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

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.

Continue reading video podcast: Idiocracy

Hollywoodland (2006)

Hollywoodland: 2006, dir. Allen Coulter. Seen at Galaxy Highland (press screening).
Hollywoodland posterI love watching movies that re-create or fictionalize notorious Hollywood history. For example, I’m very fond of The Cat’s Meow, the retelling of the mysterious death of Thomas Ince. The new film Hollywoodland, as indicated by its title, is also about a famous unsolved Hollywood murder, back in the day when the Hollywood sign contained four extra letters*. The difference between The Cat’s Meow and Hollywoodland, however, is that The Cat’s Meow devises a fictional and satisfying resolution to the unsolved murder. I’m told the upcoming film The Black Dahlia does something similar. Hollywoodland, on the other hand, prefers to stick to the facts as much as possible, which causes some problems with the ending.
The movie focuses on the unexpected death of actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck), best known for his TV role as Superman, by gunshot wound in 1959. The death was ruled a suicide, but detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) finds evidence that may rule otherwise. Was his death related to his longtime affair with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), a studio exec’s wife? What about his fiancee, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney)? Or is there some other, hidden motive?
Hollywoodland neatly wraps two storylines into one narrative: Simo’s involvement with the case, and the ways in which it affects his personal life; and a flashback of Reeves’ life from his meeting with Toni Mannix to the night of his death. The movie does an excellent job at tying the two storylines together so that we’re always aware of which time period we’re in. When the movie cuts from one time period to another, we immediately see one of the principal characters to anchor us in the proper storyline. My only complaint is that the film also includes some fantasy sequences about the night of Reeves’ death, which are filmed in the same style as the rest of the film. The first time, it seems to be done strictly for a “gotcha” effect (like the dream sequence in The Princess Bride); but it’s a weak device that adds unnecessary confusion. The story should be suspenseful enough without these scenes.

Continue reading Hollywoodland (2006)

Labor Day reading material

I’ve been neglecting this poor Web site to write and publish interesting things elsewhere. And I’m not the only one writing some good stuff about film right now. Here are some articles written by me or by other fascinating people, for your holiday weekend perusal … or for Tuesday morning when you can’t get going on actual work and need something to help wake up your brain.
I don’t follow celebrity news much myself, except as is unavoidable in the pursuit of film-related news. Cinematical asked me to take over the site’s weekly gossip column, and I decided to look on the assignment as a writing challenge. The first column appeared Friday — go read it, it won’t bite you. I’ve had several compliments on the writing style, which is non-snarky. I’m not very good with the snark — for some reason, it’s one of the few writing styles I can’t seem to master — so I went with a more down-home approach. It still feels weird that I’m writing a gossip column, though.
I can think of one item that I’d love to hear some gossip about: the inside story behind the very limited release of Idiocracy, Mike Judge’s latest film. I have been writing about this movie everywhere, it seems. Earlier this week, I discussed the mystery of the non-publicized release on Slackerwood. On Friday, the Beau and I caught the movie at Alamo on South Lamar, and I wrote a review for Cinematical. I took some photos at the movie Friday night and posted them, along with some observations about the screening, to Slackerwood.

Continue reading Labor Day reading material