SXSW 2009: More Film Reviews

Music Features SXSW
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For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism
I'm not sure how sensible it is to supply a film critic's critique on a film about film criticism, especially one directed by a film critic (are we lost yet?). But let me try. For the Love of Movies Kauffman, A.O. Scott and Roger Ebert. However, the film begins to lose some focus when expressing regret over the changes in film criticism, mostly due to the internet. Statements about a "profession under siege" and the dismissing of critics by many American newspapers just appears as too much whining. Critic Harry Knowles puts it best in the film when he says, "If everyone can become a critic then that means critical thinking has spread."


metropolis.jpgMetropolis (1927)
Current composers Graham Reynolds and Peter Stopschinski created an astonishingly powerful score and performed it with a live orchestra on stage for the screening of director Fritz Lang's futuristic silent film on the battle between workers and their ruthless, empire ruling leader of the city. I have seen this film several times over the years but the score gave me a new appreciation of it.

Wake Up
This very strange documentary about a man who claims to see angels surprises audiences with its straight and forthright telling. Like following a terminal cancer patient around the world in search of a cure we follow Jonas Elrod on his own journey for explanations and peace. By the end of the film the question becomes not whether to believe that Elrod really sees what he says he sees, but rather if what he sees truly exists.

The Square
Things go terribly awry when a simple, adulterous affair turns deadly in this clever Australian film from director Nash Edgerton. The nonstop twists and turns make for an interesting mystery. After last year's disastrous Australia it's good to see that competent films can still be made down there.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle
After seeing Vince Vieluf's performance as an hysterical nitwit in 2001's senseless but funny Rat Race I've wanted to see a little more of this strange dude. I am rewarded with Little Dizzle, a twisted, hip comedy about a group of misfits working for an office cleaning service and being used as test subjects for a new experimental brand of cookie. (I know. I'm sure you've heard that storyline a million times.) The "conceiving" of Little Dizzle is too wacked out to even begin to describe. At times the film gets off track but there's enough sizzle in this Dizzle to get some laughs.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo
Seeing this gentle, beautiful film inside the Alamo Drafthouse theater on Sixth St, away from all the SXSW celebratory noise and distractions, was a real treat. Directed by Jessica Oreck, a docent from New York City's Natural History Museum, Beetle Queen weaves Japan's popular fascination with insects with the country's peaceful expressions in nature through forms such as Haiku which the film says is "the interpretation of the brevity of life". Beetles, for example, are everywhere--video games, pets, television--with beetle purveyors being raised to celebrity status.

Splinterheads
Lea Thompson so epitomizes 1980s films. Back to the Future (parts I, II and III), Some Kind of Wonderful, Howard the Duck, All the Right Moves--that is how I picture Thompson. So it wasn't totally unusual to see her in Splinterheads, though a bit older as a widower with a grown son, because the film would have played perfectly well in the 80s. Fortunately (or unfortunately for the filmmakers) the 80s are behind us. (Did I mention Howard the Duck?) And although Thomas Middleditch is aptly cast in the nice-guy-who-still-lives-with-mom-wasting-his-life-hanging-with-his-best-friend-since-grade-school role, the story has been told a few thousand times too many.

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