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?

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.

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Art School Confidential (2006)

Art School Confidential: 2006, dir. Terry Zwigoff. Seen May 14 (Alamo South Lamar).
I wanted to see Art School Confidential with The Beau, and he checked Rotten Tomatoes beforehand, as he hadn’t heard much about the film. The rating was low (in the low 30s) and he looked pretty skeptical. But I had read a positive review that caught my interest, and anyway it was the only movie playing at the time that looked at all funny. Wary but hopeful, we decided to give it a shot.
I can see that if you’d been expecting something along the lines of Ghost World, Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes’s earlier film, you might find Art School Confidential disappointing. Some reviewers assumed the movie would be a scathing, insightful, in-depth critique of the art world, and then were upset when they found out that it’s not. It is a smart person’s dumb comedy, and if you watch the movie with those expectations, it can be quite enjoyable. The movie more closely resembles The Freshman, the 1990 Matthew Broderick/Marlon Brando comedy about an NYU film student who becomes entangled in organized crime, than it does Ghost World.

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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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V for Vendetta (2006)

V for Vendetta: 2006, dir. James McTeague. Seen May 13, 2006 (Alamo South Lamar).
V for Vendetta is an entertaining movie while you’re watching it, although afterwards, it hardly seems memorable. It is a lesser, almost forgettable entry in the dystopian-future genre of films, but then it’s up against classics like Brazil. It’s difficult not to think of 1984 or Brazil while watching this movie, and the movie suffers in comparison. Still, it was more enjoyable than I would have predicted, and didn’t drag much even with the long running time.
V for Vendetta, adapted from the graphic novel by Alan Moore, takes place in a grim future in which the government has infringed on citizens’ rights in the name of safety against terrorism, and added some religious oppression to boot. (You can imagine that many people might feel that this day is not far off in real life.) A gang of secret police known as the Fingermen have the power to break into any building and arrest, or assault, whomever they like. So when our heroine, Evey (Natalie Portman), is out after curfew and encounters a group of these guys, she knows she’s doomed … until a mysterious stranger in a Guy Fawkes mask, known only as V (Hugo Weaving) rescues her and involves her in his scheme to blow up the Old Bailey. Next year, he warns, he’ll blow up the Houses of Parliament on Nov. 5, tres Guy Fawkes. Evie is unable to extricate herself from accusations of terrorism and from V, the mysterious masked man.

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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.

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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.

Monarch of the Moon (2006)

Monarch of the Moon: 2006, dir. Richard Lowry. Seen on April 20, 2006 (Alamo South Lamar).
Monarch of the Moon was promoted earlier this year as a “lost” science-fiction serial from the 1940s, originally intended as covert WWII propaganda, that had recently been unearthed … but the film was actually shot in 2005. The hoax promotion was similar to that for The Blair Witch Project, but perhaps less successful. The movie is now being touted as a spoof of sci-fi serials from the 1940s. However, it seems to me that Monarch of the Moon doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it meant to be hilarious, or to invoke a gentle nostalgia for the films of that time? Is it supposed to be a faithful re-creation of the old serials? The film veers between a number of tones and as a result, drags and lags at times. Perhaps it would have worked more effectively as a shorter film.
The film focuses on the adventures of Yellow Jacket (Blane Wheatley), his secretary Sally and later her twin sister Maxine (Monica Himmelheber), and sidekick Benny (Brent Moss) as they fight Japanese invaders led by the mysterious Dragonfly (Kimberly Page). The characters encounter the usual serial-chapter perils: out-of-control airplanes, secret mountain lairs, and even outer-space creatures.

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