Archive for the 'SXSW' Category

American Gods Episode 1 (SXSW Review)

Starz was on hand at the SXSW Conference to show off the first episode of their new series “American Gods” based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman. The series is set to start on April 30th of this year and follows a recently released prisoner named Shadow Moon, played by Ricky Whittle (“The 100”) as he interacts with a number of old and new god-like beings who inhabit human form in his service of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, played by Ian McShane (“Deadwood”). The show is executive produced by Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies,” “Hannibal”) and it shows, blossoming with Fulleresque flourishes throughout that create an eerie and visually stunning atmosphere for an intriguing, well-acted, and, so far, well-paced television series. Continue reading ‘American Gods Episode 1 (SXSW Review)’


Meatball Machine Kodoku (SXSW Review)

This is just the kind of midnight movie I was waiting for at SXSW! Meatball Machine Kodoku has tons of ridiculous gore effects (actually 4 tons of fake blood were used on the film according to the director), an insane plot that doesn’t need to make any sense, and completely over-the-top action scenes. This is a direct sequel to 2005’s Meatball Machine from the same director, Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police), and by direct sequel I mean it shares almost the same exact plot as the original, but with better effects and a tighter plot (plot, in this case is a very loose interpretation of the term). This movie is a hilarious, blood-filled, wackily Japanese, complete crazefest of a blast! Continue reading ‘Meatball Machine Kodoku (SXSW Review)’


The Good, The Meh, and The Messy Films of SXSW (SXSW Review)

When a person watches 23 films over 9 days, it can be difficult to find the time to write enough about all of them. Also, with over 150 different films to choose from, it is nearly impossible to pick all winners. I have tried to cover the bigger films of the festival this year and getting those reviews out has been a priority. However, I have seen a bunch that kinda fall into this middle ground that when I sit down to write about them, I can’t really find a lot to say… and then I have to rush out to catch another film back in downtown Austin. So, I have encapsulated (if I might borrow a term from my colleague on this site) some thoughts on the more average or somewhat bad films I have seen here in this post just to put the thoughts somewhere. Continue reading ‘The Good, The Meh, and The Messy Films of SXSW (SXSW Review)’


The Big Sick (SXSW Review)

The Big Sick is an uproariously funny comedy that had to tread a very difficult line since a major portion of the film takes place in a hospital and has one of the major characters in a coma. A film written by and starring Kumail Nanjiani (“Silicon Valley”), directed by Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer), and produced by Judd Apatow (Trainwreck) should, on those names alone, have enough buy-in to get lovers of comedy into the theater. Once in the theater, though, this movie will surprise audiences with its tenderness and heart and then leave them straining to hear lines as laughter fills the auditorium. A tone-perfect, Apatow-style rom-COM, The Big Sick will be the summer date movie that has everyone falling out of their seats.

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G-Funk (SXSW Review)

Where Straight Outta Compton showed the hard-edge, down and dirty, fighting-for-justice story of NWA, G-Funk, in a way that somewhat mirrors the musical sound itself, documents the smoother and sweeter turn that Warren G, Snoop Dogg, and Nate Dogg brought to West Coast hip-hop music in the early 90s. First time director Karam Gill and producer Warren G assembled some big musical names from the era to tell a number of entertaining stories or drop memorable lines that make the film highly entertaining and a must watch for any fan of music from that time period. The music in the background of these interviews and clips should be enough to get someone in the door, but the overall story is well crafted, with an infectiously optimistic undercurrent that stands on its own. Continue reading ‘G-Funk (SXSW Review)’


Becoming Bond (SXSW Review)

Becoming Bond is a funny and intriguing blend of documentary and reenactment based around the story of the one-time James Bond, George Lazenby. The story is told by Lazenby in interview and some parts are filled in with actors in the style of the television series “Drunk History” to add some visual comedy to these over-the-top tales. The film succeeds at both helping to clear up the rumors behind what led to Lazenby only playing the iconic role in a single film and being a kind of origin story of the man himself as he retells nearly his entire life in amazing detail and honesty. Being a Bond fan is not a prerequisite for having a blast with this film, which will be on Hulu later this year. Continue reading ‘Becoming Bond (SXSW Review)’


