Austin is not located next to an active volcano ... or is it? This scripted comedy sketch show is a fresh flow of bright burning comic talent sure to scorch expectations with "fun, loose, and experimental" material. Don't believe me? Read this totally real quote from the comedy show's Instagram bio: My 'comedies’ are complete *poop emoji* compared to the greatest sketch group to ever sketch! –William Shakespeare I can't believe ol' Willy really said that! But no one has ever lied on Instagram before, so best believe this show's hot stuff.   – James Scott



Kelis Rowe (Courtesy of Torch Literary Arts)

Torch Wildfire Reading Series: Kelis Rowe

Wednesday 3, BookWoman

Local nonprofit org dedicated to publishing, promoting, and supporting creative writing from Black women Torch Literary Arts hosts a reading for author Kelis Rowe. Self-described as a former homeschooler and current stay-at-home mom, Rowe’s debut young adult novel, Finding Jupiter, follows star-crossed love at a roller rink between a champion swimmer and a Beyoncé fan. Attend the reading and learn more about the novel that had GoodReads user J saying “Im shooook! 10/10 would recommend.”   – James Scott


The Vast of Night

Thursday 28, We Luv Video

In 2020, film critic Richard Whittaker called indie sci-fi period piece The Vast of Night “breathless and breathtaking, a complete rebuild of an American classic that roars and revs like a new machine.” The debut feature from director Andrew Patterson follows a radio DJ and switchboard operator in Fifties-era New Mexico as they discover an unknown but intriguing audio frequency. Local “DIY punk theatre” Bottle Alley Theatre Company puts on a showing of the underseen screen gem in collaboration with film champs We Luv Video. Expect treats, sweets, and a warm feeling from helping fund Bottle Alley’s own upcoming sci-fi production, Aurora. Fun fact: Those chairs in We Luv Video? Former Alamo South Lamar seats!   – James Scott


Master Pancake: Road House

Friday 29, Alamo Mueller

Take it from someone who’s recently seen both Road Houses: This is gonna be a riot. Local comic John Erler and the laugh-a-minute marvels of Master Pancake will deliver a roundhouse kick to your funny bone as they riff on the 1989 Road House starring an absolutely ripped Patrick Swayze as a nightclub “cooler” oozing with mulletude. If you haven’t seen the updated 2024 version with Jakey, Posty, and living Notre Dame mascot Conor McGregor that premiered at SXSW this month, fire up the ol’ Amazon Prime to make it an action-packed double feature.   – Kat McNevins



Horror Book Club: Pet Sematary

Tuesday 2, St. John Branch Library

Of the dozens of books Stephen King has written, Pet Sematary is the one that scared him the most. It’s essentially a retelling of the macabre masterpiece “The Monkey’s Paw,” which also climaxes with the reanimation of the dead body of a beloved. King wrote his novel while serving as the writer in residence at the University of Maine and living next to a highway where pets were regularly killed by cars and trucks. Join other lovers of the supernatural to revel in the book that came out of that experience.   – Brant Bingamon


Love Letters in the City

Wednesday 3, Twin Oaks Branch Library

With her current exhibit of anonymous love letters on display at the Twin Oaks library location, poet Sady Sparks is ideal as the teacher for this romantic epistolary lesson. Tweens from 7 to 12 years old will be guided through “how to add poetry and art to everything you write and send positive thoughts out into the world.” These pieces will join Sparks’ “Little Free Library,” and all will have the chance to read their letters at Sparks’ exhibition wrap-up event on April 26, Love Letters Revealed.   – James Scott

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