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Review: Snitch

23 February 2013 11:00 AM, PST

2013 will be The Year of The Rock. With G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Fast Six, Pain and Gain and this week's new release Snitch, four movies this year will star the most charismatic and talented professional wrestler to make the jump from wrestling superstar to action movie superstar. It's a move that guys like Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper and others have tried, but haven't been nearly as successful.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson brings something different to the table. He's been a relentless bounty hunter, an ultraviolent assassin and even a family-friendly tooth fairy. He's played nearly every type of action movie archetype except an everyman who's in the wrong place at the wrong time. While his role in Snitch isn't a true wrong-place/wrong-time character, it might be the closest we ever get because he is, after all, an intimidatingly huge man.

Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron) is a normal everyday kid »

- J.C. De Leon

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Movies This Week: February 22-28, 2013

22 February 2013 12:00 PM, PST

Long-time Alamo Drafthouse programmers Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen may be moving into the next chapter of their careers, but one project that you can expect these vanguards to continue to support is the nonprofit American Genre Film Archive (Agfa). Agfa board members and advisors include Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League as well as Nilsen and Carlson,  Joe Ziemba, and Sam Prime, who oversees the operations and development of the archive.

On Sunday at 2 pm, Afga hosts a Reel One Party at Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. Periodic inspections are conducted on undocumented 35mm film prints contained in the archive by threading up several "reel ones" (which come in containers like the one at top), then watching the first 15-20 minutes to take note of opening credit information, overall condition of the film, and general plot information. Nobody knows what to expect and whether a film will be fun or a dud. »

- Debbie Cerda

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SXSW 2013 Updates: Two Weeks and Counting

22 February 2013 8:00 AM, PST

SXSW Film Festival and Conference kicks off two weeks from Today, on March 8. I can hardly believe it myself. Here are a few reminders and bits of news you might have missed ... plus one panel I'm sure you won't want to miss. If I missed something critical, don't hesitate to mention it in the comments.

I'm happy to announce that once again, I'll be on the opening SXSW Film panel: "A Beginner's Guide to SXSW Film," moderated by Agnes Varnum. We have a lot of fun and also share valuable tips about having the best fest experience possible. Hope you'll join us on Friday, March 8 at 2 pm in Room 16Ab of the Austin Convention Center. Other panelists include Kimberley Jones, the Screens editor at the Austin Chronicle; and filmmaker Yen Tan, whose feature Pit Stop is screening at SXSW.Of course you'll probably want to attend more panels and watch a few movies. »

- Jette Kernion

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Review: John Dies at the End

21 February 2013 12:00 PM, PST

Don Coscarelli has two successful cult franchises to his name in Phantasm and Beastmaster.  The announcement of Bubba Nosferatu, sequel to 2002's Bubba Ho-Tep, makes that three ... so why not go for a fourth? The writer/director purchased rights to John Dies at the End, itself a cult web serial by author David Wong, first released online in 2001. The resulting film, opening Friday at Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter, is arguably the best work Coscarelli's ever done.

Coscarelli's screenplay is smart, fast-paced and exciting, full of razor-sharp wit delivered first-person by star Chase Williamson. The story incorporates many important elements from the book while changing various details, sometimes for practical reasons. (Fans of the book will note the name and sex of the dog Molly have changed.)

A worthy modern-day successor to Ghostbusters, the movie John Dies at the End follows Dave and his friend John (Rob Mayes), paranormal investigators who »

- Mike Saulters

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Travel to 'Far Marfa' at Stateside

21 February 2013 10:00 AM, PST

The Stateside Independent film series and the Texas Independent Film Network are co-hosting the Austin premiere of the understated comedy Far Marfa, on Monday, February 25, at the Stateside Theatre. The 7 pm screening is already sold out, but tickets are still available for the 9:30 pm slot. This 2011 Texas Filmmakers Production Fund (Tfpf) recipient film project features original music by local composer Graham Reynolds (Bernie, Before Midnight). Filmmakers will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A.

Writer/director Cory Van Dyke currently resides in Marfa, Texas, the west Texas town where this movie is set. Carter Frazier (Johnny Sneed) is just barely hanging onto an existence in a town where not much is needed much to get by. Without money or a job and a girlfriend who's recently moved out, Carter is desperately in need of a wake-up call, which comes from a brief but life-altering encounter with a stranger »

- Debbie Cerda

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Sad News: Lars Nilsen Leaving Drafthouse Programming Post

21 February 2013 8:00 AM, PST

News that Lars Nilsen (pictured at top on left) is leaving his programmer position at Alamo Drafthouse was released today by Alamo Drafthouse. The news comes as no surprise to those closely familiar with the Drafthouse programming team, but it is still unwelcome news. Few businesses have a relationship so strong between their employees and customers as Alamo Drafthouse can boast, one that can truly be called a family. And in the case of Lars Nilsen, that relationship goes back to the earliest days at 4th and Colorado.

Coming on top of last week's departure of programmer Zack Carlson, this represents a major transition in the Drafthouse family with as-yet unknown effects. Zack and Lars were not just silent, behind-the-scenes programmers. Together, they have been the most public-facing representatives of the Drafthouse on a daily basis, and creators of feature programs like Weird Wednesday and Terror Tuesdays.

With any family, »

- Mike Saulters

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Austin at SXSW 2013: Bryan Poyser, 'The Bounceback'

20 February 2013 11:30 AM, PST

Bryan Poyser isn't exactly a new face on the Austin film scene, but we realized that we hadn't yet interviewed him on this site (although he has been mentioned in a Holiday Favorites post)! Thankfully we were able to rectify this, as he answered my questions via email about his latest film, The Bounceback (pictured at top). This comedy follows two former couples as they fight (and make up?) amongst Austin's nightlife. The film will have its world premiere at SXSW on Saturday, March 9 at 2 pm (screening info).

