SOURCE CODEB+ Duncan Jones's freshman feature, MOON, played at SXSW; how fitting that his sophomore effort SOURCE CODE would open the 2011 festival. Featuring solid performances from personal favorites Jake Gyllenhaal, Vera Farmiga, and Michelle Monaghan, SOURCE CODE was a fun if somewhat underdeveloped film - enjoyable, but not much to write home about.
PRESSPAUSEPLAYB- PRESSPAUSEPLAY claims to be an analysis of the interaction of creativity, artistic industry, and new media. But it's far from being critical or analytical in the slightest. Instead, this documentary merely illustrates the current climate in music, film, and literature, using gorgeous aesthetics and a fantastic soundtrack to maintain viewers' attention. It was fun, but very shallow.
A BAG OF HAMMERS
A+ Following two young men who lead easy lives of thievery and no responsibilities, A BAG OF HAMMERS is a beautifully directed comedy with some of the most intensely emotional moments I've experienced at any SXSW film. I suspect this movie will be my BROTHERHOOD of 2011 - my favorite film of the festival, and one that never gets picked up. Fingers crossed that A BAG OF HAMMERS will receive the attention it deserves.
C Advertised as the story of a mild-mannered high school teacher who seeks revenge after being physically abused
by his students, WUSS is actually a bizarre mixture of comedy, melodrama, and crime drama. Unfortunately, the mixture doesn't quite work. WUSS doesn't have enough ideas to fill its run time, and the premise quickly wears thin. Mediocre acting from the supporting cast only makes this film even more of a disappointment.
B+ A gritty and incredibly violent comedy about justice, revenge, and letting go. Though it's relentlessly funny and has fantastic performances from stars Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson, a tightened up script could have helped the film immensely. Still a definite stand-out film, however, if only for its brilliant animated title sequence.
B+ A quiet, queer film about sex and relationships between men - specifically a closeted man and an outspoken, wanderlusting artist he picks up at a club. Spanning 2-3 days (depending on how you count), WEEKEND has an interesting pacing and deeply realistic style that makes it fascinating, if a bit slow. Gorgeous, gorgeous storytelling.
A- A brilliant documentary of the story of Vikram Gandhi, a young man who pretends to be a Hindu mystic named Sri Kumare. The conclusions he draws about spirituality and identity are profound regardless of faith or background. Also? It's hilarious.
A A pop art film without all the things I hate about pop art. Based on "Living Between Fucks," LBF is a look at love in the postmodernist age, with all the traditional tropes of straight white men and their Manic Pixie Dream Girls. What saves LBF is its surprising honesty, gorgeous soundtrack, incredible directing, and short, concise run time. Definitely a film I'd see again.
B+ Starring my favorite actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a mysterious homeless man of indeterminate age and background, HESHER contrasts chaos and order to express the catharsis of indulging one's primal, violent id. The film is dragged down by Natalie Portman's uninspiring performance and redundant script, but saved by Gordon-Levitt's comedic ability and the strength of the child actor lead.