This Week in Movies
What to watch: Korean crime epics, Finnish Santa stories and Elmo on Austinscreens
It's been a while since such a perfect weekend for sitting inside watching movies has presented itself to Austinites. With rain in the forecast for the next few days, it's a perfect time to let Mother Nature water your lawn while you enjoy a violent Korean crime epic, a Finnish holiday film that obliterates the jolly image of Santa or an inspirational documentary about following dreams (and Elmo).
This Weekend at the Drafthouse
After Gu-nam takes a hit job in order to earn his way into Korea to find his wife, he gets more than he bargained for when he finds himself mixed up in a gang war in a strange land. Director Na Hong-jin (The Chaser) has really taken things up a notch with his second film which recently wowed audiences at Fantastic Fest.
The YellowSea, opening Friday at the Alamo South Lamar location, is epic on every level, from its border hopping story to multiple foot and car chases to an incredible number of expertly staged knife fights. Anyone who has enjoyed any of the recent Korean crime epics will find themselves completely satisfied with The Yellow Sea, and afterwards will be anxiously awaiting a new film from Na Hong-jin.
Over at Alamo Ritz, another Fantastic Fest alum is playing Saturday and Sunday at the The Late Show. Rare Exports: A Christmas Taleis a Finnish film about a archeological dig that unearths the real Santa Claus.
Things get dark when children in the area begin disappearing leading the local reindeer hunters to jump into action, capturing the ferocious holiday icon. When they try to sell Santa back to the corporation who unearthed him, they learn that they are dealing with something much more sinister than they realized And that's about when Santa's elves show up to make things really messy. Rare Exports turns the Santa Claus legend on its head, but in a loving way that is both dark and darkly funny.
It's certainly the best film to have its roots in short films created for a Finnish advertising agencies' clients.
This Weekend at Cinemark
Area Cinemarks will be showing the season's most delightful documentary. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey follows Kevin Clash, the hand, voice and soul being one of the world's most beloved puppets. His humble beginnings in Baltimore proved to be no barrier for Clash, as he worked his way into Jim Henson's shop, eventually finding himself on Sesame Street where he took a tossed aside, unloved puppet named Elmo and gave him new life.
What makes Clash so endearing as a subject and the film so moving is his understanding of the power he has over children. Clash has a sense of responsibility for how he presents Elmo, he's protective of the image as well as the craft of puppeteering, passing along his knowledge to young up-and-comers. It's impossible not to like Being Elmo, it's a documentary the entire family can enjoy.
Beyond the Weekend
The latest series from the certifiably insane programmers over at the Drafthouse, Skinemax, premiers next Thursday with a screening of Wild Things. Most people remember the film for Kevin Bacon's little bacon making a cameo, as well as a few juicy scenes between Denise Richards and Neve Campbell.
It's actually quite a clever dissection of the steamy Southern erotic thriller but the sex appeal can't be denied. Skinemax shows will be featured in Hecklevision (where your text message thoughts about the film appear on screen) and this special screening will kick off with a shirtless saxophone player live in the theater.