Daily Screens
Hispanic Today calendar
Host Peggy Vasquez interviews local Latinos on a variety of issues. Vasquez is editor of La Prensa and has been a local Austin advocate for years. Here are some of her guests in October:

1:25PM Sun. Oct. 14, 2007, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

Selected listings-THE DAILY SHOW
It's movie week on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart next week, with the notable exception of guest Tony Snow. Still, considering what his old job was it seems appropriate that he's among the confabulists from Hollywood. Here goes: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - (week of October 15) Monday 10/15 Tony Snow Former White House Press Secretary Tuesday 10/16 Meryl Streep - promoting movie Rendition Wednesday 10/17 Jake Gyllenhaal- promoting movie Rendition Thursday 10/18 Ben Affleck- actor & director of Gone Baby Gone The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is dark the week of Oct. 29 (showing reruns), but the week after that features some stellar guests including Valarie Plame Wilson. Next week on The Colbert Report:

9:55AM Fri. Oct. 12, 2007, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

"On the Doll(s)"
On the Doll director Thomas Mignone with cast members at Cedar Street Courtyard, trying their best to hold still for the camera while On the Doll soundtrackers The Crystal Method redefine the idea of "sternum-rattling bass" mere feet behind them. (Deaf by temptation?)

9:54PM Thu. Oct. 11, 2007, Marc Savlov Read More | Comment »

"On the Doll" DJ set from the Crystal Method for AFF
Couldn't get into The Walker? Us too, so we're heading over to Cedar Street Courtyard ASAP to check out the party for director Thomas Mignone's feature On the Doll, which, of course, we haven't seen yet but the word is good. Oddly (or maybe not – like I said, we haven't had a chance to screen the film), Las Vegas techno rockers The Crystal Method are spinning the party. Which begs the question, "Do Ken and Scott regret their choice of name now that no one in Arkansas has any teeth left?" We'll ask 'em, we promise, and we'll try to corner Mignone and hit him up for a screener while we're at it.

Wish us luck (and drink tickets).

8:45PM Thu. Oct. 11, 2007, Marc Savlov Read More | Comment »

Local teens on TV
Leslie Powell and Andres Ramirez can now be seen beyond the hallways of their local high schools, as they are now starring in Endurance: Fiji on the Discovery Kids Channel.

1:25PM Wed. Oct. 10, 2007, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

It Came From Barton Springs!
CEOs will tell you that when your corporation is running roughshod over a city’s delicate ecosystem, the best way to endear it to skeptical residents is to attach its name to as many local charities and cultural events as possible. Win their hearts and minds (the theory goes) and you can pretty much have your way with their drinking water and native-animal population.

After all, money is money, and most groups don’t care where money comes from so long as it comes. Take Advanced Micro Devices, the microprocessor-manufacturing giant that’s currently building a controversial 870,000-square-foot office park over Austin’s environmentally sensitive Barton Creek Watershed. To ensure their good name during the building process, AMD years ago enacted a clever policy of underwriting everything in Austin: concerts, environmental charities, libraries, hospitals, pie-eating contests, lemonade stands, junior-high-school debate teams, even the occasional newborn baby. This past month alone they sponsored two of Austin’s most beloved arts & entertainment events: Fantastic Fest, a film festival that tortures audiences with a week of ghoulish violence, gore, and emotional sadism; and the Austin City Limits festival, which tortures them with three days of live rock music.

I was fascinated by this whole corporate-art-sponsorship scheme, so last week I went and took in a few Fantastic Fest screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse South.

8:11PM Tue. Oct. 2, 2007, Josh Rosenblatt Read More | Comment »

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There Will Be Blood
The closing night film of Fantastic Fest was a real doozy: Paul Thomas Anderson's eagerly awaited Christmastime release There Will Be Blood. Despite the film not falling into the sci-fi, crime, and horror genres that populate the fest, the film is certifiably "fantastic." Anderson was present for the screening and brought along some of his key personnel (editor Dylan Tichenor, production designer Jack Fisk – who appeared to be accompanied by his wife Sissy Spacek, and others). Variety invited me to write a post about the screening on their Fest Central blog, so I won't repeat myself here, except to include one thing I neglected to mention: Anderson dedicates the film to Robert Altman, who died last year but not before completing A Prairie Home Companion, on which Anderson served as Altman's insurance-required backup director.

