Charlotte Prine: SXSW 2017 Film Reviews

SXSW 2017 Movie Reviews

Song to Song

Category: Headliners, USA Premiere

Director: Terrence Malick

Starring: Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett

Runtime: 120 mins


Set in the music scene of Austin, Texas, this story follows three individuals caught up in sex, drugs and rock and roll.  When music producer, Cook, offers a contract to struggling songwriter, BV, he opens a door previously closed to the young man.  As they attend ACL and SXSW and other big music venues, BV grows closer to Cook’s on-again/off-again girlfriend, Faye.  Knowing that Cook is a jealous man, they risk everything with their music careers to be together.  As their relationship grows, Cook begins to spiral out of control and threatens to take everyone with him.


What a stinker of a movie!  It has a great cast but the story is confusing, disjointed, and drawn out.  I found myself hoping that the credits would roll so that we could all be released from this torture.  I’m told that this is a common filming technique of Malick, and I honestly never want to see anything of his again.  Even when asked during the Q&A afterwards, Mara said it was so long ago she can’t remember anything but that it was hard and she had to keep reminding herself that they were doing something different.  WOW!  How to bad mouth a movie you are a part of without coming out and saying it, 101.


This was a truly troublesome opening film for this year’s festival.  When it is said that the opening movie tends to set the trend of the festival, we were all feeling we were in serious trouble.  Holy smokes, what were we all in for this year?  A fellow movie goer and critic friend was so angry with every movie that we saw that was better than this one as the festival went on that I was constantly laughing at her.  This movie took so much out of me that first night that I blew off any other movie that evening and just returned home worried about what this year’s festival was going to be like.  Luckily this movie did not define this year.


I give this one a 1 out of 5 reels.  The 1 is solely for the amazing cast.  If you like artsy movies that are all over the place, that you can’t tell if you are in the past, present, or future, randomly framed scenes that make no sense, and oddly shot scenes, then this is your kind of movie.  This is definitely not my type of movie.  Someone roll credits already!


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte



This is Your Death

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director: Giancarlo Esposito

Screenwriters:  Kenny Yakkei and Noah Pink

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, Giancarlo Esposito, Sarah Wayne Callies, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and James Franco

Runtime: 104 mins


When the latest season of the very popular reality TV show, The Bachelor, comes to an end with the bachelor choosing his bride to be from the remaining finalists, the popular TV host finds himself in a life and death situation.  When his actions thrust him into the lime-light for a different reason than what he is used to, he starts to question morals and values and where he stands.  As his station producer pitches a new idea for a reality show, he hesitantly takes the job with intention of doing good but then loses himself in the spotlight as the show becomes more popular than anything before.


This new show has contestants vying for the audience’s favor to win money for their families as they commit suicide on live television.  Each filmed death brings more viewers week after week and drives the producers to continue to go bigger with each death.  An exaggerated but harsh look at the morals of today’s society, this is a disturbing and gut-wrenching look at the darker side of today’s world.


This movie has a phenomenal cast, a brilliant director, and a strong script.  It carries a hard look at today’s society where everyone is disconnected from each other and indifferent to the trials of others because of technology and conditioning.  When the host begins trying to bring people back into a stranger’s life before they leave this world, he loses himself in the next big thing and the fame.  When his sister tries to ground him, he risks losing everything he truly cares about, including himself.


I give this one a 4 out of 5 reels.  It is heartfelt, engaging, and powerful.  Although the story itself is exaggerated, it really isn’t that hard to see that this is where society could actually go. With the fascination of tragedy and gore that seems to have a grip on today’s world, it doesn’t take much imagination to see that this movie is a very powerful voice to try and bring everyone back to the light. A movie that asks people to pay attention to everyone around them, to take stock of the little things, and to show sympathy for your fellow man.


I really liked this one and found it to be a very moving story.  The cast is absolutely phenomenal.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Small Town Crime

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Directors/Screenwriters: Ian and Eshom Nelms

Starring: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster, Clifton Collins Jr, Michael Vartan, James Lafferty, Daniel Sunjata, Caity Lotz, Jeremy Ratchford, Don Harvey, Stefanie Scott, and Dale Dickey

Runtime: 91 mins


When ex-cop and alcoholic, Mike Kendall, tries to be recommissioned as an officer, he is constantly ridiculed and strung along by fellow police officers.  When he finds a young woman left for dead in the middle of nowhere while on a drunken bender, he takes on the responsibility to find out who she is and who did this to her.  As the case develops, the investigating officers keep trying to get him to stand down and stay out of it.  He decides to take on the label of private investigator to seek justice and soon finds himself in the middle of cover-ups, death, drugs, and gangs.  As he closes in on the truth, his family lands in the killer’s cross-hairs.  Mike has to save his family and expose the truth, all the while fighting his own inner demons.


This movie is my number one pick from the entire film lineup that I saw this year.  This is such a well done movie that I actually was debating on trying to see it again instead of another movie.  It’s that good.  The cast, the writing, the directing all pull this wonderfully engaging mystery into a beautifully woven story.  I could easily watch this movie again and I could definitely see this movie leading to a series with some truly likeable and colorful characters.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 stars.  This movie has everything, from likable colorful characters to engaging and intriguing mystery.  This is a lot like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”.  Extremely enjoyable and honestly full of potential for another movie or even a TV series.  Absolutely my favorite movie from the whole festival.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Win It All

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director: Joe Swanberg

Screenwriters: Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson

Starring: Jake Johnson, Aislinn Derbez, Joe Lo Truglio, Keegan-Michael Key

Runtime: 90 mins


Eddie Garrett is a gambler.  Floundering in life, his brother is constantly trying to guide him as much as he can.  When an acquaintance of Eddie’s asks a favor, he can’t refuse.  His friend is scheduled to serve a 6-7 month prison sentence and needs to stash a duffle bag while away.  All he has to do is hold on to the bag, no questions asked, and he will earn money upon the end of the prison sentence.  When curiosity gets the better of him, Eddie’s gambling addiction gets the better of him and he soon finds himself gambling with money from the bag.  Along the way, Eddie begins to get his life in order and actually meets a girl and starts to have a steady and healthy relationship.  When his friend calls with the good news that he’s getting out early, Eddie panics and realizes that he can’t earn the money he needs to replace in time and panics.  His life starts to spin out of control and his only hope is to try and win one good hand at high-stakes poker.  He risks it all, knowing that his only other option is to flee the country.


