video podcast: Idiocracy

I realize that at this point, Idiocracy may be playing at exactly one theater in the country (Alamo on South Lamar)*. So why I am posting a video podcast about the movie now?
The podcast you are about to watch was meant as an experiment. My husband is learning about video production and needed some footage to edit for a Final Cut Pro class. So last weekend, we shot the following video, which he then edited and fancied up. We did not intend this to be professional, which is why you can see a blanket on my lap, and the cat’s tail is visible near the end of the episode, and … well, you’ll see. It’s only three minutes long, and you get to watch me and The Beau exchanging not-quite-witty repartee.

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a genuine movie-critic moment

My boyfriend and I were talking about my reading tomorrow night at BookWoman and where it was being advertised and how and he asked me, “Have you Googled yourself lately?” He told me that when he Googled me as “Jette Kernion” he found all sorts of interesting links. He was impressed that sites promoting movies had excerpted my reviews and/or linked to the reviews, even if they weren’t positive. That’s been happening to me for awhile, since SXSW 2005. But The Beau’s comments intrigued me, and I decided to do my own Google search under “Jette Kernion,” since usually I do vanity searches only under my last name, or with some other combination of search terms.
The Beau was right — there were more links to my reviews than I remembered from sites for specific movies. This seems to happen most with SXSW films that don’t yet have distribution and that are eager to highlight any kind of recognition or publicity from critics. I was pleased, but not particularly surprised.
Then I found this page. Scroll down a bit and you’ll find a quote lifted from my review. Read the quote carefully.
Now go read my actual review of that film. (It’s a short one, trust me.)
To quote myself (accurately this time), I couldn’t stop laughing. This is the first time someone has ever truncated a fairly negative review of mine to make it sound positive. I may not be at Cannes right now, but I feel more like an influential film critic than ever before. What’s next, will local theater owners start throwing pies at me?

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.

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Quick update on 20 gaps on DVD

It’s not far from two years since I wrote my Twenty Gaps on DVD series of entries about movies I wanted to see that weren’t available on DVD. After I posted the essays, I followed up with a continually updated list of the movies to track their DVD status. If you look at the top of the right sidebar, you can see a link to that article along with the date it was most recently updated.
I updated the list this morning with the news about Double Indemnity, which finally seems to have resolved its rights issues and will be available on DVD in August. (This movie has been announced for DVD before, though, so I am a little skeptical.) After I updated the list, I noticed something gratifying: there are more movies in the “Now Available” section than there are in the “Still Unavailable” section. In almost two years, nearly three dozen of these older, obscure, or culty movies (more if you count every film in the Harold Lloyd collection) have been released on DVD. Some of the remaining films may never see DVD (like the 1930 Holiday, sadly) and some are simply waiting in a queue for release in the next year or so.
Anyway, it’s high time for a new and updated list of gaps in the DVD market, whenever I can find time to pull one together. I have an informal list to start with, but films on that list keep getting DVD releases (such as The Loved One and Next Stop, Greenwich Village), so I may have to dig to find another 20 films or categories of film. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment.

hangin’ out at QT Fest

I spent several nights this week at Best of QT Fest. Quentin Tarantino brings prints of films from his personal film library and shows them to crowds at Alamo Drafthouse Downtown … and this time, for one night at The Glenn, the outdoor venue adjacent to The Backyard. He introduces the films himself. Usually each night has a theme: Tuesday was biker-film night, tonight is horror-film night (all night long), and so forth.
I’m planning to write a feature on QT Fest for Cinematical next week, but in the meantime I thought I’d share some of the photos I’ve taken during the festival. I took some photos on Thursday night of Tarantino, and of Tim League (Alamo owner) apologizing for his negative comments about one of the Wednesday films, but even my spiffy new little camera doesn’t take good pictures in the low light of Alamo Drafthouse. The photos were too blurry and grainy. I’m going to try messing around with the camera settings to see if I can get anything better (although part of the problem is that Tarantino just doesn’t stand still).
In the meantime, if you want to read more about the festival, I’d recommend the following sites: Cinema Strikes Back, Dumb Distraction, and Ain’t It Cool News. These people have been to the QT Fest screenings every single night (unlike me) and they have better photos, and images of posters from the films, and lots of fun details. In addition, Matt Dentler caught a photo of Elvis Mitchell at the Tuesday night screening, and I am quite envious. I’ve spotted Mike Judge, Gus Van Sant, and Eli Roth so far this week … but as a film writer, naturally I would have jumped at any opportunity to meet Mitchell.

