Here’s your chance to watch the new “Baywatch” on a beach

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron star in “Baywatch.” Contributed by Frank Masi/Paramount Pictures

The Alamo Drafthouse’s Birth.Movies.Death wants to help you get in the mood for summer with a “Baywatch on the Beach” movie party May 24.

The 6 p.m. event at Volente Beach Water Park in Leander celebrates the new movie version of “Baywatch” starring Dwayne Johnson and his pecs, as well as Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra and iconic red swimsuit-wearers Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff.

In addition to seeing the movie on opening night, partygoers can enjoy the water park and will get dinner, drinks and a shark-themed inner tube to take home. You can even show off your faux lifeguard skills in a slow-motion running competition.

Tickets are $59.50 and are available here.

 

Tim League isn’t worried about streaming services, and 4 other things we learned from his clapback at Netflix

 

Alamo Drafthouse co-founder and CEO Tim League is no stranger to making strong statements about the movie theater industry. League has famously used the written word to advocate for gender-neutral restrooms in at least one of his Alamo theaters and to decry AMC Theatres’ brief flirtation with allowing texting during movies.

Tim League is the founder of Alamo Drafthouse. The Austin-based chain is expanding via franchisees. (Photo by Annie Ray.)

And now, on the heels of a Q&A session with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last week where Hastings declared that distribution in the movie business hadn’t innovated in the last 30 years (“Well, the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it”), League is taking another stand to defend the “business of cinema” in an editorial for IndieWire.

More: Mueller’s new Alamo Drafthouse location will have family focus

Here are five things we learned from League’s editorial:

  1. Netflix’s business model doesn’t concern League one bit.
    “It seems like every other interview I give asks me about the “threat” of Netflix. I’ll be blunt. Netflix doesn’t concern me, and I think it is obvious after last week that the cinema industry is of no concern to Netflix either. We are in very different businesses…Netflix is in the business of growing a global customer base by being the best value proposition subscription content platform…But here’s my business: Cinema.”
  2. But he still respects Netflix’s ability to innovate.
    “They are doing a great job. Their portal is stable, intuitive, cheap and delivers plenty of great, new content every month. They also provide a fantastic financial opportunity for both emerging and veteran storytellers. I stand in awe of the audience they have built and the wealth they have amassed in such a short time.”
  3. He doesn’t think films should be viewed on phones, but rather, in a theater, where they belong.
    “Our best and most talented, passionate filmmakers vehemently do not want their films to be viewed first and foremost on a phone, on the train to work, while checking email, while chopping vegetables for the evening meal, on mute with subtitles while rocking a baby to sleep, or while dozing off before bed…Great filmmakers create content to share their fully realized creations in a cinema with full, rich sound; bright, crisp picture and a respectful audience whose full attention is on the screen.”
  4. He does think that Netflix should follow the example of other streaming services who distribute films in theaters, like Amazon Studios did with “Manchester by the Sea”:
    “When courting filmmakers young and old to create content for their platform, I wish Netflix would consider the relationship with cinemas built by Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Showtime and Epix…They believe in the promotional partnership that successful theatrical engagements can give to word of mouth, awards consideration, brand loyalty and ultimately maximized financial returns.”
  5. Finally, he does believe in innovation in movie theaters, but not at the expense of the movies themselves.
    “I will acknowledge some underlying truth to Reed Hastings’ words. We do, as an industry, need to invest in innovation. Cinema’s primary threat today is not Netflix; it is ourselves. We must continue to maintain high exhibition standards, invest in new sound and picture technology, improve the digital experience for our guests, develop innovative ways to delight our guests and ensure that we live up to our one job – make going to the cinema an amazing experience.”

Read the full interview here.

Related:

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

Alamo Drafthouse vs. Apple? If iPhone function rumors are true, maybe so

 

Alamo Mueller will open March 9; tickets on sale now

Alamo Drafthouse Mueller will open for business March 9.

The increasingly-insanely-popular-on-a-national-scale, Austin-grown cinema chain’s sixth location in the city will feature the usual mix of first-run films and curated specialty programming, nice seats with individual tables and all kinds of food.

Alamo Drafthouse Mueller is also home to Barrel O’ Fun, a bar and event space. Yay, booze!

mueller_drafthouse_800_600_81_sThe Alamo is located in the heart of the Mueller neighborhood next door to the Thinkery.

How great would it be if the Thinkery started a program in conjunction with the Drafthouse that let parents drop off their kids off at the Thinkery in a supervised environment — essentially babysitting at the Thinkery — while the parents go to a movie?

