As the last flush of summer action, horror, and effects movies are about to hit us full force as the season winds to a close, it's encouraging to reflect back on the summer and realize how rich the spectrum of movie offerings actually has been. Oh, there have been plenty of monsters and planets on collision courses with doom, but there has also been a better-than-average selection of thoughtful, adult entertainment that was once unheard of in the summer months. Most visible is Saving Private Ryan, the movie that has made it safe for grown men to weep, but we've also seen some great films from some of the industry's perennial players. Among these I include Spike Lee's He Got Game, Warren Beatty's Bulworth, Peter Weir's The Truman Show, and Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight (perhaps the best movie of the summer despite its lackluster box-office returns — and if you haven't gone to see this movie you're part of the problem). Another interesting corollary is the newfound strength of the adult comedy. The success of films like There's Something About Mary and, hopefully, Safe Men shows that there's an audience out there for comedy about adult subject matters. Children have also had a remarkable amount of decent stuff to choose from too, from Dr. Dolittle and Mulan to Ever After, The Mask of Zorro, and The Parent Trap. Strong offerings have also typified the arthouse choices, with films like Smoke Signals, The Opposite of Sex, High Art, and Hands on a Hard Body all performing strongly in this market. Let's hope this all bodes well for the fall...

One of this summer's highlights of Film Threat's weekly e-mail newsletter (see to subscribe) has been the ongoing "An Indie Production Diary (Or What We Did on Summer Vacation)" by Austinite Merle Bertrand, who also contributes reviews and other items to the newsletter and serves as co-producer and first assistant director of Adam & Ollie, currently shooting in Austin. His diary recounts the summer-long pre-production plans for shooting the film. To quote: "Each time we solve a problem, a new one crops up. That's us. That's film." Directing is Jeff Stolhand, who made Seeking the Cafe Bob...

The next meeting of Reel Women is on Wednesday, August 19, 7:30pm, at Quackenbush's on the Drag. The guest speaker will be Nancy Schiesari, a cinematographer currently on the UT faculty, who has shot hundreds of documentaries and will discuss her experiences as a director of photography...

A three-evening series, "The History of Video Art," is being sponsored in San Antonio by ArtPace, a foundation for contemporary art. The series includes screenings and lectures and has been curated by John G. Hanhardt of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The event takes place Monday-Wednesday, Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at ArtPace (445 N. Main Avenue, San Antonio). The series course fee is $25 ($15 students) or $10 ($8 students) for individual lectures. Call 210/212-4900, x103 for directions, information, or reservations...

The Austin Film Society has finalized the panelists for their 1998 Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. And the winners are: Rob Moss, Brita Sjogren, and Christopher Munch...

This just in: Filmmaker Sarah Kelly will attend the screening of her documentary Full Tilt Boogie on Thursday, August 13 at 7:10pm at the Dobie Theatre. Chronicling the making of Robert Rodriguez's vampire epic From Dusk till Dawn, Full Tilt Boogie features Quentin Tarantino, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, and Michael Parks. Kelly, who gained entree to the cast and crew of From Dusk till Dawn following her stint as a production assistant on Pulp Fiction, will answer questions from the audience after the screening.

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More Short Cuts
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Movie, Marge Baumgarten

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