Daily Screens
Rock Out, Lady Writers
So they announced the Oscar noms this morning, and it's a bit of a surprise that the warm, cuddly Academy so completely embraced two of the darkest, most challenging films of the year, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Even awesomer: In Adapted and Original Screenplay categories, female writers netted four nominations total – Tamara Jenkins (The Savages), Diablo Cody (Juno), Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl), and Sarah Polley (Away From Her). Because this is a day for rejoicing, I will refrain from taking a swipe at Oliver's part in the unbearably twee, terribly disingenuous Lars... well, mostly refrain. Congratulations, ladies.

10:25AM Tue. Jan. 22, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Sundance: A Good Start
My first few film picks all turned out to be winners. The Black List, which just received word as the festival opened of a sale to HBO, is a collaboration between filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and interviewer Elvis Mitchell. The documentary offers clips from interviews with some 20 influential African-American figures on a variety of subjects. Collectively, their abbreviated dialogues demonstrate many of the commonalities but, moreover, the differences among them regarding individual and racial identity. Pretty fascinating stuff and trenchant as can be in this moment in time when the campaign for the presidency is inciting a closer examination of identity politics.

3:39PM Mon. Jan. 21, 2008, Marjorie Baumgarten Read More | Comment »

Savini's Bloody Secret
One of the reasons for going to a movie convention is the little secrets you find out from the guests. Like when special effects wizard Tom Savini revealed to the crowd at this weekend's Fangoria Weekend of Horrors there's something he can't stand.

"I hate having fake blood on me," said the man who helped spread enough of it around for Dawn of the Dead. But on is a big step up from in. As an actor in the up-coming Lost Boys 2: The Tribe, at one point he was being picked up by another actor, who was dressed in a wet suit and had a tube up his sleeve, ready to pump a spray of fake blood. Unfortunately, with his hand being where it was, Savini realized "I could feel the blood going up my ass. I was getting a fake bood enema."

For those who wondered why he's spending more time in front of the camera, rather than doing effects make-up, he had some sad news: as he gets older, the tiny detailed work is harder on his fingers. However, he still had some handy hints for up-and-coming gore auteurs: if your fake blood is going to be splashed against a white background, add a little green dye, "or it'll look like Strawberry Kool-Aid."

11:40AM Mon. Jan. 21, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Tales of Goo And Bambi
While Electra and Elise Avellan (aka the Grindhouse babysitter twins) were undoubtedly fan favorites at this weekend's Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors at the Renaissance Austin Hotel, they didn't get the biggest crowd response at Saturday's Q&A about their new movie, The Black Waters of Echo's Pond. That went to writer/producer Sean Clark, for the line "I was dropping goo on the ladies. You can quote that."

The twins spend much of the movie (described by Clark as an evil Jumanji) wearing black full-eye contact lenses and drooling a thick, vile slime. But anyone who has been near a horror set knows things can be a little less creepy in front of the camera. "The problem," explained Elise, "was staring in the face of your twin who is supposed to be an evil possessed creature, but the contacts made her look like Bambi."

11:15AM Sun. Jan. 20, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Angela Bettis In 3-D!!!
From Creature from the Black Lagoon to House of Wax, 3D cinema and horror movies have always gone hand-in-claw. While the current resurgence in the technique has been dominated by big budget outings like Meet the Robinsons and the upcoming U2 3D, the new movie starring Austin's own Angela Bettis (of May and Roman fame) proves the tech is getting affordable.

Scar (which had a five-minute sneak preview at the Fangoria Weekend of Horror) is a small-budget slasher flick which looks to hit the twisted psychology that attracts self-declared "spazz" Bettis. But the big news is that the film-makers went for the new Real D technology. "I went to a demonstration of the technology," said producer Norman Twain, "and I said, 'we're going to do this picture, which was called Freckle Face back then, in 3D." So Twain hired cinematographer Toshiaki Ozawa, got hold of a Hi-Def 3D camera rig from NHK in Japan ("They're the most stable," said Twain), hired translators, and set about adding that third dimension. For anyone expecting it to just be axes coming out of the screen, the opening shot is Bettis jogging, and it's still creepy.

With three Real D systems in and near Austin, and with this being Bettis' home town, Twain was positive that there'll be some scarification here when the film opens later this year.

12:58AM Sun. Jan. 20, 2008, Richard Whittaker Read More | Comment »

Who Needs Hannah Montana?
For most Sundance festivalgoers, the opening-night film was In Bruges, a hitman slice-of-life story directed by playwright Martin McDonagh that stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleason, and Ralph Fiennes. It’s scheduled to open in Austin in a couple of weeks on Februray 8. For me, still in Austin, the opening-night film was U2 3D, which press-screened on Wednesday night at the IMAX Theater at the Bob Bullock History Museum. The feature-length film is premiering on Saturday at Sundance, but it is also due to open at the Austin IMAX next Friday, January 25. For me it served as my kickoff to Sundance.

And what a kickoff – not only for a celebration of film but for the new year as well. It’s certainly the most fun I’ve had a movie in a long while. It may also be the best concert film since Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense.

6:06PM Fri. Jan. 18, 2008, Marjorie Baumgarten Read More | Comment »

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Blue Plate Special: The $10,000 Edition
Sure, it's a lot to shell out, but 10 grand buys you not just dinner, but dinner conversation at the Nobelity Artists and Filmmakers Dinner on Sunday, Jan. 27 (inspired by the Nobelity Project, itself inspired by Turk Pipkin's documentary, Nobelity, about Nobel Prize winners). A $10,000 donation will net you a table of ten hosted by celebrities, artists, and thinkers like Owen Wilson, Kinky Friedman, Mike Judge, Dixie Chick Martie Maguire, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. Smaller spenders can get individual seats for $500 and $1,000. Proceeds support the Nobelity in Schools program and the filming of Pipkin's followup, One Peace at a Time. Interested? Contact NobelityProject@aol.com or call 512-263-7971.

3:38PM Fri. Jan. 18, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

In Your Face
Facebook is fast becoming the one online networking site to rule them all, so it makes sense its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will deliver the Sunday, March 9, keynote address at SXSW Interactive … which itself has become the essential place for techies to meet, talk shop, and, we're told, make geektastic love (seriously, we hear it's like the high school caf, only cooler).

Zuckerberg – who, at 23, puts me, you, and everyone we know to shame in terms of sheer go-getter-ness – joins previously announced keynote speakers Frank Warren (founder of the addictive PostSecret Project) and Jane McGonigal (game designer of World Without Oil). SXSW Interactive runs March 7-16; for more info on badges, panels, and all other things interactive, check out their site here.

10:44AM Thu. Jan. 17, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

Best Title of the Year So Far …
Hands down goes to Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, the followup to 2004's terrific Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, a stoner comedy even a straight-edger could love. Harold and Kumar's on the shortlist of newly announced SXSW Film titles, which also includes a doc about G.W. homebase Crawford, TX, the aptly titled Crawford, and Mister Lonely, the first narrative feature from Gummo's Harmony Korine in eight years.

1:11PM Tue. Jan. 15, 2008, Kimberley Jones Read More | Comment »

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