Films at SXSW

firebus's picture

Here's a punchlist of stuff I saw at SXSW (which, by the way, is an awesome film festival where it's easy to see almost everything you want to see, and you can see 6 movies in a day if you're really motivated).

  • Upstream Color. I randomly decided to see this on the basis of a really scant description. It sounded like weird sci-fi. It was weird sci-fi, but also really pretty, really moody, wonderfully acted, and one of the least expository films I've ever seen. Later I met multiple film nerds in line for other movies who passionately hated it. So maybe I'm naive. I really liked it. Need to see Primer now.
  • Evil Dead. Pretty faithful remake/sequel. Not quite as campy as the original, but it might come with time. Sat across the aisle from Bruce Campbell. w00t.
  • Spark: A Burning Man Story. This is the film about burning man that you can show your mom. The product values are great, it's super pretty, there's very little nudity and no desperation, depression, nastiness, grotty dirt, overdoses, cops, VD, etc. So it's sanitized. Apparently in order to get access they had to agree to approval from the board. The ticket fiasco of 2012 is glossed over, but there are still some wonderful moments where the old overseers, in their own words, make it clear just how dishonestly they rationalize some of their decisions.
  • Snap. We only saw this because we thought the dubstep element would be funny. It was funny! This is a pretty-good film. Not quite hollywood-level. Lots of gore and crazy schizoid dubstep psycho killers. There's a Shayamalan twist at the end. The panel afterwards was great - the female lead claimed that she'd done a lot of research into mental illness and tried to avoid giving the idea that all mentally ill people are violent (did I mention that it's a schizo psycho-killer movie?). She was brutally heckled by an audience member.
  • Animated shorts. The good ones were Oh Willy and Marcel, King of Tervuren. There was a pixar short at the end designed to make everyone else feel bad that they can't make engaging stories out of lint and paper clips. The rest were mostly shite especially "The Golden Sparrow" which was all about why you shouldn't go to Ex'pression Arts College because you'll just make derivative soulless crap.
  • Twenty Feet from Stardom. It's the Buena Vista Social Club of backup singers. Probably you'll end up seeing it. Some slow parts, but the singers profiled are fantastic, plus lots of Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger.
  • Tiny: A Story About Living Small. Short doc by a woman whose earnest young man builds a tiny house so he can live simply in some very lovely wasteland he bought. Supported by lots of interviews with other people who live in tiny houses, and some of the founders of the movement.

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