Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SXSW Film recap

Here's another attempt at being a film critic. All these films are typical of the festival's indie selections, although these have the distinction of being my favorites. I saw a few others, but they're not worth mentioning.

Otis - A campy horror movie that’s really a political statement, Otis tells the story of a lovable loser who tries to relive the past by abducting teenage girls and torturing them. That is, until one family decides to avenge their daughter and bypass the justice system. Sound funny? It’s hilarious.

Run, Fatboy, Run - This delightful, if predictable, British romantic comedy is already in theaters. It may not be worth full admission price, but if you can’t find a better Saturday night date movie, I’d recommend it. It’s cute in an understated British way and noteworthy as David Schwimmer’s directorial debut.

Medicine for Melancholy - A one-night stand becomes something a little more when two indie kids spend the day together exploring San Francisco. The catch is that they’re black and dealing with the complicated issues of urban life, with the issue of gentrification acting as a backdrop. This is a very pretty film, and San Francisco acts as more than a setting and becomes a third character.

In a Dream - Isaiah Zagar is a mosaic artist in Philadelphia, and his work is featured on buildings throughout the city, particularly on the famous South Street. A documentary directed by Zagar’s son, In a Dream creates an intimate portrait of the artist and his complicated family relationships with. His colorful work helps to make the film beautiful and ethereal. This was the winner of the SXSW Audience Award.

Dear Zachary - This film started as a personal project for filmmaker Kurt Kuenne after his best friend, Andrew Bagby, was murdered. He went around the country interviewing Andrew’s grieving friends and family. Until events took a shocking twist - Andrew’s murderer and ex-girlfriend was pregnant. Kurt then decided to make the film for Zachary, the baby, as a way for him to know his father. But more twists, including a custody battle between Zachary’s mother and grandparents, send the film into new directions. This film is incredibly moving - most people in the theater were weeping by the end, myself included.

Some Assembly Required - Yet another documentary, this one has a lighter subject. It follows teams of middle schoolers as they compete in the National Toy Competition. What’s most fascinating about this film is how the kids grow and become more self-confident throughout their journey to the national competition. Early adolescence is of course awkward, but it’s great to see a film that encourages their strengths - creativity, ingenuity, and belief in the impossible.

I also saw Jesus Camp last week, and hopefully I will have some reactions and comments on that film ready to post within the week. All I will say for now is that it was quite thought-provoking, although not as as "shocking" as the liberal made it out to be.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I liked watching Medicine for Melancholy with you- such a treat :)