- A Town Called Panic
One of the most talked-about films at Fantastic Fest this year was the animated Belgian comedy A Town Called Panic. Missing it bummed me out. But thankfully, it'll be getting a limited theatrical run in early 2010, including screenings at the Alamo beginning on January 7th.
- The Auteurs 50 Top Rated Films of the Decade
The Auteurs has a list of the decade's 50 best films, as rated by the community. (The Auteurs is Criterion's community/streaming video site.)
- Blut Aus Nord
If you're in to black metal, French outfit Blut Aus Nord will blow you away. I have no idea how I went so long without knowing who they were, but I've been spinning them nonstop lately. They're dark and atmospheric, but totally inventive and interesting. Start with the newest record and work backward.
- Redbox is Killing the Entertainment Industry
Film junk points out an outlandish claim made by a recent, industry-backed report on low-cost DVD rentals. Besides the fact that the numbers are probably extrapolated way beyond their usefulness… correlation does not equal causation.
For this week only, Pitchfork has a free stream of Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, a 1965 documentary portrait of the famed poet, author and musician.
Though the film contains almost none of Cohen’s music (he didn’t release his first record until two years after the film was released), it’s a thoroughly interesting and surprisingly intimate portrait of the now 75 year-old artist as a young man. Shot on one of Cohen’s visits to his hometown of Montreal (he was living in Greece at the time), the film follows him to pubs, poetry readings and hotel rooms, where he candidly discusses life, friendship and art. It’s a great way to spend an hour–but if you’re anything like me, it’ll leave you with a strong urge to visit Montreal, and to re-read Beautiful Losers.
If you hate Pitchfork (or if you miss their one-week window), you can also stream Ladies and Gentlemen from the National Film Board of Canada’s site. If you want to own it, you can buy a DVD copy, which apparently contains some extra material.
The good folks at the Austin Film Society have just announced the Austin premiere of Richard Linklater’s newest, Me and Orson Welles, with stars Zac Efron and Christian McKay in attendance. And though I’m sure the Paramount will be overrun with tweens, each trying desperately to rip off a lock of Efron’s hair, I still kinda want to go.
If you haven’t heard much about the film, there’s a good, long interview with Linklater over on the POV site. In it, he talks about how Christian McKay has been mistaken for Welles in real life. Which, considering that Welles died 24 years ago, seems a compliment to McKay’s abilities.
Oh–and if you’re free during the day this Wednesday (November 4th), Linklater will be at KLRU’s studio taping an upcoming episode of Texas Monthly Talks. If you’ve never been to a taping, it’s free and fun.
I found out about this late in the game, and I'm unfortunately going to be out of town for it, but artists Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, and Françoise Mouly will all be in Austin next month for a one-night-only discussion about comics, art and culture. Spiegelman is best known for his autobiographical comic Maus, and Crumb is (in case you're not familiar with comics that aren't Batman) probably as much a celebrity as it's possible to be in the world of underground comic art. Crumb's newest work is an illustrated version of the Book of Genesis.
This coming April, genre heavyweight John Carpenter will visit Dallas for Texas Frightmare Weekend 2010–the homegrown horror convention’s 5th anniversary.
With a long list of genuine, certified classics (um… Halloween, Christine, The Thing, Assault on Precinct 13), as well as a solid roster of cult faves (Escape from New York, They Live, Big Trouble in Little China), Carpenter is pretty much a living legend. His synth-powered fright flicks and gritty action comedies are usually brilliant, and always fun. And the prospect of having him autograph a They Live poster makes my inner fanboy smile. I even loved Vampires, his roundly panned bloodsucker flick starring James Woods.
I visited the TFW convention in 08, and it was pretty good. The venue was a little bit odd, and the film screening setup was lackluster, but everything else was good, and they’ve moved since then, so who knows. A bit of advice though…if you’ve got the extra money and you love autographs, get a fancy VIP badge. Not having to wait in line could literally save you hours.
Other guests for 2010 include George Romero, William Katt (House and House IV), Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, Aliens), Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), Sid Haig and Bill Moseley (those Rob Zombie movies and whatnot), Margot Kidder (Superman) and Doug Bradley (Hellraiser). The convention runs from April 30 to May 2.
Ronald Bronstein’s bleak, uncompromising indie flick Frownland is now available on DVD. Better yet, it’s available in a fancypants deluxe edition that includes outtakes, extras, a vinyl version of the film’s score and an actual piece of the original 16mm work print.
When the film played at SXSW 07, Bronstein described it to me as “a miserablist sort of comedy about an excruciatingly irritating and inarticulate young man, chronicling several days in his life as he pingpongs from one damaged rapport to the next”. Which is as perfect a description as can be offered about a film as, um, complicated as Frownland. What it leaves out is that the lead performance is absolutely stellar, and that the film is one of the most raw, original works to come from an American indie filmmaker in years.
I can’t guarantee you’ll like this movie. But even in hating it, you may cement its substantial reputation as a singular howl against the indie establishment (which sounds like an oxymoron but really isn’t). One word of advice though: if you want to get a sense of the flick, try watching the individual clips like this one rather than the trailer.
This year’s Dismember the Alamo zombie film fest is starting to take shape–and it’s looking good.
There hasn’t been an official announcement yet, but I noticed (during my weekly rounds putting together the film listings for Austinist–I’m not obsessive or anything) that three show pages have been added to the Alamo Lake Creek site: one for Thom Eberhardt’s Night of the Comet (aka Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies. Seriously.), one for Bruce McDonald’s slow-burning zombie talkie Pontypool, and one for Tommy Wirkola’s much buzzed about nazi zombie flick Dead Snow.
I’m super excited about Dead Snow, which I’ve been dying to see since it premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
On paper, Werner Herzog’s newest, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, is amazing: produced by David Lynch, starring Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe and Udo Kier. Unfortunately, it’s not getting fantastic reviews (it’s played at Venice and Toronto sofar). I’m not letting that get me down though–I still have high hopes for it.
For reasons probably having to do with lawyers, the trailer has been pulled from YouTube. But you can check it out here while it lasts.
Wow–I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without knowing that a huge archive of Kubrick-related links existed. I could seriously spend hours looking through all of this and never get bored. Kubrick was a rare bird, and I’m deeply intrigued by him–what’s surprising, though, is the sheer volume of critical and biographical material he’s inspired.
If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me yammer on about my interest in urban planning and traffic. And from those conversations, you’ve probably surmised–correctly–that I know absolutely nothing about the subject.
Still, that doesn’t stop me from being deeply interested in cities. And I was jazzed to hear that Talking Head, Visual Artist and Author David Byrne will be visiting Austin this month to discuss cycling, cities and the urban experience.
The appearance is part of an 8 city lecture tour promoting Byrne’s new book, Bicycle Diaries, which comes out this Thursday (Sep. 27) here in the States. The book details Byrne’s adventures as an avid, traveling cyclist (he has one of those wacky folding bikes) and an enthusiastic admirer of cities in general. And at each stop, he’ll converse with a local civic leader, urban theorist, and bicycle advocate.
The tour also includes a stop in Toronto, where Byrne will chat with NDP leader Jack Layton, among others. That’d be great. Of course, the Austin stop is smack dab in the middle of Fantastic Fest, which kinda sucks. But this seems like too cool an opportunity to pass up, so, yeah.