Five movies to watch this weekend: “We Are X,” a Senegalese Bonnie and Clyde, Elliot Gould and more

we_are_x“We Are X” Yeah, it’s awesome.

“Tower” Of course you should see it .

“Touki Bouki.” In this film, a sort of psychedelic Senegalese Bonnie and Clyde story, a young couple will resort to drastic measures to escape Africa and begin a better life in France. 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and Sunday. $10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. austinfilm.org. — Arianna Auber

“Stroszek.” Werner Herzog’s strange tale of an ex-mental patient in the Berlin slums seeking a second start in Wisconsin is one of the greatest ‘grass is greener’ lessons ever in cinema. 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. austinfilm.org. — Arianna Auber

longposter“The Long Good-Bye.” There was a time when Elliott Gould was the hottest man in motion pictures. Man, the 70s ruled. Robert Altman bends Raymond Chandler’s classic novel to his will. 10 to 11:45 p.m. Saturday. $7-$10. AFS Cinema, 6226 Middle Fiskville Road. austinfilm.org.

 

 

Alamo Drafthouse introduces ‘Alamo For All’ sensory-friendly screenings

(Straight up editorializing: This is a terrific idea.)

The Alamo tradition of “Baby Day” — screenings on weekdays for parents with infants — is now becoming “Alamo for All.”

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is part of the Lamar Union development on south Lamar Blvd. Tuesday, May 12, 2015. (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Stephen Spillman for AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

The new “Alamo for All” are sensory friendly screenings open to all ages, including infants and adults and children with sensory or cognitive issues such as autism. Like its “Baby Day” predecessor, at these specially designated screenings the house lights are left a little brighter and the sound is turned down a little lower, plus:

• The feature film will run without preshow and without trailers.
• Moving around the theater and noise will be allowed.
• Latecomers will be permitted.

The use of cell phones or other nonessential devices, however, will still be discouraged.alamo_for_all_logo_800_420_81_s

“Alamo for All” screenings will be found not just on weekdays, but on weekend mornings as well. Check out  https://drafthouse.com/program/alamo-for-all for up-to-the-minute list of screenings as well as full details on sensory friendly policies. The page will also link to upcoming Open Caption screenings for the hearing impaired.

All of the Harry Potter movies are coming to the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse

Wands at the ready.

Are you getting antsy waiting for “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” to come out on Nov. 18? You can get your Harry Potter fix in the meantime, thanks to the Alamo Drafthouse.

Several local Drafthouse locations are showing all eight Harry Potter movies over next week. It starts with “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone” on Sunday evening at the Ritz and ends with an epic 279-minute double feature of both “Deathly Hallows” movies on Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Lakeline, Slaughter Lane and Village locations.

So, if you didn’t have a chance to catch Harry, Ron and Hermione on the big big IMAX screens at Regal Gateway Stadium 16 and the Bob Bullock Museum over the last week, grab your fellow Potterheads and maybe dust off some of those midnight premiere costumes that you know you still have, and I’ll see you there — I’ll be the one dressed as Luna Lovegood.

Get a preview of the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in's Harry Potter Festival with a showing of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Get a preview of the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in’s Harry Potter Festival with a showing of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

Matthew McConaughey receives Maverick Actor Tribute for new movie ‘Gold’

Matthew McConaughey on stage during the Jack Ingram & Friends ft. Eric Church at ACL Live on April 14, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American Statesman
Matthew McConaughey on stage during the Jack Ingram & Friends ft. Eric Church at ACL Live on April 14, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro for American Statesman

One of Austin’s jewels will be honored for his contributions to acting and cinematic storytelling by a film, food and wine festival.

Matthew McConaughey stars in “Gold,” a movie about gold prospector Kenny Wells searching for gold in Indonesia. The Napa Valley Film Festival will host a private screening of the movie for their Vintner and Patron Circle members on Nov. 10 in St. Helena, a city in Napa County, California. Patron Circle membership starts at $2,500, while Vintner Circle membership prices are available on request.

