This Week in Movies
What to watch: Murder and the co-ed elite in a pair of comedies on Austinscreens
As hot weather quickly makes its home once again in Austin, the cool and dark of a movie theater seems just that much more appealing. There are several new independent options on Austin screens this weekend, some of the best being a dark comedy from Richard Linklater and the long-awaited return of a indie award-winner.
This Weekend at Violet Crown Cinema
In Bernie, Jack Black plays the titular character, an assistant funeral director and musical theater leader well liked in his East Texas town of Carthage. He forms a relationship with the not-so-well-liked Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine) who immediately takes a shine to and advantage of Bernie's kindness which begins her downward spiral into a Norma Desmond-type figure. When Marjorie ends up dead, district attorney Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) must fight to prosecute Bernie and against the townsfolk's unwavering support of him.
Combining traditional storytelling and mokumentary style talking head interviews with Carthage residents, this black comedy from native Texan Richard Linklater is an entertaining portrayal of a story too weird to be true. The thing, though, is that it is.
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
Director Whit Stillman exploded onto the film scene in 1990 with Metropolitan, a movie that introduced audiences to what Stillman called the "urban haute bourgeoisie." Following the success of Metropolitan, Stillman directed Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco. After a 13 year hiatus, he is back withDamsels in Distress.
In the film a group of girls led by Violet (Greta Gerwig) — a goodie two shoes type who runs a suicide prevention center that utilizes doughnuts and tap-dancing as forms of treatment — try their best to better the Seven Oaks College campus and the men on it. According to Violet, all men are inferior and need a good woman to clean them up. Damsels in Distress looks to be another sharp-witted and astute observation of privileged (be it actual or perceived) youth.
Beyond the Weekend
Fantastic Fest continues its presentation of the Chan-wook Park revenge trilogy series (the most popular of which is Oldboy which screened last week) with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. The thriller follows Ryu whose sister is in dire need of a kidney transplant. In order to raise money for the procedure, he kidnaps his former boss' daughter to hold for ransom. This sets in motion a chain of events that leaves every character scarred in one way or another.
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (which, going by release date, is the first in the thematic trilogy) may lack much of the flash and mystery that made Oldboy so deservedly popular, but it is still powerful and through the sheer relentlessness of the misery on display is the hardest of the three (the third Sympathy for Lady Vengeance coming to the Drafthouse on May 4) to watch.