Browsing: SXSW 2014

Film Festival The Guest (dir. Adam Wingard)

It’s hard to follow a movie like You’re Next with equally strong material, but Adam Wingard’s The Guest is something so unlike anything else he has ever done it’s impossible not to have a blast watching it. Dan Stevens stars as David, an incredibly attractive war veteran who visits the family of one of his friends and quickly finds himself integrated into their life. It’s quickly apparent that there’s something fishy about David, but the way in which screenwriter Simon Barret tells his story provides for a hellishly entertaining ride. The movie has a wickedly awesome supporting cast that includes the likes of A.J. Bowen, Ethan Embry, Leland Orser, Joel David Moore and Lance Riddick. Painting on a bigger canvas than his previous works, Wingard create an atmosphere that contains just the right amount of suspense, humor, and terror.

Film Festival Faults-2014-SXSW-Movie-Review-Image

At long last I was able to catch the final screening of Faults, a packed showing for a festival nearing its close. The lights dimmed, the usual pre-movie blips played, and the movie began. I was immediately caught off guard by Leland Orser’s show-stopping performance. This was not the quiet but confidently spoken man I had met earlier in the week. Yes, the physical features and some of the mannerisms were the same, but this was not the same I had met only a few days before. Orser vanishes into his character with an assured ease, giving a performance that so deftly portrays all the aspects of his character that it was by far the best male lead performance to be found at SXSW.

Film Festival Neighbors-zac-efron-movie-review-2014-image

A videographer who answers an ad for a job in a remote town discovers that perhaps there’s something more menacing and dangerous than he originally expected. You can sort of see the path that Creep is going to take, but what makes it so effective is Mark Duplass’ performance as Josef, an expecting father diagnosed with terminal brain cancer who wants his son to be able to have videos of his father. Director and co-writer Patrick Brice plays Aaron, the man who accepts the job offer. It’s a simple tale, but Duplass gives a performance that is just the right balance of funny and creepy that the makes it hard to look away. Some movies don’t take much to scare and entertain, and Creep is a movie that proves that statement true.

Film Festival The Dog (dir. Allison Berg, François Keraudren)

The SXSW film I watched this year was a screener of David B. Marshall’s Beginning with the End that I watched on my computer, a viewing experience that only amplified how minimalistic the film felt given its subject matter. The documentary follows a group of students enrolled in an elective class on hospice care that will teach them skills for taking care of dying patients and allow them to employ these skills as volunteers at a hospice care center. Marshall follows these students over the course of the school year, showing that no matter how different each student is, death affects us all. It’s a simple message, told through interviews with different students as well as quiet observations at a hospice care center. At only 60 minutes, Marshall’s doc feels more like an extended commercial for a class than an in-depth look at how humans deal with mortality. There are certainly some moving moments to be found in Beginning with the End, but it ultimately comes up very short of being great.

Interviews 600

It’s always neat to see big stars get a huge reaction from a crowd during the premiere of their new movie, but it’s exponentially more exciting to see new talent get a warm reception from a crowd. It’s no easy feat to steal thunder from the likes of Jason Bateman and Kathryn Hahn, but first-time screenwriter Andrew Dodge owned the Q&A following the screening of the movie. I was really excited to talk to him the following afternoon, and our interview did not leave me disappointed.

Film Festival starryeyes_2-1

An exciting new talent announced itself at the Alamo Ritz last night and their names are Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. Their new movie, Starry Eyes, premiered to a sold out crowd last night to great reception. If you’re a genre movie fan attending SXSW this year and this movie isn’t on your radar, you’re doing it wrong.