The film festival will present McConaughey with the Caldwell Vineyards Maverick Actor Tribute later that day, in nearby city Yountville.

“Vintner John Caldwell is the original Napa Valley maverick winemaker, and Matthew McConaughey is the epitome of a maverick when it comes to his work in the film industry,” said NVFF Co-Founder/Director Marc Lhormer in a news release. “Matthew boldly inhabits each character that he plays on screen, and we are just delighted to showcase his latest film and to honor him at the festival this year.”

McConaughey has grown used to accolades by now; the actor won an Oscar for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2013, a Distinguished Alumni Award from Texas Exes and an unofficial gold medal for Olympic enthusiasm this past summer.

“Gold” will be released Christmas Day.

Robert Rodriguez is looking for “Alita Battle Angel” extras (we think)

AuditionsFree.com is noting a call for extras for  a new Robert Rodriguez movie.

The only thing he seems to have on his plate right now is”Alita Battle Angel,” which is being written by James “Avatar” Cameron and Laeta “Terminator Genisys,” Kalogridis and is being produced by Cameron form 20th Century Fox.

The Japanese cover of "Battle Angel Alita" Vol. 1 (1991)
The Japanese cover of “Battle Angel Alita” Vol. 1 (1991)

“Alita Battle Angel” is based on “Battle Angel Alita,”  (a.a.k. Gunnm (銃夢) is a manga series created by Yukito Kishiro and has been adapted into a couple of animes.

Rosa Salazar stars as Alita. Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Leonard Wu and Christoph Waltz have also been cast.

According to the site:

“Austin area talent with flexible schedules that would allow them spending some weekdays on set may follow the directions below to get their information and photos over to the casting directors at Beth Sepko Casting.”

“Extras needed for upcoming feature film shooting in Austin from October to February.

We are seeking NEW faces that have not already applied.

Adults of all ages and races needed to portray people of multiple cultures in a futuristic society. Applications not a guarantee of work. If selected, positions are paid. Opportunities for 1 day or several days depending on look needed for specific scenes.

When submitting please include name, age, phone #, location, height/weight and attach plenty of clear, well-lit, high resolution current photos both close up AND full length.

Please also include the following sizes:

  • -MEN:

o CHEST

o SHIRT: NECK/SLEEVE

o WAIST/INSEAM

o CHEST or JACKET

o SHOE

o HAT

  • -WOMEN:

o BRA

o DRESS

o PANT

o SHOE

o HAT

E-mail thirdcoastextras@gmail.com with the subject line “RODRIGUEZ EXTRA”

IMPORTANT: MUST be Texas resident w/ valid Texas ID who lives in (or at least close nearby) to Austin, TX since shoots days can change at the last minute and call times are likely very early or late night. **Please don’t submit if you’re not local to the area or nearby.**

NOTE: When working on film, all electronic devices, including phones, will be collected for the entirety of the shoot day. Access likely limited to only one phone check in a 12 hour time period. Anyone uncomfortable with giving up electronic devices should not apply.”

Austin Film Festival awardee Paul Feig talks ‘Alf,’ female comedies, movie jail, Donald Trump and more

Paul Feig at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)
Paul Feig at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)

He may be now be known as that guy who makes all the really good female comedies, but Paul Feig is so much more. In addition to directing “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and “Ghostbusters,” the latter two he also wrote, Feig created “Freaks and Geeks” and has directed episodes of some of the best TV shows of the past decade, including “Arrested Development” and “Mad Men.” The dapper director with the voice of an NPR affiliate station in Michigan received the Extraordinary Contribution to Film award at this year’s Austin Film Festival and appeared in conversation Sunday with the festival’s executive director Barbara Morgan. Below are 10 takeaways from that chat:

