Archive for the SXSW 2010 Category

SXSW 2010: FOUR LIONS (2009)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 20, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/20/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

Omar (Riz Ahmed) is the leader of a small jihadist cell based out of London. He is joined by his friends Waj, Faisal and Islamic convert Barry. Refusing to let their failure at a terrorist training camp dampen their aspirations, Omar, Waj and Faisal rejoin Barry in London with renewed motivation to pull off an act of terrorism there that will send a message to their world. They will soon learn that, while they were away, Barry has been hatching plans of his own. Furthermore, it will soon become painfully apparent that their biggest obstacle on the way to infamy is not the authorities but each other.

Less a controversial terrorism message-comedy and more a crowd-pleasing belly-laugh farce, FOUR LIONS first surprises by avoiding the high-brow cleverness of most British comedies and takes the screwball route. It may as well be called FOUR STOOGES. That is not to say the film rides the low road for (take for example the straight face with which it plays the family dynamic of Omar the terrorist and his family that view this as his day job) and that is going to be the biggest obstacle to reaching a wide audience immediately. There are many shifts in tone, amalgamations of different brands of humor that may prevent some people from unhesitatingly buying into the absurdity of it all. The direction by The IT Crowd frequenter Christopher Morris is almost the same mokumentary style seen in such films as IN THE LOOP but the camera remains a bit more stable and a there is a quite a bit more flair than that style would normally allow. With uniformly believable performances, each actor having a command of the comedic timing necessary for his character, and a script (also by Morris) that wraps up in compelling, if a bit predictable, ways, FOUR LIONS should rise above the artificial controversy (mostly perpetuated by those who have not seen it) to become a comedy hit.

  • 2010 New: 103
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 136
  • Age 29 New: 109
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 145

SXSW 2010: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT: THE RADIANT CHILD

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 20, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/20/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

It is odd that, until now, the only access into the life of Jean-Michel Basquiat on film has been the 1996 film BASQUIAT starring Jeffrey Wright as the titular artist who shot to near rockstar levels of stardom in New York in the 1980s. Now one of his close friends, Tamra Davis, has revealed footage of an interview with Basquiat she filmed when he was 25. Forgoing a detailed history of his origins, Davis instead marries the words of Basquiat and his friends to countless images of the artist’s works throughout the years. As a documentary about a man who expressed so much through his art, it is a fitting way to pay tribute to both by showing the progression of his pieces. It serves not only as a portrayal of a man who may have let the pressure of fame get the best of him but as a stunning lesson in the history of that man’s art. In a classy move, the documentary never shows Basquiat at his lowest, in the periods during which he was addicted to hard drugs, instead focusing more on the details of its effects on his relationships and his work. Walking in without any prior knowledge of the Basquiat, a viewer will leave feeling well versed in the period of time that Basquiat ruled the art scene and most definitely with the sinking realization that the world lost a brilliant mind when he was far too young.

  • 2010 New: 102
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 135
  • Age 29 New: 108
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 144

SXSW 2010: HIGANJIMA (2009)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 19, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/19/2010

There’s not an official review of this up on PopSyndicate because I took a little nap through some spots in this film. Can’t relieve give it a full review on a legit outlet with what I saw. But I can say, from what I did see, I didn’t care for this movie all that much. It opens strong with a vampire attack on a man in a barn, he is somewhere on the island of Higanjima. He is saved by some sort of vampire hunter who dispatches the evil beings in many bloody ways. However, things take a downhill turn when he uses a portable battering ram type device to crush a skull. The gore in is poorly rendered CGI… a sign of things to come.

Turns out back on the mainland, Akira is missing his brother who disappeared with his wife. He learns his brother is on the island of Higanjima and he and several of his friends set out to find him. The rest of the movie (from what I saw) is the kids running afoul of vampires, getting captured, getting away, etc. with more poorly rendered CG. This all culminates with a fight with a large gargoyle which looks like it was rendered on a Nintendo 64. The whole thing is overly long, not that much fun and just silly.

  • 2010 New: 101
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 134
  • Age 29 New: 107
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 143

SXSW 2010: THE WEIRD WORLD OF BLOWFLY (2010)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 19, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/19/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

Betty Wright, Gwen McCrea, KC and the Sunshine Band and many other that recorded with TK Records in the 60s and 70s owe a debt of gratitude to Clarence Harry Reid aka Blowfly. It was during those time he was writing hit songs for many artists on that label. It wasn’t until 1971 that Blowfly emerged, his first album sometimes cited as the birth of rap music, showering the world with filthy lyrics and trashed-up versions of popular songs. In that regard, he deserves a better tribute than THE WEIRD WORLD OF BLOWFLY.

Detailing much of Blowfy’s history in very brief, interspersed scenes throughout the documentary, THE WEIRD WORLD OF BLOWFLY instead focuses on the Blowfly of today as he tries to reclaim some bit of his status. Down on his luck, having sold off the rights to his library of music for a paltry sum before it was rediscovered and sampled in popular hip-hop music, Blowfly has teamed up with Tommy Bowker who has become his manager and drummer. The film follows them through some tour stops, including shows in German where his act consisting of dressing up in a sequined suit and hood and performing some of his raunchiest songs is lost on young audiences. Through all of this the filmmakers seem to revel in focusing in on Bowker’s frustrations with Blowfly who is understandably quite bitter towards his current station in life. It is through those means that Bowker comes out as a quasi-villain and deservedly so. Though he talks at length about loving Blowfly, he is doing nothing short of exploiting Blowfly as a brand, stating several times that this is a moneymaking venture. It is because of this relationship and the film’s insistence that the audience continually laugh at Blowfly as a man and not as an act even when he is truly sad that this is more of a nasty and exploitative documentary than a celebration of a legend.