This is a very enjoyable movie with a great cast.  The story keeps the viewer involved throughout the entire movie.  We end up riding his roller coaster of trying to win the money back.  It is engaging all the way to the very end.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  It’s reminiscent of other movies involving heists or high risk jobs.  The story is well written and the cast is perfect.  I truly enjoyed this one from beginning to end.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Baby Driver

Category: Headliners, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx

Runtime: 113 mins


A street orphan and car thief named Baby, steals the wrong car and after dumping the car into the bottom of the river, is blackmailed into working for a Crime Boss as a getaway driver.  A very gifted driver, Baby drives to the beat of his mix tapes.  Never working with the same team twice, the crime boss arranges the marks and makes the plans while the team relies on Baby to get them out.  When the crime boss decides to pull members from past teams into one for a big heist, Baby realizes that the boss does not plan on letting Baby walk after paying off his debt.  As tensions rise and the stakes are raised, Baby finds his life, friends and new love in danger.


WOW!  This is such a great movie.  It is absolutely engaging from beginning to end.  High paced and engrossing.  Terrific cast and very well written.  Another fantastically choreographed car chase after another, sprinkled with shoot outs and games of wit.  I can’t say enough good things about this one.  This one is my number three pick for the entire festival.


2017 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners:  Headliners


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Wonderfully done and well put together.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Mr. Roosevelt

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Noel Wells

Starring: Noel Wells, Nick Thune, Britt Lower, Daniella Pineda, Andre Hyland, Doung Benson, Armen Weitzman, Sergio Cilli

Runtime: 90 mins


Emily must return home for a family emergency but is hesitant on dealing with what she left behind in a rash decision to abandon her life there for the LA scene.  She must come to terms with her ex, his new life and love, and all those she left behind in her pursuit of a career in Hollywood.  She begins to wonder about her decision to move to LA and what path she is on.


This movie is full of laughter and tears in this heartfelt story about plans, careers, and fate.  Filmed in and around Austin, this movie has some local flavor to it.  It keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end as Emily works through her past to embrace her future.


This is a tiny little film with a huge heart.  It won everyone over at the festival.  It ended up getting additional screenings added.  Bravo to Noel Wells on a well done movie and putting together a great cast to accomplish it.


Like other movies where people return home for family emergencies, this story has humor, tragedy, and heart all rolled up into one wonderful film.  Enjoyable from beginning to end.


2017 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners:  Narrative Spotlight


Louis Black “Lone Star” Award Winner : SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

To honor SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black, a jury prize was created in 2011 called the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, to be awarded to a Texas film in content, filmmaker residency, or primary shooting location.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Atomic Blonde

Category: Headliners, USA, World Premiere

Director: David Leitch

Screenwriters: Kurt Johnstad

Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston

Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Til Schweiger, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones

Runtime: 115 mins


One of MI6’s most lethal assassins, Lorraine, is sent to Berlin to recover a list of double agents.  When the mission goes sideways, she realizes that she’s in the middle of a hornets nest and cannot trust anyone.  As the trail leads to one double-cross after another, she prepares for the fight of her life.  Can she uncover the double agent before they catch up to her?


WOW!  Theron is absolutely fabulous in this movie with intrigue, action, and amazing camera work.  I seriously believe that she could easily beat John Wick!  No joke!  There were several one camera, long one take shots that are just breath-taking and jaw dropping.  Just a WOW! type movie.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  This is my #4 pick from this year’s festival.  I highly recommend this one and hope to pick up the DVD for my collection when it is available.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






Category: Narrative Spotlight, UK, North American Premiere

Director: Peter Mackie Burns

Screenwriter: Nico Mensinga

Starring: Emily Beecham, Geraldine James, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, and Nathaniel Martello-White

Runtime: 87 mins


Daphne is a very close to the vest social hermit.  She has never been able to connect to anyone for more than a one night stand.  When she unwillingly finds herself in a situation to help a shopkeeper who has been shot during a robbery, she reluctantly lends a hand.  This begins to pull at the wall that she has carefully built up around her to shield her from society.  She has always been the one that thought enough to buy a sandwich for a homeless man but never connected further than that, until now.  As her world crashes in on her, will she lose herself completely?


This is a very slow moving story, although a good one.  It isn’t one to watch when you are lacking sleep or can’t sit still long enough for it to get to where it is going.  I did like the story, but felt that it really took too long to get there, even with this great cast.


I don’t even think having commercial breaks would help this one speed up any.  So in the end, I give this one a 3 out of 5 reels.  A good story but takes way too long to get there.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte





Ramblin’ Freak

Category: Visions, USA, World Premiere

Director: Parker Smith

Starring: Parker Smith, Gregg Valentino, and “Cat”

Runtime: 97 mins


Parker Smith gets some devastating personal tragic news and finds himself lost.  Wanting to figure out what to do and how to go on, he comes up with a film idea to help work through his problems.  He had  bought a video camera from eBay and ended up with a personal video tape inside the camera from the previous owner. He does some digging and finds the owner of the camera still alive and living in New York.  He decides he needs a break from school at UT in Austin where he is a struggling film student and takes a road trip with his cat to New York to meet Gregg Valentino, the previous owner of the camera.  Taking time off from his job at Taco Deli in Austin, he loads up the car with food, water, bedding and a scratching tree for his cat.  Along the way, his trip and film take on another life than the one he originally set out to do.


