Page Two

Page Two
Spent the weekend, or at least certain late night chunks of it, watching Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski, in honor of the premiere of their recut of their classic debut Blood Simple at the Austin Heart of Film Conference and Festival. Lebowski is one of the great cinematic non-sequiturs, a kind of mobius strip. After I finished watching it, I rewound it, starting over at the beginning, not so much watching it again as continuing it.

The Big Lebowski offers no character development, which is conceptually death-defying and probably not everyone's cup of tea. No character development -- think of it. In the beginning, we are introduced to characters who are unchanged at the end of the film, though it should be noted that the film is loaded with "characters." No wonder critics were mixed about it in reviews, many complaining (even those who liked it) that there is no story. There is no story, but the film is dazzling.

Despite the plot's endless twists and turns, all the complications in this would-be bowling epic/noir adventure come to naught. This is much ado about nothing, maybe even less then nothing, but what brilliant "ado." I laughed harder, the second time around. When it was over it seemed stranger stopping than rewinding and starting again, to just keep watching it endlessly.

Even more film stuff going on, with Austin still reeling from the ever more successful Austin Heart of Film Conference and Film Festival (coverage of AHFF films and panels is in this issue's "Screens"). In order: the Austin Film Society, the Alamo Drafthouse, GSD&M, and the Chronicle team up to present "East Meets West," a special double feature of Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi and Run, the Hong Kong remake of EM. Rodriguez will introduce the show, which is Saturday, October 10th, at the Alamo. Tickets are $30 from the Film Society, call 322-0145 for information.

AHFF's activities and presence this year testified to the vitality of the local film community. For a capsule history of what is going on among Austin filmmakers, watch KLRU's Filmed in Texas, an hour-long documentary airing Sunday, October 11 at 8pm. The film highlights the work of ten filmmakers working in Texas today including Richard Linklater, S. R. Bindler (Hands on a Hard Body), Ellen Spiro (Roam Sweet Home), Hector Galán (Chicano!), Don Howard (Letter From Waco), Francesca Talenti (Snake Tales), Paul Stekler (Eyes on the Prize), Rachel Tsangari (The Slow Business of Going), Tasca Shadix (Twenty-Five Cents), and Richard Lewis (Snow Monkey Roundup).

Filmed in Texas features interviews with the filmmakers as well as clips from their work. Executive-produced by Stekler and new KLRU CEO Mary Beth Rogers, it represents a commitment by KLRU to producing more local programs, and one with a strong relationship with the local filmmaking community. Produced by Susan Abrams, directed by Jess Doherty with film segments produced and edited by Don Howard, the show should be as much a statement of fine Texas independent filmmaking as it is the work of its subjects. (Conflict of interest note: I am on KLRU's board of directors.)

The next Texas Documentary Tour features Allie Light and Irving Saraf, who will introduce their new work on breast cancer patients, Rachel's Daughters. See an interview with these documentarians in "Screens" this issue. The Documentary Tour is sponsored by the Austin Film Society, the Radio Television Film Department, SXSW Film, and The Austin Chronicle.

Oops! Last week we announced The Austin Chronicle offices would close at 3pm on Friday, October 16. We will actually close at 3pm on Friday, October 30, and reopen for business at 9am Monday, November 2.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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