Austin Cinematic Limits

Have you ever really experienced Burning Love? I mean have you ever really hunkered down and made a two-hour marathon of it with 200 or so total strangers? It might sound like an overwhelming experience because there is just so much to take in, so I wholeheartedly recommend inviting “Macho Man” Ken Marino to join in the festivities, as he will surely make you feel at ease each and every time that he offers up his hose.

In case you have not already guessed, I am talking about Marino’s Yahoo! Comedy series, Burning Love. Alamo Drafthouse programmer John Gross brought star/director/producer Ken Marino and writer/producer Erica Oyama to the Alamo South Lamar (Austin) this past weekend for a Burning Love Marathon (proceeds from the ticket sales went directly to the Austin Firefighters’ Relief & Outreach Fund).

Admittedly, I had never succumbed to the temptation of Burning Love prior to this marathon event, mainly because I do not enjoy watching television shows online. Luckily, Marino is a frequent visitor to Austin so I knew an event like this one would probably come to fruition eventually. I had missed the sneak peaks of Burning Love at the Off-Centered Film Fest and the Ultimate Childrens Hospital Marathon, but now I am glad to have waited to experience all 14 episodes of the first season in one sitting. Because… Wow! It is a really great series to experience with a drunkenly enthusiastic audience.

For those of you who do not know Burning Love, and like me are adverse to traveling over to Yahoo! Comedy to stream it online, Oyama’s script is a loving parody of The Bachelor. Marino stars as a firefighter named Mark Orlando who is “looking for someone who can make [him] laugh but isn’t afraid of robots…maybe somebody ethnic.” The series begins with 15 female contestants — most of whom are ridiculously hilarious, exaggerated stereotypes of the very same contestants on television matchmaking shows that Burning Love is parodying. I will refrain from describing any of them (you can watch their bios here) for fear that it might drain some of the unabashed absurdity from their initial introductions. Then, any women who are not grasping Mark’s hose at the end of each episode are sent home, so Mark (that big dumb oaf) has some very tough decisions to make during the course of the series.

As for the event itself — Marino was in top form, brandishing his nonsensical and absurd comedic talents during his introduction to the event and then returning for a 45-minute Q&A afterwards. I have been to a lot of Celebrity Guest events at the Alamo Drafthouse, and this was by far the funniest of them all. The experience led me to thinking… There are several U.S. cities who are anxiously awaiting the opening of Alamo Drafthouse locations — such as Denver, Fort Worth, New York City and San Francisco — I can only hope that they have the opportunity to experience Celebrity Guest events as awesome as this one! This right here is what the Alamo Drafthouse is all about!

We have all gone from Burning Love to Somebody Up There Likes Me before, so I am going to do just that…

Tribeca Film recently announced that it has acquired all North American rights to Bob Byington’s Somebody Up There Likes Me, starring Keith Poulson, Nick Offerman and Jess Weixler. According to the press release, Tribeca Film plans a theatrical release for Somebody Up There Likes Me coordinated with numerous video on-demand platforms in Spring 2013. (Offerman celebrated the deal with a few much deserved bong hits.)

Produced by Hans Graffunder and Offerman, Somebody Up There Likes Me world premiered at SXSW 2012 and has enjoyed a very successful film festival lifespan (including its recent screening at Cinema East). Critics have been heralding Somebody Up There Likes Me as Byington’s most accessible film to date, so it makes perfect sense that this film would earn Byington his biggest distribution deal to date. I can only hope that this high profile deal will also draw more attention to the hotbed of indie filmmaking talent in Austin.

Okay, I admit it. I never really got what many of my friends and peers have seen in Byington’s films — well, that is until Somebody Up There Likes Me. While this film still showcases Byington’s knack for dry, sardonic dialogue and surrealist narrative structures, he saturates the film with truly lovable characters. In many ways, Somebody Up There Likes Me seems like the film that Byington has been building towards with RSO [Registered Sex Offender] and Harmony and Me.

Much deserved congratulations to Byington, Offerman and company… Oh, and don’t Bogart that bong!

Austin Movie Events This Week:

8/6 – Alamo Ritz – Winner of the Audience Award in the Texas Independents category of the 2011 Austin Film Festival, Sironia screens as part of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Music Monday series. The film’s star Wes Cunningham will perform a few of his songs before the screening and director Brandon Dickerson will be on hand for a Q&A afterwards. (More info)

8/6 & 8/8 – Alamo Ritz – The Alamo Drafthouse screens a new 35mm print of Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981). (More info)

8/6-8/9 – Alamo South Lamar – The Alamo Drafthouse presents a limited run of Alex Ross Perry’s The Color Wheel.  (More info)

8/7 – Alamo South Lamar - AFS’s Essential Cinema Series features the Austin theatrical premiere of Maïwenn’s Polisse. (More info)

8/7-8/9 – Stateside at the Paramount – The Summer Film Series features two lesser known love stories by Ingmar Bergman: Summer with Monika and Smiles of a Summer Night. (More info)

8/7-8/12 – Paramount Theatre – It is time for my favorite part of the Summer Film Series, as the World Cinema Classics continue with Cries and Whispers, A Man Escaped, Close-Up, Cinema Paradiso, Seven Samurai and Sansho the Bailiff all presented on gorgeous 35mm film. (More info)

8/8 – Texas Spirit Theater – AFF’s Made in Texas Film Series: Adaptations presents In Cold Blood with crime and mystery author Joe R. Lansdale (Bubba Ho-Tep) in attendance for a Q&A. (More info)

8/11 – Blue Starlite Drive-In – Austin Film Society Summer Series @ The Blue presents Harry and the Hendersons and The Wild Man of the Navidad. (More info)


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