Never before have I gone to a festival where each and every film I have seen has been a winner! SXSW has an amazing line up and it seems I can’t go wrong. Beginning with “44 Pages” and concluding the morning with “Fits and Starts” with 10 other films sandwiched in between, the films are truly stellar. 6 more films are yet to be seen with accompanying interviews so you know what movies to put on your radar for the year!
Wondering what these amazing films are? Here is the entire list with a few capsule reviews; full reviews to follow.
44 PAGES: The cherished Highlights Magazine we all remember from childhood, many of us recalling looking forward to going to the dentist because of this, has celebrated its 70th anniversary. Filmmaker Tony Shaff brings us behind the welcoming doors in Pennsylvania where this wholesome and educational magazine began, allowing us to fall in love with its principles and values once again. We learn about the family origins and its ability to stay relevant in today’s trying times. It’s a beautiful and reaffirming film that reminds us about what’s important in life—children.
THE HERO: Brett Haley who brought us “I’ll See You In My Dreams” gives us yet another gift depicting the life of Lee Hayden, an old actor struggling with life’s regrets and mortality while attempting to live as boldly as possible. Sam Elliott gives us an extraordinarily commanding performance and we, the viewers, can relish in the fact that he is the lead. Laura Prepon, Krysten Ritter, and Nick Offerman are the light beneath Elliott that allows him to shine even more brightly.
THIS IS YOUR DEATH: Imagine a reality game show where contestants commit suicide in order to raise money to justify their life’s failings. Far-fetched? Not really. In a legal loophole, a television station uses this to create a show that will allow them to become the #1 station. Josh Duhamel embraces the role as the show’s host, Adam Rogers, as the more and more deplorable behavior is continually pushed. It’s a disturbingly captivating look at our society and how desensitized we have become.
A BAD IDEA GONE WRONG: Two losers looking for a quick way to make money plan the perfect heist. Marlon (Matt Jones) and Leo (Will Rogers) device a hairbrained scheme to break into a house only to be trapped inside due to several silly errors. One bad decision leads to another as we get to know and somehow love these unlikely bad guys. It’s quite quirky and downright funny from start to finish.
FITS AND STARTS: Laura Terruso created a favorite of RHR, “Hello, My Name Is Doris” and now brings us one of the most genuinely charming and realistically hilarious film about love, relationships, jealousy, and marriage! David (Wyatt Cenac) and Jennifer aka J.M. (Greta Lee) are both writers, but Jennifer’s career is exploding, leaving David in her wake. As they travel from NYC to Connecticut for a party, their lives unravel, bringing us to tears from laughing at such relatable situations. Rarely do you find such sincerity and honesty in a film that is as entertaining as it is emotionally real.
Other notable films from the fest, so far, are: WIN IT ALL, BABY DRIVER, THE MOST HATED WOMAN IN AMERICA, WALK WITH ME, THE LIGHT OF THE MOON, and MAINELAND.