Where to begin, then? Well...how about South by Southwest?
Yeah, I went to Austin, Texas, for SXSW again this year...and truth be told, because I had already done this last year, I admit that I was perhaps inevitably less than overwhelmed by the experience this time around. Plus, I found the selection of films I saw, at least, to be wildly mixed in quality: very little that I'd consider actively terrible, but also very little that left me feeling flush with an exhilarating sense of discovery. Two films came closest to inducing such euphoria in me: Tchoupitoulas, the latest documentary from the Ross Brothers, the sibling duo behind the terrific 45365 (a Roger Ebert favorite; he programmed it at Ebertfest last year); and Keyhole, the latest Guy Maddin dreamscape/love letter to classic Hollywood cinema. Oh, and I should probably give a special mention to 21 Jump Street, which received a raucously enthusiastic reception at its world premiere at SXSW and which comes closer than any recent Hollywood comedy I've seen to approximating the anarchic spirit of Airplane! (1980). It's pretty consistently hilarious, even if it's never quite as smart as it thinks it is. (But hey, at least it never turns irritatingly snarky like Drew Goddard/Joss Whedon's overpraised horror-deconstruction romp The Cabin in the Woods, which was SXSW's opening-night film.)
Anyway, here are links to the five House Next Door posts I filed while I attended SXSW:
No. 1: Girl Model, Tchoupitoulas and Killer Joe
No. 2: Keyhole and The Raid: Redemption
No. 3: Compliance
No. 4: Girls and Sleepwalk With Me
No. 5: Under African Skies and Last Call at the Oasis
While I was in Austin, my review of Gerhard Richter Painting—an intriguing and sometimes beautiful documentary about the German painter—was posted at Slant Magazine.
|An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012)|
When I returned from SXSW, I was immediately thrown into another film festival: New Directors/New Films, a collaboration between Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center in its 41st year this year. Of the 29 feature films that screened during ND/NF this year, I reviewed three of them for Slant Magazine:
Goodbye, the latest film from imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (here)
Generation P, Victor Ginzburg's ambitious Russian epic about advertising in post-Soviet society (here)
Twilight Portrait, Angelina Nikonova's sometimes inscrutable female-centered character study (here)
None of those three films, for all their virtues, approached the highs of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, the debut feature of New York-based filmmaker Terence Nance and a heady mix of self-analysis, postmodern self-reflexivity and cinematic experimentation that was, head above shoulders, unlike anything I saw not only at ND/NF, but at the movies all year long. I do hope it eventually gets picked up for theatrical distribution. (Alas, I ended up being unable to see Oslo, August 31st—Joachim Trier's much-lauded follow-up to Reprise—at ND/NF, so who knows if that film might have bested Nance's as the highlight of the festival?)
And I think that brings me up to date as far as links go. For now, I'm taking it easy on the writing and mentally preparing for the upcoming maelstrom that will be the Tribeca Film Festival.