This Week at the Movies
Austin screens continue to shine brightly with quality indie films, with this particular weekend seeing the opening of two incredible documentaries and a hotly anticipated genre film sure to leave audiences quite pleased. We recommend going to see a documentary about people who put their own lives in danger to stop violence, another documentary following a high school stage band and their inspirational teacher and a horror film that is a bloody comedy of errors.
This weekend at Violet Crown
The Interrupters is the latest documentary from the award winning filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Prefontaine). The film profiles several members of an organization in Chicago called CeaseFire which has tasked itself with stopping shootings on the streets. It profiles three members of the "violence interrupters," three people from varying, troubled backgrounds who patrol the streets and insert themselves (at their own peril) into escalating situations in order to prevent bloodshed. Following the CeaseFire members and some of their cases for a year, James has captured some of the most powerful true stories of redemption seen in quite some time. I saw The Interrupters at its premier at Sundance in January and gave it a perfect score in my review.
This weekend at the Drafthouse
Opening on Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse's South Lamar location is Thunder Soul, which world premiered at SXSW in 2010. The film profiles the Kashmere High School Stage Band in Houston, Texas, who, under the tutelage of Conrad O. Johnson (lovingly referred to as Prof by his students) were a funk sensation in the 1970s. When Thunder Soul begins, the members of the band are preparing to come together for a reunion concert to pay tribute to the man that made it all possible. It's a crowd-pleasing film in every conceivable way; Thunder Soul is not just an excellent documentary on the power of music and its effects on troubled youth looking for direction, it's a deeply moving example of the potential power of a teacher on the lives of his students.
For horror fans, the long-awaited comi-gore film Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is finally having a theatrical run in town. In it, Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine play the titular characters, two fun-loving hillbillies from West Virginia who are headed to a remote cabin in the woods for a vacation. When they cross paths with a group of perfectly manicured and well-dressed college students, they are immediately mistaken for backwoods, inbred psychopath killers. This kicks off a uproariously funny and gleefully blood-soaked comedy-horror of errors. Lucky SXSW attendees caught this one back in 2010 and everyone else has been waiting patiently for this thoroughly entertaining genre film to be available. Now, here it is.
Beyond the weekend
Even though The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) has had its world premiere last week at Fantastic Fest, you still have an opportunity to see the original The Human Centipede (First Sequence) on the big screen at the Alamo Ritz, as part of the Late Show series on Friday and Saturday (9/30 and 10/1). There will be chocolate pudding specials on the menu.
Also at the Ritz, on Tuesday (10/4), nerdcore superstar MC Chris will present a special screening of Paul Verhoeven's grossly under-appreciated intergalactic giant bug warfare movie Starship Troopers. The film's special effects and biting satire still hold up after all these years and it will be treat to see it returned to the big screen where it belongs, if even for only one night.