Based on a popular Playstation game, the sci-fi animated feature “Ratchet & Clank” seeks to capture the kid-friendly audience this weekend, as well as the gamer crowd who have a familiarity with the space-based game characters. The film is a basic hero story about Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor, also the voice in the video game), a young lombax (a cat-like creature) who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, only to find that the hero business is much more complicated than it seems.
Ratchet gets his opportunity to sign up when the planets of their galaxy are threatened with “deplanetization” by the evil overload Dreck (Paul Giamatti), a slug-like creature with a sweet ponytail mullet who rides around on a Segway.
John Carney’s “Sing Street,” about troubled Irish schoolkids who form a band in 1985, has enough charms to overcome its prefab material. The director’s skill pushes what could have been the same old song into a likable testament to the saving powers of young love and rock ’n’ roll.
Because his parents have been losing work, 14-year-old Connor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who looks a bit like an adolescent Paul McCartney, is sent to a less-expensive, more rough-and-tumble school — which happens to be located on Dublin’s Synge Street. Connor is catnip to the new school’s ample supply of bullies.
The standard end-credits disclaimer, “No animals were harmed in the making of this film” takes on special significance in the aftermath of “Men & Chicken,” the outrageously askew, darkly comic offering from versatile Danish writer-director Anders Thomas Jensen.
In “Men & Chicken,” a pair of brothers, Gabriel (David Dencik), an academic with a delicate gag reflex, and his bullheaded, chronic masturbator sibling Elias (Mikkelsen again) find out that they come by their social awkwardness honestly.
If you like the overly sweet, incredibly predictable movies “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve,” then “Mother’s Day” is for you. Director Garry Marshall uses the same formula as his previous holiday movies: Gather a bunch of well-known actors, give them diverse, token characters, make them all interrelated in their stories and hilarity ensues.
So, if you like that and can leave your reality-check button in the movie theater parking lot, you’ll like “Mother’s Day.”
Here’s an uplifting tale for aspiring filmmakers out there. And it also illustrates why festivals like South by Southwest, Fantastic Fest and the Austin Film Festival are so important.
Austin resident Greg Kwedar got his debut feature, “Transpecos,” into the narrative feature competition this March at South by Southwest. It was unheralded, and few people in the Austin film crowd even knew who Kwedar was.
But securing a spot in the competition – and providing an early screener to critics – helped build buzz,, and the thriller about the Border Patrol went on to win the audience award – which means festival attendees thought it to be the best of the bunch.
Kwedar and his team had no distributor for the film, however. And without a distributor, most movies just end up screening here and there, at places like the Austin Film Society and various festivals, without reaching a wide audience.
But that’s what festivals are for – raising the profile of small, independent films. And this week, Kwedar got the best news possible. Samuel Goldwyn Films is buying the rights to “Transpecos” and plans a theatrical release in the fall.
And in May, Screen Media Ventures will be attending the Cannes Film Festival, trying to sell distribution rights to international territories.
The deal was first reported by Deadline.com. And Peter Goldwyn of Samuel Goldwyn Films said, “Greg is a raw talent in independent cinema. ‘Transpecos’ is an accomplished first feature that we’re eager to deliver to audiences in theaters and in homes across the country.”
Details of the deal were not disclosed.
The thriller stars Johnny Simmons, Gabriel Luna and Clifton Collins Jr. Kwedar co-wrote the script with Clint Bentley.
Alamo Drafthouse Village has closed this week so crews can complete a quick renovation project.
When the theater, at 2700 W. Anderson Lane, reopens Friday night, it will have new seats and new carpeting, among other upgrades, the Austin-based chain said.
Alamo Drafthouse Village, post-remodel, will feature theaters that are set up similar to ones found at newer locations, with several small tables in each row, instead of one long table that runs the row’s entire length.
The HBO documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” written by Austin’s Lawrence Wright and directed by Alex Gibney, has won a prestigious Peabody Award.