Poyser's other film work includes Dear Pillow and Lovers of Hate. He's been nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards for these films. The writer/director formerly worked as Director of Artist Services at the Austin Film Society, and now serves on the Afs Board of Directors.

Slackerwood: How are you feeling about the upcoming premiere of The Bounceback (at the Paramount during »

- Elizabeth Stoddard

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Film on Tap: A Drink Before SXSW

20 February 2013 8:00 AM, PST

Film on Tap is a column about the many ways that beer (or sometimes booze) and cinema intersect in Austin.

The SXSW Film Festival and Conference is less than a month away, and the lineup includes a couple of alcohol-related movies worth seeing. Unfortunately the documentary Crafting a Nation, which features several local breweries, wasn't accepted based on their rough-cut submittal, but they are optimistic that the improved final cut will screen in Austin soon.

Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes The Stairs) will premiere Drinking Buddies, a tale of two co-workers in a Chicago brewery who may be better suited for one another than their current partners. Will love blossom at the brewery, when beer is a factor?

In Hey Bartender (seen at top), documentary filmmaker Douglas Tirola tells the story of "the bartender in the era of the craft cocktail." The documentary focuses on two bartenders -- one young, one »

- Debbie Cerda

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William Shatner at the Paramount: He's Real

19 February 2013 12:00 PM, PST

By Barbara Cigarroa

It was a packed house at the Paramount Theatre. Sitting in the uppermost row of the balcony, I looked down and watched as hundreds of people took their seats below me, waiting for the Captain himself, William Shatner, to appear on stage and take them for a ride. Minutes later, the lights dimmed and there he was doing just that, a rolling chair with him as his sole prop for life -- toilet, ship, bus, table, and, coffin. From where I sat, the 81-year-old actor looked tiny, but as the words rolled out of him and as his gestures became grander and grander, the distance between us disappeared and I was right there with him. The title of the show suggested it and Bad Billy delivered: he transported me right into his world, "Shatner's World."

I went into the Paramount Theatre that night expecting to be entertained »

- Contributors

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Win Tickets to Texas Film Hall of Fame After-Party

19 February 2013 10:00 AM, PST

Austin Film Society has promised me that the after-party for the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards this year is going to be a night to remember. The party starts at 9 pm on Thursday, March 7 in Austin Studio Stage 7 -- it actually overlaps a bit with the awards themselves, so you can get in there and start warming things up before the crowd from the awards ceremony fills the room.

DJ el john Selector will provide some great music, with guest DJs Jim Eno (Spoon), Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasmo, Brownout) and Graham Reynolds (do I need to tell you Austin film people who he is?). There will be an open bar, and snacks from local businesses (Tiny Pies!). Afs is also promising us "lots of surprises," and when you consider that this after-party is for an event attended by many local and a few national celebrities, that could mean just »

- Jette Kernion

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Lone Star Cinema: Before Sunset

19 February 2013 7:30 AM, PST

In Richard Linklater's movie Before Sunset (2004), we meet up again with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy). Jesse stops in Paris to promote his book, This Time, a fictionalization of the experience he had with Celine in Vienna nine years prior. And who does he spot in Shakespeare & Co. but Celine herself? They decide to have coffee and chat before Jesse has to catch a flight in the evening. The film is something of a real-time depiction of how they spend the next couple of hours.

The naivete of the kids from Before Sunrise is nowhere to be seen here. Jesse and Celine are now in their thirties and have dealt with some blows from life. The rhythm of their conversation flows realistically -- at the start of their time together again somewhat hesitant and impersonal, slowly opening up to show their real selves to each other as the afternoon proceeds. »

- Elizabeth Stoddard

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Afs Essential Cinema Returns to the Middle East

18 February 2013 11:30 AM, PST

The Middle East continues to be a hotbed of socio-political upheaval, sometimes with cautious hope, more often with sorrow and loss. Nonetheless many of the countries of the region continue to provide a fertile ground for the imagination of filmmakers. In keeping with what has become an Austin Film Society programming tradition, we present our seventh consecutive year of the Essential Cinema series, "Children of Abraham/Ibrahim: Films of the Middle East and Beyond" (Feb 19 – April 9, 2013).

We begin tomorrow night with one of the most important films to come out of Iran, one made by an Iranian filmmaker forbidden to write screenplays, direct movies, discuss cinema publically or travel to other countries for film festivals for a period of 20 years. This Is Not a Film (2011) is Jafar Panahi's answer (and shrill raspberry) to his repressive government's decree.

With the help of his friend and technical assistant Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Panahi »

- Chale Nafus

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Slackery News Tidbits: February 18, 2013

18 February 2013 8:00 AM, PST

Here's the latest Austin and Texas film news.

The Berlin Film Festival surprised Austin director Richard Linklater last week with the Berlinale Camera before a screening of his film Before Midnight, the Los Angeles Times reports. The award is presented to film personalities or institutions to which the festival wishes to express its thanks. Former Austinite Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who star in and co-wrote the film with Linklater, attended the screening as well. Before Midnight, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (Debbie's review), is the third film in a trilogy that also includes 1995's Before Sunrise (Elizabeth's review) and 2004's Before Sunset.In more Berlin Film Fesitval news, recent Austin transplant David Gordon Green won the Silver Bear award for Best Director at Saturday's ceremony for his buddy film Prince Avalanche, according to Variety. Prince Avalanche, the only comedy among the 19 contenders at the festival, stars »

- Jordan Gass-Poore'

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