2:08PM Fri. Sep. 28, 2007, Marjorie Baumgarten Read More | Comment »

Diary of the Undead
Hopping from one film festival to another is certainly the way to live – but it does cause one to adopt a certain diary-of-the-undead feeling. Which is perfect for my return to Austin from Toronto (and anyone wondering about that sticky passport situation I had … let's just say that it proved disturbingly easy to re-enter the U.S. with expired papers). After a segue into putting out this week's issue – which had the ungodly number of 13 new film reviews (how does that much new stuff open in any given week?) – it's time for Thursday's opening night of Fantastic Fest. The third annual edition of this quickly maturing fest kicked off with a screening of George Romero's Diary of the Dead, with the horror legend Romero in attendance. I caught the movie in Toronto and had a thorough blast watching it there. It's smart, funny, and wise. Over the decades, nobody has demonstrated as well as Romero the malleability of the horror genre to speak to all eras. To those who think Diary of the Dead's use of video cameras is too Blair Witchy and derivative of recent J-horror, guess what: We're living in the Videodrome era. (Maybe Anyway, Alamo Romeo was introduced by Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest host Tim League, who spoke from the heart about why this particular filmmaker means so much to him. Romero answered questions from the audience ’til it was time to make way for the next screening, and left the auditorium spotlight only after commenting on what a great time he had with this crowd and what a hospitable town Austin is.

4:18PM Sat. Sep. 22, 2007, Marjorie Baumgarten Read More | Comment »

The Moral of 'Body of War': Don't Make Precipitous Decisions
I'm sitting here with my pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution, a parting gift I was handed upon my exit from the film Body of War, an eloquent and emotionally moving account of the toll the war in Iraq has had on American soldiers and their families. Co-directed by Austin documentarian and UT professor Ellen Spiro and former talk-show host Phil Donahue, the film is a biting essay on the American Congress' rush to war and the effect of battle on one soldier, Tomas Young. Young enlisted on September 13, 2001 after seeing that iconic image of the president rallying Americans with a bullhorn at the site of the World Trade Center. He was eager to go to Afghanistan and fight the "evildoers," but was instead sent to Iraq, where, on his first mission on only his fifth day in country, he was hit in the spine and subsequently paralyzed from the chest down. Following his return and marriage to his girlfriend, the wheelchair-bound vet eventually became an ardent member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. The moral of his story, he says, is "don't make precipitous decisions," and it's a moral also echoed in the words of Sen. Robert Byrd, whose hectoring defense of the Constitution in the months after 9/11 did little to sway his fellow elected representatives to stay the course and not abdicate to the president their power to wage war.
I attended a dinner before the premiere at which I had the honor and pleasure of sitting at a table with Young and musician Eddie Vedder, who wrote and performs a couple of original songs for the movie. Vedder also performed the songs live at the theatre following the screening. But before the mini-concert began, the film garnered the biggest standing ovation I witnessed for any movie at the festival. And though there were Vedder fans in attendance who would have been at any movie that featured music by him (Sean Penn's Into the Wild is another festival film that features Vedder's work), the film's standing O can't be chalked up to the Vedder effect. This audience genuinely moved by Young's personal saga, and the experiences of his wife and mother as they accompanied him on his journey from war supporter to dissenter. Donahue worked the microphone during the Q&A like the seasoned pro he is (he also introduced wife Marlo Thomas, who he joked was sitting in the worst seats in the house - and she was – she waved from the nosebleed section of the balcony), while Spiro appeared to drink it all in.

3:50PM Wed. Sep. 19, 2007, Marjorie Baumgarten Read More | Comment »

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