SXSW FILM FESTIVAL
Chuck Palahniuk is definitely one creative and crazy writer. I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of his books, but a few of my friends have and they really enjoyed them. If you don't know who Palahniuk is, then perhaps you have heard of a movie called Fight Club. That's right, he also wrote that. Choke, his newest book turned into film, is set to be released sometime in August this year. I had the pleasure of seeing it at SXSW and walked out torn between the offensive content and extremely enjoyable and creative story.
I have to admit that I did not initially want to see Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about His Father. It was our last day of the SXSW festival and I had had my fill of documentaries. This wasn't even on my list of films to see and I hadn't heard anything about it. Alex had brought up that he wanted to see it the night before and he told me the title of the film. He didn't tell me what it was about or the basic premise, just the title. Realizing there weren't any other movies I wanted to watch, I reluctantly agreed to go thinking at the very least I would be able to eat at the Alamo Drafthouse one last time. After finally watching it, I'm ashamed that there was ever a part of me that didn't want to give it a chance.
Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie definitely wasn't a film that was high on my list of movies to see at SXSW. Actually, I wasn't even planning on watching it until I heard people randomly talking about it in line for some of the movies. It turned out that there was a midnight showing, so I thought I would check it out since it wouldn't interfere with seeing something else I really wanted to watch. Unfortunately, there is now 62 minutes of my life completely lost that I wish I could get back.
Instead of writing a typical review for Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, which wouldn't have been fitting anyway, I decided I needed to otherwise question why Sundance (or any major film festival) didn't accept this film. Dear Zachary is a documentary made by Andrew Bagby's filmmaker friend Kurt Kuenne. Andrew was murdered a few years ago and this documentary was made to capture the memories of Andrew in order to show his son Zachary the kind of man he was. That's all you need to know going in, because the less you know, the more you'll gain coming out of this. It moved me to tears and left me astounded at the end - this is a film that deserves more appreciation than it's getting.
It's over! The 2008 SXSW Film Festival has officially ended and thankfully it turned out amazingly. We came, we partied, and we watched a ton of movies. Mostly solid films with a few duds mixed in, but overall I enjoyed the majority of the movies. This festival became more and more an experience instead of being about just sitting in theaters and going from movie to movie. It was about meeting new friends, checking out Austin, and enjoying the festivities, though the great films were the framework for it all.
My expectations were pretty low going into this one and the movie didn't even meet those expectations. To me nothing was appealing in the trailer or plot synopsis that I read heading into Stop Loss. I'm not a Ryan Phillippe or Channing Tatum fan, so other then Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I was almost dreading sitting through this. Turns out that this was exactly what I thought it would be - an uninteresting look at army soldiers who have come back from Iraq war.
Coming to SXSW, I was excited to see that one film that I would blow my mind and become my clear favorite of the festival. The Promotion was great but I didn't walk out of it loving it right away. Until last night I hadn't found that movie yet and was pretty discouraged that there wouldn't be one. Thankfully, Assassination of a High School President turned out to be absolutely amazing and one of my favorite films of the year so far.
Not all documentaries at SXSW can be good and last Wednesday night I saw one of those docs - Bananaz. During the course of this week the other film buffs and I have discussed documentaries and what makes them good. From what I have gathered after the discussions it really comes down to structure, purpose and some kind of connection with the subject of the film. I realize that there are those documentaries that are 90% information for learning purposes, but even those would benefit from adding a bit of fun to their films.
Folks, it has been a pretty crazy week so far. Only a couple days left in the SXSW Film Festival but there are still plenty of films to watch. However, it is now 100 times more difficult to navigate the streets of Austin now that the SXSW Music Festival has started. The infamous 6th Street now gets shut down from traffic around noon and the bands take up residency in every bar and restaurant wherever you look. The party intensity has risen so much that it makes me wish I was staying for the music fest but alas I must head back to Colorado on Sunday. Until then, the coverage will keep coming.
Well, this is the third film set in a school I have seen after first watching American Teen and Some Assembly Required here at SXSW. I was hesitant to see this one because I thought I might be getting a bit tired of the school scene. It turns out that I could handle another film like the others and actually quite liked it. FrontRunners turned out to have a bit of heart come through that made it worthwhile, although it was my least favorite of the three school documentaries.
Not only did I already want to see this but my wife actually threatened to kill me if I didn't. Although I don't have any tattoos myself, I married someone that has a deep appreciation and respect for the art. Because of that I have learned a lot about the history and world of tattooing and otherwise might not have seen Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry. This is defiantly one documentary that I'm glad I didn't miss.
I find it funny that there are all of these movements going on around us with huge followings and yet we often times don't even know they are there. It's like there is another world hidden underneath this one that we never get to see. I realized this after seeing We Are Wizards and now Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet. Getting to see all of the Harry Potter fans that are part of bands or clubs coming together with one purpose, and now seeing the fans of chip tunes and how many there are out there is just mind blowing.