Outdoor Summer Film Series
By Bike, by Boat, on a Blanket, in a Canoe
With the bleary-eyed heat of summer bearing down on us, sometimes there's no better place to hide than the pitch-black of an air-conditioned movie theatre. But when the sun goes down and a breeze kicks in, you might try getting your movie fix outdoors.
Back home in North Carolina, summer for me meant the season of outdoor movies at the Museum of Art. It was an event every time, driving to the shows with my friends, staking out that perfect swath of green on which to sprawl, munching on the stale popcorn we paid too much for and usually ended up chucking at each other. It was the quintessential communal experience: Everyone melts into something friendlier when they're not crammed tight into cineplex seats, and nobody even bothers bringing a cell phone. Sure, there were bugs and the occasional distraction of a little kid doing his best roly-poly imitation down a hill. But then, it was summer, and summer is made for distractions. For rolling down hills and landing at the bottom to look up at a screen that fills the night sky with a movie you will never forget, because of that night and that hill and those mosquitoes.
Thankfully, Austin has its own host of summer movie opportunities, offering films campy to classic. You could take a dip at the Deep Eddy pool and watch the kiddie films that project out over the deep end. Or catch a B-movie at aGLIFF's re-creation of a classic drive-in theatre, car hops and all. If cars aren't your bag, why not the bike-in held every Friday at Waterloo Cycles? And the truly adventurous can kayak into the Drafthouse's outdoor screenings.
When Mother Nature and celluloid tangle on a warm summer night, it's nostalgia in the making. It's the stuff we know -- even while it's happening, even in mid-bug bite -- we'll remember affectionately. So grab a lawn chair and a tall glass of something iced, and get yourself outdoors. The movie memories are ripe for the making.
Bike-In TheatreIt isn't the glitziest of venues -- just a parking lot about double the size of your average carport. There's no concession stand or fancy projection system; movies are shown on VHS, about as low-rent as you can get. And there's really no comfortable place to sit, nothing but parking curbs and asphalt -- hell on the back, not to mention the butt.
But what the Bike-in Theatre does have is spunk. Spunk and a far-reaching, all-encompassing vision to basically do whatever feels right, whatever sounds fun. Started by two bike proponents and UT freshmen, David Bench and Nic Hidalgo, the Bike-in Theatre can also claim an eclecticism greater than any of the other local summer programs. For starters, they're not just showing movies. The Bike-in Theatre is more a theatre of the unique, the off-the-beaten-path. The typical program starts off with a round of short films programmed alternately by CinemaTexas and the Austin Cinemaker Co-op -- sometimes edgy, provocative material, sometimes just plain goofy (some early Spike & Mike animation will be shown later this summer). Occasionally, longer programs are shown, such as "How's Your News?," Arthur Bradford's must-see documentary (which screened at SXSW) about a group of mentally handicapped adults touring the country as journalists, which screens on May 25.
Bands figure into the mix as well. Established acts like Stinky del Negro and the Blue Noise Band will play in upcoming months, but occasionally something more impromptu occurs. A couple of weeks ago, a guy punked out on a ukulele in a set that ended with him chasing after a car, demanding where its occupants were going (as far away from the ukulele as possible, it would seem).
And then there are the special guests. Recently the Shaolin-Do Academy did a kung fu demonstration in conjunction with an Asian-themed night which culminated in the showing of John Woo's Hong Kong classic The Killer. Upcoming shows promise a magician, a clown, a DJ, a stand-up comic, even a breakdancing free-for-all.
But the highlight is still the feature at the end of it all. The smart, diverse selections read like a hit parade of film's finest auteurs: Kurosawa, Altman, Peckinpah. While the quality of the projection and the sound system isn't the best, the Bike-in Theatre provides one of the few chances you'll get to see these classics on the (semi-)big screen.
It's a lot of bang for your buck, and best of all, there's no buck involved: All shows are free, and every week gift certificates to the likes of Dobie Theatre and Kerbey Lane Cafe are given away. Bike by one Friday or hoof it (don't worry, no bicycle required) and see the spunk for yourself. "It's all about having a good time," co-founder David Bench says. "Some people don't like movies, music, beer, or kung fu, but if you offer it all up, then they'll come by and see something that they like."