Free Fire (SXSW Review)

Having only seen one of director Ben Wheatley’s (Kill List) films before, I had a distinct skepticism about the idea of waiting in line for his next release, Free Fire. The premise of a gun deal gone wrong didn’t really promise much in the way of depth and I knew from his previous work that he had a talent for veering off in completely unnecessary directions in his films, leaving them a disappointment. This film is not a disappointment. It is a tightly directed, charming, funny, and playful action comedy with a great cast and superb sound mixing that remains completely entertaining all the way up to the end. Continue reading ‘Free Fire (SXSW Review)’


SXSW Review: The Honor Farm

SXSW“The Honor Farm” wants to simultaneously be a coming of age story and a horror story, but cannot overcome its bland mediocrity. It’s not focused enough to sustain interest, but it’s short enough to not walk out on. That’s the deceptive brilliance of the film; at under 80 minutes, by the time you realize just how meaningless the story is, it quickly comes to an end.

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The Disaster Artist [Work-In-Progress] (SXSW Review)

The Disaster Artist is a hilarious and lovable tribute to the enigmatic and oddly admirable figure who is Tommy Wiseau, director of The Room. This film is really for those who love The Room for its off-the-wall absurdity and incomprehensibility, but there is enough setup and care given to establishing just what kind of person Tommy Wiseau, played by James Franco (127 Hours), is and what The Room means to him and Greg Sestero, played by Dave Franco (Now You See Me 2), that in context one could easily pick up what makes Tommy so worthy of a story. While this film, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made,” could have easily jumped into a parody of Wiseau and his eccentricities, Franco, who also directed the film, creates a respectful and heartfelt depiction of a man who really just wants to have a friend and follow his passion. Though, he did also fill the movie with all his funny friends and his brother and made a comedy out of a story about a very earnest but very weird man’s passion, so it is difficult to tell where parody and authenticity begin and end. Continue reading ‘The Disaster Artist [Work-In-Progress] (SXSW Review)’


Atomic Blonde (SXSW Review)

Where David Leitch’s first film, John Wick seemed to come out of nowhere, delight the senses, and spend time blending its style and substance into a heart-filled tale of revenge and bulletplay that continuously wows, his second film Atomic Blonde is highly anticipated, remains cool and distant, and heavily favors style to compensate for a generic spy action movie that alternates between being boring and being showy. While it remains a slightly-better-than-average film and, with some reserved expectations, it could be a fine summer flick, Atomic Blonde will likely only really be remembered for one very excellent 15 minute long action scene. That and Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road) puts in a heck of a physical performance as the titular blonde that shows how great she will be in a better action movie. Continue reading ‘Atomic Blonde (SXSW Review)’


Baby Driver (SXSW Review)

Baby Driver stands out as a truly unique cinematic experience. One that pretty much could only be brought to life by its director, Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World). The gentleman known for films with superb editing with inventive and fluid scene transitions and a liberal use of music appears to have outdone himself with this one. Baby Driver is the kind of film that, when it releases later this year, all your friends will be asking “Oh my goodness! Have you seen it yet?” And you will reply cheerfully “Of course I have! Let’s go see it again!” Continue reading ‘Baby Driver (SXSW Review)’


Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (SXSW Review)

The opening film of the SXSW Conference Film Festival this year was the documentary Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press, which comes to Netflix later this year. What is described as and initially shot as a look at the involvement of wealthy individuals on the trial against Gawker Media and the purchase of a newspaper in Las Vegas starts quite small with some scandalous, but not too worrisome looks at isolated interests but begins to pull back to show the terrifying effect that powerful individuals can have on the freedom of the press. This, by no coincidence at all, comes just at the right time in the United States of America. Continue reading ‘Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (SXSW Review)’



SXSWOne 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’


SXSW Review: Miles Ahead

SXSWCan 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’


SXSW Review: I Am Not A Serial Killer

SXSWJohn 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.

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SXSW Review: Lucha Underground: Austin Warfare

SXSWHere 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’


SXSW Review: Sausage Party (Work-in-Progress)

SXSWSausage 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)’


Don’t Breathe Poster and Release Date

SXSWI’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.

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