 Staff training days begin March 3, where those eager to get a first taste of Alamo Drafthouse Mueller can enjoy discounted food and non-alcoholic drinks while staff trains in the new space.

Tickets are on sale now, with the first shows on March 3 and 4 offered exclusively to the Alamo’s highest-level Victory members.

RELATED: NEW ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE LOCATION WILL HAVE FAMILY FOCUS

 Alamo Drafthouse Mueller features six auditoriums that range from 45 to 140 seats, with combined seating for 609 moviegoers. Free, four-hour validated parking is available in the McBee garage located adjacent to the theater.

The theater will offer its own unique twist on the Alamo Drafthouse’s food and drink menu, with new items like chilaquiles and a grilled jerk chicken sandwich along with longtime Alamo Drafthouse menu favorites such as the brussels sprouts, smoked bacon and goat cheese pizza.

Inside Alamo Drafthouse Mueller is another destination all its own: Barrel O’ Fun.

By day it’s a family-friendly hall with a vintage boardwalk feel, complete with functioning carnival games. When the sun goes down, however, the “R-E-L” on the sign goes out and the space transforms into the “Bar O’ Fun.” The carnival games fold into the ceiling to reveal a curated selection of fine spirits and craft beers, with an emphasis on barrel-aged offerings (naturally) and craft cocktails.

Barrel O’ Fun bar Manager Ryan Hollowell comes to Alamo Drafthouse with deep cocktail and draft beer experience, most recently as the opening bar manager for Lonesome Dove in Austin.  In addition to the rotating local tap wall for the theater and the bar, Ryan will oversee the barrel-aged cocktail program and themed specialty drinks for the cinema. The Barrel O’ Fun will also feature an array of old-fashioned soda fountain classics, like the Pineapple Fizz Up, real egg creams and the Cherry-Lime Rickey.

During happy hour and most weekday evenings, Barrel O’ Fun will feature a schedule of entertainment that will include DJ sets, live bands, Geeks Who Drink quizzes and more. Most live music shows in the space will be all-ages. Families and kids will also enjoy a selection of special events with hands-on creative activities during early evening and weekends.

Barrel O’ Fun will offer its own carnival-inspired menu designed to delight both kids and adults. Younger palette-friendly eats like mac and cheese and hand-battered Corn Pups can be found alongside more grown-up dishes, like the cedar-planked pork belly.

Matthew McConaughey chills at Highball, hosts ‘Gold’ screening at Drafthouse

Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez star in "Gold." Contributed by The Weinstein Company
Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez star in “Gold.” Contributed by The Weinstein Company

He didn’t say “Alright, alright, alright.” He didn’t thump his chest, either with his fist or his Oscar (which was really too bad).

But Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey mingled at an invite-only cocktail party at the Highball on Thursday before introducing his new film “Gold,” his inspired-by-true-events film about a 1980s precious metals prospector named Kenny Wells who, with a geologist partner, heads to Indonesia to make his proverbial fortune.

Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League introduced McConaughey by big-upping not “Dazed and Confused,” the traditional starting place for talking about McConaughey, but by discussing his “intense screen presence” in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” (except for the robotic leg; nobody liked that leg).

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey, coach Tom Herman and Chancellor McRaven walk into a bar…

McConaughey introduced “Gold,” a project he had been developing for five or six years before getting director Stephen Gaghan to sign on, by telling a great story about his dad. When McConaughey was 17 years old, he and his dad went out to get “stocking stuffers” for the holiday season.

He and his dad head off to a parking lot, at which McConaughey Senior introduced his son to a man named Chicago John, who had a variety of items in the back of a van (“microwaves, hair dryers”). McConaughey said his father purchased an item from this gentleman. McConaughey couldn’t see what it was, but it was the sort of thing for which one peels off stacks of bills and one wraps in a bunch of paper towels.

“I don’t know if I’ve got a ferret or what,” McConaughey said. He and Matthew get back in their car, the item stuffed in the glove box. Said McConaughey Senior to son: “See if it’s still in there.”

McConaughey unwraps it. It’s a watch. “‘That’s a $22,000 titanium Rolex I just bought for $3,000,’ Dad said.

RELATED: Professor Matthew McConaughey talks about teaching at UT on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’

“Now, that watch was probably not worth $500,” McConaughey said, “but my dad loved a shady deal,” the sort that captures the spirit of Kenny Wells, whom McConaughey said is his favorite character he has ever played.

