Here are some quick reviews of movies I’ve seen so far at SXSW. SXSW started on Friday, March 7 and goes through Saturday March 15.
Chef – 3.5 out of 5
Chef is a small indie effort written, directed and starring Jon Favreau. It’s not up there with Swingers but is a light hearted comedy about a high profile, stressed out chef who loses his job and goes back to discover the basics that made him happy by opening a food truck and reconnecting with his son and family. The movie picks up and is more entertaining and touching in the 2nd half when he, his son and friend go on a road trip in the food truck. This had a great cast (Favreau, Jon Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt (who has obviously stayed around for more of the festival as I’ve seen him around town), Robert Downey Jr. and more) and an entertaining Q+A).
The Legend of Shorty – 2.5 out of 5
I think I just had too high expectations about this timely documentary about 2 journalists searching for the Mexican drug king who was arrested in late February. While they appear to get close to being granted an audience with Shorty they best they do is get to his heavily guarded estate and meet with is mother. It is interesting to see how his career evolved and the reach of his (former) empire.
No No: A Dockumentary – 4 out of 5
This is a must see documentary for baseball fans. Doc Ellis pitched for the Pirates (and later the Yankees) back in the seventies. Doc is famous for throwing a no hitter while supposedly high on LSD. It is probably true as he let 8 players reach base that day without giving up a hit. This is very entertaining with many ex players telling stories about Ellis but also very touching due to his battles with drugs and alcohol and his redemption later in life as a drug counselor.
Prredestination – 3.5 out of 5
This is a very slick time travel adventure with great plot twists as they try to prevent a mass murder from taking place. It’s fun trying to follow the plot twists and figure out what is going on. It’s one of those movies I enjoyed a lot while watching but when thinking about afterwards concluded they probably didn’t need to do quite as much time travel or make it quite as convoluted to prevent the crime. But then what fun would that have been??
Boyhood – 4.5 out of 5
This is a great movie that everyone should see when it comes out in July. It’s a narrative that took over 12 years to make. Richard Linklater shot for 3 days every year with the same actors telling the journey of a boy and his family as he grows from 1st grade to his first few days of college. While Linklater had the basic arc he wanted to follow it’s interesting to watch as he weaves in the cultural events of the time into the story. And it’s just fascinating to watch as he and his family go through change (including physical changes during those 12 years. While nothing incredibly exciting is going on plot wise it’s just fascinating to watch. This also had an excellent cast led by Ethan Hawke (also great in Predestination), Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane (as the boy) and Lorelei Linklater as his sister).
This movie packs an emotional wallop.
Supermensch – 3.5 out of 5
Mike Myers directorial debut is a documentary about Shep Gordon, the legendary agent for Alice Cooper and many others. This is a very funny/touching story of his life and some of the careers he touched, Myers, Gordon and Tom Arnold held a good Q+A afterward.
The Raid 2 – ???
I was (am) really looking forward to the sequel to the incredible martial arts film I saw at SXSW a year or two ago. Unfortunately, after waiting on line and in the theater for quite a while the movie started and was missing the subtitles. They couldn’t fix it so the director and two of the actors came out did a Q+A and a demo of their fighting skills. Hopefully I’ll make one of the rescheduled showings (although one is at midnight tonight).