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.
The Frontier (2015)
Dir. Oren Shai
Blending 70s and classic noir to create a movie for the ages, Oren Shai’s feature debut follows a woman on the run who finds herself in an even more precarious position after arriving at an isolated diner. A wickedly entertaining ode to 1970s cinema that features a dynamite cast and searing suspense, The Frontier is tailor-made for die-hard lovers of cinema. Speaking of the cast, there isn’t a bad egg among them. The Frontier was easily one of my favorites of this year’s SXSW, and I can’t wait to see what Oren Shai has up his sleeve in the coming years.
The Little Death (2014)
Dir. Josh Lawson
For a movie that opens with a wife confessing her rape fantasy to her husband, there is no reason why the Australian sex comedy The Little Death should work as well as it does. In telling the story of five couples dealing with various sexual taboos, writer and director Josh Lawson treats his subject matter with just the right mix of delicacy and side-splitting humor, all building to a surprisingly sweet ending. Too many adult comedies recycle the same easy jokes. The Little Death doesn’t go for the easy jokes, and
its refusal to pull any punches makes for some of the best sex comedy in a very, very long time. Comedies this dark don’t come along very often, and they certainly have never been this hilarious. I dread the inevitable dumbed down American remake.
Dir. Rick Alverson
It takes true talent to follow up a film like The Comedy with something equally if not superiorly richer, but Rick Alverson does such brilliant ease in Entertainment he lives little doubt that he is one of the most exciting minds working in independent cinema today. While his previous film had nothing to do with comedy, his latest opus takes place in the dark world of stand-up comedy. It takes a special breed to travel from bar to bar, performing jokes and routines and characters that nobody came to see in the first place. Greg Turkington gives an incredible lead performance, as a comedian who delivering confrontational comedy in the vein of Andy Kaufman. He does an incredible job of helping to craft a character study of a guy that’s pretty hard to make likable or even interesting. The supporting cast features the likes of Michael Cera, Dean Stockwell and John C. Reilly, but Tye Sheridan delivers a particularly odd and memorable performance as a clown who may have even less of an interest in winning over his audience than Turkington does. Although the movie becomes too odd and open-ended in its final moments, it’s hard to resist just how engrossing this film is.