Short Cuts

Sony Pics faux crix, 10-year Slacker reunion.

Stickin' It to the Manning Dept.: I'm shocked -- shocked, I say -- by the recent revelation that Sony Pictures had created its own film critic out of whole cloth in an apparent attempt to curry box office favor via salutary blurbage. All right, perhaps I wasn't that shocked -- it's a curious world indeed in which Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo is declared by any reputable reviewer to be the best comedy of the year -- but the move was a ballsy one even by H'wood standards. The practice of shuttling bottom-feeding quote whores to Los Angeles' Four Seasons hotel for press junkets on the studio dime in return for favorable press has become such a regular occurrence that it barely raises eyebrows these days. (For the record, the Chronicle has occasionally accepted the studios' infrequent offers for us to attend junkets, but only when the movie in question is a story we would have covered in these pages anyway. Most recently, Film Editor Marjorie Baumgarten attended the Pearl Harbor junket in Honolulu -- a junket that was as newsworthy as, and almost certainly more interesting than, the film in question.) That Sony would fabricate a reviewer from thin air and hubris -- in this case the fictional David Manning of the nonfictional, Connecticut-based The Ridgefield Press -- is less surprising than it ought to be, but the fact remains that it does a tremendous disservice to both audiences and legitimate film critics, the vast majority of whom, whatever their opinions, are passionate, knowledgeable people who take their jobs rather seriously. Sony's move can be seen as both a slap in the face to genuine film reviewers and an indication of the studio's desperation when it comes to generating positive buzz. The obvious solution to Sony Pictures' problem -- stop churning out such abysmal product that the public has to be fooled into seeing it -- seems entirely beyond their grasp. And Sony's shameless blunder may generate far more serious repercussions than the studio might have expected: Connecticut's state attorney general has launched an investigation into the brouhaha, with possible subpoenas to follow, and issued a press release saying, "We give this practice two thumbs down." Finally, a review we can all agree on… The Austin Film Society has announced that their neighborhood internship program, by which local high school kids get a chance to nail some solid film experience by working at such local film outlets at Detour Filmproduction, Austin Studios, and the AFS, is by all accounts a complete success. The first batch of kids has completed their internships and moved on to various positions with such companies as film production outlet Granite House and KLRU-TV. Five new interns have already been selected from the Mueller Neighborhood Coalition neighborhoods to fill the vacated posts. High school students who think this sounds like more fun than a bucket full of Sony 24p HD cameras or want to learn more about the program should contact Elisabeth Sikes at the AFS at 322-0145 x103 or send an e-mail to [email protected]… Has it really been 10 years since Richard Linklater's groundbreaking independent film Slacker threw the spotlight on that titular Austin subculture and rendered both the Drag and the late, great Les Amis instant Austin tour stops? And didn't I ask that same question six months ago? It is, and I did, and to commemorate the former, the AFS is sponsoring a special screening of the film on Sunday, July 1, 7pm, at the Paramount Theatre with as much of the cast and crew as they can find in attendance, followed by an after-party later that night (location TBA). Tickets are $10 (screening only) and $25 (screening + party) and are now on sale at the Paramount box office and through Star Tickets.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sony Pictures, David Manning, Austin Studios, Austin Film Society interns, Slacker reunion

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