  1. This ain’t Feig’s first rodeo. He has been coming to AFF since 2002 and won an audience award for his second feature, “I Am David,” at the fest in 2003.
  2. Feig got his start in “show business” when he moved to Los Angeles as a young man to serve as a tour guide at Universal Studios. He was under the impression that the “tour guide was the conduit between lay people and showbiz.”
  3. He turned to “The $25,000 Pyramid” to earn some money during his nascent stand-up comedy career. It worked. He won $29,000, which helped support him for five years a comedian.
  4. Before cracking into the industry, the former script reader wrote many spec scripts, including one for “a very special episode” of “Alf,” in which Alf worked at a suicide prevention hotline. He teased the audience with the idea that one day he may offer a script reading for that at AFF.
  5. “Freaks and Geeks” started as a memoir that he translated to a television show. The dodgeball scene from the pilot was torn from the pages of his real life, as were most of the characters. The only character not based on someone Feig actually knew? Lindsay Weird, played by Linda Caredellini. She was the platonic ideal of the kind of big sister Feig always wished he could have had.
  6. Feig’s stand-up career informed his filmmaking. He would tape his stand-up act and go back and listed for what jokes got laughs and what didn’t work. He applied that same technique to test screenings of films, looking to see what resonated with audiences and what needed to be excised or honed.
  7. Feel the pain. Feig said that the painful personal stories are the ones that give you the best and most relatable material.
  8. Big tip on writing comedy: “Don’t try to be funny.”
  9. On why he wasn’t a good actor: He thought too much and you could see it in his performances.
  10. Turn out the lights. “The only true way to end a series is to kill everybody. That is why ‘Six Feet Under’ was the best ending ever.” #spoileralert
  11. Biggest lesson he ever learned: Jason Segel killed in his audition for “Freaks and Geeks,” but he wasn’t the kind of person Feig had envisioned for the role, so he was prepared to pass on the 6’4″ kid from Southern California. But producer Judd Apatow convinced him to hire Segel and figure it out from there. “If you get a great person, tailor that role for them. Take the strength,” Feig said.
  12. Why comedy? “Life is too short to try and depress people.”
  13. After two box office bombs, Feig was making promotional movies for Macy’s. One of them included Donald Trump and a bake sale, apparently. Feig was stressed out from the work and said Trump, whom they wanted to get in and out as efficiently as possible, “was so nerve wracking to work with.” Feig said he almost had a nervous breakdown working on the project and was suffering what sounded like something of an existential crisis surrounding his career and his future. A day or two later he got a call alerting him that the long-gestating comedy about bridesmaids was back on. He was hired to direct soon thereafter. And the rest is history.
  14. Feig said finding his groove as the man who directs women was “the happiest day of my life.” He admits that he isn’t great at writing male characters, in part because he doesn’t relate to hyper masculinity and he’s always related better to women.
  15. As for the state of female comedies, “It’s better than it was but it should be way better than it is.”

Tony Hale talks Tim Conway, ‘Arrested Development,’ ‘Veep,’ YouTube and more at Austin Film Festival

Austin Film Festival executive director Barbara Morgan (left) and Tony Hale in conversation at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)
Austin Film Festival executive director Barbara Morgan (left) and Tony Hale in conversation at the 2016 Austin Film Festival. (Credit: Jack Plunkett AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL)

Tony Hale has made a name for himself playing lovable oddball that can hold discomfort and tension in their wrought faces until the wires snap and the comedy boils over in fits of hilarity.

