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. Samantha Futerman, Ryan Miyamoto
With endless time dedicated to the dangers of the internet, it’s refreshing to find a film that celebrates the good that the internet can bring. Twinsters documents the story of two Korean twins who separated at birth and handled by different adoption agencies. One went to France, the other to California. Neither of them knew the other existed, but they would find each other through the wonder of the internet. The film’s underlying themes of identity and the candid nature of it’s subjects help to elevate the film from simply being nothing more than a feature-length viral video. As someone who recently met his own biological family, this movie had me in tears from beginning to end.
Excess Flesh (2015)
Dir. Patrick Kennelly
Part Aronofsky and all kinds of messed up, Excess Flesh is a grotesque but involving body horror picture. We are introduced to two roommates involved in the modeling world of L.A, and director Patrick Kennelly depicts their obsession with food in such a perfect way. Utilizing low angles and amplifying the sound, here is a movie that will make you not want to eat for quite some time. Things in this movie great gross pretty quickly, as one of the roommates imprisons the other
and forces her to eat food and eventually mutilates her body as well. It’s a descent into madness like no other, and it’s certainly grotesque enough to turn off a lot of viewers. I’m really sure I could say I enjoyed it, but it’s very easy to admire the talent behind the camera as well as the two performances by Bethany Orr and Mary Loveless.
Dir. Trey Edward Shults
The “family holiday drama” movie is a well-traveled realm, but Trey Edward Shults has made one of the genre’s best in years. For successfully employing multiple aspect ratios, cast comprised mostly of non-actors, documentary feel and extended takes, a film like Krisha would deserve acclaim for its technical aspects alone. However, Trey Edward Shults uses these tools and more to craft one of the most enthralling, heartbreaking family dramas ever put on film. Krisha Fairchild’s mesmerizing and heart-breaking performance is not only palpable, but raw as well, helping to cement Krisha as a riveting character study. Filmed entirely in Austin on a low budget and telling a story that takes place over one Thanksgiving, Krisha won a well-deserved Grand Jury top prize at SXSW.
Dir. Jamie Babbit
Fresno, directed by Jamie Babbit and Karey Dornetto, is well-assembled and many of its jokes land well. However, this movie feels ten years old. It’s clear that this film feels edgy and hip, and it would have had it come out next to films like Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways, but at this point we’ve seen so many films like this that there are literally no surprises to be found in Fresno. Judy Greer plays Shannon, a sex addict who takes a job to work with her lesbian sister Martha, played by Natasha Lyonne. After accidentally killing someone, the two have to go on the run and find ways to dispose of the body. Again, the material is familiar but it is made up for by how well many of the jokes land. Also helpful is how hilarious everyone is. Judy Greer and Nathasa Lyonne are given some of their meatiest roles in years, and they are very fun to watch. Also fun to watch is the supporting cast, made up of the likes of Aubrey Plaza, Fred Armisen, Allison Tolman and Molly Shannon. Sure, we’ve taken the ride before. It’s a shame the model wasn’t even updated just a bit.