Picks: Summer Classic Film Series, Austin

Austin is a film town.  We have film festivals year round, as well as resident actors and directors.  Films are shot in and around Austin, too—Dazed and Confused and Waking Life are in my top five “movies shot in Austin”.  With all this city has to offer movie-goers, I continue to look forward to the Paramount’s Summer Classic Film Series.  The Paramount Theatre has been an Austin institution since 1915, and it still holds all of the charms of an early twentieth-century theatre, with floor to ceiling covered with ornate designs that transport you to another era.  The Summer Classic Film Series kicked off its 36th year on Friday, May 20th.  Director and film buff, Peter Bogdonovich, was on scene to introduce this year’s opening film, Casablanca.  (Don’t miss the screening of two Bogdonovich films, Paper Moon and Last Picture Show, hosted by special guest Sam Beam of Iron & Wine.)

I first saw Casablanca at the Paramount several years ago, and I realized I would never be able to watch it on anything but a big screen.  The Paramount is the ideal setting for many of the films on this year’s schedule.  This year’s films include some summer staples such as Casablanca and the grand finale film, Gone with the Wind.  At least one John Hughes film annually makes the list, and this year is no exception.  My favorite, Sixteen Candles, will be screening (along with Some Kind of Wonderful) on Sunday, June 5th.  The first 100 guests in attendance for the 2pm screening will receive a free cupcake!

The list, a printed version of which can be picked up at the Paramount box office, also includes several new additions.  Multiple Charlie Chaplin films will be screened over the summer such as Modern Times (complete with a Charlie Chaplin photo booth before the 4pm screening) and a series of shorts.  Brazil will be screened in conjunction with Quintet; I can’t wait for that day.

Jesse Trussell is the film programmer for the Paramount; this year marks his first summer series with the movie palace.  I asked him a bit about himself as well as what it’s like to work for such a wonderful institution.  Trussell, who arrived in Austin in 2002 to attend film school at the University of Texas, has been with the Paramount since November 2010.  He personally selects all of the titles, “emphasizing rare screenings and restorations” not to mention all of the fun events planned around specific films.  “It takes months to select and track down the 35mm film prints,” according to Trussell.  When I asked him about which movies he was most excited about this year, he responded with “My personal favorites are Playtime, Vivre sa vie, Brazil, They Live by Night, Johnny Guitar . . . well basically all of them!”  He’s also looking forward to the double feature of Psycho and Peeping Tom.  If you haven’t seen Psycho on the big screen it’s an absolute must!  Unfortunately, Trussell’s “favorite film of all time” won’t be screening this year, but he’s hopeful for 2012.  Check out his blog and see if you can guess which film he is referencing.

Tickets to each screening are $9, unless you’re a Paramount Film Fan, and can be purchased online or at the box office the day of the show. Oh, and if you missed the opening night, don’t fret!  There are so many great films to choose from.  I’ll definitely be at the theatre enjoying a great summer activity at the lovely, and air conditioned, Paramount Theatre.



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