That's a Wrap (09-06-06)

Happy Wednesday. The particularly astute among you may have noticed without prodding that the subtitle this week has been changed from “The Low-Down on This Week’s Premieres” to “Snap Judgments About This Week’s Premieres.” Why, ask you? Simply: I feel it incumbent upon me to draw attention to the very bare fact that these bits of text are not, in most cases, meant to be reviews; more often, they are visceral first impressions, or guesses, or even free-form exercises in word-association. They could easily be called “Irresponsible Kneejerk Reactions to This Week’s Premieres,” were that not substantially more of a space commitment. Essentially, if you want the fair-minded, sensible opinions of someone who’s seen and analyzed a film in which you’re interested, check out a review (certain ones, that is). If you want the slapdash, insomniac rants of a fella who only occasionally manages to eat spaghetti without getting sauce down his pants, look no further, and … *sniffle* … welcome home, child.

So, here’s the part where I get flayed alive for expressing an opinion I should know better than to air, but here goes: Ben Affleck is not, in my estimation, the world’s worst actor. Moderately far from it. Aw, kick me. Go back and watch him in the one where he was friends with the really smart kid, or was friends with Shakespeare, or was more-than-friends with the girl that really liked to kiss other girls (the first time). What about the one where he was the blind fightin’ acrobat guy, you say? Fair, fair. But did you see the one where he had wings? Not so bad, really. To this list, hopefully, I’ll now be compelled to add “the one where he was dead Superman.” (Hollywoodland also stars Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins, and Adrien Brody, incidentally. Good enough for me.) Our reviewer didn’t love it (page 24), but I’m still hopeful — particularly since he did, nonetheless, love Mr. Affleck. (Eww ... )

Feel like your job’s just too stressful to handle lately? Amble on down to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at Westlakes (1255 SW Loop 410) to check out a limited engagement of The War Tapes, and NEVER, EVER GET TO WHINE AGAIN. Soldiers were sent to war with digital video cameras, and came back, presumably, with some humdinger home movies that’ll make you kiss your cubicle.

Some guy who sorta looks like Josh Hartnett leads a cast of walking headshots in The Covenant, which looks more or less like The Craft for boys. Renny Harlin directs — I’m a fan of The Long Kiss Goodnight. If, however, you want to see the poor Finnish filmmaker get vivisected via prose, turn to page 23.

In The Protector, a young Thai fighter must fight his way through Australia to get back his stolen elephant. Sounds silly, until you check out the trailer and see just how much ass Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior) can, most impressively, kick. Oh, he’ll get his elephant.

Have a nice afternoon and evening.

Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.

Special Screenings

Umberto Lenzi (1987)
One of a four-part series and part of the Slab Cinema Foto Film Festival, Black Cobra (or Cobra Nero, in the film’s native Italian) is the tale of a solitary cop, Detective Malone (Fred Williamson), protecting a female photographer from a gang of maniacal bikers. An outstanding B-movie effort. Outdoor screening at La Tuna Bar and Grill. Thursday, September 7. Pre-show at dusk, feature at 9pm. Probant and Cevallos. 212-9373. Admission by donation. Bring chairs, blankets, no coolers. Call ahead and order food to go from La Tuna Grill, 212-5727.

Hector Galan (2006)
Noted Tejano and conjunto documentarian Hector Galan tells the story of Los Lonely Boys; three brothers, determined to fulfill their father’s dream and pull themselves out of poverty — a classic rock ‘n’ roll story from a Mexican-American perspective. Screening in San Antonio at three Santikos theaters: The Mayan, The Silverado, and The Rialto. Call Evy Galan at (512)327-1333 or visit for more information.

In honor of its 25th anniversary, SAMA presents 25 artists in 25 hours, including films, lectures, and tours Friday, September 8, through Sunday, September 10. Friday at 8pm, local filmmaker Pablo Veliz will introduce his Sundance-selected La Tragedia de Macario with a trailer for his new film La Luche de Clemente. Saturday at 3pm, Current critic and UTSA professor Steve Kellman will screen Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat, a film about the 19-year-old graffiti/neo-expressionist artist who took New York by storm. Sunday at 2pm, Robert Hughes’s seminal art documentary The Shock of the New will screen, followed by the intriguing Russian Ark (one museum, 2000 actors, and a single, unedited, 90-minute shot) at 6pm. Free admission. Call Leigh Baldwin at 978-8136 or visit for more information.
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