Daily Screens
Down From the Mountain
More good news from Sundance: Local filmmaker PJ Raval –- who seems to lens about half the films that get shot in this town, and beautifully -- did camera duties on Katrina doc Trouble the Water (directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal), which screens in the Documentary Feature Competition. Hats off to PJ.

Any other 'Dancers out there -- that's Sun or Slam -- don't be shy. Let us know you got in. Honestly, we thought we'd be your first call after Mom and Dad.

9:08PM Thu. Nov. 29, 2007, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

'Tis the Season ...
The season of Sundance, that is, with the granddaddy of indie film fests announcing over the past two days its 2008 lineup. Austin continues its presence in Park City, kicking off with Sundance's website copy: "In a coffee shop at the edge of Austin … Every year, groundbreaking stories being in places far away from [Sundance]" The "edge" of Austin? Because Central Austin is too establishment?.

More significantly, Austin gets some serious representation by way of three filmmakers – er, make that five: Two pairs of brothers, the Zellners (Goliath) and former locals the Duplasses (Baghead) made the cut in the Spectrum narrative sidebar, and doc maker Margaret Brown (The Order of Myths) will show in the Documentary Competition. Congrats to all and see you on the slopes.

3:45PM Thu. Nov. 29, 2007, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Gallo Humor
My first taste of Vincent Gallo came in Emir Kusturica's Arizona Dream, where he ordered, all googly-eyed, "two beers, two shots" (surprisingly, obsessively quotable). He was intriguing then, and Buffalo '66, his debut as a writer/director (plus leading man and composer and about a gazillion other things), cemented it: This guy's got the goods. There's also a good chance he's certifiable.

2:04PM Thu. Nov. 29, 2007, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Methadone for 'Daily Show' Junkies
Desperate for a Jon Stewart fix since the writers' strike struck? Here's a hilarious newscast from The Daily Show writers on the picket lines, which does an excellent job spelling out the issues and hypocrisy at the heart of the strike. Watch out for John J. Viacom Jr. III!

11:03AM Fri. Nov. 16, 2007, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

First Night at the Alamo Ritz
Two months later than founders Tim and Karrie League had originally hoped, the new Alamo Ritz finally opened last night (see Marc Savlov's excellent article about the move here). There had been concerns that the shift from the old Alamo Downtown would lose some of the boisterous DIY charm that defined the old cinema. But when the footage was shown of Tim's valiant defeat when he tried to christen the building with a bottle of champagne (score: unbroken bottle 1, cracked wall 0), it felt like the Alamo.

The capacity crowd and the lengthy stand-by cue that spilled out into the street found a cinema that takes full advantage of the Ritz' golden age picture palace dimensions and the opportunities for a bigger screen and new sound system, without sacrificing the communal spirit the old site engendered (for anyone worried that it would be a big-box generic cineplex product, Tim did note the only way onto the newly finished stage was by clambering up a stack of milk crates). Speaking in the gap between the opening movie, 1963 Japanese killer-fungus classic Matango, and a sneak preview of the Coen Brother's nihilist masterpiece No Country For Old Men, League paid tribute to the hard work of his staff and the history of both the Alamo and the Ritz.

5:35PM Fri. Nov. 2, 2007, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Valerie Plame on THE DAILY SHOW
Oh there are other interesting guests on this week, but after last week's celebrity parade, but this one strikes me as the one not to miss:

1:34PM Sat. Oct. 27, 2007, Belinda Acosta Read More | Comment »

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Goth Hard in a Funky Place
It's almost – but not quite – too late to herald the fourth anniversary of Gothtober.com, an online Halloween advent calendar with an animated treat behind each day's "door." Here's what someone (okay, I) said about it in 2003:

"Commandeered by one Juliana (JP) Parr and co-animated by a tag team of cheeky CalArts grads and other talented assemblage, the site isn't Goth in any black-lipstick sense, but it is full of irreverent grotesquerie in the spirit of the season."

It's still true. This year's theme is nautical, so do find time to sail away on a sea of monsters, mysteries, and messing with your head.

4:41PM Tue. Oct. 23, 2007, Cindy Widner Read More | Comment »

You're Joking, Right?
Word has it that the Deer Hunter-obsessed heckler at the John Milius/Oliver Stone discussion on war movies actually didn’t create the most uncomfortable moment experienced at an Austin Film Festival panel this weekend (though I for one can’t wait for my commemorative tee-shirt emblazoned with “What the fuck, Milius? What the fuck!”).

While I was too busy chasing Mr. Milius at the time (more on that soon), friends who attended the “Improv in Comedy” talk tell me things got pretty squirmy when Victor Fanucci, director of competition feature Beyond the Pale, arrived partway through as a late addition, and panelists Harris Goldberg, Larry Willmore, and moderator Warren Etheridge didn’t seem to know if he was for real and whether to let him join in. Meanwhile, the audience wondered whether they were witnessing some prankish illustration of improv comedy principles, like a guerilla Curb Your Enthusiasm moment curdling into something a little more Andy Dick ... and one of those moments that really help give a festival some spice.

Most likely an honest mistake or miscommunication heightened and prolonged into comedy of discomfort by the mere topic of the panel itself, the tale made the rounds as one of those events where “this isn’t funny” becomes the funniest thing to say. I don’t care to know whether it was real – whatever that means in this case – so my apologies to the panelists and fest organizers, but all should take some satisfaction in knowing that the legend made for better conversational lubricant at parties than even the 360 Vodka.

6:43PM Mon. Oct. 15, 2007, Spencer Parsons Read More | Comment »

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 »

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