Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Movie Doc's Tuesday March 15, Day 5

My Tuesday went pretty smoothly and not so hectic and chaotic as some of the other days. I checked out the Narrative Shorts 1 program at the Alamo Ritz. This program features some lovely gems (FATAKARA, PIONEER, NOCTURN), heartbreaking reality (FRAN'S DAUGHTER, THE THIRD ONE THIS WEEK, THE STRANGE ONES), and some attempts at comedy (THE ANNOUNCEMENT, HOWLING AT THE MOON). In all fairness comedy is a difficult genre to pull off, and this is evident in those last two films mentioned. Overall, this program displays the work of talented filmmakers who deserve an audience for their hard work. I lined up immediately after this at the Paramount for the FOO FIGHTERS documentary. I have been a fan of the Foo Fighters' music since their first album, but I honestly did not know much about the lives of the people in the band, other than Dave Grohl, the former drummer of Nirvana. This comprehensive music doc. takes audiences on a journey throught the career of Grohl as an aspiring punk rock drummer in Seattle, through his too short career with Nirvana, and his perserverance through his love of rock music with his own band. This film is a must see for fans of the Foo and for fans of hard rocking music. Casual fans of the band will get to know the people in the band well and will become die hard fans after watching this. Following this movie, I left the chaos of downtown and drove to a theater closer to my home, the Regal Westgate. This was a refreshing change from the craziness and long lines of the main venues of SXSW. Here, I watched OTIS UNDER SKY, a low budget Austin production by director Anlo Sepulveda. This unscripted, guerilla style film takes us through a few days in the life of Otis (Anis Mojgani), a depressed. socially disconnected young artist searching for ways to either cope or escape the inevitable dark times, sadness, and heartbreak that life sometimes deals humanity. He becomes intrigued, or obsessed with Eastern religions in an attempt at a more Zen-like, peaceful, and less needy existence. Besides his spiritual pursuits, Otis keeps himself busy with his techie-art projects, video blogging, and recording people with his camcorder. While on one of his more unusual endeavors, he catches the eye of Ursula (Roberta Colindrez) who has been coping with the departure of her girlfriend and anxiously awaits her return. Ursula and Otis connect in a profound way which helps revive Otis at first then crushes him later. His experience drives him to take his spiritual pursuits to a higher level and also inspires his latest project in a major way. As I stated in a previous blog, I interviewed director Sepulveda and three members of his cast on Monday. Now that I've seen the film, I must say that Sepulveda, his crew, cast, and producer/wife Mandi did a remarkable job on this film which feels like an extended short film, but still manages to develop the characters well, perhaps more so than most mainstream motion pictures. Anlo Sepulveda has an incredible eye for visuals and uses this talent in an amazing and artistic way to tell his story. His cast, mainly Anis and Roberta, offers incredible performances and should have bright futures as actors. It still amazes me how well the filmmakers pulled this film off and made it flow well without a definitive script. That is not to say that there are no awkward moments which stall the film. Nevertheless, the fact that Sepulveda and cast put together this film, which plays very well without the aid of a script is proof postitive of the immense talent they have. I look forward to more films by Anlo Sepulveda and hope to see Anis Mojgani and Roberta Colindrez in more movies. Go see this movie because this one has been overlooked by SXSW audiences for the most part. (Note: Been tremendously busy so I haven't put together my notes from my interview with the director and cast, but will get to it as soon as I can and will post here.) Mark Saldana The Movie Doc

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