The annual SXSW Film Festival in Austin is in full swing, and as always, the films are quite an eclectic mix. The documentaries cover everything from David Lynch to internet outlaws, while the narrative films include Charlize Theron kicking butt, a Hollywood mystery, and quite literally Small Town Crime. While it’s hard to pick the best films from the sheer number being shown, here are a few that truly stand out:
The Disaster Artist
If you have not yet seen the glorious catastrophe that is The Room,I urge you to immediately drop whatever it is that you are doing and go watch it. After doing so, then you should read The Disaster Artist, by Greg Sestero, which spills all the gory details of how The Room was made. Then you will be ready to watch The Disaster Artist,the film based off the book. The movie stars Dave Franco as Sestero, while his older bro James Franco plays The Room director & star Tommy Wiseau in what may be the best casting choice ever made. Josh Hutcherson, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, and Zac Efron pop up in supporting roles. If you love the insanity of The Room,then it is pretty much guaranteed that you will love The Disaster Artist.
Sadly, a trailer isn’t avaliable for The Disaster Artist yet,so instead here’s a brilliant scene from The Room:
It didn’t seem possible for a film to top the weirdness of The Disaster Artist,but somehow, Sylvio manages to do so. Directed by Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney, Sylvio follows Sylvio, a debt collector who, by night, films hand puppet shows featuring a balding, middle-aged salesman. After a chance appearance on a Baltimore public access show, he becomes an instant celebrity. And to top it all off, he happens to be an ape who dons sunglasses. While Sylvio sounds truly bizarre, it also appears rather heartwarming; it’s hard to root against a main character who just wants something beyond his humdrum life, as well as one that’s cool enough to wear sunglasses and hold puppet shows. Oh, and happens to be an ape.
If you’re incredibly creeped out by rats, then you might want to sit this one out. If not, Rat Film is a fascinating look at the racial inequities in Baltimore, and how (believe it or not) rats are at the source of it. The documentary follows the severe rat problem wrecking the streets of Baltimore, and the folks who try to battle them. One of the most interesting “rat fighters” is Kurt Richter, the so-called “pied piper of Baltimore” who launched the first pest control program. The film is a distinct metaphor for the social, racial, and economic divides in Baltimore.
Another film from the brilliant Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), Baby Driver sees Wright turn to a new film genre: the heist film. Starring Ansel Elgort, the film follows a getaway driver as he tries to escape some baddies after a heist goes wrong. Also starring Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx, Baby Driver takes on American heist films in the quirky way that only Wright can do.
Song to Song
Terrence Malick is back, and his latest film is a love letter to indie rock (which is rather fitting for SXSW). With an A-list cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Christian Bale, and Benicio del Toro, the film follows a pair of romances in the Austin music scene as they face betrayal, seduction, and success (this sounds rather telenovela for Malick). The film also includes a number of appearances by actual indie musicians, including Arcade Fire, Iron & Wine, and Florence + the Machine. If this does turn out to be a telenovela, then I can’t wait to see how Malick approaches it.