Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Short Cuts

By Marjorie Baumgarten

AUGUST 4, 1997:  Three weeks from now, aGLIFF will be in town. No, I don't mean a glyph who used to be known as Prince. This particular aGLIFF stands for the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival and it's about to take up a two-week residence (Aug. 22-Sept. 4) at its home base, the Dobie Theatre. Making this year's festival extra-special, 1997 marks the 10th anniversary of the annual event. In order to gear up, there's a fundraiser scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 7 at the Dobie. The evening will be a "Best Of," featuring trailers of upcoming films in this year's festival and a retrospective "best of" from the past 10 years. It begins at 7:30pm; tickets are $10 and there's a $2 discount for aGLIFF members...

The Trouble with Harry (The Ongoing Controversy): It seems our pal Harry Jay Knowles and his Austin-produced Ain't It Cool News website (http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com) have been the objects of some high-level scrutiny as of late. His website of insider movie info and opinion has in a few short months become one of the hottest spots on the Web. And in the last couple of weeks since Knowles has been written up in Newsweek, Variety, and Hollywood Reporter, to name just a few biggies (although we hear that Rolling Stone and CNN are also hot on his trail), his site's number of hits has grown from something like 250,000 to 400,000 per day. A good number of those people are even fans. But as the Ain't It Cool phenomenon continues to grow, so, too, do Knowles' detractors. We reported here a couple of months back ("Short Cuts," No. 42) about Batman & Robin director Joel Schumacher's public trashing of Knowles' practice of posting reviews and commentary from test screening attendees (who all have fictitious spy identities). What's bugging some folks in Hollywood is this new invasion into their previously sole proprietorship of "buzz" and "spin." What really grabbed the bigshots' attention was Ain't It Cool's coup in covering the highly secret screening of a work print of James Cameron's Titanic at a Minneapolis theatre. One of Knowles' spies had tipped him about the screening and within 24 hours, about 250 people had responded to Knowles' call for Twin Cities spies. But in this case, the 30 or so spies who made it to the screening and posted their thoughts had mostly enthusiastic things to say, which had to be a boon to the besieged Titanic enterprise. Still the Variety piece (7/29) leads off by joking that studio honchos are passing Knowles' photo around in an attempt to keep him from their screenings (little do they understand that Knowles generally attends these screenings here in Austin, not L.A.) and the Hollywood Reporter (7/24) describes Knowles as having made a career out of "infiltrating" these events. (How cloak-and-dagger for someone in possession of a legitimate pass.) Anyway, all this keeps getting curiouser and curiouser and has ramifications for movie fans and civil libertarians alike...

Use It or Lose It Dept.: Nick Ray's CinemaScope gypsy musical Hot Blood, starring Jane Russell and Cornel Wilde as the gypsy lovers, shows Tuesday, August 5, 7pm, at the Union Theatre as part of the Austin Film Society's Summer Free-for-All. This movie doesn't exist on videotape; I saw it once about a million years ago on TV; it's flawed but fabulous; and I can't wait.

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