Following the Saturday world premiere of dark comedy “Brave New Jersey” Saturday night at the Austin Film Festival, Hale appeared at the Driskill Hotel ballroom Sunday to talk about his career with AFF executive director Barbara Morgan. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Hale currently plays the neurotic and overprotective bag man to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ president Selina Meyer on HBO’s “Veep.” True to form, when Morgan’s phone buzzed in her purse at the back of the stage, Hale transformed into his Gary Walsh character and retrieved the phone from the purse of AFF’s commander in chief. Later in the talk, Morgan’s water bottle fell and Hale dutifully returned it.
  2. Hale says he has dealt with anxiety in the past, which he has gotten a handle on through therapy but that he’s been able to “use it for good” in portraying a character who often looks twisted in knots on the inside.
  3. Not surprisingly, Tim Conway and Bob Newhart are both huge comedic influences on Hale, who says those two greats, “didn’t push comedy; they sat with the tension.” Audiences would often laugh at the two actors because you could tell what was happening in their heads. Since Gary can’t often speak up in his role on the president’s team, Hale has found ways to use a raised eyebrow or a sigh to deliver his point (and laughs).
  4. When Hale is finally able to let Gary blow off some steam when he loses patience with Meyers’ team, Hale describes it as “Five years of build up watching idiots around Jesus.” Indeed, Hale says Gary loves Meyer so much that his spare time his spent practicing how fast he can retrieve things from her bag.
  5. Asked to reflect on some moments from his time on the short-lived series “Andy Barker, P.I.,” Hale (who drew a blank on specific memories) used the opportunity to praise star Andy Richter as “the coolest guy.” In discussing his high regard and appreciation for Richter, whom he called “a very normal guy,” Hale explained how “arrogance sucks the creative energy out of the room.” He likes an atmosphere of respect and giving, which he says he found on “Brave New Jersey,” as well.
  6. Don’t ask Hale about his favorite aired episodes. He doesn’t watch his shows over again. He does, however, watch the blooper reels from his shows because he says that they make him laugh and remind him of the great camaraderie and energy on set.
  7. Echoing something Jason Segel said Friday, Hale said that his biggest challenge is to stay present. That is something which must be practiced, he said. “If you don’t practice being content where you are, you are not going to be content when you get where you want to go.”
  8. On whether he wants to break from his typecast (that of Bust Bluth and Gary Walsh), Hale, joked, “I am very comfortable in emasculation.”
  9. Hale obviously has had much fun with his work on “Veep” and “Arrested Development,” and some of his favorite moments are not being able to contain his laughter. He says he cracked most often at Will Arnett’s outrageous alpha male on the latter. As for the former, he said one time Louis-Dreyfus looked at him after cracking and said, “Tony, you know you’re not watching the show; you’re on the show.” Hale doesn’t just enjoy cracking on his own shows; he said he loved the “Saturday Night Live” Debbie Downer at Disney World sketch (featuring a rattled Jimmy Fallon everyone) so much that he’s watched it 500 times.
  10. What else does he watch in his spare time? Apparently not a lot of scripted television. But he loves YouTube. Bloopers for a laugh and soldiers-coming-home videos for a good cry.

See Tony Hale for yourself. “Brave New Jersey” screens again Monday night during AFF at Alamo Village.

Eight things we learned at Nancy Meyers’ AFF interview

avatar-jpg-320x320pxWriter/director Nancy Meyers, this year’s Distinguished Screenwriter recipient at the Austin Film Festival, sat down with Barbara Morgan Oct. 15 to talk about her career from her days as a Hollywood assistant to becoming one of the most powerful directors in the business. Here are eight takeaways

She is not an idea factory. “The truth about me is that I don’t have a million ideas,” Meyers said. (She has written, or written-and-directed, 14 projects in 36 years.) She noted the scene in in the Woody Allen “American Masters” documentary where he opens a drawer full of ideas on scraps of paper. “I looked at that and thought, ‘Jeez, you’re so lucky.’ I never have an answer for ‘what are you doing next?’ I really wait for something to come and I’m grateful when it comes and I try to make it work.”

“Private Benjamin” remains her favorite writing experience. “The most fun of all time,” Meyers said. “Nobody was ever as funny as (her writing partner, Harvey Miller). I have only great memories of writing that movie.” She, then-husband  and life-ling creative collaborator Charles Shyer and Miller would only sell the script if they could produce it. And it’s still paying dividends: “I got a check for it last week for $87.”