Shows start every Friday evening at dusk at Waterloo Cycles, 29th and Guadalupe. Call 495-3274 for more info.
May 11 Short films presented by the Austin Cinemaker Co-op. The Prisoner, Episode 2. Magician John Maverick. Music: Punk band Capt. A*Hole. Feature: Oliver Stone's Salvador.
May 18 Shorts: "Missionary Style," and some early Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted. The Prisoner, Episode 3. Flowing Heart breakdancing demonstration. Music: Big Breakfast. Feature: Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It.
May 25 Short documentary "How's Your News?" The Prisoner, Episode 4. Stand-up Comedy: Adam Burns. Music: Stinky del Negro. Feature: Chris Smith's American Movie.
June 1 Short films presented by Austin Cinemaker Co-op. The Prisoner, Episode 5. Jeanette the Bellydancer. Music: the Sleepwalkers. Feature: Robert Altman's Nashville.
June 8 Clown: Bonzo Crunch. Music: Bedbug. Feature: Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.
June 15 Feature: Kurosawa's Yojimbo.
Deep Eddy Splash Party Movie NightsCan't think of a more perfect a place to be on a hot summer night than in a cool public pool? How about splashing around in that pool while watching films the whole family can enjoy? Deep Eddy charges a small entry fee, and refreshments are available. All movies start at dusk. At Deep Eddy pool, 401 Deep Eddy Dr., 472-8546.
June 2 Muppets From Space
June 9 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
June 16 Disney's The Kid
June 23 Creature From the Black Lagoon (3-D)
June 30 A Hard Day's Night
July 7 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
July 14 Remember the Titans
July 21 Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
July 28 How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Aug. 4 Chicken Run
Aug. 11 Old Yeller
Rock 'n' ReelSoCo neighbors Jo's Coffee and Hotel San José team up to throw this weekly bash every Thursday till Thanksgiving. Bands start at 7pm; films begin at 8pm. Bring your own seating, be it blanket or lounging lawn chair. Located in Jo's parking lot at 1300 S. Congress. Call 444-3800 for more info.
May 10 Gina Lee/The Jerk
May 17 Libbi Bosworth/"Heavy Metal Parking Lot" and This Is Spinal Tap
May 24 Lisa Newmeyer/Texas Chainsaw Massacre IV
May 31 Suzanna Van Tassle/Baghdad Cafe
June 7 Ted Roddy/Down by Law
June 14 Adult Rodeo/Some Kind of Wonderful
June 21 Branden Jenkins/Urban Cowboy
June 28 Saratone/Rushmore
July 5 Temple Ray/Tender Mercies
July 12 Roy Heinrich/The Big Lebowski
Deliverance on the Banks of the ColoradoMay 19-20: In a more ambitious take on the traditional drive-in, the Alamo invites you to canoe your way to the picture show. For $50, you can paddle down the Colorado River to a park site where Tim and Karrie and the rest of the Alamo gang will await you with live music, lots of food and beer (covered in ticket price), and an outdoor screening of John Boorman's 1972 wilderness classic Deliverance. The Drafthouse hopes to make a regular program out of this event, although we think they should be paying us to trek out into the middle of the woods with a bunch of strangers to watch Deliverance. See their Web site for more information: www.drafthouse.com.
aGLIFF Summer Drive-In SpectacularaGLIFF (the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival) presents camp classics once a month in the gently sloping parking lot of the Mexican American Cultural Center. They're going all-out in their efforts to re-create the old drive-in magic (they've even secured corporate sponsorship for the event). Filmgoers can tune into the audio on their FM band, while a Fifties-style car hop services their car and vintage drive-in promos provide pre-show entertainment. Films start around dusk. Located at 600 River (one block south of Cesar Chavez on the west side of I-35). $5/$4 aGLIFF members. www.agliff.org.
May 15 Queen of Outer Space
June 19 Auntie Mame
For schedule updates, check Special Screenings.