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.
Along the longest stretch of international borderland in one state exists the Rio Grande Valley, where the convergence of Spanish guitar, German accordion and African-American and Anglo-European rhythms gave birth to innovative and eclectic music scenes. “As I Walk Through the Valley,” by directors Ronnie Garza and Charlie Vela, documents the power of a do-it-yourself-attitude converging at a delta of seemingly opposite scenes, creating a unity of creativity.
The work is a study of a collective consciousness, innovators asking, “Where is my place in this microcosm?” From South Padre Island to Brownsville on over through Rio Grande City, Tejano, conjunto, country, rock ‘n’ roll, punk, pop-punk, new wave, metal and soul-Chicano-funk musics and scenes converged and coexisted in the predominately Mexican-American area.
In the oral tradition of Gillian McCain’s and Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me” (1996), “As I Walk Through the Valley” is told primarily through interviews new and old interspersed with live concert footage. The documentary is a true testament to the universal language of music and the universality of how things that may seem disparate are actually deeply interwoven, unable to wax or wane without one another.
Anybody who grew up supporting or involved in a fringe music scene can appreciate “As I Walk Through the Valley,” and for the uninitiated this may be the introduction you need.
Some facts: “Lemon” stars Brett Gelman, was written by Gelman and his wife, Janicza Bravo, and was directed by the latter.
It poses one of the year’s most important cinematic questions — is Isaac Lachmann, the person Gelman plays here, actually a worse human being than Martin, his character on the British TV show “Fleabag”? It is a neck-and-neck race to the bottom in the Annoying Middle-Aged White Guy Stakes.
Self-consciously mannered with an almost Pinter-like vibe (moreso perhaps than the post-Pinter bard of Long Island, Hal Hartley), “Lemon” is the story of Lachmann. Everything about this guy screams jerk — tall but not self-possessed, he sports a comb-over, is an unsuccessful actor and works, sort of, as a bitter theater director. He also wears shorts. A lot.
Lachmann is directing a production of the “The Seagull,” hates the lead actress and clearly has some sort of increasingly odd crush on the lead (Michael Cera with bonkers hair, and God bless him for getting weirder with age). Lachmann’s girlfriend, Ramona (Judy Greer), is blind, goes on lots of work trips and clearly wants out of this relationship.
Things never really get less awkward — indeed the film just seems to get stranger by the minute. As Ramona slips away from him (emotionally), Lachmann books some small TV ads, where the director examines him like a steer. (The film’s best joke might very well be the cameraman’s reaction when Lachmann gives his age and weight.)
The cringe-hits just keep on coming. When he goes to a Passover Seder hosted by his parents (Rhea Perlman and Fred Melamed), his brother (Martin Starr) breaks out some racially awkward chatter about their sister (Shiri Appleby) and her African-American child. The scene where everyone sings “A Million Matzoh Balls” is just as stomach-turningly odd as it sounds.
Even when fortune smiles on him and a lovely Jamaican woman (Nia Long) take a liking to him, he remains the sort of fellow who meets her family and says “I saw a documentary about African-American hair. A lot of hair comes from horses.” The final sequence is … explosive.
There is no hugging and no learning here, no big catharsis or revelation. Bravo and Gelman deliver an unnerving and deeply weird portrait of the artist as a middle-aged jerk. We have seen such things before, but maybe never quite like this.
Why would the New Zealand government, at the urging of the United States government, conduct a raid on the home of an accused internet pirate with a force normally reserved for someone like, say, Osama bin Laden? Annie Goldson’s documentary “Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” compellingly suggests that the Motion Picture Association of America and its lobby have so much political pull that they can influence other countries’ governments to conduct illegal raids on citizens if said citizens might be disrupting their commercial enterprises.
Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz) is an infamous German hacker who made his name breaching security on the internet before anyone outside of his ilk even knew what that meant. Dotcom’s file sharing site Megaupload.com could be used to pirate (or share, depending on your point of view) original entertainment content.
In Dotcom’s case, there is no definitive evidence that Hollywood saw an overall increase in revenue once Megaupload.com was taken down; in fact, some reports suggest Megaupload.com actually contributed to Hollywood’s bottom line despite some of its users choosing to engage in copyright infringement.
Reporter Greg Sandoval sums up the situation best: “You get in between America and its money and we’re going to have big problems.”
The documentary is essentially a courtroom drama as Dotcom battles the forces of multinational interests influencing the American and New Zealand governments. The third act delves into the troubling fact that Dotcom, his family and associates were under intense personal — and illegal — surveillance leading up to the raid, something for which the New Zealand government later apologized. “Kim Dotcom” is a frightening portrait of blatant disregard for law by law enforcement and the extraordinary reach of the surveillance network of some of the most powerful countries in the world.
“Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web” screens again at 11:30 a.m. March 16 at Alamo South.
“Hands up, don’t shoot” — the tragic protest slogan echoed around the globe after Michael Brown was shot by a police officer on Aug. 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. These four words hold even more gravitas as Jason Pollock’s feature length documentary, “Stranger Fruit,” mines a crucial piece of video evidence suggesting that Brown did not rob that convenience store for two boxes of Swisher Sweet Cigarillos.
The film’s premiere at South by Southwest coincided with a front page story in the New York Times outlining a previously unreported surveillance video from earlier on the day of Brown’s death — a video “Stranger Fruit” suggests is proof of a barter type transaction that took place, a small bag of marijuana for boxes of the cigars, after which Brown decided to leave the cigars behind the counter for safekeeping before returning later that morning to retrieve them, an act that may or may not have contributed to his death. (A lawyer for the store and its employees has told the Times that no such transaction took place).
“Stranger Fruit” is an intricately detailed documentary concerning the forensic evidence of an incredibly troubling case as well as at least a half dozen eyewitness accounts of what every witness described as an execution.
Is it activism or documentary filmmaking? Does Pollock have an agenda? What is clear is the pain felt by Brown’s father, uncle, mother and the rest of those close to the slain teen.
The deaths of unarmed minority people at the hands of police have led to protests, the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for justice. Austin, do we remember Daniel Rocha, Larry Jackson Jr., Byron Carter Jr., David Joseph and Kevin Brown?
Institutional racism, cronyism, the killings of predominately young men at the hands of law enforcement — these are the issues at the heart of “Stranger Fruit.”
The final showing of “Stranger Fruit” at SXSW will be at 1:30 p.m. March 15 at Zach Theatre. The filmmakers and family members of Brown will be speaking at a panel at 2 p.m. March 13.
Homicidal prenatal slasher flick “Prevenge” carves out a new place in the slasher canon.
Ruth (Alice Lowe, who also wrote and directed the film) is widowed and seven months pregnant. Her unborn child speaks to her in a raspy whisper, urging her to kill misogynists, workaholics and individuals involved in the death of her husband.
Lurking just below this film’s bizarre visage is a comically frightening meditation on depression and the toll it can take on a single working mother (Lowe was actually seven to eight months pregnant during the shooting). However, make no mistake — this a slasher film, equipped with a big shiny knife, black bag and gore scenes that would make Tom Savini proud.
While “Prevenge” screams camp on its exterior, it works because it doesn’t take itself too seriously while avoiding any hokiness. The film is beautifully shot, with a great original ambient soundtrack reminiscent of some of John Carpenter’s sonic stylings. While an incredibly dark film, it is blackly humorous with a dry British wit.
Rage, rage, rage, “monsters, all of them,” the unborn child eerily whispers. For a truly unique horror experience, you can catch “Prevenge” at 7:45 p.m. March 14 at Alamo South and 3 p.m. March 17th at Alamo South.