This Week at the Movies
Competing for your time this weekend are a few wildly different films. You have your choice between an Irish comedy, a 3D erotic film from Hong Kong, a romantic drama and several unique one-time screenings. Let's take a tour of what Austin screens have to offer this weekend and the week beyond.
This Weekend at Violent Crown
Opening Friday at Violet Crown is the debut film from Irish filmmaker John Michael McDonagh, The Guard. This fish-out-of-water story joins the lives of a crass small Irish village cop, Sergeant Gary Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), and no-nonsense, by-the-book FBI agent Wendell Everett when a murder in the sleepy town is linked to a drug trafficking operation. On paper, The Guard, reads like many other crime comedies of its type, but the film is actually a hilarious deconstruction of those very clichés. (The Guard also opens Friday at Regal Arbor Cinemas.)
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
Starting Friday, the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar location will be running one screening a day of a film that attracted attention with headlines like '3-D Porn Film Beats Hong Kong Box Office Record Set By Avatar'. By all accounts, 3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy isn't so much porn as it is an outrageous erotic comedy. The trailer hints at every 3D gimmick imaginable with hands, bullets, and knives flying towards the audience. Still, the movie is risqué enough to justify an NC-17 rating so leave the kids at home for this adults only night of foreign cinema.
Also opening at South Lamar is One Day, the latest from An Education director Lone Scherfig. In it, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess play Emma and Dexter who share their college graduation night together. Through the course of the film the same date is shown year to year as the pair drift in and out of each other's lives, their relationship evolving and changing. Combining the romantic directing style of Scherfig, her ability to draw out performances that subtly define characters, and a screenplay from David Nicholls based on his own best-selling book, this looks to be the winner for couples this weekend.
On Sunday at the Alamo Drafthouse's Ritz location, a pair of signature series screenings are worth your consideration. At Cinema Club, guest speaker author and Texas film professor Dr. Thomas Schatz will be introducing and leading a post film discussion of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, about a girl's obsession with her uncle who may not be as squeaky-clean as he appears. Then, at Video Hate Squad, the bi-monthly tribute to the pioneering home video format at which films only ever available on VHS are shown on the big screen using a VCR on stage, the pop-action "classic" Nasty Hero will be unleashed.
This Weekend at Regal Arbor Cinemas
In Canadian director Larysa Kondracki's new film The Whistleblower, Rachel Weisz plays Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop offered the chance to work for the U.N. in Bosnia. She is assigned to head the Gender Office which handles rape, abuse, and sex trafficking cases. As part of her investigations, she learns that the U.N. employees are engaging in and profiting from the trade. Bolkovac begins the task of exposing the corruption and runs into trouble in the form of resistance from those not wanting to be caught and from inept U.N. officials. This fact-based thriller is being praised by critics for its unflinching and intense look into a secretive and dirty world.
Beyond the Weekend
On Wednesday, at the Alamo Drafthouse's Weird Wednesday series, the sleazy 1983 thriller Julie Darling (from the director of Chained Heat) screens in 35mm for only $1. In it, relatively unknown actress Isabelle Mejias puts in a wild performance as the titular Julie, a girl with a less-than-healthy obsession with her father. After being indirectly and conveniently involved in her mother's death, she sets her sights on her new stepmother (grindhouse queen Sybil Danning) and stepbrother.