Harry Knowles, an Austin movie blogger and founder of the long-running movie criticism/fandom site Ain’t It Cool News, is taking a leave of absence from the site after being accused of sexually assaulting or harassing several women.
Knowles, who co-founded Fantastic Fest with Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League, allegedly groped and harassed multiple women over the years, according to a report that appeared yesterday on the IndieWire film site.
Knowles launched AICN in 1996 at a time when the idea of the “movie blog” was virtually unheard of. Having survived the economic collapse of “Internet 1.0” in the early 2000s, AICN stuck around as symbol of the sometimes blurry line between criticism, fandom and outright promotion that can exist in entertainment journalism.
Earlier this week, fellow Ain’t It Cool contributors Steve “Capone” Prokopy, Eric “Quint” Vespe and “Horrorella” all quit the site after the first round of allegations against Knowles.
The Alamo Drafthouse, reeling from its own harassment scandal, cut ties with Knowles earlier this week.
You know what many might find terrifying? The idea of watching Jaws in a body of water.
You know what people really like to do? Be terrified.
Which is why the Alamo Drafthouse’s “JAWS On The Water” is back for summer 2017.
The movies hit the shores of Volente Beach on Austin’s Lake Travis for a month-long run of weekend “dive-in” shows, including – for the first time – screenings of “Jaws 2,” “Jaws 3D” screened in 3D, and “Jaws: The Revenge” hosted by Master Pancake.
Tickets to these On the Water shows include full access to Volente Beach attractions including Lazy Lagoon, The Sidewinder, the water slides, a shark-ified inner tube, fireworks display and the experience of watching Jaws with your feet in the water.
The Alamo Drafthouse locations nationwide are hosting screenings from June 30 through July 6, including interactive movie parties.
Also look for a Mondo-designed Jaws pint glass, featuring original artwork by acclaimed artist Kevin Tong available exclusively at our Movie Party screenings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are five things we learned from League’s editorial:
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo has defied expectations again with “Colossal,” his new sci-fi tale starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis.
It’s hard to explain that opening sentence without giving away some key plot information, but let’s just say that this is one of the most unusual, imaginative tales to come along in quite some time.
Vigalondo’s first film, 2008’s “Timecrimes,” was a sleeper hit on the arthouse circuit, and “Colossal” will probably do the same kind of box-office business, if not more.
Hathaway stars as a party animal who gets kicked out of her swanky New York apartment by her fed-up boyfriend (Dan Stevens of “Downton Abbey” and FX’s “Legion.”)
Without a job and without any money, she heads back to the home of her childhood and quickly meets an old friend, Oscar (Sudeikis). He owns a bar and offers her a job as a part-time waitress.
It’s clear that he wants to rekindle what he thinks might be a romance, but there’s something amiss. And then a monster begins mysteriously appearing in the middle of Seoul, South Korea, terrorizing the city. For some reason, Hathaway’s Gloria feels a strange connection with the monster.
And one day she discovers that she can influence the actions of the monster if she stands in a specific spot in the middle of her hometown park.
So Gloria thinks it’s up to her to save the world and get the monster under control. Other people, as you might suspect, have different agendas, and that leads to some of the biggest surprises.
Hathaway is her typical charming self, struggling to get her life back together and stop her serious drinking while simultaneously trying to control a monster across the world.
The supporting cast, including Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell, is excellent. So are the soundtrack and the special effects.
It will be interesting to see how the movie is received by critics as well as audiences. It definitely has an independent, offbeat vibe.
The movie is notable, in part, because it’s the first release from a new distribution company, Neon, co-founded by Austin’s Tim League and Tom Quinn, formerly of Radius and Magnolia.
League, the Alamo Drafthouse owner, has been friends with Vigalondo ever since “Timecrimes” debuted at League’s Fantastic Fest in 2007. League has also been friends with Quinn for quite a while, especially since Quinn eventually acquired “Timecrimes” for his former company, Magnolia Pictures.
“Colossal” is expected to open in New York and Los Angeles on April 7 and in Austin a week later. It screens three more times during South by Southwest: 4:15 p.m. March 14 at the Alamo Ritz; 2:15 p.m. March 16 at the Alamo South; and 8:30 p.m. March 17 at the Alamo South.
Twenty years after the debut of the “Selena” film, movie-goers can celebrate the late singer’s legacy in a place familiar to fans of the Queen of Tejano music.
Later this month, the Sunset Station in San Antonio will serve as the spot for Alamo Drafthouse’s next Rolling Roadshow, a two-day movie party, featuring the iconically Texan film “Selena.” The movie chronicles the singer’s short life, and Jennifer Lopez stars as the Corpus Christi native.
Ticket holders will have access to bars and food from Frank. Visitors can also stroll down the steps inside the Depot building where Selena herself filmed the music video for “No Me Queda Más ” and Lopez walked during the fashion show scene.
The cover band Bidi Bidi Banda will also perform, and attendees are encouraged to dress in Selena-inspired attire for a lookalike contest.
Make a weekend trip out of the show too and go on a scavenger hunt for more places where the film was shot. On the other side of the highway sits the Alamo, along with that very romantic pedestrian bridge on the Riverwalk. The public library also served as a stand-in location for Selena’s visit to Mexico in the film.
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!
The 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.
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.
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.
They’re not quite ready to announce an opening date – soon, though! – but the Alamo Drafthouse location planned for the Mueller development does have some news to pass along to anxious moviegovers.
The Austin-based chain says it aims to make the Mueller cineplex its most family friendly location to date. Helping lead the charge will be newly hired programming and promotions manager Katy Daiger Dial.
Dial comes from the Austin Film Society, where she was director of operations and, before that, community education manager. A University of Texas graduate, she’s also worked for the Texas Film Commission.
“Katy is the perfect addition to the Mueller team and this role specifically,” Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League said. “Her family and youth program experience and passion for film are exactly what we were looking for. I couldn’t be more pleased to have Katy join the Alamo Drafthouse team and help launch our new family and community flagship location in Austin.”
With numerous families living nearby, not to mention the Thinkery, Alamo Drafthouse has set out to make the Mueller theater “a hub for family, kids and youth programming” – and Dial says she’s up to the challenge.
“I have the most wonderful memories from Alamo Drafthouse events, and I’m excited that I’ll now be able to create those memories for the audience at the Mueller location,” she said. “Knowing that Alamo Drafthouse wants to have a focus on youth and families at the new Mueller location particularly drew me to the job. I love the idea of building programming that will create the next generation of film lovers and bring the tried and true Alamo Drafthouse spirit to Mueller and Austin’s east side.”
Look for more details soon on the sixth Alamo location in the Austin area – including that opening date.
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).
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.
“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.