Matthew McConaughey to teach filmmaking course at UT

the-free-state-of-jones-matthew-mcconaughey-1024x697
Matthew McConaughey in “Free State of Jones”

Alright, alright, alright.

Some lucky University of Texas students will soon get a chance to learn filmmaking skills from Academy Award winner – and longtime Austin resident – Matthew McConaughey.

PHOTOS: Matthew McConaughey through the years

The university said Thursday that the actor has signed on to teach a course in the Moody College of Communication this fall.

McConaughey, who graduated from UT in 1993 with a radio-television-film degree, has starred in dozens of movies over the years, including “Dazed and Confused,” “Bernie,” “Magic Mike” and “Dallas Buyers Club.”

LOOK: Does this great-great-grandfather look like Matthew McConaughey?

UT did not immediately provide additional details on the exact course McConaughey will teach, but did say he will be joined by “Hunger Games” director Gary Ross.

Matthew McConaughey has had enough of your car horns

The gent in front with the beard would really appreciate it if you stopped leaning on your horn.
The gent in front with the beard would really appreciate it if you stopped leaning on your horn.

Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey is a benevolent figure.  He just wants to live and let L-i-v(-i-n).

But he does not want Austin to become a city full of drivers that honk at each other.

As he said in a recent interview with the American-Statesman ostensibly to discuss “Free State of Jones:”

“One thing we gotta watch in Austin: I know traffic is horrible and I know there’s a lot of imports (by which he means recent arrivals), but we are not gonna become a place where we start banging on our horns.

“Everyone just needs to be cool, we’ll get there.”

Check out the entire interview here.

Four movies to see this weekend: “DePalma,” “Green Room” “The Hunting Ground” and “A Space Program”

“DePalma:” I have always been a bit torn on all things DePalma. For every “Phantom of the Paradise” (come on, it’s bonkers) or “Carrie,” there’s a “Black Dahlia” or “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Or three. But I do enjoy hearing learned cinephiles talk about what inspired them and DePalma is certainly that. At area theaters.

“Green Room:” This movie has been out for some weeks now, but given the recent passing of “Green Room” star Anton Yelchin, now would be a good time to check it out if you haven’t yet seen it. One of my favorite movies of the year. At the Alamo Ritz.

“The Hunting Ground.” Film producer Amy Ziering couldn’t have created a more timely — and necessary — documentary than this tour-de-force on campus sexual assault. She’ll be part of this movie screening and panel discussion about “The Hunting GroundASpaceProgram_poster_2025x3000_border” both nights of its showing. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $11.25. Alamo South, 1120 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-861-7040, drafthouse.com.

“A Space Program.” One of the oddest films of recent years, it showcases artist Tom Sachs’ art and performance exhibition with a bricolage version of a Mars landing mission that is simultaneously beautiful and hilarious. 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. austinfilm.org.

With Arianna Auber

This week’s new movies: “Free State of Jones,” “The Shallows” and more

Here is a handy assemblage of this week’ s new movies.

“De Palma” Grade: B. 

“Dheepan” Grade: A-. 

"Free State of Jones"
“Free State of Jones”

“Free State of Jones” Grade: C. 

“The Neon Demon” Grade: B-. 

“The Shallows” Grade: C+. 

NOT REVIEWED

“Independence Day: Resurgence.”

In case you were wondering why we call Matthew McConaughey Austin’s spirit animal…

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Matthew McConaughey in “Free State of Jones”

It’s around noon for me but evening in Cape Town, South Africa when Matthew McConaughey gets on the phone to discuss his new movie “Free State of Jones.”

“Wait, are you in Austin?” he asks, sounding slightly tired.

It’s a press day for him, he is probably doing a whole mess of these interviews, but he is also in the middle of shooting the increasingly anticipated “The Dark Tower,” the film adaptation of the popular Stephen King novels and McConaughey’s first foray into fantasy franchise filmmaking.

I confirm that yes, I am calling from Austin.

And then Matthew McConaughey delivers completely on being the Matthew McConaughey that prompts us to call him Austin’s spirit animal.

“How’s the weather? What’s going on? WE GOT OUR WATER TABLE BACK UP!” he says. “I’ll be back soon.”

Perfect.

Coming soon to Austin Movie Blog: More from Matthew McConaughey on his new film “Free State of Jones” and how he feels about Austin.

Special screenings: “The Hunting Ground,” “A Space Program” and “Jellyfish Eyes.”

By Arianna Auber

hunting_ground_xlg“The Hunting Ground.” Film producer Amy Ziering couldn’t have created a more timely — and necessary — documentary than this tour-de-force on campus sexual assault. She’ll be part of this movie screening and panel discussion about “The Hunting Ground” both nights of its showing. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $11.25. Alamo South, 1120 S. Lamar Blvd. 512-861-7040, drafthouse.com.

ASpaceProgram_poster_2025x3000_border“A Space Program.” One of the oddest films of recent years, it showcases artist Tom Sachs’ art and performance exhibition with a bricolage version of a Mars landing mission that is simultaneously beautiful and hilarious. 8 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. austinfilm.org.

“Jellyfish Eyes.” Laguna Gloria’s Green Screen Film Series is showing Takashi Murakami’s feature film debut, a Pokémon-influenced coming-of-age story following Masashi, a boy who moves to a sleepy town in the wake of an unnatural disaster. 9 p.m. Friday. $10. 3809 W. 35th St. 512-458-8191, thecontemporaryaustin.org.