Gregg Valentino is “The Man Whose Arms Exploded” back in the era when steroids and muscle building were main-stream.  As Parker travels across the country he begins to come to terms with his loss and the plight of people who suffer from Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) disease and how it affect families, as well as his own.  As this trip helps him to understand that his loss is also riddled with guilt, he discovers just how connected everything in life can be when he learns that EB has also touched the life of Valentino.


This is a beautiful memorial to his sisters, Catherine and Samantha, as well as a testimonial about a rare disease and how it impacts families.  The trip is full of fun, laughter, sorrow and tears.  The trip will lead you on a path to compassion and awareness.  Well done and very entertaining as well as moving, it left you feeling touched.


Even the Q&A after the screening I attended had heart.  His Mom and Dad came forward to talk about their daughters and their son’s film in their honor.  It is a very tiny little film that has a HUGE heart and I definitely recommend catching this one.  They even invited the entire audience over to their house for a backyard party!


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Wonderfully heart-felt and moving film about family, love, life, and loss.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






Category: Visions, USA, World Premiere

Directors: Laura E. Davis and Jessica Kaye

Screenwriters: Laura E. Davis and Jessica Kaye

Starring: Jessica Kaye, Daniel Ahearn, Mark Webber, Shamira Gill-Card, Myrna Manzanares, and Louis Oberlander

Runtime: 74 mins


Mara learns that her estranged father has passed away in his home in Belize and must return with her new boyfriend to deal with the estate and her past.  Angry that her half-sister, Linda, never had to deal with the abusive man that Mara knew as father; she lashes out at everyone.  As the proceedings of the reading of the will and funeral continue, more and more details about the life that Mara and her brother, Ben, knew are revealed.  Abuse, secrets, and darkness soon creep to the surface and threaten to tear Mara’s world apart.


This is a very tangled and dark tale that leads the viewer down a twisted path.  As Mara struggles with her demons, the cast handle the disturbing tale with finesse. It keeps you interested to the end. A beautiful tale of broken people and how they struggle to overcome the demons that life has given them.  Well told story that is interesting, yet dark and disturbing, holds you to the very end.


I give this one a 4 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte








Going to Brazil

Category: Narrative Spotlight, France, International Premiere

Director: Patrick Mille

Screenwriter: Julien Lambroschini, Sabrina Amara, and Patrick Mille

Starring: Alison Wheeler, Vanessa Guide, Margot Bancilhon, Philippine Stindel and Patrick Mille

Runtime: 94 mins


Four friends reunite for a wedding in Rio.  They travel from France to meet up with their best friend whom they have lost contact with since she began dating a wealthy man’s son who lives in Rio.  Much to their surprise, their friend reveals she is VERY pregnant, also.  None of them are invited to be part of the wedding party, but they set aside their anger to attend the wedding and make the best of a free paid-for Rio vacation, none-the-less.  During a party, things get out of hand and one of the girls accidentally kills a would-be rapist.  Unfortunately the man is well connected with a local crime boss.  They try to attend their friend’s wedding and get out of the country before they are found out.  It leads to a very entertaining and at times tense race for the border.


Well written and a great cast, this movie is very entertaining.  Filmed in French with English subtitles.  This is a hilarious and sometime intense “Thelma and Louise” type movie with four childhood friends in a foreign country. It definitely keeps you involved from beginning to end as they race for the border.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  I’m glad that this one was as enjoyable as it was.  These everyday girls have to tap into their inner warriors to make it out alive and it pays off.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte





Category: Midnighters, USA, World Premiere

Director: Joe Lynch

Screenwriter: Matias Caruso

Starring: Steven Yeun, Samara Weaving, Dallas Mark Roberts, Caroline Chikezie, Mark Stewart Frost, Kerry Fox, and Lucy Chappell

Runtime: 86 mins


After being set up as a corporate ladder climber’s scapegoat, Derek Cho, finds himself being hung out to dry by all of his colleges when a sudden outbreak of a very contagious and violent illness causes the entire building to be quarantined while the antidote is administered.  What’s worse than being locked in a building with a bunch of backstabbers?  How about a building full of lawyers and cut-throats who thanks to his firm have a free pass to enact on their inner desires without legal consequences.  As he battles to reach the board room, it becomes a life and death struggle to win his job back and make sure that the right people pay for the injustice.


This movie is what “Office Space” meets “The Purge” looks like.  With a free ticket to do whatever you want to do and the atmosphere of total office rage, this movie is gory, violent, and in some instances darkly humorous.  A terrific cast carries this insanity to a well-earned pay-off for the viewers.  What a dark and twisted little fun movie!


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte







Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwirter: Aaron Katz

Starring: Lola Kirke, Zoe Kravitz, John Cho, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, Ricki Lake, Jessica Parker Kennedy, and James Ransone

Runtime: 92 mins


When Hollywood starlet, Heather Anderson, goes missing and is presumed dead, it is her assistant, Jill LeBeau, who is the police detective’s number one suspect.  As Jill works to unravel the mystery and clear her own name, she finds herself questioning loyalty and friendship.


