My experience at SXSW
My first experience at SXSW was overall really fun. For someone like me, an aspiring Writer and Director, it was amazing to hear what these filmmakers had to say, and to see their babies take flight; in some cases, see the process of filmmaking at its best. I mean from the first movie I saw I was blown away, and it just got better from there. I never ran into an unpleasant person, it was like everyone was friends, or a part of a huge family of film lovers. There were some ups and downs to it, like the first day I had to get used to where everything was, but now I feel like a pro. I was not keen on the whole way you get express passes, more often than not they were out in a matter of seconds. I appreciated the variety of activities there was to do, I was able to take time out from the movie portion and enjoy some of the interactive, and sit down to watch a wide variety of music; the whole experience was mind blowing. My one complaint is when my Dad and I wanted to sign up for special events, you had to be 21 because of alcohol being served, the events themselves would be great for my age (18), why not mark the underage and still let them go to the events but not have alcohol? I was stoked when we thought we were going to do the Game of thrones experience, and the Highwaymen puzzle room, just to have my hopes smashed because of an age that should not matter for the event other than alcohol.
US Starrng: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
So I have to start off by addressing how good a director/writer Jordan peele is; it takes directors a couple movies to get big and well known, but it only took one movie for Jordan peele to become a household name. Now besides the family behind me being really annoying this movie was absolutely amazing. US, in the beginning is about a family who goes on vacation but gets terrorized by a family who looks exactly like them. It’s a fantastic mystery to see unravel. So, as the movie progresses you see more and more of the bigger picture. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say horror movies now days has me leaving the theater unsatisfied; one because there’s always something missing and two they are always so formulaic. I have waited a while for someone that would come along and basically reinvent the horror genre… and I think he has arrived and his name is Jordan Peele. The movie is a thriller but as time progresses it feels like a thriller slasher then it feels like a thriller chase movie. It’s so good that the genre switch seems, well, seamless. With most movies, when you interject comedy into a horror movie, it hardly ever works, but with Jordan Peele, it works without compromising the story or the horror aspect. I think that Jordan Peele is like the new M. night Shyamalan but like the early years m. Night (sixth sense, unbreakable, signs). I’m most definitely giving this a 5/5 Jordan Peele is becoming the new face for horror/thriller movies. The movie was so on the edge of your seat intense it’s worth watching and then buying on Blu-ray.
Tales from the lodge is a dark comedy/thriller anthology. I was surprised that I liked it as much as I did. I saw the surprise twist at the end coming because it was kind of predictable but I enjoyed the build up to it none-the-less. The acting was pretty good, and the comedy lands most of the time for me; I found myself laughing more than I thought I would from the synopsis. The writing was good, having several stories to tell as the movie goes along and the writers kept the integrity of the full story. The camera work was okay, definitely not the best, but decent. The thriller part of this movie was also pretty good most of the parts build tension really well. So for ‘Tales from the Lodge’ I’m going to have to give it a 4/5 because it was entertaining but it could have been better and they could have hid the twist better.
Stuber is a take on an action comedy buddy movie with Dave Bautista, and kumail nanjiani, and as far as buddy cop movies go, it stood up against a lot of the classics for sure. I loved everything about Stuber; its writing, its concept, the action, the comedy, the characters, everything is great and fires perfect on all cylinders. I would have never guessed Kumail nanjiani would be in an action movie but he actually pulled it off and was fantastic at it. While he definitely was the comedic relief, I thought Dave Bautista was just a little more than Kumail; more in the action for sure, but more in the comedic part as well. The action was engaging and fun. I’m going to have to give ‘Stuber’ a 5/5 for just pure fun.
This was probably one of my favorite things at sxsw for several reasons; I admire Robert Rodriguez as a writer and director, he showed that you can make a great movie for very little money, and the movie he made ‘red 11’ was really good. I am an aspiring writer and director, so I was really stoked to sit in on this ride Rodriguez took us on. I learned a lot of good tips and pointers from Mr. Rodriguez, and to know in the harsh business of movie making, there are people out there that are sincere and willing to help young artists was a welcome sight. As for the movie Red 11, it was a really good movie with great acting, great characters and character development, great cinematography, and a really fun concept. It was really cool to see what started as a teaching tool turn into a fantastic work of art. I’m going to give the movie itself a 5/5 and I’m going to give the film school a 5/5.
Mr. Jimmy is a documentary about a Japanese man who was intrigued by Jimmy Page and wanted to basically mimic his whole stick. The story was interesting; I mean a man from a country with a whole different style of music fell in love with an American rock and roll icon. It was not enough to mimic his songs; he transformed his looks right down to his clothes. It was interesting to see to what lengths he went to in order to be more like his idol. I would have to give ‘Mr. Jimmy’ a 4/5
LOVE, DEATH, AND ROBOTS
Now at the time of writing this I just finished all episodes of Love Death and Robots…the full series was released at 2am this morning. And I watched all 18 episodes. Now let me start off by saying I got to see six episodes at SXSW and they were pretty damn good of course with any anthology series there are going to be ones that are better than the previous. But here’s where this show got me…it has so much style. Every episode is unique and they show it through visuals, story, acting, animation, blood, sex, all of it is so stylized. Now along with seeing the six episodes at SXSW I also got to hear Tim Miller and David Fincher and Tim Miller said that this is a love letter to nerds and to comic books. And it shows man, like every episode is done by different people and it shows how much they care for this project. Love Death and Robots is a Sci-fi anthology series of nsfw shorts ranging from 6-17 minutes in length. The show is mostly animated; there’s blood, sex, killing, explosions, comedy, and of course robots. So I think it’s safe to say by my opening statement I did very much like this show and wish for more seasons to come. My score for it is a 4/5 it’s damn good with a good head on its shoulders.
