Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon is underway

If you’ve ever been to Alamo Drafthouse Downtown in Austin, today’s a great day to write down and share some of your favorite memories. And then get them to me so we can post them during today’s Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon! If you haven’t been to Alamo, you can read some of the great stories other people are telling, and feel envious that you weren’t there. I have an entry of my own posted; I may do some more this week, because there are so many stories to tell. And so many photos.
My last night at Alamo was … last night, and well into morning, at the Half-Ass-a-Thon. I’m still half-asleep, but I had a wonderful time and am missing the old theater already. I’m looking forward to reading lots of Alamo-related entries tonight, so please indulge me by writing/sending yours.

Announcing the Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon: June 25

Alamo DowntownI have to credit Blake of Cinema Strikes Back for the idea to get people blogging about Alamo Drafthouse Downtown before the Colorado St. location closes on June 27. We worked out the organizational details together and now we’re able to announce the Alamo Downtown Blog-a-Thon, which will take place on June 25. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can participate. Check out everyone’s favorite website about the Austin film scene (or so I choose to believe), Slackerwood, for the details. (And thanks again, Blake!)

spending time with Ann and Molly

Ann Richards died in September. And Molly Ivins died just yesterday. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t ever get to see these great Texas women again. Both have appeared in documentaries that aren’t difficult to locate and watch.
If you’re in Austin, you’re in luck, because Texas Barbecue: A Love Story will be shown on KLRU’s series SXSW Presents this Tuesday, February 6 at 9 pm. The documentary about Texas barbecue and its biggest fans is narrated by Richards. And afterwards, you can hear a panel of learned film and barbecue experts — including me — discussing the film. If you don’t live in Austin, get the newly released DVD of Texas Barbecue: A Love Story to hear the former governor of Texas (as well as an aspiring gubernatorial candidate — Kinky Friedman also shows up briefly).
Richards is also listed as appearing in the documentary The Unforeseen, which premiered at Sundance this year, but has yet to screen in Austin. And on a much lighter note, there’s that fabulous episode of King of the Hill in which Hank moons Richards in one of those glass elevators at the Hyatt.
If you’re feeling too lazy to leave your computer screen, you can always watch the Ann Richards ad for Alamo Drafthouse on YouTube.
Molly Ivins has appeared in several documentaries, including Bush’s Brain and The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress. But the one I’d recommend renting, if you’re not offended by sex toys, is Dildo Diaries. I saw this movie a couple of years ago at Alamo Drafthouse Downtown with a sold-out and very lively crowd. Everyone enjoyed booing and hissing when Warren Chisum appeared onscreen; it was as good as an old-fashioned melodrama. Ivins shares some delightful stories about the sex-toy and sodomy laws in Texas.

Continue reading spending time with Ann and Molly

another standby line at the BNAT

Last year was the first time I tried to get into the 24-hour film marathon known as the Butt-Numb-a-Thon (BNAT for short), by waiting in the standby line on the morning of the event. I wrote an essay about the standby line; it’s one of my favorites, so please go read it if you haven’t already.
The standby line was lots of fun in a film-geeky way, so I thought I’d try my luck again this year. Even if I didn’t get into BNAT, I could hang out with some other friends I knew would be in the line, and maybe meet some new film geeks. The time to line up for standby was an hour later this year, too, which was nice.
After seeing the sorts of things people brought to last year’s BNAT to help survive 24 hours in a theater, I decided to be prepared on the off-chance that I would actually get in. I cleaned out my purse, and had to remove my phone and camera. Suddenly the purse was twice as light as it ever had been. I filled the empty spaces with a small bag of clean socks and underwear, a spare toothbrush and travel toothpaste, and a tin of Altoids Tangerine Sours because those are great for keeping me awake. I also brought a blanket roll, the kind you take to picnics or Jazz Fest or whatever, which I figured could double as a pillow. I tried not to think about the fact that I was probably fussing over nothing. Last year, 45 people were in line, and maybe 15 got in.

Continue reading another standby line at the BNAT

Remembering Ann Richards

The flags in Austin have been at half-mast since former Texas Governor Ann Richards died last week. Dozens — no, probably hundreds of people have been writing and telling stories about their experiences with Richards and what she meant to them, politically and personally.
Richards was also part of the Austin (and Texas) film community, as other people have noted:

  • Matt Dentler remembers her from SXSW premieres and her years emceeing the Texas Film Hall of Fame awards.
  • Quint of Ain’t It Cool News remembers seeing Richards at a number of local film events.
  • Austin Movie Blog shares quotes from local film-related personalities.

The only time I ever came close to meeting the former Texas governor was at a film premiere. Austin Film Festival held a gala screening of the recut/remixed Blood Simple at the Paramount in 1998, with reserved tickets. I had a seat up in the balcony near some friends. We waited in line for what seemed like forever, outside the theater in the heat (even in October) until the Paramount ushers finally released the doors.