This is actually a very intriguing tale of mystery.  It had me captive to the end.  Good cast and interesting story.  Very entertaining.  Although you know from the start that Jill is innocent, it is a fun ride as she unravels the mystery.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Bill Nye: Science Guy

Category: Documentary Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Directors/Screenwriters: David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg

Starring: Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, Francis Collins, Heather Berlin, Eugene Scott, Jim White, Michael Mann, Ken Ham, and Joe Bastardi

Runtime: 101 mins


Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is struggling to keep science in the classrooms and forefront on important political topics.  His biggest battles are currently the issue of Global Warming and the discussion of Evolution vs Creation in today’s classrooms.  Ken Ham, an outspoken supporter of Creation, invites Nye to visit his theme park.  Nye visits but is disappointed that Ham refuses to meet him in an open debate.


Nye also hits roads blocks in Congress when he fights to have politicians admit that there really is science to support that the planet is becoming warmer due to pollution and carbon footprints when they are looking at bottom dollar lines.  His fight is uphill despite the evidence to support his findings.


This movie shows more of the personal side of Nye and a more behind the scenes look at the man behind the name.  His passion and drive are charming and infectious.  This is a very well done documentary about the man, his beliefs, and a look at what scientists are still battling to keep in the forefront of education and political agendas.


Very entertaining, interesting, and well done.  This is an endearing look at a man that a lot of us grew up watching on TV.  I definitely am glad that I was able to catch this one at the festival.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






The Honor Farm

Category: Midnighters, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Karen Skioss

Starring: Olivia Applegate, Louis Hunter, Dora Madison, Liam Aiken, Katie Folger, Michael Eric Reid, Will Brittain, Makenzie Astin, Josephine McAdams, and Christina Parrish

Runtime: 76 mins


A group of friends go to prom together and one thing after another finds them in the woods with the outcasts and drug dealers from class.  After they decide to take mushrooms with the group, they end up in a haunted abandoned jailhouse where it is rumored to be the site of satanic worship and sacrifices.  When they see a woman brought in by two men who attempt to rape and kill her, they interfere but soon their reality is blurred with hallucinations.  Not knowing what is and is not real any longer, the group struggle to find their way out of the maze.


This is a horrible movie.  Not as bad as the one opening night, but definitely a stinker.  The film-makers revealed that they shot this over a 5 year span and that it was actually a mother-daughter writing/directing combo that brought this one to the fruition.  This was actually a good movie up until they tried to rescue the woman.  When the line between reality and hallucination blurs, so does my interest in this movie.  The ending of the movie is non-climatic and does not give the viewer any sort of conclusion or payoff.  Very disappointing.


This one gets a 2 out of 5 reels because it was actually good for the first 2/3s of the movie.  I don’t think I would even recommend this as a cable movie view.  Very disappointing and it had such potential.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte







The Relationship

Category: Visions, USA, World Premiere

Director: Renee Felice Smith and C.A. Gabriel

Screenwriter: Dana Scanion, Renee Felice Smith and C.A. Gabriel

Starring: Renee Felice Smith, Matt Bush, Eric Christian Olsen, Linda Hunt, Nelson Franklin, Brandon Kyle Goodman, Sally Struthers, Georgia Mischak, Owain Rhys Davies

Runtime: 89 mins


When Beck and Liam’s friends constantly try to set them up with blind-dates, they bond over their lack of interest in being a statistic on being a couple.  They decide to take a weekend trip as friends with no expectations and end up going through the entire relationship cycle over a course of a few days.  Their insecurities, baggage, and habits start to surface and their non-relationship becomes in danger.


This movie has one of the best sound tracks and is absolutely adorable.  It is fun, funny, and imaginative.  The cast is wonderful and the characters are endearing.  I was interested in this story from beginning to end.  Absolutely charming.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  I truly enjoyed it.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte







The Ballad of Lefty Brown

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Jared Moshe

Starring: Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Tommy Flanagan, Peter Fonda, Joe Anderson, Diego Josef, Michael Spears, Louis Pullman, and Joseph Anderson

Runtime: 111 mins


Eddie Johnson has been a leader and pioneer in ranching and has recently won a seat in the Senate to help advance the plight of farmers and ranchers.  Riding the ranch one last time with his trusty sidekick and longtime friend, Lefty Brown, they encounter rustlers that change the lives of everyone on the ranch.  Lefty rides after them to find redemption and bring the rustlers to justice but soon uncovers a much bigger plan was put into motion with this attack on his friend.  Lefty must step from the shadows of a great man to find his own value and worth.


I truly enjoyed this film.  The cast is perfect and the story is gripping.  Beautiful scenery along with a terrific soundtrack, this is a wonderful western movie.  Similar to “Open Range”, “3:10 to Yuma” and “Unforgiven”; it has heart, action, adventure, and characters you love.  Flanagan, Caviezel and Pullman are terrific together.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  I highly recommend this to all who love western movies.  This is bound to be a new favorite among recent western movies.  Well done.  Definitely worth seeing and even seeing again.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte







Walking Out

Category: Festival Favorites, USA

Directors/Screenwriters: Andrew Smith, Alex Smith

Starring: Cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman, Alex Neustaedter, Lily Gladstone, Ken White, Scott McMillion

Runtime: 95 mins


An estranged father and son go on a hunting trip in the snow covered mountains.  The father has decided that taking his son hunting for elk is the best way for them to bond since his divorce with his mother.  Pulling from his relationship from his own father, he finds it difficult to reach his son.  As they close in on their prey, things take a turn for the worse and they soon abandon the hunt to merely survive the elements of this harsh wilderness.


I didn’t like this one that much.  Although the story is interesting and it has a surprising end, there seemed to be a lot of huge holes in the story.  With questionable actions, useless killing, and other issues that made you think “why” or “but I thought…” it left this one kind of weak in presentation. The father was supposedly a skilled hunter but so many mistakes were done that it seemed more like a braggart was finally called out.  Either way, this one just really didn’t do much for me.