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mmmmm. free wireless.

I’m at the Austin Convention Center right now, having just picked up my badge for SXSW and my big bag of stuff. The bag is a bit scary. It’s full of paper stuff that I am too lazy to wade through, at least one CD, small food samples, and one of those trendy little rubber bracelets (Lance Armstrong trendy, not old-school Madonna vacuum-cleaner trendy). I think all the paper in the bag must contain brick or concrete material, because this bag is pretty darned heavy. The bag itself has a cute Tales of the Rat Fink illustration on it.
I’m sitting at one of these little tables near the entrance where everyone is huddled over their laptops. The tables are nice although really they are an awkward size—more than enough room for one person, but a tight fit for two or three unless you know the other people well. Perhaps it’s meant as a way to get to know your neighbors. I realize that instead of posting a photo of myself yesterday, I should have posted a photo of the back of my laptop. If you see the back of a laptop with a Cookie Monster sticker on it, that’s me.

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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.

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lucky me, I’m taking a class

I am one of the luckiest film geeks in Austin right now. I managed to get one of the Austin Film Society slots in UT’s master class for film students. I’m not taking the class for credit; I show up once a week and listen to interesting speakers who talk about their movie-related work.
I took the class last year, too, but it was a little easier to get a seat then. I think this year’s lineup of speakers had something to do with it. Last year’s schedule was excellent, but the speakers were perhaps not quite as universally known: Rob Epstein, Polly Platt, Bradley Beesley, and Don Hertzfeldt were some of the better-known names. Compare that with the better-known speakers lined up for this year’s class: Mike Judge, Kevin Smith, Mark Cuban, and Ray Harryhausen. John Pierson is in charge of the class this year (which would explain Smith’s inclusion). No wonder the AFS server slowed to a crawl and nearly froze as I tried to register for the class. There’s talk about moving some of the popular speakers’ sessions to the Austin City Limits stage, which may sound fun to all of you, but as someone who worked there as an intern, I know that the seats are not very comfy and not at all suitable for note-taking. Hopefully we’ll get to stay in the nice fourth-floor studio.

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why I get so frustrated at the movies

Quote of the day, via the cinetrix:
“I sound like a broken record, a broken record, a broken record … but American movies are now, overwhelmingly, made by men for men, which means that they are also primarily vehicles for male acting talent. There are still great female roles and performances, mind you, but you may need to travel through world cinema to find them.”
—Manohla Dargis, from “Questions for Manohla Dargis” in The New York Times, Feb. 6, 2006 (registration required)

an open letter to indy/low-budget filmmakers

Dear filmmakers,
I can’t wait to see your films at SXSW film festival this year … or at another film festival/special screening/event. I know you’ve worked hard to get your film just the way you want it. Now I’m asking you to do something else if you haven’t already.
I write about movies for Cinematical. Maybe yours is one of three films I’ll see in a single day of a film festival. Or maybe it’s one of the films screening in a couple of weeks at a local theater and I’d like to include it in my weekly News from Slackerwood listing.
Only … I search the Web and I can’t find the information I need on your movie. You don’t have a listing on IMDb, or maybe it’s a bare-bones listing that includes only the director’s name. I search Google and can’t find a Web site for the film. I finally find your Web site and it is a single page that includes no stills and no information about the cast and crew. It’s frustrating and unhelpful to me, and a missed opportunity for extra publicity for your film.

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