Continue reading Remembering Ann Richards

a very Weird Wednesday indeed

I have been saying for years that I need to see a Weird Wednesday movie at Alamo Drafthouse Downtown. How can I resist a free movie, even at midnight? I used to have the excuse of a day job with regular hours, which made midnight movies impractical. However, since I’m freelancing right now, that excuse won’t work. I’ve had to resort to the excuse that I am not as young as I was and it’s hard to stay up that late and enjoy a movie. Yeah, that’s pretty lame too.
Last week I was unable to refuse. First of all, I may be returning to work full-time in an office, so I may have only a limited time left to see midnight movies during the week. I don’t want to look back and realize how dumb I was to miss such a good opportunity. Second of all, the movie was one I wanted to see at any time of day: Hells Angels on Wheels, the 1967 biker film directed by Richard Rush, starring Jack Nicholson and Adam Roarke. I am a big fan of Rush’s dark comedy The Stunt Man, and I’d just seen another Rush film starring Roarke at QT Fest, The Savage Seven. Then I heard that the film’s stunt coordinator, Gary Kent, would be at the midnight screening. I had nothing scheduled for Thursday morning, and I took a little nap on Wednesday afternoon to prepare. I was ready for Weird Wednesday.

Continue reading a very Weird Wednesday indeed

grinding the rumor mill

So the film Grind House is alive and kicking after all. For those of you who haven’t been following this film, Grind House is the brainchild of filmmakers Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, both big fans of the grindhouse genre (think Sixties/Seventies exploitation drive-in flicks). The movie will be made up of two short films, one by each director, that will be bundled back-to-back for release along with some fun fake trailers.
Rodriguez was shooting his portion of the movie in Austin this April when rumors started flying that production had ceased abruptly. (I read a lot of “ground to a halt” cracks.) It didn’t help that Rodriguez and his wife (and producer on many of his films) Elizabeth Avellan announced their separation around the same time. Some people alleged that Rodriguez had fired his entire crew, that Tarantino was going to take over the entire film, or that the film would never be completed. And those are just the non-libelous rumors.

Continue reading grinding the rumor mill

Upcoming Austin reading/signing

Good news: BookWoman in Austin is hosting a reading/signing event for the book Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans on Saturday, May 27, at 8 pm. Ray Shea and David Rutledge and I will be reading excerpts from our essays included in the book. My essay is about New Orleans-area movie theaters and the experiences I had there when I was growing up.
If you’re living in Austin and you’re reading this, you’re going to be there, right? And if you don’t already own the book, this is a fine chance to buy a copy from an independent bookstore and get it signed by some of the authors right then and there. It’s a lovely little book, beautifully designed and put together, and well worth owning. The writing ranges from poignant to hilarious. Ray’s essay on working as a Mardi Gras float grunt is truly funny and you shouldn’t miss a chance to hear him read parts of it.

Continue reading Upcoming Austin reading/signing

mmmm. beer and film writers.

I’m meeting Karina Longworth, the editor emeritus of Cinematical, at 5 pm today (Tuesday) at Gingerman to have a drink and to chat about SXSW and film and where to get good steaks in Austin and whatever else we can think of. If you’re in town for SXSW or if you live in Austin and want to join us, we’d love to see you there. You don’t have to be a film writer or even a film geek, although we will probably talk a lot about movies and related stuff. It’ll be fun, and Gingerman (at 304 W. 4th Street, an easy walk from Alamo Drafthouse) has lots of yummy beer. Mmmmm. Beer. So drop by! I am wearing my Cinematical shirt so hopefully that will make me easier to spot.

see you at SXSW

The SXSW film festival starts on Friday … yep, that’s tomorrow. I am going to cover some of the films for Cinematical. It has been kind of a crazy week for me, getting my other freelance work in order, sifting through dozens and dozens of PR emails, each informing me that such-and-such film is THE film to see for SXSW, continually tweaking my calendar schedule of films and panels, designing a shirt to wear to promote Celluloid Eyes, redesigning my business cards, dusting off my digital voice recorder, wondering how long it takes to drive from the Austin Convention Center to Alamo on South Lamar.
I am looking forward to seeing a lot of movies—I have currently scheduled about three a day. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep up that pace, but it’ll be great fun to try. I’m also looking forward to seeing the film blog panel, finally meeting Karina in person, seeing LB and FPP, running into Chris at the B-Side booth, enjoying the Blazing Saddles pizza at Alamo, and writing about everything I can.
I am worried that I will be a lousy interviewer (untrue, although I could use more experience), that my sad little old digital camera will give out halfway through the festival, that I’ll wear the wrong clothes (yes, I realize this is dumb), that I’ll get a migraine at the worst time possible, that I am a lousy networker/schmoozer (we all feel this way, I suspect), and that I won’t recognize any of the other film writers and bloggers whom I know only by their writing. I’ve been emailing back and forth with Blake from Cinema Strikes Back this week, and I hope we won’t pass within inches of one another without any recognition.
So here’s what I’m doing to try to remedy the problem of non-recognition.

Continue reading see you at SXSW