Goldie Hawn looked at the marquee with tears in her eyes. When “Private Benjamin” was released, Meyers said Hawn got a bit verklempt and said to her, “I’ve never my name alone without a guy (next to it).”

 Polish that script! “My advice to you,” Meyers said to the writers present, “is do not hand it in until you have it where you want it to be. Write it to within an inch of its life. I want to fix things before they get to the preview screenings.”

Her writing does, in fact, reflect her life. “One of my kids’ friends went to see ‘Father of the Bride’ and said to me, ‘It was like being at your house for two hours.’ I thought that was a pretty good review.”

She was a huge fan of the original “Parent Trap.” “Disney knew how much I liked it and promised I was going to honor it,” Meyers said. Of  young Lindsay Lohan, Meyers says simply that she “was great; she was really a gem.” Also, the movie took forever to shoot because Lohan was playing two leads and could only work six or seven hours a day. “AND I GOT TO MEET HALEY MILLS,” Meyers said (or almost squealed, as much as Nancy Meyers squeals).

 On “What Women Want:” “I was a newly divorced woman and Mel Gibson really did whatever I wanted all day long,” she says. “He was a doll to work with. He was a huge star, I had only directed one movie and he completely turned himself over to me. Ii will always appreciate him for that.”

On working as a producer on her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer’s first film, “Home Again,” starring Reece Witherspoon:  “I literally have tried to tell her everything I know,” Meyers said. “I with her in every meeting. I want her to make her movie her way but…(I do say things such as) ‘I think it would be best if you covered this.’ Why have her suffer?”

Also, the realities for women filmmakers are such that she wants to help. This is her daughter’s first movie and “women in particular often don’t get a second chance,” Meyers said. “If I had a son, I wouldn’t be so worried.”

 

 

Chris Hemsworth is a funny man and other revelations from the “Ghostbusters” script to screen

Paul Feig, the man who directed and co-wrote the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot, joined co-writer Katie Dippold and moderator Christopher Boone for a script-to-screen unpacking of the bizarrely controversial and often very funny comedy.

mpw-115398“Neither one of us took this job to destroy childhoods,” Feig said of the bonkers internet backlash against the very idea of the 2016 reboot. “You kind of put your head down and say you’re pure of heart and just want to make a good movie. You can only have death wished upon you so many times before it loses it sting.”

Dippold described herself as a very neurotic person and said it’s gotten to the point where what once made her upset barely registers a blip on her emotional radar anymore. “I got used to it” she said, adding that it’s made her “a little less afraid” to try genuinely scary things.

The Post-It Notes. During the shoot, Dippold would write jokes on Post-It Notes and hand them to Feig.  “Our goal is always to have shot as many jokes as we can,” Feig says. “You put together the best script you can, you have plenty of “alts” (alternative lines) on those jokes because you just never know what an audience is going to like.” This means lots and lots and lots of takes. “You know a scene is fine when the crew wants to murder you,” Feig said.

 Kate McKinnon might be as odd and smart as Holtzmann.  “She is a beautiful weirdo,” Feig said. To get a feel for the character, Feig interviewed McKinnon as Holtzmann for “like an hour, and she said all this really great awesome stuff and I sent it to Katie.”

“Holtzmann is the kind of person I want to be,” Dippold said. “Anything that would make someone anxious, she wouldn’t feel any anxiety.” McKinnon sent the two an email with a list of traits Holtzmann might have. “Some were really heavy,” Dippold said, “like Holtzmann would be afraid to fall in love because she couldn’t handle that person dying and I was like, ‘OH MY GOD.'”

Feig keeps a model of the Titanic and a bust of Shakespeare on his desk.  “No matter how good everything is going, it could still go down” and “None of us are Shakespeare. If you are so religious about your words (that you don’t have improvisation_ you are cutting off such a font of talent (in good comic actors). I don’t even do rehearsals anymore because I’ve been burned too many times (by the best moment in rehearsal).”

