Here I am, wide awake on no sleep at nearly 8am. This is merely the first day of what will be ten straight days of this same routine; film, food and the absolute best of times. This is my fourth year running of being able to come to partake and cover the SXSW Film Festival and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Every year brings new cinematic tales and voices just begging to be heard, discovered and, hopefully, lauded. This year features a staggering 256 films (150 features and 106 shorts) each with its own creative force and expression behind it. Some are out to entertain, some to educate, and some to terrify and some to simply just be.
The unifying thread among creatives behind and on camera, and those of us who’ve made cinema our business or passion in some form or other, is the belief in film as art. That something so simple as a movie can truly change a person, whether it be their mood, their mind or their life. There’s a power there that when utilized just right can make a believer out of anyone. Cinema is our God and we long to bathe in it’s bright white light.
With over 256 films spread between ten days, bathe we shall. It’s sadly physically impossible to take in all of these films within the time allotted, which makes crafting one’s daily schedule all the more imperative. The following are just a taste of some of the films I’m most looking forward to viewing over the next week and some change. These films run the gamut of narratives, documentaries and my favorites, the midnighters.
The Look of Silence
In 2012 director Joshua Oppenheimer released one of the most important and devastating documentaries I’ve ever seen, The Act of Killing. In the film, Oppenheimer interviewed militants about the 1965-1966 mass killings in Indonesia. Many of these militants not only took part in these killings, but now reside in high positions of authority. With The Look of Silence, Oppenheimer revisits this topic by having friends and family members of the past victims interact directly with those responsible for the horrific acts. I have a feeling that this film will be just as important, if not more so, than The Act of Killing before it.
From renowned screenwriter and first time director Alex Garland comes the tale of fascinating AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander), her creator Nathan (Oscar Issac) and a young programmer named Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) who has been tasked with evaluating Nathan’s latest creation. I’ve been sold on the film’s asthetic alone, blending stark beauty with a haunting atmosphere. I am beyond excited for this film.
Hello, My Name Is Doris
All I really needed to be sold on Hello, My Name Is Doris is these four words; directed by Michael Showalter. Sally Field stars as the titular Doris, a 60 year old who having just lost her mother, attends a self help seminar that encourages her to chase after a much younger man and in doing so becoming somewhat of a local hipster icon. While I love Showalter’s previous directorial effort, 2005’s The Baxter, it suffered from some slight tonal inconsistencies. At times being somewhat quirky and others somewhat serious but it never fully committed to either side. This time around, with Sally Field in tow and some more years under his belt, I feel like it’s Showalter’s time to shine.
As if having a killer poster and starring Christina Hendricks wasn’t enough, Lost River‘s true ace in the hole is being the directorial debut of Baby Goose himself, Ryan Gosling. Gosling has been so creatively connected with director Nicholas Winding Refn for nearly a decade that I cant help but feel (and hope) that some of Refn’s influence shows in Gosling’s tale of a mother (Hendricks) who is struggling to keep her family home and her son (Iain De Casestecker) who may be stumbling upon the origins of their town.
It’s incredibly tough to choose just one Midnighter. This year’s batch is incredibly strong. However, this lovely little gem from New Zealand is taking a little bit of an edge. Here’s the complete official synopsis:
High School can be hell. Metal-thrashing Brodie is an outcast in a small town until he meets a kindred spirit in metalhead Zakk. After starting their own band, Brodie and Zakk’s resentment of the suburban wasteland leads them to a mysterious piece of sheet music said to grant Ultimate Power to whoever plays it. But the music also summons an ancient evil entity known as Aeloth The Blind One, who threatens to tear apart existence itself. It’s up to Brodie, Zakk and their mates to stop a force of pure evil from devouring mankind.
By the time you are reading this I’ll be all badged up and hopefully filling my face with the finest salted meats and beers the world has to offer as I await my first films of the festival. Check back here at TheHDRoom for daily recaps and feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@capnnarcolepsy) for up to date info, reviews and fair amount of food pics. Now, where’s that chicken and waffle taco?