I’ve finished up my stint at the SXSW festival. I’ll go through the last batch of screenings here, and then do a wrap up as part of my normal post on Tuesday.
Morris from America (Chad Hartigan, 2016)
A coming of age story of 13-year-old African American Morris who has been recently transplanted to Germany. The relationship between father and son feels genuine and is the highlight of the otherwise unremarkable film.
Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari, 2016)
Introduced as the Iranian version of “The Babadook”, I had high expectations for “Under the Shadow”. While it didn’t live up to “The Babadook”, that was an unreasonable goal, and I do understand why they were compared. Shideh (Narges Rashidi) plays a mother haunted by her inability to practice as a doctor due to her political involvements during the revolution. While good for quite a few frights, the ending had an extremely defeatist message uncommon to horror movies so dependent on metaphor that the entire film didn’t sit well.
Spaceship (Alex Taylor, 2016)
One of very few films I actively disliked this festival, I have no idea why this film was given a buzz screening. Focusing on various bits of a cyber-goth community in Wales, “Spaceship” loosely follows a teenage girl as she continues to struggle with the suicide of her mother from years past. To pad out the 85-minute run-time, the film takes a somewhat vignette approach at looking at other members of the community, but without any real rhyme or reason. Of all the films I saw this festival, “Spaceship” was the most pretentious without any payoff.
Before the Sun Explodes (Debra Eisenstadt, 2016)
A very cute story of an unhappy comedian who after being kicked out of his home for the evening, goes home with a fellow comedian. She helps to give him a new look on life. While a clichéd set up, “Before the Sun Explodes” does have its twist that makes it stand out from any of the other plethora of similar indie films.
The Slippers (Morgan White, 2016)
A really fun documentary on the ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Slippers” was a ton of unexpected fun. Starting with the finding of the slippers from the countless MGM warehouses, “The Slippers” ends up focusing on the industry of movie memorabilia collecting, which I personally find fascinating.
Trapped (Dawn Porter, 2016)
In stark contrast to the lighthearted “The Slippers”, “Trapped” was a gut-wrenching documentary about the legislation passed recently in hopes of closing as many abortion clinics as possible, most notably Texas HB2. I’ve done some research on the issues on my own, but was unaware of the magnitude that these laws had had on many southern states. Extremely informative and important.
Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)
I decided to end my festival with the biggest headliner, Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused”, “Everybody Wants Some!!”. “Everybody Wants Some!!” was definitely a solid Linklater film. It had the tight pace and dialogue that one would expect, but it didn’t manage to live up to its predecessor. By focusing on college students instead of high schoolers, the dynamic between the 4-year age difference was dampened, as the difference between 18 and 22 is much smaller than that of 14 and 18. Additionally, Linklater focused on a much narrower group of characters this time around completely removing any female presence except as an object of physical desire. “Everybody Wants Some!!” was a fine film, but lacks the specialness that we’ve come to expect from Richard Linklater.