I give this one a 3 out of 5 reels.  Mainly because of the potential the story had and the surprise ending.  I just wasn’t that impressed.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






The Strange Ones

Category: Narrative Feature Competition, USA, World Premiere

Director: Lauren Wolkstein, Christopher Radcliff

Screenwriter: Christopher Radcliff

Starring: Alex Pettyfer, James Freedson-Jackson, Emily Althaus, Gene Jones.

Runtime: 80 mins



A young man, Nick, is traveling with his younger brother, Ben, across the country.  Mysterious and quiet, they try to keep off anyone’s radar.  Stopping at random places to pick up odd jobs for traveling money, Ben begins to act out when Nick meets Kelly.  Soon the reason for their road trip comes to light and a much darker tale unfolds.


This is a very interesting story.  It covers the cause and effect theory of paths chosen and actions taken at any given moment.  It talks of the power within the individual to control nightmares and memories.


I give this one a 4 out of 5 reels.  I really liked this story and to find out that it was actually an extended version of a short film was very interesting.  I wish that if they were going to introduce a magic element to the story that there would have been follow through on it.  The touch on the possibility of both young men having a mental ability of some sort and then they never mention it again.


Good story, great cast, interesting story; I enjoyed this a bit more than “Midnight Special” from last year.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






The Muppet Guys Talking

Category: Documentary Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director: Frank Oz

Starring: Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Fran Brill, Bill Barretta, Frank Oz

Runtime: 65 mins


A wonderful documentary featuring five of the very talented and creative minds behind many of the beloved characters from “Sesame Street”.  The five friends gather together and have a candid talk about working on the kids show and their inspiration for the creation of their various characters.  From Animal to Kermit, from Snuffleufacous to Oscar the Grouch, and from The Count to Cookie Monster.  It is a huge thrill to be a part of this conversation, even if we are only listening.


They exchange stories about creating their various characters and how they got their jobs as well as some of their challenges over the years.  It is an interesting and wonderful piece of history on a program that covers decades of generations.  Truly a jewel.


This is one of the last things that Jerry Nelson did and it is lovingly dedicated to his memory.


SXSW Conference brought in the Barton Hills Choir who entertained the audience with the live renditions of several favorite songs.  They opened with “The Muppet Show Theme”, followed by “Rainbow Connection” and ended with an audience participation encouraged version of “Ma Na Ma Na”.  This was an additional delight to this wonderful screening and the only thing that even topped this was the fact that Frank Oz, himself, was there for a live Q&A.


Obviously, this movie gets a 5 out of 5 reels from my book.  It is funny, entertaining, and wonderfully done.  I have already recommended this one to several friends, as well as went online to follow the movie.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Category: Festival Favorites, USA

Director/Screenwriter: Nacho Vigalondo

Starring: Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson.

Runtime: 109 mins


Gloria, an alcoholic, moves back to her small hometown in Maine after her finacee dumps her.  Having a slight breakdown and still dealing with the demons from the bottle, she reconnects with her old grade school friends.  Her oldest friend, Oscar, now owns his father’s bar and offers her a job.  As Gloria deals with her demons working in the worst job an alcoholic can have, she is engrossed in the plight of people in Korea who are dealing with a large monster that is destroying their city.  Somehow her breakdown and drunken benders seem to be connected to the destruction happening on the other side of the world.  But how?


This is an amazing and wonderful story.  It is very fun!  It has a terrific cast and completely enjoyable story.  It had the audience from beginning to end.  The spectacular ending had the audience cheering.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Although it does leave you with a HUGE question, it is still very enjoyable.  This one is like a story from “The Twilight Zone” or “Outer Limits”. I loved it.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






Bad Lucky Goat

Category: Global, Columbia, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Samir Oliveros

Starring: Honlenny Huffington, Kiara Howard, Elkin Robinson, Michel Robinson, Ambrosio Huffington, Jean Bush

Runtime: 76 mins



When a bickering brother and sister, Cornelius and Rita, accidentally kill a bearded goat with their father’s truck, they must learn to work together to deal with the aftermath.  They have to figure out a way to pay for the auto repair, cover up the death of the goat, and still manage to run the errands that their parents sent them on all before they are missed back at home.  One deal or con leads to another mess and it isn’t until the two start working together that their luck changes.


This is an entertaining story but I’m back and forth on what grade to give this one.  The story was interesting and enjoyable up until about 3/4s through.  The last quarter of this movie is SO offensive to me that I find it hard to say it is good.  The film-maker chose to film live cock fighting in Columbia.  I get it.  It’s a cultural thing.  But it is truly offensive and absolutely not necessary at all for this movie; much less if you want to show it in America.


Because the story was good up to a point but then takes such a horrible turn to offensive and unnecessary cruelty to animals for no reason what-so-ever, I give this movie a 2 out of 5 reels.  If the cock fighting hadn’t been in this movie, I would have given this one a 4, but I just can’t get past the unnecessary brutality that these roosters were subjected to.  It was truly disgusting and disturbing.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte



The Archer

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director: Valerie Weiss

Screenwriter: Casey Schroan

Starring: Bailey Noble, Bill Sage, Jeanine Mason, Michael Grant Terry, Kurt Fuller, Dendrie Taylor, Grace Victoria Cox, and Andrew Caldwell

Runtime: 86 mins


This story is based on the true story about a corrupt judge who continued to feed juveniles into a state facility so that he could get kickbacks from the warden. Straight A student and soon to be honor grad at the local high school, Lauren Pierce, is sentenced to a juvenile facility after punching a boy that attacked her on school property. Her mother is desperately trying to figure out how to pay for an appeal, while Lauren must wait in the facility.  The young women’s facility is located in the wooded area and run by a warden and several deputies.  Upon entering the camp, Lauren meets Rebecca who is a recaptured inmate who fills her in on the deep dark secrets of the camp.  Lauren teams with Rebecca to try and escape and expose the camp.  It soon becomes a life and death struggle between the girls, the warden and his men, and their surroundings.


