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.
Love & Mercy (2014)
Dir. Bill Pohlad
It’s incredibly refreshing to see Paul Dano be given a role where not only is he the lead but he isn’t the quirky weird guy who gets the crap beaten out of him all the time. I love There Will Be Blood, but one of its negative albiet unintended effects was that Dano was type cast as that sort of character far too often. Thankfully, Bill Pohlad recognized Dano’s talent and cast him as Beach Boy Brian Wilson in his bio pic Love & Mercy. Dano gives what is easily a career-best performance here and is just part of stellar cast that also features John Cusack as an older Williams, as well as Elizabeth Banks and Paul Dano. Pohlad, perhaps more well-known for serving as producer on prestige pictures such as Wild, 12 Years a Slave, The Tree of Life and Brokeback Mountain, has made a film that defies all the traps that movies of this kind would normally succumb to. It is a wonderful study of a broken man who has a genuine yearning to create music. Never has a film depicted so excellently the crazed journey one goes through when creating a work of art, and rarely has a movie so perfectly depicted the “troubled artist” with such delicacy. Love & Mercy is a cinematic rarity: it cares more about its characters than it does its soundtrack. It is the best film of its kind since Walk the Line and deserves to be part of the conversation when awards season rolls around.
Dir. Jason Lei Howden
Simply put, Jason Lei Howden’s Deathgasm is the reason we go to movies. Combining heavy metal rock music with demons and bloody gore, this is everything in a movie you never knew you wanted. Now that I know it exists, it’s impossible to think of a world in which it doesn’t. Deathgasm is a movie equal parts hilarious, kickass, terrifying, heartwarming, grotesque and downright awesome. I will continue to sing this movie’s praises until I run out of adjectives.
Dir. Judd Apatow
Though the screening was advertised as a a “work in progress,” nothing in Trainwreck felt like it was something that needed to be cut out of the film. I’m fully convinced that the next time I see Trainwreck very little if anything will be new to me. That isn’t to say that Trainwreck is a tightly constructed film. There’s a lot of fluff on this piece, but in a way that is very different from the underrated Judd Apatow norm. Sure, Judd Apatow was in the director’s chair for this film but this is clearly Amy Schumer’s show.Though occasionaly too meandering for it’s own good, Trainwreck is still a hilarious movie with a wonderfully humane and believable story at its core. The relationship between Schumer and her fantastic costar Bill Hader is the highlight of this film. There are hundreds of jokes in this film, many of which I’m sure I missed. I can’t wait to see what I did.