SXSW Reviews – Part 2

Here are some of the hilights from days 3 + 4

Brooklyn Castle – 3.5 out of 5 – This was a very entertaining documentary about a lower income, inner city middle school in Brooklyn that has been the most winning chess team in the country for years. The movie shows the impact the team has on these kids lives and the impact of budget cuts on the team beginning with the recession a few years ago.  Not only are the kids incredibly good chess players but they are great kids that you quickly connect with. The teachers are awesome – incredibly dedicated to their students and have a real impact on their lives.  The movie is funny, touching and uplifting.

The Raid: Redemption – 4 out of 5 – This is a great action/martial arts movie!  A SWAT team attempts to move in and clear out a building controlled by a drug lord. The drug lord is prepared and pretty soon into the movie it’s down to just a few remaining cops.  There are several great action scenes and the plot is really good.  This was a packed theater (1200 people) and there were several collective crowd groans, cheers and applause during some of the action.  This is a foreign film with subtitles and very violent.  If you like this type of movie don’t miss this one when it is released in the next couple of weeks!

Beware of Mr. Baker – 3.5 out of 5 – A good documentary about Ginger Baker, the onetime drummer for Cream and Blind Faith.  An incredibly tumultuous life with a long history of drug abuse and careening from one problem to another.  Due to his many arrests he was not able to get a visa to come to the U.S. for this world premiere. Fascinating movie.

21 Jump Street – 4 out of 5 –  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star in this comedy.    The movie-makers take the title and premise but little else from the old TV show that helped launch Johnny Depp’s career.   This movie has lots of hilarious/farcical moments and no potential source of laughs is off limits.  Hill and Tatum  make a great comedic duo and it’s fun to see their high school persona’s flip as they return.  This has a great cast including Rob Riggle, Ice Cube (very good) and others.    There was a great Q+A after movie. Jonah Hill was hilarious and it seemed like all involved had a great time making this movie and it shows on the screen. This opens next week and except for those who don’t like rude/crude is highly recommended. This is the type of movie that is best when seen in a crowded theater so I recommend seeing this early in it’s release.

 The Do Deca Pentathalon – 3 out of 5 – A comedy directed by the Duplass brothers. They actually filmed this before their first big studio film Cyrus but didn’t get to finish the editing until recently.  The movie is about two brothers who in their teens had a 25 event competition to determine the best brother that ended in controversy and acrimony.  The events include things like holding your breath under water, sports, etc.  Many years later they decide to re-stage the event to determine once and for all the best brother.  It has funny and touching moments and I enjoyed it. It also had a good Q+A afterwards (I assumed this was an autobiographical film but it was friends growing up that had the competition, not them)

For those who missed my first batch of reviews here is the link: SXSW Reviews – Part 1

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