One of two documentaries about mass shootings premiering at SXSW, TOWER pieces together stories from a few survivors and witnesses of the UT Tower shooting that took place in Austin in August of 1966. The film uses roto-scoped animation (think films like Waking Life, or A Scanner Darkly) on top of archive footage, to create a unique storytelling mechanism, which allows for playful recreation of the events without diminishing any impact. TOWER takes its time with the events of that day and provides an avenue for the viewer to empathize with each person’s story as the terrifying and unsettling nature of the shooting and the eventual aftermath become clear. Boxes of tissues should have been handed out to people entering this screening, particularly after we were told that some of the survivors were in attendance. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: TOWER’
Archive for the 'SXSW 2016' Category
Can we just give Don Cheadle all the awards right now? Miles Ahead, Cheadle’s directorial debut, which also showcases his talents as co-writer and lead actor, is a unique and moving biopic about a unique and moving individual, Miles Davis. Not satisfied to just check off the boxes of events in Davis’ life, Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Boogie Nights) has crafted a masterpiece of cinema, jarringly jumping around in time to show events that help the audience better understand the complexity of a troubled, but genius mind. This is a perfect blend of scenes that fold in on each other with quiet subtlety and simultaneously explode outward with grandiose vigor, mirroring the effect that the music of Miles Davis had a tendency to create. Combining all those elements with a virtuoso acting performance from Cheadle, a soundtrack that spans Davis’ long career as a musician, surprisingly adept comedy beats, tight, gripping editing, and stellar support from Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish) and Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Hand of God”) creates a triumphant, striking work of art. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Miles Ahead’
John Cleaver (Max Records) is a diagnosed sociopath, completely aware that he is capable of murder, yet wants to suppress these urges. Working with his therapist, Dr. Neblin (Karl Geary), he has constructed a set of rules and guidelines to ensure the safety of those around him. It should go without saying that he’s obsessed with death and famous serial killers; he even works at his mother (Laura Fraser) and aunt’s mortuary in the evening after school and on weekends. When a series of slaughtered citizens begin to pop up around the community with organs and limbs missing, it captures John’s imagination, propelling him on a solo investigation, slowly evolving into the discovery of a supernatural being.
Here at SXSW, I was lucky enough to attend Lucha Underground’s very first live show outside of its home at the temple in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, “Lucha Underground: Austin Warfare.” For those unfamiliar with Lucha Underground, it is a relatively new and very unique wrestling program, produced by Robert Rodriguez for his television network, El Rey. Over the course of its first season last year, Lucha Underground quickly became the most entertaining and anticipated wrestling show each week, making the many other wrestling television options look like tired, boring, old jokes. “Lucha Underground: Austin Warfare” brought the same great-quality, fast-paced, high-flying wrestling action seen on the show to a ravenous Austin crowd and may end up being the most exciting thing I will get to see here at SXSW. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Lucha Underground: Austin Warfare’
Sausage Party is the worst, least funny comedy I have ever seen. It is full to the brim with lazily written, stereotyping, racist, sexist, homophobic, reference-heavy, swear-ridden “jokes” that try way too hard to seem either controversial or profound and just end up being nothing. There is nothing to like about this film. I chuckled one time during the merciless, seemingly never-ending 83 minute runtime – even then, it was a Saving Private Ryan reference. Coming off of the delightful surprise that was Preacher from the previous day, it was so disheartening to see Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg sink to this depth, leaving me scratching my head and wondering how movies like this can still be a thing. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Sausage Party (Work-in-Progress)’
I’ve been running around all day here at SXSW, so my Operation Avalanche and Sausage Party reviews are a bit delayed. Until then, I wanted to share the new Don’t Breathe poster that EW debuted today. Don’t Breathe is an electrifying thriller, one that demands to be seen with a large audience. I held my breath for so long I felt as if I were going to pass out. I’m in love with this poster, and absolutely want to hang on my wall. Jane Levy is in a position you’ll most likely be throughout the film’s running time.
AMC is bringing an adaptation of the beloved comic book Preacher to television screens later this year and a showing of the pilot at SXSW was a good indicator that the show has a lot of the right elements to be a success. Executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldburg (the team behind Superbad, This is the End, and more) have been wanting to make an adaptation for nearly 10 years, and while the numerous different production starts and stops through which this project has gone might normally spell doom, it was satisfying to see that all that patience and hard work turned into an entertaining, funny, and intriguing pilot episode. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: AMC’s Preacher’
Hush is 90 minutes of energy, a white-knuckle thriller in every way; Oculus director Mike Flanagan has crafted a lean, brutal, and deceptively simple home invasion thriller. It’s almost a perfect companion piece to Don’t Breathe (Review Here). One has a blind villain; the other, a deaf heroine. Both will have you gasping for air after holding it in during sequence after sequence of blood-boiling anxiety. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Hush’
Hardcore Henry is not necessarily a bad film, but it never really makes that leap from being just kind of good. To its credit, it delivers on being a visceral, over-the-top, action-fest shot entirely from the first-person perspective of its main character, Henry. And it should be noted that the action scenes have inventiveness and plenty of gory violence. The filmgoing experience is intense and the audience barely gets many moments to catch its breath before being thrown into the next running, shooting, parkour, fist-fighting, grenade-tossing rush away from or through the endless bad guys. While Hardcore Henry gets a lot right with its action and even its comedy, mostly coming from a perfectly used Sharlto Copley (District 9, Elysium), at some point the initially shocking and immersive first-person camera, the blaring rock/punk soundtrack, and the underwhelming story start to slip into the viewer’s mind and distract somewhat from the ridiculous eye-bath of violence and explosions. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Hardcore Henry’
Well, Keanu is hilarious. It was nice to breathe that sigh of relief after watching the working print shown here at SXSW. From the decent, but not-hilarious trailer that was released a few months ago, it seemed like the very talented and funny duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele might not quite have transitioned from sketch comedy to feature length comedy with as much solidity as is required. But it turns out, they just wanted to save some of the best stuff for the film itself; a welcome break from something like Zoolander 2, which had a good trailer and turned out to be completely bereft of comedy as a film. Keanu takes that magic Key and Peele brought to their TV show and translates it with tremendous success. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Keanu (Working Print)’
Because you don’t know anything about Don’t Breathe, the second film from the Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez, I’m hesitant to spoil too much (although I’m sure the trailers will undoubtedly fulfill that role). To say that Don’t Breathe is tense is an understatement; it’s unquestionably one of the most heart-stopping cinematic experiences I’ve had in what seems like an eternity. There were numerous moments where the entire audience went completely still and, as the tension filled the room, it became more and more apparent that Fede Alvarez might just have crafted a new modern classic.
Pet, from the promotional material available to filmgoers, appears to be a suspense or maybe even a horror film about a man who traps a woman in a metal cage where one is left to assume that the twists and turns either lead to her death or her escape. While there is definitely a story of a man trapping a woman in a cage and questions about whether she will escape, it would be reductive to think of Pet as something simple. What the audience gets when viewing the film is a deep, dark exploration of the transformative power of love and the lengths a person will go to seek the good in another. Continue reading ‘SXSW Review: Pet’
I imagine The Greasy Strangler to be the product of teens who have watched too many Tim & Eric episodes and discussed what a horror film would look like with their sensibilities. There’s about four jokes which are repeated endlessly throughout the film, which would make for (maybe) a decent short film, but at 80 minutes, I was begging for the film to just end. I don’t think I’ve ever exited a film so fast in my life.