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sxsw 2017

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.

Since they formed in 2000, The Avett Brothers has swelled their fandom from the locals of their North Carolina roots, to sprawling crowds that flood stadiums of sold out world tours, all lured by this beloved band’s whimsical mix of folk rock, country, bluegrass, pop and punk. Among these fervent fans is film producer Judd Apatow, who teamed with RadicalMedia to bring the origin story of this heart-warming musical act to SXSW with “May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers.” Apatow and documentarian Michael Bonfiglio share directing credit on the documentary that that travels from the Avett Brothers’ lively stage shows, to their loving homes, and the studio where they recorded the album “True Sadness.” Fans of the Brothers will relish the film’s earnestness in showcasing their authenticity and easy appeal, as well as the intimate moments of this fun-loving family. Continue reading The Avett Brothers Share Their Origins And Souls In ‘May It Last’ [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.

Director E.L. Katz made a strong debut in 2014 with his satisfyingly sickening and slick black comedy, “Cheap Thrills.” For his follow-up, he teamed with “Blue Ruin” star Macon Blair to pen a blood-drenched tale of second chances called “Small Crimes.” Once more, the fearsome filmmaker offers a mean little movie that follows a seemingly ordinary everyman down a road of greed and self-destruction. Continue reading ‘Cheap Thrills’ Director E.L. Katz Hits A Sophomore Slump With ‘Small Crimes’ [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.

It’s a common phenomenon in movies: an indie filmmaker garners some acclaim, but he or she doesn’t reach their full potential until some kind of movie star is in the mix. Not because the actor’s more charismatic than an amateur (thought they often are), but because professionally trained thespians know how to turn good material and make it great. If the director is the conductor, the actor is the first chair and if writer/director Aaron Katz wrote a symphony with his terrific new picture, “Gemini,” then Lola Kirke is the Stradivarius that steals the show. Continue reading Lola Kirke Outshines All The Stars In Aaron Katz’s Terrific Mystery Thriller ‘Gemini’ [SXSW Review] at The Playlist.