Previewing the 2017 South by Southwest Film Festival
March in Austin means South by Southwest. Locals flee the city if they can, abandoning their homes to Airbnb guests. If they can’t, they stick around, complaining about the sardine-packed buses and the street closures and SXSW’s management while still trying to track down their favorite bands’ secret shows and score some swag. For Film badge holders, escaping into a dark theater for a couple of hours to vicariously experience other places, times, and personalities is a way to maintain sanity during one of the biggest multimedia festivals in the world.
For the second year in a row, Flickchart is at SXSW in the person of me, a local torn like so many locals between an impulse to get out of Dodge and a compulsion to see the spectacle. To keep switching metaphors, I’ve chosen my grail – I won’t know until the end of the festival whether I chose wisely. There will be movies I love and movies I don’t, but good and bad, I’m going to rank them all here on the Flickchart Blog.
The film lineup starts on Friday with the following narrative features, just a sample of the full SXSW Film schedule:
Song to Song – A Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara movie about relationships between striving musicians in Austin would be sure to prompt comparisons to La La Land except for the fact that this is directed by Terrence Malick. As a result, it will be divisive for entirely different reasons than La La Land!
Person to Person – Michael Cera, who features in at least two movies at the festival, stars with Abbi Jacobson in this 90-minute comedy that moves “back and forth from Brooklyn to Manhattan.” This is well-trod ground geographically, but I’m always up for another cinematic trip to NYC.
Colossal – A down-on-her-luck “party girl” in the United States is somehow connected to a monster destroying Seoul. Now that’s a premise I haven’t heard before!
Prevenge – Alice Lowe, who starred in my favorite movie at last year’s South by Southwest, directs and stars in this dark horror comedy about “a pregnant woman on a killing spree.” The publicity still alone makes it a must-see:
Bad Lucky Goat – This coming-of-age road movie from Colombia involves two kids, a motorcycle, and a dead goat. Call me a desensitized cynic, but it’s the goat part that makes me interested.
Us and Them – This movie seeks to explore, through the crime thriller genre, the “inequality and anger that… led to the shock events of Brexit and Trump’s victory.” That’s an ambitious thing for any movie to attempt, so I’m curious to see how well this debut effort from writer/director Joe Martin pulls it off.
The Hero – Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter. For people who recognize any of those names, that’s probably enough said, but if you’re curious about the plot, it sounds like Crazy Heart.
Fits and Starts – This Wyatt Cenac movie sounds like a closed-room cringe comedy, with a struggling writer and his wife navigating a room full of art snobs.
The Transfiguration – A boy is obsessed with vampires in this seemingly very serious horror drama.
Satan Said Dance – This colorful-looking Polish movie is touted as SXSW’s first “Instagram film.” I’m not quite sure what that means, as I just use Instagram for cat pictures, but I’m curious.
Goran – A “darkly comic” blood-soaked thriller from Croatia.
PIG: The Final Screenings – The director of this “excruciating” horror that satirizes “gender politics in America” is best known for music videos, which could make for an interesting aesthetic. I suspect this will appeal to Austin’s large contingent of Fantastic Fest fans (or “fiends,” as they would have it!)
Of course, I’m liable to skip any of these narrative films in favor of intriguing documentaries like Let There Be Light, about scientists trying to create an artificial star on Earth. To find out which movies I actually see – and more importantly, how I rank them – check back here soon!