The Austin Shinn Film Festival: A commission

“If you could program 7 days of movies, what would you show and why?”

This was the question I was asked for this commission by my good friend Paul. It feels extremely relevant right now. The theater is closed. Watching en masse is over. Theaters are slowly reopening but with limited product. How do you get people out? The thing is, right now people want to go. Why not take advantage of a captive audience to make them watch what you want? So let’s do this. 7 days. 7 films. My picks.

Day 1: Speed Racer. That Speed Racer was a flop is criminal. Speed Racer was brilliant and deserved better. To me it’s the perfect film to start the schedule because it’s pure unadulterated cinematic bliss by the badasses that are the Wachowski sisters. It is cinema as cinema is supposed to be experienced. It’s effects heavy but what you’ll walk away remembering are the stellar performances by Roger Allam, Matthew Fox, and a never better John Goodman.

Day 2: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I considered putting the stellar Looney Tunes: Back in Action here but as good as it is, it’s not the staggering rubber reality of Robert Zemeckis’ masterpiece. A film that gleefully respects both classic cartoons and classic noir and results in a perfect hybrid of both. To experience this in a theater is to be transported.

Day 3: Dredd. Dredd is something incredible. It’s a take on Mega City One all but entirely set in one building. So why doesn’t it feel like less that an intense submersion into the world? It’s a fully crafted universe with every tiny detail drawing us deeper in. It’s fully engaging on a character level too. Again, it’s small, subtle details that make everyone alive here.

Day 4: Batman: Under the Red Hood. The fun of imagining my own week of programming is I get to put films that didn’t play theaters on the agenda. This is alongside Mask of the Phantasm the great tragic Batman saga. Batman’s greatest mistake literally comes back to hunt him. I choose this one too because it’s a lushly animated film, more so even than the DC DTV movies I have seen theatrically. A great film that deserves a big screen.

Day 5: Best Worst Movie. I’ve been largely going with mass appeal films that didn’t find an audience so this is my deviation, right? No. This is a very audience friendly film despite being about the seemingly alienating concept of a study of a film considered one of the worst. The movie is really about a dentist who had one role who years later discovers it’s become a cult film and how that impacts his life. It’s a perfect feel good film.

Day 6: Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers. There is a profound, powerful innocence to the best MST3K/Rifftrax experiences. Be it Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny or the trippy surreality of Fun in Balloonland, these are light, happy experiences. And nowhere is that truer than with the redo of the great Time Chasers. An expanded, fuller version of that episode, this is the perfect riff for a theater. The film is sweet and charming while the riff plays more like a loving roast than a parody.

Day 7: Jurassic Park 3D. I close on another classic. Jurassic Park needs no explanation. It’s the perfect summer movie. The 3D does. The 3D translation wasn’t a fun vague addition. It was a full on conversion where everything has texture. It’s stunning to behold. A great experience made greater.

And so we close with hope film rides this wave and lives again!

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