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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Thank You for Smoking (2006)

Thank You for Smoking: 2006, dir. Jason Reitman. Seen April 16 (Alamo South Lamar).
Thank You for Smoking isn’t as satirical and biting as one might imagine from the publicity; it didn’t make me stop and think about politics, the advertising industry, or American culture. It’s a lightweight smart comedy with sharp dialogue and a capable cast. And I am a total sucker for a smart comedy film, even if it’s shallow and obvious at times.
Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a top lobbyist for the tobacco industry — he’s able to spin any situation into his favor. His latest venture is a campaign to convince Hollywood that cigarettes could be a lucrative source of product placement. He wants to bond more with his son Joey, so he takes him along on the trip to Hollywood. It turns out that not everyone falls for his charismatic act, however, and he ends up facing trouble from a number of different fronts, including an anti-smoking politician and an ambitious reporter.

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weekend in Baton Rouge

I travel to the New Orleans area a couple-few times a year to see family, but I hadn’t spent a significant time in Baton Rouge in years — probably not since I left LSU in 1991, to be honest. I would drive through on the way from/to Austin and notice changes, and sometimes I would even stop to visit friends. I drove through campus once or twice, and when Beau and I visited New Orleans last November, we had lunch at The Caterie. But I hadn’t seen much of Baton Rouge.
We drove to Baton Rouge last weekend for a couple of reasons, and I still didn’t see much of the city. But that was all right, we had a good time at two rather different events: a ballet and a book signing/reading. My little brother was in the ballet, and I was part of the event for the book Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans, because it includes an essay I wrote about NO-area movie theaters.
The drive is 420-plus long and boring miles. The first part down Hwy 71 was more charming than usual because it’s currently wildflower season in Texas. Sections of grassy medians were tinted blue, pink, yellow or orange from all the bluebonnets, primroses, firewheels, Texas paintbrushes, and other flowers that I have no idea what they’re called. Whole fields were blanketed with wildflowers. I must never have driven down the highway at this time of year before because I don’t remember such startling masses of flowers. The first time I drove to Austin was in May of 1991, and I remember seeing lots of wildflowers, but not like this.

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