Short reviews of the films I saw at SXSW Film Festival
Drinking Buddies – 3.5 out of 5
Great premise: bunch of guys working at a small craft-beer factory hang out with their one female co-worker, played by Olivia Wilde. For the first 10 minutes, the film portrays Olivia as everyman’s perfect woman: beautiful, easy going, loves joking around including food fights, beer drinking, pool playing at the bar after work, and enticing and loving at home. With a sophisticated Mr. Big type as a boyfriend, Olivia even dresses and leaves after their weeknight fun so she can be home for the morning. What more can a guy want? Well, apparently, not even Olivia’s character is perfect, and complications ensue. I really enjoyed the whole movie, and most of all appreciated it’s avoidance of cliche’s and typical Hollywood plot line. Anna Kendrick is terrific along with Jake Johnson (the latter a beer worker and aforementioned buddy, the former as his girlfriend).
Elena – 3.5 out of 5
Bill C. reviewed this below, and I agree, it’s excellent documentary about a young Brazilian woman who goes to New York City to become an actress. She ends up committing suicide (not a spoiler), and this story tries to undestand what happened. The interesting and unique part of this documentary is that it was produced by Elena’s younger sister, aided by 50 hours of home movies and audition tapes that she was able to uncover, and by her mother’s recollections. In other words, it’s all real, from the scenes of Elena as a 12 year-old singing and dancing in her parents living room, to current day when her mom and sister visit the apartment in NYC where Elena ended up. It’s very touching and artfully done. (not to be confused with another movie called Elena)
Some Girl(s) – 3 out of 5
Young man, about to be wed, decides to conduct an apology tour of his old flames, touring the country, meeting them in his hotel rooms, and confronting why they didn’t work, asking if they “are good”, but apparently not looking for a final fling. Sounds creepy and suspicious, but the film kept my interest by the actors interactions and variety of old girlfriends, one as interesting as the other. Adam Brody is believable as the guy, nice guy on the surface buy maybe not so nice if he left all these women without a proper break-up. Best of the women are Kristen Bell, Mia Maestro, and Zoe Kazan.
The Bounceback – 3.5 out of 5
Set in Austin, 20-somethings try to re-connect with their old loves, and/or find new ones, whichever is easier. Some hysterical scenes, some touching scenes, and plenty of memorable characters, especially Sara Paxton as self-styled slut, who takes no BS from her ex-boyfriend.
The Wait – 1.5 out of 5
I waited, and waited, for something to happen, while Chloe Sevigny’s character waits for her recently deceased mother to come back to life (in the bed she passed away in), and her sister and son go about their wandering ways in the Oregon upscale wooded community. Lots a strange scenes, many of which make no sense. Don’t waste your time.
Maladies – 2 ouf of 5
Going to a film festival movie I don’t have much to go on, certainly no reviews, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong with this film starring James Franco and Catherine Keener. Well, I learn something new every day and boy I needed reminding that while they are terrific actors, a good film needs a good story to be written, and that is not the case here.
Sound City – 3 out of 5
Solid documentary about a sound board – actually about the music studio that houses the board, and the many great artists who created legenday rock music there. Directed and conceived, and funded, by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, it’s clearly a labor of love, as it is with his guest musicians, including Paul McCartney, Rick Springfield and John Fogarty.