The extremely enjoyable “Gold” opens Jan. 27. Look for a review of the movie before that date.

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey talks UT, ‘Dazed and Confused’ and post-Oscar roles in Esquire cover story

The site of the original Alamo Drafthouse is for rent

The space the original Alamo Drafthouse theater once called home is on the rental market.

09-06-07 Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is moving into the old Ritz building on E. 6th Street in downtown Austin. Construction is underway to convert the old building into a cinema with two screens. The original building was built in 1929 and then it was doubled in width in 1937. The original facade will be kept including the historic Ritz sign above the awning, said Superintendent Daniel Osborne, bottom left of frame. POD
09-06-07 Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is moving into the old Ritz building on E. 6th Street in downtown Austin. Construction is underway to convert the old building into a cinema with two screens. The original building was built in 1929 and then it was doubled in width in 1937. The original facade will be kept including the historic Ritz sign above the awning, said Superintendent Daniel Osborne, bottom left of frame. POD

In the heart of Austin’s Warehouse District, the second floor space at 409 Colorado St. was most recently used as a nightclub. But longtime Austinites remember the space as the original location of their favorite movie theater chain. Tim and Karrie League opened the first Alamo Drafthouse in the space in 1997, and it remained there for 10 years until moving to the Ritz Theater on Sixth Street due to high rental costs in the Warehouse District.

Related: Alamo Drafthouse’s Ritz Theater celebrates 87 years

The Craigslist posting suggests various uses for the second floor space:

“Uses include creative office, bar, restaurant, nightclub, brewery, theater, comedy club, day spa, entertainment venue, gaming venue, bocce, arcade, cocktail lounge, ping-pong social, bowling, musical performance, music venue, corporate event space, art gallery.”

But those 8,100 square feet won’t come cheap. The Downtown Austin Alliance lists the lease rate at $34 per square foot per year, which means you’ll have to shell out $275,400 a year (that’s $22,950 a month) if you’d like to turn the space into your next business venture. Not to mention they’d like you to commit to a long-term lease of five, seven or 10 years in order to rent the space. No big deal.

Devin Faraci steps down from Alamo-owned Birth.Movies.Death after assault allegation

deathBirth.Movies.Death editor Devin Faraci has stepped down from the Alamo Drafthouse-owned magazine following allegations of sexual assault made by a fellow film critic.

“This weekend allegations were made about my past behavior,” the Los Angeles-based Faraci said in a statement reprinted in Variety. “Because I take these types of claims seriously I feel my only honorable course of action is to step down from my position as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death. I will use the coming weeks and months to work on becoming a better person who is, I hope, worthy of the trust and loyalty of my friends and readers.”

Birth.Movies.Death managing editor and Fantastic Fest social media director Meredith Borders posted the following on the BMD site: “I’m sure many of you have heard that Devin has stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of Birth.Movies.Death. I’m here to assure you that the site and magazine will continue, with a team of smart, passionate writers dedicated to bringing you the best in pop culture news and conversation today. Devin built this site into something we’re proud to continue and grow in his absence.

“We are a community, and you are a crucial part of that community. We’re eager to move forward, together, with all of you.”

On Oct. 9, after Faraci criticized Donald Trump for comments he made on a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005, a fellow film critic who goes by the Twitter handle @spacecrone accused Faraci of doing the same thing Trump had discussed — grabbing and sexually assaulting her with his hand.

Faraci replied: “@spacecrone I do not remember this. I can only believe you and beg forgiveness for having been so vile.”

Tim League tweeted that afternoon: “I take this seriously and have taken Devin offline until we sort through this,” though that tweet was later deleted.

Other complaints about Faraci soon appeared on Twitter.

@Spacecrone commented Tuesday morning on Twitter: “Some of you may already have seen that Devin has stepped down from his job. After talking with , who was extremely supportive, it sounds like he is genuinely interested in getting help. I’ve let them know that I am available to be a part of whatever accountability process is part of Devin’s recovery. Am I happy all of this had to happen? No. But I am really relieved that something constructive seems to have come of this. I think we could all use this time to reflect on the myriad ways we give people free passes for harmful actions. And I hope anyone who has gone through something similar might look at this and see that you’re not frozen in that moment.”

Fons PR, the Drafthouse’s representatives, declined requests to comment.

 

Terrifying thriller “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” is not for the squeamish

ajd-1142

For three generations in Grantham, Virginia, the Tildens have owned and operated the local morgue and crematorium. Tony (Brian Cox) has been showing his son Austin (Emile Hirsch) the ropes, but he’s not too excited to carry on with the family business. His girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond) is ready for him to come clean with his father and Austin is close to mustering up the courage to tell him.