“The Scarlet Empress.” The Austin Film Society’s Surrealist Love Goddesses series continues with this landmark of Hollywood’s high-kink, pre-code era starring Marlene Dietrich in her unforgettable role as the sexually insatiable Empress Catherine the Great of Russia. 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. austinfilm.org.

Kino Lorber sets fall release for UT massacre documentary ‘Tower’

"Tower"
“Tower”

Kino Lorber will distribute Austin filmmaker Keith Maitland’s animated documentary “Tower” nationwide this fall. “Tower” picked up the SXSW Grand Jury prize for documentary.

Exploring the 1966 UT Tower shooting animated recreations and contemporary interviews, “Tower” was a critical hit at South by Southwest 2016, where the film had its world première. It picked up awards at the Dallas International, Montclair, RiverRun, and DeadCenter Film festivals.

Kino Lorber will release “Tower” theatrically Oct. 12 at New York’s Film Forum. A national rollout will follow.

Anton Yelchin (1989 – 2016) was a sweet, vulnerable presence in “Star Trek,” “Green Room”

Actor Anthon Yelchin was reportedly killed early Sunday morning in a freak auto accident outside his Los Angeles home. He was 27.

Yelchin  had a bright, vulnerable on-screen energy; it was a joy to watch the magnanimity and sweetness he brought to his performances.

Yelchin was born to Russian-Jewish parents, married figure skaters who emigrated to the United States when Anton was six months old. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and began performing in the 1990s at the age of nine.

Yelchin picked up a Best Performance in a Feature Film nod at the 2002 Young Artist Awards for his role as Bobby Garfield in “Hearts in Atlantis” and made an impression as a lead in the crime film “Alpha Dog,” with Justin Timberlake.

He was also tremendous as a young, one-trick magician in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” holding his own brilliantly in a scene with Larry David.

Though the movie itself received mixed reviews, Yelchin scored something of a breakout performance in 2008 as the title character in “Charlie Bartlett,” a druggy modernization of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Yelchin as Chekov in "Star Trek" (2009)
Yelchin as Chekov in “Star Trek” (2009)

Yelchin is best known as Pavel Checkov in the 2009 J.J. Abrams-helmed “Star Trek” reboot. Yelchin is an energetic presence as the Enterprise’s 17-year old “whiz kid” navigator whose genius for math proves vital. I remain very fond of the “I can do that!” scene.

He was also in “Star Trek Into Darkness” (wherein he gets a terrific red shirt gag), a movie I overrated rather egregiously.

Yelchin will also appear posthumously later this summer in “Star Trek Beyond.” J.J. Abrams paid tribute ot Yelchin on Twitter, as did many of Yelchin’s cast mates.

Alia Shawkat and Anton Yelchin in "Green Room"
Alia Shawkat and Yelchin in “Green Room” (2015)

But I will remember him best as the lead in the terrific, terrifying “Green Room.”  Yelchin played Pat, the quiet bass player in the Northern Virginia punk band the Ain’t Rights who run afoul of Nazi skinheads in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a brilliantly horrifying movie and he carries it through virtually every grim moment.  Here is a tribute to Yelchin by “Green Room” director Jeremy Saulnier and here is the two of them discussing the film.

He will be missed.

 

 

About a half-hour of “The Day The Clown Cried” is now online. See it before someone takes it down

“The Day The Clown Cried” is one of the most infamous films ever lensed. Even after it was actively suppressed by its creator soon after completion, its staggering lack of taste has become the stuff of legend.

In the early 1970s, Jerry Lewis wrote, directed and starred in a story about a German circus clown named Helmut Doork who ends up in a concentration camp during World War II. Though not Jewish, he ends up entertaining Jewish children in the camp. This forbidden, he is beaten by guards for his transgressions. Eventually a commandant convinces Doork to help load children into a boxcar.  He ends up on a train to Auschwitz with them. There, he is used to lead the children to a gas chamber. Overwhelmed with guilt, he joins them in their deaths.

(For those of you who are hearing about this for the first time, please know I am making NONE of this up. My own father had never heard of the thing and the first time I mentioned it many years ago, he thought I was making a joke in very poor taste. I was not. )

Few people outside of hardcore movie nerds and those in the film business even knew the thing existed until a famous 1992 article in Spy magazine about it. Comedian Harry Shearer once saw a version in 1979 and it is worth reprinting his comment from the article in full:

“With most of these kinds of things, you find that the anticipation, or the concept, is better than the thing itself. But seeing this film was really awe-inspiring, in that you are rarely in the presence of a perfect object. This was a perfect object. This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is. “Oh My God!”—that’s all you can say.”

But now, some very enterprising soul has cut together about half an hour of the thing from footage floating around the internet, some obviously from a documentary. This is the most footage of the film most people have ever seen of the movie. It’s certainly the most I have ever seen.  View before it vanishes.

 

 

 

 

Four movies to see this weekend: “Dory” “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Brighter Summer Day” and “Raiders!”

It’s not going to rain this weekend (we think) but it’s going to be in the high 90s. Movies have air conditioning.

“Finding Dory:” I am not made of stone, people.

“Beauty and the Beast.” Cocteau’s still-stunning, dreamy fairytale masterpiece remains a cinematic feast for the soul in all its black and white glory. (Please note: this is not the Disney version.) 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. austinfilm.org.

“A Brighter Summer Day.” Co-presented with the Austin Asian American Film Festival, this newly restored epic of the New Taiwan Cinema movement is based on a true story from the late director Edward Yang, who grew up in the first generation in Taiwan born to Chinese refugee parents. 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. austinfilm.org.

“Raiders!” Yes, it really is that good.