Bill Murray is officially in Austin for SXSW. Thought you’d want to know.

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Actor Bill Murray — comedy legend, voice actor in Wes Anderson’s new film “Isle of Dogs,” ever-looming myth in the firmament of daily American life whose presence just over your shoulder should always be assumed — is in Austin on Saturday.

Murray made an appearance at the University of Texas on Saturday to speak at the Belo Center on campus, as part of a ceremony marking the donation of seven poster boards signed by famous comedians, including Murray, to the university.

Actor Bill Murray waits to speak in the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Murray made an appearance with Cappy McGarr for a donation ceremony of seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

This means you should keep your eyes peeled this weekend. The “Groundhog Day” actor is known to appear in Austin when you least expect it: like at a Lupe Fiasco show last year at the Belmont, or at Franklin Barbecue. You never know who you might run into.

RELATED: SXSW: ‘The Last O.G.’ star Tiffany Haddish loves Lucy (and Jackée)

The North American premiere of “Isle of Dogs” is scheduled to close SXSW Film Festival at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theater. A red carpet event will precede the screening. The documentary “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From A Mythical Man” also screened at the festival earlier this week.

Murray will also appear at the Long Center on Sunday for the show “New Worlds,” a “spirited fusion of spoken word, literary readings, and music.”

But you came here for more pictures of Murray. So here you go.

Actor Bill Murray speaks in the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Murray made an appearance with Cappy McGarr for a donation ceremony of seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
After a donation ceremony, Actor Bill Murray exits the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. UT alumnus Cappy McGarr donated seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Actor Bill Murray with Department of Communication Studies Dean Jay Bernhardt and UT alumnus Cappy McGarr in the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. McGarr is an executive producer and creator of The Kennedy Center?s Mark Twain Prize which is the nation?s highest honor for humor. Cappy donated seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Actor Bill Murray and UT alumnus Cappy McGarr tie on ribbons after a ribbon cutting during a donation ceremony of seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university from McGarr in the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. McGarr is an executive producer and creator of The Kennedy Center?s Mark Twain Prize which is the nation?s highest honor for humor. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Actor Bill Murray speaks in the Belo Center on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Murray made an appearance with Cappy McGarr for a donation ceremony of seven poster boards signed by famous comedians including Bill Murray to the university. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

SXSW 2018: ‘Blaze’ is a terrific portrait of the artist as a poetic screw-up

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Let the word go forth from this time and place: Ethan Hawke, director of the excellent Blaze Foley biopic “Blaze,” is apparently extremely good at getting stunning performances out of non-actors.

Ben Dickey, a 40-year-old musician from Arkansas, already has been feted at Sundance for his performance as Foley in “Blaze,” but nothing quite prepares you for seeing it on the big screen. It’s a tour de force of oversized charm and verve, a living ballad of song-writer-as-ramblin’-man (and almost compulsive screw-up).

Gauzy without being cloyingly mythic, Hawke lets us know Foley’s tragic end right up front — he died in 1989 at the edge of 40, shot during an altercation over his friend’s disability check, a death that might have been too strange and pointless and heroic and sad to even make for a good song.

After we meet Foley, in full Duct Tape Messiah mode, screwing around the studio with friend and running buddy Townes Van Zandt (Charlie Sexton, equally excellent in a completely different tone than Dickey), we flash back over a decade (we think) and see Foley as a younger man doing construction work in a theater.

RELATED: Going out in the Blaze of glory at tribute concert

He meets Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat, earthy and vibrant), a young aspiring actress in … Arkansas, we think. (It is Rosen’s memoir upon which the film is based.)

Soon they are inseparable and living in a treehouse/cabin thing in the Georgia woods (right?). He is working on songs and dispensing almost Zen koans about life and art, she is acting and keeping a sort of vague house — they are Southern, post-hippie bohos of the first rank. Dickey and Shawkat do a phenomenal job embodying a relationship that neither of them really ever got over, such was its perfection.

We flash forward and back over the years as Hawke loosely braids a few plot threads.  We see Townes and  Zee (Josh Hamilton) conducting a myth-building radio interview about Blaze. We see Foley as a near-constantly drunken troubadour, small band in tow, cutting a live album at the Austin Outhouse that he cannot help but interrupt by getting into a fight.

We see Blaze and Sybil meet her parents (it seems entirely possible Sybil is the first Jew Blaze ever encountered; during the hang with her folks, the only one he can think of is Zero Mostel). We see them head to Austin, then Chicago, wherein their relationship reaches a point of untenability. Then Blaze heads back to Austin (right?) and the legend builds.

We see the start of the fight where Blaze died. We see his pals try to convey his epic character to a barely interested radio host. We see record execs try to make Blaze a star. We see him die (but, cannily, not shot). We see him missed by those who loved him.

Again, Dickey is luminescent throughout. He is almost never not on-screen and it’s the sort of part that gives veteran actors the shakes. But Dickey gives Foley a bearish charm, self-medicated instability and a swaggering desperation.

If the film has one constant frustration, it is that, in the possible service of timelessness and tonal ramble, Hawke is really vague about when and where things take place. Unless you know Foley well — and most don’t — you have to head to Google to know that his career ran from at most, around 1977 to his death in 1989. A few dates popping up on the screen would not have lessened the mood, Ethan.

But then, this is not a soup-to-nuts biopic. It’s an ode to the artist-as-emotional-outlaw, with all the good, bad and ugly that implies.  At one point, Foley tells his then-wife Sybil that he wants to be a legend rather than a star.  Bullseye.

Grade: B+

MORE SXSW: See all our coverage

Nick Offerman gives what may be his best performance ever in film about power of music

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In “Hearts Beat Loud,” a film absolutely tailor-made for South by Southwest, director Brett Haley (“The Hero”) delivers a heartwarming ode to the healing power of music.

“Hearts Beat Loud.”

Nick Offerman stars as Frank, a single father and occasionally cantankerous record store owner in Brooklyn. He’s having difficulty accepting the fact that his only daughter, Sam (Kiersey Clemons), is about to go away to college in the fall. To add insult to injury, she’s taking off across the country to attend UCLA. The father/daughter duo have always casually made music together for fun with impromptu jam sessions at home, but one particularly creative night results in a perfect little song that just so happens to provide our movie with its title. When Sam informs her father that she is not looking to do anything more than make some music in their living room, he’s disappointed but determined to change her mind.

Frank takes a recording of “Hearts Beat Loud” and does an internet search to find out how to release a song on streaming sites. A few clicks of the mouse later, their little home recording is uploading from TuneCore to Spotify under the name We Are Not A Band. A few days later, out at a local bakery, he hears their song playing in the store. Incredulously asking the cashier what is playing, he discovers that the song has already been placed on the curated “New Indie Mix” playlist on Spotify. “We’re on a playlist with Iron & Wine and Spoon!” he says. It’s a plot twist that, especially for struggling indie musicians, might seem a little far-fetched, but isn’t that the promise and magic of the movies?

PHOTOS: “Hearts Beat Loud” red carpet at South by Southwest

In the meantime, Frank’s landlord Leslie (Toni Collette) has been forced to raise the rent on the record store location, and Frank makes the decision to close down after 17 years in business. Not only does he have the expense of Sam’s impending college days to worry about, but his mother, Marianne (Blythe Danner), is slowly beginning to show signs of memory loss and has already been arrested for shoplifting in a local bodega. It’s clear that more time and resources will soon need to be devoted to her care. These are harsh realities to face, but Frank’s excitement over the possibility of success for We Are Not A Band takes precedent in the short term.

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Now, I will love Ron Swanson to my dying day, but I think this may be the best performance of Offerman’s career. He brings this character to life with a raw vulnerability and hopefulness that makes you want to root for him no matter the odds. And Clemons, who starred in the movie “Dope” and has spent some time on Amazon’s “Transparent,” is a revelation here. As Sam, she perfectly expresses the hopeful uncertainty of that transitional time in your life between high school and college. In supporting roles, Texas native Sasha Lane (“American Honey”) is terrific in her few scenes as Sam’s love interest, Collette gets in a raging karaoke cover of Chairlift’s “Bruises,” and it’s a real delight to see Ted Danson behind a bar again as Frank’s best friend Dave.

Just like with “Sing Street” a few years back, this is a movie where I wanted to own a soundtrack the nanosecond it ended. The brilliant original songs as performed by We Are Not A Band were written by Keegan DeWitt, who composed the score for Haley’s last two films. Hopefully, we’ll get them all on vinyl when distributor Gunpowder & Sky begins to release the film in select cities later this summer.

“Hearts Beat Loud” screened March 14 at SXSW; there are not other showings scheduled during the festival. Grade: A-

The moving ‘If I Leave Here Tomorrow’ chronicles Lynyrd Skynyrd

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“Musicians are a rare breed — once it gets in their blood, they have to go after it” — Judy Van Zant, widow of Ronnie Van Zant

Are you in the market for an incredibly well-made, super professional, smartly-edited, fully licensed and extremely unlikely to be controversial documentary about an interesting musician or group?

Then, brother, Stephen Kijak is your man.

Starting with his outstanding “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man” (2006), Kijak has made excellent docs on the Backstreet Boys, Jaco Pastorius, the Rolling Stones and X Japan. He works his slick magic again with the moving “If I Leave Here Tomorrow,” bankrolled by CMT and likely airing on the network later this year.

Rising out of a Jacksonville, Fla., garage band called One Percent, Lynyrd Skynyrd took their name from both the name “Leonard Skinner” from “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” and a high school coach who happened to have the same name.

RELATED: 10 docs to watch out for at SXSW

The band honed its chops the old-fashioned way, rehearsing and writing morning, noon and night at “Hell House,” a cabin in the middle of nowhere where the band could work out music. It was also close enough to water than Ronnie could go fishing while writing lyrics in his head, Biggie Smalls-style. These were the salad days — as one member puts it, “Hell House was the reward.”

Al Kooper, who helmed the first two albums, was floored by the band’s airtight prowess on even the guitar solos. Those records cut like butter, while the rest of their output was sometimes marred by writing-in-the-studio and, um, lifestyle choices.

Kijak talks to folks who are around and gets tremendous archival footage (and stunning bell bottoms) of those who are not. There’s guitarist Gary Rossington and Ronnie’s brother Johnny Van Zant, who lets us see the Jacksonville neighborhood where the band was born.

There’s the fascinating Artimus Pyle, the “left wing liberal hippie” who replaced original drummer Bob Burns (who all but had a nervous breakdown due to, well, the hazards of being in Skynyrd).

PHOTOS: “If I Leave Here Tomorrow” red carpet

“I think they felt (the band was) supposed to smoke every cigarette and drink everything provided and eat whatever they wanted and throw the rest against the wall,’ Pyle says. “That was our road manager’s duty – to carry a briefcase with probably $250,000 in cash to bail people out of jail and placate hotel owners.”

There’s Ed King, the California kid who hailed from the Strawberry Alarm Clock, co-wrote “Sweet Home Alabama,” and filled out the three guitar lineup until he bounced in ’75 after Van Zant’s temper got to be a bit much.

Kijak also cuts between band history and an inevitable look at the October 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, King’s replacement Steve Gaines and Steve’s sister Cassie (as well as assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray), effectively ending the band for a decade. Surviving members recount the horror of crashing in the middle of nowhere in the farmland of Gillsburg, Mississippi (“like hearing 10,000 baseball bats on the side of the fuselage” as they started to hit the trees).

“The one thing I want the world to know about my band is how bravely my band met their death,” Pyle says in the documentary. “Everyone knew it was gonna end badly. There was no panic, no chaos; everybody was in prayer, in deep thought.”

“If I Leave Here Tomorrow” plays again at 1:45 p.m. March 17 at Alamo Ritz 1. Grade: A-

WATCH: We could talk for hours about ‘This Is Us’

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Before the screening of the season two finale of “This Is Us” at South by Southwest on Monday at the Paramount Theatre, three of the NBC hit’s TV family walked the red carpet. It’s no spoiler to reveal: They love the show as much as fans.

Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Milo Ventimiglia, who plays beloved TV dad Jack Pearson, was up first. He talked about portraying such a special father and whether fans would need a lot of tissues as they watched the already teased “flash forward” of Jack as an older man (no spoilers! The finale airs Tuesday night on NBC).

Next, Mandy Moore revealed a little of what she’d like to see happen in season three and shared her thoughts on the arc that her character, Rebecca Pearson, went through with son Kevin (played as an adult by Justin Hartley). Check it out:

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And finally, Hartley got a little more serious, as he recounted some of the thinking behind the “rock bottom” path his character took and how important it was to handle with sensitivity. Much like the show, he mixed in a lighter note with a special message to Austin fans. Watch:

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Stars of NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ hit red carpet for SXSW screening of season finale

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We promise: WE WILL NOT SPOIL THE SEASON FINALE OF “THIS IS US.”

The finale, which screened Monday afternoon during the South by Southwest Film Festival, offered plenty of tears and plenty of laughs, too, to a packed audience at the Paramount Theatre. It airs Tuesday night on NBC.

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Mandy Moore, who plays Rebecca Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW on March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

Before the screening, the audience heeded a call from actor Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson on the NBC drama, to put their phones down. When one of America’s favorite TV dads speaks, the audience listens.

RELATED: Keep up with all SXSW happenings at Austin360.com. 

Ventimiglia joined costars Mandy Moore, who plays his TV wife, Rebecca Pearson, and Justin Hartley, who plays his adult son, Kevin Pearson, on the red carpet prior to the screening.

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Milo Ventimiglia, who plays Jack Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre during SXSW March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

“The show is emotional, but it’s ‘hopefully emotional,’” Ventimiglia told Austin360. “I think that’s something that kind of makes up for how many tears you cry, you know, because it’s one of those feel-good cries.”

The show has struck a chord with viewers in part because it touches on a variety of important themes including adoption, foster care, obesity and addiction.

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Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us,” on the red carpet at the Paramount Theatre March 12. Kristin Finan/American-Statesman

“For me if we can get one person to make a phone call that maybe they would not have made, if it helps them, then we’ve done our job,” said Hartley, whose character battled alcohol and prescription drug addiction this season. “I was proud of the way that we told that story.”

Ventimiglia, Moore and Hartley will also speak as part of the ‘This Is Us’ SXSW cast panel on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center, Ballroom D.

That time the Austin Police Department (sort of) helped Batman

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The Bat-Signal shines! Batman answers the call!

Except in Austin earlier this week, when the Austin Police Department came to Batman’s rescue.

More specifically, APD paved the way for a collection of Batmobiles and Bat-cycles to arrive in time for a DC Comics Experience at Eighth and Red River streets, by helping the big trucks carrying the machines navigate Austin streets.

See a collection of Batmobiles at the DC Comics Experience. It’s free and open to the public at Eighth and Red River streets through March 18. EMILY QUIGLEY/American-Statesman

We got the inside scoop from Lisa Gregorian of DC Comics on Saturday, when we stopped by the special installation that is free and open to the public through March 18. You might even get to sit in one of the Batmobiles, and there’s a pop-up shop with discounted figurines and T-shirts.

It’s open from noon to 10 p.m. daily. Free coffee from Jitters (known to fans of “The Flash”) will be served during the day. After dark, Oswald’s (owned by The Penquin on “Gotham”) will have free beer tastings from Family Business Beer Company, which was recently opened by “Supernatural” star Jensen Ackles.

More on the installation from our Facebook live:

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That’s a wrap: Catch up on the winners and what’s next for Cannes Film Festival

Actresses Elle Fanning, from left, Nicole Kidman, director Sofia Coppola, and actress Kirsten Dunst pose for photographers upon arrival at the screening of the film “The Beguiled” at the 70th international film festival, Cannes, on May 24, 2017. Coppola was named best director at Cannes on Sunday. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The 70th Cannes Film Festival wrapped Sunday with jury prizes, including best director Sofia Coppola for her film “The Beguiled.” The Palme d’Or went to “The Square,” a Swedish satire set in the art world. See the full list of winners here.

Charles Ealy, who attended his 20th Cannes Film Festival this year, wrote about the challenges facing the storied event as it reacts to changes in viewing habits and technology. There were no high-profile studio films to draw mass attention, but Ealy says the lineup, with an emphasis on arthouse and European titles, was one of the fest’s strongest in its 70 years. Read that story on MyStatesman.com.

