Double Nickelodeons on the Dime
Plenty of opportunities to catch some classic films
"Double your pleasure, double your fun," went the lyrics of the song in the old Doublemint gum commercial. Now chew on this, if you will. The AFS Cinema reopens this weekend with double the screens and programming than were offered prior to the venue's temporary closing a few months ago while the Austin Film Society implemented the upgrades. The two-screen arthouse theatre, now complete with a cafe, bar, and revamped lobby, will more than double Austin moviegoers' pleasure and fun.
New monthly programs have been added to long-running AFS series such as "Essential Cinema," "Doc Nights," "Science on Screen," "Avant Cinema," "Classical Mexican Cinema," and "Recently Restored." "Comedy Italian Style" is the subject of the seven-film Essential Cinema series, which features such classics as Divorce Italian Style, starring screen legend Marcello Mastroianni on opening night, May 26, and Boccaccio '70 with sex goddesses Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg (June 3). "Doc Night" hosts filmmaker Jack Pettibone Riccobono and his film The Seventh Fire on June 6. Presented by Terrence Malick, the film tracks a gang leader from the Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota as he confronts his role in perpetuating the drug use and violence that riddles his community. Philippe Garrel's recently restored Les Hautes Solitudes (June 7 & 11), an "Avant Cinema" selection, is a silent, black-and-white study of the human face from 1974, focused primarily on the captivating countenances of Jean Seberg and Nico.
A series called "Texas Christening" appropriately kicks off the venue's reopening. AFS founder and artistic director Richard Linklater will introduce a screening of the modern classic The Last Picture Show: Director's Cut (May 27). The other titles in the series are the great Howard Hawks Western Rio Bravo (May 27), which stars the incomparable John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson; Tender Mercies (May 29), featuring Robert Duvall in his Oscar-winning performance as an alcoholic country singer in the Horton Foote masterpiece; The Sugarland Express (May 30), a must-see chase movie from 1974 that shows off the massive talents of its young director and star: Steven Spielberg and Goldie Hawn; and August Evening (May 28), a lyrical, AFS Grant-funded study of an undocumented farmworker and his daughter-in-law, whose filmmaker Chris Eska will be in attendance.
Two new monthly series are "Cinema of Resistance," which includes How to Survive a Plague (May 31), the story of how ACT UP fought the AIDS crisis, and Hooligan Sparrow (June 19 & 21), a Chinese doc-thriller about a feminist activist; and "Sunday School," a family-friendly program designed to introduce young people to great works of global cinema. Little Fugitive (June 25 & 28), the first film in that series, is a bona fide art classic set on Coney Island.
The AFS Cinema's second screen will also now allow it to increase the number of Texas premieres it presents. Director Onur Tukel will be present for the showing of his hilarious dark comedy Catfight (June 3 & 6), which stars Sandra Oh and Anne Heche. Two films scheduled for longer runs include the Moroccan winner of the Critics' Week Grand Prize at Cannes, Mimosas (beginning June 2), and cinema iconoclast Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake (June 2), winner of Cannes' Palme d'Or. Also on tap is Hoop Dreams director Steve James' latest, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (June 10).
Other screening options include a series called "The Noir Canon"; presentations by the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) and the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI); a new art-cult series "Deep End," that will also feature live music or a DJ preshow; and a special screening of John Pierson's recently restored TV series Split Screen (June 11), at which Pierson will highlight the episode devoted to Austin filmmakers. More questions? Come ask them on June 5 at an AFS Programmers "Ask Me Anything" session with Holly Herrick and Lars Nilsen. Go forth, and double your pleasure and fun.
AFS Cinema Selections
Divorce Italian Style (1961) AFS Essential Cinema: Comedy Italian Style. Friday, 7:30pm.
The Last Picture Show: Director’s Cut (1992) AFS Texas Christening. Saturday, 4pm.
Rio Bravo (1959) AFS Texas Christening. Saturday, 7pm.
August Evening (2007) AFS Texas Christening. Sunday, 7:30pm.
Tender Mercies (1983) AFS Texas Christening. Monday, 7:30pm.
The Sugarland Express (1974) AFS Texas Christening. Tuesday, 7:30pm.
How to Survive a Plague (2012) AFS Cinema of Resistence. Wednesday, 7:30pm.