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SxSW 2012: The Alamo Drafthouse

Sixth Street between Congress and I-35 is what might be called an essential tourist trap. There is nothing but bars, souvenir shops and pizzerias. It’s Austin’s version of Bourbon Street, and is one of those places where, if you don’t like country music or alcohol, it’s best to stay away from. In this milieu sits the Alamo Drafthouse -- a duplex movie theater which is the greatest such venue in all of Texas and perhaps the entire south.

The place is a drive-in without the cars. It has decent seats and waitresses serving food, full meals, and has something resembling tables, so you can’t spill your dinner on your lap, but that’s not the half of it.

The theater has the best trailers in the country. There are old ones from flicks they’re not going to show, ancient cartoons -- some of which were commercials from the days when great grandma was a little girl -- and music videos from the time before the term was invented.

I was so engrossed that I hoped they wouldn’t turn them off for the film until the end of the short or whatever snippet they were playing… But of course they did. They always do.

The Code of the West

Rebecca Richman Cohen’s latest documentary is on the fall of legal medical marijuana in Montana. There was a referendum on the subject in 2010, and it passed with an overwhelming margin, but some people didn’t like that, so there was an immediate repeal campaign in the legislature, “for the children” of course.

…and because this was 2011, when the Right fringe of the Republican Party was in charge of everything, it was to some extent. We follow the bill as it goes through both houses and gets vetoed by the governor before being reborn in almost as lethal form. The film is well done, but the point of view; it’s very pro medical marijuana kind of gets in the way. This won’t get anywhere.


Nir Paniry’s sci-fi psychological exploration of how memory works is mostly about a maguffin: A machine that puts our hero Tom’s (Sasha Roiz) consciousness into the brain of a convicted murderer (Dominic Bogart). Tom is a phantom in this other guy’s head with no one to talk to but the voice of the machine (Sara Tomko), which was supposed to have been turned off after it malfunctioned four years before.

We know Tom’s going to get back into his own body eventually, but that would be too easy. Unfortunately, the twists and turns are somewhat predictable and mostly tedious. The psychological stuff is interesting, and when Tom and his host actually manage to communicate with each other, it’s somewhat satisfying, but this ends up as nothing more than direct-to-video territory, which is kind of sad.

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