Alternative Cinema Houston Blog -an introduction
I’m Creg Lovett, and I’m going to be writing a column on Alternative Cinema in Houston. I first came to Space City Rock 4 years ago when a magazine I was writing for crashed and burned, and left me hanging with no place to publish my cover story on Michael Haaga’s Plus and Minus Show which was complete with photographs, layout and many hours invested. I’d looked all around town for a home for this piece, when my friend Tom Koenig suggest Jeremy Hart and Space City Rock. “That website has been around forever, everybody looks at it, and the guy who runs it is really proud of his city.” That’s what Tom said. I took one look at Space City Rock and thought “This is the best Houston site I’ve ever seen. They don’t need me.” But Tom insisted and I emailed Jeremy for the first of many hundreds of times. (and hopefully thousands more) Much to my surprise, Jeremy posted it a that weekend as a feature. John Lomax said he liked it, and Michael doesn’t think I wasted his time. So thanks Tom and thanks Jeremy.
I’ve written quite a few things since then. A few movie reviews, a lot of crappy CD reviews, and probably most notably a live review of Jandek that got me a thanks from Dan Workman. (!) See, the coolest people in Houston really do read this site.
To me Space City Rock has always been the anti-Ain’t It Cool News. Jeremy isn’t a shill, and nobody on his site is either. It’s a huge website full of original material created by people who are really out making the scene what it is (so blame us). Every promoter and club owner knows this site. A lot of the reviews of bands all over the country are written by guys in really cool bands here in Houston. It’s really something special and I’m proud to have a password so I can stay up late posting sappy drivel like this!
SO I have always believed that Houston has as much to offer as any of the “cultural” cities in the country. We have beaches, we have pro sports, we have a restaurant with a Michelin star. And most of you would agree that Rudyards, Fitzgeralds and The Continental Club stack up against anything Austin has to offer. We don’t just attract Britney Spears to the Toyota Center, or nostalgia acts to the Woodlands Pavilion. We have a very rich tradition of culturally significant punk rock, Texas rock, alt-country and some of the best gangster rap in the world.
But we also have as much or more Alternative Cinema as Austin. It merely suffers from the same issues we’ve all talked about for years in the punk scene. Too far apart, bad parking, etc…
But its there. And if you can drive out to Fitzgeralds your whole life when their wasn’t all that other stuff around it, just that scary store down the street, you can drive a few blocks to the Aurora Picture show. You’ll be glad you did. Many of you have.
The Aurora Picture Show will be in Mandell Park (at the corner of Richmond and Mandell) in the museum district this Saturday, September 26th at 7pm for a free garden party showing films about gardening and nature. It’s a picnic. It’s free. It’s family friendly. The Aurora Picture Show is Houston’s foremost micro cinema. The Church of micro cinema meets at www.aurorapictureshow.org.
Today the Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfah.org) continues their Contemporary World Cinema Series with the Manhattan Film Festival. Its a beautiful theater, there’s a Cafe Express in the building, and the parking is free. Thursday through Saturday they’ll show “Herb and Dorothy” as part of their Artists on Film series.
Diverseworks Flickerlounge recently started their ongoing series of videos relating to the artists and exhibits in their gallery space called “i found myself an innovator”. I’ve found everything at Diverseworks both challenging and accessible, and their Flickerlounge is the funkiest cinema experience I’ve had in a long time. (www.diverseworks.org)
This Friday Rice Media Center/Rice Cinema has something very special when, as part of Rice families weekend, they are screening Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” for free at 7pm. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times. It is, to me, his most accessible film, and I mean that in the worst way. But don’t miss this. Orson Welles’ worst films are better than many of the Oscar winners of today. And it is very funny to see his interpretation of marijuana addicts. Doubly funny is NRA spokesman, and deadguy, Charlton Heston portraying a Mexican by smearing some sort of grey shoe polish on his face. If you haven’t been to Rice Cinema on the campus of Rice University, then you’ll be glad you learned about it. Most screenings are free and open to the public. .
This Sunday I will be at the Houston Symphony‘s screening of Robert Weine’s 1926 silent film “Der Rosenkavalier” as conductor Hans Graf and the Houston Symphony perform Richard Strauss’ score of the film. The film was previously thought to be lost but was restored in Germany at great expense, and now it’s coming to Houston! It’s at Jones Hall, but don’t be afraid. You can wear jeans. Seriously. That’s what I’m wearing. The cheapest tickets are $29, but you’ve been claiming for years that Houston is an oil boom town, and if you didn’t have a great job and a cheap mortgage you’d move somewhere “cultural” like Austin, Taos, Seattle or Vancouver. Well, Houston gets touring shows like this because of the oil companies. We get access to some amazing things like this because there are six million people in and around Houston. You’ll learn to love living here because of things like this. Performances are Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday matinee is at 2:30. Their website has video and audio samples of the show. Buy tickets at www.houstonsymphony.org.
So that’s an introduction to the Alternative Cinema Houston Blog. Next week I’m going to the preview screening of “Capitalism: a Love Story” and I’ll post a review of that. In coming weeks I intend to cover the Bollywood Cinema 6 which is an actual multiplex showing Bollywood films. I’ll write about Cinema Latino in Pasadena, another 6 screen multiplex, all their movies are in Spanish. Dean’s Credit Clothing shows films on the first Thursday of every month with the help of the Houston Film Commission. The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (www.camh.org) often has some really far out video installations. There are 2 drive-in movie screens in Tomball. There’s at least half a dozen movie theaters where you can order a pitcher of Shiner in Houston. And I know of some places that have video’s even Tarantino hasn’t seen -yet.
There is more to art house/obscure movies in Houston than Landmark’s River Oaks Theater, the Angelika, and A/V Plus (on Waugh). Those places are great. And they may have closed down Landmark Greenway Plaza 3, but Alternative Cinema in Houston continues to grow. Together we’ll explore everything Space City has to offer. -And hopefully soon I’ll have an @spacecityrock.com email address so you can email me suggestions, questions, or death threats.