  • 2010 New: 100
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 133
  • Age 29 New: 106
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 142

SXSW 2010: DOGTOOTH (2009)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 19, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/19/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

Trapped in a universe that extends not beyond their parents estate, three children live a life of, at turns, blissful and fearful ignorance. Their father takes his job as head of the household very seriously and is the only one that ever leaves through the gate in the wall around the property. Through the course of DOGTOOTH the programing of these three children is witnessed from lessons detailing the made-up definition of certain words (you’ll never think of words like “zombie” or “keyboard” the same) to the proper way to deal with the beast that is a cat. A subtle narrative of the perceived dangers of real world encroaching upon a delicately crafted, safe domain is woven through the film which is at times hilarious and at others extremely shocking.

DOGTOOTH is a film that will challenge the viewer to search for all sorts of deeper meanings but will ultimately punish the viewer for doing so. Scenes progress and transition in a lackadaisical manner solidifying director Girogos Lanthimos’ insistence on never passing judgement on the events taking place on screen. This is the genius of the film and the aspect that prevents it from becoming exploitative or offensive. There are scenes of sublime humor, scenes that always draw forth from the believable state of these characters in these extraordinary circumstances. At times these scenes are followed by others of unexpected, quick and intense violence or ones composed of sexuality that is both abject and beautiful. In fact, there is never a scene without its beauty no matter how shocking the content may be. The actors here are all impeccable, never once fumbling a beat; it all feels so very real. It’s the power of the performances, the beauty of the photography and the almost crushing subtlety that makes DOGTOOTH nearly unparalleled in exemplifying true cinema. Though not for everyone, those compelled to witness the movie for themselves will find a completely matter-of-fact presentation of a bizarre story that will leave them without the choice to take it any other way than at face value. A masterstroke of filmmaking.

  • 2010 New: 99
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 132
  • Age 29 New: 105
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 141

SXSW 2010: MONSTERS (2010)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 18, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/18/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

There is not much that really needs to be said about Gareth Edward’s MONSTERS, a minimalist exercise in filmmaking. The real joy is in knowing the work that was put into it. The film starts with text explaining that six years ago NASA sent a probe into space to search for alien life. Unfortunately, upon re-entry, the probe crashed in Central America and the alien lifeforms it had apparently found began to take hold of a good portion of Mexico. This area is now quarantined as an infected zone. An American tourist named Samantha relies on Andrew, a journalist, to help her trek through the infected zone to reach the US border.

MONSTERS is an excellent achievement but recognizable as such mainly once one knows the work that was put into it. There is no script to speak of, the dialogue was improvised by the two leads. Even more impressive the movie, shot on handheld cameras, was filmed in populated locales meaning Edwards not only had to create all the monsters using Adobe After Effects himself, but had to remove several existing elements to do so. The results are rather impressive. The monsters have an enormous scale and look like creatures that have truly developed through a real cycle of evolution. Against this backdrop of desolation and monsters, the film is really a love story. Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy pull off a sizable feat in that, without a script, they come off naturalistic as opposed to lost and wooden. It is a small film with some big ideas and a healthy dose of heart. If anything the film could lose a few minutes in the third act to tighten things a bit. Otherwise, it is a fine pseudo-romance with some admirable creature designs and an interesting production story. Definitely worth a watch.

  • 2010 New: 98
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 131
  • Age 29 New: 104
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 140

SXSW 2010: LOVERS OF HATE (2010)

Posted in 2010 New, Age 29 New, Movies (2010), Movies (Age 29), SXSW 2010 with tags , , , on March 18, 2010 by btsjunkie

Watched: 3/18/2010

**This write-up is copied from my SXSW coverage for PopSyndicate. Read all of my coverage over at PopSyndicate.**

Rudy is a bit down on his luck. Having been trumped in the spotlight by his brother brother Paul who writes children’s stories, Rudy is stuck in a go-nowhere cycle with an unfinished book and an unsuccessful marriage. Nearing the point of acceptance at the end of his marriage and fueled by deep resentment of his brother, Rudy resolves to finish his book “Lovers of Hate” and makes his way to a mansion in Park City, Utah where his brother has free reign to work. Unbeknownst to Paul is that Rudy is there when he arrives followed shorty by Rudy’s wife Diana.

LOVERS OF HATE is an interesting experiment in low-key high-concept. The beginning section of the film is your typical “loser tries to reconcile his marriage” dark comedy. These first 30 minutes are quite funny, with Rudy lashing out at the world around him, making excuses for issues he uses as self-imposed obstacles. When the action moves to the house in Park City, though, the tale takes on a pseudo-thriller tone at times. Rudy lurks the halls while Paul and Diana flaunt their affair unwittingly in his face. For the most part, it works and there is a healthy dose of humor squeezed from the minimal characters and locations. The only issue is that the by the end of it, there’s not really a character to like. Each of these characters has deeply wronged each of the others. It is most assuredly intentional, but it feels like a misfire. Still, it is a short burst of entertainment and it will be interesting to see what writer/director Bryan Poyser comes up with next.

  • 2010 New: 97
  • 2010 Re-see: 33
  • 2010 TOTAL: 130
  • Age 29 New: 103
  • Age 29 Re-see: 36
  • Age 29 TOTAL: 139