When you first read the synopsis you think this could be another “Hunger Games” movie.  A girl skilled with a bow is set up to stand in rebellion against a corrupt system.  Although this is not set in an apocalyptic world, it isn’t far from that.  This movie has an incredibly strong female lead character who instantly wins the audience over to her side.  The injustice and atrocities that the girls must endure instantly have the audience cheering for them to make a stand and survive.


Well written movie based on the documentary “Cash for Kids”.  It has strong characters and a strong cast to portray them. This movie is my number 2 out of top five picks this year.  The soundtrack and musical choices were perfectly balanced with the action.  Amazing special effects round out the ingredients of this film that made it a contender in my top 5.  Well done!


I give this movie a 5 out of 5 reels.  Great story, strong cast of characters, and intriguing story.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Tragedy Girls

Category: Midnighters, Canada/USA, World Premiere

Director: Tyler MacIntyre

Screenwriter: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre, based on an original screenplay by Justin Olson

Starring: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Craig Robinson, Josh Hutcherson, Kevin Durand, Jack Quaid, Timothy V. Murphy, Nicky Whelan, Austin Abrams, Kerry Rhodes.

Runtime: 96 mins


Sadie and Makayla, high school best friends, are aspiring serial killers.  Entranced by horror and tragedy, the two girls run a blog site called “Tragedy Girls” and are constantly looking for attention from their postings.  Feeling that they have a better understanding on what should make the news; they consider themselves experts on the subject and become enraged when others are interviewed on the scene of crimes.  They develop a scheme to become more famous than the recent serial killer that has the town on heightened awareness.  When their latest victim discovers their plan, he attempts to drive a wedge between the girls in order to survive.  The question is, just how loyal are they to each other.


This is a very dark and twisted tale like that of the “Scream” movies, but told more from the killers’ side instead of the victims.  The twists and turns in the story are enjoyable and definitely engrossing from the beginning to the end. Shipp and Hilderbrand are wonderful together.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Dark and twisted and well done.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Becoming Bond

Category: Visions, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Josh Greenbaum

Starring: George Lazenby

Runtime: 92 mins


This documentary is about the man who picked up the reigns after Sean Connery left the role of James Bond, George Lazenby, and why he turned them over to the next man.  Lazenby, an Australian car mechanic, was offered the role of the most famous fictional spy, 007.  He took the role and was overwhelmed with the world that opened to him.  So much so, that he turned down the contract to do the next six Bond movies.  A move that almost cost him his acting career and got him blacklisted with the studio.


Lazenby recalls his experience while filming “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.  The drugs, sex, and limelight were just too much.  His only regret is losing the love of his life, Belinda.  His reflections on the past are both humorous and entertaining and mixed in with re-enactments from another group of talented actors to help bring the story to life.


This is a very entertaining and well told story about the man that would be Bond.


It won the 2017 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners: Visions


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Although I am not a Bond movie fan, this movie was very entertaining and very interesting.  I would definitely recommend this one for all of the Bond fans, as well as fans of film.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte



Hot Summer Nights

Category: Narrative Spotlight, USA, World Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Alex Roe, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner, Thomas Jane, Emory Cohen

Runtime: 120 mins


Daniel Middleton is sent to Cape Cod, MA in 1991 for the summer.  While there he meets Amy, who he becomes smitten with.  He ends up meeting the local bad boy, Hunter Strawberry, and decides to make some money with him by dealing drugs.  Soon his greed takes over and he doesn’t know when to stop.  Putting his and Hunter’s life in danger, he now has to figure out a way to get out of the business alive.


The cast was great in this story of a young man trying to find himself in life.  Greed, awkwardness, and longing to belong and be loved are all wrapped up in this movie.  It’s an enjoyable movie although it is similar to some other films.


I give this one 4 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






Category: Narrative Spotlight, Chile, North American Premiere

Director/Screenwriter: Aaron Burns

Starring: Daniela Ramirez, Cristobal Tapia Montt, Aida Jabolin, Matias Bassi, Ignacia Allamand, Nicolás Durán

Runtime: 95 mins


Diane is in the last trimester of her second pregnancy while staying at home to take care of her older autistic son.  His meltdowns are starting to affect her health when her husband suggests that she look into hiring a housekeeper to help her around the house since his job is keeping him away more.  It seems it was destiny that she meets a live in caretaker from the Philippines who has experience with autistic kids.  It isn’t long after hiring the woman that Diane begins to suspect that there is something dark and sinister about her new nanny.  When she tries to explain her fears to her husband, he dismisses them as paranoia.  Diane has to decide what is and is not the truth in order to save her family.


WOW!  This movie is creepy, dark, twisted, and really good.  The cast is perfect.  The twists and turns keep you right on the edge of your seat the whole time.  Definitely a huge build with a big payoff.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.  Absolutely like watching a “Tales from the Crypt” chapter, or a very dark “Criminal Minds” episode.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte




Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo

Category: Documentary Spotlight, UK, World Premiere

Director: David Fairhead

Screenwriter: David Fairhead, Keith Haviland

Starring: Dr Chris Kraft, Gene Kranz, Glynn Lunney, Gerry Griffin, John Aaron, Ed Fendell, Jerry Bostick, Jim Lovell, Gene Cernan, Charlie Duke

Runtime: 99 mins


This documentary talks about the many missions of Apollo that finally led to the landing on the Moon. They talk about the many failed missions and the race to the moon.  This gripping tale, even though you know the outcome, keeps you engaged all the way through.


