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South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)

The whole murderous-alien-aboard-a-spaceship trope has been around since at least 1958’s “It! The Terror from Beyond Space,” which was initially viewed as a typical, below-average drive-in movie about a doomed Mars expedition. Of course, that movie suddenly took on more importance when the creative team behind “Alien” cited it as a major inspiration. Since “Alien,” of course, there have been countless riffs on this idea (including a handful of actual “Alien” sequels and spin-offs) – a ragtag crew of space explorers or profiteers venture into some darkened corner of the galaxy in the name of scientific progress or capitalism, unwittingly encounter vicious otherworldly killing machines, and get turned into bloody zero-G globs. Continue reading ‘Life’ With Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson & Ryan Reynolds Is A Pleasurably Old Fashioned Sci-Fi Thriller [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

It’s a cliché, albeit a tragic one at this point, to suggest that comedy and depression go hand-in-hand. As chronicled by Dick Cavett in connection with CNN’s recent series on “The History Of Comedy,” the late Robin Williams would aim to keep audiences laughing only to walk backstage and say, “Why can’t I be that happy?” The story of the stand-up comic has been documented in many forms, and the song is usually the same in terms of both clinical diagnosis and the hunt to be the next great success story. Continue reading A Great Ensemble Offers A Serious History Lesson In Comedy In Showtime’s ‘I’m Dying Up Here’ [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

To be clear: I’m not familiar with Neil Gaiman‘s source material, so my only information on “American Gods” is down to the cast (hey, Ian McShane and Crispin Glover!) and from Twitter, where I’ve learned there is a character named New God Internet. Uh, okay. Anyway, a new trailer for the Starz series is here and the fans seem to love it anyway. Continue reading War Is Coming In Bloody New Trailer For ‘American Gods’ at The Playlist.

Someone once said to me that they wished James Cameron would do other people’s action scenes for them. This was back in the heyday when the one-time “King of the World” was the preeminent action filmmaker of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “True Lies.” While there have been notable action films in the 20+ years since those, few have grabbed the guts of hardcore aficionados. Continue reading ‘Atomic Blonde’ Delivers Great Action In Too Minimal Capacity [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

It’s a film about the making of arguably the worst movie ever made. That is how the team behind “The Disaster Artist” will hope to sell it to a public that may have yet to experience the wonder of Tommy Wiseau‘s self-financed passion project, “The Room.” Just as “Plan 9 from Outer Space” had Tim Burton‘s “Ed Wood and “Troll 2” had Michael Paul Stephenson‘s documentary, “Best Worst Movie,” so now does “The Room” have James Franco‘s “The Disaster Artist.” How it will play to the uninitiated remains a legitimate question, but one thing is for certain: its base are going to be in Valhalla. Continue reading ‘The Disaster Artist’ Is A Masterpiece For Fans Of ‘The Room,’ But What About Everyone Else? [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

With a title meant to inspire, intrigue, and ire, the latest Netflix series “Dear White People” wastes no time challenging and charming audiences. But it might not always manage both. The moment its trailer hit, online outrage came fast and oblivious from those who threatened to boycott the streaming subscription service, accusing the unseen show of “reverse racism.” Apparently, they’d never heard of creator Justin Simien’s 2014 film of the same name, which earned rousing critical praise and became the jumping off point for this scathingly hilarious comedy series. Continue reading ‘Dear White People’ Spinoff Series Is A Deeper And More Daring Look At The Black Experience [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

From “Nights and Weekends” to “Happy Christmas” and “Drinking Buddies,” mumblecore master Joe Swanberg has shown a distinctive talent for infusing dazzling humanity and humor into simple stories. With his latest SXSW entry, “Win It All,” he does this in the tale of a lovable, low-grade degenerate whose offered an unusual opportunity to conquer his gambling addiction when thousands of dollars are dropped on his door step. Continue reading Joe Swanberg Gambles On A Lovable Loser’s Redemption With ‘Win It All’ Starring Jake Johnson [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.

From the moment Edgar Wright hyper-synched the daily monotony of grooming, flushing and toast spread in “Shaun of the Dead,” you had to figure he had a movie in him like “Baby Driver.” Rattling around in his brain since as far back as 1995, he nearly wasted (his own words) the idea on a music video, though one could just as easily sense his action-oriented set pieces as an extended riff on the videos and commercials that many auteurs of his generation got their start in. Continue reading Edgar Wright’s ‘Baby Driver’ Is A Thrilling Fast And Furious Fantasia [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.