Feig is a big believer in test screenings. “A comedy director must have no ego,” he said, noting that two big microphones record test screening laughs so he knows what does and doesn’t work.

and finally, Kevin’s interview was largely improvised during a five hour shoot.  The entire subplot of Kristin Wiig’s character having a crush on Kevin, the moronic assistant played by Chris “Thor” Hemsworth, was improvised by Wiig.

At one point, light reflected off Hemsworth’s glasses, the lens were taken out, and Hemsworth scratched his eye through the empty lens, resulting in riffing on that.

Hemsworth was also responsible for the “Michael Hat” riff.

“He made the comment about the dog being named ‘My cat,'” Feig said, “and I thought, ‘Eh, that joke is OK,’ then he made the ‘Mike Hat’ joke and then ‘His full name is Michael Hat’ line and suddenly I noticed, “Oh God, this is actually a brilliant run.'”

Don’t expect a “Friends” reunion and seven other things we learned from Marta Kauffman’s AFF interview

Austin Film Festival head honcho Barbara Morgan chatted with “Dream On,” “Friends” and “Grace and Frankie” creator Marta Kauffman Friday afternoon at AFF. Here are eight things that we learned:

kaufmannNorman Lear passed on “Dream On.” “When she and creative partner David Crane worked developing projects for Norman Lear, they pitched “Dream On” to Lear’s people. He was not a fan. “He comes over to me takes my hand and says ‘Shallow.'” Kauffman said. “He grabs David Crane by the shoulders and says ‘It’s superficial.’ Boy, did I steal my stapler. “Dream On” became HBO’s first comedy.

“Friends” came out of Kauffman’s experience with a group of six…friends. “The show is about that time in your life when your friends are your family,” Kauffman said. “After you have your own family, everything changes.”  Kauffman was also inspired by seeing a restaurant called the Insomnia Cafe, which birthed Central Perk: “The pilot wrote itself in three days.”

NBC wanted an older character on “Friends” from whom they could get advice. “We called him ‘Pat the Cop’ and we said absolutely not.” Nor was the Joey character written as a doofus. “We had had no idea how funny Matt LeBlanc at playing dumb,” Kauffman said. “You set out to do things, and then actors come in and they breathe life into it, and it’s not quite what you imagined it was going to be”

The accidental birth of “Grace and Frankie.” Kaufman misheard a message that Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda were interested in TV and  thought they wanted to do TV together and made inquires asking if Tomlin and Fonda wanted to do a show together. “Twenty minutes, I get a call: ‘They do now,'” Kauffman said.

The Netflix model can be scary. Instead of writing a script and getting approval and shooting a pilot and waiting for response on the pilot from the network, if Netflix approves the first script, a producer gets an automatic order for 13 episodes. “You don’t have a pilot to make mistakes,” Kauffman said. “I don’t think we hit our stride until the fourth or fifth episode”

The four leads on “Grace and Frankie” have very different processes and are all lovely people. “Martin (Sheen) can be laughing and telling story and then crying on camera the next second,” Kauffman said. ” Jane works form the inside out, Lilly loves props and wig, Sam (Waterston) comes in with a (finished) performance.  They are all pros: They come in with their lines memorized and kind and work hard and are gracious to everyone.”

She would never make something like a 9-11 episode. Shooting immediately after 9-11. Kauffman said they had to make two changes to an episode: they tossed a joke where Chandler makes a bomb joke in line in an airport and they had to change the Etch-A-Sketch on Joey’s door that had  King Kong swiping at the Empire State Building.

“I don’t know if I would ever do (something like a 9-11) episode in a comedy,” Kauffman said. “I don’t think it’s my place.”

Would Kauffman ever pull an “Arrested Development” or “Gilmore Girls” and do another run of Friends on Net– “NO.”

(much laughter)

“They’d all be older, and it wouldn’t be the same,” she said, adding that such a thing would only be done for other people, fans wouldn’t like it and “I would feel bad about myself.”