There are two things that I found interesting about this movie.  Not interesting like, gripping and wow-ing, but interesting as in “hmmmmmm”.  This documentary is coming out on the heels of “Hidden Figures” and didn’t touch on women being involved at all.  The only people shown were the men.  The other thing I found interesting is that this is not done by Americans but by a group of UK film-makers.


I really enjoyed this story, none-the-less.  And the fact that three of the men from this documentary and part of the Apollo missions were in attendance of the film.  They received a standing ovation.  It was moving.


I give this one a 4.5 out of 5 reels.  I think that there are more facts that could have been included, but this film is very interesting and engrossing.  I love learning about the missions and the things that had to be overcome to land a man on the moon.  Some as simple as a lightening storm.  Well done!


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte






Category: Headliners, USA, World Premiere

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Screenwriter: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dihovichnaya

Runtime: 103 mins


When an international space crew discovers a possible sign of life from Mars samples, they get excited for the possibilities and significance of the findings.  While investigating the cells, they inadvertently resuscitate the life form which soon becomes a threat to themselves and the people on Earth.  The entire crew fights for their lives against this unfamiliar life form with no known vulnerabilities.


Phenomenal cast and amazing special effects, this movie is absolutely wonderfully done.  The story is gripping and edge of your seat for the majority of its runtime. I obviously don’t want to tell you too much about it, but all sci-fi and horror fans will love this movie.  You don’t have to worry about face-huggers, but you definitely need to worry!


This was a perfect film to close the SXSW film section of the 2017 SXSW Conference. The entire cast was in attendance along with the director, producers and writers.  Their Q&A session was as entertaining as the film in laughter and comradery among them all.  There was a lot of laughter and behind the scenes reveals that were truly interesting.


Do I recommend this movie? YES!  It’s wonderfully done and gripping all the way through.  Absolutely loved it.


I give this one a 5 out of 5 reels.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Cinema Latte



2017 SXSW Conference Overview

Cinema Latte


This year, I decided that I would NOT drive downtown.  I decided to take the Capital Area Metro Rail.  The only drawback on that plan was that the Metro Rail hours were not extended for the first weekend of the festival but only the second.  For the first weekend, I teamed up with a fellow movie reviewer and we drove in.  Those first three days were only stressful in getting down there and finding affordable parking.  And it did leave us to the will of each other on how late we would stay.


The hours were not extended until that Wednesday after the start, so it did hinder some movie going for fear of being stranded downtown.  After the extended hours kicked it, it was free range for what movies you went to and stayed however long for.  This is the first year in a good long while that I didn’t have complete road rage due to the arrogance and ignorance of the people that attend this festival or try to peek in from the sidelines.  I didn’t have to deal with drunks leaping off the curbs, pedi-cabs running lights, or never being allowed to get out of a four way stop sign intersection.  It was so unbelievably stress-free in that area, that it made a big difference on the atmosphere of the conference.


Mazda offered rides showcasing their new line of automobiles.  All you had to do was sign up and show your wristband.  I had the pleasure in riding in a couple of different models and the convenience of catching a Mazda when you needed to get to the other side of downtown faster than the shuttle would get you there, was perfect.


Speaking of the shuttle, SXSW did it very well this year.  They put a volunteer on the shuttle with the driver to help answer questions and announce stops.  It was so awesome.  It was greatly missed on the few that didn’t have a volunteer riding.  This of course led to some clueless woman sitting in the spot that the volunteer usually sat in and giving out false information over the driver and myself to a patron asking about the next stop.  We couldn’t catch the man to tell him to come back.  I took it upon myself to announce the stops as we got to them after that and tried to help people who had questions.  I loved having the volunteer on the shuttle, it was a great idea and I hope that they have enough volunteers next year to do it again.  Bravo SXSW, Bravo!


This year, we decided to check out some of the special events and attractions happening in and around the festival.  I am very pleased with all of the things that we tried.  We had a lot of fun.


Friday was our biggest day of venture and we went to IMAX “The Mummy” Zero Gravity VR Experience.  We stood in a long line, we didn’t have anything to do, so it was fine and we talked to people in line.  I think we maybe stood in line for about 45 minutes.  We got in to the attraction and got to look at some movie set replicas and props.  Then we were walked into the freight belly of an airplane to a room that was lined up with pods.  They put you in the pod chair, put a VR headset over your face and noise cancelling earphones on your head.  Then they started the movie.  It was so cool!  It was almost 360 degrees of film.  You could look up, down, side to side, and see everything.  They showed you the behind the scenes of filming the zero gravity scenes for the upcoming film and while they were filming the scene you could look around the set and see how the film crew was anchored down and holding on while the action of the scene is happening in front of you.  It really was so amazing and the motion seats helped put you in the plane with them.  It was a lot of fun!  Thank you IMAX and Universal for a most amazing adventure!


Next on our list was the Pop-Up Food truck, which really wasn’t a truck but an entire restaurant.  In a matter of days, a temporary movie set restaurant was created at the NE corner of 5th and Colorado.  The restaurant was a Los Pollos Hermanos from AMC’s “Better Call Saul”.  They had Saul’s car out front, a guy in a chicken suit wearing a Mexican hat and poncho, and everyone was dressed as an employee of the restaurant chain.  The best part was the curly fries.  YES!  They were giving out curly fries and they were so very good!


You are probably wondering what else we could have possibly done after that.  A California Highway Patrol officer walked up and handed us a “citation” which we carried over to Voodoo Donuts on 6th street and cashed in for a free donut.  We also decided to play with the movie standee and take some pictures like we were riding on the back of the bikes with Frank and John of the movie “CHiPs” starring Dax Sheppard and Michael Pena.


We watched some crazy people surfing at the AMC “Animal Kingdom” located at 3rd and Congress.  It was cold and they were up there surfing.  It was a lot of fun and they had some fun things to see.


