Classic Movies

Austin Cinematic Limits

Flashback to the spring of 1998 — yours truly is living in Philadelphia and desperately looking for another city to call my home. I am not ashamed to admit that I plan on basing a significant part of this decision on the quality of programming at movie theaters in each city. Austin is the clear favorite in this category. I fondly remember falling in love with the Alamo Drafthouse during SXSW 1998 (beer! food! movies!), but it is my virginal foray into the Paramount Theatre that remains emblazoned upon my mind. Despite earning a masters degree in cinema studies, I never had access to a repertory cinema before. Sure, I studied the history of cinema but I watched all of the films on television. Now, I am finally experiencing those films in the way that they were intended to be seen! It might be hard to believe, but up until that fateful summer, I had never seen a film released prior to 1975 on the big screen. Flashforward 14 years — I find myself at the Hideout Cafe sitting across the table from the Paramount’s film programmer, Jesse Trussell, on the eve of the official release of the 2012 Summer Classic Film series schedule.  Trussell hands a photocopy of the schedule to me. I scan it quickly. My jaw drops.

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This post is probably not what you think. There are no LOLCats, no Rage Comic stick men bellowing about the superiority of The Dark Knight and Inception. It’s not really a love letter to modernity. But it’s also not Sight & Sound‘s decennial Top Ten List. That prestigious publication has done great work since even before polling critics in 1952 to name the best movies of all time. They’ve recreated the experiment every ten years since (with filmmakers included in 1992), and their 2012 list is due out soon. However, there is certainly overlap. The FSR poll includes only 37 critics (and 4 filmmakers), but we’re young and have moxy, and none of us were even asked by Sight & Sound for our considerable opinion. That’s what’s fascinating here. The films nominated by those invited by S&S have the air of critical and social importance to them. They are, almost all, serious works done by serious filmmakers attempting to make serious statements. This list, by contrast, is the temperature of the online movie community in regards to what movies are the “greatest.” The results might be what you expect. But probably not.

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As do many things on the internet, this completely official-looking Google Document titled “Spielberg’s Curriculum” is working its way around twitter and RSS feeds like a beautiful virus. It originated in some dark corner of the planet, but it was first written about by screenwriter Scott Myers over at Go Into the Story. It was sent to him by guest writer for the site/guy hustling hard to work in the business, Nate Winslow (who is sadly not Carl Winslow’s son). It was apparently sent to Nate by “someone” over twitter. The point? It’s not exactly verified that this is the list that Spielberg uses to cut the wheat from the chaff (considering that he also famously shows people movies while working on movies with them). But, all of that curriculum nonsense is just a hook for what turns out to be a phenomenal list of movies from 12 Angry Men to The Young Lions (alphabetically, not chronologically). Check out that last link and see how many you’ve seen (my number was a paltry 121), and you can always brush up on older films by reading Old Ass Movies where we’ve covered a handful of the films on this thing.

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Your weekly fix of great movies made before you were born that you should check out before you die. This week’s Old Ass Movie celebrates one of the funniest flicks about capital punishment ever made. Roxie Hart takes the wrap for killing her lover so she can make it big in Chicago. Her smooth-talking lawyer promises to get her off and get her out on the town as a starlet, and everyone from the judge to the press seems to be in on the gag. What? You trust everything you read in the papers? What’s a newspaper? Go look it up first and come back to discover how funny hanging someone can be.

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Busby Berkeley biographer Jeff Spivak joins us to talk in-depth about the movie icon’s life and art. From his early days of being born into the theater, to his success with 42nd Street and Footlight Parade, to his tragic car accident that threatened to derail his career (and his freedom), we cover it all. Or at least as much as possible. The guy was prolific. Fan of musicals? Fan of Buzz? Fan of just plain being entertained? Then this one’s for you. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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