Editor’s Notes: The following capsule reviews are part of our coverage of the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival. For more information visit sxsw.com and follow SXSW on Twitter at @sxsw.
Dir. Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Every sane person knows that the Apollo 13 moon landing was faked with the assistance of Stanley Kubrick. Heck, he practically confessed it in The Shining. Validity of such wacky conspiracy theories aside, the scenarios are just begging for a film adaptation. Looking back, it’s surprising how nobody before screenwriter Dean Craig (Death at a Funeral) had decided to expand the “what if” scenario into a feature-length film. As far as zany dark comedies go, Moonwalkers never approaches Dr. Strangelove territory, but Antoine Bardou-Jacquet’s feature-length debut provides more than enough laughs and ridiculous entertainment. Where the script occasionally stumbles or becomes the wrong kind of silly, the cast saves the film from sinking completely. Ron Pearlman is hilarious as a grizzled CIA agent, and Rupert Grint provides just as many if not more laughs as a lousy rock band manager. It’s no Dr. Strangelove, but Moonwalkers is solid entertainment that goes places not enough films do anymore.
The Look of Silence (2014)
Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer
Though it feels almost blasphemous to write, The Look of Silence packs more of an emotional punch than Joshua Oppenheimer’s previous film, The Act of Killing. The followup to Oppenheimer’s Oscar-Nominated documentary follows a man who confronts the men responsible for the death of brother in the Indonesian genocide. Though Silence is just as powerful without having seen Killing, perhaps it works even better as a companion piece. The Act of Killing is a broad, exhaustive piece that sets the stage for The Look of Slience‘s tightly constructed heart-wrenching character piece. The dramatic depths and character arcs that The Look of Silence possesses are ones scripted narrative films can only dream of achieving.
The Nightmare (2015)
Dir. Rodney Ascher
With Room 237, Rodney Ascher pissed off an entire brigade of movie fans with his examination of wide-ranging conspiracy theories one movie can inspire while simultaneously comforting those who think The Shining has hidden messages. With his documentary on sleep paralysis in The Nightmare, Ascher pissed off my girlfriend who works in the mental health field while simultaneously validating those who think Satan and/or aliens visit them when they sleep. Rodney Ascher claimed in both the movie and the following Q&A that sleep paralysis is something he has experienced, though I’m not entirely convinced that he fully endorses what his movie is selling. Many have criticized Rodney Ascher’s new “documentary” for refraining from including a single credible medical source. This criticism is irrelevant. The Nightmare plays like a scripted “documentary” that airs late at night on SyFy, and that the film so readily dismisses and even fails to include anyone who works in the psychology field only adds to this dynamic. Much like Ascher’s Room 237, it doesn’t matter if the subjects are right or not. What does matter is that Ascher has interviewed people with amazing stories and simultaneously crafted some of the most realistic and terrifying nightmare sequences ever put to film.