We also check out the “American Gods” attraction from STARZ.  They had an enormous white buffalo and giveaways.  I’m not really sure why, but the girl working the giveaways made sure that I only got a koozie while others were helped to get tote bags and t-shirts.  It was really strange. I didn’t know her, nor do I know what I did to annoy her, but whatever.  I got koozies and shared with friends.  When the rain came, they had to cover the big buffalo with tarps.  I wish I had seen that production.  He was huge.


There was also a Carvanna attraction where you picked a car from a vending machine and it got stuck so they filmed you trying to shake it free.  That was hilarious and fun.  What was funnier is that they were handing out rain ponchos and when it opened up and rained on people, no one thought to pull out the poncho.  Hahaha


The festival is growing more and more each year and there are more and more things you wish you could do but have to pick and choose so you can try to do a little bit of everything.  The Trade Show is always a lot of fun to check out.  They show case new ideas and new technologies as well as industries for film/music that people may not know about.  One of the more rememberable vendors that I spoke with this year is a group from Indonesia who have developed a bioplastic that is tough enough to be a grocery tote, but dissolves enough in water that you can actually drink it.  So, if a bag ends up in the ocean, not only will it eventually biodegrade safely, but if wildlife ends up entangled in it, they can eat it and it won’t harm them.  They were handing out sample bags.  It was truly amazing. They used hot water to have the bag break down quickly for him to demonstrate drinking it.  Not sure how many bags over the course of the Trade Show that he drank, but it was very cool.

Now the worst thing about this year’s conference was the badge handling and Xpress pass handling.  That really was a bad call on their part and I am pretty sure that everyone will be hoping that they will go back to the way it was before.  Let me explain why it was a bad call.


We’ll start with the badge handling.  This year they decided to let all badges, regardless of the type, go to all attractions.  So if you had a film badge, you could go to a music venue and get in after they let in the music badges that were in line.  The reason that this was a bad call is that now those who bought passes to go to events were now not only competing with music badges but now had to worry about how many film and interactive badges came over too.  Same with those buying film passes.  Because of the way it was handled, people who paid for passes, pretty much, just threw their money away.  They didn’t get to see anything and the entire thing seemed to be aimed at making people buy badges.  It really wasn’t fair at all to those with passes.  Not at all.


The second thing was the Xpress pass handling.  In the past you had to get up super early and go stand in line at the convention center to get Xpress passes for whichever movie you were confident would sell out and you might not get there early enough to line up.  This year, they made it where you could get today and tomorrow’s passes now.  So if you came the next day for your movie, you were less likely to get a pass because they were handed out the day before.  It turned out that they were only doing a percentage of the seats for the day before, but that still lessened your chance of getting the pass that day and meant you had to now try for that pass two days in a row instead of one.  It was insane, there were a lot of angry people and inline fighting for people getting numbers at the end of the line and then walking up and joining people earlier in line.  I even saw a woman get a pass from her friend who left and tried to take her son in with her even though their numbers were originally in the 300s and here she is trying to walk her and her son in on number 153 together as one…but was for sure getting two Xpress passes for the two of them.  She of course laid out the sad, but he’s my son and he’s a minor and blah blah blah and got through.  It was infuriating.


Those two things pretty much tied at number one for the worst thing about SXSW this year.  The second worst thing was the opening short for all the movies by some animator named, Matt Reynolds.  Not only were the images seemingly sexually oriented, but they also tended to make you feel like you were about to have some epileptic fit before each film.  I’m not sure what they were thinking when they chose this mess to show or why they thought it should be the opening.  There were three that I saw and each one just as disturbing as the next.


Let me explain.  One of the shorts opens with what looks like a bunch of lady’s vaginas lapping up liquid from a pool and then they rush off and grab each other to make a film reel.  Yea, vaginas.  That is exactly what they looked like and my friend said I ruined it for her after I said that because up to then she wasn’t sure what they were.  That is the same one that they chose to play before “Muppet Guys Talking” with that middle school choir and their parents in attendance.  That was awesome.


Next was one were these weird duck looking things are graduating from college.  One of them lifts up the graduation gown and petticoats to grab its diploma.  Then a hand grabs the other hand of this new graduate and rushes them off to Hollywood where they are jammed into an empty spot to form the leg of a director’s chair as a naked butt sits down on all of them.  And the stress laden critter squeaks “SXSW”.  So, yea, that was awesome.


The third one I saw was really kind of the more drug induced one.  A janitor in a roadside bathroom finds a hole in the brick wall where most likely people have been peeking inside.  He pops out the glass of a pair of glasses and pushes it into the hole making a kind of pin-hole box projector.  He slides down the wall of this bathroom and exclaims “Magnificent” as the upside down image projected on the wall morphs into “SXSW”.  Suddenly the light is blocked from outside the hole and an elephant’s head is crammed through the hole and trumpets.  WTH??


I really don’t know what the source of these animations were for Matt Reynolds or why the SXSW board would have greenlighted them for this festival but they were definitely the worst ones I have ever seen out of all the years I’ve gone.  They were all followed by a giant heart with growths on them that flashed in pink, red, and yellow to thank the volunteers.  If anyone had epilepsy, now was the time to find out.  If you had a headache, it was bad.  If you were tired, it was bad.  It was just bad.


So to recap: SXSW did a great job with the shuttles by adding a volunteer to ride along and make stop announcements and answer questions, riding the Metro Rail was the way to go—just hope that CapMetro realizes how much money they can make and how better it would be if they extended their hours for the FULL festival, Indonesia is making amazing strides in lessening the human carbon footprint on the planet, Matt Reynolds should probably go into rehab and SXSW need to pick better opening shorts, as well as films for future festivals.


That’s my review and I’m sticking to it!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *