SXSW Film started on Friday (3/8) and goes through next Saturday (3/16). This is the 20th anniversary of the film portion of the conference/festival. In addition to the film there is intereactive (which has been the fastest growing) and music. Music starts tomorrow and this year’s acts include Green Day, Stevie Nicks, LL Cool J, David Grohl, John Fogerty, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Vampire Weekend and about 2000 others. Rumors for unannounced shows include Justin Timberlake and Prince. Here is the complete list of films for the festival and some of my (Bill C’s) film hilights of the first three days.
Mud – 4.5 out of 5
This films reminded me a little of Stand By Me. Two young teens are convinced to help an outlaw on the run. Matthew McConaughy is great as the outlaw. The two kids are great too. The film also has Sam Sheppard, Reese Witherspoon, Joe Don Baker in small roles. This is a good coming of age movies by Jeff Nichols, the up and coming director of 2011’s Take Shelter. Both Nichols and McCconaughy were there for a Q+A after the film. Definitely see this when you can!
Linsanity – 4 out of 5
An excellent documentary about Jeremy Lin. This includes home footage and follows Lin’s growth as a basketball player from when he was a kid through leading his High School team to a state championship, his days at Harvard through the height of Linsanity. Even people who are not hoops fans will enjoy this movie as it touches on faith, perseverance, racial issues and just the feel good fairy tale ending of a guy whose career was on the brink of ending going on to tremendous success. Lin comes off as just a good guy who succeeds through hard work and perseverance. As with many good documentaries part of the success of this film depends on the filmmakers being in the right place at the right time. They actually had contacted Jeremy Lin about making this documentary when he was still at Harvard and started filming well before Linsanity hit.
Drinking Buddies – 4 out of 5
I liked this movie a lot. It was written/directed by Joe Swanberg who let his actors improvise and got great results. It’s a romantic comedy that does not rely on the usual formulaic ending. It stars Olivia Wilde, Jack Johnson, Anna Kendricks and Ron Livingston. The improvisation gave this a very realistic feel and the actors/actresses had great chemistry. Olivia Wilde was excellent. All were at the screening for a very entertaining Q+A.
The Bounceback – 3.5 out of 5
This was another very good romantic comedy that did not have the usual romantic comedy ending. This film was made in Austin and was shot on locations all over town (including several scenes in the Alamo Drafthouse). This one is more for people in their twenties and is a little raunchier that Drinking Buddies.
Prince Avalanche – 3 out of 5
This is a movie filmed in just a couple of weeks by David Gordon Green starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as two members of a road crew isolated and working together to reopen roads after a devastating fire. This was shot in Bastrop after last years wild fires and captures some of the destruction that took place and the rebirth occurring in the park. This is not a typical Rudd comedy and instead focuses on the interactions of two very different people who are constantly together and ultimately helping each other deal with their problems. It was pretty good.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone – 2.5 out of 5
I had high expectations for this opening night comedy but was disappointed. It had some very funny moments and the packed crowd at the Paramount (1200 people) loved it but I found it very uneven. I thought Jim Carrey was miscast (although he was the hilight of the Q+A afterwards). I also thought the romance with Steve Carell and Olivia Wilde was not needed and dumb (I liked Wilde so much more in Drinking Buddies). As I said the audience loved it and if you’re a Carrell fan you should consider seeing this as it did have some very funny moments (my favorite being the reveal of their last trick)