I don't have too many films to discuss but while I was at SXSW I did manage to see a few, some of which I was assigned to and some that I sat in on when I had free time. Here is a quick play by play, in no particular order. Disclaimer -- I am by no means a movie critic (which is evident).
500 Days of Summer
(D. Marc Webb; Starring Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
Let me start by saying that Zooey Deschanel's eyes are bluer in person than on screen, if that is possible. And I covet her healthy hair. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has grown up since his
3rd Rock From the Sun Days
and continues to be a treat (I liked him
500 Days of Summer
is a surprising spin on the romantic comedy. Maybe it's the "indie" in it that helps it avoid the saccharine hollow characterizations you often find in many "blockbuster" attempts. Or maybe it's the surprising turn the plot takes and you're not sure what or who you're rooting for. Either way the idea of pop culture molding people's ideas of destiny resonates and the chemistry of the main characters, along with the timeless yet slightly retro costume design (I may want to start wearing hair ribbons), catchy soundtrack, and twirling storytelling structure make it a home run, even if a slightly uncomfortable one.
Trailer [ Fox Searchlight ]
Trimpin: the Sound of Invention
is a documentary following a portion of German transplant musical artist/junk lover Trimpin's artwork and efforts to share his work. He's an odd but lovable guy that clearly sees things in a way that most people can't (and never will) and manages to create some interesting and beautiful music using ugly stuff, namely the discarded and ignored scraps not often considered to be of much use any more, much less an instrument. One scene in particular that blows my mind is when he writes sheet music that looks more like a complex color coded nonsense graph than an actual playable song. Again, a 100% unique visionary.
(D. Gary Hustwit)
From the director of
comes another equally compelling documentary about a very niche area of design. In this case Hustwit explores the process of creating many of our every day items, from a chair to a handy utensil to a car. One of the things I enjoyed the most was the attention he gave to society's need to have something atheistically fresh while ignoring the ecological consequences and sometimes lack of functionality. Many designers on the other hand pled their desire to express an equal balance of form and function, not just sell a beautiful item or add to the landfill.
I also enjoyed the segment regarding toothbrushes. I have a weird nagging fascination with the evolution of the toothbrush... why there are so many incessant incarnations. Seriously my heart cooed a bit when this part came up, and sighed a secret YES.
Bonus points for a cool poster.
Alexander the Last
(D. Joe Swanberg; Starring Jess Weixler, Barlow Jacobs, Justin Rice, Amy Seimetz, Josh Hamilton and Jane Adams)
One of the things that makes this film so compelling is the way that it quietly dances around intimacy and the fragility of relationships when communication is lacking. It's actually the main thing that makes it compelling. I just wasn't sure from the onset what I was getting into so the real reveal was in the entire message which I didn't see until the movie was over with... if that makes sense. The performances were also great, largely ad-libbed I should mention. The main message I take, to quote the film, is "you were supposed to meet me half way." And maybe that's why I like this movie... because it says something true.
Bonus, the music of Jo Schornikow from
, who in real life seems like a very modest sweet gal.
We Live in Public
(D. Ondi Timoner)
Sometimes I like a movie because it makes me forget, sometimes I like a movie because it makes me remember, sometimes it's as simple as the actors or the score. In other words I'm not necessarily an objective aficionado. I also like movies for how they can make me question all that I know and my fears about the direction that society is heading in.
We Live in Public
, by acclaimed documentary film maker Ondi Timoner (of
fame), makes me want to unplug the computer, get rid of the cell phone, and connect to the real world. Ironically I say this on my blog.
I left the movie feeling a bit hopeless about the future and never wanting 15 minutes of fame. This is not even touching upon the film's main subject which is the story of internet pioneer Josh Harris, a man that conceivably could be labeled as nuts but seems to know what's really going on, even if his message is lost in eccentricity and in-your-face antics. Sometimes the bitter pill is hard to swallow.