SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
For the limited opening of The Beaver this weekend, we are re-posting Jeremy's full review from SXSW.
Walter Black (Mel Gibson's character in The Beaver) has issues. Husband, father, and head of a toy manufacturing company, he suffers from severe depression, so much so, in fact, that he has alienated his family from any real connection. Walter is at the end of his rope, or tie, quite literally when he stumbles upon a stuffed puppet, a beaver, laying in a dumpster. Walter takes the puppet and begins communicating through it to his family and colleagues. He sees the puppet and his voice through it as the only way to
I first took notice of actress Michelle Monaghan in Shane Black's 2005 hip detective film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. She plays the tough crush of the film's faux detective protagonist, played by Robert Downey Jr. Over the years, Monaghan has played tough characters who find themselves mixed up in mysteries that they don't quite understand. This is the case again in Source Code, where she plays a woman on a train that only has eight minutes before it explodes. I got the opportunity to sit down with Monaghan during SXSW and discuss working with Duncan Jones and Jake Gyllenhaal and the process of recreating the same scene over and over.
In The Beaver, Porter is a character who hasn't found a definition for himself yet. He is caught in a world where he hates his father but finds himself growing more and more like him every day. It took a strong actor to pull off such a role convincingly, and Jodie Foster found the right one. Anton Yelchin has been making a name for himself ever since Hearts in Atlantis in 2001, with major roles in Terminator Salvation and J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. I luckily caught up with Yelchin at SXSW and talk for a bit about working on The Beaver, acting alongside veteran actors like Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster, and playing against a beaver hand puppet.
It's difficult enough for an actor to work off of another highly animated actor. It is another thing entirely to have to act the majority of a film off of a camera alone. That is where actress Vera Farmiga (The Departed, Up in the Air) found herself in Duncan Jones' Source Code. She plays Goodwin - Jake Gyllenhaal's guide and connection to the "outside" as he attempts to uncover first-hand who bombed a train. I had the honor of sitting down with Farmiga at SXSW to discuss working with Duncan, her character, not wanting to look into the camera, and the straight-man approach she took working against Jeffrey Wright's crazy eccentricities.
There's a subset of fans who will definitely have the time of their life watching Jason Eisener's Hobo With a Shotgun. They're the people who watched the violent films of the ‘80s, whose parents allowed them to stay up late and watch the likes of Dolph Lundgren and Rutger Hauer blasting enemies with vicious, juicy delight. Eisener's film, based on his trailer originally a part of Tarantino/Rodriguez's Grindhouse project, bottles that sensibility, shakes it up, and splatters it all over the screen. What's more, he's brought Hauer himself along for the gory ride, and the resulting cinematic feat is a bloody good time. Quite literally so.
Maybe not the best, but some of the most interesting films are the ones you have to mull over in your head for days after watching it. Their the kinds of films friends debate about, throwing theories around about the subtext and often even the context of what they had just seen. Ben Wheatley can pat himself on the back, because he's written and directed Kill List, a film that has that precise effect on the people who watch it. As with any film that follows this suit, it's bound to be divisive. Some will come out throwing their hands in the air of frustration. Others will know all the pieces of this arcane puzzle are there and require sifting through
Believe. Joe Cornish's feature debut as writer and director, the sci-fi flick Attack the Block, is a riot, an alien creatures vs South London gang feature film that revs up with excitement, grounds with realistic characters, eases the tone with a bit of well-placed comedy, and still never loses sight of its subtext. With a highly inventive yet understandable screenplay, the kind that makes you think "I can't believe they've never done this before", backing it along the way, the film plays to both the '50s-style monster movies and inner city dramas alike. But it's also a whole lot of fun, quite possibly the most fun this year's SXSW has to offer.
The phrase "apocalypted my mind" is one that comes to your senses while watching, studying, and mulling over Bellflower, the first film written and directed by Evan Glodell. There's not much sense to be made out of the phrase. The red dotted line underneath the word "" as it is being written indicates it's not even an acceptable word. That doesn't mean it's not apropos for this film that blasts its way into your memory banks, slaps you silly, and doesn't even both to clean up afterwards. To put it frankly, Bellflower is a monster of a success. A film about friendship, love, loss, and the power we place on the moments that
There's the old Alfred Hitchcock adage about building suspense by showing the audience a bomb rather than having a bomb blast from out of nowhere. But there's the more recent thought from horror master John Carpenter who believes jump scares can work if implemented correctly. Effectively placed and creepily executed, they can build the same level of tension that comes from showing the audience the bomb. This is something James Wan & Leigh Whannell exercise in their new ghost movie Insidious, the belief that blasting at the audience rather than slow burning them can have a lasting effect that lingers long after the credits roll. It works.
Ti West likes to knock the pot roast off the table. He slowly simmers, begins turning up the temperature on the pot, and then flips the entire table on its side spilling everything on the floor. That's not a figurative way of saying The Innkeepers derails. Far from it. It's a highly effective ghost story that may not be quite what you expect going in. Hell, it's not quite what you expect after the halfway point. But the confidence that West exudes and the total package he presents with the film may be the jarring jolt the horror industry has been looking for. Many of us have known this about West. It's time the rest of the horror world to take notice.
After making the thought-provoking and minimalist yet ultra-fresh sci-fi Moon, director Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) has done something few thought he would. He has directed Source Code, a dramatic story with a science fiction heart that makes one question where the young director's future is headed. It's not that Source Code is bad. It builds suspense around characters and presents a reasonably fresh concept. However, Jones already seems to be on sort of an auto-pilot here in the second feature of his still budding career. The film feels safe, commercial, and about as straight-forward and devoid of edge as one can get.
I love Austin, Texas. There, does that show my geek hand enough? It's such an energetic town without the abrasiveness of a Las Vegas. The people in Austin are easy-going but there's a shared kinetic vibe about everyone that makes you want to be a part of any group. The food is extraordinary. And none of that has to do with the film scene. If you ever heard of the Alamo Drafthouse, if you know of half the people who live here who are connected to film in a professional sense, you probably have a good idea what I'm getting at.
So when the South by Southwest Film Festival roles around every year down in sunny Austin, TX,