Michael Trichel: SXSW 2016 Film Reviews

I enjoyed the 2016 SXSW Film Festival very much, although I did not get to spend as much time in movies as most years. I spent a lot of time this year enjoying the outside of the festival and going to what interactive activities I could go to without a badge. Because I spent a lot of time exploring, attending parties and also going to films; I really appreciated the shuttles this year, they kept me moving around like a boss and worked just like clockwork.

The Premise: A super-charged documentary about Hollywood legends Burt Reynolds, his best friend and stuntman Hal Needham, and how the pair of these two loose cannons dreamed up, financed, and shot one of the most authentically kickass road movies of all time: 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit.

Directed by Jesse Moss. This documentary doesn’t just focus on Needham’s directorial debut but also delves deep into the early careers and friendship between Reynolds and Needham. You find out that Reynolds deep down always wanted to be a stuntman ( a man’s man ) like Needham and Needham always saw himself as a leading man movie star like Reynolds. You learn interesting facts such as there was never any script, most of the movie was ad-libbed.

The Bandit is an intimate portrait of two good old boys, a bad ass car and a $4.3 million budgeted dark horse that ended up netting over $300 million and counting. If you loved Smokey and the Bandit you would love this movie. I highly recommend this movie. I give it 41/2 out of 5 reels.

Director: Jesse Moss
Cast: Mike Henry, Hal Needham, Burt Reynolds, Sonny Shroyer, Paul Williams

Judd Apatow and Friends was a comedy showcase put together including Judd Apatow, Nate Bargatze, Robert Klein and Hannibal Buress. Apatow served as emcee and appearing in between sets to regale on his failed efforts to impress SXSW keynote speaker President Obama and expound on the pain of being the only male in an all-female household.

Nate Bargatze told a tale about a visit to North Carolina’s Cape Fear Serpentarium, which concluded with the escape of a crocodile and a mass panic among the tour group.

The  the crowd was nonetheless stirred by the chance to also see veteran comic Robert Klein belt out Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on a harmonica.

Shooting star Hannibal Buress, reveled in antagonizing the young, tech-heavy SXSW crowd. “Please put your phones away,” asked a frustrated Buress. “If I say some racist shit on stage, I want it to spread the old fashioned way, by word of mouth.”

This was a great comedy showcase I give it 4 1/2 reels

The Premise: An enriched documentary about director Richard Linklater in which Austin Chronicle Co-founder Louis Black reveals the interesting pairing of creativity, modesty and ambition That has allowed the director to thrive in an industry that doesn’t reward his kind of artistry.

For those of us who have followed his career since “Slacker” it is a joy-filled reminder of a career we hope is only hitting its stride. Black’s long association with Linklater is an Advantage. He knew Linklater before he made “Slacker”. Black illustrates how the Austin Film Society which Linklater founded with friends taught the filmmaker about DIY promotion and gave him a readymade crew for “Slacker”.

“Dream is Destiny'” is an unusual look at a fiercely independent style of filmmaking that arose from Austin, Texas in the 1980s/ early 90’s and how Linklater’s films, Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Waking Life and Boyhood, sparked a low budget, in your own backyard movement in this country and around the world. I’m a huge fan of Linklater’s films and style. I loved this film. If you’re a fan of Richard Linklater i highly recommend this movie. I give it 4 out of 5 reels.

Directors: Louis Black, Karen Bernstein

Synopsis: Don’t Breathe takes place in Detroit, centering on a group of friends who break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the perfect heist. They’re wrong.

This Fede Alvarez directed movie features Dylan Minnette as Alex, the son of a security company owner who often “borrows” his father’s keys to rob his clients with Rocky (Jane Levy) and her bad boy boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto). Initially they’re careful. They break into homes when the owners aren’t there and stick to stealing luxury items rather than cash to avoid larceny charges. However, when Money finds out that one of Alex’s dad’s clients scored a $300,000 settlement, he insists that they up their game and go for the money. Alex isn’t thrilled about it, but the homeowner is a blind army veteran. The trio certainly has no idea what they’re walking into and it’s unlikely that any written description of what goes down in that house can truly reflect the intensity of the thrills and violence.

The man played by Stephen Lang might be blind, but that doesn’t mean he’s at a disadvantage.  is his home is fortified for such a robbery but if someone happens to get inside, he’s more than capable of tracking them down and killing them. Between Lang’s incredible physical performance and Alvarez’s haunting camerawork, the blind man quickly becomes downright nightmarish. He’s extremely strong, knows how to navigate the home more swiftly than visitors who can see where they’re going and has some very effective back-up, a snarling dog eager to go to great lengths to catch his targets. This isn’t a haunted house story, but Alvarez quickly establishes that Lang could be anywhere, turning the location into a deeply terrifying place where a threat could sneak up on you in a flash.

I really liked this movie, especially the performance of Stephen Lang’s. You alternate Rooting between the Old man or the group of friends. In the beginning you root for the old man but as events transpire you might end up changing your mind I give this movie 4 out of 5 reels.

Director: Fede Alvarez
Stars: Dylan Minnette, Stephen Lang, Jane Levy

A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.

I really liked everybody wants some. While it’s not a as good as its predecessor it does ring true as a spiritual squeal to the iconic Dazed and Confused. Similarities include an ensemble cast, made up of mostly unknown actors. Like most of Linklater’s other projects, dialog is what drives this film. The soundtrack and the attention to detail make this look back at the 80’s a wonderful nostalgia piece.

Director: Richard Linkletter
Stars: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman

I give it 41/2 out of 5 reels

A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

Horror movies of late tend to be pretty lame, mostly relying on scary monsters, or “jump moments”.  Hush works very differently, I really liked how you felt the isolation of Maddie, not only by the isolation of her deafness but also the isolation of her house out in the woods. The movie’s pace was perfect, leaving no slow or dragging moments. Hush isn’t an effects driven movie but it’s far more effective with the suspense it builds and the fears it captures. I highly recommend this movie.

Director: Mike Flanagan
Stars: John Gallagher Jr., Kate Siegel, Michael Trucco |

I give it 4 out of 5 reels.


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