After a long day at work, Austin and Emma are planning to head out to the movies when the local sheriff drops in with a new body. It’s an anonymous “Jane Doe” found buried in the basement at the site of a home invasion. The cops at the crime scene can’t figure out what happened, saying that it looks like the other victims “were trying to break out” of the house. Sheriff Sheldon needs a cause of death for the Jane Doe body before he can fully report on the case to the press. He asks Tony and Austin to work into the night to tell him what really happened to her.

Tony is a self-professed traditionalist. He is less concerned with the crime scene details and more interested in nailing down the exact specifics that led to death. Each step of trying to uncover the story behind Jane Doe’s demise leads farther down a path of confusion.

This is the English-language debut for “Troll Hunter” director Andre Ovredal. He masterfully manages a foreboding sense of dread as each new secret comes to light during the autopsy. Not for the squeamish, the procedures in the film are detailed in a very graphic manner as the potentially ritualistic murder of this woman is slowly revealed.

To say much more would spoil the film’s surprises, but it’s fair to say that it hits all the right notes. Not only is the story clever, but the performances from Cox and Hirsch absolutely take it to the next level. As a powerful storm rolls in and the power starts to flicker, these actors elevate what could’ve been a simple genre exercise into something far more effective and truly terrifying.

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” plays again at Fantastic Fest on Wednesday at 9 p.m. It has been acquired by IFC Midnight and is expected to be released in late December. 

Post-apocalyptic “The Bad Batch” bites off more than it can chew

bad-batchIn her second full-length film, writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour throws us into a fairly specific post-apocalyptic world of her own creation and provides viewers very few details.

In this (possibly) not-so-distant future, those in society who are most unredeemable are tattooed with a number behind their ear and thrown through a perimeter fence into a far-flung wasteland that is, or at least was, part of Texas. If this happens to you, you’re in the “bad batch.”

When we meet Arlen (Suki Waterhouse), she’s freshly inked and dropped off into the desert with only a sandwich, some water, and a pair of very colorful jean shorts. While there appears to be nothing in the distance as far as the eye can see, it isn’t long before Arlen is captured.

You see, there appear to be two distinct ways of survival if you are an awful enough to be exiled here. Some people make it to Comfort, a safe-haven community where anything is available for a price. Those picked up before they arrive in Comfort are snagged by “bridge people,” a cannibalistic tribe of bad batchers (many of whom are inexplicably bodybuilders) who survive by dismembering their prey and honing some serious butchering skills.

Arlen’s price for survival is literally an arm and a leg. She escapes from her predators and makes her way to Comfort, which is like if “Mad Max: Fury Road” went to Burning Man. Five months after her traumatic limb losses, Arlen is out scavenging for scraps, when she comes face-to-face with a woman and her young daughter. These are bridge people who are unfortunate enough to have crossed her path.

This setup of this first thirty minutes or so are incredibly promising, but then we get ninety more minutes of nonsense. The film’s widescreen frame is filled with striking visuals and heavily detailed set design. The technical merits are plentiful, but the film is overloaded with a bloated storyline and groan-worthy dialogue. Along the way, we’re treated to an unrecognizable Jim Carrey and the guru of Comfort played by Keanu Reeves. In one particularly awful scene, he explains his power and influence by regaling Arlen with a story about how he makes the sewer system work. He also appears to be managing a baby farm, surrounded by young pregnant women all wearing shirts that say “The Dream Is Inside Me.”

Unfortunately, “The Bad Batch” presents many more questions than it answers and survives on style over substance. Amirpour does have an uncanny knack for setting the tone with an incredibly propulsive soundtrack that features music from Darkside, Pantha Du Prince, and White Lies. It’s a shame that these audiovisual merits of the film far exceed the storytelling.

The film does not have any scheduled encore screenings at Fantastic Fest. It has been acquired by Screen Media Films and Netflix, who will premiere it in early 2017. 

“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea” is the greatest/most spot-on movie title since “Snakes on a Plane” (and is much better than “Snakes on a Plane”)

“I like this idea,” the character of Dash Shaw says in the filmmaker Dash Shaw’s “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea.” “It has the quality of a dream.”

myentirehighschoolsinkingintothesea_02That notion holds for all of Shaw’s striking feature debut. The cartoonist is a well-known and prolific quantity in underground comics circles. NPR named  his “New School” one of the best of 2013. “Bottomless Belly Button” (Fantagraphics) and “Bodyworld” (Pantheon) are strong and distinctive — part Gary Panter punk squiggle, part Charles Shulz emotion, part fine art color sense, part 21st century technique.