The awards, announced Tuesday by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, also honored the autism documentary “How to Dance in Ohio”; “Night Will Fall,” about the making of a Holocaust film; and “The Jinx,” a true crime documentary focusing on Robert Durst.
The documentary and education winners also included Netflix’s “What Happened, Miss Simone”; ABC’s “Black-ish” and USA’s “Mr. Robot.” News, radio and web winners, which were previously announced, included “This American Life” and HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” A full list of winners is available at peabodyawards.com.
In awarding “Going Clear” a Peabody, the judges said that the film “about the history and hardball tactics of the Church of Scientology draws its persuasive power from letters and documents contradicting the fabrications of its late founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and from blistering testimonials by prominent ex-church officials and former members about abuse and corruption.”
The documentary is based on the 2013 book by Wright, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief.”
The Hill Country Film Festival (HCFF), a four day independent film event held in Fredericksburg, announced today the selections for its seventh annual festival.
The fest will screen 15 feature films and 74 short films that represent 14 countries along with panel discussions, a closing night party and awards program and a sendoff reception.
This year’s festival will also showcase for the first time a Student Short Film category featuring eight short films produced and directed by high school or college student filmmakers. The complete lineup can be found on the festival website at http://www.hillcountryff.com/festival/film-line-up/.
The festival will host two special screenings April 28: Jorge R. Gutierrez’s 2014 animated feature “The Book of Life” and Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 masterwork “The Last Picture Show.” 2015 is the the 45 year anniversary of this Texas-made stunner.
Feature films to be screened include:
A SONG FOR YOU: THE AUSTIN CITY LIMITS STORY (d. Keith Maitland, U.S., 2016)
BEAR WITH US (d. William J. Stribling, U.S., 2016)
CUT TO THE CHASE (d. Blayne Weaver, U.S., 2016)
DAYLIGHT COME (d. Evan Vetter, U.S., 2014)
DEPENDENT’S DAY (d. Michael David Lynch, U.S., 2016)
INTERWOVEN (d. VW Scheich, U.S., 2015)
MAD (d. Robert G. Putka, U.S., 2016)
NATHAN EAST: FOR THE RECORD (d. Chris Gero and David Maxwell, U.S., 2014)
RWANDA AND JULIET (d. Ben Proudfoot, Canada/U.S./Rwanda, 2016)
SOME BEASTS (d. Cameron Bruce Nelson, U.S., 2015)
STEREOTYPICALLY YOU (d. Benjamin Cox, U.S., 2015)
TOWER (d. Keith Maitland, U.S., 2016)
TRANSPECOS (d. Greg Kwedar, U.S., 2016)
Short films selected represent a wide spectrum of genres from dramas and comedies to documentaries and animations with nearly half of all short films produced internationally. Short films include the Oscar nominated work AVE MARIA (d. Basil Khalil, State of Palestine, 2015); animated student film from Texas NEWBIE NEWSBOY (d. Caitlin Inzinna, U.S., 2015); Texas documentary GOOD TIMES AT THE SCHUTZEN VEREIN (d. Erik McCown, U.S., 2015); dramatic film THE VISITOR (d. Bennett Pellington, U.S., 2015); and comedy LOVE IS A FOUR LETTER WORD: WORTH SEVEN POINTS (d. John Schwab, UK, 2015).
Tom Hanks plays a globalized version of Willy Loman in “A Hologram for the King,” Tom Tykwer’s intriguing, if uneven, adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel.
Hanks brings all of his native, optimistic can-doism to his character, Alan Clay, an aging corporate executive working for a communications company in New England. Thanks to a chance encounter years ago with a nephew of the Saudi Arabian king, Alan’s job is to travel to the kingdom to sell the government some interactive holographic conferencing technology. Jet-lagged, frequently hung over and perpetually out of his depth, Alan is true to his name: a man in the process of being formed, in this case by a world that’s changing around him with dizzying uncertainty, beauty and speed.