Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
An overview of the diverse features selected to screen at this year's Austin Film Festival.
This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist.
A cycle rickshaw, adorned with a Texas flag billowing in the wind, whizzes by while blaring a Luke Combs tune. Massive murals of Willie Nelson and Post Malone gaze down on passersby like the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg. A man in a Blue Lives Matter shirt waltzes past a "PROTECT TRANS KIDS" sign planted on the lawn of a Catholic Church. Welcome to Austin, Texas, a Southern hotspot that, for the final weekend of October 2023, wasn't just home to these and other oddball sights, but also the backdrop for the 30th edition of the Austin Film Festival. Though not as world-famous as the Toronto International Film Festival or Cannes, Austin's annual ode to cinema is still a much-ballyhooed event attended by freelance journalists, aspiring screenwriters, iconic filmmakers, and everyone in between. Continue Reading →
Unstable appears to be a deeply personal show for lead actor and co-creator Rob Lowe. After all, it revolves around a father/son duo played by Lowe and his real-life son, John Owen Lowe. Rob Lowe’s headlined worse stuff than this, for sure. Nonetheless, you’d think a series that seems rooted in something this personal would be more engaging to watch. At least, it might take some bold swings. Tragically, Unstable is a mostly just average comedy that leaves little in the way of an impression for good or ill. Continue Reading →
The Andy Warhol Diaries
There shouldn’t be anything more to say about the New York City art scene circa 1965 to 1985. True, it’s an exciting subject, depicting an era that was a unique combination of glamorous and trashy, inclusive and deeply snobby, and something we’ll never see again. Nevertheless, it’s been exhausted, a tragic, oft-told tale of excess decimated by drug use and AIDS. And we certainly seem to know all we could ever know about Andy Warhol, the father of that scene, who made superficiality and detachment seem fashionable. The Andy Warhol Diaries, however, is a rare, moving look at the person behind the carefully cultivated persona, who craved traditional domesticity while being drawn to the frenetic downtown party circuit at the same time. Continue Reading →
When we talk about what movies “couldn’t be made today,” it’s less about what tweaks would need to be employed to make them for a contemporary audience, and more about whining that P.C. culture has killed comedy and it’s never coming back. It also doesn’t take into account that pre-2000s comedy wasn’t entirely a lawless land of misogyny and casual homophobia. There are quite a few films from that era that could easily be made today, just as they were then, with virtually no tweaking or updating for an audience of “snowflakes” that doesn’t actually exist. One of those was Penelope Spheeris’s Wayne’s World, released thirty years ago today. Continue Reading →
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 coming-of-age drama The Outsiders, adapted from S.E. Hinton’s classic novel by the same name, is a dreamy, soft endeavor. Despite the gritty world in which the film’s protagonist Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) exists, the film is a surprisingly sweet, earnest and vulnerable in a way that from some angles could be considered cloying, but ultimately succeeds in capturing the overwhelming and all-encompassing emotions of adolescence. Continue Reading →