“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea,” written and directed by Shaw, takes his distinctive technique — a blend of traditional drawing, animation techniques (such as acetate drawings and paintings laid over a background that might be painted or colored by hand) and Photoshop – and translates it to a full-length animated feature. Well done, everybody.

Dash Shaw (voiced, in a perfect bit of casting, by Jason Schwartzman, who has made a career out of unlikable protagonists) is a sophomore. He and his best pal Assaf (Reggie Watts) work on the school newspaper with Verti (Maya Rudolph). Indeed, the three are the newspaper, and their daily lives are filled with what you remember from high school: mean girls such as Mary (Lena Dunham, also note perfect), weird lunch ladies named Lorrain (a very gravely Susan Sarandon) and various bullies.

Dash, who sees himself as the hero of his own life and possibly everyone else’s, loves the sound of his own voice, especially when overwriting for the paper. As Assaf and Verti grow closer, Shaw is feeling left out, printing bitter rants about his now-estranged friend. Determined to get a real scoop, Dash discovers a genuine problem with the school. Too late — an earthquake sends it literally falling into the ocean.

The allegory for struggling in high school becomes concrete (and rather damp) as Dash and his band of outcasts must avoid sharks, drowning and despair as they ascend the Titanic-like school to get to the senior floor and the roof, hopefully to “graduate” by surviving

Shaw (the creator) does a fine job mixing emotional nuance, surrealism and one of the most striking stylistic mash-ups most animation fans have ever seen (though it is almost exactly like Shaw’s comics work). Crude-looking (but very canny) black outlines are filled with flat, ever-shifting colors depending on mood and plot. Watercolors blend with gouache and oils, John Cameron Mitchell shows up as the king jock and there’s a really great ongoing Go Nagai joke.

Which all makes for a movie that turns a tired indie trope — the outcasts in high school flick — into something fresh, weird and at all times lovely to look at.

 

‘Arrival’ is the year’s best sci-fi film, bar none

"Arrival"
“Arrival”

Let’s get one thing clear: It takes nothing away from “Arrival” — as powerful as it is — to note that director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer were working with extraordinary raw material.

“Arrival,” which screened Sept. 21 as part of Fantastic Fest and will open wide in November, is based on “Story of Your Life” by the amazing Ted Chiang. It is perhaps the single best sci-fi novella of the past 25 years.

(Chiang, it should be noted, releases no wine before its time — of his 15 *total* short stories, novelettes and novellas, seven have won a total of 14 awards; dude’s batting average is insane).

Now, that said, “Story of Your Life” is a deeply internal work, and it is a tiny miracle that Villeneuve and Heisserer figured out a way to translate this tale to film in the first place, let alone make it so touching and smart.

It’s a movie about the day the world metaphorically shifted on its axis, but it is mostly the story of one woman.  Like the very best science fiction, “Arrival” is hopeful and a bit implausible and slightly corny and mind-bending and a little bit sad. It fills a where-do-we-go-from-here shaped hole in the heart and manages to be a canny look at the nature of grief and time at the same time.

We first see Lousie Banks (Amy Adams, as good as she gets without having a scene-chewy part) mourning the loss of her daughter, whom we see, in a montage, from her joyful birth to too-early death. Then, we see the aliens arrive — 12 smooth, black ovals, hovering over various points on the globe.

Banks, a brilliant linguist, is brought in by the military (represented by Forest Whitaker) and the CIA (represented by Michael Stuhlbarg) to attempt to communicate with the aliens — massive, seven-legged creatures that humans come to call “heptapods.” Their speech is impenetrable but, working with physicist Ian Donnelley (Jeremy Renner), Banks starts communicating with the heptapods, whose written language may or may not be the key to their presence on Earth.

While Banks holds off the U.S.’s military, the rest of the world (by which I mean the Chinese and Russians, mostly) is starting to freak out at this stuff. Paranoia soon takes over, and suddenly nobody is sharing information with anyone else. The question hangs in the air like one of the alien ships: Do the heptapods mean to do us harm, or are they here for another reason?

Adams gives a tight, measured performance, while Villeneuve,  cinematographer Bradford Young, composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and editor Joe Walker dole out information and color it in knowing ways, building to third act revelations that make for profoundly moving film-making, the sort that demands that you watch it again from the beginning.