We’ll Always Have Paris
Of all of the movies about, set in, or otherwise featuring the great state of Texas, Paris, Texas, a film by globetrotting German-based director Wim Wenders, is certainly one of the most challenging. The story follows a drifter (played by the inimitable Harry Dean Stanton) who reunites with the son he abandoned a few years prior, and their journey from Los Angeles to Houston to find the estranged woman who once completed their little family of three. The existential, borderline stream-of-consciousness mood pic, co-written by Sam Shepard and Dallas native L.M. Kit Carson, can try the patience of a viewer expecting something close to action, conflict, or traditional storytelling (as well as the patience of anyone hoping that the actual location of Paris, Texas, plays a prominent role in the film). Yet the movie, which the Austin Film Society will screen on Friday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 4 p.m. as part of the series “Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road,” unanimously won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984 and has achieved cult classic status. “Wenders’s films are unique, humanist adventure stories about searching for an understanding of the culture we live in now,” said Holly Herrick, the Austin Film Society’s associate artistic director. “He defined not just a new German cinema but an outsider’s perspective of America. Paris, Texas is beloved because of the characters and their relationships, which were a revelation, and the unforgettable performance by Harry Dean Stanton as the true outsider with an unknown heart.” Renowned distributor Janus Films recently restored twelve of Wenders’ movies, compiled as the “Portraits Along the Road” series. The Austin Film Society is already halfway through its screenings of these films but not to worry because it all ends with a bang, with Buena Vista Social Club, the buoyant documentary about legendary Cuban musicians, and Wenders’s five-hour director’s cut of Until the End of the World, billed as the ultimate road trip movie.
The Marchesa Hall and Theatre, February 5-28, austinfilm.org
To Conquer K2
Mount Everest may be the biggest, but climbers know that K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain, is the baddest: it kills roughly one in four who dare try to summit its 28,000-foot-high peak. Houston author Sequoia Schmidt’s father and brother, Marty and Denali Schmidt, became two such victims of the mountain when they were killed in an avalanche in 2013. After their deaths Schmidt saw a video about K2 in which the host, a climber who knew the deceased Schmidts, pointed to a skull on the side of the mountain as a way to illustrate the inherent dangers. Because the tragedy was fresh in her mind, Schmidt considered the possibility that the skull belonged to one of her family members and was compelled to set off in search of it—to hell with the perilous Taliban stomping grounds she had to pass by. Her memoir, Journey of Heart, which she will read from and sign on Saturday, is an account of her expedition up 18,000 feet of K2’s face to locate the exact skull and perform a DNA test. The test proved inconclusive but the trip was still a revelation. “The book is not only about my physical journey to K2, but also the emotional elements of this journey,” Schmidt, now Sequoia Di Angelo, said. “One of the main themes of the book is the relationship between my father and me—one of those elements being, through his death, I really learned to appreciate the power and beauty of the mountains. My guide, a Pakistani man who has spent many years of his life in the mountains, told me, ‘In the mountains you find out who you really are.’ And he was right. When you are stripped to the bare essentials of life, you are able to turn inward and explore what makes you who you are.”
Barnes & Noble-River Oaks, February 6, 2 p.m., journeyofheartbook.com
Introducing … Modernism
Bror Utter was one of the founding members of the Fort Worth Circle, a group of forties and fifties-era hipsters who rejected Regionalism and artistic conservatism for Modernism and the imaginative realm. Utter, of Finnish descent, attended the Fort Worth School of Fine Arts in the thirties and later stayed in town to work at his father’s printing company. Under the influence of members of the Circle, some of whom had studied in Paris and New York, Utter developed a style that flirted with Cubism and Surrealism, featuring abstract takes on human forms. In pieces like “The Entertainers” (1950), “Head” (1953), and “Burlesque Queens” (1965), striking similarities to Pablo Picasso can be seen. Revisit more than seventy of Utter’s paintings, watercolors, and drawings, some of which have been displayed at the Met, in New York, and the Freer, in Washington D.C., during the closing weekend of the exhibit “Texas Moderns: Bror Utter.” The show’s host, the Old Jail Art Center, knows Utter’s work inside and out, having been co-founded by Bill Bomar, Utter’s colleague in the Fort Worth Circle.
The Old Jail Art Center, February 5-7, theoldjailartcenter.org
Many people visit Laredo with an eye to the sky. Some are looking for UFOs, which have had a long history of being spotted here, while others have more earthly expectations and just want to see the various species of birds that inhabit or make a migratory pass through the border town. For the ornithologically-inclined, there is the Laredo Birding Festival, which began on Wednesday and culminates on Saturday with the keynote “The Woman Who Could Talk to Birds” by Sharon Stiteler, or “Birdchick,” a former manager of a wild bird store who was fond of conducting small talk with her avian pals. From now until close, there are multiple guided excursions wherein birders will have an opportunity to traverse creeks, nature trails, and private ranchland in pursuit of White-Collared Seedeaters, Green Parakeets, and Muscovy Ducks. Laredo is also thought to be the only area in the country to feature four species of Kingfisher: the Ringed, Belted, Green, and Amazon.
Various locations, February 5 & 6, laredobirdingfestival.com
If you’re participating in your office’s Academy Awards betting pool, a little advice: do your research on the lesser-known entries like, for instance, the pictures in the Short Films categories. This weekend the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in cooperation with the Magnolia movie theater, is hosting the program “2016 Oscar-Nominated Short Films,” which will provide an opportunity to catch screenings of all ten nominees in both the Animated and Live-Action fields, including World of Tomorrow, by the lone Texan in the field, Don Hertzfeldt.
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, February 5-7, themodern.org
The Looking Glass
The Seattle artist Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures are bold, colorful, and play outside of the lines, which is probably why they have fared so well in Texas, with a dozen exhibits or displays in the state in the past thirty years. For number thirteen, the Tyler Museum of Art—which hosted a Chihuly show back in 2001, one of the best-attended in the museum’s four-decade-plus history—will present “Chihuly: Works from Texas Collections,” featuring 29 sculptures and works on paper assembled from fourteen institutional and private collectors in Texas.
Tyler Museum of Art, February 7 to May 15, tylermuseum.org