Also on MyStatesman.com, Ealy writes about going through a virtual reality installation by Oscar-winning filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñárritu, titled “Carne y Arena (Virtually Present, Physically Invisible).” The experience puts participants with migrants on a journey across a desert border. From Ealy’s story: “They’re old and young. Some are injured and tired. Most are scared of what lies ahead. You can’t make conversation with them, but you can go up to them, and if you get close enough, you can see their hearts beating.”

What movies to see this rainy Memorial Day weekend, including some that might be gone soon

So it looks like Memorial Day weekend is going to be wet, at least part of the time.

Fortunately, Austin is the best city of its size for cinephiles in the United States. (Yeah, I said it.) And a possibly rainy three-day weekend is a fantastic time to catch up on new releases, repertory screenings and second-run movies.

The big movies opening this week are “Baywatch,” the self-consciously parodic reboot of the insanely popular TV series, and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” both of which are playing all over the place.

As for bigger movies from earlier in the year, I was not wild about “Alien:Covenant,” and I don’t see that changing any time … ever.

“Baywatch”

But in retrospect I was perhaps a little too hard on “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2.”

Over at the Alamo Drafthouses, a new restoration of Andrei Tarkovsky’s still-incredible “Stalker” plays 2 p.m. May 27 and 6 p.m. May 28 at Alamo Ritz. Also at the Ritz, check out Kurt Russell (currently in “Guardians”) when he was much younger in “Escape from New York,” which is playing a number of times.

 

The gang debs, they are teenaged

 

The Austin Film Society’s newly refurbished AFS Cinema is now open for business. This weekend’s screenings include the Italian comedy “Divorce, Italian Style” and the genre classic “Teenage Gang Debs.”

Then AFS goes into its “Texas Christening” with screenings of such films as “The Last Picture Show,” “Rio Bravo,” and “Tender Mercies,” as well as other films. Check out the full slate at www.austinfilm.org

LOOK: A sneak peak at the gorgeous new AFS Cinema

Over at the discounted Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7 we have “Kong: Skull Island,” “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Get Out,”  “The Lego Batman Movie,” “Power Rangers,”  “Logan,” “The Shack,”  and “Ghost in the Shell.”

Of these, “Get Out” is absolutely essential viewing. Jordan Peele’s horror film about race and privilege is that rare bird: a smart film that is also one of the year’s most unexpected hits.

I am also in the tank for “Logan,”easily the strongest (and most adult — this one is NOT for kids) of Fox’s X-Men franchise. I also enjoyed “Kong: Skull Island,” which had a much stronger monster-to-screentime ration than the “Godzilla” reboot from 2014, while I can recommend “The Lego Batman Movie” with little reservation.

If you don’t feel like leaving the house, you really should do what you can to catch up on Showtime’s new season of “Twin Peaks.” All 18 episodes were co-written and directed by David Lynch; the first four are currently available for streaming on the Showtime site (subscription needed). It is very easily the weirdest thing on television, a showcase for Lynch’s tics, interests and singular vision.

Over on Netflix, David Michôd’s “War Machine” stars Brad Pitt as a general very obliviously based on NATO-forces-in-Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal. With Tilda Swinton, Ben Kingsley, Topher Grace and more.

 

The trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ gives you the Luke Skywalker you’re looking for

 

 

The trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” arrived on Friday, kind of like the new Kendrick Lamar album but with more spaceships and less U2.

 

 

The images are pretty vague. Rey training with Luke Skywalker, a few new kinds of ships streaming across a landscape, the smashed helmet of Kylo Ren, an attack on a Rebel base, Finn healing, Kylo pointing his red saber and some very, very old, pre-holocron books, probably about the Jedi.

Rey becoming a Jedi. Or not. From STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

The shot of the bits of dirt and rock rising into the air where Rey’s hand is resting is potent, but also reminded me of the dirt rising off of Superman’s coffin at the end of “Batman v Superman,” which is a memory nobody needs.

And Luke has possibly had it with the Jedi.

What did you think?