LITTLE MONSTERS Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Stephen Peacocke
Little Monsters is a take on comedy zombie apocalypse movie with preschoolers thrown into the mix. While it’s hard to rival Shaun of the dead, Little Monsters does a pretty good job in that regard. The characters are reliable and fleshed out, with each of the adult characters staying true to themselves as the film progresses; i.e.: the teacher is always the protector of the kids and does not stray at all. The suspense is killer, while the comedy lands perfectly and breaks the suspense from time to time. The writing is really good, and the message is amazing. I fell in love with the actors in the movie; they all did a phenomenal job. Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, and Josh Gad kill it with their performances. I love this movie because it’s a lighthearted horror film and basically, we need more of those. I’m going to give ‘Little Monsters’ a 5/5.
I’M JUST F*CKING WITH YOU Starring: Scott Barkan, Gregg Zehentner
I’m just f*cking with you is a spin on thriller comedy and it delivers on both ends. The main antagonist is creepy yet funny, a hard thing to pull off. The acting is ok but nothing to rave about. The plot is pretty easy to follow but it’s entertaining as heck. The use of neon colors and the film angles that were used is one of the biggest things I loved; it was like they were part of the story. I loved that it didn’t rely on jump scares, I truly detest jump scares; it was just a crazy ride of “I’m just messing with ya’s.” I give ‘I’m Just F*cking with you’ a 3/5, mainly because the acting could have been better but it was entertaining and almost all the attempts at comedy usually landed perfectly.
The Highwaymen is a new retelling of the story of Bonnie and Clyde but, told from the view point of the brave men who killed them; the Highwaymen, former Texas Rangers. I will preface this to say, I have never seen the original that my Dad talks about, but it is now on my list to watch. The acting was great; you have Woody Harrelson, Kevin Costner, and Kathy Bates who all do a stellar job. The writing is pretty dang good, and it gives us younger people a fantastic glimpse of the past. The cinematography was amazing, especially the end shots of the final battle, took my breath away. The story is great, as they say “ripped out of the headlines.” What I love is they show how loved and idolized Bonnie and Clyde were by the people but they also showed why they had to be brought down, the evilness that they truly were. The movie is an all-around good movie. I give ‘The Highwaymen’ a 5/5 it was just a great movie.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA
Now I’m not going to say I’m an export of the lore of La Llorona but I have a pretty good concept. La Llorona is a Mexican folktale about a mother who drowned her kids and haunts kids who don’t listen to their parents. Now the “conjuring universe” is mediocre at best in my opinion but this one was the worst movie out of the bunch for me. I already don’t like modern horror movies because they are all so formulaic it hurts. The only real positive thing I can give is there were there were a few scenes that built tension to a jump scare that were pretty good. But it’s unapologetically a lame horror movie. Most of the scares (all of the scares) are just jump scares; some of them land most don’t but all jump scares are the same; it’s almost always a loud noise and then disappointment. The movie isn’t that great; the characters are dumb as well in their decision making, the writing is bad, the story is pretty bad. I just didn’t really like it so I’m giving ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ a 2/5.
BAND TOGETHER WITH LOGIC Starring Daniel Goh, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Handschin
Band Together With Logic is a documentary that I actually really liked and I’m not too big on documentaries. It is rapper logic and Joseph Gordon-Levitt bringing a bunch of musicians together to make a song and a music video. It’s a heartwarming documentary about people coming together and having a good time and spreading positivity. I love that the musical talent and the message in this documentary is together we can make magic; it is something we need to see more of now days. I give ‘Band Together With Logic’ a 4/5.
THE ART OF SELF DEFENCE: starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots
The Art of Self-Defense is a roller coaster of emotions. They throw a lot into this movie, from drama to comedy, to surrealism; it is a ride worth taking. The acting was superb all the way around, but Jesse Eisenberg shines the most with his transformations in the film. The visuals were pretty good, the comedy was on point at every turn, and it never missed a beat. The story was easy to follow and engaging, with a new twist on an old subject of beaten down person learning to defend themselves. I give ‘The Art of Self-Defense’ a 5/5.
ADOPT A HIGHWAY: Starring Ethan Hawke, Elaine Hendrix, Christopher Heyerdahl
Where to start with this one, I went in only knowing that Logan Marshall-green wrote and directed it and that Ethan Hawke was starring in it (my Dad introduced me to Ethan Hawke movies a few years ago, and he is becoming one of my favorite independent movie actors.) Needless to say I was pumped but what I didn’t know was how good it was going to be I was freaking blown away. This movie hit all my good movies stings good acting, great plot, pretty cinematography, amazing directing, it hits every mark with ease. I mean Ethan Hawke just killed it with his performance. The story itself is a simple one, man gets released from prison after a long stint and has to adapt to life outside prison walls, but it becomes so much more; about social injustice, about new beginnings, about self-worth, among other things. I give ‘Adopt a Highway’ an easy 5/5.